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  • #46
    Alright, today let's look at the Baetyl.

    This will be a bit brief because I'm slightly low on time today, but I wanted to talk about the Baetyl because they represented a more specific example of a broader theme I wanted to do with the book: Protean as a more general form of shapeshifting. Similar to the Yarilo (who we'll talk about soon), the Termites take on shapes that aren't the traditional "beastly" forms of Protean. For the Baetyl, that's taking on inorganic forms (which is also part of their bane), and I think that makes for a fun expansion of the Gangrel's general inhumanity.

    Not too much to say about the development process here; this was a bloodline I immediately loved upon seeing the concept, though it did go through some mechanical overhaul as it went along. In contrast to the Wickers, this is a good example of a bloodline that also has a lot of more esoteric aspects yet doesn't go too far off the baseline in terms of its power-set.

    Incidentally, their "Once upon a midnight darkly" origin is actually based on a true story. See if you can find it.

    So, here are the Baetyl! I might take tomorrow off, but we'll see if I feel up for some more commentary.

    Baetyl: The ones who tower over you

    "The mountain knows secrets to cleave the sky in twain."

    A statue looms over you upon a stained metal dais. It doesn’t move its lips, but its voice echoes in your mind, telling you of nightmares you’ve feared longer than you remember, and dreams that could one day become your reality. It’s not offering you a bargain, though. The voice in your head doesn’t want you to achieve those dreams — it only desires truth. To know you. To know everything.

    When flesh blossoms from the heart of stone and the monster inside grinds your bones and drinks your blood, you realize it’s still listening, tapping into the secrets in your sinew.


    The land has a history all its own. The fawn that takes its nourishment from the bounty of the earth. The wolf that hunts the fawn. The vulture that feeds from the wolf when it becomes carrion. Each animal gives to the land as much as it takes, and every hunt and memory is ready for the Baetyl to collect.

    The Baetyl are the sages of Clan Gangrel. Not content to dine on blood alone, they feast on inanimate detritus, learning truths the rest of the All Night Society would trample over. Wisdom only comes with the patience of stone and earth, and for their unique relationship to the land, their siblings call them Termites. But a Baetyl prides herself on this distinction: She speaks for the speechless, and for her efforts, they reward her curiosity.

    To achieve this gnosis, a Termite’s first morsel is the Bloody Core, a stone bezoar bathed in blood. Only by swallowing the thing whole can her becoming commence. This object helps Baetyl digest their strange diets, and it changes their forms to better reflect that — in the end — you really are what they eat. Even the plastics and processed metals of the kine are just more fuel to a Termite, from which she can form steel teeth, granite claws, and unblinking electric eyes. Some can masquerade as statues, or the very ground beneath their quarry’s feet. Kindred are right to fear a Haunt cloaked in shadows, or their minds breaking under the weight of a Lord’s words, but how often does a Lick think of the pavement he walks upon? The stairs he climbs as he stalks his prey? What about the blood fountain at the center of Elysium?

    Some Termites share their gift — not with other Kindred, of course, but the dead familiars they raise in the bond of death. They feed their loyal hounds with gravel kibble and iron T-bone steaks; even bones have calcium around the soft and worthless marrow. By the time stone and iron grows where once was fur, the Baetyl is ready to help soothe the creature’s pain. They add to the raw beauty of nature’s hand with runes, spirals, and potent curses to make the stone hide flexible and durable. Some Termites raise more than one monster this way, both a statuary and a menagerie of things lesser minds might call homunculi — or just abominations.

    Then there are the Baetyl who focus on themselves. Instead of making monsters, they make themselves monstrous. Through the twisted manipulation of their bodies and the potency of Vitae, they endow themselves with animal features refined with the potency of mineral and earth. She’s the jack-booted thug who walks into war chewing down a box of nails. He’s the assassin whose wooden claws break a target’s heart. The Baetyl are both wisemen and warriors, natural and unnatural. They are the eyes of unblinking statues and the creaks in floorboards, the paper with ceaseless stories written in inks of soil, metal, and blood. Do not fear the monster. Fear what it knows.

    Parent Clan: Gangrel

    Nicknames: Termites, Gargoyles (erroneously)

    Bloodline Bane (The Chimeric Curse): As a Baetyl ages and her connection to mortality wanes, more and more of the inorganic material ground up by the Bloody Core remains in her body, pushing up against the skin. This takes the form of strange nubs and bumps, like stone or metal teeth, or flesh turning stone gray. As such, her ability to interact with mortals is limited. In addition to the Feral Curse, Baetyl effectively have the same bane as the Nosferatu (Vampire, p. 103).

    Disciplines: Animalism, Auspex, Protean, Resilience

    Bloodline Gift: The Bezoar Core

    Baetyl can consume inorganic and inanimate matter. As long as a Termite can fit an object in her mouth, she can swallow it. Once per scene, [REDACTED].



