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[2E Homebrew] The Unstoppable Souls - Gudthabak

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  • [2E Homebrew] The Unstoppable Souls - Gudthabak

    Hi guys! I've been homebrewing a few things for a game I'm running set in Dublin in the modern days/night. One of the things I've been idly doing is writing down some mechanics for the Gadthabak, bull shaped shapeshifters mentioned in the War Against the Pure, and then making a surprise entrance in the Dark Eras 1 chapter The Sundered World. What with Irish history of cattle raiding, I thought it might be prudent to have an idea of what these things looks like in case past werewolf encounters with them crop up in the modern era!

    Let me know what you think, or if you have any suggestions! Inspiration has been taken from both the original and the updated write ups in WAtP and DE1, so thanks to the authors of both of them. I used the mechanics of the Sobeki in Dark Eras 2 chapter Hunger in the Black Land as a starting point, so also thanks to the authors of that. Lastly, the labyrinth (why not) power is based on the Strix's labyrinth power from Requiem 2nd Ed, so thanks to the authors of that. All mistakes and hilariously inept mechanics my own!

    Gudthabak – The Baal-Hadad
    The forgotten children of the Bull, long dead Pangean of lost myth. Those with Unstoppable Souls are a faded remnant of lost hunting grounds, and more rumoured myth than reality for most packs. Their peculiar method of reproduction means that the Gudthabak have dwindled in size, either through lack of reproduction, or retribution from Urdaga and Anshega alike. However, this decline, has not left the Baal-Hadad to mourn what could have been, the Unstoppable Souls shine with the fury of Helios himself ad are determined to continue their legacy to whatever fate faces them. The Gudthabak work to become lords of their territory, gaining mortal followers in a quasi-religious fashion. They protect these ‘herds’ jealously and are not above brutal acts of strength to protect what they divine is theirs.

    Long ago, amongst the shattered ivory of dead Bull a people arose claiming aspects of the Bull itself. These proud men and women could wear the shape of Bull and burned with a bright light, their souls and mind unassailable. However, with the creation of every new Gudthabak the ivory remains diminished until there was no more. Cahalith tales do not tell of what happened afterward, only that a great betrayal occurred and the Gudthabak found a way to continue their line until the present day – the theft and sacrifice of Wolf-blooded.

    What the Ball-Hadad found was than in the light of day, through blood, ritual, and slivers of the stolen heartstone of Bull, a Wolf Blooded could be turned into one of them. Naturally Forsaken and Pure alike were incensed, thus a rivalry was born that lasts to the present nights. What is necessary are the slivers of the original heartsone of Bull, though these have mostly been lost to the ages. Even if a fragment was to be found, most would not understand what these fragments were. If a large horde were to be found however, then the Gudthabak may rise again and many Wolf-blooded would be sacrificed to sun-drenched altars.

    Creating an Unstoppable Soul
    The Gudthabak are shapeshifters, wearing a facet of the forms of long-lost Bull. They are unintended inheritors of its legacy, practising rituals whose origins are barely remembered by anyone but the most potent of Helions. They are not the natural children of the Bull; however they clothe their intentions. They must delve in bloody rituals to continue themselves, unlike their Uratha cousins.

    Sunlit Sacrifice
    To create a Gudthabak another Gudthabak must perform the following ceremony on living Wolf-blooded, captive or willing – it does not matter. During daylight, and under direct sunlight, the Wolf-blooded is bound onto an altar of stone and surrounded by burning sage. The Gudthabak leading the ceremony takes the required sliver of Bull’s heartstone and cuts their palm with it, mingling its blood with the stone. The sliver is then carved into the chest of the Wolf-blooded under the ribs towards the heart. This transforms the new Gudthabak into its hybrid form, where the sliver drops out of the now healed chest of the new Baal-Hadad.

    Primal Might
    A Gudthabak character possess a Primal Urge characteristic and Essence pools equivalent to a werewolf’s, and regenerates in the same way. The Baal-Hadad provoke a type of Lunacy which works in the same way as a werewolf’s, apart from that Dramatic Failures to resist inflict the Awestruck condition. Those afflicted by this Lunacy remember the Gudthabak as a glorious divine figure half-remembered. Instead of compulsion to hunt, Baal-Hadad experience a compulsion to gain new followers at the same frequency a werewolf is expected to hunt, based on their Primal Urge.

