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al-Rih al-Asuad [Strains of the Cursed Blood- Mesopotamia]

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  • al-Rih al-Asuad [Strains of the Cursed Blood- Mesopotamia]

    [thanks for Second Chances with the translation for the name. Feel free to note me fixes for my Arabic]

    [the face of a raptor before four spread bird wings]

    Plague Bearers

    Black winds dance in the deserts of Mesopotamia, coming all the way from the Arabian Peninsula up to the Syrian Mountains. They move silently through the night, unseen and untouched. They move through the blood and the screams of the dead, carrying their pain in them as they keep moving on, collect their souls to their freezing air as they pass. In the heart of the darkness, when the moon hide itself in clouds, they strike- with knives made out of icy air and swords made of plague. There are no witnesses for their acts- for when the sun rise, the bodies of their victims burn and vanish- for this is the fate of every demon who lurk on the night. To be killed by one of its own.

    The origin of the Black Wind lies in the ancient Land of Two Rivers, in the glory days of Assyria and Babylon. During those times humanity was still young- and many terrible beings has moved through the night, preying upon mankind. Those demons has struck fear in the hearts of the people of the lands, and they invoked all kinds of powers in order to protect themselves from that primordial darkness. One of those terrible demons was known as Lamashtu- she who devours children, she who beings fever and death. In order to protect themselves from her terror, the ancient people has crafted amulets carrying the names of dread beings, creatures so terrible that even the demon-queen escaped their fury. Those amulets were usually given to the women near the childbirth in order to protect the baby, yet they were only a symbol- for the true Black Wind was not simply the messengers of Pazuzu, lord of the wind and demons, but the progeny of the demon king itself. Nothing is free, especially when dealing with demons, and for every child saved, every demon banished and every soul reclaimed from the night, Pazuzu would claim another in their place. A black wind move in the darkness before the dawn and lay with a mortal woman, and from that unholy union another Plague Bearer would be born to scare the monsters and protect the innocents.

    For many years, the Rih al Asuad protected the Middle East from demons and darker beings. Originally operating only in the regions of modern Iraq and Syria, as their lineage spread so did their influence. While their numbers weren't limited by the powers of their progenitor, not anyone birthed by their lineage were to awaken to its dark blessing- only those who were promised to Pazuzu by amulet and spell at their birth had joined the family's ancient duty.. usually. After all, Pazuzu had souls promised to him, and when the numbers of its children won't satisfy the demon new black winds would be birthed in the night, searching for their would be mothers and fathers- preferably within the existing lineage, but not necessary.

    As long as the ancient faiths ruled the region, the Wind kept its true region in the open, and even when Persia and Greece took over they didn't stopped their practices. Yet, as time passed they had to hide their identity better and better, becoming reclusive and keeping to themselves in the times of Parthia and Rome, of Sassanian and Byzantium. Finally, the Arabs invaded the lands and Islam was established under the Abbasid Caliphate, forcing their members to make to choice- leave the old ways behind, or die as heretics and demon worshipers.

    They chose the first, of course.

    For the Rih al Asuad, the choice was almost natural- for as their influence fell the demons of the land grew in strength. Islam gave them a way to fight against the horrors under the Holy War, and as such they embraced it to their core, although the families has never forgotten their true origin. Even as they went to mosques and visited the black stone in Mecca, they kept their forefather's figurines in small boxes hidden beneath their beds or within their closets, and the Wind's Uluma kept pagan amulets while whispering heretic prayers to those who were chosen to join the conspiracy. During those times, many of them have spread outside their small corner of the world, fighting against the crusaders from Europe and the demons they brought with them- the Lucifuge. Each group saw the other as heretical, and understood the other through their own point of view of the world- for the Lucifuge, the Black Wind was a lost branch of their line, L'Enfant Diabolique who served their dark ancestors. From the Rih al Asuad's perspective, the Lucifuge were the children of the same demons they fought so hard to banish, an enemy created by the desperate demons in mockery of Pazuzu's dark blessing. If there was ever a direct communication between the two groups the Lady of Milan and the Uluma kept it to themselves.

    The fall of the Caliphate was not the fall of the Plague Bearers- when the Mongols broke into Baghdad and destroyed the House of Wisdom, they managed to save a number of precious documents- including the genealogies of the many branches they hid in there. When the Black Death struck through the land, their powers upon plague has banished the disease, offering a small measure of protection even of only for themselves. Even under the Ottoman and British rules, the group maintained its power and influence, seeing it as a sacred duty to preform an Holy War against the monsters in the name of the Prophet of God and the Father of Demons.

    Things really changed during the Arab Spring.

