by Eric S. Bertish aka. Casca (18 Jan-7 Feb 95)
Due to the overwhelming response (well, on any mailing list three is considered overwhelming), I'm posting my complete history for the Baali bloodline. However, I'd like to say a few things before I get started, mostly to clear up some confusion.
Bibliography: Vampire 2nd ed., Vampire Player's HB 2nd ed., Vampire Storyteller's Guide 1st ed., Clanbook:Toreador, Clanbook:Tremere, Clanbook:Nosferatu, Player's guide to the Sabbat, ST Guide to the Sabbat, The Book of Nod, and Chaos Factor (an adventure for Mage.)
Enjoy it! And remember, comments and criticims are always welcome.
The following creative material (That is, ideas not published by WWGS in any of their products) are copyright 1994 by Eric S. Bertish. Everything else is pretty much already owned by White Wolf, and shouldn't be taken as a challenge because WW is a big company with a nice legal budget and I'm just a poor college student with no money to speak of in the first place. They could squash me like a bug in an instant and so I'm not challenging anything, okay?
In the beginning was Caine.
And Caine wandered throughout the Land of Nod, and was alone in his sorrow.After the passing of an age, Caine returned to to the children of Seth, so that his exile would come to an end.
All who saw him were awed by his power, for they saw his mark but did not know what it meant. They took him in and made him ruler of the First City, and they were his loyal subjects.
But depite this, Caine grew lonely. He was different from all those in the city. He was a god among men, power surrounded by passivity. He ruled wisely and well, taking upon himself the role as proctector of the First City and the guardian of its peoples. Yet though he was honored and worshipped, he was also feared by the people, and they did not understand his sorrow.
And this darkness that was inside Caine began to grow and fester. He forbade worship of the One Above. He reveled in his darkness, casting aside the restraints he had made for himself. His hunger grew, and his subjects' blood sated it through orgies of feeding. His people began to fear him and their supplications to him ceased, for they did not wish to attract the attention of their mad god.
Caine's lonliness grew.
Delving into dark and forbidden arts, Caine sought the answer to his dilemma.
The answer appeared to him one night as he consorted with demons. Nn'theraq'pss, a great Lord of Hell, appeared before him. He offered to give Caine the secret knowledge he needed to end his solitude.
"What would you ask in return?" asked Caine. "I know from my studies that your kind does not do these things for free."
"I desire very little," Nn'theraq'pss replied. "I do not wish your soul, for you not have one." Caine's heart became heavy at those words.
"Instead, all I ask is that a line of your children become my priests. I want to be worshipped on Earth, as a mockery to the One Above."
Six nights hence, the secrets of the Embrace were revealed to Caine. And on the seventh night, the night he prepared to create his first childe, an angel appeared before him. Uriel, the angel of Death, spoke to him and said:
"Caine, though powerful you are, and marked of God, know you this: that any Childe you make will bear your curse, that any of your progeny will forever walk in the Land of Nod, and fear flame and sun, drinking blood only and eating ashes only.
And since they will carry their father's jealous seed, they will forever plot and fight amongst themselves. Doom not those of Adam's grandchildren who seek to walk in righteousness, Caine! Stay your dread embrace!"
But Caine did not heed these words of God, and on that night he created his first Childe, Enoch. Caine made Enoch the ruler of the First City, and enjoyed the company of his Childe, reveling in the pleasure it could bring.
Yet Enoch was lonely, and he begged Caine for a brother and sister, and Caine begat Zillah and Irad. And Zillah and Irad begat Childer of their own.
And Caine looked upon the City he had created for the good of Seth's kin, and saw with fresh eyes how the evil and decadence festered within it. And for the first time in an age, Caine felt sorrow for all he had done.
The great Deluge came, and Caine felt it was just punishment from the One Above for all the evil he had caused. So Caine wandered the Land of Nod once more, leaving his Childer to their own consciences, his only valediction that they would create no more of his line.
Enoch followed Caine, begging him to return, but his pleas fell on deaf ears. Enoch returned to his brother and sister, who sought to create a Second City.
Yet Enoch was still lonely, for he did not desire the company of his siblings and greatly missed his father. And in his lonileness, he created his own childer. He embraced two twins, a brother and a sister, and their names were Arikel and Malkav. And Enoch felt joy in what they did, for Arikel was a sculptress and Malkav was a performer.
Years passed, and Enoch's joy faded. He saw his childer slipping into evil and decadence, like he and his siblings had, and he knew how Caine had felt. Seeking answers to his own existence, he left his kindred and followed in his father's footsteps, wandering the Land of Nod. And it was in the Land of Nod that Enoch made his greatest mistake, the one that would fulfill the contract made by Caine so long ago.
In his weakness, Enoch had done that which he had sworn he would never do again.
Long had he wandered the burning wastes of the Land of Nod, fleeing from the rays of the sun like the other serpents, burrowing deep into the earth until night. Long had he subsisted only on the blood of animals, for he had sworn never to consume the blood of Seth's kin again.
But his many years in the desert were his undoing, for his hunger grew greater the more he denied it. And so it happened that, during the course of his wanderings, he came upon a mortal sitting beside an oasis. And Enoch's hunger came upon him like a great flood, and he was carried away by it, attacking the mortal and draining his life's blood until the last of it adorned Enoch's lips. And as the hunger abated, Enoch saw the man's face for the first time.