    The Gudthabak retain their Integrity trait, though they do not see their need to subjugate others into their herd harm their sense of self, in fact the opposite –they additionally experience a Breaking Point when one of their herd leaves. At Integrity 3 or lower, and at Primal Urge 5 or higher the Gudthabak suffers the Persistent Addicted Condition (Promethean, p305) on gaining new followers. Hence, Gudthabak either work together in communal herds, or distant from one another. To split two powerful Gudthabak invites thunderous conflict between the two as they fight for dominance.

    Baal-Hadad can perform or lead rites, but they can consume the Essence of spirits taken down physically. They also regain Essence by consuming Human or Bovine flesh, which count as Breaking Points. They can sense loci in the same way that werewolves can, and are able to enter and exit the Shadow. Lastly, the Baal-Hadad enjoy a special relationship with Helios for a reason that Uratha haven’t been able to fathom. They always count as having perfect impression with helions and enjoy +2 bonus on rolls to exit the Shadow.

    Bulls Strength
    Upon becoming a Gubthabak, the character increases his Strength, Stamina, and Presence by 2 each, which can raise them above 5. However, they still may not purchase more than five dots of any Attribute.

    Divine Form
    For 1 Essence, a Baal-Hadad can reflexively change form between three forms; human, bull, and hybrid:
    Bull: +3 Strength, +2 Stamina, +1 Presence, +2 Size, and 1L horns. In this form, if the Gudthabak charges and attacks in the same turn its horns are a 2L weapon, and if they inflict damage may spend 1 Essence to inflict the Knocked Down tilt. Despite the name, Ball-Hadad of any gender enter this form and appear as that gender, though they all gain a glorious ivory crown of horns. The Baal-Hadad inflicts Lunacy -2 in this form.
    Hybrid: +4 Strength, +3 Stamina, +4 Presence, +3 Size, 1L horns. In this colossal form the Baal-Hadad appears as a divine hybrid of man and bull, walking upright on two legs that are hooved, with a bull’s head and horns. Regardless of the bovine visage, their human eyes remain in this form. Like the Bull form, the Gudthabak can make charge attacks with 2L horns and may spend Essence to inflict the Knock Down Tilt if it inflicts damage. As well as this it gains the Juggernaut Dread power which costs on 1 Essence to activate per attack against an object or barrier. Finally, the Baal-Hadad regenerates at triple its normal rate, has the Primal Fear trait of a werewolf in Gauru form, can wield appropriately sized weapons, and can speak.

    Unassailable Soul
    Meddling with the soul or mind of a Baal-Hadad is a difficult and risky endeavour, akin to shoving one’s hand in a burning fire in order to move it. The Baal-Hadad may Clash of Wills such effects, rolling Strength + Presence + Primal Urge. Regardless if the Gudthabak fails or not, their opponent suffers the Gudthabak’s successes in lethal damage, as the bright soul of the Baal-Hadad burns. If this inflicts five or more points of damage, the opponent suffers the Blinded Tilt as both eyes are literally burned out.

    Gaze of the Sun
    Gudthabak are blessed with the glorious mien of Bull itself. Burning with charisma, a Baal-Hadad can easily bring a whole community under its sway. By spending an Essence and rolling Presence + Expression versus the highest Composure + Primal Urge of a group, on a success the Gudthabak can impose the Swooning Condition on as many individuals as ten times their Primal Urge.

    Labyrinthian Temple
    Baal-Hadad often erect a central place of worship for their herd. Part temple, part trap, a Gudthabak is able to warp the mind of interlopers to turn this in a labyrinth. Then, trapped, the Baal-Hadad can hunt down these thieves at their pleasure. This power only works within a Safe Place with a dot rating of at least half the Gudthabak’s Primal Urge rounded down. By spending 1 Essence rolling Presence + Intimidation versus Resolve + Primal Urge, if successful the opponent gains Lost Condition (CofD, p289).

    Regardless of success, the Gudthabak creates a maze impossibly made out of the Safe Place. All exits other than one decided by the Baal-Hadad vanish, though this one exit needs to be large enough to fit the Gudtharak in hybrid form. Lastly, all materials gain durability equal to half the Baal-Hadad’s Primal Urge rounded down. This effect lasts until all those inside die or exit. A Gudthabak can only have one such labyrinth active at a time.

