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How do I make the Lancea Sanctum "cool"?

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  • #31
    Originally posted by Iceblade44 View Post

    One note though, I'm pretty sure the Lancea et Sanctum was in Thebes before they started to appear in Rome, and that they used Theban Sorcery as a weapon against the Camarilla's Venefica.
    According to the writings of St. Daniel, one of the earliest members of the covenant, he was led by an angel naming itself “Amoniel” to a cavern deep beneath Thebes in Egypt. The cavern walls were covered in inscribed incantations and diagrams. These formed the basis of Theban Sorcery, which Daniel faithfully recorded and passed on to his fellow Kindred.

    Even if that story is true, which it likely isn't (the Testament of Longinus PDF actually contains notes written from a modern scholar's perspective, and claims the story about the Theban Legion is wholly fictional), it still means those writings had to come from somewhere. To the best of my knowledge those writings were the remnants of an ancient Mekhet cult who worshiped Amon-Ra (and I don't remember where I read this, so I can't provide a source right now).

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    • #32
      The Monachus was a real Kindred, you could talk with him in his Black Abby. Then you have the stuff on Thaddeus sire who is one of the Monarchus Childer. While the Theban Legion may be false, the Lancea first having a base in Thebes isn't.


      .

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      • #33
        I played the local Bishop for the Lancea Sanctum in a game where I was moderate and I had a rival LS who was neo-reformist. I blocked some of his merits using Status and then considered putting him in a Brazen Bull (torture device) with his ghoul for a few nights. Prior to playing the LS were my least favorite covenant, but I actually had a ton of fun playing one once you get into it. They are plenty "cool" if you give them a chance.

        You're right, modern religions don't wield the secular power that they used to. But that doesn't mean a group of vampires aren't that way, plus modern religions don't have miracles that actually work (no offense to any theists, I just mean there isn't magic spells in your specific holy book). I gave a few sermons in the game (totally wrote them all up word for word) and attracted more vampires to the LS and cozied up with the Invictus. It was great.
        Last edited by mikerand; 10-31-2018, 07:59 PM.

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        • #34
          In my experience - convention, pickup and LARP games with a wider player base usually see the Lance as one of the least played Covenants. Especially for newer and first time players. Any intrusion of real-world religion in their fantasy game can be a deal breaker and that's hard to push back against that without, as you say, making an inadvertent statement about real world religion.

          There is nothing wrong with downscaling a Covenant the players at your table aren't going to like by default. I'd just consider upping the numbers of the Invictus to make up for that lost support, but also not strictly necessary. You can turn that absence into plot hooks or a mystery - Why are the Sanctified leaderless - or not present at all? A cloister was destroyed - by whom? By what?

          Next - populating the Sanctified with NPCs even without active players does have its own advantages as well. If you have a Covenant that the players aren't going to interact with very much, that means you have free reign with them. You can decide high level moves and goals and enact those behind the scenes to generate plot and drama that you might not be able to do as easily if a player is right there in the mix and able to guide the group in realtime.

          Next - Sanctified make great villains for people already turned off by modern Christianity. Sounds like you've already understood that. But don't underestimate how scary a smart Sanctified Elder with a (somewhat) disposable flock of fanatics can be. It will be up to you to add nuance and not fall to cliche - but that should already be in your toolbox as a Storyteller.

          Next - how to make Sanctified NPCs the players might ally with. I have a couple tricks here:

          1) Theban Sorcery has a lot of good buff magics. Lean into those. Angelic armor, artifacts, extra blood - a lot of very utilitarian things that would benefit any Kindred walking into combat or physical scenarios. Not as useful in straight political games, so that can depend on the table. But if you make mechanical advantages to Theban Sorcery something the players can gain access to, I've found that people may be tempted. Circle and Ordo buffs are rarer and very much involve anti-humanity/bestial themes like torture, while Theban usually doesn't.

          2) Only attempt to preach to players who have expressed an interest in being preached to. That's really simple. If someone has an aspiration to pursue faith like this, target them with a sympathetic NPC. That goes a long way. Invite them into confessionals (dig out the old 1E bonus to humanity rolls and turn it into a condition), come up with specific sermons relevant to their current Requiems, etc.