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    • #47
      The word 'baetyl' leads me to 'baetylus' and then 'Bethel', then the latter links to mantras like ONE MORE GOD REJECTED in my head.


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      • #48
        Originally posted by 21C Hermit View Post
        The word 'baetyl' leads me to 'baetylus' and then 'Bethel', then the latter links to mantras like ONE MORE GOD REJECTED in my head.
        I believe the following definition is what the author was going for:

        Originally posted by Wiktionary
        (historical) A meteorite or similar-looking rough stone thought to be of divine origin and worshipped as sacred.



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        • #49
          Originally posted by Yossarian View Post

          I believe the following definition is what the author was going for:
          Yeah, that’s what baetylus seems to mean. Common motif all over the world.

          It just happens to be that, for me stones of worship also mentally links to Shin Megami Tensei — and I consider that a plus


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          • #50
            Welcome back!

            Did end up taking the day off yesterday, but I'm here again with the Yarilo.

            These are Gangrel who extend their power over Animals onto plants, and in turn extend their power over human minds to make mortals more plantlike. They take up more natural domains than a lot of modern Gangrel, though many of them have adapted quite well to city life; wherever you can find flora, the Vines will be creeping in like kudzu.

            This bloodline had a fair bit of ink spilled on it through development, at least in terms of mechanics. Initially, their mind-control powers weren't based on Dominate, but I felt that was too much of a case of reinventing the wheel; it's easier to come up with expansions for a power than to build a new system from the ground up. I also swapped out Resilience for Celerity, because that had more of a plant vibe (especially considering their bane).

            Like the Baetyl, the Yarilo are another bloodline where the body horror aspect of the clan takes on a different aesthetic. We actually had a whole sidebar about "green Protean" transformations, but ultimately I had to cut it for space, and I figured that aspect isn't buried too deep in the main text.

            So, here are the Yarilo. Tomorrow, I'll be going over some case files with the Daimonion, after which we have one more bloodline left!

            Oh, incidentally: it's come to my attention that there were some issues when I updated the clan books last month, so if you've updated since the 29th, or have purchased them for the first time, you may have still ended up with the old versions (and, for some reason, the Ventrue book had a bunch of its hyperlinks missing). Those are all fixed now. I'll be updating Wild Hunt with errata once I'm done posting excerpts, but I'll let everyone know when I do.

            Yarilo: The ones who outgrow you

            “Breathe deep and cast off your cares. Be returned to the oldest power — the first power: Nature.”

            — Pin your heart on the hawthorn tree

            Villagers in Ashbrook have given the old orchard a wide berth since the 1700s, after a plague swept the town causing all who lived there to walk in trances, tending to the trees but neglecting all other duties. Only when the church sent a new priest to the parish were the people slowly pulled out of their collective fugue.

            — Paint its white bark red with blood

            He instituted an offering of lamb’s blood on the roots of the trees, a practice that continues to this day on the vernal equinox. All was peaceful, at least until a fateful August afternoon in 1975, when a developer came to town with the intention of razing the gnarled old forest and putting up a shopping complex.

            — Wait for the harvest moon to glow

            Despite the protests of some superstitious locals, the bulldozers rolled through, pushing down the first line of ancient peach trees. That night, on the full moon, the orchard fought back. Grinding earth and shrieking metal sounded through the still night air.

            — The wood’s savage might shall reap and sow.

            In the morning, the villagers saw that the old trees had moved. The machinery was all suspended in their branches, twisted beyond repair, and the construction workers and their big-city developer were gone. The only trace was a red color flushing the roots of all the trees. The spirits of the orchard had been appeased, it seemed. With luck, they’ll sleep again for another two hundred years.


            The Yarilo are one with the pulse of the earth. This obscure bloodline of Savages is tied to the trees for their protection, community, and power. Far more interested in the flora over the fauna of their domains, the Vines creep through the greenspaces of the All Night Society, dedicated to preserving and mastering nature. Their long-sighted temperament makes them less brash than other Gangrel, but just as wild — and territorial. While others of their clan lash out with claw and fang, the Vines camouflage themselves in forest canopies, difficult to find and even harder to harm. And rather than trust their fates to blood-bound ghouls, the Vines’ mental control spreads out in a miasma of spores, rendering their retainers pliable and docile. A true herd.

            Yet, despite their inextricable ties to nature, Yarilo can be found in even the most urban settings so long as there’s a tree to hang from. Their philosophy is simple: Grow, flourish, and keep out. Their goals, however, are more complex, and their co-existence with the kine oscillates between shepherding their food and culling their foes. Either way, they embrace a role of stewardship. They are the taciturn graveyard gardener escorting generation after generation to their eternal rest. They are the game warden with the unseasonably high record of hunting accidents. They are the old-growth forest logging protester whose enemies suddenly have a glassy-eyed change of heart.

