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Walking Shadows: Mnemosyne & Meminisse

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  • Walking Shadows: Mnemosyne & Meminisse

    The second of six Bloodlines from Walking Shadows that I am working on. This has been a collaborative project between myself and my player Isabella, though mostly her work. I just did the mechanics, she did all the creative labor. We've deviated a bit from what's presented in the Mekhet Clanbook, but hopefully in a way that people will find interesting.

    Vampires are dead. Every hot mouthful of blood is a little bit of someone else's existence stolen, a day snatched from some random mortal and tacked onto the vampire's unnatural survival. But the truth is, vampires don't just drink blood, they drink life, a metaphor most Kindred nod at and brush aside, without truly understanding the implications. To drink is to consume, to devour everything a person is, stealing it, subsuming it, making it a part of the vampire itself to fuel its unnatural Requiem. Diablerists understand this - keep feeding, and you can steal someone's power, someone's essence, someone's very soul. Mnemosyne don't need diablerie to tell them this truth. They drink deeper than most, devouring memories, a person's very identity.

    Ironically, no one is sure where the Mnemosyne came from. Those elders who have survived through the long years rarely know who they truly are any more, their minds a jumbled wreck of a thousand different thoughts and memories. The bloodline is held together by their shared understanding of their condition - and a perverse need to preserve the echoed souls they believe are trapped within themselves. Although never proven, there are rumors the Mnemosyne practice a ritual diablerie, with members of the bloodline consenting to it when they believe themselves facing their final death.

    It is a particularly common delusion among the bloodline - if it can even be dismissed as such a thing - that a Mnemosyne who kills while feeding swallows a bit of their victim's soul. The Mnemosyne consider the victim to be still present inside of them - a sentiment that sounds like madness born of guilt, but which all Mnemosyne can understand. Although some Mnemosyne reject this feeling as a false sensation, this path often leads them on a downward spiral, as they have little means to differentiate their real relationships from their stolen ones, and wind up losing both.

    The Mnemosyne are an eclectic lot, embraced for many of the same reasons normal Kindred embrace. The difference comes in that many Mnemosyne form bonds with people they have never even met, seeking out and transforming those who have no knowledge of the vampire's feelings toward them. Whatever they began their Requiem as, however, most Mnemosyne become something else very quickly. Some become nearly blank, without an identity beyond what they've cobbled together from their victims. A spy sups from a rival's blood so often he forgets whose side he's truly on. A pair of lovers finds sharing experiences so much more intimate than sex, indulging so often that they now speak in unison. Even those Mnemosyne who are very careful rarely come out with their identity unscathed. One stray bite, one loss of control, and you're someone different altogether from whom you started out as.

    The Vampire as Soul Devourer
    The Mnemosyne believe that to feed is to consume the victim entirely, to feel the blood create echoes in the Kindred's soul. Of course, most Kindred, even most Mnemosyne, fall short of devouring someone's essence in their everyday feeding. The vampire usually gulps down a few pints and is gone, thinking nothing more of it and leaving the vessel nothing more than anemic for a week. But the Mnemosyne understand the act leaves an intimate echo, a tie between the vampire and their victim, and the Mnemosyne have learned to tap into these bonds more than most. Their victims are a part of them now - the Kindred simply hasn't moved in to finish the job.

    In London
    No one knows quite how long the Mnemosyne have been in London, nor how many of them there are. They look little different from other Mekhet, and few trumpet their maddening blood and patchwork minds. And yet, they exist. But they have existed a long time, sometimes in shadows, sometimes in the light of the moon. A second-century CE testament in the Mysterium collection at the British Museum mentions special privileges granted to the childer of a vampire belonging to the ‘Mnemosynidae’ along a stretch of the Thames. In modern nights, Alistair Niall, former High Sheriff of London and Inquisitor of the Sanctified is the only Mnemosyne who may be said to be ‘public.’ What other Mnemosyne are hiding in the shadows, one can only guess.