    Bovine Panoply
    By spending one Essence, for the rest of the scene the Baal-Hadad can communicate with cows and bulls and gains an Animal Ken speciality in Bovine. Furthermore a Guthabak can infuse a herd with a spark on the Bull and Sun. Drawing on its own power and spending 5 Essence, each cow or bull gain +1 Strength, Stamina, and Presence and the Baal-Hadad has perfect impression with them. Each herd blessed as such provides the Baal-Hadad an Essence per Chapter for the rest of the Story. A Gudthabak may bless as many herds this way up to his Primal Urge rating.

  • #2
    From a very quick read, it does look like a nice update- I like the Labyrinthine Temple, even though I would have also liked to see it involvinh their idol crafting in some way, perhaps as a way to channel their divine might. I also think that as so much time has passed since Pangaea, I am not sure that much of Bull's heart slivers have remained to allow the Rite of Moloch to activate, so perhaps it would be better to not make it integral to their First Change. Also, I've just wanted to note that Bull haven't canonically died- while it is indeed a possibility (a lot of time has passed since Pangaea, after all), if you referred to the "shattered horns of Bull" part of Sundered World, Chris Allen has clarified one time that Bull survived the "scrap with Wolf" (see here), so if Bull has died in your version, I kind of expect the circumstance of what was probably a legendary fall to be detailed.

    Other than that, looks cool.


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    • #3
      Very nice update.

      One thing I've been thinking about is that it seems weird to name something as "Baal-Hadad" given it means "Lord Hadad", and Hadad is a weather god, which seems like an odd name for a whole group of creatures connected with the sun and not with storms or rain. Instead I would suggest that they get called the"Sun Bulls" informally, which I also find easier to say and write fast, and that for personal titles they take a First Tongue term that essentially means "lord/master" or "lady/mistress", I don't pretend to what they should be, as part of their individual titles. and then some word or name to signify their claim to divnity.

      So that a Sun Bull that is heavily into beatingt up threats could be "Lord Protector" or "Mistress of the Wall" or something like it. Or over a town couldbe "Lord of Crosshill" if that town is named Crosshill. But the "lord" or "mistress" would be in First Tongue.

      *****

      And when reading this I also get a little itchy to run a game with these guys as PCs. I'm thinking about them ruling over some backwoods town and something comes along to challenge their dominion and cause all kinds of hell.

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      • #4
        The etymology behind "Baal" might be lord but it's also the name of the Canaanite equivalent of the god Hadad, and both gods are heavily associated with bulls. Note that Baal-Hadad is a name applied to them long after they came into being, and doesn't have to be indicative of their full nature. For bull shapeshifters with a compulsion to lead others, taking the names of two bull gods is fitting enough.
        Besides, it's what they're called in the official material.


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        • #5
          Originally posted by Tessie View Post
          The etymology behind "Baal" might be lord but it's also the name of the Canaanite equivalent of the god Hadad, and both gods are heavily associated with bulls. Note that Baal-Hadad is a name applied to them long after they came into being, and doesn't have to be indicative of their full nature. For bull shapeshifters with a compulsion to lead others, taking the names of two bull gods is fitting enough.
          Besides, it's what they're called in the official material.
          You are correct in that Baal and Hadad, to the point they were actually distinct deities, were indeed associated with bulls. They were however no more "bull deities" than Jupiter was an "eagle deity" for his association with eagles. The god called Baal that appears to us in the Baal Cycle is clearly an antropomorphic figure not some minotaur or magical animal in the Apis-sense from Egypt. The same with every depiction from the ancient world I've ever seen of Baal. And like I said, Baal and Hadad were weather gods commanding the storms that brings rain and life. They were not sun gods.

          Also Baal or Hadad have not had a serious cult attention or anything for many years and are tied to a rather small slice of land, so to tie that name to these creatures as more than a historical and local name makes no sense.

          You are correct in regards to the official material but in an update things should be improved, not left to stagnate. And do not that I am not advicing changing the First Tongue name of these creatures.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by LostLight View Post
            From a very quick read, it does look like a nice update- I like the Labyrinthine Temple, even though I would have also liked to see it involvinh their idol crafting in some way, perhaps as a way to channel their divine might.
            Thanks! I think I've missed their Idol crafting in my reading around the Gudthabak, so that's why it not there. Maybe the power relies on it crafting such an Idol to 'claim' the Safe Place so it can use the power?

