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Walking Shadows: The Architects of the Monolith & Gilded Cage

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  • Walking Shadows: The Architects of the Monolith & Gilded Cage

    As promised, I present to you: The Architects of the Monolith and the Blood Sorcery of Gilded Cage. I recommend reading at least the first post of my Walking Shadows: More Crúac & Theban Sorcery Rituals so that you know what I'm talking about with ranged spells and Hanging Spells. As before, if I have seen far, is it because I have stood on the shoulders of giants -- I particularly applaud the people who actually came up with the Architects (Justin Achilli, Chuck Wendig, and the other creators of Bloodlines: Hidden), as well as Wordweaver05 for the Unofficial: More Gilded Cage rituals PDF, and to whoever created the long More Gilded Cage PDF I have on my computer, which is sadly lacking in credits. I created very few of these rituals -- they're mostly just modest tweaks to what has come before.

    Architects of the Monolith

    Secretive and grandiose, subtle and magnificent, the Architects of the Monolith emerged in the late 18th century in Paris, their founder a renegade Sanctified Cardinal known as Ermenjart la Charpentière. She believes that her lineage can make cities the focus of reality, turning both God and nature into mere trivialities banished to the shadow of her monolith. Bound by this mad and impossible vision, the bloodline works secretly and circumspectly. The result is a cult motivated by madness, backed by visions of conquest, and powered by esoteric sorcery.

    The Architects of today tend to be drawn from the business and professional classes. Most are wealthy or at least well-off, most are connected in some fashion to architecture or city-planning, all dress well (usually in modern clothing of a conservative cut), all lair well (sixtieth story penthouses, sprawling villas, or at least grand apartments in mystically significant locations). The Architects often add a French flair to their work, hearkening back to their glory days during the Second Empire and the reconstruction of Paris by Baron Haussmann.

    Architects also have a distinctly Masonic style to them, to the point where ‘Mason’ is an acceptable term for them. The symbolism of the Freemasons is common in their work, particularly the Eye of Providence and the Compass and Square, and the blood sorcery of the Gilded Cage uses decidedly Masonic implements to achieve its effects.

    The Vampire as Urban Predator
    The Architects of the Monolith believe that humanity is moving ever further away from nature and divinity, crafting new environments of steel and concrete where they can dwell in ever-growing multitudes. These artificial biospheres are perfectly suited to the Vampire, who is the apex predator over a teeming human herd. Architects manipulate the environment of the city to make it an ever more suitable dwelling-place for the Kindred.

    In London
    The Architects of the Monolith have had a troubled history in London. The entire London section of the bloodline was wiped out in the late 19th century by the Lancea et Sanctum. The Architects rebuilt, only to be destroyed once again by the Blitz, when an unfortunately aimed German munition blasted the la Charpentière’s emissary to atoms. So far as the main body of the bloodline knows, there’s nothing left of London's Masons.

    In fact, one Architect survived, but Dr. Victoria Cutteridge has taken the classic ideology of the Architects and filtered it through her own medical training and research into Kindred Vitae. Dominating her worldview is the Métaphore Médicale, the idea that the City is a living organism, with the buildings and social structures the bones and flesh, humanity the blood, and the Kindred a parasite feeding on that blood.

    Cutteridge and her estranged pupil and childe, Allie Newton, both espouse the Métaphore Médicale, though to their own ends. Cutteridge seeks to determine the nature of Vitae in the urban organism, the very life-essence of the City, and whether it is possible for a being such as a vampire to consume it. Allie, meanwhile, hopes to one day convert the supernatural (Kindred and otherwise) from being parasites upon the urban host to being symbiotes. In the meantime, both seek to push the urban host in their own directions – Cutteridge to make it more hospitable to the Kindred infection, Allie to make it healthier.

