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Walking Shadows: Salubri & Obeah

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  • Walking Shadows: Salubri & Obeah

    So, a player of mine wanted to update their OWoD character to Walking Shadows, and as a result, we've got a Salubri running around now. Of course, a straightforward port of the Salubri wasn't particularly practical, so the eminently talented Isabella from my game wrote up the following background for Requiem-style Salubri, something that keeps a certain ethos but fits in with the setting more. I updated the mechanics. Hope you like it!

    The Daeva curse is a curse of passion: to drink the blood of a human is to fall a little in love with them. The Salubri take it one step further: to drink the blood of humanity is to fall a little in love with it. Rare even in the best of nights, the Salubri take an unusual view on their condition. They must drink the blood of mortals to survive, yes, but in doing so they can still feel the web of life, and be a part of it. Much as the blood of a human pumps to give life to flesh, so the blood of humanity pulses through the Salubri. More than any other Kindred, they can see the vitality in the blood they drink, the passion, the power, the very heartbeat of the people who gave it to them. They are mystics, embodiments of life and death in the same form. But the price for their knowledge is steep. The Salubri's own flesh rebels at stealing life from its vibrant, beloved humanity. Most Salubri, saint or sinner, draw an end to their Requiem in the throes of madness and starvation.

    No one is sure when the Salubri bloodline began, but most agree it formed on the edge of the Sahara, when a despairing Kindred sought out the desert to think on his condition. Perhaps he found his answers in the barren landscape, and in the way life managed to survive, even in such a hostile place. Where he went from there, isn't known. His childer were known in Qasr Ibrim, seen in the holy city of Beni Isguen, rumored in the Kilwa Sultanate and the Benin Empire. They were guardians in Egypt, living in secretive cults and watching over humanity from the desert sands. They were present in the Empire of Ethiopia, from which they traveled through the Middle East and South Asia. There are even rumors of them having made it all the way to East Asia, to the outskirts of China and the court of the Mongol Khan. When slavery and colonialism came, the bloodline spread even further, to Haiti and the Caribbeans and to South America. Everywhere they traveled, they picked up new ideas, new thoughts from mortal philosophies on their nature and that of the world around them.

    Despite this wide diaspora, the Salubri are incredibly rare, and even Kindred scholars have rarely encountered one outside of records. The reason for this is very simple - the Salubri cannot take blood from an unwilling subject, which makes their undead existence a constant trial. In older days, they were guardians and blood mystics, exchanging their powers of healing for the blood they needed to sustain themselves. The colonial period, however, proved ruinous for a fragile bloodline. Creatures once respected became reviled as demons, and even those who weren't hunted down entered a slow death from starvation. Modern nights have seen a slight revival of the Salubri's fortunes. Blood banks, in particular, are a haven for such Kindred, and the bloodline's critical numbers are bolstered by Salubri waking from torpor.

    To understand the mindset of the Salubri is difficult for most Kindred, and indeed most of humanity. Most who attempt it simply dub them "the nice vampires", and leave it at that. Salubri passions run far deeper. The blood in their system holds a connection to a larger web of life, and the Salubri claim they can feel it in the air and flowing through them. For the most part, this tends to be treated as Jedi mumbo-jumbo, but the Salubri do seem to have a connection to the living that other Kindred do not. Indeed, on a smaller scale, they seem to understand every intricacy of the mortal body, simply by following the eddies of blood flowing through it. Combined with their Daeva passions, this results in a deep and abiding love for the living, a need to keep the mortal Kine healthy, both on small scales and large.

    This does not necessarily make them the good guys. Most Salubri are very moral, for several reasons: first, being that the Salubri don't Embrace the unwilling, both due to taboo and the difficulty of doing so without grievous bodily harm to themselves; second, that when choosing to Embrace, the Salubri aim for very moral people to start with; third, that most Salubri that lose their grip on Humanity starve to death in short order. That being said, the latter reason tends to mean Salubri who fall from grace do so quickly, do it hard, and spiral rapidly into desperate madness as they do so. The bloodline has also gained a reputation for becoming manipulative, brainwashing eager-eyed fanatics to get their meals. For the most part, these rumors tend to be unwarranted or exaggerated, a result of aggravated Kindred who don't like the Salubri trying to "help" them by talking about their feelings. The real danger for Salubri is their idea of "love" becoming twisted, to the point where their actions towards others start resembling that of an abusive parent.

    The Blood is the Life
    Blood has always fascinated the living and vampires alike. There is power in blood, even to mortals. Lurid tales of human sacrifice stand out in human consciousness, but there is also the powerful bond of Blood Brothers, and lamb's blood painted on door-frames to spare those inside from the wrath of God. Most Kindred view blood in darker terms - after all, they stole it from others to survive. Blood is life to the dead and death to the living. The Salubri, who can only take blood freely given, have a different view. Blood is a gift, blood is a bond between those who willingly share it. Blood is a symbol of strength, blood is the oldest and deepest magic. To drink from the well of life is to have life flowing through you, even when the flesh itself is dead. To have life flowing through you is to be connected to life around you. To be connected is to have power over it, but also a great understanding. The Salubri have a duty to all of humanity, for they are their Blood Kin in the most literal terms.