It was a gentle face, a face full of compassion and gentleness. And Enoch felt a deep shame for what he had done, and in his weakness he shared his blood with his victim, and made him his childe. In this manner did Enoch beget Saulot.
Enoch spent an age with Saulot, talking of a great many things not as a parent would to a child, but as a brother to a brother. Saulot was a man of learning and discernment, and possessed a wisdom beyond his years. He was a great comfort to Enoch, until the Beast which slept within him began to awaken.
At this Enoch fell into despair. Saulot, his greatest childe. Saulot, the most moral of his kind. Saulot, the one whom Enoch had groomed to be his successor. Saulot, the Beast. And in his despair, Enoch fled once more into the Land of Nod, never to return.
Saulot created many childer in the absence of his Sire. These he chose in his own image, and were scholars, philosphers, and priests. And though they were all his line, they battled each other like enemies. Saulot was saddened by this, and saw the harm and evil his actions had caused. And like his Sire, and Caine before him, Saulot fled east into the Land of Nod to find purpose in his life.
It was there, in the Land of Nod, that Saulot changed. He regretted his actions, and was determined to make right that which he had made wrong. He desired forgiveness for his actions, a way to conquer the Beast. As he lay sleeping, an angel of the Lord appeared to him. "Saulot," it said to him, "you alone of all your brethren have asked for forgiveness. Know you that the Lord is a just God, and that by your supplication forgiveness is granted. Return to your people, and spread to them the doctrine of salvation, that those who seek the place of Golconda shall find it." Saulot awoke, and named the place where he had slept Golconda. He then returned to the world of his Kindred, that he might tell them of his peace, and the mark that had been placed upon him as a sign of his forgiveness. For a third eye had appeared on his forehead while he slept, signifying his redemption.
Those that Saulot embraced after that day were those whose lives were filled with sin and predation. By embracing them, their consuming nature was brought to the attention of their souls so that they might be redeemed. Saulot redeemed many in his travels.
Saulot's greatest failing, however, had occurred long before his redemption. His first childe never sought the redemption he offered, and rebuked the forgiveness offered by the One Above. Instead, he cursed the One for the mark that had been put upon all his kind, and conspired with infernal powers.
Thus began the Baali, the evilest of Caine's line, the cursed seed of Enoch, the fulfillment of the contract made so long ago.
- Excerpt from the Book of Nod, as told to all Salubri upon their embrace.
The "modern" history of the Baali begins thousands of years ago, with Saulot embracing his first childer. His name was Shaitan, and he was a philospher like Saulot, though dark and brooding in contrast to Saulot's optimism and hope. Shaitan had beeen embraced for much the same reason Enoch had given Saulot eternal life - he desired someone to talk to, a companion for the endless nights. Their differing attitudes sparked many heated debates, some of which ended with the loser, unable to counter a particular philosophical riposte, stalking off into the night in a frenzy.
Both were highly intelligent, and more importantly, highly stubborn. Each refused to give an inch. However, Shaitan's constant fault-finding with the universe began gnaw away at Saulot's resolve. While he felt that vampirism was merely another obstacle in humanity's quest toward perfection, Shaitan considered it both a gift and a curse. His main point, reiterated over hundreds of years, was this: God turned Caine into a vampire as a punishment, and that punishment was levied across countless years and generations. Why would God do this to Caine? The answer was seductively simple.
God feared Caine. It was the only answer. Caine was the first to show creativity and intelligence. Adam and Eve were little more than animals, who needed prompting by the serpent before they rebelled, and even then they didn't know why they did it. But Caine...Caine knew what he was doing, and it was his own idea. He showed independent thought, not mindless, animalistic obedience like Adam, or the easy gullibility of Eve. He was the first to challenge God at his own game. And God wouldn't stand for it. Fearful of what might happen, Caine was cursed. A powerful curse for a powerful man.
Shaitan reasoned that he would not calmly accept his curse like a docile cow, as Saulot and the others had done. If he was to be cursed, then he would earn that curse, using all the powers that had foolishly been given along with it. He would exact his vengeance upon God.
Shaitan's tongue was both serpentine and silver, and with this philosphy he brought many of Saulot's childer to his way of thinking. The rift between Sire and Childe grew and festered. Shaitan and his 12 followers began to wrest control of the Mesopotamian city of Kala-At-Sherghat from its rightful rulers, and twisted the city and its inhabitants to their own deviant ends. Humans were cattle, they said, and thus our property to do with as we wish. Did not even favored Abel slaughter his sheep in sacrifice to the Lord? If humans were the rulers of animals, and thus placed above them, then vampires were placed above humans by none other than God himself. The kine were theirs to raise and slaughter at their whim.
Saulot wept at this, seeing all the evil and sorrow he had brought about through the wrongful embrace of Shaitan. He left his home to wander the Land of Nod as his Sire and his Sire's Sire had done. And it was there that Saulot was the first vampire to find redemption.
Shaitan and his followers transformed Kala-At-Sherghat into a pit of despair, hatred and pain. It was there, amidst the charnel house that had once been a great city, that Nn'theraq'pss appeared to Shaitan.
Nn'theraq'pss approved of Shaitan's philosophy and methods. He offered Shaitan the one thing he craved most: power. Power enough to bring down even the One Most High. All that was needed was eternal servitude and Shaitan's dark, twisted soul. Shaitan agreed instantly.