    Clan: Ventrue
    Bloodline Disciplines: Animalism, Dominate, Resilience, Auspex; Architects also know the Blood Sorcery of Gilded Cage
    Bloodline Weakness: The Urban Curse
    Architects are creatures of the city, and they feel markedly uncomfortable anywhere but in their chosen artificial environment -- each Architect chooses a single city as her home ground.
    ● An Architect anywhere but in the urban depths of her city feels uncomfortable and ill at ease, taking a (10-Humanity/2, rounded up) penalty to all Mental and Social rolls, and a -2 penalty to Frenzy. This penalty would apply in the suburbs, in other cities, or even in notably natural parts of her own city (overgrown parks and the like).
    ● An Architect in an outright rural environment, or in the wilderness, takes a (10-Humanity) penalty to all Mental and Social rolls and a -4 penalty to Frenzy checks. Such an Architect is likely to be rather wild-eyed, if not outright panicked.

    GM of the Walking Shadow Campaigns
    New System and Setting Material

  • #2
    Gilded Cage
    Gilded Cage is the magic of the Haven and the Hunting Ground, derived from Theban Sorcery and taking the theme of Civilization to its utmost. As such, it is Urban. The Kindred are creatures of the city and the town, for there is little prey for them in the rural countryside. Gilded Cage exults in the gathering of mortals, in the unique environment they have created, and conceives of Kindred as the perfect predators for this new biosphere. Secondly, Gilded Cage is Environmental, in that it deals not with the individual himself but with the relationship of the individual to his surroundings. Gilded Cage is the magic of Man and Place chained together. Finally, Gilded Cage deals with the Constructed, for these new environments and conglomorations of individuals do not arise naturally, but are created by the very physical things that mortals and vampires build.

    Gilded Cage is a Blood Sorcery, the same as Crúac and Theban Sorcery. It operates identically to those rituals, with the following differences:

    The Sacrifice
    Using Gilded Cage always costs one Willpower point. Furthermore, Gilded Cage rituals require that specific items be used or that a caster be in a certain place in order to activate a power. Items, known as Means, are foci that align the will with the forces channeled. Places, known as Ways, are sites where a pre-existing tendency toward certain phenomena already exists. Unlike other forms of vampiric sorcery, however, the Ways and Means used to activate Gilded Cage rituals are not consumed. They can be reused unless specifically noted otherwise.

    The Request
    Dice Pool: Wits + Science + Gilded Cage
    Exceptional Success: The ritualist makes great strides in achieving the ritual. The player decides which of the following effects takes place in addition to accumulating successes.
    • Reduce the target number of successes by her dots in the Ritual Discipline.
    • Apply the Attuned Condition if and when the ritual succeeds.
    • Add her dots in Ritual Discipline to the spell's Potency.

    Suggested Modifiers
    +1 to +3|Power is turned on or applies to a vampire with whom the ritualist already has blood sympathy.
    0 | The ritualist is unaffected by threats or distractions
    –1 to –3 | The ritualist is rushed or distracted. The penalty is cumulative with multiple distractions.
    0 to +3 | The ritualist prepares an elaborate ritual above the minimum sacrifice.
    0 to +3 | The ritualist is in a building of particular age, fame, or importance.
    0 to -10 | Architects of the Monolith Bane

    Gilded Cage and Range
    Unlike other Blood Sorceries, Gilded Cage has a rather specific definition of range. Gilded Cage rituals with a range greater than line-of-sight operate on anyone within the urban core of same city (for Walking Shadows, this is Inner London), or within the same town or village. This does mean that Gilded Cage often has very long range inside a city, but a Gilded Cage sorcerer cannot affect someone even ten feet away if city limits are in the way.

    Hanging Spells
    A user of Gilded Cage may spend 1WP to extend all of his Hanging Spells for a further 24 hours.
    Last edited by NeoTiamat; 01-28-2014, 11:23 AM.

    GM of the Walking Shadow Campaigns
    New System and Setting Material


    • #3
      Rank 1 Rituals
      Paths of the Prey
      Target Number of Successes: 5
      Ways and Means: A detailed city-planning map of the area to be hunted
      The ritualist gains a (Potency) bonus to Feeding roles for the rest of the night. The rite can be performed on another vampire after a “consultation” with the caster in person.

      Tremors of the Crystal Web
      Target Number of Successes: 5
      Resisted by: Composure
      Ways and Means: A map of the city on which is written the name and description of the target
      For the rest of the night, the Architects gains a +(Potency) bonus to all rolls made to find or track the target individual, who must be within the city. Essentially, the Architect is able to consult the mystic flows of population within a city, and gain a limited ability to predict just where the target will end up.

