by Kenneth Madsen (20 Jul 95)
The Founder of the Bloodline came walking out of the Barahshi Desert night and into Ancient Sumer around 4,500 B.C. He immediately showed himself to be a powerful Sorcerer, and he bowed only to the Ancients themselves. Some doubted whether he was a Cainite at all, as he displayed powers never known to have been wielded by any member of Caine's House. Xulalkharu as he was named by the Kindred after the fall of the Second City, was a prophet of some power and was sought out by many of both Caine's and Seth's House. He gave of his wisdom and insight freely, and without any demand of a Boon. What he predicted always came true - in one form or another, and he came to be a power in his own right in the lands which were ruled by the Second City. But he was never accepted into the Second City itself - the Ancients claimed that he seduced its inhabitants with his constant preach on the necessity of a war against Shaitan and his brethren. Xulalkharu did have secret supporters, and these were probably the only reason he was not destroyed outright when he Sired his first Childer. Childer who looked just as otherwordly and daemonic as their Sire. But Xulalkharu and his 8 Childer were allowed to live on the condition that they never showed themselves in the Second City - a decision many an Elder have cursed since then.
But even though Xulalkharu preached for war against the Ba'ali, their leader Shaitan and the destruction of the city he had build in the lands of Kala-At-Shergat, he was every bit as fiendish as Shaitan. He did not mind that Shaitan and his brethren sacrificed both Kine and Kindred in worship of their
god, what he really objected against was that he was not committing the slaughter. Xulalkharu desired the destruction of Shaitan, his daemonic Mentor Ba'al and all the Ba'ali - and he was ready to do anything to achieve that. Xulalkharu was - unlike Shaitan and the Ba'ali, daemonic as they may seem - a true daemon, who had tricked an unknown Cainite to Embrace him upon completion of a special Ritual Xulalkharu had designed. Although he sacrificed some of his daemonic power and standing, Xulalkharu was given a form and new powers in the lands of the living, and given the chance to destroy the plans of his long-time enemy Ba'al.
Xulalkharu's scheming was partially responsible for the Fall of the Second City, and for the many Cainites who travelled into the lands of Kala-At-Shergat afterwards in search of a new home. Xulalkharu had been enticing to war against the Ba'ali for years, but finally realised that the Cainites would not march into war when they felt secure and at peace in the Second City - thus the haven for mortals and immortals alike had to fall! When the Cainites surged into Kala-At-Shergat, Xulalkharu directed their attention to the hideous sacrifices which the Ba'ali made - even though their way of sacrifice was not all that different from that of the Clans - and finally the Cainites of the Second City went to war, and completely destroyed the Bloodline! Or rather, the Clans were fooled, and Xulalkharu discovered that the Ba'ali had made a diversion and escaped. Unfortunately, this was where his luck ran out, and the Clans discovered who was the real enemy! Xulalkharu and his Get were the targets of a Bloodhunt of biblical proportions, and those who did not manage to escape, were destroyed by infuriated the Cainites who had lost their Haven - the manipulator does rarely appreciate being manipulated.
But Xulalkharu did not give up - vengeance was his, and his Bloodline was hot on the tracks of the fleeing Ba'ali, like Hounds of Hell. But every mistake out more land between the Xulalkharu and the Ba'ali - and brought the whereabouts of the Daemon Kindred to the attention of the Clans. The few Ba'ali which Xulalkharu and his Get managed to locate, were always too young to be of any true significance. Xulalkharu hunted them for millennia, but Shaitan and the Elders of the Bloodline had vanished. Or rather they fought from the shadows, like the Xulalkharu.
Finally, around A.D. 500, Xulalkharu could feel his bond with this world grow weak, he tired of fighting shadows and he decided to enter Torpor. He build a magnificent temple somewhere in the Carpathians, and laid himself to rest there. He ordered his Get to search out the Ba'ali, corrupt the world and revive their Master when they found Shaitan or any of the other Elders. Before he slipped into Deep Sleep, Xulalkharu made a huge scroll containing the Ritual needed to revive him.