Under the guidance of Nn'theraq'pss, which is the True Name of the demon Ba'al, Shaitan's dark empire flourished. Nations were conquered within the space of a night, their inhabitants offered up to the great hunger of the Dark Lord. With Ba'al tutelage, Shaitan mastered the arts of Daimonon and Dark Thaumaturgy, as well as refining the philosophy which became the Path of Evil Revelations.
At the height of power, however, disaster struck. Civil war wracked the Second City as those of the thrid and fourth generation rebelled against the second. Zillah and Irad were destroyed; Brujah diablerized by his Childe, Troile. But these victories were costly, and the Second City was demolished in the process. Left homeless and hungry after their phyrric victory, the surviving kindred migrated toward the great empire that lay to the east - the empire of Shaitan.
Shaitan did not welcome these intruders in his realm, and destroyed all he could find. Angered by the rejection of one of their own kind, the leaders of the clans united for the second and last time in history. They destroyed Shaitan's legions like a flash fire sweeping across the plains. They stormed the walls and razed the great towers of the city. Within a night, the city of Kala-At-Sherghat was burning.
The Baali had been easily defeated. They numbered only 13, and had held the city so tightly in their grip that they refused to allow any other of their kind to be created, fearful of a threat to their power. Those that were embraced were created as victims, a powerful sacrifice to their twisted master, ritually slaughtered for their heart's blood. As such, their limited ranks of schemers and evil preists were easy prey for the threshing machines of the Brujah, Assamites and Gangrel. They were all destroyed - save one.
Shaitan escaped the carnage by dint of his unswerving loyalty to Ba'al. Warned of the impending attack, he left under cover of daylight a full two days before the assault of the city. He alone was spared, he alone was worthy to survive. All his brethren were weak and had not served their Lord Ba'al with all their souls. They deserved to die.
Shaitan traveled east yet again, where he came to rule the Indian tribes of Central America under the name of Huitzilopoctli. See The Chaos Factor for more information regarding his activities there, as well as his stats.
With the departure of Shaitan to parts unknown, after the razing of Kala-At- Sherghat he was numbered among those destroyed by the fire and forgotten. The city was rebuilt, and its demonic past was carried off along with its former masters to the oblivion of Final Death. Or was it?
It was not. Shortly after fleeing the doomed city, Shaitan embraced his faithful ghouls who had made his escape possible. In serving as his servants and assistants, they had learned the arts of the Baali as well as, or better, than Shaitan's brethren had. Before his arduous trek to the New World, where Ba'al commanded him to, Shaitan gave his minions one final mission:
Make them pay.
And so, the Baali of the 5th generation slowly returned to Kala-At-Sherghat, posing as the childer of Saulot's line. They arrived singly, over the course of years. Using their intimate knowledge of the city, they found the bolt-holes Shaitan had created to store the valubles he could not bring with him. And as they slowly gathered, the corruption began.
It was at this time that Saulot returned from the Land of Nod. He had found redemption, he said, at a place called Golconda. Salvation could be had by all vampires, if they sought it sincerely. The forgiveness of God could be theirs. He was both a prophet and a healer, for a third eye had mysteriously appeared upon his forehead, and with it came the ability to heal not just body and mind, but soul as well. Even the soul of a vampire.
Saulot acquired a following of those who believed his teachings. Many of them were those who had been healed of the Wassail, saved from the Beast. It is even rumored that Saulot restored the face of a repentant Nosferatu. He embraced only a few, and those he did were embraces of kindness: those who regarded life as curse rather than a blessing; those who were unable to live a normal life; those who wished for the ability to help others. They regarded him with reverence, and those who followed him, regardless of whether they were his childer or not, considered him their Sire. Collectively, they were known as the Salubri.
The Baali immediately saw him as a threat. Posing as Salubri, they committed atrocities in his name. For each act of kindness Saulot made, the Baali killed and maimed threefold. Such was their destruction that the Salubri were driven from the city under a blood hunt. Saulot was branded as a criminal, and his followers were hunted in every city they came to. Only those Saulot rescued chose to follow him.
Their job complete, the Baali dispersed throughout the world. For in damning Saulot, they exposed themselves for what they were. So they hid among vampiric society, corrupting those they could. The bloodline lay forgotten until 1640.
The Renaissance had just ended, and Europe was just beginning to accept all that had happened as part of its everyday existence. Study of obscure texts was commonplace among scholars and academics, and John Dee's Order of the Golden Dawn, as well as other occultic organizations, were well-established. It was out of this era that the seminal work of the Baali was created, a perfect summation of all they beleived in and held dear. Ironically, they didn't write it.
The Delicate Maul of Bright Shadows, as it was called, was written by a Brujah scholar whose obsession with the occult rivaled that of the Tremere - the clan that had replaced the Salubri through the diablerie of Saulot. In the course of his studies, the Brujah stumbled upon some of the works of Shaitan. Voracious for knowledge, he studied them ravenously, only to lose his mind in the process. Driven to madness, his mind liberated from the binding constraints of reality, all was made clear. His personality fragmented, and he adopted a feminine identity. Calling himself Hecate, he penned the Delicate Maul, a work that would later become as a bible to the Baali. Some excerpts:
"On - on - to the meat of the matter, or rather, to the maggots of the matter - to the source of life shunned and derided as unclean..."