            Vines play their part in the Masquerade like long-suffering grandparents waiting for their wards to grow up. If they’re beneficent, it’s because the forest is an ecosystem full of bounty. If they are terrible, it’s because nature is unforgiving. The woods hold grudges, and they are covetous of their land. So tread lightly, and be careful when you’re pruning branches. Look twice at every lonely tree. You’ll survive in the Yarilo’s kingdom only if they allow it.

            Parent Clan: Gangrel

            Nicknames: Vines, Arboreals

            Bloodline Bane (The Tinderbox Curse): With their deep connection to forests, it should come as no surprise the Yarilo fear fire above all, but not in the way other Kindred might expect. As they draw closer to the Beast by embracing the wild, fire becomes a spiritual bane as well as a physical one. Whenever a Vine takes damage from fire [REDACTED].

            Disciplines: Animalism, Celerity, Dominate, Protean

            New Devotions

            As an additional prerequisite, a Yarilo must learn Spore before they he acquires other Devotions from the following powers.

            Spore
            (Dominate •, Protean ••)


            The most basic of the Yarilo’s mind-influencing abilities, this Devotion allows Vines to implant potential servants with mind-altering, fungus-like spores.
            This Devotion costs no Experiences if the vampire meets the prerequisites.

            Cost: 1 Vitae

            Requirement: The vampire must have the blush of life active.

            Dice Pool: None

            Action: Instant

            Duration: Scene

            Once per scene, the Yarilo can spew out a continuous cloud of microscopic spores as she breathes and speaks. Any mortal who inhales theses spores over the course of the scene becomes trivially susceptible to the vampire’s Dominate effects, applying half her Protean dots as a penalty on all rolls to resist. The vampire can affect a number of individuals in a scene equal to her Blood Potency plus one.



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            • #51
              So that’s where the vampire melons and pumpkins come from


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              • #52
                The Yarilo are probably my favorite bloodline in the book. Anything that makes you look at it and go "that's a vampire?" wins points with me, and this book is full of those kinds of bloodlines, but the Yarilo's merits and devotions are just so cool and evocative. That they have similarities to my favorite 1E bloodline, the Asnam, is icing on the cake.

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                • #53
                  Originally posted by Minty View Post
                  The Yarilo are probably my favorite bloodline in the book. Anything that makes you look at it and go "that's a vampire?" wins points with me, and this book is full of those kinds of bloodlines, but the Yarilo's merits and devotions are just so cool and evocative. That they have similarities to my favorite 1E bloodline, the Asnam, is icing on the cake.
                  That Asnam-like Devotion is one of my favourites in the book. Funny enough, another author had a similar concept as a general Devotion, but I ultimately felt the idea worked better as a bloodline effect.

                  Anyway, let's talk about the Daimonion.

                  The first thing you'll no doubt notice is the name, which was the author's (our very own saibot) little joke about a certain misspelled Discipline of old...

                  The Daimonion are what amount to Gangrel therapists. They're the ones you go to when the inchoate rage in your head is causing you serious issues. This was a pretty solid concept from start to finish; a few tweaks here and there, but I was very happy with the first draft. The only major tweak I made was replacing Resilience with Vigor: A) because we already had two other bloodlines with the exact same spread (Auspex was popular in this book), and B) because that felt a bit more "active" and assertive. The Daimonion don't just sit idly by while you rage out: they apply some hardcore cognitive behavioral therapy on your ass.

                  Anyway, I'll let saibot chime in on any specific details!

                  Tomorrow, I'll be back with the final bloodline: the Cerrid, who have been waiting patiently to steal the spotlight. After that, I might dip into the antagonist chapter, or I might discuss the Risen Beast...

                  Daimonion: The ones who've got you figured out

                  "I'm listening."

                  What is the Beast? Ask a hundred different Kindred and you’ll get a hundred different answers. Ask the Sanctified or Dragons and they’ll tell you it’s a curse inflicted by a vengeful God. Ask an Acolyte and she’ll speak of the madness of Dionysus and the furor of the Erinyes. Ask the Night Doctor and he’ll yammer on about supercharged Ids. Whatever the truth, if there even is a single one, all Kindred accept that the Beast is personal. Whether it’s the worst part of yourself exaggerated by the Curse, unsullied animal instincts, or something else altogether, there’s some sympathy between a vampire’s Beast and the dead heart it nests within. If you understand the Beast, you understand the Man, though vampires in frenzy aren’t known for being talkative.

                  In truth, the Beast is always talking if you know the right frequency. And the Daimonion are always tuned in.