    In London
    If Salubri have existed in London, past or present, they are as unknown as they are in most other parts of the World. Despite the heavy slave trade from Africa to England, there's little records of Salubri coming over - indeed, there is little proof they have ever set foot on Britannia. One or two might lurk in the corners, working unseen and unnoticed by Kindred society, but so far only Jacobi Lane has made himself known before the Marquessate.

    Clan: Daeva
    Bloodline Disciplines: Celerity, Majesty, Vigor, Obeah
    Bloodline Weakness: The Hippocratic Curse
    Do No Harm is the oath that the Salubri obey, whether they like it or not. No Salubri may feed upon an unwilling victim, as such blood burns their throats and scalds their veins.

    To elaborate: in order for the Salubri to feed without damage, their blood donor must knowingly and willingly give up their blood. Most obviously, this means that the Salubri cannot simply mug someone in order to get their blood, but it also means that feeding from unconscious or sleeping victims is prohibited, as is feeding by seducing mortals with the Kiss (at least, unless the Salubri can convince their target to engage in something very kinky). Coercion (whether by Majesty or Dominate or by holding a gun to the victim's head) is similarly prohibited. However, there is a loophole in that it is not necessary for the target to know what the blood is being given for, and blood given to other mortals is fair game as well (thus, many Salubri gravitate to the medical profession or try and gain access to blood banks).

    Mechanically, every point of Vitae from an unwilling or unknowing victim inflicts 1L damage to the Salubri (which can then be healed by that same Vitae, essentially leaving the Salubri with nothing to show for their efforts but a lot of pain). As a result of their feeding difficulties, a Salubri's Starting Vitae is halved (rounding up) after all other modifiers (such as for being a Daeva) are applied. Furthermore, most hunting rolls are either disallowed (no Dex+Stealth to break into someone's home) or severely penalized (Pres+Persuasion to seduce someone). The Salubri can, however, accept the damage, beginning the play with one or more Lethal damage in exchange for an equivalent amount of additional starting Vitae.

    Salubri have traditionally sought to mitigate their curse by forming blood-cults about them, or setting themselves up as witch-doctors and healers, exchanging healing for blood. More modern-minded Salubri haunt hospitals and hematological labs, stealing sips from here or there. Of course, the former is difficult to do without treading on the Masquerade, and the latter is increasingly challenging in light of modern security measures. The Salubri have seen better nights.

    GM of the Walking Shadow Campaigns
    New System and Setting Material

  • #2
    The physical manifestation of the Salubri's love of life, Obeah is the art of using the blood to heal the body and the mind, and to calm souls all about. It partakes in itself mostly of the physical, though certain aspects of it resemble the art of Majesty in their ability to alter minds.

    Diagnostic Eye (Obeah 1)
    The first step of any medical treatment is the diagnosis. What, precisely, is troubling the patient?

    Cost: Varies, as the Discipline is slightly tiring; the first use in a scene is free, but subsequent uses in the same scene cost 1 Vitae each.
    Dice Pool: Intelligence+Medicine+Obeah, minus the target's Composure
    Action: Instant
    Duration: Lasting

    For each success, the Salubri is able to ask a single question regarding the target's medical condition. Sample questions include "Does the target have any broken bones?" "What is the target's blood pressure?" as well as more mechanical questions such as "What is the target's Strength?" "How many Health Levels does the target have?" "How much Damage has the target taken?" Note that supernatural modifiers can throw this off -- asking for a changeling's Strength will return their natural strength, but not their Contracts of Stone-enhanced Strength.

    For two successes, the Salubri can ask if there are any supernatural maladies, which triggers a Clash of Wills against the malady.

    Anesthetic Touch (Obeah 2)
    The next step is making sure that the patient doesn't twitch during the treatment.

    Cost: 1 Vitae
    Dice Pool: Intelligence+Empathy+Obeah vs. Wits+Blood Potency
    Action: Instant
    Duration: Scene or (Successes) Hours

    Upon touching the target, the Salubri allows them to ignore all Wound Penalties and pain effects for the rest of the scene. Alternatively, a willing or helpless target may be sent into a deep, restful sleep for (Successes) Hours.

    Panacea (Obeah 3)
    Now the Salubri is able to heal wounds, mend broken bones, and even cure desperate diseases.

    Cost: 1+ Vitae
    Dice Pool: None
    Action: Instant, but may take multiple turns due to vitae-per-turn limits.
    Duration: Lasting

    The Salubri is able to heal others with Vitae, exactly as if they were healing themselves. 1 Vitae may be used to cure 2 Bashing or 1 Lethal damage, and 5 Vitae may be used to cure an Aggravated Wound. The Salubri is also able to heal sicknesses. Illnesses that would heal of their own accord or minor injuries such as a missing fingertip require 1 to 3 Vitae (a common cold and severe bronchitis respectively).