"Such hypocrisy, such mealy-mouthed absurdity. Our race is destined to tame our world, to bind nature to our bidding. We can and we must - for to shirk is to squander our potentials - though demons roll and heaven shakes. "
"Yet still we make distinctions and false comparisons, saying "yes, this part of nature you must tame, but this is holy and apart and not for us to touch." Absurdity, hypocrisy, gullible slander! It is not apart - look, see how my Art reaches out to it, makes the transcendent the mundane - and holy is just a sound in your mouth, real only in your mind."
"Unclean! Unclean! they cry. Blasphemy! Blasphemy!"
"Fie on you all. Your words are wind."
"First - unlearn your language! Know that "sin" and "crime" are merely words, just sounds forged into steel form to chain you! Unlearn those empty syllables and free your mind - so reveling in all joyous depravity and forbidden pleasure - holding bloody hands aloft, shreiking like lions into the night, to know that in the butchered forms before you you have found Truth - and to Hell with them!"
"Second - burn and topple, shatter and rend - for it is a lie that only in creation is there worthy purpose. Understand the value in destruction - realize the fulfillment of desolation."
"Third - know thine enemy! For it is not enough to merely know the enemy, but one must know of the enemy, its weaknesses and vulnerabilities."
"She hopes you might see clearly your own destiny - whoever you might be - see how we might slam fast our jailers' doors upon them and grasp our own potentials as we should. She expects that you see how the common mortal flails in self-delusion - see how heaven's puppets demand obedience. "
"It is our duty and fate to master and destroy these empty husks, as with every other form of nature - to make ourselves supreme above all, supremely served by all - and to crush beneath us all that comes before or falls below us, all who cannot see their destiny, and all who hold us back from reaching ours."
"May these words fuel the fires in your hearts, give form to your hate, your loathing and your other higher emotions - so that with us - with her, or me - you might stride onwards, crushing all beneath your heel."
These powerful words were dismissed by a great majority of vampires as simply the fanatical rantings of an occultic anarch, but those with the proper knowledge knew better. They could see the message hidden deep within the madness, and within the space of weeks Hecate was "invited" to join a society of like-minded individuals. The Baali had found a figurehead.
And thus the Baali have continued to this day. They occupy positions of power both in the Sabbat and in the Camarilla. They are an infection in vampiric society, preparing for the day when they can make the earth ready for their Master's arrival.
"It is better to rule in hell than serve in heaven."
- Milton, Paradise Lost
As mentioned in the history section, the Baali feel that they have been wronged by God. Caine was a brilliant man, and therefore a threat to God. God removed the threat to His sovereignity by cursing Caine with vampirism. Therefore, they consider themselves to be God's enemies.
This does not mean that they consider themselves evil. Rather, they were the losers in the first battle, and the victor always writes the history books. They have been unfairly persecuted over the years, and now they will exact their revenge. To call them evil is to see things from only one perspective. What one man calls rebels, another calls freedom fighters. God drew the battle lines millenia ago, and the Baali associate with the forces of "darkness" under the principle that the enemy of their enemy is their ally. So far, it has been a mutually benficial alliance.
Goals: Baali and Setites are considered to have the same goals by Camarilla vampires. This is completely false, though it is an illusion the Baali try to foster. Rather, their goals are are far more insidious than simple corruption.
Baali consider the corruption games of the Setites to be useful, but often short-sighted. Setites feel corruption is the goal; Baali see it as means to an even greater end. Thus, they will often have Setites as pawns.
The ultimate goal of the Baali is the utter destruction of the world as we know it. They are the favored children of the forces of darkness, the vanguard of Gehenna. Their job is to make the world suitable for occupation by their demonic masters, turning it into a global charnel house. By the proper use of rituals and manipulation, they attempt to increase the suffering in a given area. Political unrest, racial divisions, intolerance, poverty, sickness, starvation, pain, loss of hope: these are what they strive for. Once an area is "prepared", it is suitable for occupation by lesser spirits such as Banes. As greater and greater heights of misery are reached, more and more evil is drawn into the place, until the pain of the entire populace can be offered up to their masters as a sacrifice. It is believed that at that point, Shaitan will awaken and lead the Baali in a great ritual that will open a gate for Ba'al and his minions. When this happens, on the night of Gehenna, only the Baali and their allies will emerge victorious. As a reward for their servitude, the Baali will govern the earth for their masters.
(For further ideas, think Call of Cthulhu.)
Nicknames: Usually unprintable vulgarity, ranging from heated Brujah invective to more eloquent Toreador curse sonnets. However, the general consensus is that the Baali are "ichor-guzzling gutter whores." The Baali, of course, refuse to comment, preferring action to mere words...
Organization: All Baali have at least two identities, if not more. Among their own kind, they organize into small, tightly-knit groups called covens, usually in three or six. These covens meet only rarely, gathering only to perform some dark ritual or discuss matters of dire consequence. They prefer to meet under the new moon, though lunar eclipses hold great meaning for them and major rituals are performed at that time. Covens meet in secret places where their activities will not be disturbed, yet still within the city they wish to prepare. They frequently ally with Black Spiral Dancers and make use of their tainted caerns. A grand ritual ivolving both Baali and Black Spirals usually portends some great and awful occurence.