Since then, the Ba'ali and the Xulalkharu have been enemies, fighting their war from the darkest and most secret of the shadows of the Jyhad - both determined to destroy the other, and lead the Legions of Hell through the Gauntlet, and into our world.
Very few Xulalkharu still wander the earth. Most are in Torpor after battles, but since they rarely make any Progeny, there are few to fill out the ranks. Of course, the Bloodline does also depend on secrecy for their plans to work - the deeds of the Dark are rarely done well in the Light - and those who does not learn the art of hiding their true nature, are quickly found and destroyed by the many enemies of the Bloodline. Thus, the Eternal Battle is always fought by the most powerful, cunning and intelligent members of the Bloodline.
In keeping with their daemonic nature, many of the Xulalkharu are powerful sorcerers, and the Elders of the Bloodline can stand up to even the Elders of House Tremere. They do, however, wield the power of the most dark and forbidden Paths of Thaumaturgy, and have knowledge of many Rituals and Paths unknown to other Kindred - some of which they have bartered with daemons to sink their claws into.
Because of the Xulalkharu uncanny ability to find, attract and concentrate evil, death and decay, the Followers of Set can often be found in a area which harbours a Temple of Xulalkharu.
Appearance: The Xulalkharu come from all over the world, but the most ancient among them may very well look very alien and strange, because of the mixture between their native features and their daemonic legacy - the Summerians, for instance, looked like no other people.
They do, however, all share several features. Upon becoming a Xulalkharu, they gain a skin colour which is a mixture between dark grey and khaki. The Vampires also gain very sharply drawn facial features, which make their faces look as if they have been carved from stone and polished until it resembled flesh. The final feature, is the most apparent evidence of their daemonic origin. As their minds are opened to the Infinite Darkness of the Abyss, and the Raging Fires of Inferno, their eyes turn glowing red - in effect, much like the Protean Level One Power Gleam of Red Eyes.
The Xulalkharu have no dress code, but members of the Bloodline tend to dress in the same style they did when they were mere mortals. Haven: Many Xulalkharu maintain only temporary Havens, because they are on a constant search for the Ba'ali.Those who do settle, prefer to reside in the most criminal and dangerous no-go parts of a city - they seem to crave the presence of death, decay and suffering - indeed, at times it seem even more important to them than the Vitae craved by all Cainites! The Xulalkharu prefer to live in houses, or buildings, which have access to a large basement or possibly even a nuclear shelter. There they construct their temples, and perform hideous Rituals, and contact their Daemon allies.
Background: The Xulalkharu choose their Neonates from the most evil and intelligent of their Human Retainers, or Acolytes, should the Vampire have created a temple.
Character Creation: Typically, a Xulalkharu will have Outsider or Professional Concepts, but a few Criminals and Dilettantes are also to be found in their ranks. The bulk of the Bloodline members have Deviant, Fanatic, Judge or Loner Natures, and adopt whatever Demeanor fits their current activities.
Mental Attributes are primary, as are Knowledges.
Bloodline Disciplines: Mattaru, Obfuscate, Dark Thaumaturgy (or Thaumaturgy)
Weaknesses: Due to the strange appearance of the Xulalkharu, they all have an appearance of 0. They cannot pass as Humans, unless they are using Obfuscate or magickal means.
The daemonic essence which flows through their very beings, means that children and animals will always display signs of fear and loathing when a Xulalkharu come within 50 yards of them (increasing in forcefulness as the Vampire draws nearer) - this cannot be offset by neither Merits, nor Disciplines or Rituals. The evil aura will be clearly felt if the Xulalkharu ever acquires the Discipline of Presence.
To ensure that they remain loyal to their Daemon Founder, each Neonate pledges part of his soul to Xulalkharu himself - thus each Neonate begins his existence and service with a Daemonic Investment of some sort. The close ties maintained to their Daemon origins, ultimately changes the psyche and bodies of the Xulalkharu to resemble those of Daemons. Most of the Ancients of the Bloodline are completely alien and evil to a point where they are understood only by those sharing their condition, and they exist only partially on this plane of existence. When a Xulalkharu decides to lives permanently in a city, or area, he must find a Haven located in an area which is enshrouded in evil and death. If this is not done, the Xulalkharu will have all his dice pools halved, until he can find a Haven where he can rest surrounded by death, decay and suffering. This is thought to be caused by Xulalkharu himself, who still urges his Childer on in the hunt for the Ba'ali.