    The Civil War swept through the land like fire. Many were killed in the internal wars, as terrorist organizations butchered those whose faith was considered to be "heretic" in their eyes. The Uluma, who guided the conspiracy since the Caliphate, was shattered during the war, as they together with the rest of Pazuzu's bloodline were killed together with the ones who they claimed to protect. Many fled their country, and the ancient records of the bloodlines were lost as the members of the Uluma vanished or died. Today, the bloodline is spread through Europe and beyond, Some of them still try to uphold the ancient traditions in the new countries, and they have to face the challenges as any normal refugee would in addition for the demons who whisper in their ears. Others have been recruited by the Lucifuge, although the act is a secret known only to the Lady itself and the few loyal cells who have one of the Plague Bearers joined to them. Worst than all, some have forsaken their old duty, as vengeance turned them from their original duty and led them into the arms of Hell's other children, becoming a true L'Enfant Diabolique.

    And through all of that chaos, the black winds of Pazuzu still blow through the desert and blood. Their knives are still sharp, and their swords have not quenched their thirst. The debt is yet to be payed- and the Demon King of the Wind would have is due, even if it would have to birth an whole new bloodline and leave the old one to its doom.

    Status:
    0- you are a child of the Black Wind and you accepted your heritage and place among the demons. You may buy dots in the Hadiat Layla Endowment, and your natural lifespan is rise to 150 years.
    000- you have danced among demons and fought against the monsters who would claim innocent lives. You manage to gather the details of 3 other cells through the world and make a stable contact with them, including calling them for help. You get Allies for 3 dots, and your lifespan rise to 300 years.
    00000- You are a dark angel who rules over storm and plague, getting a reputation of both an holy man and a demon. You now maintain a stable connection with 5 other Cells, and you get a single Supernatural Merit for free as you gain an understanding of the true nature of your powers. Your lifespan also rise to 1000 years.

    Endowment: Hadiat Layla (0-00000)
    The winds of the night blow silently, and those who carry them in their breath enjoy the gifts of night itself. Hadait Layla is a single, 1-5 dot merit which represent the number of powers a Plague Bearer has accesses to. With each new dot in the Endowment, the hunter gains a new power for free. Once chosen, the hunter may not change her powers without sacrificing a dot in Integrity as she allows the darkness to flow into her body. Unlike the more ritualistic Castigations, Haiat Layla is a much more primordial power, channeling itself directly through the body of the hunter as it turns her into a form of a Malak al'Zzalam, a dark angel which would fight against the demons of hell and their spawn.

    Choose among the following:

    Rabb al'rriah- the hunter gains power over the wind and can control it to her will, creating huge blasts of air to torn their enemies to shreds. Roll [Strength]+[Intelligence] and expand a Willpower point, and treat the number of Success as damage. In case of Failure, you suffer a level of Bashing damage.

    Hayyat al'ttaeun- Pazuzu protects its own from the curses of plague and fever. The hunter may not be afflicted by any Condition related to disease or poison, and may not be harmed from those influences- magical or otherwise. She may still act as a carrier for such things, however.

    Ajnihat sawda- the King of the Southeastern Wind grants his children powers over the sky and air. By spending a Willpower point, she may fly freely for one minute per [Strength]. Those who can see through the Twilight would notice a dark figure of wings sprouting from the hunter's back.

    Zilal alssama- the wind goes unheard and unseen, striking its enemy in plain sight. By spending a Willpower point, the hunter becomes invisible and perfectly silent for a number of minutes equal to [Manipulation]

    Alttanfus yla- the early winds of the mourning carry dark things in them, and those who breath the bad air are doomed by plague. The hunter needs to spend a Willpower point and roll for [Manipulation] + [Intelligence] while breathing toward a target. Success would mean the target is now under the Sick Tilt. Exceptional Success would give the Willpower dot back. Dramatic Failure would make the hunter suffer from the Shaken Condition, as she can't handle her own demonic powers.

    Alssakakin aljalid- the icy winds of winter cut through flesh and bone. The hunter may turn his hands into so cold, they harm those they touch. The process includes expanding a Willpower point, and for a number of turns equal to her [Stamina] she may attack barehanded and deal Aggravated damage.

    Alrriah Almashi- wind connects all who live under the Sun and Moon, no matter how deep they hide from the eternal sky. By expanding a Willpower point, the hunter may see, hear and touch beings in the Twilight as is they were material for a number of minutes equal to [Wits]

    Alqalb Hamsi- the winds hears every whisper and every desire ever told by a man. By rolling [Wits]+[Manipulation] and expanding a Willpower point, the hunter may peer into another's heart and discover a certain detail she desires. Exceptional Success would also give the surface emotions and general status of the target, while Dramatic Failure would leave the hunter confused and fearful from the botch attempt, giving her the Spooked Condition.