These meetings are few and far between, however. In the interim, Baali usually pose as upstanding members of either the Camarilla, Sabbat, or both, depending on who controls the city. Contrary to popular belief, they do not pose as Caitiff - Caitiff are distrusted enough on general principle alone. Instead, they are far more devious, hiding behind a mask of blood passed down through millenia: they pose as Tremere.
The blood of Saulot runs through Tremere's veins since his diablerie close to a thousand years ago. Now, almost all Tremere are descended from their founder, and therefore from Saulot himself. With the Baali descended from Shaitan, Saulot's first childer, their blood is almost indistinguishable from Tremere. Only those with a high proficency in Thaumaturgy can detect even a slight difference (Thau 5+, diff 9) and even then it is usually dismissed as a minor change in blood chemistry - perhaps the vampire's sire was of House Bonisagus or Flambeaux. Reports of corruption deep within the Tremere hierarchy are scoffed at. Surely the Tremere, the masters of deception and manipulation, would know of a conspiracy within their ranks!
But this conventional wisdom is wrong. With the immense occultic resources of the Tremere, the Baali are gaining strength like never before. They have access to supplies, knowledge, and potential recruits. They have even started two secret orders within the clan: the Order of the Wyrm and the Illuminated Brotherhood.
The Order of the Wyrm is the more mainstream of the two, the conservative front for the more radical Brotherhood. Through the Order, the Baali hope to attract Tremere who share some of their beliefs, who have the potential to be recruited, corrupted, or both. Once an applicant has progressed high enough in the Order, they are inducted into the Illuminated Brotherhood. Only after their corruption is complete, their turn to evil assured, do the Tremere meet their Baali masters - and their masters' Masters.
Sabbat Baali have an easier task in some ways, harder in others. While the vampires of the Sabbat have forsaken their humanity, the inquisition within the sect limits their activities.
Whatever sect they belong to, however, the Baali are united in their cause. Their eventual goal is to turn both the Camarilla and the Sabbat to their infernal masters - and if that doesn't work, to destroy them. Indeed, many Sabbat-Camarilla conflicts can be attributed to the machinations of Baali on both sides, destroying those who oppose them while garnering greater influence and power. After all, power is the name of the game.
Weakness: Baali are affected by all religious symbols, and take double damage from Faith.
Appearance: Baali try to fit in with whatever sect they are infiltrating. Cammarilla Baali look like the typical bookish Tremere, while those of the Sabbat favor leather and lace.
Haven: Again, either the Tremere Chantry or a pack's communal haven. Their coven location, however, will be out of the way and well-hidden.
Background: Baali only embrace those who are intelligent, driven and completely callous. They have usually been corrupted by the Baali or Setites long before the embrace is given. All have had some interest in the occult during their life, usually the darker side of it, and all are practitioners after the Embrace.
Character Creation: Baali usually have Natures such as Conniver, Deviant or Plotter, though their Demeanors are those that help them fit in, like Traditionalist or Conformist. Mental attributes are primary, but good social skills are a must. All Baali must have an occult skill of least 3.
Disciplines: Auspex, Obfuscate, Thaumaturgy (Daimoinon has been subsumed into Thaumaturgy. It is the path of Dark Thaumaturgy. Baali begin with their primary path as Daimoinon, though others may be learned in time.)
Quote: "You think you possess power? Your teachers have taught you nothing. They are fearful of you, of what you might become. They seek to keep you weak, prevent you from becoming a threat to their stagnating existence. Come with me, and I will help you attain your full potential."
Preferred Path: All Baali are on the Path of Evil Revelations. However, to maintain their masquerade-within-a-masquerade, those of the Sabbat usually pose as followers of the Paths of Cathari (for those will low self-control), Death and the Soul (for the more scholarly types), or Power and the Inner Voice (for those in positions of power and influence). Most Baali have a high Willpower and Self-Control rating; those that don't pose as Cathari and are considered the most expendable.
Gaining Prestige: Prestige is a touchy thing among the Baali. It is difficult to garner recognition without drawing unwanted attention to oneself or the coven. Therefore, gaining Prestige has developed into an art of subtlety and manipulation. Anything which increases the power and influence of the coven earns prestige for the vampire, but doing so in a manner which can be attributed to another source (such as inter-clan strife), or better yet not noticed at all, earns greater prestige than an action which causes unwanted attention. Baali sloppy enough to compromise the coven are usually abandoned and left for the Camarilla or Sabbat authorities to find and destroy, while the rest of the coven quietly re-locates.
In earlier posts I said that I wouldn't be printing the Delicate Maul in its entirety. I have now changed my mind on this, for a variety of reasons.
My main concern was that of copyright infringement. As I have said before, the Delicate Maul of Bright Shadows was originally written for Mayfair Games, Inc., in a boxed game supplement they produced called Sentinels. I have since learned that this has gone out of print, with no plans for further re-release.
Since you may not be able to find this supplement, I am posting the Maul now, slightly edited to better mesh into the World of Darkness. I feel that this product perfectly expresses the Baali viewpoint, and those Storytellers who read it are better equipped to play realistic Baali NPCs.
So, if you'll bear with me, I'd like to take this opportunity to cover my ass:
This is in no way a challenge to Mayfair Games, Inc. To the best of my knowledge, the aforementioned game supplement is out of print and therefore cannot be bought. If this information is false, I request that all copies of this post be _immediately deleted_ so as to avoid a possible lawsuit. I am getting no money for this post, nor am I profiting from it in any way, shape or form.