Organisation: Only very seldom will more than one Xulalkharu be present in a city at a time, and those who live permanently in a city are required to maintain a Temple of the Founder, where travelling members of the Bloodline can come to rest and worship. The Eldest Xulalkharu present always functions as Highpriest, but the Xulalkharu who entered the city first are treated as the leader, and must be shown respect by all Xulalkharu who enter his Domain. Some temples exist openly in society, posing as Satanic cults, but most hide in the shadows. Blood Cults are a favoured way of protection by the permanently residing Xulalkharu in a city.
A large temple is hidden in the Carpathians (and is said to be part of the reason Tremere relocated to Vienna), where the Founder sleeps, guarded by his 8 original Childer. The place is said to be daemon-ridden and not truly a part of this world. But only the most powerful amongst the Xulalkharu know of the location of the Temple, and have the power necessary to enter it.
Gaining Bloodline Prestige: Bloodline Prestige within the Xulalkharu is gained mainly by locating Ba'ali, and sacrificing them to the honour of the Founder - the older the Ba'ali, the larger the amount of Prestige.
Another way to gain Prestige, is by completely permeating an area with evil and corruption, effectively turning it into a Hell on Earth. Xulalkharu who have managed to turn an entire city - or part of a city - into such a Hellhole, are very difficult to defeat there; it may be because it becomes a sort of "home turf" to the Daemon Kindred.
Pronounciation: The Bloodline name is pronounced Xul-al-kharu (zul-al-kharuh), and is a twisted form of Ancient Sumerian words meaning "Evil", "Destroyer" and "Vampire". It was the name given to the Founder after the Kindred discovered that he was behind the Fall of the Second City.
Quote: "We were born in the Fires of Hell, but We walk in the Shadows until We have destroyed Our ancient enemies - the Ba'ali. Then We will learn Kindred and Kine alike to walk in the glorious flames of Hell"
The Xulalkharu are daemons to a far greater degree, than they are Cainites, and thus it is hardly surprising that they wield the power of the Abyss. The Discipline consists of Powers based around suffering, evil, fire, and other planes of existence. The Discipline draws directly upon the energies of the Inferno, and channels it through the body of the Xulalkharu. The steady use of energy from another plane, "marks" the Xulalkharu as a beacon for creatures from The Other Side. Members of the Bloodline who have resided a long time in a specific area and used their Powers frequently, have been known to be the center of spiritual disturbances, and even manifestations. Some of the Ancients of the Bloodline are said to be able to lower the effectiveness of the Gauntlet by the mere presence.
Sense Evil: By means of this Power, the Xulalkharu can sense evil and corruption in items, persons and areas, or be lead to such.
The Power is often used by Xulalkharu searching for Retainers or permanent Havens _ or victims, as this Power also reveals innocence if used on a specific person. And just like they crave evil and death, the Xulalkharu also seem to find innocence a particular tasty morsel.
System: By making a Perception+Alertness+Awareness roll against a varying difficulty (an item: 4, a person: Willpower+1, a building: 6, area: 7) the Xulalkharu may determine if an item/person/building/area before him contains enough evil to satisfy his needs.
If the Xulalkharu desires to be lead to a specific target (item/person/house/area) within a city which satisfy his needs, he must roll against the same difficulties as above, with a +1 increase for every 1 mile the desired object is away from the Xulalkharu's position. The directions given by the Power are very rough, and the Xulalkharu can only verify by touching the target, or being within 5 yards of it.
Gaze of the Abyss: The Xulalkharu using this Power, is capable of transmitting terrible visions of the Abyss and the Inferno directly into the mind of the victim. The visions blocks out everything else, and the victim might believe himself to be falling into the Abyss, or walking around in the fires of the Inferno, while he is stumbling around in a panic.
