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The Cabiri [Antagonists]

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  • The Cabiri [Antagonists]

    || READ THIS FIRST. I REPEAT- READ THIS FIRST ||

    So, more than once it was discussed in those forums about the possibility of non-Iremite mummies, be them twisted version on the Rite of Return or independent creations formed by other cultures around the globe. Considering many people have some strong opinions about the matter, I think it is better to state it here and now- this is not a place for debate about the necessity of non-Iremite mummies. This is just an example for how such being may come to existence, using the game's own setting. It is not an attempt to convince people who dislike the very concept of non-Iremite mummies that such creatures should exist. It is simply an idea which was buzzing in my head for a long, long time (since reading about "bastardize versions of the Rite", actually), which I've finally decided to write. Constructive criticism is, and always was, welcomed- but using this thread to say how much you don't like non-Iremite mummies is not, as there are enough threads about the subject. You have been warned, my pet Amkhat is watching you! :P

    ***********



    Since the ancient days, mankind has wished for immortality. Be it the immortality of the body, the soul or the mind, this burning urge has guided many different civilizations across the ages. The endless cycle of life, death and rebirth is a common theme, a motif which returns again and again and again, an undying hope that one day, the humanity will defeat the greatest of its enemies- death itself.

    The fear of death and oblivion was the power behind many secret societies- alchemists which tried to create the elixir of life, Taoists which worked to purify their body and soul, travelers which crossed the earth and sea in search for the legendary water of life… and of course, the ancient rites of Egypt, which were meant to preserve the soul and the body in the afterlife. Most of those societies have failed in their research- true immortality is not something easily achieved. It requires a sacrifice. It requires blood. It requires life. The act of creating something truly immortal involves the destruction of the very thing they wish to preserve, invoking all of the powers of heaven, hell and earth to erase its name from the world- and as such, its legacy would become eternal.

    That, of course, only applies for the creation of something truly immortal.

    Rare among the immortal beings which walk upon the world, one could find references to a being known as the "Cabiri". Those creatures are few at number, and track their origin to a forgotten occult society which was known as the "Legacy of Cabirus". According to their own history, the Legacy's origin has come from ancient Greece, a splinter group of an even more mysterious organization which was simply known as the Strangers. While as whole, the Strangers themselves has worked to create heroes to fight the immortal gods of a dead realm known as "Irem", some of their sorcerers had other goals in mind. They looked upon the wonders they made from captured Sekhem and thought that maybe, instead of making new heroes, they should use those golden fruits for themselves. That maybe, using the golden light of heaven, they could be like the gods they thought against. That maybe, by eating those fruits, they could achieve humanity ages old dream- Immortality.

    Cabirus wasn't one of them.

    Cabirus, a sorcerer of Greek descent, was one of the greatest sages of the Strangers. He claimed that while eating the golden fruits may grant others a semblance of a Deathless might, such power is only temporary. Eventually, the light would fade out, and the sorcerer would have to drain more mummies to feed their flickering immortality. Such fickle existence wasn't even close to humanity's true wish- nothing better than bathing with blood or stealing another's body. No, if one wishes to gain true immortality, stealing from the mummies just won't do. They'll have to become like them.

    That, of course, is easier said then done- Cabirus himself has worked about the theory of Pneuma all of his life, and while he has discovered few important breakthroughs (like the idea of biding the soul to the dead body or the concept of using vessels as a carrier of Pneuma), it wasn't enough, and he left to Hades like any other mortal man. His students, however, haven't given up on his research, and while they by themselves also didn’t managed to unlock the secret, the theory was carried on. Slowly, the Legacy of Cabirus has grown, working tirelessly in order to find the key for immortality- and with Alexander's journey to Egypt, the small cult has followed him, basing itself the closest it have ever been to Irem's buried ruins.

    It was during that time that the society has finally had their finale breakthrough- after years of searching the ancient lands; the group has found in the desert what look like a shattered piece of a pillar, upon which were written words in a nameless language. After conducting a long research, they came to the conclusion that the item was a shard of Irem itself, and that the images and words were a part from the grand spell which gave death to the living, and life to the dead.

    Using the information gained from the shard and the knowledge they patched from years of research, the members of Legacy has returned to their homeland, collected their relics and preformed the ceremony they believed would allow them to open the gates of Hades and claim the Elysium while they are still alive- becoming lords over both life and death. They shared their blood into a cup, and mixed it with wine- a sacrament to the great Dionysus, the Twice Born. Later, they drank the wine- and when the cup was finished, they bled again and drank again- until blood no longer came from their veins, but golden ichors, such as the gods. Then, when the ecstasy was high and the boundary between the worlds was thin, they called upon the youngest among them and sent them to perform the Katabasis in deep caverns without light to guide their path- and when the screams began, they knew they were correct.

