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[1e] Retrospectively looking at the Theban Rituals

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  • [1e] Retrospectively looking at the Theban Rituals

    So, I am making a dedicated Theban Sorcerer / Clergy in an upcoming Requiem 1e game, which made me look over all of the Theban Rituals to see which ones I would want and would want to be useful. I figured I would share my general thoughts on the 1e Theban Rituals in retrospection. Do you guys agree? Disagree? Did I have a wrong opinion on the internet? Feel free to let me know. Note that these opinions are from the perspective of making a PC who I expect to be doing PC things and engaging with The Plot(tm) as handed down by an ST.

    Level 1
    Vitae Reliquary, which grants the ability to stockpile blood over time, looks like the clear mechanical winner here. Sinner's Song and Hauberk of Blood are also excellent, mechanically beneficial purchases. Crown of Thorns and Blood Scourge are situationally acceptable purchases, but in most cases they will not be anything to write home about. From there, you get into things you purchase mostly for the flfuf of being able to say your character does them than their actual impact on the narrative, which is fine for a 2xp purchase.
    • Vitae Reliquary - This changes the nature of the game and someone's unlife. The ability to stockpile vitae over time can not be understated.
    • Hauberk of Blood - This is useful for a paladin type character who wants to protect themselves, but it is even more useful for a priest type character to cast on someone else just before a big fight. The ability to tilt the fight 10 (vs Bashing) or 5 (vs Lethal) health levels is amazing.
    • Sinner's Song - This is an incredibly fluffy power that also has notable mechanical bite. This is also why all Theban Sorcerers smoke and roll their own cigarettes / pack their own pipe, in public, often. Its an easy excuse to burn things in front of people without them thinking its weird.
    • Crown of Thorns - In some very specific cases, this rite is amazing. If the opponent relies on social disciplines, or their build is such that they are difficult to hurt with things targeting stamina/defense, it can be a Godsend. It is, as the fluff describes, an excellent punishment when the Lance sorcerer is in a position of power to rebuff the inevitable retaliation, since the person knows that you just put them through a lot of pain and left them with scars.
    • Blood Scourge - I want to love this Rite, I really do. Its so iconic, but its an action spent during combat not hurting things. Its also only a +1 weapon at low levels. I'm not even sure this thing can be used with most of the better fighting styles, though as soon as you make two or more blood whips I could make an argument for Two-Weapon Fighting. You can't even really use it to pre-buff before a fight, since it only lasts a few turns.
    • Paladin's Absolution - This is a Rite you buy for fluff. Derangements are bad, and dice bonuses to avoid them are good. I feel like most games don't go on long enough for this to be be really that impactful, however.
    • Theban Inscription - Even if you have an Int of 4 or 5 (possible for a dedicated sorcerer), the roll to discover and decipher these messages is really easy. They are not useful for secret missives, although you can use it as Lancea et Sanctum Graffiti and to leave holy messages in the scenery, which can be good for some concepts in some situations I guess?
    • Angel's Touch and Celibacy - These two have essentially the same requirements and the same effect. If you happen to know that someone will feed on a specific mortal on a specific night and you can get to that mortal ahead of time and somehow cover your tracks, you can make feeding from that mortals more difficult and give an unsuspecting vampire a masquerade cleanup job. Maybe. Meh.
    • Messenger's Mark - I'm glad this Rite exists, but it is something NPCs in a Legate's backstory have, not that PCs have, by and large.