System: By making a resisted roll against Courage+4 (to a maximum of 10) of a target, within 20 yards, the Xulalkharu can transmit the hellish visions, which he creates and directs.
Kindred are likely to fly into R"tschrek, and mortals collapse in a state of paralysed terror.
Flames of the Inferno: With this Power, the Xulalkharu will be able to channel pure Hellfire through his hands, and direct it at his enemies. The Hellfire seems bo be liquid and be sprayed in a great column of fire from the palms of the Xulalkharu
System: The Xulalkharu must roll Dexterity+Occult (dif 6) to hit the target. The Hellfire will do 2 dice of Aggravated Damage per Blood Point spend, and due to the special qualities of the fire, it will instantly ignite tree, clothing and similar combustible objects. The range of the Hellfire is 20 yards, but should the Vampire desire to hit a target farther away, the difficulty of the roll is increased by +1 per extra 2 yards beyond the 20.
Daemonic Oracle: This Power allows the Vampire to make a Daemon manifest in a sacrificed victim, which he may then ask one question.
System: The use of the Power requires the Xulalkharu to complete a two hour ritual in the Ancient Sumerian tongue, expend 3 Blood Points and sacrifice a Human. Upon completion of the ritual, the Vampire must roll Willpower (dif 8) to rip a hole through the Gauntlet, and allow the partial manifestation of a Daemon in the sacrificed victim. If the Xulalkharu desires a specific Daemon to appear, he must speak its name during the chanting; otherwise a random Daemon will appear.
A successful roll indicates that a Daemon has possessed the victim, and the Xulalkharu may ask it a single question before it returns to the Inferno with its sacrifice. The StoryTeller decides whether or not the Daemon answers truthfully, and should not allow abuse of this power; Daemons are not kind creatures, and might react in a hostile way to questions designed to blatantly solve a Story. Style should be rewarded, lack of the same must be severely punished.
Walk the Abyss: The Vampire may step out of this reality, and into that of the Inferno or Abyss, using this Power. But in order to do so, a "gateway" must be present; pitch darkness to enter the Abyss, and searing flames to enter the Inferno.
Note however, that the character is likely to be incinerated by the flames of the Inferno, if he is not immune to the effects of fire.
System: The Xulalkharu rolls Intelligence+Occult (dif 8), and spends 1 Blood Point, to step out of this reality _ provided of course that he has access to a gateway. Where he appears in the chosen destination is known only by the StoryTeller, and thus a narrow escape from torch _ wielding Inquisitors might turn into Final Death, if the Vampire encounters hostile entities in the other dimension. According to the Lore of the Xulalkharu, it is possible to strike a deal with some of the more powerful Daemons, and thereby be ensured a permanent point of destination.
In order to return to this reality, the Xulalkharu needs merely make the roll _ he will automatically return to the place where he sidestepped. Reality likes to close the holes supernatural creatures rip in her fabric.
Walk the Inferno: When the Xulalkharu acquire this Power, fire _ ordinary, chemical, Balefire, radioactive, magickal or Hellfire _ does no longer has any effect on him.
System: No roll need to be made, the Xulalkharu simply becomes immune to the effects of all fire.
Lord of Suffering: This Power accounts for the Xulalkharu's legendary ability to feed off death, decay and suffering. The Vampire becomes able to feed off these negative forces in the same way other Kindred feeds of the Humans creating it. While the Xulalkharu is creating the environment he needs, or worsening the already existing one, in a chosen area, he can use this Power to increase the effect. In a manner of speaking, he must feed the monster before it can feed him. But only once the chosen area of interest has been completely corrupted can the Vampire begin to feed off it, instead of feeding it! However, once this has been achieved he may begin to corrupt a wider area while still receiving sustenance from the already existing Hellhole. Thereby increasing his power on a continuous basis.