                  It’s a common refrain that Gangrel “get” the Beast better than the rest of the Damned, but if any special insight truly exists, it’s limited to their own, personal dark sides. Conversely, the Counselors are keenly aware of what other Beasts have to say about their “owners,” and this sense makes them invaluable to their Kindred, taking up respectable roles as psychoanalysts, therapists, or advisors to princes, bishops, and other powerbrokers. Their odd practice of “Therian Psychoanalysis” has earned them as good a reputation as any bloodline of Savages might earn, though detractors like to point out how easy it is to abuse their positions. Trust comes at a premium in the All Night Society, but the unique advantages (and frailties) of the Daimonion encourage some measure of cooperative thinking — mutually assured destruction among the wicked dead.

                  In Ancient Greece, a daimónion was a spirit guide or inner voice, one that would warn you of lapses in judgment and lead you to wise and moral action. Like their namesake, the Counselors are also guides of a sort — and isn’t the Beast just another daimónion? No surprise, they say, how often the council of Beast Whisperers leads to controlled atrocities. Critics are also quick to point out another etymology: From “daimon” came “demon,” and one might wonder if members of this line aren’t just shoulder devils in tweed.

                  Consider the wild-eyed shrink. She has the ears of the city’s high officials and advises them on ways to manage the severe pressure of their Requiems. Pressure must be dealt with productively, she says. That’s what the Beast is: pressure. But what might happen if her deep insights into the workings of the court were to fall into the wrong hands?

                  Consider the diplomat. She doesn’t break you with sledgehammer words or ensnare you with her aura of glory, but she does know what you want and how you tick. Your Beast told her. Don’t worry; she just wants what’s best for the domain, but alas, sometimes that means breaking some bones. Diplomacy among bloodthirsty monsters can be so heated.

                  Consider the implacable sheriff. He can hold his own in a scrap, but his true strength is his unfailing insight. Whether it’s hunting down draugr and other fallen Kindred or just plain and simple criminals, he’s always a step ahead of his oh-so-predictable quarry. The Kindred sing his praises, but you don’t clean up other’s messes without learning a thing or two — or developing a few grudges.

                  What do these Daimonion guide their Kindred toward, and why do they do it? If they know, they aren’t telling. And what do they learn from their chats with the Beast? Pray they won’t tell you, or else you might never be able to look in a mirror again.

                  Parent Clan: Gangrel

                  Nicknames: Counselors, Beast Whisperers

                  Bloodline Bane (The Curse of Attunement): A Daimonion’s instinctual understanding of other Beasts goes deep — deeper than is comfortable. If a Counselor has the Tempted Condition at any level, when another vampire enters involuntary frenzy in her presence (that is, not riding the wave or using the Coil of the Wyrm), she must spend a Willpower or resist frenzy as well. The desire of the Beast in this case is to assist the vampire who triggered this sympathetic frenzy. A Counselor can only be in a sympathetic frenzy with one other vampire at a time. Once a Counselor has spent a Willpower to resist this lure, she is immune to this frenzy trigger for the rest of the scene.

                  Disciplines: Animalism, Auspex, Protean, Vigor

                  Bloodline Gift: An Ear for the Beast

                  Daimonion are deeply perceptive of the needs and wants of other Kindred, as communicated by their Beasts. When asking the Storyteller questions with Auspex, a Daimonion gains an additional question as long as it pertains to a vampire’s Beast. This includes questions related to frenzy, Kindred needs, and the mark’s Dirge. If a Counselor acts on this knowledge in the same scene, she achieves an exceptional success on three successes on a relevant action. This benefit can be transferred to the subject if the Counselor communicates the insight.

                  When a Counselor uses Auspex on [REDACTED].

                  New Merit

                  Therian Psychoanalysis (• to •••••)

                  Prerequisites:
                  Daimonion, Manipulation •••, Composure •••, Animalism • or Auspex •

                  Effect: Your character knows how to rein in a rampaging Beast and draw forth the Man. She has an instinctual understanding of the way frenzying vampires think, move, and attack, keeping her safe as she takes control of the situation.

                  Soothe the Beast (•): Your character can use psychological tricks to diffuse the Beast’s rage. As an extended action, she can attempt to talk another vampire out of frenzy as if she were one of his Touchstones (Vampire, p. 104).

                  [REDACTED]
                  Last edited by Yossarian; 05-09-2022, 07:29 PM.



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                  • #54
                    I would definitely like to hear about the Risen Beast.


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                    • #55
                      Let's check in on our final bloodline: The Cerrid!

                      Now, I don't know about you, but I've always wanted to play a vampire bard, and I think the author did a wonderful job of making that concept much scarier than it might first appear on the surface. The Cerrid are musicians, sure, but they're also urban legends: the guitar-wielding devil at the crossroads, the siren on the edge of the cliff, or (if you want to get a little German Expressionist) the serial killer who whistles "In the Hall of the Mountain King" as he stalks his prey.