So with that out of the way (hopefully!), I present my post. The first letter was written by a PC in my chronicle to his superior. Any or all of these can be interesting clues for PCs to find and read.
RE: Baali Manifesto
While disposing of the personal effects of the traitor who until recently had dwelt within my Chantry under the guise of a fellow Tremere (the memory shames me still), I happened to come upon this document. To the best of my understanding, it is the written summation of the beliefs of our destestable brethren. I have not studied it thoroughly, nor do I wish to. Its evil is quite apparent, and I did not wish to further taint my already imperiled soul by coming to a greater understanding of it.
Enclosed is the document, along with a letter I found with it. The "M" to which it is addressed is most likely Margarite Devareaux, the Baali who lived under my roof. It appears that those of her order seek out prospective recruits and mail them copies of this manifesto. Those that respond favorably are indoctrinated; those who decline are presumably silenced permanently.
Should this not be the case, however, I would stress the importance of locating this "Z". The possibility exists that not only might he have information we lack, but his attitude suggests he might make an excellent addition to the Order of the Quaesitori. It is imperative we find him before Tremere's Gestapo, the Astors, find him first.
With Faith and Honor,
Thank you for the loan of the manuscript. It was, how shall I say, interesting?
If it were mine I would burn it. I advise you to hurl it on your fire, or if you cannot bear to destroy any book, to lock it safe away where no fool might stumble across it.
It is, without a doubt, one of the most absurd treatise I have ever read, a truly "vacuous repository." It is like the speech of some demented politician, some rabble-rousing orator, all pretty words and apparent sincerity, but full of contradiction and absurdity. This writer assers that straight lines are bent, that black is white, not physically but morally: on what premise does she base these insane ideas? What does she hope to achieve by inciting people to barbarity? And would you really want to live in a world run on these principles of slavery and exploitation?
If you truly found this inspiring, as you say that you did, then I am deeply worried for you.
We must talk.
THE DELICATE MAUL OF BRIGHT SHADOWS
A strange title, perhaps you think, but everything has a meaning if one looks hard enough - if one stares until the straight lines bend and in the words you see the author's thought revealed. Of course, she knows that to be a lie.
You wonder what I mean when I am not here and not hear to be asked? - but spare a thought.
To strike a crass blow with the strength of thunder and the delicacy of a true love's touch (is that not power truly harnessed?) No, it is not so shallow, thunder which is delicate or a caress which can crush, true strength is to be found only when both are as one, when assumptions are proved false and certainties revealed as lies. That is power, to forge impossible links - to shame the term "impossible."
And bright shadows, to illuminate that which is shrouded - to form illumination from the shroud - to make plain what is hidden - to see truth in what is blotted out - to adduce from what is absent, and, and and - but if you do not understand she wastes her explanation, for no one can learn what is not already half-known in the heart, and no secret is ever made plain in a language evolved to disguise, to rape, to murder the truth.
On - on - to the meat of the matter, or rather, to the maggots of the matter - to the source of life shunned and derided as unclean...
To harness the plow horse, to drive the mule, to slaughter the rude beasts to feed our families - who dares complain? To carve the marble block into our own likenesses, to plunge shafts into the hills, to slice furrows through the fields that we might prosper and create - who dares complain? But if we take communion with the iron powers, the fiends, rather than our patronizing patriarch - who dares not complain?
Such hypocrisy, such mealy-mouthed absurdity. Our race is destined to tame our world, to bind nature to our bidding. We can and we must - for to shirk is to squander our potentials - though demons roll and scream and heaven shakes.
Yet still we make distinctions and false comparisons, saying "Yes, this part of nature you must tame, but this is holy and apart and not for us to touch." Absurdity, hypocrisy, gullible slander! It is not apart - l look, see hom my Art reaches out to it, makes the transcendent the mundane - and Holy is just a sound in your mouth, real only in your mind.
Unclean! Unclean! they cry. Blasphemy! Blasphemy!
Fie on you all! Your words are wind.
Smothered with our own prayer shawls, impaled on our own beds of nails, we lie chained in manacles that we ourselves have made - and the deluded multitude scream and wail if they are offered their freedom. It is said that we are born free but place ourselves in chains - but no! -we are born slaves to our priests and rulers, and we guard our steel bonds like golden bands, forging new sets for our Childer.
So what then, where then, how then might we fortify ourselves against these divine dung beetles, how might we break our bonds and bend them to our will? Oh, she smiles at the two-fold impudence, for the righteous affrontery to overthrow masters who are worthless, and for the naive query of the Diabolist's Art!
For to learn the knots and bindings that survive into the present day - even these few paltry remnants - is a lifetime's work for the greatest of mortals. Yet it is not unreasonable to seek a liberation and to search out the power to avenge ourselves and rectify this inverted state of supplication.
First - unlearn your language! Know that "sin" and "crime" are merely words, just sounds forged into steel form to chain you! Unlearn these empty syllables and free your mind - so reveling in all joyous depravity and forbidden pleasure - holding bloody hands aloft, shreiking like lions into the night, to know that in the butchered forms before you you have found the Truth - and to Hell with them!
Second - burn and topple, shatter and rend - for it is a lie that only in creation is there worthy purpose. Understand the virtue in destruction - realize the fulfillment of desolation.