            Originally posted by LostLight View Post
            I also think that as so much time has passed since Pangaea, I am not sure that much of Bull's heart slivers have remained to allow the Rite of Moloch to activate, so perhaps it would be better to not make it integral to their First Change. Also, I've just wanted to note that Bull haven't canonically died- while it is indeed a possibility (a lot of time has passed since Pangaea, after all), if you referred to the "shattered horns of Bull" part of Sundered World, Chris Allen has clarified one time that Bull survived the "scrap with Wolf" (see here), so if Bull has died in your version, I kind of expect the circumstance of what was probably a legendary fall to be detailed.
            I seemed to have completely missed the fact that Bull isn't necessarily dead, must have read the shattered Horns part and assumed. That's interesting and definitely opens up possibilities for their First Change. Maybe the Minoan Labyrinth was built over the carcass/bones of Bull, and this was the start of the 'new' Gudthabak. I like the idea of bones and ivory still being part of the aesthetic of the Gudthabak - and the theme of bones works well into my existing game. Maybe they retain some of this ivory to modern days? I'm not too bothered by it being rare, for my purposes they are vanishingly rare nowadays, but its probably smart to write in the chance of substantial numbers so they're relatively useful in a game!

            Originally posted by Gurkhal View Post
            Very nice update.

            One thing I've been thinking about is that it seems weird to name something as "Baal-Hadad" given it means "Lord Hadad", and Hadad is a weather god, which seems like an odd name for a whole group of creatures connected with the sun and not with storms or rain. Instead I would suggest that they get called the"Sun Bulls" informally, which I also find easier to say and write fast, and that for personal titles they take a First Tongue term that essentially means "lord/master" or "lady/mistress", I don't pretend to what they should be, as part of their individual titles. and then some word or name to signify their claim to divnity.
            Ta! I must admit, the original name didn't exactly work quite as evocatively as the Gudthabak or Unstoppable Souls (and its tied to a specific culture which complicates who named them etc), though as mentioned below it is the original name, so I thought it'd be polite to include it. Also some reader may know them more by that handle as well. I think the Gudthabak works well as the 'proper' name, though I'm tempted to include a couple of english 'alias' that a Gudthabak might use themselves, i.e. "Helios' Children" or your own "Sun Bulls".

            Originally posted by Gurkhal View Post
            And when reading this I also get a little itchy to run a game with these guys as PCs. I'm thinking about them ruling over some backwoods town and something comes along to challenge their dominion and cause all kinds of hell.
            I know right? I started to entertain writing them as a minor splat, then realised that was far too much work for essentially an antagonist I might use! I'd love to see a player facing write up though.

            Originally posted by Tessie View Post
            The etymology behind "Baal" might be lord but it's also the name of the Canaanite equivalent of the god Hadad, and both gods are heavily associated with bulls. Note that Baal-Hadad is a name applied to them long after they came into being, and doesn't have to be indicative of their full nature. For bull shapeshifters with a compulsion to lead others, taking the names of two bull gods is fitting enough.
            Besides, it's what they're called in the official material.

            Interesting thanks! I think perhaps that the Baal-Hadad would work well as one of the modern aliases certainly - besides its as you say, their original name in the game.

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            • #7
              For what its worth, Hadad was a fertility god as part of his preview as a weather god (rain fertilize the ground), and as such also an agricultural god. Those are aspects of Bull, not Helios, which give the werebull their name. Helios relates to the Baal Hadad through their connection to Moloch, who may have been a god of fire, sun and sacrifice (or just a general name meant to sign a god as a "King", just as Baal signs a god as "Lord", or just the name of the type of ceremony used to sacrifice children to the gods, or.. you know, it's complicated).

              So in short, the reason that the name Baal Hadad has no connotation to the Sun is because it is not meant to emphasis the Baal Hadad's connection to the Sun- it is meant to emphasis their connection to Bull, who is a god of fertility and agriculture. Helios is still a dominant part of their existence, sure, but there is no need to call them "Sun Bulls" any more than the Forsaken are called "Moon Wolves". Their name should emphasis more than just what celestial entity took interest in their creation.


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              • #8
                Also, on the subject of Idols- in War Against the Pure, the Baal Hadad had a certain bonus decided by the material which they used to craft their Idol after their First Change. It was a minor thing, and could be further developed, but I do like the idea that the material used to craft your "divine form" has influence on your abilities, as it grants a certain variation to the werebulls.