                      This bloodline had a fair bit of retooling from concept to final draft. Originally, they were more focused on infiltrating the music industry and being pop stars, but there were a few problems with that. For one, we'd kind of done it. One of our previous bloodlines, the Von Schrecks (cf. Better Feared: Nosferatu), is a gang of high rollers in the biz, and while they're more about movies than music, I felt we'd covered the vampires-in-the-entertainment-industry trope pretty well there. I also felt that the initial concept, as presented, was a bit more Daeva than Gangrel. But wandering minstrels who take blood as payment and have to feed their monstrous egos or else they mutate? That's very Savage.

                      This bloodline is also a little bit of an homage to both the Gangrel and Ravnos of Vampire: The Masquerade. Their bane is similar to the Outlanders', and their Devotions are a bit Chimerstry-esque, at least in one case (their Discipline spread is also, legitimately unintentionally, the same as V5 Ravnos, plus Protean).

                      With all that said, here's the Cerrid, making their debut. Since this is the last bloodline, I think tomorrow I'll be back with some material on the Risen Beast, our big "special" system for this book.

                      Cerrid: The ones whose songs consume you

                      "Words bite as well as teeth."

                      The key change comes with the slick sound of fangs running over her lip, halfway through a private performance in the wee hours of the morning. Her prey watches as if a goddess of music holds him in place, but really, it’s just the result of her careful chord progressions. She likes to play with her food (in more ways than one), likes to see how far she can push their minds while holding their bodies in place with her song, taking in the way adrenaline and fear catapult through their systems.

                      When she finally sinks her teeth through the soft flesh of his neck, it’s a symphony of salty citrus. Each victim tastes different, and she revels in each new movement of the hunt.


                      The Cerrid are traveling bards and poets without a home. Sappho and Homer didn’t make their names singing hymns standing still, and they certainly didn’t find their meals that way. Like many Gangrel, wanderlust consumes the Beguilers, but where other Savages slink, they hunt out in the open. They are sirens and harpies and sphinxes, coaxing prey with hypnotic lyrics before letting their Beasts devour. They recite improvised ballads at open-mic nights, staying only long enough to consume fawning fans or bring another into their sycophantic entourages. They are ghosts moving through the music industry, disappearing as quickly as they rise into the limelight.

                      The Cerrid are slippery, sonorous yet monstrous. A Beguiler’s immortal nature means her public persona will always become untenable when she doesn’t age along with her career, and when this happens, she relinquishes her identity and grafts a fresh title to her dead heart. Some take this as an opportunity to learn a new instrument or enter a new genre, while others stick to what they know with more intensity than a coke high. Maybe she meets a spectacular demise as her popularity peaks, only to be spotted weeks later in the streets of Vegas, passed off as some incredible impersonator. Celebrity is overrated. For a Beguiler, the best part of being a musician is not the untouchable fame of uber-celebrity, it’s the grungy bars where elbows rubbed become necks bitten.

                      Beguilers can be solo acts or ensembles. An acoustic folk singer shares the coffeehouse stage with no one but their guitar, and a singer forms bonds with a sharp-toothed backup band, but regardless of her crew’s size, a Cerrid always leaves behind worshippers — and legends. A banshee creeps into the bedrooms of unfaithful men to torture them with the terrible melancholy of her voice. A selkie at the riverbend plays the guitar so beautifully it adds years to your life, but only if you first provide a drop of your finest vintage. They are the unsettlingly cheerful whistle in the empty alley and the sinister rhyme that predicts the prey’s demise. And once the music stops, so do you.

                      It isn’t all fame and fans and folklore, though. No, it’s all about the art, and the Beast is the only audience that really matters. If a Beguiler fails to perform, to feed the hungry thing in her head with praise, the Beast claws through the human mask: scales dance up the side of her face and too pointed ears lilt upward. Even as they feed on warm bodies, the Beast is always hungry for an ego boost.

                      Parent Clan: Gangrel

                      Nicknames: Beguilers, Troubadours

                      Bloodline Bane (The Cadenza Curse): Music has charms to soothe the savage beast, and a Beguiler unleashes hers when she’s disconnected from her art. At least once every (11 – Blood Potency) nights, a Cerrid must [REDACTED] via some form of performance. If not, the Beast rises to the surface: Fur sprouts on her hands, pupils contract into slits, or scales splash up her arms. This mutation reduces her effective Humanity by two dots for the purposes of the Feral Curse. To return to normal, she must regain [REDACTED] via performance. Otherwise, the mutation lasts until she next falls to torpor.