Third - Know Thine Enemy! For it is not enough to merely know the enemy, but one must know of the enemy, its weaknesses and vulnerabilities.
Know that we are no less than what we were, and all we ever have been stays with us - and so with these once-mortal creatures. Know who they were - what, where, and when they were - what then was used against them, who commanded and controlled their destinies - and know above all other things how they were called! And as they were then called, so were they, and thus they are now. So calling upon that which they were one reaches out to touch what they are still - and a touch, as every torturer and lover knows, has power. Use this power! It is a tragedy and wasteful crime (she smiles, I think) to do otherwise.
She wonders at the swiftly woven knot, recalling that simple spell which the low creatures have so oft been fooled with, and wonders what reader will understand - and understand the understanding, or rather, perceive the complexity of the comprehension. For it is a lie that one is one, and adding one to one is two - it is a lie that this is thus, that anything is itself or otherwise - the kind of lie that they would bind us with - but we (or at least, she and I) are not so foolish.
So reach out and gain a hold - a finger's brushing on a lonely cheek, the crash of fist on tender flesh, the grip that brings men low - and make all that you can of it. Proclaim your confidence of your invulnerability, so that the wounded pride and battered mind might heave and shudder - so that they will obey or flee from you, fear you or refrain from striking back. Reach out when weaving knots, when carving wards and cutting slaves, when confronted without other means and - most importantly - for the joy of the triumph.
But why should we think that a person only may be named by sounds or letters? Astrologers insist that the stars beneath which a mortal is born determine that person's future - for again, they name him, or (and she knows that this is the same) they create him. He is the stars, and they are him (but what a reach you would need...). The two were and are simply one - and so when the stars stand thus again the time makes that person once again, and once mortals may be affected just as mortal folk.
Numerology, too indicates, accesses and creates a person - the place of birth and the site of rebirth - recreation, "elevation" - also stand as the person. And what then of forgotten, outgrown relics (teeth knocked out in battle or dislodged in childhood, blood or valued objects), for nothing is ever abandoned, nor even truly discarded. And can we not then find a secret "name", a shape, or sound or substance which can designate - can reach, can be that creature.
What then, where then, how then - the third answered, and the first as well (parasites, husks - need she be repeated again?) - so now on again to delve into the maggot-flesh - to plunge in our hands as Scanderis has done, to grasp a bloody truth.
Where, then, to strike, where to dig in and to defend, and where to build?
Though rare among our race, we who have the courage to name black as white are not alone, nor without aid. For there are those above even the harsh confines of Earth who recognize our virtue and support our righteous cause (the knot, again, pulled fast), and the creatures of the Spiral cannot be reconciled as grim foes.
And so we should make use of those allies that Fate has given use, knowing that those who hate our enemies are most naturally our friends - or, rather, that they might thus become our tools. For there is nothing more natural for our race than to enslave, and nothing more laudable that to wield another's power. (Pulled fast!)
So we might make a stand on ground held by those who hate our foes, and so turn their power to our own defense. For can a creature proud and "holy" bear the power of a place where Truth burns fierce and cruel as molten stone? No more than bats can brave the day, or crabs defeat the crashing surf!
So here, where bloody sacrifice and muttered curses glorify our spirit (knot) - here where pitiful and pointless supplication is replaced by bold embrace - here where brimstone smolders and weaker souls are sped below, in all such places can we flex our powers, and revel in our theft of another Natural force: for here the controlling creatures cannot readily tread, and here their powers are peeled and pried from out of their grips and sordid armors rent.
She looks upon her writing and considers who will draw the obvious conclusion? That there is no place which always holds a potency, nor anything which never fades away. So wise men and women can take up a thing and carrying it with them alter what is "here". So with a tool of mystical power a mystical place may be made. So those Unnamed Ones who stand behind the truth of all creation can ensure that now is what will be.
A Demon's heart - a perfect and portable shrine for those of us who see that worship is for fools - but ask yourself - if this of all a creature's form contains its Form - represents, contains and radiates (consider that!) all that it is (which of those three is it that the creature is?) - then where might we look for the embodiment of undeserving, holy power?
Our unspeakable foes might have no souls, or hearts, or feelings - even minds? - but where better than in their heart might the heartless preserve their cowardice? For just as valor, hate and passion dwell within a mortal's heart, so might the lack of valor, absence of driving hatred or higher passions be contained within the absence of a heart.
The dilemma is profound. How can one capture the absence of a thing - and, moreover, to extract that absence from a thing which is nothing but a phantasm? A question, perhaps, for the philosopher, rather than the magician - but can any courageous mortal truly be one and not the other?
So what has one gained, to have extracted this vacuous repository? Think upon it: what does a rhetorician gain when learning phrases from her tutor? how does the master sailor tack into the wind? what does a blacksmith's iron hammer shape?
The simple-minded might sneer that to extract an absence from a non- existence is a futile task - but these are the same fools who bow and scrape in snivelling submission beneath that which it is their Destiny and duty to o'er-rule. For all the wisdom and the power contained within these empty vessels might provide a greater mastery than any concrete thing - as fire fights fire - if only an "upright" mortal could be unaffected by such base contact.
So also, as the sage would have it, we must be ready not only to examine the blood, but to note its sticky presence between our fingers. Always alert to the approach of the serpents, an ear to the ground, listening for their slitherings.
