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The Architects of the Monolith 2E (False Gods: Ventrue Preview)

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  • The Architects of the Monolith 2E (False Gods: Ventrue Preview)

    So, we're getting close-ish to our release, and I thought it might be fun to preview one of two new covenants (well, 2.5) in our (None More Dark's) upcoming Ventrue book.

    If you remember the Architects of the Monolith from Bloodlines: The Hidden — and I'm sure you do — you're probably wondering what's going on below. In that, uh, they're no longer a bloodline. Long story short, I didn't think the bloodline format was allowing the concept to fulfill its narrative promise or its conceptual potential (the long version is much less pretentious than that makes it sound). I'll have a more detailed explanation of this after the book comes out, but, for now, you can have a look at the result of a very long, silly argument I had with myself. And, just to be clear, if you prefer them as a bloodline, you'll have most of the tools to use them as such in the book, including a complete update of Gilded Cage. You'll just have to figure out a bane, because I ain't doing it (again, it's a long story).

    Disclaimer: This text is subject to change.

    Bon appétit, as Ermenjart might say.

    The Architects of the Monolith: The Eye of the Pyramid

    “This is our design. Pray you have a place in it.”

    You want to join the Architects of the Monolith because

    You see imperfection in the world and know you can fix it. You have plans in your head you need to see in concrete and steel. You know other Kindred are screwing around with game pieces when they could upend the board. You want to build something no one can ever tear down. You believe in the Carpenter’s vision.

    The big picture

    A city is nothing without its monuments. People remember metropoles like Athens, Giza, and Oaxaca because you can go out and touch their glory days. Step inside the Parthenon and know the wisdom of its goddess. Climb the pyramids (old world and new) and despair at your brief time upon the earth. Architecture is a soft power all its own — the popes knew it, and the Soviets, and Uncle Sam himself. A well-built city assures peace, order, and good government; it puts the people where they need to be. In theory, if you could set every road and home and business in its objective place, you wouldn’t need brittle things like leaders or laws. You could form a self-directed society, a social machine that works because you crunched the numbers better than anyone else.

    The Architects of the Monolith work to remake the All Night Society in much the same way. Technocrats to the point of ecstasy, in their calculations the pillars of Kindred politics are utter failures: the Invictus rot, the Carthians burn out, and the others waste eternity modeling the “right” kind of monster. The only thing vampires get right is where they store their corpses. The city forced the dead to be more than prowling beasts. It gave them a muzzle for their bloody maws, and a food source packed into easy-access concrete cans. Yet they didn’t take it far enough, say the Masons. The Kindred lost themselves in the romance of city life, never realizing its full potential as an avenue of social harmony.

    Moving beyond the micro squabbles of other vampires, the Eye of the Pyramid exists in the macro, working to engineer a utopia where no one holds the reins or cracks the whip. This is not democracy, collectivism, or even anarchism: It’s mechanism. The Architects believe in total freedom, with no Traditions, no princes, and no laws at all. Instead, their New Salvation will prevent problems before they ever arise, like a well-oiled urban machine. Everything in its right place. Everyone following their bliss.

    Like the Sanctified, Masons believe in their cause with religious fervor, treating their founder as a nonspiritual prophet of the modern nights. Like the Dragons, they’re engineers par excellence, using Kindred administrative roles to experiment on and within the All Night Society. Via advanced and mystic sciences, they retune cities to exact specifications, redirecting emotional resonances and moving the very pavement under our feet. Their efforts have been mixed successes so far, but that’s the point. One death is a tragedy; a million, a statistic. All the more data to build a better world.

    Where we came from

    The Carpenter. She calls herself Ermenjart, but even she doesn’t remember who she was. It doesn’t trouble her. Sanctified heretic? Dragon apostate? Lady in the court of Louis IX? Some say she was a woman out of time, masquerading as a man to put her architecture into a world of patriarchal nobility. Idle speculation, no doubt. Such tales imply a fealty to labels she would dismiss as grossly immaterial. No. She is all of us, and we are the needlepoints of her compass.

    When she rose from a long torpor at the end of the 17th century, she returned to the Kindred with a dream. In torpor visions, her beloved Paris spoke to her, revealing the lie of the All Night Society. Vampires could never be trusted to rule one another, so new mechanisms would need to be put in place, immune to political and personal agendas. The city revealed this new design through the secret language of ley lines, the energies that flow through urban paths and guide human lives. Ermenjart realized these forces were malleable, and that if they could be tuned to just the right frequency, the cold logic of architecture — math, steel, and objectivity — could guide the Kindred race, not the passions of the Beast or the ego of the Man.

