first part

by Timothy Toner (8 Jan 94)

Literally the War, Ptolemos is about the disciplines the Machomenoi needed to fight the "good" fight.

The first five levels are the levels learned by the apprentices...

[1] Eyes of the Combatant: This power gives the Machomenoi heightened senses, but only in combat, although it can be used to evade an ambush. The Machomenoi burns 1 BP, and rolls Wits+Survival, diff 8. Each success adds a die to either Perception, Wits, or Intelligence (to the generation max), giving potentially monstrous initiative rolls. Note, however, that to notice rear-attacks requires Perception, and to notice large scale change of tactics requires Intelligence. By locking all points in one or two attribute, the Machomenon's mind gets myopic, missing an obvious rear assault, or failing to notice a regrouping.

[2] Blood Weapon: When a Machomenon is Embraced, he is supposed to choose a single weapon to be his True Weapon, a weapon he will favor above all others. With this level, he need never be without it. By spending 2 points of blood, he can call it into existence for a time in hours equal to an Sta+Melee (diff 7) roll.

[3] Mind of the Myrmidon: Perhaps the most potent of the Machomenon's powers, this allows him to link his mind with several others, to coordinate attacks. It is not telepathy. Only non-verbal directives can be given, like an image of a corner of a room, where an attacker is charging from. Still, the range of the power is effectively line of sight, and if the Machomenon can keep his squad leader in sight, he can direct large scale troop movement. The power lasts for a Scene, and affects a number of people equal to the number of successes on a Man+Leadership roll (diff 6). Each person in the group gets a -1 to combat difficulties, and the Machomenon can channel Eyes of the Combatant through them. Note that they are linked to the Machomenon. Any damage does 1 health level to the Kindred, soakable. However, this must be rolled at the end of the combat, with cumulative results. Thus, if a Machomenon was linked to four people, and all four were hit, the vampire would have to soak 4 health levels. Once this initial assault is endured, no more checks need to be made.

[4] Rally 'round the Standard: The Machomenon can use this power to incite his troops to greatness. The Machomenon soaks an item with 1 BP, then attempts to make a powerful speech, to sway his troops. The Machomenon rolls Cha+Oratory, (diff 6), and consults the following chart:

# of Successes	Amount of people affected
        1                5
        2               10
        3               15
        4               20
        5               25

All those affected get -1 to all combat difficulties, as long as the standard is in sight. If it falls for any reason, the bonus is lost. If it is captured, the Machomenon's side receives a +1 to all difficulties, until it is regained. If it can be recaptured, it is worth - 2 to the Machomenon's side. If the flag is captured, and presented at the end of combat to the loser, the loser owes the victor 5 blood points.

Note that this power is compatible with Mind of the Myrmidon, allowing leaders to enjoy -2 to all combat difficulties when both are employed.

[5] Deny Iron's Bite: With this potent power, a Machomenon spends a point of blood, and for the remainder of the scene is immune to all metal weapons specifically created for combat. Thus, a sword would do no harm, but a lead pipe, not specifically created to fight with, would still hurt. The metal weapons actually pierce flesh, perhaps requiring some serious explaining later on. Note that simply covering the weapon in the blood of a supernatural creature will allow normal damage to be inflicted. Also, True Weapons likewise are immune to this power.

The following levels are learned by the true Machomenoi. A Makhomenos chooses a path between three possible way of handling the War: Arm, Leg or Chest. Those levels of the Ptolemos Discipline are unknown today.

[6] Arm: Hand of Valor: With this Discipline, the Makhomenoi's spirit leaves his body, and enters his True Weapon, infusing it with his essence. The weapon is then given to a preselected warrior, who will wield it in combat. While the weapon is wielded, the Makhomenoi can channel his will through the blade, guiding the steps of his wielder. When the wielder would do something contrary to the desires of the sword, a Will vs. Will test is made, to determine outcome. However, such an act drains the Makhomenos of a point of WP, without any loss on the part of the wielder.

The Makhomenos' senses are those of the wielder in all ways, so an excellent candidate is chosen beforehand.

Each hour spent away from the body drains it of a Health Level, eventually sending it into Torpor. To prevent this, the weapon must be returned to the hands of the Makhomenos. The Makhomenos can freely abjure himself from the weapon, at a cost of two HLs. All damage is healed in the normal manner.

[6] Leg: Blood Walk: A very macabre Discipline, this level requires the Makhomenos to smear fresh blood (2 BPs worth) all over his body. Once this is done, a Sta+Survival roll is made at Diff 8. If this succeeds, the Makhomenos is transformed into a mortal. This, however, is all the minuses, and few of the plusses. If killed in this form, the Makhomenos is dead forever. The Makhomenos cannot take in blood for healing, nor can he use blood to pump stats or fuel any discipline other than celerity. Still, his heart beats, he breathes, and except for being covered in sticky blood, appears to be utterly normal.