    As the last scream died out, the sorcerers went to the cave and gathered the dismembered remains of those who died as Zagreus, and weaved their bodies back to become Dionysus. Five of their organs, however, were left in the cave as payment to Hades and Persephone- their heart, brain, liver, lungs and stomach. Each of those organs was replaced with a relic, to maintain the flow of Pneuma in the dead body as if it was still alive. Finally, they anointed them with the rest of the golden wine and started a great fire- and just as Sirius, the mad dog of heavens, shined brightly in the skies, they sent the bodies to the inferno to serve as their replacements in the world of the dead, before their elders stabbed themselves in the heart to become gods after death. The price was paid. The sacrifice was given. The Ceremony of Cabirus was finally accomplished.

    However, when the night has passed and the sun shined, when the flames have finally died out and the boundary between the worlds was established once more, the dead elders remained dead.

    The sacrifices, on other hand, were alive and unharmed- and very much confused.

    Those were the first of the Cabiri- those who were killed as a sacrifice yet ascended as gods. Unlike the mythical Rite of Return, the Ceremony of Cabirus still exist, although most of its version were corrupted through the years, both intentionally and accidentally, until almost every attempt to perform the ceremony once more ends up with the death of the sacrifice, instead of its ascension. The Cabiri, of course, know the correct form of the ritual- but they are wary to share it, as the struggles between themselves over power and resources has shattered what was already left from the already shattered Legacy shortly after the Ceremony was performed.

    The reason lies in the very nature of the Ceremony- for while the Legacy believed they have managed to crack the secret for true immortality, they were wrong. The shard they found truly was Iremite, yet the writings didn't refer to the Rite, but for an older event in the Nameless Empire's history- and as such, the very foundation of the ritual was misguided. The original Rite required the death of a whole nation as a price, not merely a few young souls and a bunch of elders who were already near the end of their life. No, the Ceremony of Cabirus haven't managed to recreate the Deathless- but a Lifeless mimicry, a pale image of the true eternity achieved by the Rite, one which is not only hunted by the true gods of Irem and the slaves of the Devourer, but by their own kind, too.

    After all, there is only a limited amount of relics around the world, isn't it?

    The Template

    The Cabiri Template follows the same rules as making an Arisen character, except of the following modifications:

    -The Cabiri do not have a Decree, as the Theory of Pneuma did not recognize the five-folded nature of soul. They have no Judge to follow and no Pillar to define their existence. Instead, all Cabiri have a single trait, called Vital Heat, which represent the strength of their soul. Vital Heat could be used in the same way Pillars may be spent, yet is tied to Pneume like a fuel trait (see table for details). Vital Heat could be regained be performing a sacrifice (one point for an animal, full replenish for human sacrifice or destruction of a relic), or through meditation in a place dedicated to death (graveyard, battle field, etc). The Cabirus may use Vital Heat to increase any non-physical Attribute. All Cabiri choose one Attribute at character creation to serve as their Favored Attribute.

    -Similarly, the Cabiri do not have a Guild to belong to. As such, they don't have bonus Affinities or Favored Vessels. On the other hand, the complicate relationship between the Cabiri and Vessels grants them an advantage on this field: the Cabiri can track all relics using Kepher rolls, even though they are still effected from their curses.

    -Cabiri, while using different terms, does have a Sekhem trait- which they call Pneuma. Unlike Sekhem, however, Pneuma does not usually starts with 10, but with a value of 1. The reason is that while the body of the Arisen flows with Sekhem, the Cabiri requires an external source of energy in the forms of relics, which are transplanted directly into their body. The Pneuma value of the Cabiri is equal to the total rating of the vessels which are transplanted in his body, no higher than 10. In order to awake the Cabiri from their death sleep, someone (usually the Cabirus's cult) needs to transplant such a vessel into their body, which means the power of the Cabiri greatly depends on the number of vessels the cult can supply them with. All Cabiri start with at least a Pneuma of 1, although they can spend Merit dots to buy a higher ranked vessel, and by doing to rise their starting Pneuma. Pneuma can not be risen without actively finding relics and transplanting them into their body. A vessel which is used to power a Cabiri's Pneuma may not be used for its powers, but also does not bestow its curse.