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                • #9
                  Originally posted by LostLight View Post
                  For what its worth, Hadad was a fertility god as part of his preview as a weather god (rain fertilize the ground), and as such also an agricultural god. Those are aspects of Bull, not Helios, which give the werebull their name. Helios relates to the Baal Hadad through their connection to Moloch, who may have been a god of fire, sun and sacrifice (or just a general name meant to sign a god as a "King", just as Baal signs a god as "Lord", or just the name of the type of ceremony used to sacrifice children to the gods, or.. you know, it's complicated).

                  So in short, the reason that the name Baal Hadad has no connotation to the Sun is because it is not meant to emphasis the Baal Hadad's connection to the Sun- it is meant to emphasis their connection to Bull, who is a god of fertility and agriculture. Helios is still a dominant part of their existence, sure, but there is no need to call them "Sun Bulls" any more than the Forsaken are called "Moon Wolves". Their name should emphasis more than just what celestial entity took interest in their creation.
                  I feel that you are really stretching it in order to make a wierd name work. But please tell me of a few allusions, or mechanical aspects, that connects these guys with fertility or agriculture?

                  On the other hand I can point out to the connection between Baal-Hadads and the sun in the ritual creation of new Baal-Hadads and in their relations with Helions as reasons to why they have a connection with the sun that seems to be pretty strong. Hence why a solar connection is more supported than an agricultural connection.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Gurkhal View Post

                    I feel that you are really stretching it in order to make a wierd name work. But please tell me of a few allusions, or mechanical aspects, that connects these guys with fertility or agriculture?

                    On the other hand I can point out to the connection between Baal-Hadads and the sun in the ritual creation of new Baal-Hadads and in their relations with Helions as reasons to why they have a connection with the sun that seems to be pretty strong. Hence why a solar connection is more supported than an agricultural connection.
                    Stretching? Seriously?

                    Hadad is a god of agriculture and fertility (like, that is his main role as bringer of rain). Bull is the god of agriculture and fertility, just as Wolf is the god of hunt and boundaries. The Baal Hadad are presented in WAtP as the "gods of the community"- they are meant to guide their communities, and agriculture is the base of civilization, even more in the times where the old gods were worshiped. Their role is to watch over "the herd", and serve as their living gods. Bulls are representations of fertility across the ancient mythologies of the near east. Even in Apocalypse, the extinct wereaurochs were "matchmakers". I think that ignoring those connotations is a stretch, and that the name works especially well after Bull was introduced to the setting.

                    Also, Luna is involved in the First Change, granting Auspices to the Uratha. They are still called "Forsaken" (or Pure, of Ghost Wolves), because while the Moon is very important to their lives, the core of their beings is the murder of their Father. I personally think that simply calling them "Sun Bulls" would flatten the werebulls. Of course, you are welcomed to disagree with me- but when I look at it, their name makes a lot of sense on a very instinctive level. And again, the connection to the Sun is there in their connection to Molech. If anything, their connection to civilization and fertility should be further developed in a 2e update, IMO, because those are the themes of Bull, and they are Bull's children.

                    Again, just my opinion. You obviously disagree, but I think that you need to ignore a lot of connotations both in real life mythology and in game in order to not understand why the Gudthabak are called how they are called.


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                    • #11
                      Well, I disagree. But I have said what I wanted to say and don't want to hijack the thread from further discussion about the material presented.

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by the_duck View Post
                        I seemed to have completely missed the fact that Bull isn't necessarily dead, must have read the shattered Horns part and assumed.
                        Understandable, but Bull is referred to as alive concurrently to the time period (otherwise he couldn't interact with the People) while the passage about the battle with Wolf is a historical event for the time period.


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                        • #13
                          The perspective I came to when writing up the Gudthabak were the sun motifs, which neatly played into their unstoppable souls feature. For the purposes of my game I'm leaning towards Bull having some purview related to Sunlight (not too sure if he's actually been statted up before), hence the solar motif in their power set and allies. Makes a nice comparison to the Uratha with their patronage of Lunes as well.

                          With regards to the names, to be honest I'll probably be using the Gudthabak's First Tongue name when the Forsaken are talking about them, and whatever suitably over-the-top title the group of Gudthabak prefer to use.

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Tessie View Post

                            Understandable, but Bull is referred to as alive concurrently to the time period (otherwise he couldn't interact with the People) while the passage about the battle with Wolf is a historical event for the time period.

                            Interesting, I completely missed that! Something to consider if I ever want to run Sundered World, thanks!

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