    Alistair Niall lurks in the corners of the world, a spymaster whose web of informants doesn't even know he exists. He maintains his network with extreme precision, and his relationships are laced with heavy paranoia. No one is trusted, no one loved without contingencies and backups, just in case. He has no way of knowing if he really loves who he thinks he loves, after all. Any bond might be a false memory, any trust wholly misplaced. Those he really likes he takes a little sip of, both as insurance and so he'll have a piece of them with him always, even after he turns on them. And he probably will turn on them, and if not, they'll turn on him. He's a treacherous old snake, although its hard to say if his motives for doing so are even his own, or if the people he's loved and betrayed have trickled into his soul and had one last bit of revenge.

    Clan: Mekhet
    Bloodline Disciplines: Auspex, Celerity, Obfuscate, Meminisse
    Bloodline Weakness: The Transient Curse
    Mnemosyne don't just consume blood, they consume their victim's very essence and identity. Feeding comes with an explosion of unfamiliar memories and emotions. The first time a Mnemosyne feeds from a vessel, they're able to shake the sensation off without issue. For every subsequent time they feed from that vessel, roll the vampire's humanity. On a failure, the vampire gains a persistent False Memories condition relating to some aspect of the vessel's life, as the vampire becomes falsely convinced that these memories or emotions are his own. The vampire can resolve this condition by finding evidence to the contrary of his beliefs, however, should the vampire kill a vessel by feeding, the persistent condition can never be resolved - no matter how mentally aware the vampire is his memories are not his own, they remain as fresh and powerful as any other experience.

    GM of the Walking Shadow Campaigns
    New System and Setting Material

  • #2
    From understanding the intimate bonds that tie people together, the Mnemosyne can manipulate them to a certain degree. They can strengthen bonds to those they've they've fed on, and use these bonds to draw power to themselves. Through their personal knowledge of ties and memories, the Mnemosyne can also weaken them - or worse yet, steal them from those they have preyed on. Creating links, breaking them, and using them are the hallmarks of the Mnemosyne.

    Ties that Bind (Meminisse 1)
    The Mnemosyne drinks the blood of a chosen victim, starting the process of consuming them, but stopping short of finishing it. He tastes them; he transubstantiates them, making their blood a permanent part of himself. He savors the memories encoded within, listening to their thoughts and emotions. He gets to know them. He creates a link with them.

    This power allows the Mnemosyne to forge an artificial bond of blood sympathy with the target, even living ones. Those who are closer in nature to the Mnemosyne are more heavily affected, as the Mnemosyne is more easily able to subsume them into his own being.

    Cost: 1 Vitae
    Requirement: The Vitae spent must have been gained by the Mnemosyne's feeding on the target
    Dice Pool: Wits+Empathy+Meminisse vs. Composure+Blood Potency
    Action: Instant

    Roll Results
    Dramatic Failure: The Mnemosyne is tangled and lost in the myriad webs of Blood Sympathy that surrounds him, losing 1 Willpower point from the confusion.
    Failure: The target finds his attention wandering towards the Mnemosyne, and he feels an odd tug of emotion, but it dissipates at the end of the scene.
    Success: The Mnemosyne forges a tie of Blood Sympathy with the target, placing the Blood Tied condition on them. Other Mekhet, or the Mnemosyne's own ghouls, are treated as being Once-Removed, other vampires or ghouls are treated as Twice-Removed, mortals and any other supernatural capable of being fed upon for Vitae are Thrice-Removed. For more on Blood Sympathy, see Blood & Smoke pg. 98. Ties that Bind may also be used to severe the Blood Tie, which works the same as establishing it (complete with Vitae cost and possible opposed roll), save that the Vitae need not come from the other party.
    Exceptional Success: The Mnemosyne is able to forge the Blood Tie with minimal expenditure of Vitae -- the cost of this power is refunded to the Mnemosyne.

    Blood Ties (Persistent)
    Your character has been fed upon and is Blood Tied to a Mnemosyne, forging a bond of Blood Sympathy between the two. Other than its artificial nature, the Blood Tie is in all ways identical to the normal ties of Blood Sympathy that arise between a Sire and Childe, for instance, including the fact that it goes both ways.