    Another difference between Pneuma and Sekhem is that Pneuma governs the amount of Vital Heat the Cabirus has in his body. Refer to the following table to know the maximal amount of Vital Heat the character has. All other effects are equivalent to the Sekhem table.
    Max Vital Heat Pneuma
    100 10
    50 9
    40 8
    30 7
    20 6
    15 5
    13 4
    12 3
    11 2
    10 1
    The Cabiri enjoy all benefits and disadvantages of Sekhem- including the Descent, which they call Katabasis. According to Cabiri claims, the reason is that their very existence requires them constant maintenance and draining vessels for energy. Without a Judge or equivalent, however, the Cabiri do not suffer from losing Pneuma as a punishment, meaning they only need to roll for Descent when the time table demands them to. Once the Pneuma rating of the Cabirus drops bellow a vessel's rating, the vessel is vanished from the world- taken to Hades, if the Cabiri are to be believed.

    -like the Arisen, the Cabiri have a Memory rating. They do not, however, have strange memories from Duat (which they call as Hades). Instead, there is only darkness, a blank void from which they remember nothing. The common claim is that when a Cabirus goes to Hades, her soul drinks from the purifying water of Lethe and forget everything from the dark world of the dead, to be as the hero which deserves Elysium. Others (especially those Arisen who discover about the existence of those Lifeless), however, claim that the reason the Cabiri remember nothing is that nothing happens- without vessels to give them life, the Cabiri is simply a dead body. Their soul has carried on with their death, and all that remains is a meat puppet given a semblance of life through Sekhem- and once it runs out of batteries, it drops dead until new ones are added. Whatever the truth, even a newly formed Cabirus suffers from Lethe's poison, replacing their Morality for Memory. As for Memory Sins, any reference to vessels of "one's guild" is to be replaced with vessels in general. Replace "destruction of remains of the Nameless Empire" with destruction of Cabirus's legacy, and pursuing a purpose with betraying one's cult. The Cabiri gain all the regular benefits of Memory.

    -the Cabiri have access to all Merits available to the Arisen except of Guild Status, as they lack access to a Guild.

    -while the Cabiri lack Pillars, they do have access to Affinities. They may buy Soul Affinities as normal, but replace the Pillar prerequisites with the Attribute which that Pillar is usually meant to enhance. As Attributes are more expensive than Pillars, it means that the ability of the Cabiri to manifest Affinities is inhabited when compared to the Arisen. As they lack a Guild, they also lack access to Guild Affinities. On the other hand, they may manifest Bane Affinities, as long as their Pneuma is powered by a bane vessel- although they suffer from the normal penalties from doing so. They may also theoretically learn Utterances and power them through Vital Heat, although that would usually require the help of one of the Deathless, something which rarely happens. In order to learn an Utterance, the Cabiri also need an Attribute value which corresponds to the Utterance's Pillar requirements.

    In the theoretical case a Cabiri would manage to learn and use the 3rd tier of Blessed is the God King, they won't have the regular animal image. Instead, their body would look like it was ripped apart and sewn together, wine gashing from their scars and grape vines grow from their flesh- as if they were a macabre image of Dionysus himself. Similar aesthetic changes may be required for similar Utterances (for example, the Gift of Golden Ankh may take the forms of flow of golden wine), and similarly, names changes may be required for both Affinities and Utterances (the Kiss of Apep may be called the Wrath of the Erinyes, for example). Others do not. After all, Utterances are foreign magic- why wouldn't they look just as foreign?

    - The Cabiri enjoy the benefit of the Sahu (known as Prosopon, as the masks used in ancient Greece in the worship of Dionysus) as if they were Arisen, and are healed and harmed is they were regular mummies, including fixing their dead flesh. However, even more than the Arisen, the Cabiri require maintaining their dead form. Without a body to hold their relics, the Cabiri won't return to life.

    - The Cabiri also cause Sybaris, which they name as the "Bacchanalia". They see it as inspiring the divine madness of Dionysus in their followers by letting them to "drink the wine of heaven". Unlike Sybaris, the Bacchanalia cause ecstasy, frenzy and inspiration. Mortal men are touched by eternity, only to recognize how meaningless they are- there is no reason, no logic or meaning for the world, only the eternal madness of the divine. The Bacchanalia is also divided to Unease and Terror, although instead of showing fear the effected person suffers from mad ecstasy. The outcomes are, however, the same. Visions generated by the Bacchanalia are usually tied to Dionysus, Hades, Charon and similar Greek chthonic aspects, with a theme of constant death and rebirth without meaning or goal. A unique effect is that instead of Despair, Unease Sybaris would cause Ecstasy, making the mortal in question to rip her cloths, dance madly or any similar actions the ST see as appropriate. Bacchanalia may cause Sybaric Omens as normal.