    Level 2
    This level of Theban has a lot of concept-specific Rites that some people will absolutely gush over, while others will pass on them like a hot potato. Prison of Denial is the only Rite I wold consider notably above bar at this level, but I could easily see many concepts passing on it to grab Liar's Plague or Bird of Sin or something else first. The only Rites I feel aren't worth getting are Forbiddance of Blood and Lightning Rod.
    • Prison of Denial - Oh boy, the uses of this Ritual are endless. You can simply exile yourself or an ally, which functions as a single-person obfuscate, except they also can't name or reference you, and you can continue to attack them. Alternatively, you can use this on an enemy to cut him off from his support network. Does the vamprie have a ghoul who always handles their stuff? Now they can't communicate with that Ghoul. Seriously, the possibilities are endless. Get hidden cameras.
    • Bird of Sin - This is the first viable source of Sorcery Damage. Bird of Sin has a wide swing in terms of usefulness. As the opponent's (effective) defense goes up and their integrity and resolve go down, this ritual becomes more and more useful. It melts Draugr and does some bad things to bad people, but against Joe Standard Human or the Overworked Beat Cop, you are probably better off with more conventional forms of attack.
    • Liar's Plague - This is the Ritual that inquisitor type characters pick first. Rendering people unable to effectively tell lies is amazing. Sadly, it comes with the downside of breaking the masquerade, so you can't go around tormenting mortals with it. It does what it says on the tin, and you will know whether it is amazing for your concept and/or game.
    • Resistance of Discipline - This is never my first choice because I, personally, like pro-active powers. However, I can not deny that what is effectively dispel magic is amazing. I really wish it worked on the Forgetful Mind.
    • Sanctity - Adding Theban to a couple of different type of skill rolls in a room is really great for the people who really need to stack those skill rolls. You can add to Academics, which is nice synergy so long as you have a turn to ramp up. This has the fringe side effect of thoroughly dirtying a room it is used in, which can be used to really upset party guests and probably mess with forensic evidence.
    • Damned Radiance - If you are a preacher type or have some great use for your Presence based rolls in situations where you also don't care about breaking the Masquerade, this is amazing. It still probably won't be your first pick, as a +2 bonus isn't anything spectacular, but it can certainly be a pick.
    • Wings of the Seraph - It's an emergency speed boost. Do you want an emergency speed boost? Are you willing to spend 4xp for the privilege? Here you go. This doesn't stack with Celerity, and it can't be used frequently enough to play keep away from people during a fight.
    • Forbiddence of Blood - If I want to punish my Ghoul, I'll do so without spending 4xp.
    • Lightning Rod - You spend 1wp, make some rolls, sacrifice an important personal item (meaning you can't spam this every night) for the privledge of... recovering 1 additional wp. That means you just sacrificed some stuff for a net gain of zero.

    Level 3
    This level is primarily about combat spells, whether its buffing combat, applying some form of defense, or destroying your enemies. Visions of the Will is, hands down, the most powerful Rite when it comes to destroying your enemies, and it's a buff you can pass around to your Coterie. The big scary Sorcerer-esque spell is Maledictions of Despair. I suspect people who aren't focused on combat will quickly move through this level of Theban without picking up too many other rituals, but I also suspect their more robust allies would appreciate the benefits if they stayed a while.
    • Visions of the Will - This is another Ritual with endless possibilities. First, by applying this to the blade of a weapon (carry it using a cloth wrapping if you need to) and you cause the next one or more people that get struck by it to be stunlocked and insensate for a small number of turns. They can resist, but resisting is an instant action they perform on their turn. Best off all, this is something you can stockpile over time after making it from the safety of your haven. Where that all this Ritual did, that would be enough to be the best pick... but we aren't even close to being done. You are implanting a vision that can impart a social challenge, like say a Subterfuge roll that something other than Bob stabbed you happened... maybe instead it was your sworn nemesis Jackie that stabbed this person and she fled before he turned around! Maybe you just intimidate them with visions of hellfire and impending doom. Maybe you just stunlock them long enough to be murdered. Maybe you enchant an item and whip up a fictitious meeting. Maybe you just impart a coded message to your allies. The usages of this Ritual are endless. Take it, and never look back.
    • Malediction of Despair - This is the only other Ritual I would consider taking as my first on most concepts. Malediction lets you cast on someone from super far away so long as you have some of their hair, cursing a specific action in the future. You can use this as a ward (when they attack me / my friends!) or to give them a bad day (their next feeding roll, or their next Frenzy, or whatever). More importantly, this lets you feel like a big mystical sorcerer casting dangerous magic subtlely. You will need a way to get people's hair, however. I recommend ever Lance Dioces having a super famous Daeva Hairdresser, but I'm sure you'll find a different way.
    • Pharoah's Paces - It's baby Majesty 5! This isn't bad, and you can throw magic birds/spears at people without breaking it, but they can also shoot you with a blindness penalty. If you're one on one, Prison of Denial is better, but when are things ever that clean? This is a worthy buy even if you don't want to focus on combat, as having a GTFO card is essential.
    • Blandishment of Sin - As with Sinner's Song, you'll want to smoke so you can cast this semi-discreetly. Upgrading damage isn't a bad effect, but it doesn't wow me either. It really varies in usefulness based on what combat character you are supporting. If an ally is using Fencing, then this is gold. If they are a Gangrel with Agg Claws... eh... less so.
    • Blood Fire - This is amazing on the right character in the right campaign, but everyone else can pass. It does have the advantage of being a purely defensive retaliation, meaning it is nice to just have up, just in case.
    • Lash Beyond Death - This is a nice service you can sell! Lash Beyond Death looks like its planning for failure at first, but keep in mind it also triggers in response to torpor. "Remove the stake that just pierced my heart" is a valid action. I'm not one hundred percent sure if you can use the action to heal and stave off damage torpor, but if you can its usefulness goes up considerably.
    • Legionairre's Blessing - Will someone in your party like having a nice +(Theban) bonus to their weapon? If so, take this to make their wildest dreams come true. It's okay.
    • Anoint the Spear - Curse people with children. Curse people with apocalypse heralding children if they are a vampire. I... honestly wouldn't, in almost all campaigns.
    • Scrivver's Eye - We are in to very specific concept in a specific circumstance territory. You'll know if you want this Ritual at all and, if you do, why didn't you buy Eidetic Memory?
    • Whispers Through Eternity - Unless you are playing a very specific campaign, this is a plot device and not something for the PCs.