      Master Key
      Target Number of Successes: 8
      Contested by: Target building's Safe Place x3 [I use Security in my game, so it's Security x3]
      Ways and Means: A key carved of human bone, and the ritualist must be within line of sight of the structure
      Also called the Skeleton Key, this ritual allows the Architect to bypass all mundane security within the structure for the rest of the night. Any door in the affected building will unlock or lock at the caster’s touch, though he still has to open them manually. Even electronic locks open and bars lift when the sorcerer knocks, though the locks of pieces of furniture or even of safes are unaffected (unless a safe door leads to a vault, in which case it is fair game). This does not affect supernatural locks and portals.

      Rank 2 Rituals
      Summons to Speak
      Target Number of Successes: 5
      Ways and Means: A land-line telephone
      This ritual permits the Architect to telephone anyone in the city. The incantation is mathematical rather than mystical, involving the numerological aspects of the phase of the moon, the time of night, the characters of the target’s name (whatever name he is known as to the Architect - it need not be a True Name), and a host of other variables. These numbers are filtered through a tortuous quasi-mathematical equation which inevitably yields a seven-digit solution. A calculator or notepad may be used to help with the math, but is not required for the ritual. What is required is a land line telephone.

      The solution is dialed, and the nearest land-line phone to the target begins to ring. The target, and anyone near them who is aware of their presence knows automatically and instinctively that the call is for the target. Receptionists will offer the phone to the recipient of the ritual without answering first, saying simply “Call for you, sir.” Homeowners will allow their guest to answer, knowing that the call isn’t meant for them. There is no compulsion to answer - nothing that requires a resistance roll, anyway. Just the knowledge that the call is meant for them usually suffices. Even disabled or out-of-service phones will function. Dedicated lines - like those phones installed in elevators - will serve the ritual just fine.

      If the subject is not near a phone - driving down the street, for instance - the Architect will somewhat irritatingly be put “on hold.” He will hear soft muzak reflecting his mood until the target approaches a suitable land-line phone. So long as he doesn’t hang up, the ritual will function. If he does hang up, the ritual fails, and the willpower spent is still lost.

      It should also be noted that the seven-digit result of the equation/ritual is only good once - it will not function later, and the ritualist does not gain confidential or unlisted numbers for later use. Caller ID does not identify the ritualist...indeed, it does not recognize an incoming call at all.

      Allie Newton calls this ritual 'Ask Not For Whom the Phone Rings - It Rings For Thee', and now even Cutteridge is using that name.

      Aura of the Monolith
      Target Number of Successes: 6
      Ways and Means: The Architect must be inside or within a block of a great monument
      Great architecture inspires compelling emotions, be they of awe, reverence or fear. This ritual allows the caster to link herself symbolically to a great structure in order to enhance her personal aura, giving her something of the authority and radiance of the structure itself. For the purposes of this ritual, a 'great structure' is any named building with some sort of recorded history -- a good rule of thumb is that if it has a Wikipedia page, it qualifies.

      For the rest of the night, the Architect gains a +(Potency) bonus on all social rules that are thematically appropriate to the structure. A castle would enhance Intimidation rolls or rolls drawing on the character's authority to command and be obeyed, a museum or art gallery would enhance Expression rolls, a skyscraper would enhance Persuasion rolls to cut a deal, and so forth.

      Excise from the Numinous Lattice
      Target Number of Successes: 8
      Contested by: Resolve+Blood Potency
      Ways and Means: A cloth of black silk and a photograph or personal belonging of the target
      The Architect Bloodline makes use of the patterns in the world, and the manipulation of those patterns, in order to enact their grand plans. It’s this underlying understanding that allows them to see and manipulate ley lines or predict the paths of prey. People and mystical energy isn’t the only thing that travels in patterns though, telecommunications take advantage of a most basic pattern: the wave. An Architect of the Monolith can use this ritual to disrupt the waves of telecommunication devices to cut a single individual out of the grid.

      The target must be an individual within the same city. For the next (Potency) nights, the target is cut off from all forms of communication more long-distance than shouting. This ritual works on cell-phones, text messages, land-line phones and all other forms of long-distance communication. For example, a letter could be written but lost in the mail, a text message composed and sent but never delivered, the 3G going dead just before making a forum post, or a call dropped before the other side connects. Less reliably, this ritual also blocks mystical communication, rendering one communication null and void per dot of (Potency) -- though this reduces the duration of the ritual appropriately.