    Resolution: There are three ways to sever a Blood Tie.
    1) A Mnemosyne may sever his own Ties with the first power of Meminisse.
    2) Sufficient time may pass - living creatures need only wait seven years, while a Kindred must spend at least one year in Torpor.
    3) Lose, even briefly, all of your Touchstones (essentially, the Blood Tie is linked to the person that you are, so by changing your nature so greatly, you sever it).
    Beat: N/A
    Expiration: Persistent

    Crack the Foundations (Meminisse 2)
    In allowing false memories and blood ties to trickle down through their soul, the Mnemosyne learns the pathways that identity travels through themselves. The Mnemosyne looks at others and sees the same pathways - not precisely enough to pluck out individual identifiers, but the big things, the things that make up the core of a person. By lashing out with their beast, the vampire can cloud the memories associated with it, partially destroying a portion of the victim's identity, for a time. To those the Mnemosyne is tied to, they can go so far as to steal the memories for themselves, bolstering their sense of being at the cost of someone else's.

    This power enables the Mnemosyne to lock away, or even steal, the core concepts of the target's personality. Many Mnemosyne use this power to "regain" Touchstones that they falsely believe to be theirs, causing them to steal more and more of their victim's identity in a futile hope to truly recreate the relationship as they remember it.

    Cost: 1 Vitae
    Dice Pool: Manipulation+Investigation+Meminisse vs. Resolve+Blood Potency
    Action: Instant

    Roll Results
    Dramatic Failure: The Mnemosyne botches the ritual in a truly grand fashion. For the rest of the night, the Mnemosyne has no access to his Virtue, Vice, or Touchstones.
    Failure: For the rest of the scene, the target is plagued with vague sensations of déjà vu or time moving strangely, but nothing more.
    Success: For the next (Successes) hours, the target loses access to the Mnemosyne's choice of Virtue, Vice, or a single Touchstone (either one that the Mnemosyne knows of, or simply a random Touchstone). The target still knows, abstractly, that the relationship or personality characteristic is there, but is unable to recall any specifics relating to it or why it should hold any importance to them. She does not regain any willpower from it or benefit from it in any other way until this power wears off. Someone attempting to supernaturally affect a locked off trait, such as a Vice, provokes a Clash of Wills with the Mnemosyne who originally used the power.

    If used on a target who has Blood Sympathy (whether natural or as a result of Blood Tie) with the Mnemosyne, this power does more than lock away the Virtue, Vice, or Touchstone from the target. It transfers the chosen mechanic to the Mnemosyne, who may benefit from it in all the normal fashions (up to and including a stolen Touchstone being able to talk the Mnemosyne down from a Frenzy, or regaining Willpower from a stolen Vice) until the power's duration ends.
    Exceptional Success: The ability lasts until sunrise.

    Dipping in the Pool (Meminisse 3)
    Blood calls to blood. The Mnemosyne extends her senses along the veins of her blood-ties, reaching out to the faint echoes of those she's tasted. They respond to the vampire's call, despite the physical distance between them, sending their memories back to the Kindred. The vampire's network gains her constant visions and useful flashes of insight. Drawing on race memories, memories lost in Vitae and the collective pool of experience shared by the living and the dead through generations untold, the Mnemosyne taps into a knowledge far beyond her own limits.

    Cost: None
    Requirement: The Mnemosyne must be within 100 yards of at least one individual with whom he has Blood Sympathy, whether naturally or via the Blood Tie condition.
    Dice Pool: None
    Action: None
    Duration: Permanent
    For every individual within 100 yards of the Mnemosyne to whom the Mnemosyne has a tie of Blood Sympathy to (whether natural or via the Blood Tie condition), the Mnemosyne gains a +1 to non-supernatural dice pools involving Mental Skills (max +5).

    Exchange of Things Past and Present (Meminisse 4)
    The Mnemosyne hones his ability to trace memories in the blood, watching how they clump together in certain ways and make up the whole of their victim. While still not precise enough to take specific memories, the vampire can now steal huge chunks of their target's experiences, allowing the Kindred to snatch learned skills for himself. To those the Mnemosyne is tied to, the connection can be opened both ways, allowing the vampire to impart his experiences into the target's mind. Whether vampire or mortal, the exchanged experiences are forgotten when the power's duration ends, leaving the affected person with a vague fugue in their place.