    LEVEL 4
    You pick Spear of Faith, Call of Amoniel, and/or Gift of Lazarus as your concept demands. The rest are highly situational.
    • Spear of Faith - Boom, direct damage spell. I know you've been waiting for it. Best of all? It targets four or five people and single-handedly makes Resilience the most annoying thing ever. This is effective, blatantly supernatural, and depending on how you set things up, it may have no obvious source. Have fun.
    • Call of Amoniel - Are you jealous of all your Ordo Dracul friends making fun of you with their Coil of Banes and daytime shenanigans? Show them up! Now you, too, can stay awake during the day and accomplish things. If you want to be awake during the day and doing things, or if you want to wake up in response to intruders, buy this. Otherwise, pass.
    • Gift of Lazarus - Okay, you are not a necromancer. You are not stockpiling a swarm of zombie minions. This Rite is not about the zombie minions. This is about resurrecting and interrogating the sentient dead. Depending a whole lot on the specifics, you can get a lot of social and mental milage out of this Rite.
    • Stigmata - Important question: why did you learn and cast this instead of Spear of Faith? This isn't terrible, it's just that Spear of Faith exists.
    • Mark of the Damed - I like being more pro-active in my rituals, but warding your Haven isn't terrible. This almost makes me want to keep a small Size 1 Haven to ward. You can not use the wards offensively as traps, sadly.
    • Song of the Prey - So, I feel like by this point you should have a reliable feeding method. However, if you really want to use your Theban Dicepool for feeding and you're willing to spend a WP to do it, this is the way to go.
    • Sacred Haven - I wish this was a two dot ritual or it had more bite. As it stands, its just so expensive. If you are on the run a lot and need emergency shelter and don't have Protean, this moves up significantly in value. Otherwise, it just won't come up often enough to be worth the 8xp. Most STs will let you make a survival or streetwise roll to find shelter anyways, because "and then they couldn't find any shelter and they burned in the sun" is usually, though not always, a pretty lame end to a story.
    • Display of the Beast - Do people fail fear frenzy rolls more often in their games then I have in mine? This is not reliable enough against vampries and doesn't work on many other supernaturals at all. Worst of all, this isn't discriminate, meaning you have a chance to scare away your own allies.

    LEVEL 5
    There are a couple of big, dramatic gems here. Transubstantiation and Wrathful Judgement are both worth the dot, while the others can be pretty useful in the right circumstance. You have to really start thinking long and hard about the Masquerade, however.
    • Transubstantiation - Technically speaking, this can destroy the planet. However, even ignoring the goofball interpretations this gives you a lot of power and utility. Its less useful for combat than it seems, simply because liquid gold is one of those things thats pretty hard to carry around, unless the ST is fine with allowing gold flakes in water to count instead of literal melting point gold. A lot of the crazier but still competent plans involve exploiting the fact that things turn back to their original form at sunrise.
    • Wrathful Judgment - This is why you don't ever let the Lancea et Sanctum ever have a piece of you. You name a person, and that person probably dies, even if you are really far away.
    • Imprecation of Sin - This is one of those Rituals that I want to love. It has a lot of potential uses, but its hampered by the fact that you have to use all of them simultaniously. You wreck a building in an obviously supernatural way and you soak it in a sin, controlling people's actions within for potentially centuries to come. This has a lot of potential uses, and is the type of big scale dramatic effect I want from my five dot sorceries. However, I usually want to utterly ruin a building -or- soak it in sin to subtlety control people's actions, and rarely both at once. This power does become much better if you are playing a campaign that spans decades, where you can clean up and remodel buildings.
    • Rain of Blood - AoE damage per turn that can't be reasonably stopped plus a -5 penalty on all actions a monsoon would logically inhibit, like say attacks? Not bad, not bad. Sadly, this Rite also floods away the Masquerade, even by Theban standards.
    • Night of Hell - Forcing someone to permanently torpor or into a permanent coma if you catch them sleeping certainly has its uses, especially for those with Obfuscate or similar powers that can sneak around. Inflicting a permanent derangement, willpower loss, and fear frenzy is just to be a jerk, especially if this is used against a player. Some people may consider that a bonus, however. Its ranked a bit low simply because if you have access to someone who is torpid or asleep, they are already under your power, and you can just stake them.
    • Damned's Day - The only issue with this Ritual is how long it takes to come into effect after its been rolled. In my experience, when you need this type of effect, you need it right now. It also has a couple of other issues. This can only be cast during th day, so the caster's roll is capped by their humanity, and the spell doesn't remove that effect, meaning that all actions vampires take while in the psuedo day are likewise capped. This means the number of situations where this is actually useful is pretty slim.
    • Fires of Vengeance - This is Bird of Sin, but Lethal Damage and you can't attack while sustaining it. Also, it costs you a Humanity Dot. No.