System: The Xulalkharu chooses an area which he wants to corrupt, and enshroud in death and decay. For the Power to have a payback worth the effort, this is usually a 5-square-mile area. An area smaller than that, may not contain the necessary number of souls. The corruption is done in any number of ways: crime, constant gang wars, control of city officials resulting in lack of maintenance of the buildings and roads in the area, etc. The idea is to spread as much despair and death as possible, which will affect the behaviour of the inhabitants in a very real way. Assaults and rapes are ignored, violence flares up for no apparent reason, people just do not care about their neighbors and their environment, etc. Each week, the Xulalkharu must spend 10 Blood Points to increase the feelings connected to his handywork. This will solidify the results, and make way for the next step on the ladder. When an area of the previously mentioned sized has been corrupted, it will provide the Xulalkharu with 15 Sufferance Points (which works in the same way as Blood Points) each week. This is a pool from which the Vampire can take Sufferance Points whenever he needs them, and for as long as he remains within the city limits he can draw them from the corrupted area to anywhere in the city _ thus he is no trapped within the confines of his Domain. The Xulalkharu may use all the points on the first day of the week, but that would leave him with none for the rest of the week. In order to keep the cloud of doom hanging over the area, the Vampire must spend 10 Blood Points, or Sufferance Points, each week. Once the area has been turned into a Hellhole, it will become a no-go area where it is hardly safe for anyone to walk the streets. As the inhabitants of the area has been attuned to the presence of the Xulalkharu, the most violence and nastiness will always occur in the area where the Vampire currently is, and the people of the entire area will react to any moodswings of the Xulalkharu. As the Xulalkharu has corrupted one area, he may increase his Domain by another 5-square-miles, which must be corrupted in the same way. The Vampire must spend an additional 5 points per week on the new area, until it has been completely corrupted _ after which it will also provide him with 15 Sufferance Points per week, and demand a 5 points expenditure of Blood Points, or Sufferance Points, per week. This procedure is repeated each time the Xulalkharu desires to corrupt a new area.
When a Xulalkharu has succeeded in turning an area into a Hellhole, it becomes his Domain. Anyone who is hostile to the Vampire, and who ventures within the confines of the area, will have 4 dices subtracted from their dice pool for as long as they remain in the area. The Xulalkharu will have 4 dice added to his dice pool for any purpose while within one of his Hellholes.
While the Sufferance Points may seem as a blessing, they can become a burden if too many are gained. If the Xulalkharu have more Blood and Sufferance Points in his Blood Pool than the allowed maximum, he becomes a beacon (and possible entryway) to entities from beyond the Horizon. As the Vampire cannot contain the negative energy, it begins to permeate his entire being and finally to leak out into the Umbra, while at the same time creating a negative field of energy around the character. In social relations, each additional Sufferance Point subtracts 1 dice from any Social Roll dice pool _ and very possibly below zero! In other terms, each additional Sufferance Point adds to the chance of entities from other planes detecting the Xulalkharu and attempting to use him as a gateway. Each additional point gives the entities one additional dice to their attempt to penetrate the dimensional barrier. Wraiths are extremely sensitive to this energy, and will begin to swarm around the Vampire already below 5 additional points. It is very likely that the character has been responsible for the deaths of some of the Wraiths, imagine how thrilled they will become when they discover the possibility of returning and extracting a full revenge! At +10 additional points, the effectiveness of the Gauntlet/Shroud in the Hellhole area, is lowered by -1, and by another at +20 points. At 10 points, the more powerful Wraiths will begin to be attracted to the Xulalkharu, and minor Banes and Wyrmlings will also begin to take notice. At 20+ points, the Vampire might suddenly find himself to be the focal points of the manifestation of a Nexus Crawler, or an Umbra Lord. The Tremere, the Technocracy, the Garou, the Traditions, the Marauders, the Nephandi and the Paradox Spirits will take notice at these levels, and rush to find the source.
The Ancients who can store more than 20+ Sufferance Points in their bodies without exceeding the safe limit, can actually lower the effectiveness of the dimensional barrier around them at will. At 20 they may lower it by -1, and by -1 for every 10 Sufferance Points thereafter _ but only for as long as they do not exceed the safe limit.