    Cost: 2 Vitae
    Dice Pool: Intelligence+Subterfuge+Meminisse – victim’s Resolve
    Action: Instant
    Duration: Scene
    Roll Results
    Dramatic Failure: The Mnemosyne accidentally wipes out a part of his own skills and experience, instantly losing three dots of random skills. These return slowly over the course of the following nights, healing as if Aggravated Damage.
    Failure: Though both parties feel the briefest moment of mental connection, nothing more happens.
    Success: The Mnemosyne is able to steal up to (Successes) dots from a single skill from the victim. The target's effective skill is reduced by (Successes), to a minimum of 0, while the Mnemosyne's skill is increased by (Successes), up to a maximum of the target's original skill. This power neither causes nor obviates Untrained penalties.

    For Example: Alistair Niall (Brawl 2) chooses to steal the Brawl of a professional boxer (Brawl 4), and rolls five successes with this power. The boxer's Brawl promptly plummets to 0, though he still has formidable Strength -- the one extra success is lost. Niall's Brawl, meanwhile, goes up by 2, to the boxer's original maximum -- the three extra successes are lost.

    If used on a target who has Blood Sympathy (whether natural or as a result of Blood Tie) with the Mnemosyne, this power may be used in reverse. The Mnemosyne can give up up to (Successes) Skill dots, losing them for the duration but granting them to the other party.
    Exceptional Success: The theft or transfer lasts for one night.

    Thief of Minds (Meminisse 5)
    The Mnemosyne is dipped into strange emotions and memories with every feeding, and learns very quickly how much the idea of "self" is a fragile thing. Having been exposed to this existential uncertainty so many times, they now learn how to invoke it in others. By projecting false memories onto the target, the vampire scrambles their victim's identity, leaving them confused and easily manipulated. In the very worst cases, the victim forgets who they are entirely, even their own name. The victim retains the use of his Skills, supernatural powers and other Traits, and his lack of memory does not force him to act in any way, but he is vulnerable should someone take advantage of his state.

    Cost: 3 Vitae
    Requirements: Thief of Minds may not be used on a target already suffering the Weakened Memories Condition.
    Dice Pool: Manipulation+Subterfuge+Meminisse – victim’s Resolve
    Action: Instant
    Roll Results
    Dramatic Failure: The target's mind is clear and his memory is armored. He gains a +3 vs. all Meminisse powers for the next week.
    Failure: The target's mind grows cloudy for a moment, but he presses on regardless.
    Success: The target loses (Successes) Willpower points and gains the Weakened Memories Condition at a -2 as the Mnemosyne strips away his memories. If the target is reduced to 0 Willpower by Thief of Minds, they gain the Weakened Memories Condition at a -3, as well as the Amnesia Condition as they forget vast swathes of their lives, even their very name. All Conditions last for (Blood Potency + Successes) days.

    If used on a target who has Blood Sympathy (whether natural or as a result of Blood Tie) with the Mnemosyne, the Mnemosyne is able to consume some of the lost Willpower -- the vampire gains 1 Willpower Point.
    Exceptional Success: More successes are their own reward. If used on a target who has Blood Sympathy (whether natural or as a result of Blood Tie) with the Mnemosyne, the vampire gains 2 Willpower Points.

    Weakened Memories
    Your character's memories resemble a moth-eaten blanket, with countless little holes and gaps. This is more than simply forgetting where one left the keys, this is forgetting how to put the key into the ignition. The character takes either a -2 or a -3 to all rolls involving Mental Skills, Drive, Firearms, or Larceny.

    Resolution: Time, or receiving extremely detailed descriptions of the missing memories (as from a loved one or a very thorough diary).
    Beat: The character forgets how to do something, even though they would materially benefit from doing so.
    Expiration: A number of days equal to the Blood Potency+Successes of the Mnemosyne who inflicted this. Natural cases of Weakened Memories are usually Persistent.

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    • #3
      Devotions of the Mnemosyne

      (Meminisse 1)

      The Mnemosyne concentrates his memories, stolen or otherwise, into a spark of vitality - a scrap of soul that contains the memory of life, and can be used in place of life for the vampire's purposes.