          3) If the player hasn't expressed that kind of interest - don't force it. Instead, make any boon exchanges or favor trading about helping the NPC practice their own faith, not about changing the PC's faith. Think about these two responses to the same effect. "I'll help you with what you want if ..."
          • "... you come to the next midnight mass for a sermon." vs.
          • "... you help me make sure my next sermon is better than my rival's."
          In both cases, the player would end up at the mass. But in the first case, it feels like the player is being tricked or coerced into changing their beliefs. In the second, their internal monologue can be whatever they want. They don't have to believe or change their mind, they just have to assist with something. Reading a passage with the player's Majesty on, kidnapping / bribing an operatic maestro to sing the opening hymn, finding some kind of relic to be used in the rites. Then, when you have them there, you've got an opportunity to slip in a message that might have a chance of resonating. Bait the hook, see if they bite.

          Now - at the end of the day, I think you should ask yourself this basic question:

          "Can I (or my table) sympathize at all with a true modern-day believer in God?"

          Is there anyone in your life that you respect or admire who also has projected that kind of faith? If not, then yeah - you may not have much of a well to draw from for these folks. It will be up to you to do research and find something you can admire in that kind of faith if you want to portray it in any kind of sympathetic manner.

          If you do have someone like that in your life / circles - use them as inspiration. "What would need to happen for this person to suddenly wake up as a vampire AND keep hold to their faith AND remain sympathetic?" You should be able to draw up that kind of NPC motivation just like any other rounded character. Here are some of my personal answers to keeping them sympathetic:
          • Make them progressive. Ditch all the trappings that most people hate about evangelicals. The bigotry, the conservatism, the regressive viewpoints. Get rid of all of that and go back to the founding principles - helping people avoid hell and be better. Lean away from the monstrous applications (scaring people away from hell through fleshly torment), and make sure the NPCs that interact the most are high humanity. "I'm going to torture you for violating your marriage" vs. "I want you to face and truly understand the harm you did to your family when you cheated on your spouse."
          • Make them conflicted. Let them question their own faiths in front of the players. Don't make it that every NPC has unwavering faith. Let them face crises which test it, and let the players see and/or influence that. Do they take the opportunity to break the NPC away from their faith / the church, or do they help them rekindle it for favors later? As soon as an NPC starts to seem a like a fanatic, like they have all the answers, they can turn unsympathetic to people who likely don't have such black and white religious views.
          • Make them less Christian. This may seem counter-intuitive, but you can add that element of otherworldiness back to them by sidestepping a lot of the modern trappings of religion. Start researching other methods of Christianity or the Abrahamic religions. Look up the Coptics in Ethiopia, or the (supposed) followers of Saint Thomas the Apostle in India. Add an element of the exotic, and that can go a long way. If you do stick with more Western models, pull from the old testament. Prophets, angels, holy sorcery. Move away from megachurches, hail Mary's and common communion.
          • Make them victims. Put them as the persecuted underdog and hand them an enemy that is unequivocally monstrous and evil, that is preying upon the Sanctified regardless of the individual. "Do I want to join these people in their faith? lol no" is a much easier thought than "Am I going to just let these folks die because my personal faith is different? Er..."
          I'll end by reiterating the point some others have made about thematics being up to you.

          "The vampiric condition is a curse from God." - That is a foundational point for both the Lancea et Sanctum but also the Ordo Dracul. It's just that while the Sanctified say, "Thank you, Lord" and lean into the trappings of faith - the Ordo say, "Fuck you, God" and lean into the trappings of mad-science. There is nothing beyond time and creativity stopping you from reskinning the Sanctified into something parallel to the the Ordo methodology if you are committed to making the Sanctified a viable player-interesting faction.

          For example - organized crime is a theme that tends to draw players, and the mafia's Italian heritages are very much woven into Christianity. A crime family run by a Cardinal / Bishop, where the flock are goons and made men I would argue isn't out of place - especially one that actively protects its community in the Robin Hood vein and sticks to an honor among Thieves code. Nor do I think a cult of cutting-edge geneticists attempting to breed a new version of the Nephilim or finding the 'God gene' be outside of the scope, either, especially one that does gratis fertility work, for example.

          Finally, watch Preacher. Both the main character and one of the antagonist organizations are great current-media inspirations.

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          • #35
            Thank you, Holy, that was a comprehensive and helpful answer.

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