Even though it may seem as if the Xulalkharu can merely sit back and relax once he has corrupted an area into a Hellhole, this is not the case. It demands hard work to keep an area completely corrupted. The Human spirit and will is tough, and even the slightest spark of hope might destroy the Xulalkharu work. The Vampire must constantly monitor the area, and besides all the activities naturally sparked off by the aura of the Hellhole, he must every now and then commit some hideous act which will only reaffirm the inhabitants's knowledge of their neighborhood: "Boy, this place is really going to hell!"
Daemon Merging: By means of this Power, the Xulalkharu can summon a Daemon and make it inhabit his body after making a successful bargaining. This will make the Vampire truly powerful for a time, for just as the powers of the Daemon are incorporated into the being of the Vampire, so is part of its nature.
System: This ritual takes three hours to cast, and requires the sacrifice of 15 victims (Kine or Kindred). The Xulalkharu must know the name of a Daemon which he wishes to contact, otherwise the ritual will not function. The Vampire rolls Intelligence+Occult (difficulty 9). If the roll is successful, the Daemon will then be very likely appear, as the 15 victims are an excellent start. If the Daemon and the Xulalkharu can agree to a deal, the Daemon will possess the Vampire. This can either happen immediately after the bargain has been struck, or the Vampire can choose to have the possession as a powerful emergency plan. Either way, the character must invite the Daemon to possess his body and expend 5 Blood Points. The process takes one round to complete.
At this point, the Daemon enters the body of the Vampire. This has a number of results: The characteristics of the Daemon and the Vampire merges. If both have an identical Attribute/Ability/Discipline, the scores are added together and divided by two. The result is the Daemon-Vampires newcharacteristic. If the Daemon knows, or is capable of doing, something which the Vampire is not, this is given the Vampire for as long as the possession is in play; Depending on the Daemon, it may temporarily change the appearance of the Vampire to suit its needs. This may be anything from height and weight, to skin colour and number of eyes; The Vampire rolls a resisted Willpower roll (difficulty is the Willpower of the Daemon). The number of successes indicates the maximum number of hours in which the Daemon can be contained within the Vampire, before it returns to its original plane of existence. The Daemon is usually a Minor One, as those more powerful are unlikely to answers summons from a Vampire who wants to be possessed, and those less powerful are not worth the effort. A typical Minor Daemon will have the following characteristics: Attributes: 20/15/9, Abilities: 15/12/9, Disciplines: 15 + a Fortitude of at least 3, and the ability to heal like a Garou, Daemonic Investments: 6, Virtues: 9 and Willpower:8
Note that while the Daemon is possessing the Vampire, the Vampire still has the control of his actions, his thoughts and his speech. However, if the Daemon is tempted by something, it may attempt to take over the control of the body. In such a case, the Vampire and the Daemon make a resisted Willpower roll (difficulty the Willpower of the other) to determine who has control. The Vampire has the option of throwing out the Daemon at any point, but may be reluctant to do so, as it has probably demanded a heavy pay to participate in the activities of the Vampire.
Open the Gates of Hell: This Power enables the Vampire to open a Gate directly into the Inferno, into the region from which Xulalkharu originates _ or some other region specified by the Vampire. Daemons will not be late to discover this and begin to wash through the Gate like a giant screaming tidal wave of destruction and mayhem. Since the Vampire has probably first contacted his Daemon allies prior to the use of the ritual, Legions of Daemons will already be awaiting the Gate, and be ready to start the invasion.
System: This ritual takes 8 hours to cast, and requires the sacrifice of 80 victims (Kine or Kindred) with a Humanity of at least 5. The last victim to be sacrificed must have a Humanity of at least 8, or True Faith. Once the Ritual has been completed, and the Vampire has named the Infernal region which he wishes to contact, a Great Gate opens from out of nowhere. It is fashioned from screaming suffering souls encapsulated in molten metal, and engraved with the names of the Daemonic Legion which waits beyond.
The exact details of this are up to the StoryTeller, but it is safe to say that it registers heavily on the Cataclysmic Catastrophe Chart. Unless some very brave and intelligent characters have detected the use of the ritual, the world will become Hell!