      Cost: 1 Willpower
      Dice Pool: Meminisse (Just Meminisse)
      Action: Instant

      The vampire gains (Successes) Vitae.

      This Devotion costs 1 Experiences.

      The Restoration of Things Lost
      (Auspex 2, Meminisse 3)

      A sip of blood, and the Mnemosyne tastes a victim's memories. Yet they don't seem to match what the victim claims to remember. The World of Darkness has many ways to cloud the truth and put lie to a person's mind, but they cannot affect the primal knowledge in the blood. Once a Mnemosyne has a person's memories echoing in their blood, they can return them to the victim, only slightly worse for wear.

      Cost: 2 Vitae
      Requirement: The Mnemosyne must have a Blood Sympathy connection with the target, whether natural or via the Blood Tie Condition.
      Dice Pool: None
      Action: Instant

      This power removes any Amnesia, False Memories, or Weakened Memories Conditions from the target (who may be the Mnemosyne himself), with the exception of False Memories created as a result of the Mnemosyne bloodline curse.
      • If the Mnemosyne caused those Conditions, then they are simply removed.
      • If the Conditions are the result of some other supernatural being's tampering, then the Mnemosyne enters into a Clash of Wills, with the Conditions removed if he is successful.
      • If the Conditions are natural, perhaps as a result of brain injury, then they are suppressed for one month.

      Giving the target the Kiss while using this devotion gives the Mnemosyne a +2 to any Clash of Wills they may enter into as a result.

      This Devotion costs 2 Experiences.

      Silent Echoes
      (Meminisse 2, Obfuscate 2)

      The Mnemosyne learns to run his tendrils out subtly, carefully snipping the threads of memory and pulling them back to himself. When using this devotion, the vampire enacts his powers with his victims none the wiser that anything unusual has happened - while in most cases the target would be confused at the loss of such a vital part of themselves, Silent Echoes leaves them convinced that their current condition is the normal state of things.

      Cost: 1 or 2 Vitae, plus the normal costs of Crack the Foundations or Exchange of Things Present
      Dice Pool: None
      Action: None
      Silent Echoes enhances Crack the Foundations for 1 Vitae and Exchange of Things Present for 2 Vitae, allowing them to be used with no one the wiser. If these powers are targeted against an Auspex user, they Mnemosyne enters into Clash of Wills. Otherwise, neither the target nor any bystanders are aware that anything untoward has occurred.

      This Devotion costs 3 Experiences.

      Identity Crisis
      (Auspex 2, Dominate 3, Meminisse 5)

      So great is the Mnemosyne's hunger and skill that they can reach out and ravage a person's entire mind, leaving only dribbles and scraps behind in their wake. The Kindred's feral senses hone in on his victim's psyche, at which point he recites a viciously negative assessment of the victim using the memory alteration of Dominate. The Mnemosyne then obliterates the target's mind with Meminisse, leaving them mentally crippled until the confusion and cutting lies fade. To those with whom the Mnemosyne is blood-tied, this devotion swallows the victim's mind whole, pulling it back to be subsumed into the Kindred's own vicious psyche.

      Cost: 8 Vitae
      Requirements: Identity Crisis may not be used on a target already suffering the Attribute damage from Identity Crisis.
      Dice Pool: Intelligence+Empathy+Meminisse – victim’s Resolve
      Action: Instant
      Roll Results
      Dramatic Failure: The Mnemosyne manages to shatter his own memories, losing 3 dots of Mental Attributes, determined randomly. These are healed as Aggravated damage.
      Failure: Both Mnemosyne and victim feel a brief moment of confused mental contact, but nothing more occurs.
      Success: The target instantly loses (Successes) dots worth of Mental Attributes. The Mnemosyne is able to determine which Attributes go first, with the qualification that no Attribute may be reduced to 0 without all Attributes being reduced to 1 first. A victim reduced to 0 in a Mental Attribute automatically fails all rolls involving the attribute. Attribute damage is healed as Aggravated damage, and count as such for the purposes of supernatural healing powers.

