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[Dark Eras] Alternative Circle of Crone origins

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  • [Dark Eras] Alternative Circle of Crone origins

    One of the things I do not like about VtR 2E is origins of Circle of Crone in it. I really dislike implying that Covenant was created only in 19th century Britain - and before it was not force to be recon with. What was my surprise when I found this quote in researching Ancient Mysteries for Vampire:

    Originally posted by Ancient Mysteries, p. 157
    Pagan Cults
    War with pagans intensified during the early years of the Holy Roman Empire, and the forces of the
    Lancea+Sanctum and their allies among the developing Invictus routinely clashed with heathen Kindred.
    Pagan Kindred of the Roman Camarilla and Byzantium traveled into the darkening wilds, calling together native Kindred and warning them of the growing threat posed by the spear that stabbed so often into their lands.

    Through such discussions it was decided that the cults would band together for their continued survival, forming a protective orbit against their enemies. Many of these cults called on mother figures to protect them
    and to bring an end to their enemies. By the rise of Das Heiligen Nacht Reich, this combined Kindred front was
    known as the Circle of the Crone and was considered anathema in most god-fearing domains.

    The Vikings, who raided Christian lands by sea for centuries, brought along with them warrior Acolytes,
    some of whom possessed abilities derived from the Protean Discipline that allowed them to become literally one
    with the longboats their retainers rowed. These warlords were renowned among their people for luck in combat,
    and served as the first introduction for many Longinian Kindred to the brutal ways of the Circle of the Crone. The
    stereotype that Acolytes revel in diablerie stems from these invasions. In the case of the Viking Kindred, stereotype and truth were one.

    Ironically, one of the largest unmolested populations of Circle cultists existed in the heart of Christendom,
    Constantinople. The Imperator allowed occasional nomadic Kindred from northern Europe and similarly
    barbaric lands to remain within the city so long as they demonstrated a strong capacity for combat and were
    willing to serve. This Tagma ton Xenon (“Foreign Guard”) protected the Kindred of the city in exchange for feeding
    rights among the city’s non-Greek population and a small amount of coin from the Imperator’s coffers. While each
    member of the Guard was baptized upon induction, the Sanctified largely left the warriors to their own devices,
    only chastising them for their worship if they behaved in a manner deemed disruptive to the larger population.
    I'm much more like idea of Circle of Crone forming in 4th - 6th century in the wilds from previous pagan cults fighting with Christianity - than their 'reemerging' only in 19th century...


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  • #2
    Hey, we more or less agree on something (I think)! My take has the Crone's modern social, cultural, and mystical manifestation as just that... modern. The Crone didn't exist until the 19th century, but they draw more or less on the magical practices and traditions of a variety of older covenants, some of whom practiced Cruac, some who did not. Because large sections of Ancient Mysteries are written in-universe (and because the setting has changed since that book was written), I would read this passage as modern Kindred projecting backwards in history, associating the Tagma ton Xenon and other similar covenants with the Crone because they fit a similar archetype.

    Personally, I would not say there was a group in the 4th to 6th actually called the Circle of the Crone, but your mileage may vary. Even if the name was in use, I would not say they are the literal same covenant, but the modern version is borrowing from the older traditions and using the name to evoke a mythic past.

    And that's all I can say for now, but stay tuned for Dark Eras 2. You'll see a bit (not much, but a bit) of my approach at play. And you'll see it with content from Ancient Mysteries, but not this particular quote. Gonna have to deal with the Tagma ton Xenon if and when I get that Varangian Guard supplement up on the Vault.
    Last edited by Second Chances; 12-19-2019, 03:12 AM.


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    • #3
      Yeah I think it's better handled as the Circle being these groups that have already existed (and in some cases, been wiped out) finally reaching some level of community. I think Vampire managed to do well in first edition by building its setting up with some definitive details to build off of (Rome, and Ancient Egypt) and other games that got specific about the setting (Mage and Mummy) were really improved by it. Second edition seems like it has pulled away from fleshing out the setting.

      I'm looking forward to seeing Dark Eras 2's take on things, whether it's going to be 'vampires live here, here's what they might be like, hands off' or more concrete.
      Last edited by nofather; 12-19-2019, 03:31 AM.

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      • #4

        I mean, wasn't the Circle supposed to be a bunch of different cults that banded together for political reasons? I think you could play it a couple different ways -- which I'm pretty sure was intentional.
        • That the Circle is a coalition of hyper-local preexisting cults, each with their own histories and religious practices (my favorite in theory, but deff the most work intensive).
        • That the Circle has a kind of neopagan "base package" religion, which was cobbled together from some prexisting superstitions and practices combined with some wholly new stuff. Like a vampiric version of Wicca.
        • That the Circle is actually all new stuff having discovered something -- or rediscovered it and are a revival of a dead religion.


        Anyway, my guess is that the whole "emerging in the 19th century England" probably has something to do with the history of a bunch of nationalist movements that.... if they didn't start at that time, then they started right after... and aimed at reviving a lot of the indigenous religious practices.



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        • #5
          In the absence of the Circle of the Crone, we had the Weihan Cynn and the Fuil Beannaithe... in the British Isles. Other places could have all manner of traditions witchcraft, paganism and so forth with whatever themes of the Circle of the Crone fit. And those covenants can contribute to the diversity of the modern covenant.