  • #2
    Well done!


    • #3
      Your pricing is wrong, you buy Theban as an out of clan Disiplin (or so I was told back in the day, it is explisitly stated is 2e so it makes sense that that was the intent) but additional rituals cost a flat 2 xp not 2 per level.
      Your ST may still house rule it.


      • #4
        Originally posted by Live Bait View Post
        Your pricing is wrong, you buy Theban as an out of clan Disiplin (or so I was told back in the day, it is explisitly stated is 2e so it makes sense that that was the intent) but additional rituals cost a flat 2 xp not 2 per level.
        Your ST may still house rule it.
        In the first edition the cost were 2 XP x ritual level.

        Writer for Bloodlines: The Ageless on STV
        Some other stuff I've done: Ordo Dracul Mysteries: Mystery of Smoke, Revised Mystery of Živa Mage The Awakening: Spell Quick Reference (single page and landscape for computer screens)


        • #5
          Individual rituals are 2xp x Dot level. For the sake of cutting underperforming Rituals a break, I evaluated them with that cost in mind so long as there was *something* at that level worth taking at the 7xp x Dot Level cost.

          In my opinion, mot every ritual needs to be worth the dot, since part of the benefit is tjat you can proceed to buy some more minor effects as rituals.

          That said,

          1) Vitae Reliquary
          2) Prison of Denial / Bird of Sin / Liar's Plague
          3) Visions of the Will
          4) Spear of Faith / Call of Amoniel / Gift of Lazarus
          5) Transubstantiation / Wrathful Judgement

          Is easily worth a straight 1-5 dot purchase. That said, my Sorcerer, because he is a Geheim and I have some specific concepts in mind, will most likely go with these as his first rituals:

          1) Vitae Reliquary
          2) Sanctity
          3) Visions of the Will
          4) Call of Amoniel
          5) Rain of Blood

          I am taking Theban to support Blut Alchenie. Sanctity is disproportionately useful for Blut Alchemie 3, Call of Amoniel lets me Alchemy during the daylight hours, and Rain of Blood gives me literal Monsoons worth of Blood with which to work Alchemy on (except to turn into consumable Vitae). It also plays into the character thematically, because his family is all Ordo Dracul, so picking a the Rites that are "Coil of Banes 2, but better" and "Geomantic Nexus, but different" make statements about the character's roots. Sleeping in a literal swimming pool of blood dropped from heaven makes statements about his excess.

          I imagine I wpuld pick up the more widely useful staples pretty quickly, however.
          Last edited by SoulGambit; 01-15-2018, 01:29 PM.


          • #6
            Oh, can anyone think of ways to use Imprecation of Sin on a regularly trafficked building without breaking the Masquerade, for purposes of using the sin effect on say a business?


            • #7
              Yes, brothels, bars, speakeasies, craft breweries, vape bars, crack houses, racetracks, sports stadiums, banks, payday loan offices, and pawn shops would be natural targets.


              • #8
                I guess thats the question: is the damage from that spell blatently supernatural or within the range that mortals are just likely to explain it away as rampant and thorough vandalism?

                If a bar owner walks in to see their bar torn up by 10+ years of decay and nothinf works right, there will likely be a police report and an insurance claim, so people will be examining it in detail.
                Last edited by SoulGambit; 01-15-2018, 03:47 PM.