More earthly, earth remedies must now suffice, since our great heritage is lost (she curses Lomansies's name, and all who aided her). So here we must resort to farmers', hunters' perhaps most aptly poachers' tricks, observing Nature that through one part another is revealed.
As spiders run for shelter before a storm, as drones of flies will buzz between the showers, so other beasts might run or cluster as our puffed- up foes approach or flee.
They say that dogs, and sheep, parrots, cats and other common pets - as gutless, mindless syncophants - follow these conceited creatures. And as these beings are vain, so are their fawning accomplices remarkable for their pristine or immaculate appearnces.
Thus likewise creatures who demand or deserve respect refuse to lower themselves to truck with these gross creatures. The wily fox, the cunning wolf, the bat who sees all through blinded eyes, the hyena who laughs last at all other creatures' final defeats - all of these and others such will scatter as these beings approach.
Not merely observation of untamed Nature should suffice - for have you still not learned that mastery makes mortals to fulfill themselves, gives to them the power they are destined to possess? A creature in a cage will serve, here, even ignorantly. The resourceful rat - constrained but preserved in adequate health - might furnish the wise with great insight, and other beasts (like crows and beetles) the same.
With practice and with wisdom the philosopher-magician might divine from the behaviors of such captive beasts whenever any noxious foes approach, and with time the observer comes to tell what time and for what purpose it approaches, what sort of guise it wears and what rank of abomination it might be.
She hopes you might see clearly your own destiny - whoever you might be - see how we might slam fast our father's doors upon them and grasp our own potentials as we should. She expects that you see how the common mortal flails in self-delusion - see how heavens' puppets remain obedient.
It is our duty and fate to master and destroy these empty husks, as with every form of nature - to make ourselves supreme above all, supremely served by all - and to crush beneath us all that comes before or falls below us, all who cannot see their destiny, and all who hold us back from reaching ours.
May these words fuel the fires in your hearts, give form to your hate, your loathing and your other higher emotions - so that with us - with her, or me - you might stride onwards, crushing all beneath your heel.
There are two ways to acquire power from the infernal regions: Demonic Investments and the Daimoninon Path of Dark Thaumaturgy. Each has its own advantages and disadvantages, detailed below.
This is the slow path to power, and is therefore usually perceived by Baali as the route for amateurs. It is, however, the most insidious, and many power-seekers have found themselves bound to the darkness by their lust for power. By the time they realize what has happened, they are on the fast track towards unbelieveable power and are unwilling to give it up. Once this acceptance is reached, the Baali know they have another convert.
The corruption usually begins through the front of the Order of the Wyrm. The Order tends to attract those with a desire for power and secret knowledge, things the Baali are happy to provide. Certain tracts containing "hidden secrets" are given to the prospective member, and if he responds favorably he is immediately inducted into the order. The initiation ceremony involves swearing fealty to the Order of the Wyrm. The initiate believes this to mean the Order itself; however, this is wrong. The wording can also be interpreted to mean the Wyrm's Order; that is, the belief system of the Wyrm itself. The promise to serve is sealed in blood, and with the "contract" power is immediately awarded in the form of a one-point Demonic Investment. The new member is told that the Witches' Nipple that forms on his body is simply the mark of the Order that all members carry to differentiate themselves from non-members. This is true, after a fashion.
Despite all this, the novice is not bound to the forces of Hell, for the oath was made through deception, and evil must be consciously accepted for true corruption to occur. The Oath is merely a clause that allows Ba'al and his minions to gift the swearer with a fraction of power. The novice does not have to use the power, and those with a high humanity rating may notice something strange about the Nipple. If humanity is maintained and the Investment is not used, Ba'al will write the investment off as a loss and the power will fade.
However, once it is used, it becomes much easier to gain more power. Those who desire more power than they now have are asked to do favors for the Order (and therefore indirectly to Ba'al himself) in exchange for greater "enlightenment." In return for service rendered, Ba'al awards his investee with an investment of the next greater power level. Investments up to level 3 may be given in this manner.
Inventments of level 4 power are given only for exemplary service over the course of years, unless the investee is particulary ambitious. Once this level is reached, however, the investee immediately becomes aware of where his powers are coming from, if it had not occured to him before. He now possesses power on a grand scale, however, and many are loathe to give it up for a concept as muddy as the distinction between good and evil. It is at this time that the Baali begin to show the investee the finer points of their philosophy. He is given a copy of the Delicate Maul, if he had not previously had the opportunity to read it. Almost all choose to keep their power and agree to serve their Master with all their souls. Once this acceptance is made, they are gifted with a five-point investment as the knot is pulled fast about them. They have sold their soul to Ba'al in exchange for power. They are now eligible to learn the Art of Daimoinon.
This route to power is not exclusively for vampires. Indeed, many Baali use a variation on this on humans they wish to corrupt before they embrace. If this is the case, the target is usually ghouled at the same time. Once the 5th level of investment if reached, the human is embraced by her Baali master.
[See the Storyteller's Guide to the Sabbat, pgs 58-60, for more information on Investments.]
Next post: Revised Daimoinon and Dark Thaumaturgy! If you don't have the Book of Madness for Mage...buy it! That's where most of it will come from.
I should have the Revised Daimoinon ready for posting soon. I make no promises as to when that will be, except that it will be sometime before March.