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          • #6
            I could easily see that the name "Circle of the Crone" may have been once a name that the Sanctified and Invictus used to describe the many faced cults and covenants of pagan vampires, many of which using blood sorcery of some sort, if not Cruac of some variation. The Cults themselves may truly have had an alliance of some form, more of a social agreement than an actual covenant. Heck, the name "Circle of the Crone" may even be some mistake in translation from some old language which was used to describe the alliance or collective of cults. When the modern Covenant was formed in the 19th century, it is likely they have borrowed the name from some old "Kindred History" book- which could have been a misinterpretation of the context of the original term, which, again, may have been a foreign term used to describe those vampires by outsiders, which may have been mistranslated by those vampires...

            In short, history is complicated- especially vampire history, where everyone are liars and the past is clouded by sleep.


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            • #7
              I very like LostLight's take - that 'Circe of Crone' is loose term that Invictus and Lancea Sanctum used in Middle Ages to call all those pagan vampires - and later the proper Covenant used it's as to reclaim term for their own, positive movement.


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              • #8
                Originally posted by wyrdhamster View Post
                I very like LostLight's take - that 'Circe of Crone' is loose term that Invictus and Lancea Sanctum used in Middle Ages to call all those pagan vampires - and later the proper Covenant used it's as to reclaim term for their own, positive movement.

                Possibly associated with the phantasmagoric figure known as Sightless Mother (from the "Ancient Horrors" chapter of Night Horrors: Immortal Sinners) with her elusive ties to Cruác.
                Last edited by Baaldam; 01-06-2020, 09:28 AM.

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                • #9
                  Pagan vampires would have existed on the fringes, since some vampires were never going to convert, and unlike humans, immortal pagans won’t necessarily die out. On the other hand, a single over-arching, syncretic organization calling itself the Circle of the Crone is about as neo-pagan as you can get, and the 19th century is basically the terminus post quem for that sort of thing. Paleo-pagans just didn’t think or operate that way; it’s a modern reaction that’s designed to appropriate certain strengths of the Sanctified religion in order to fight against it.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Black Flag View Post
                    Pagan vampires would have existed on the fringes, since some vampires were never going to convert, and unlike humans, immortal pagans won’t necessarily die out. On the other hand, a single over-arching, syncretic organization calling itself the Circle of the Crone is about as neo-pagan as you can get, and the 19th century is basically the terminus post quem for that sort of thing. Paleo-pagans just didn’t think or operate that way; it’s a modern reaction that’s designed to appropriate certain strengths of the Sanctified religion in order to fight against it.

                    You have a point, but i'd say the 19th century is not the only period of occult revivals and reactions to religious status quo.

                    I can see something similar springing up in elizabethan England or a number of other places anytime in the centuries between Renaissance and post-napoleonic romantic nationalist movements. In fact wasn't there a reference to the Circle of the Crone in Rites of the Dragon?

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                    • #11
                      I suspect that the 19th Century is more the time when some neonates with Romantic sensibilities were Embraced, discovered the survival of many Pagan Cults in the British Isles and decided to "band" together for protection and even conquering some territories. Especially at the fringe of the United Kingdom, in Wales, Scotland and Ireland, where they could also bank on hatred/resentment against English Kine and Kindred.

                      And when it worked well... so Mathuselah with ties to the Gauls, the Germanic tribes and the like suddenly decided that doing the same thing was the only sensible option. And voila, Circle of the Crone is "born" in that various Pagan cults and solitary elders banded together, shared some knowledges and powers and ended becoming strong enough to repel any who dared to destroy them for good.

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Ur-Than View Post
                        I suspect that the 19th Century is more the time when some neonates with Romantic sensibilities were Embraced, discovered the survival of many Pagan Cults in the British Isles and decided to "band" together for protection and even conquering some territories. Especially at the fringe of the United Kingdom, in Wales, Scotland and Ireland, where they could also bank on hatred/resentment against English Kine and Kindred.

                        And when it worked well... so Mathuselah with ties to the Gauls, the Germanic tribes and the like suddenly decided that doing the same thing was the only sensible option. And voila, Circle of the Crone is "born" in that various Pagan cults and solitary elders banded together, shared some knowledges and powers and ended becoming strong enough to repel any who dared to destroy them for good.

                        Not that i thought of the matter, it might go much beyond that, as the romantic movement - and the reinvention of national identities, with a focus in the language, race and people as the core of nations, in a widespread substitution, of the figure of the Crown - and the kings & queens who held it - as its heart and unifying symbol. It all fits a general context, not limited to just one nation or empire, but spreading in varied degrees through the european cultural sphere as a whole, of abandonement if not outright rejection, of the divine right of kings, that which would be a major lynchpin of not only feudalism and the absolutism that evolved from it, but the authority of the Invictus and its centuries' long alliance with the Lancea et Sanctum.

                        So it could be that the 19th century's "birth" of the Circle of the Crone might relate in no small part to a parallel movement, if not outright alliance or support, on the part of a young but ambitious Carthian Movement fighting to make room for itself in each and every way it could, adopting and abandoning any and all new or anti-establishment tendencies as it went along.
                        Last edited by Baaldam; 10-03-2020, 11:17 AM.

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                        • #13
                          I like the interpretation from the old Covenant Book. The "Circle" is a generic term to refer a bunch of loose cults scattered across the globe, each one with their own History and often barely or even utterly incompatible between them. Only the pressure of the Santified (and their equivalents from other societies) forced them to set a sort of unified front.

                          And it's very explicit about how the way a cult exercise their faith can differ from how they used to centuries ago. Some of them are modern reconstructions based on ancient texts, and others are lead by ancient with their memories scrambled by the Fog of Ages
                          Last edited by Raistlin; 10-07-2020, 11:21 AM.

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