      Rank 3 Rituals
      Eye of the Pyramid
      Target Number of Successes: 10
      Ways and Means: A sample of the building's structure (a piece of brick, a shard of glass, etc)
      One of the reasons monumental architecture is so powerful is that it can be seen from almost anywhere, and thus has a mystical correspondence to perception. A Mason using this ritual gains sensory powers over the building on which it is cast.

      For the rest of the night, the ritualist can see everything that occurs inside a single building in the same city. The Architect sees all and hears all, from a whisper in the basement to the numbers turned on a penthouse safe. A caster need not specify where her broadcast senses actually lie in a building. She’s aware of everything that goes on inside and can filter it all down to one spectacle and one word spoken. Events outside the building cannot be perceived through a window.

      The Mason may use any Perception rolls or Auspex powers through this connection, and gains a (Potency) boost to the rolls courtesy of their multiple perspectives.

      Sacred Hospitality
      Target Number of Successes: 15
      Ways and Means: The Architect must set a ritual meal, appropriate for guests (this may include blood if Kindred are expected)
      By preparing this ritual, the Architect invokes a custom far older than la Charpentière's vision. For the rest of the night, all rolls to resist Frenzy in the structure gain a +(Potency) bonus, and anyone who initiates violence, whether physical or mystical, immediately loses (Potency) Willpower.

      Gather the Herd
      Target Number of Successes: 8
      Ways and Means: A formal invitation to the “event” written in the caster’s blood (invokes no Vitae cost).
      For each dot of Potency, the Architect may lure either a hundred people of undetermined type, or ten people of a specific group (ravers, senior citizens, gang members, policemen, etc), who arrive over the course of the next hour. The ritual does not allow for control of specific individuals, nor does it compel subjects to travel to the site against their will. A multitude of people who were already in transit simply end up there despite their intentions to get elsewhere.

      Once they arrive at the location, the crowd is not compelled to take any further action. However, the Architect also gains a (Potency) bonus to social rolls when dealing with this crowd, and a clever Architect can use this to further spur the crowd to specific actions. This might mean luring a sizable crowd into a fellow Kindred's nightclub, or it might mean pretending to be a fellow police officer and suggesting a raid against a rival's Haven.

      Rank 4 Rituals
      Lock the Gilded Cage
      Target Number of Successes: 12
      Contested by: Resolve+Blood Potency
      Ways and Means: Access to a legal building such as a courthouse or police station, and a picture or belonging of the victim
      The poetic term that Kindred use to describe their reliance on the city has been one of Masons’ fascinations This ritual allows the caster to make a city into a literal cage for a subject. Every way out of the city is blocked. Cars break down, trains derail and roads are cut off by construction. At high enough Potency, police barricades, sinkholes and floods may block a subject from leaving.

      The subject of the ritual must be within the same city. For the next (Potency) nights, the subject may not leave the city by mundane means. If the subject has supernatural means of transit (such as changeling's ability to enter the Hedge, or a mage's ability to craft Space portals), the ritual blocks (Potency) uses -- portals don't work, a changeling's trod leads them right back where they started, etc. Each such block does reduce the duration of the ritual by a night, however.

      Eternal Sentinels of Stone
      Target Number of Successes: 20
      Ways and Means: A ritual circle inscribed with a mixture of blood and gold dust, and some chippings from the statue in question at the exact centre of the grounds to be protected.
      This ritual animates a single Rank 2 Gargoyle, with a second Rank 2 Gargoyle per additional 3 dots of Potency. The brood of gargoyles are linked to a specific structure or set of grounds, and are unable to voluntarily leave those grounds (a gargoyle dragged or lured away is rendered inanimate). They obey the sorcerer in all ways, and may be commanded to obey others. In the case of a conflict of orders, gargoyles defend their home first, then obey the sorcerer, then others (so yes, it is entirely possible for a sorcerer to be attacked by his own gargoyles).

      A single sorcerer may maintain only a single brood of gargoyles at a time.