                      Disciplines: Animalism, Majesty, Obfuscate, Protean

                      Bloodline Gift: The Golden Throat

                      The Blood grants all Cerrid a natural gift for story and song. Upon entry into the bloodline, Beguilers take a dot of Expression. If a Cerrid character already has the maximum dots in Expression, her player can raise a different Social Skill instead. Furthermore, when a Cerrid spends Willpower to bolster mundane Expression actions, she takes a +5 instead of a +3.

                      New Devotion: Fata Morgana
                      (Majesty ••, Obfuscate ••)


                      Whether poetry or music, a Beguiler has the power to shape the world around her using only words.

                      This Devotion costs 2 Experiences to learn.

                      Cost: 1 Vitae

                      Dice Pool: None

                      Action: Instant

                      Duration: Scene

                      For the rest of the scene, the vampire can use Obfuscate effects with her voice rather than via touch. Use the system for Touch of Shadow, applying any costs from other Obfuscate effects as normal. She can use her Discipline on any object or person she can see within (10 × Blood Potency) meters; all she needs to do is paint a word picture of the desired effect, though the result is limited by her level of Obfuscate. For example, she can’t make a door look like a castle gate unless she knows The Familiar Stranger.



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                      • #56
                        Maybe one interesting little info with the Daimonion is that "vampire psychotherapist/analysist" was not the idea right from the start. I originally wanted to do a bloodline that has some special attunement and understanding for draugrs, but during the initial brainstorming it quickly became clear that it was too niché of a concept, so I broadened that to a more general "Beast whisperer" archetype, which then quickly turned into what we have now.

                        The name of the bloodline was actually one of the last things I decided on. It actually came to me while trying to find inspiration in psychological and psychoanalyst terminology. Thus, the name originally came from its use in Jungian psychoanalysis. The connection to the etymology for "demon" was of course amazingly convenient and thematic, as was the opportunity for a small dig at the often bizarre Discipline names in Masquerade.

                        Feel free to ask if there's anything else you are curious about!


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                        • #57
                          Originally posted by saibot View Post
                          Maybe one interesting little info with the Daimonion is that "vampire psychotherapist/analysist" was not the idea right from the start. I originally wanted to do a bloodline that has some special attunement and understanding for draugrs, but during the initial brainstorming it quickly became clear that it was too niché of a concept, so I broadened that to a more general "Beast whisperer" archetype, which then quickly turned into what we have now.
                          When I was going over the book with my group, we definitely spent a moment wondering how the Daimonion's capabilities would interact with draugr [and Passengers, for that matter]. We eventually concluded that those sorts of interactions would be such enormous edge cases that we figured it was a "what works best for the table/story" situation, but it is very interesting to hear that they were originally envisioned as attuned to draugr...

                          Also, the Risen Beast is definitely my group's favorite thing from the book, so I'm excited to hear more about its development!


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                          • #58
                            Originally posted by SomethingFishy View Post
                            When I was going over the book with my group, we definitely spent a moment wondering how the Daimonion's capabilities would interact with draugr [and Passengers, for that matter]. We eventually concluded that those sorts of interactions would be such enormous edge cases that we figured it was a "what works best for the table/story" situation, but it is very interesting to hear that they were originally envisioned as attuned to draugr...

                            Also, the Risen Beast is definitely my group's favorite thing from the book, so I'm excited to hear more about its development!
                            Funny enough, how the Risen Beast relates to the Daimonion and the Society of the Accord was an issue I tossed around a lot during development. Ultimately, I also came down on the "edge case" side of things; the Passenger is, ultimately, an optional system, and I didn't want to spend too much effort trying to jive everything together. That said, maybe I'll see if I can come up with some options in a forum post at some point.

                            Now, speaking of the Risen Beast...

                            This was our traditional "the clan gets a unique subsystem" chapter (a concept I've yet to find a succinct way to describe). It was actually the only one of these chapters I didn't come up with in the planning stage: it was, in fact, the brilliant idea of the chapter's sole author, which was another first for us. Typically, each chapter is collaborative to some degree (apart from the theme fiction that runs through the book). Usually, a couple of writers do the setting and one does the system, but this time, we felt it would be best to keep things to one voice, since this idea was brand new.

                            Well, technically brand new. A sentient Beast concept has shown up in Requiem before. If anyone remembers the old Chronicler's Guide (which is somehow not a Storyteller's Guide), that book describes "The Other", a sort of Shard system before Shards were a thing. We didn't really use that as a basis for our concept, but it was certainly in the back of my mind throughout development.

                            So, what is the Risen Beast (AKA, the Passenger)? Well, I'll let our excerpt of the day do the talking for me. Tomorrow, I might start going into the ghoul families, though I'm also tempted to check in on the Brides of Dracula...
                            The Beast, Arisen

                            Kindred like to pretend they’re separate from their Beasts — that the atrocities they commit in the grips of frenzy aren’t their fault, but that of another entity. It’s a convenient collective lie that better allows vampires to cope with their Requiems. But, it is a lie. Kindred are monsters, and “the Beast” is just their name for the collection of brutal instincts they possess but can’t bear to accept. In a way, it’s no different from superstitious mortals blaming evil spirits for their own misdeeds (“The devil made me do it!”)

