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Mystery Cult Initiation: The Monastery of the Black Stake

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  • Mystery Cult Initiation: The Monastery of the Black Stake

    I wrote this up earlier in a thread about scaling merits for the Lancea or the Circle, but figured it deserved its own space instead. Feel free to make use of or add constructive criticism.



    This heretical splinter sect of the Lancea et Sanctum is devoted to gathering fragments of the Black Stake, a mythical artifact that was said to have been used to transfix Longinus himself, wielded in an apocryphal confrontation with an especially powerful (or lucky) saintly hunter. Longinus' blessing as God's anointed scourge of humanity allowed him to overcome the torpor that he was driven into by the Stake, and after arising anew, it is said that he tore the the Black Stake from his breast, and scattered its fragments around the world to keep it from ever being used again . . . a concept whose fine points the Monastery argues endlessly.


    Hidden in a secured and well-protected vault whose location is known only to the eldest members of the Monastery lies a shard of ancient heartwood from an ebony tree. The splinter is about the size of an index finger and, despite its obsidian coloring, gleams with a deep crimson sheen as if soaked in freshly spilled Vitae. Legend holds that the shard can be used to paralyze a Kindred in the same way as a stake would, no matter where upon their body they are pierced. Thus far the Monastery has unearthed enough rumoured (and thus far spurious) fragments of wood reputed to be other shards—enough to make up a small copse of trees. No one truly knows what dread power may be gained should more fragments of the Black Stake be found—or if the Stake should ever be made whole once more—but still, the search continues.


    The Monastery is devoted to unearthing any and all rumours and possible locations of further shards of the Stake, as well as any other relics left by Longinus or other ancient forebears of the modern Lancea et Sanctum. In addition, its members are devoted to uncovering the truth of where Longinus went after he passed from 'history' and into legend and myth.


    O - The beginning of knowledge lies in learning to decipher ancient writings. To that end, cultists gain a point in the Language merit as they learn Aramaic, old Latin, or other dead languages related to their search.

    OO - As a cultist's education continues, he or she is expected to keep records of their research and exploration. A member of the Monastery gains the benefit of the Library merit at one dot; If they already possess the merit, they may add to it, to a maximum of 3 dots.

    OOO - The body of knowledge the Monastery possesses affords each member a useful education. Cultists gain a point in either Academics or Occult.

    OOOO - Since each member of the Monastery can only be in one place at one time, their ability to conduct research or actual physical examinations is limited (especially by daylight). To that end, a devoted cultist gains a 3-point Retainer with appropriate training (and may be made into a Ghoul to further the cultist's, and thus the Monastery's, ends).

    OOOOO - Various chapterhouses of the Monastery are located in historically significant or occult places worldwide. Though they are small, they are fervent in aiding the search of their members. The cultist gains access to 3 points in the Herd or Haven merit, allocated as they wish, to reflect the shelter and aid given to the Monastery's members. They are, however, expected to reciprocate this aid to other members of the Monastery should a visitor come to their location; that assistance is likewise given when the character travels to another Chapterhouse.
    Last edited by Zsander; 02-03-2014, 12:09 AM.

    "There is the world of light, and the world of darkness. And some in the light prefer the darkness." — Loren Eiseley, The Night Country

  • #2
    I love it! It all fits together quite nicely, and the merits you picked seem to capture the feeling and purpose of the cult perfectly. Too often it feels like the cult's mechanical bonuses came before its purpose when creating it, but here it feels just right. Nice.


    • #3
      Many thanks; I'd been thinking about that one for quite awhile and ended up trying to find bonuses that fit, instead of shoehorning the story in the other way around

      "There is the world of light, and the world of darkness. And some in the light prefer the darkness." — Loren Eiseley, The Night Country


      • #4
        Good progression, the final one is a bit bland connection wise, it's not theme breaking or anything just feels rather generic benefit for a vampire org. Now it's been done that way before for the same fluff, but I think an monastery merit would be another way of doing it.
        Defined as a merit that gives it's a free point in haven or herd, Drawback that the kindred is expected to provide hospitality to any other 'monks' with the added benefit that at the GM's discretion should the player travel to another domain with a monastery, they gain can allocate their monastery dots for resources in that city.
        It's a source of plot, slightly less likely to just end up dangling off the communal haven, and its a little bit more special and fifth dot worthy.

        That being said I'd be almost tempted to loose the Hunter story, and have the black stake be a term for the spear that impaled Christ (Supernatural powers can stay the same or be changed). It's more a central part of the Santified faith, and an obvious equivalent to 'piece of the true cross.' Also it means the pieces are going to be more generally sought after, they won't be the only members of the Sanctum interested.
        Last edited by mcgonigle; 02-02-2014, 01:02 PM.


        • #5
          Maybe a little off-topic: Is this cult supposed to be hunted down by mainstream Lancea et Sanctum? Or is it supposed to replace the Lance and be the default Lancea et Sanctum? I never really liked the Lance much, but I always love cults, including this one. To me this is where it gets interesting. In Blood & Smoke they are supposed to be the relic keepers, so this could get incorporated into the mainstream, right?


          • #6
            Those are some good points, McGonicle and Paparazzi. I actually did think of making the final merit point a reciprocation-based matter, and does make sense, so I'll throw it in.

            I'd considered the Spear of Destiny angle, but that particular item is so well treaded that I figured it would be overdone. Nonetheless, if it makes more sense for your own story (A shaft of wood soaked in the blood of Christ, instead of stained by the Vitae of Longinus), then by all means, I encourage it.

            As for the cult, I'd think of it as part of the Lance faith, but a sub-sect that's entirely obsessed with this apocryphal story and devoted to finding more of said artifact. The single splinter they've found so far is what 'confirms' and drives their faith in seeking the rest (and any clues about Longinus would in turn feed that search), but most 'regular' Lance members would probably consider them a bit nuts: "You -really- think some random mortal brought Him low? How insane are you? Do you realize just how blasphemous you sound?" Individual Lance reactions would vary between puzzlement and outright fury, depending on the individual member's point of view.
            Last edited by Zsander; 02-03-2014, 12:10 AM.

            "There is the world of light, and the world of darkness. And some in the light prefer the darkness." — Loren Eiseley, The Night Country