      Patient Sting of Diaphanous Steel
      Target Number of Successes: 10
      Resisted by: Stamina
      Ways and Means: A steel architect's compass and ebony-wood square, stained with blood and hidden at the location.
      Cities are often considered places of marvel and wonder, but they can also be equally dangerous as well. This ritual allows an Architect to draw this danger to herself and make of it a trap for the unwary. This ritual must be cast at a chosen location, and targets a specific individual within the city. If the target approaches within a hundred feet of the chosen location before the next new moon, they suffer an unpleasant and possibly fatal accident, taking (Potency) Lethal damage. Pieces of masonry break off and strike the target, power lines may snap and electrocute them, the floor may collapse under their feet, and so forth.

      For best results, this ritual is usually cast either at the target's haven, or else as a defensive measure protecting the Architect's own haven.

      Rank 5 Rituals
      Metropolis of the Unified Diagram
      Target Number of Successes: 15
      Ways and Means: A map of the city and a diamond of at least two carats
      This ritual is the newest creation of the Main de Gloire, having come about in Chicago in the 1930s. This is a Hanging Spell, and is activated with a one-minute ritual. The ritualist opens himself to the connections among the powerful monuments of his city. The vampire then vanishes from his current location and appears at another. After the one-minute ritual, the performer travels instantaneously from one spot to another within the same city. The caster must have visited the new site previously. Only items worn and that can be held in hand go with the ritualist. No one can be brought along. Nor can items that cannot be held or lifted. Each casting of this ritual allows for (Potency) teleportations, with excess uses vanishing at sunrise, as per normal Hanging Spell rules.

      Ermenjart's Vision
      Target Number of Successes: 30
      Ways and Means: The ritualist must write extensive occult sigils on the walls of the building, using 20 Vitae worth of blood -- this must be spent over the course of the night, though can be done before the ritual is completed.
      This extremely potent ritual is prized by the Clef de Voûte of any city. It is both time consuming and expensive, but when successfully done works towards the perfect alignment of a city.

      Upon completing this exceedingly sanguine ritual (most Architects prepare several bound mortals), the ritualist gains (Potency) dots which may be used to apply bonuses or penalties to all rolls of a specific attribute in the building (no bonus or penalty may be greater than +/-5). Furthermore, for each specific bonus or penalty, the Mason may decide whether it applies to all within the building, only to Architects, or only to non-Architects.

      For Example: Dr. Cutteridge wishes to make her laboratory a place of peaceful science, after her last issues. She conducts this ritual and gains seven Potency. Three of those she applies to a global +3 to Intelligence, allowing her and her non-Architect assistants to work successful. Two more dots of Potency go into a +2 Wits bonus which will apply only to Architects, so that no one can sneak up on her or lie to her in her own lair. Finally, all non-Architects will take a -2 penalty to Strength, which is a bit inconvenient when it comes to lugging around heavy lab equipment, but will keep someone from braining the good doctor with a tire iron.

      The ritual lasts for one year, unless the Architect was integrally involved in designing and laying out the structure, in which case it is permanent.

      GM of the Walking Shadow Campaigns
      New System and Setting Material


      • #4
        Among other things, this was meant to serve as a quick explanation to my players of what the Architects of the Monolith are. Allie Newton and Dr. Cutteridge are two vampires from my game. Dr. Victoria Cutteridge is Dragon of somewhat difficult aspect -- she was inspired by the OWoD Dr. Netchurch, actually. Allie Newton is a former nun and current Carthian with an extremely difficult relationship with her Sire (inspired by Damsel from the VtM: Bloodlines game, and good lord does this post make me seem unoriginal). So I wanted to let the players have some sense of who the Architects are without going into great detail.

        As such, I mostly summarized the sections on Covenant, Haven, and such. At the same time, one thing I like to do is tease out the themes of different things in greater detail. So that explains that section. I altered the Weakness of the bloodline because I have a grand dislike of forcing specific personality traits onto NPCs. An Architect is very likely to have a streak of architectural megalomania about her, but that's the symptom of the Bloodline Weakness and Bloodline structure, not something forced on her.

        For Walking Shadows, I'll be converting five others Bloodlines, so keep an eye out for them: Mnemosyne, Kiasyd, Nagloper, Kallisti, and Mara.