                            Except… why does the Beast sometimes know things Kindred don’t? If it’s just a bundle of feral reactions, how does it know an assassin’s lurking in a packed concert hall, or how to work the bizarre ligaments of the wings you just grew? Most vampires dismiss these questions as irrelevant. At best, the Beast is a tool to use against one’s prey and one’s enemies, and it should otherwise be kept locked in a box to better muffle its howling.

                            The Gangrel, of course, have no choice but to listen to the Beast, as it lurks so much closer to the surface of their minds. Other clans banish their wilder sides to the cracks and crevices of their psyches, but the Savage Beast prowls just beneath the skin. Spend enough time listening to its growls and mutterings, and you might start to think it’s something more than impulse and hunger. Some Gangrel, desperate for a sense of control, listen closer to those sounds, trying to make sense of the rage within. Some even talk to their “other,” like children might chat with a spooky imaginary friend; they know it’s not real, but it’s still calming to pretend someone’s listening, even if that someone scares you.

                            It’s only when the Beast talks back that these Savages start to worry about what, exactly, they’ve awakened.

                            To Grandmother's House We Go

                            In the beginning, they were faint whispers in trees and distant howls through misty nights. Tonight, they exist as geocaches in federal parks and dead drops buried in forgotten subway tunnels: Rumors and stories of Gangrel who’ve made their Beast into something more — more cunning, more rational… more dangerous. Savages who’ve taken their worst impulses and forged them into something that thinks, something they can speak to or even bargain with. Clever. Patient. Risen.

                            The name of the first to awaken their Beast is lost to the fog of history, but it’s been happening for a long time, for at least as long as humans have had words to speak and understood the concepts of us and them — with all the violence contained within that distinction. Introspective Savages reckon it’s their very independence that’s responsible for the Risen phenomenon. If you never have to look outward for help, all that’s left is to look within, and for Kindred, that means taking a long, hard look at the Beast.

                            Some wonder if there’s a more sentimental explanation, though. Gangrel, more than any others among the Damned, can survive all on their own, but that can lead to a rather secluded Requiem. If you can’t trust other Licks, and humans are food, and animals are servants, who do you talk to? Who can you tell your secret fears or dreams? Who can you cry out to in the middle of the dark woods in order to prove you still exist? Perhaps, some speculate, the first Risen were born not of utility or soul-searching, but of loneliness.

                            Gangrel aren’t exactly known for historical records, so there’s not a lot of hard documentation regarding the Risen. While it’s not exactly a clan secret, it’s difficult to confirm rumors of the Risen Beast amidst all the other stories surrounding the Savages. If the oldest Gangrel in the city claims to talk to her Beast, and that it answers, most Kindred aren’t going to question her, but they probably don’t actually believe her. At least not out loud. How do you prove the reality of a mental Passenger without sounding mad? In recent nights, Gangrel of a more scholarly bent, notably in the Circle of the Crone and Ordo Dracul, are attempting to put to paper their findings on the Risen, but for now, it remains a deeply personal journey.

                            Snips, Snails, and Puppy-Dog Tails

                            There’s no codified process to awaken the Beast, no certified ritual that guarantees success. The ways instinct and anger undergo metamorphosis into awareness and cunning are as individual as the Gangrel who attempt them. Some even stumble upon the process accidentally, desperation leading them to elevate the Beast for want of any other ally.

                            The one constant is sacrifice. A Savage must give of themself in order to make the Beast more than it is. The form the sacrifice takes doesn’t matter, just so long as it tears a piece of the vampire’s Humanity away with it. The only caveat is that the vampire making this sacrifice cannot frenzy as she makes it. The sacrifice is a gift, given knowingly or otherwise from the vampire’s conscious self to the Beast to aid in its rising.
                            • In the crumbling remains of a tenement building, clawed hands scrape symbols into peeling plaster. The bound man on the floor struggles against his bonds, pleading for his life, but his voice is not the one his captor wants to hear.
                            • The polished floors of the hunting lodge are scuffed where the corpses have fallen, but there’s not a drop of blood to be found. She’s promised every rivulet to the hunger inside her so it might listen the next time she begs it to stop.
                            • His fingers scrabble at the stalagmite impaling his belly, dead guts spilling out around it. He knows he doesn’t need those pale organs anymore, that he should be able to pull himself up and off — but he can’t. In the void of the cave, he calls out for someone, anyone, to help him, and from the darkness in his own mind, something responds.