    More serious diseases (cancer, Ebola) or injuries (spinal damage, missing arms or legs) are more difficult to cure, as the patient's body burns itself out to heal them. They cost 10 to 30 Vitae, spread out over several nights, and consume one or two of the target's Stamina dots (a permanent but not life-threatening disease such as ashtma or diabetes consumes 1 Stamina, whereas a cancer or genetic condition would consume 2 Stamina). If the patient drops to 0 Stamina as a result of the healing, then their bodies simply burn out, and the patient dies in the process of healing.

    Panacea only functions on living targets.

    Peacemaker's Aura (Obeah 4)
    Since ancient times, medical personnel have been off limits in times of war. Doctors and nurses could stride across the battlefield to deliver aid to the wounded, and no man would touch them. The Salubri are able to do something a bit similar.

    Cost: 2 Vitae
    Requirements: The Salubri is not at present in a fight.
    Dice Pool: Presence+Empathy+Obeah
    Action: Instant
    Duration: Scene

    Roll Results
    Dramatic Failure:Everyone in the Area gains the the Furious condition, with the target of their Ire being the Salubri
    Failure: The aura fails to take hold, and any aggression/lack thereof is up to fast talking to defuse
    Success: The Salubri extends an aura of peace all about (sensory range). In order to start a fight, anyone inside the aura must spend 1 Willpower and roll Resolve+Blood Potency, at a penalty equal to (Successes) in order to roll Initiative or do some similarly aggressive action.
    Exceptional Success: Extra successes are their own reward.

    Soothe the Unsound Mind (Obeah 5)
    Having mastered the art of healing the body, the Salubri now turns to the health of the mind.

    Cost: 1 Vitae
    Dice Pool: Intelligence+Empathy+Obeah, minus Target's Resolve.
    Action: Instant.
    Duration: See Below

    Roll Results
    Dramatic Failure: The target power backlashes, and the Salubri gains whatever State of Mind or Madness Condition he was trying to remove, at the same Duration as the original or for 1 week, whichever is longer.
    Failure: Nothing happens except everyone gets a headache.
    Success: The Salubri is able to suppress a State of Mind or Madness Condition for (Successes) Days. If this would exceed the Condition's normal Duration, then consider it to have been simply removed.
    Exceptional Success: The target gains the Steadfast Condition.

    State of Mind or Madness Conditions are my basic categories for things like Madness, Amnesia, Depressed, Shaken, Spooked, and so forth. If it's a Condition that deals with the psyche, then it can be removed by the Salubri.

    GM of the Walking Shadow Campaigns
    New System and Setting Material


    • #3
      You and your friend have written something that rivals the Septimi in terms of my favorite Bloodline. Great job!


      • #4
        Question: How does the feeding restriction go for feeding off of animals or other Kindred? What about stored blood?


        • #5
          Pretty cool. I assume you wrote out the Third Eye then? Also, the powers are close to mine. (It's in the Homebrew thread, despite saying Salubri Warrior. I also have Healers within.) Also, I approve of ANYTHING Salubri related. Great to see a Bloodline. Despite not thinking about it, Daeva does seem perfect for the Salubri. Hrm.

          My Homebrew
          Star Wars d10
          The Fallen for Demon: the Descent
          Requiem for a Masquerade: VtR 2e Cainite Conversion (Vampira Roma)


          • #6
            Glad you guys like them!

            Re: Animals
            Excellent question, not sure what the answer is. Isabella says that a close reading would suggest that someone needs to harvest the blood for the Salubri and give it to them (this was probably easier when you could get the High Priestess to do it). I'd probably allow the Salubri to feed off animals, but it has to be humane, and leave the animal alive and reasonably healthy afterwards (no murdering Fluffy). The former approach is more consistent but is harsher.

            Re: Kindred or other supernatural beings
            Same rules apply as to mortals. Blood has to be willingly given.

            Re: Stored Blood
            As appropriate to the origin of the blood. I think most Salubri dream of being able to work in a blood bank, since it's feeding heaven.

            Re: Third Eye
            We wrote it out, yes. The original Salubri were pretty cool, but they also pulled together so much weird stuff that making a rational update would be nigh-impossible. So we focused on the Bloodline Weakness, the reputation as 'good vamps' and the healing Discipline and worked out from there.

            Re: Power Similarity
            ...I should've probably look to see if someone else had ever upgraded Obeah first, now shouldn't I have? Well, Obeah translates pretty easily, so it's no surprise that they'd be similar.

            GM of the Walking Shadow Campaigns
            New System and Setting Material


            • #7
              I know the feeling. I hate reinventing the wheel, so to speak. Take a look at it, and if you want to crib anything go for it. I've done about a year of playtesting with it, and they are balanced as I can tell, as a ST and a player. (Link:

              My Homebrew
              Star Wars d10
              The Fallen for Demon: the Descent
              Requiem for a Masquerade: VtR 2e Cainite Conversion (Vampira Roma)