        GM of the Walking Shadow Campaigns
        New System and Setting Material


        • #5
          Thanks, NeoTiamat. My current plans for a '30s Paris game needed this.


          • #6
            Great! Let me know how it goes.

            GM of the Walking Shadow Campaigns
            New System and Setting Material


            • #7
              I *love* this! Great job!

              MAKE LOVE, NOT SPAM!


              • #8
                @Bloodline Bane

                Can an Architect choose a new "home city" through some effort or are they forever tied to one?

                Politeness is the lubricant of social intercourse.


                • #9
                  Thank you Boz! Glad you like it.

                  Saibot, I would allow an Architect to choose a new home city with the expenditure of a Willpower Dot. It's doable, but it's probably rather emotionally painful (I'd liken it to getting a divorce, really).

                  GM of the Walking Shadow Campaigns
                  New System and Setting Material


                  • #10
                    How about making the weakness be that an Architect loses ALL other touchstones, and gains the city itself as a touchstone? Moving to a new city? Roll for detachment, automatically lose the touchstone even if you succeed, pay XP to replace the old city with the new one as a touchstone. Additional weakness: can't ever buy additional touchstones, or benefit from having multiple touchstones.
                    (I'm just throwing random ideas here; I'll mostly cannibalize this into a sixth covenant or something along those lines)

                    MAKE LOVE, NOT SPAM!


                    • #11
                      And how are you supposed to have your touchstone at risk? Especially when the risk should be somewhat constant. With such a touchstone you would never have to care about the safety of your touchstone. Just for your own survival within the city. And all you would be scared of would be leaving the city. Vampires are scared of this proposition enough as it is.

                      My Bloodline conversions
                      My House rules


                      • #12
                        I think... I think that Architects should definitely tend towards locational Touchstones, which have their own pros and cons (on the one hand, they're pretty durable. On the other hand, a location isn't ever going to talk you down from Frenzy). I'd not make it a city but smaller bits and pieces, and I'd require the Architect to have the normal Touchstone-ish connection to them.

                        That said, I wouldn't be using it for my campaign since I treat Touchstones as a sort of 'Player Only' System (the assumption is that other characters have Touchstones, but by and large I don't figure them out because I have 170 NPCs and I have limits to my crazy).

                        GM of the Walking Shadow Campaigns
                        New System and Setting Material


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by NeoTiamat View Post
                          I think... I think that Architects should definitely tend towards locational Touchstones, which have their own pros and cons (on the one hand, they're pretty durable. On the other hand, a location isn't ever going to talk you down from Frenzy). I'd not make it a city but smaller bits and pieces, and I'd require the Architect to have the normal Touchstone-ish connection to them.

                          That said, I wouldn't be using it for my campaign since I treat Touchstones as a sort of 'Player Only' System (the assumption is that other characters have Touchstones, but by and large I don't figure them out because I have 170 NPCs and I have limits to my crazy).
                          + you only really need to create the touchstones for NPCs if the players start investigating them. Otherwise you can just take out X time out of NPCs life to reflect his time tending to his touchstones.

                          My Bloodline conversions
                          My House rules


                          • #14
                            That is roughly what I'm doing, yes. There's a few characters who clearly have Touchstones known to the PCs, but this isn't too common.

                            GM of the Walking Shadow Campaigns
                            New System and Setting Material


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by NeoTiamat View Post
                              I think... I think that Architects should definitely tend towards locational Touchstones, which have their own pros and cons (on the one hand, they're pretty durable. On the other hand, a location isn't ever going to talk you down from Frenzy). I'd not make it a city but smaller bits and pieces, and I'd require the Architect to have the normal Touchstone-ish connection to them.

                              That said, I wouldn't be using it for my campaign since I treat Touchstones as a sort of 'Player Only' System (the assumption is that other characters have Touchstones, but by and large I don't figure them out because I have 170 NPCs and I have limits to my crazy).
                              Why limit your Crazy?

                              The problem with defending the purity of the English language is that English is about as pure as a cribhouse whore. We don't just borrow words; on occasion, English has pursued other languages down alleyways to beat them unconscious and rifle their pockets for new vocabulary. - James. D. Nicoll