    - As it was mentioned, in order to bring a Cabiri back from the dead, someone has to transplant a vessel into her corpse. If their body was ripped to shreds (as being described at Deader than Dead), an external person has to collect the remains and weave them back to a form which is close enough to human. The process may be assisted by using body parts of other people, as long as the majority of the body belongs to the original Cabiri. Of course, it relates only for the state of the body when the Cabiri was killed. That means that through the ages, the body of the Cabiri becomes less and less his and more of an amalgam of dead corpses. As one may expect, most Cabiri prefer to not think about that. It also mean that while the Cabiri do not have some metaphysical power to force them to obey their cult, they depend on them much more if they wish to return to life- there is not Sothic Turn to guide their souls to their bodies, no higher goal which force their dead meat to life. Without a cult to patch you up after death and put relics into your body, you are as good as dead. A Cabirus may not be Twice Arisen, as the focus on their original mortal body is too great. If someone were to destroy all remains of a Cabirus, they may never return to life once more.

    - Unlike the Arisen, the nature of the Cabiri is to take, not to give. The Cabiri may not create a Sadikh, and may not give themselves to Ammut and become Shuankhsen. The Shuankhsen may devour them for Sekhem as if they were Arisen, although many of them would complain that the taste is bad, as if they were fermented or rotten. Eating a Cabiri flesh also has other side effects- it causes the Shuankhsen to get drunk, as if they were mortals.

    - As far as the Cabiri are aware, no higher power rules or protects them. As such, the Cabiri may not achieve any kind of Apotheosis, and exist in a "free state". Some, however, have grown tired of their meaningless existence through the years. They wish for their death to mean something, for their immortality to have a goal. Such Cabiri go on searches for gods who wish for their services- yet both the Judges and the Temakh usually see them as abominations needed to be destroyed, and their essence is too weak for the Devourer to reshape as her own. Those who do not give up go on journeys to find more worthy divinities to serve- Dionysus, Hades, Persephone, Hephaestus and other chthonic gods have all been searched as potential patrons, yet as far as anyone is aware, non of such quests has been successful. In a way, just as the Arisen and the Deceived achieve Apotheosis by freeing themselves from their masters, perhaps the Cabiri's only path for redemption would include giving up on their freedom from their own will, for a being worthy enough to have it.
    Last edited by LostLight; 05-26-2017, 12:54 PM.


    My Homebrew Signature

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

    I now blog in here

  • #2
    Different Views, the same Hell

    While both the Cabiri and the Arisen can agree on certain aspects of the world and how it works, the exact details has proved vary enough to make each group condemn the other as "abominations and blasphemers" (from the Arisen's point of view) or "primitive barbarians" (from the Cabiri's). Both mummies recognize the existence of some sort of "life force", which can be manipulated through human craft and civilization. Both agree on the existence of a dark realm of the dead, to which souls go after death, and about a bright heaven which waits for those who are worthy. Both agree about the existence of divine beings, such as the Queen of the Dead or a reborn god, or the mother of monsters which devours all life. However, while the Arisen believe that they are meant to serve some sort of "divine will/law", and that their gods are always watching and always judging, the Cabiri claim that their gods (which are nothing like the barbarian beings the Deathless worship) are simply powerful beings which could be bargained with, bribed or simply ignore. Unlike the Arisen, who have the Judges to whisper in their ears and remember visions of Duat in their dreams, the Cabiri have no proof for the existence of their gods. As far as they know, they (and, as they resent to admit, the Arisen) are the most divine thing they'll ever meet. It is not uncommon for a Cabirus to believe himself a certain member of the Theoi incarnated, or that even the gods don't really exist- things which only encourage the Arisen to despise those Lifeless. If one were to add the Cabiri to their setting, they may ask whether the Cabiri are right or wrong about their own cosmology. Here are the most likely options to choose when dealing with that problem (although you should feel free to make your own, if non of them serves your game- or even just ignore the question!)-

    The Cabiri Are Wrong: the Cabiri are a product of a bastardized attempt to replicate the great Rite of Return. No wonder that their world view is no better than a patchwork of misinterpreted version of the Arisen cosmology, filled with made up details and lies the original Legacy of Cabirus has told itself. While they may understand how to work Sekhem, their theory about why and what are a complete nonsense. The reason their gods show no interest in them is because they are a mistake which should have never happened. They have no place in the world, and they should be erased from the face of earth.