    Alrruh Hisada- every last breath is claimed by the wind, and every soul belongs to the Wind King. After slaying a none Soulless being (including equivalents), the hunter may try and steal the soul of the dead by covering her mouth with hers. Roll [Manipulation]+[Presence]. In case of Success, the soul is now yours, and you could use it in order to heal one level of Lethal damage or replenish a Willpower point. The hunter may not have a number of souls higher than her [Stamina] in the same time. Instead of devouring the soul, she may free it at any given time, although it may not be reclaimed afterwards. Souls devoured that way won't leave ghosts behind, and ephemeral beings would be forever destroyed.

    Wajjah alfazae- Pazuzu was invoked to scare the demons away, and his kin has inherited his gift. By spending a Willpower point, the hunter would force any ephemeral being in a radius of [Presence] to run away in fear. Beings who possess a material body or are manifested would have to roll their ranks against the hunter's [Presence]+[Manipulation] or leave their host and run to the Twilight. By also dealing herself a level of Lethal damage, she may force the Spooked Condition upon any supernatural creature who can see her. Those who fall under the effect of the power can see a dark shadow covering the hunter, shifting like a black smoke or dust in the wind- the shadow of Pazuzu himself.

    Once an hunter reach 5 dots in the Endowment, she enjoys the true potential by gaining the form of Malak al'Zzalam- she may choose 2 Attributes and 3 Skill which may not be changed later. By spending a Willpower point, she may transform into her "true form"- she may add her dots in the Endowment as bonus to those traits, either by spreading them or investing them all in a single trait. For the next 10 minutes, she treat that collective value as her effective rating in that trait. While manifesting the Dark Angel, the character truly gains an inhuman visage- some are terrible to look at, beings of wind and destruction. Others are inhumanly beautiful, like a poisonous fruit or broken angel. The exact form changes between every hunter and hunter, but all are, without doubt, monstrous to look at- a reminder from their Dark Father that in the end, they are not different from the demons they so obsessively hunt.
    Last edited by LostLight; 05-19-2016, 07:53 AM.


    My Homebrew Signature

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

    I now blog in here

  • #2
    Seven Winds of the Babylon

    Pazuzu was first invoked in Assyria and Babylon as the people of the region chose one demon over the other- yet not much is known about the nature of those ancient demons. All that is known is that Pazuzu was a great wind demon, son of Hanbi and brother of Humbaba and enemy to Lamashtu, the she-demon of childbirth who would kill young babies and devour them. While Pazuzu's true nature remains a mystery, the nature of his rival is more well understood, even if through other incarnation of the demoness, and that has shaped the nature of the conspiracy. After all, Lamashtu was the demon-goddess of dead babies, a trait she shares with Lamaia, the mythical queen of Libya, and both of them were connected and compared to no other than Lilith, the Death in the Cradle, Queen of the Night and Mother of Demons- and her children were famous for their connection with the night and, more importantly, owls. Or, more exactly, the Strix.

    The truth is that during the old ages of Mesopotamia, vampires roamed the streets, terrorizing the people as they followed their own En, a king and a god. Eventually, the En has fallen by the hands of his own kin, who summoned beings whom the could barely control- demons birthed by the wind and night who ripped through the night like storm- yet the terror didn't stopped until the wise men and women of the era discovered their own ritual for protection, using a similar system to the one used by the poisonous assassins of the vampires in order to call down not just one of the lowly servants of the Wind, but the Wind itself. That ritual has birthed the first Plague Bearers, and sent them to fight against the spawn of Lamashtu- the blood drinking vampires and breath stealing Owls.

    For that reason, up to this day, vampires are the main target of the Rih al Asuad. They move through the night, searching for those nocturnal predators and kill them while hidden from sight. The Strix, however, present a greater problem, which they are a lot harder to be destroyed than their regular enemy- but the Black Wind are willing to sacrifice their own lives in battle against those demonic creatures, or even work with other conspiracies (or worse, other supernatural creatures) in order to achieve that goal. Still, their greatest weapon against those beings is not their own abilities bestowed upon them by their Dark Father- but Pazuzu's other children, the demons of the wind who were invoked ages ago by vampire occultists against their own god-king: the Edimmu, the Seven.