    From this principle she designed the science of Gilded Cage, a way of manipulating not only ley lines but the city’s physical form. In the New Salvation, every vampire is his own master. Those who seek power over other Kindred will find no foothold, for the city itself will not allow it. Like antibodies, the social forces of future domains will purge bad actors, and use their destruction to inoculate against similar disruptions. Ermenjart recorded these revelations in her seminal work, La Société autonome, the most important book ever written by a vampire. In a clear, sober style, she outlined her plan down to the exact year of the great work’s completion: 2600 CE.

    As with many geniuses, she wasn’t appreciated in her time. The Parisian Kindred called her a fool and a thief, claiming she plagiarized the rites of the Sanctified and Dragons. However, knowing she was too powerful to mark for Final Death, they shunned her from the discourse of polite Kindred society. They burned her work and mocked her as la charpentière, failing to see the truth in their epithet. A carpenter mends, and so does she.

    Their derision only proved her point. If they would reject her faultless logic, they were unfit to rule. Therefore, logic dictated she should destroy them. But war is costly. It’s also shortsighted given an eternity to work on perfection. Instead, she gathered followers, Embracing and then recruiting likeminded Lords. Her Architects would work in the backrooms of the All Night Society, twisting it to her faultless design.

    Our practices

    Like the Carthians, we adapt mortal organizational schema to our needs, but where the Firebrands look to radicals, we turn to the bureaucrats. If you’re looking for the Kindred deep state, you’ve found it. We are unelected and eternal, performing the tasks others push down the line, incorporating our sacred designs into things as simple as letterheads and as complex as the harmonic resonance of Elysium. Some call it ghoul work; we call it flying under the radar. The other covenants find us useful as seneschals and Elysium masters, and they’ll even suffer through a few pitches if we serve them well. We never coerce or manipulate converts: Reason is our greatest tool, though sometimes it’s a matter of finding those who recognize it. There’s nothing duplicitous about our work, we just don’t volunteer the fine details.

    We seed our design through quality craftsmanship. After all, an incompetent Mason is a contradiction in terms. Efficiency comes before politics, and our organizing principles more resemble planning committees than ideologies or religions. The Eye of the Pyramid eschews the pomp of the other covenants… though we admit to a certain love of clean lines and jargon. Our philosophy does tend to attract a certain type.

    Members who display exceptional ethics and aesthetics become our Keystones. Not so much political leaders as project managers, the clefs de voûte find the signal in the noise, deciding how best to focus our work in service to the New Salvation. They have a direct line to home office, as represented by the Carpenter’s eldest childer, la main de gloire. These three Kindred are the secular messiahs of our design, and will one night form the capstone of the New Salvation. For now they coordinate our global efforts and entrust us with their designs, but they aren’t above doing fieldwork. You’re just as likely to find one of them renovating the halls of power as you are searching through the hall of records.

    Then there’s the Carpenter herself. Every mark of our pencils is an extension of her genius. Sometimes she even reaches out to us, sending emissaries to guide our designs or put an end to pointless diversions. Not all of our plans fit into Ermenjart’s; we consider her corrections as much an honor as her approval. How many Kindred can claim Longinus knows their deeds? The Crone? Dracula? If you impress her, she’ll even invite you to her Parisian haven to critique your work.

    Make no mistake: we do not worship the Carpenter. She isn’t a deity, and the New Salvation isn’t a structure she’ll rule over when we finish doing her dirty work. She would reject anyone who comes to her theories without due diligence. However, through that same reasoning, we also recognize her as the most important Embrace in the modern era. Until the night comes when we make our dreams take form, she is the final arbiter on any issue pertaining to what is logical, ethical, or virtuous — a necessary evil in a world of needless ones.

    Like the Carpenter, most of us are Ventrue, but over the centuries Kindred of all stripes have realized her singular brilliance. The others came in a trickle, skeptical of an institution founded on a Lord’s big idea. But clan is not a meaningful unit of measurement. Ventrue may have set the foundation, but the others have the tools we need to finish the job.
    Last edited by Yossarian; 04-07-2021, 10:16 PM.



    Social justice vampire/freelancer | He/Him

    Actual Play: Vampire: The Requiem – Bloodlines
    Masquiem: Curses of Caine in Requiem 2nd
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  • #2
    Wonderful! Keep up the good work!

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    • #3
      That's really cool! I always thought that the Architect would work better as a covenant, and I do like that the potential connection to Theban Sorcery is still here. If I may ask, is Gilded Cage still going to be presented as a Blood Sorcery, or is it going to be modified into a different system?