      If used on a target who has Blood Sympathy (whether natural or as a result of Blood Tie) with the Mnemosyne, the Mnemosyne gains one dot of a Mental Attribute per two successes (rounded down). These cannot take the Mnemosyne above his Blood Potency-derived maximums, and vanish at the end of the scene.
      Exceptional Success: More successes are their own reward.

      This Devotion costs 5 Experiences.

      GM of the Walking Shadow Campaigns
      New System and Setting Material


      • #4
        I'm not sure if I like Mnemovore. I feel that, at higher Discipline dots, it's a bit too easy to get the vitae you need by spamming it, meaning that their Bane (which is great, by the way) won't come up often. As long as they keep an eye out for opportunities to regain WP, they can keep their Vitae topped up.

        I have decided, after some thought, that I don't really feel happy on these forums. I might decide to come back to post. Who knows - but right now, I'm gone.

        So good bye, good luck, and have a nice day.


        • #5
          *waggles hand* I suspect this depends on the game. In most of my games, Willpower is much harder to get back than Vitae -- I don't plan it that way, it just works out as such. Mnemovore won't even somewhat consistently provide 1 Vitae till Meminisse 3, and the Mnemosyne will never be able to rely on 2 Vitae. So while it can be useful as a kind of emergency exchange, it's not really practical as a regular thing.

          That said, if your Willpower and Vitae-gain rates are different, Mnemovore may become problematic. Simple enough to remove it.

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          New System and Setting Material


          • #6
            I like your version of Mnemosyne, However, I find the lack of memory exchange power quite big (the one which allowed you to exchange any length of your own memories for the targets. at end of duration your own memories would return, but the exchanged ones would stay with you as well). Would you mind writing that up?

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            • #7
              That was an intentional omission, albeit one that I suspect few others would agree with. Basically, I do my level best to avoid letting any mind-reading or prophetic powers broader than Fleeting Spring 1: Cupid's Eye into my game. I've had some bad experiences, so this is something I much prefer to avoid. (I've actually written an entirely new Auspex 4 power for my game). So I'm not going to write it up.

              That said... the original Meminisse 4 power also had the issue of competing with Auspex 4's Telepathy. Why exchange memories when you can just devour them? So what I'd suggest is craft it as a Mem 4, Auspex 4 Devotion that lets you move around memories at very long distance. Essentially, you can swap memories, and you can do so along your Blood Sympathy ties... which means that congratulations, you have long-distance, instantaneous communication with your ghouls and Blood Ties and the rest (albeit somewhat clunky communication).

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              • #8
                Well that's not what I need it for. I just want two people to be able to exchange memories. It would even be sufficient if the target must give his free willed consent

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                • #9
                  Hmm. Well, the original Mem 4 power works reasonably well, it just needs some mechanical cleaning up -- either replace my Meminisse 4 and make the skill-exchange power a Devotion, or make the memory swap a Devotion (probably a Mem 4 one as well). Transfer (Successes) memories for the scene, on an ES lasts for a night, etc.

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                  • #10
                    Not really relevant I guess, just curious: where did you get the name Mnemosyne from? Aby Warburg by any chance?


                    • #11
                      This is a clan and a discipline remade from Clan Book Mekhet. So we should ask that book writer's where that name came from

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                      • #12
                        Mnemosyne was a Titan and goddess of memory from Ancient Greece, the mother of the Nine Muses.

                        Meminisse is a Latin word which means, if my translation is correct, 'To Remember.'

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by NeoTiamat View Post
                          Mnemosyne was a Titan and goddess of memory from Ancient Greece, the mother of the Nine Muses.
                          Gods, should have known it'd be something like that. The guy has a hard on for the classics afterall. Thanks for that.


                          • #14
                            Hey, I've taken your work and redone it in devotions. By taken, I mean shamelessly stolen. Would appreciate it if you looked at it and commented on anything interesting (preferably on the google doc itself) LINK


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                            • #15
                              Well, I enjoy it when my threads get necroed. Someone cares! I shall head over and make some comments, though at first glance... not much different?

                              GM of the Walking Shadow Campaigns
                              New System and Setting Material