    Those "kindred souls" were the secret weapon of the conspiracy in the days of ancient Babylon, giving them the edge required to defeat their enemies and almost erase their very existence. In a culture based around diablerie, the Edimmu spread like plague, and the Black Wind guided it with the authority of their father. While since then the Seven has went out of control and spread through the world, the Uluma had its control over at least a number of those "winds", keeping them locked in their hidden prisons until they required their use. Since the fall of the Uluma and the shattering of their leadership, the Black Wind has lost control over those Edimmu, leaving them vulnerable to the attacks of vengeful vampires and malicious Owls. If the conspiracy wish to survive the crises their in, regaining control over their "brothers" is the first thing they must do.

    The Edimmu, as the direct spawn of Pazuzu, are able to recognize the nature of the Plague Bearers at sight. While they may have abused by them in the past, those beings do not understand "abuse" in the same way mortals do- pain and suffering are a part of being a demon, and kings rule commoners through fear and terror. For that reason, the Edimmu would always start as friendly toward their half-brothers, and they are among the few beings those demons would even try to communicate with outside their constant desire to breed. They would be more than happy to lend their help against vampires and their kind, but not only that- some would even try to give other advises, or lend their help in other aspects of life- relationships, work, studies. It is almost if they see it as their responsibility to guide their younger siblings. Today, few of the Black Wind have even established a close relationships with some of those demons or allow them to join the Vigil regularly, something which was forbidden when the Uluma ruled the conspiracy.

    and for good reason.

    Demons don't think the way most people do. They don't understand limitation or laws- only fear and desire. If you want something, take it. If your loved one goes with someone else, kill the rival. If you are hungry, eat. If you are angry, murder. They don't understand things like love, trust or hope, and they don't understand the concept of "time" like mortals do. Now is the only thing that is important, and unless you satisfy your every desire, you are not doing what you should do. While they are willing to let mortals to waste their sort life like that, they expect for more from their own lineage- and if they don't do it by themselves, they should lend their help. They'll thank them later.

    For that reason, a companionship with an Edimmu can not be based around trust- more than one Plague Bearer has regretted such choice, having their life wrecked because of a very "helpful" Edimmu. Controlling an Edimmu must be done through fear, pain and authority- the Edimmu must recognize the hunter as a true demon and a child of Pazuzu in order follow their orders. That must include harsh punishments and none compromised attitude. Only few have showed the right personality to tame those wild winds, and those who manage to preform that feat are usually seen as potential candidate to reestablish their conspiracy- until they show a sign of weakness, and their whole life get carried with the wind.

    Of course, there is another use for the Edimmu, one which use their natural desire to breed and make more of their kind, although in another way entirely.

    For when the Seven lay with mortal, they would reborn into the Black Wind.

    Stereotypes:
    Ahl al Jabal- "the people of the mountain were of great help through the years, especially during the recent times as they were willing to lend us a place to escape and during our fight against the blood suckers of our country. I wonder if they'll still be so eager to help if they'll know about our true nature"
    Ascending Ones- "I've seen some of their members among the terrorists of my old home, and everywhere they walk drugs follow. They may share our hatred toward vampires, but I'll prefer to be bitten than use their services."
    Cainte Heresy- "They hate the blood suckers with great passion, but I can't help but shiver when they preform their own rituals. I wonder if they share with their enemy more than meets the eye- but still, we can learn a lot from them, like how to survive in their fractured state"
    Habibti Maa- "demons and vampires are manipulative beings, and through cults they doom the souls of the innocents. The work of those people saves more souls than the blessings of our father ever could- but they need to understand mine is already doomed"
    Cage of Shadows- "heretics! Devil worshipers! They should die among the shadows they love so much!"

    I've heard your victims screams in the wind. It's time for yours to join theirs
    Last edited by LostLight; 05-19-2016, 06:36 AM.


    My Homebrew Signature

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

    I now blog in here

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    • #3
      I'm sorry, I just need to get this out of the way, no matter how unfitting it is:



      That out of the way, love the concept-still loyal to the Inferno, but fighting for humans. Really, it makes sense they're Muslim, too-djinn aren't regarded as so evil that anything born from them is evil too. Really, even orthodox Muslims really wouldn't have that much of a problem with the theology of being descended from a powerful demon, but loyal to Allah.


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      • #4
        Thanks! glad you liked it! About why they hide their "true origin" in general in less because they are descendant from demons, and more because they need to use figurines and amulets of Pazuzu in order to bring more of their lineage to the conspiracy, among their other ceremonies- and idolatry is a sin in Islam, after all. I assume that local conspiracies in the Middle East would believe them to be djinn born, with only few connecting them with older demons.

        Also, that song reminds me I should make some "hot wind" kinds of Endowments for them. Pazuzu was a demon of famine and drought as part of his preview of the Southeastern wind, after all.


        My Homebrew Signature

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

        I now blog in here

        Comment


        • #5
          Brilliant, every inch of it.

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