    Two Underworlds, Side by Side: Duat is not the only dead kingdom out there. While the Cabiri recognize Duat as Hades, it may well not be the case- perhaps Hades is another dead kingdom which exist in the same plane of existence as Duat, side by side but with its own gods and its own hierarchy and rules. Perhaps it is another world, which exist together with Duat, Dis and with countless other hellish worlds in what some would call the "Lower Depths". Maybe the Cabiri's underworld is found in the real Underworld- a Dead Dominion ruled by Hades and his queen, surrounded by rivers which are gushing with wine. Perhaps it is found in another place entirely- maybe it is some exotic region in the Hedge, or Arcadia itself, a Vineyard of the True Fae. Or maybe it is an Emanation of Stygia, or maybe perhaps it is the Primal Wilds. It could even be an Abyssal kingdom or an unknown Supernal Realm, guarded by a Watchtower which only answer the dead. Maybe non of the above. The cosmology of the Chronicles of Darkness is strange. Who knows what hides in its dark corners?

    Hell by Any Other Name: the terms may vary, but the dead realm of the Arisen is truly the one of the Cabiri, and while their gods may wear different names and faces, they are the still the same. No one world view is more true than the other, as both are faces of the same truth, interpenetrated through different cultural lens. It doesn't matter if your deity is called Azar or Hades, Persephone or Esit, in the end, there is only one king and one queen who rule over the dead.

    In order to help your decision, here is the lexicon the Cabiri use to describe their world, and its possible Arisen parallel-

    Hades (the underworld): Duat

    Hades (king of the dead): Azar (or possibly Sutek)

    Persephone (lively queen of the dead sent to the underworld): Esit

    Dionysus (shredded god of divine will): Sutek (or possibly Azar)

    Apollo (god of the sun): Re

    Hephaestus (master of crafts): Ptah

    Charon (guide of dead souls): Anpu

    Styx (the Twilight): Neter Khertet

    Judges of Hades (judges of the dead): Judges of Duat (each Judge of Hades represent 14 Judges of Duat)

    Echidna (mother of monsters): Ammut

    Chaos (source of creation): Khepera

    Elysium (paradise): A'aru

    Gaea (mother of creation): Atum

    Dike (divine law): Law of Suffering

    Hermes (all knowing): Scroll of Ages

    Zeus (sky king): Heru

    Hecate (passage to Duat): Nebtet

    Athena (goddess of craft and war): Neith

    Pneuma (life force): Sekhem

    Vital Heat (binding of soul): Pillars

    Katabasis (descent to the underworld): Descent

    Prosopon (mask of divinity): Sahu

    Bacchanalia (divine madness): Sybaris

    Theres (monsters): Amkhat

    Muses (gods of art): Shan'iatu (especially the Deceived's Temakh)

    of course, those are only suggestions- choose what ever you feel like!
    Last edited by LostLight; 06-12-2017, 03:03 PM.


    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
      LostLight, I am in awe of you. ​This...this is just beautiful.

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      • #4
        Very nice!

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        • #5
          I remember these guys from oWoD Mummy. They'd be about the only thing from there I'd want to see in M:tC, so good on you.


          My Promethean Homebrew.

          Yes, I made it the same way as a Promethean. No, the authorities haven't found me yet.

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          • #6
            really interesting .


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            • #7
              What was their role in Mummy the Resurrection?

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              • #8
                Originally posted by reseru View Post
                What was their role in Mummy the Resurrection?
                more or less what they are in here- an example for a bastardized creation of the Spell of Life. At the original Mummy book, they were mechanically identical to the regular mummy characters, except of using different terms for their powers and traits. In M:tR itself, most of them were either destroyed or mixed up with the Amenti, with those who survived in their original form were called as "Lifeless" (that is, a nickname for any mummy who use the old Mummy mechanics). Considering the tense relationships between the original Cabiri and the Amenti, I've thought that bringing them to the CofD may prove itself interesting.

                you could also read about them in here


                My Homebrew Signature

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

                I now blog in here

                Comment


                • #9
                  Ahh finally Cabiri...


                  It is a time for great deeds!

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