                            The Voice in My Head Doesn’t Like You

                            Those who make the sacrifice and survive the consequences feel the change immediately. They’re not alone in their head anymore — something is listening to them, watching them, searching for weakness. The occasional, whispered word can be heard among the Beast’s ever-present shrieks: Feed. Flee. Kill.

                            When the first real words form, many Gangrel deny what they’ve done. However, the Risen Beast will quickly make itself impossible to ignore. It no longer just demands action with urge and instinct. It speaks and, what’s more, it questions:

                            Why not take it all? We’re hungry.

                            Are you sure you should let her live? She’ll just hurt us again.

                            The sun comes soon. Is this meeting really worth it?


                            While it might sound disconcerting — and it is — to have a second voice questioning your choices, the advantage to having a Passenger is that the vampire can now explain herself, and show her Beast a world beyond the momentary present:

                            We leave some so we’re not marked as a poacher.

                            She owes us her life now, and that’s more valuable than her ashes.

                            We’re winning the negotiations, and this will give us access to much richer feeding grounds.


                            Naturally, it doesn’t always work. Sometimes the Beast still boils over, but bargaining isn’t an option other Kindred even know exists, let alone how to access it. Gangrel know the Beast must be sated eventually; it can only be put off with words for so long, and you can’t hide from something in your own mind. In the meantime, however, remaining in control when other Kindred would fall to mindless fear or anger is invaluable. What’s more, negotiation is only the first step in a relationship that could last for centuries…

                            Me and My Shadow
                            After compromise comes cooperation. The Beast is now the Gangrel’s Passenger; it has no choice in this, but it also has independent desires now, which may be very different from those of the vampire who rose it up. A Risen Beast soon acquires a personality, a twisted shadow of its Savage’s, and while it’s still a being of impulse and gluttony, its goals extend beyond simple animal instinct:

                            He always thinks he’s so much smarter than us. We should show him! Hurt him so he never looks down on us again!

                            The markers need to be clear. No one should be ignorant of our territory. I’m thinking… dog skulls with rusted nails for teeth! It’s good, right? You love it.

                            Another meeting? But we just fucking got here! Skip it! Don’t go! Look, that blond over there is winking at us. I bet he tastes like spun sugar…


                            One might be tempted to ignore these selfish agendas and get on with more important activities, but sometimes indulgence has a power all its own. Perhaps your Passenger thinks the blood of dancers tastes the most delectable. Drink deeply from the local recital hall and you’ll find your senses sharper and your reflexes faster as your inner predator moves in concert. The Beast was born of you, after all, and the things it wants are, somewhere down in a shameful corner of your soul, the things you want too.

                            This new dynamic dramatically alters the experience of frenzy. Usually, holding back the Beast is an act of concentrated will, a stamping down of mindless desire and instinct. However, with a Passenger riding shotgun in your brain, frenzy can be less “giving in” and more “letting go.” The Beast is always stronger and sharper than you, so when some asshole you both hate needs his insides turned into outsides, why not let the Risen handle it?

                            With you and your Beast in agreement, there’s no struggle, simply action, and a deep satisfaction as your enemy falls to ribbons at the business end of your claws. Of course, working so closely with the Beast blurs the lines of identity, making any frenzy harder to resist. It can be tempting to just let the monster have what it wants, when it wants, but complacency may mean you can’t stop when it really matters.

                            There’s another benefit, however. With a Risen Beast making a lair in his mind, the vampire becomes immune to possession by the Birds of Dis, or any other entity that cares to try (including Lords). Having gained enough sapience to have its own wants and needs, the Beast rejects any third party trying to slip into its already crowded headspace. Any successful attempt to subsume the vampire’s mind instead results in frenzy as the Passenger violently displaces the intruder. If this effect were more widely known, perhaps more Gangrel would seek out the change.

                            However, if a whole clan became resistant to the Parliament’s predations… well. Ask the Julii what it’s like defying the Strix.



                            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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                            • #59
                              Originally posted by Yossarian View Post

                              Now, speaking of the Risen Beast...

                              This was our traditional "the clan gets a unique subsystem" chapter (a concept I've yet to find a succinct way to describe).
                              “Signature Subsystem” ? Can’t go wrong with alliterative names.


                              MtAw Homebrew:
                              Even more Legacies, updated to 2E
                              New 2E Legacies, expanded

                              Comment


                              • #60
                                Yeah, The Other was what I thought of when I heard the word ‘Passenger’. Glad to see it turned out correct

                                I find Passengers ironically amusing in how its the Savages who turn out to have a system (potentially) based on the more Humane desires — staving off loneliness, and seeking negotiation.

                                To me, the Risen Beast in general also evokes certain forms of Divergence (Deviant), and a couple of Goetic Legacies (Mage). Interesting…


                                MtAw Homebrew:
                                Even more Legacies, updated to 2E
                                New 2E Legacies, expanded

                                Comment

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