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      • #4
        Originally posted by LostLight View Post
        That's really cool! I always thought that the Architect would work better as a covenant, and I do like that the potential connection to Theban Sorcery is still here. If I may ask, is Gilded Cage still going to be presented as a Blood Sorcery, or is it going to be modified into a different system?
        Gilded Cage is pretty much the same, albeit more streamlined. Still a Ritual Discipline based on Theban Sorcery, with Ways and Means instead of Sacrifices. I didn't translate every ritual (called "invocations"), because some of them were very...early-Requiem-design-philosophy...but it gets 10 rituals in total, two for each dot, which should be more than enough to go on.

        I considered doing something a little more radical in terms of the basic system, because I worried it seemed too much like Lithopedia in Strange Shades, but the crossover there ended up being really minimal. I also couldn't really think of any (good) alternatives.

        The Architects also get a couple of covenant-based Social Merits, like the Ordo, Lancea, and Crone get in the core. I actually wanted to do more rituals and Merits, but there's just not enough space. If the book does well and there's enough demand, I could imagine doing a short Architects of the Monolith covenant book. They have a great deal of lore I couldn't get to, and I had a lot of fun recontextualizing them as a faction.
        Last edited by Yossarian; 04-06-2021, 04:21 PM.



        Social justice vampire/freelancer | He/Him

        Actual Play: Vampire: The Requiem – Bloodlines
        Masquiem: Curses of Caine in Requiem 2nd
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        • #5
          Originally posted by Yossarian View Post
          ...one of two new covenants (well, 2.5)...
          Squints in Rötgrafen...

          More seriously, this looks very cool! I love seeing less straightforward conversions like this. Makes me very excited to see how the rest looks!


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          • #6
            Originally posted by SomethingFishy View Post

            Squints in Rötgrafen...
            Oh, they're along for the ride. They have some...plans. Got rid of that umlaut, though...

            And I'm a big fan of "diagonal" conversions too. Not everything fits in second edition the way it fit in first. The Noctuku Strain are a good example of this, as are a couple other small things in the Ventrue book.

            As a teaser, the .5 is something we've resurrected from The Danse Macabre, but they only appear in a sidebar.



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            Actual Play: Vampire: The Requiem – Bloodlines
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            • #7
              Originally posted by Yossarian View Post

              As a teaser, the .5 is something we've resurrected from The Danse Macabre, but they only appear in a sidebar.
              I don't know why, but the Society of the Accord was the first thing to come to my mind from these teaser, but that's mostly because they are my favorite Covenant in the book. My bet would actually go to the Brethren of 100 Faces, as they feel very Ventrue to me (if it is indeed a reference to one of the covenants in the book if not something else).

              Also, am I correct to assume that Covenants will be this book's Shadow Cults/Necropoli equivalent? Or are they just as antagonists/splats and there is not such equivalent/there's something else planned?


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

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              • #8
                Originally posted by LostLight View Post

                I don't know why, but the Society of the Accord was the first thing to come to my mind from these teaser, but that's mostly because they are my favorite Covenant in the book. My bet would actually go to the Brethren of 100 Faces, as they feel very Ventrue to me (if it is indeed a reference to one of the covenants in the book if not something else).

                Also, am I correct to assume that Covenants will be this book's Shadow Cults/Necropoli equivalent? Or are they just as antagonists/splats and there is not such equivalent/there's something else planned?
                Malkavia is the Shadow Cult/Necropolis/semi-exclusive-clan-thing. The covenants are part of the antagonists/allies chapter, along with three ghoul families and two new Horrors (well, one new, one old).

                And it is indeed the Brethren of the Hundred Faces! They appear in a sidebar in the Adrestoi write-up, for reasons that'll be more clear when the book comes out.

                PS: I might find a way to include the Society of the Accord in the Daeva or Gangrel books, now that we've opened up the idea of doing minor covenants in these...
                Last edited by Yossarian; 04-06-2021, 07:15 PM.



                Social justice vampire/freelancer | He/Him

                Actual Play: Vampire: The Requiem – Bloodlines
                Masquiem: Curses of Caine in Requiem 2nd
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                • #9
                  Well, you did mentioned that Malkavia is going to be a big thing, so I am kinda interested to see how it goes. Also, while it is probably not the direction you are going for, I have just say yesterday a Youtube video about mass hysteria/mass psychogenic illness and it immediately made me think about Malkavia where a group of Ventrue share the same manifestation of the condition. Just something that rolled through my mind.

                  Also, the potential for the Society getting to either of those books makes me very excited! They are my third favorite covenant (after the Weihan Cynn and the Cult of Augurs, both of which are supposedly dead)
                  Last edited by LostLight; 04-07-2021, 07:07 AM.


                  Check my STV content, Or My Homebrew

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

                  I now blog in here

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                  • #10
                    This is really cool. To quote Mark Twain (maybe): “It ain't what you don't know that gets you into trouble. It's what you know for sure that just ain't so.”

                    And these 'suckers sure sound like they think they know everything.

                    That said, a little edit. If The Carpenter is coming out of a long Torpor in the 1600s, it seems unlikely that anyone would theorize that she was a mortal courtier of the Sun King (1648 - 1715)


                    A god is just a monster you kneel to. - ArcaneArts, Quoting "Fall of Gods"

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Master Aquatosic View Post
                      This is really cool. To quote Mark Twain (maybe): “It ain't what you don't know that gets you into trouble. It's what you know for sure that just ain't so.”

                      And these 'suckers sure sound like they think they know everything.
                      That says so well in 21 words what I tried to say in 1500, lol. It should be tattooed to every Architect's forehead.

                      That said, a little edit. If The Carpenter is coming out of a long Torpor in the 1600s, it seems unlikely that anyone would theorize that she was a mortal courtier of the Sun King (1648 - 1715)
                      Oh dammit. It's supposed to be Louis IX. This is the French's fault!* Give kings a different name!

                      But seriously, good catch! I'll update my manuscript accordingly.


                      *Narrator: It was not, in fact, the French's fault.



                      Social justice vampire/freelancer | He/Him

                      Actual Play: Vampire: The Requiem – Bloodlines
                      Masquiem: Curses of Caine in Requiem 2nd
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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by LostLight View Post
                        Well, you did mentioned that Malkavia is going to be a big thing, so I am kinda interested to see how it goes. Also, while it is probably not the direction you are going for, I have just say yesterday a Youtube video about mass hysteria/mass psychogenic illness and it immediately made me think about Malkavia where a group of Ventrue share the same manifestation of the condition. Just something that rolled through my mind.
                        Without spoiling anything, Malkavia is a little more...personal? It's hard to explain without revealing too much. The Afflicted kind of make their own truth, and when they get together, they tend to debate what that truth should be.

                        Also, the potential for the Society getting to either of those books makes me very excited! They are my third favorite covenant (after the Weihan Cynn and the Cult of Augurs, both of which are supposedly dead)
                        Yeah, I want to get a few more clan-associated factions that aren't bloodlines in with the next couple books. Shadow Cults and Necropoli are kind of that, though they're much more specific organizations than covenants.

                        There's a criticism that gets thrown around about bloodlines and how they can really be anything, and while I don't necessarily agree with the, uh, vitriol that sometimes goes along with that complaint, the free form nature of bloodlines is definitely both their greatest strength and greatest weakness in design terms. Like, it's much easier to write a bloodline up than it is a Legacy or a Lodge, but by the same token, when something can be anything, it's often difficult to focus the idea.

                        I have my own thoughts about the dividing line between political bloodlines and clan-based covenants (short version: the Beast sort of inherently mistrusts Kindred it's not related to...and even then), but I do think the game could stand to break the mold a bit more with its minor factions.

                        EDIT: All that being said, making the Architects into a covenant was a bit of a nobrainer. They're written a lot like a covenant in Bloodlines: The Hidden, and I think if they'd appeared later in first edition Requiem's development cycle, they probably would've been anyway.
                        Last edited by Yossarian; 04-07-2021, 04:26 PM.



                        Social justice vampire/freelancer | He/Him

                        Actual Play: Vampire: The Requiem – Bloodlines
                        Masquiem: Curses of Caine in Requiem 2nd
                        Storytellers Vault: Author Page

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                        • #13
                          So they are stepping on the Tef-Aabhi’s toes..that definitely won’t get the local Architects annihilated, or being forcibly “volunteered” to aid in the New Pharoh’s designs...

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Korogra View Post
                            So they are stepping on the Tef-Aabhi’s toes..that definitely won’t get the local Architects annihilated, or being forcibly “volunteered” to aid in the New Pharoh’s designs...
                            "Oh, so you're a Mason too?"
                            "Yeah...yeah. I'm an architect."
                            "Oh, great, so what chapter?"
                            "4000 BCE."
                            "Right, right-- wait, what?"
                            "What?"
                            "4000...?"
                            "Forget it. Oh hey, see that meteor coming toward us?"



                            Social justice vampire/freelancer | He/Him

                            Actual Play: Vampire: The Requiem – Bloodlines
                            Masquiem: Curses of Caine in Requiem 2nd
                            Storytellers Vault: Author Page

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Yossarian View Post

                              "Oh, so you're a Mason too?"
                              "Yeah...yeah. I'm an architect."
                              "Oh, great, so what chapter?"
                              "4000 BCE."
                              "Right, right-- wait, what?"
                              "What?"
                              "4000...?"
                              "Forget it. Oh hey, see that meteor coming toward us?"
                              And then there was a tasteful memorial park bench established in the spot where mister Monolith tragically lost his life due to a freak meteorite impact.

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