Blood must be replenished at a rate of 1 BP/hour. This blood must be bottled in some way, and time must be taken to spread it over the body. Note that the Makhomenos cannot voluntarily end the time. They must ride out the hour as a human, with all the resulting problems.

Oddly, the blood, other than being ghastly-looking, has no effect. Animals will not shy away from the character, as they would if they smelled such a foul stench, or if they sensed a vampire.

[6] Chest: Being There: From the depths of sleep, a Makhomenos who has this level can react on a very simplistic level. By infusing a "chit" with a point of blood, the Makhomenos has spatial awareness of Line of Sight, as if he was standing where it was placed. In addition, the Makhomenoi can control movement of the chit, with a power similar to movement of the Mind 1. The chit, subsequently, cannot be bigger than a fist. The effect lasts for Stamina+Occult (diff 6) hours.

A map of the battlefield was usually provided. The chit was placed on a table, and a fairly accurate map was laid out before it, with pieces resembling troops. Messengers would be sent constantly to update the battle as it progressed. The Makhomenos would use his chit to move the appropriate pieces around, usually with a fair degree of dexterity.

Instead of this option, a Makhomenos can choose to infuse multiple chits with his blood (1 BP required), and know what's going on around that chit (same line of sight). Each hour requires the expenditure of one point of blood to maintain the effect. To do this this, the Makhomenos now must be awake (with all penalties) and out of the sun, and can receive no healing while in this weakened state. The battle can be directed in this fashion.

[7] Arm: Hand of Strength: An enhanced form of Hand of Valor, the Hand of Strength allows more control of the wielder of the sword, in exchange for more power granted to the wielder. In short, the wielder has full access to the Makhomenos' Blood pool, but in exchange, the wielder is considered under a blood bond (can perform no action not in the best interest of the Makhomenos).

[7] Leg: Blood Run: To perform this discipline, the Makhomenos needs to immerse himself in at least 10 BPs for at least an hour. This can be bathed in, or soaked into cloths, and then laid on the Makhomenos. When it is finished, the Makhomenos takes on a terrible scarlet hue that is the equivalence of Awe against any who view the Makhomenos with hostile intentions.

The Blood Run is a wicked give and take gamut that the Makhomenos endures for the chance to walk in the sunlight. During this time, he can use blood to increase stats, but not to heal, and cannot take in more. He can use all disciplines as normal, but each, regardless of level, takes a point of blood per application. Finally, normal weapons can cause the True Death. As blood is used, the Makhomenos becomes more and more pale, and the pain of being in the sun increases steadily (create "phantom" health bar linked to blood pool; at 5 BPs, the Makhomenos is in enough pain to cause - 1 to all die rolls, etc. At 1 BP, he is incapacitated with the pain.

Duration is Str+Survival (Diff 7) in hours. The Makhomenos can abjure the form at the cost of 5 BPs. The moment this happens, the vampiric weaknesses kick in again.

[7] Chest: Talisman: To use this ability, the Makhomenos must first craft an item out of virtually any material, and steep it with 3 points of his blood. Then he projects his essence into the item, gaining phenomenal amount of control over the item. The whole process takes an hour to complete.

The item must be small enough to lift with MotM 1, but can be in practically any shape, which is really the point of this power. The object, usually a figurine, becomes completely animated in every way the figurine could be animated. Thus, a statuette of a bird could actually fly, a statuette of a cat would slink and pounce (though at a greatly reduced distance, considering its size), and a statuette of a man with a spear could poke with it, throw it, or do anything else, although the damage is never more than a Health Level (but can be poisoned).

The item can be destroyed by normal means, inherent to the material it was composed. Destruction of the item causes the Makhomenos to take 3 HLs damage, one of which is aggravated. The Figurine is active for an amount of time equal to Int+Artistic Expression (diff 6) hours.

[8] Arm: Hand of Glory: The usurpation of the will of the wielder is almost complete at this point. Through the power of the True weapon, the Makhomenos will control the steps, actions, and thoughts of the wielder. In almost every way, the sword confers its powers upon the wielder, granting access to blood (but not healing), disciplines, and intelligence. However, for every HL the wielder takes, the Makhomenos must spend a willpower to maintain the connection. In addition, if the host is killed, then the Makhomenos takes an aggravated level of damage.

Another wielder then can be selected, and to accomplish this, the Makhomenos, through the focus of the True Weapon, can lure a fighter to the weapon with a power similar to Dominate 1 (the fighter must notice the weapons, which often is not hard, considering its quality). Once flesh touches metal, the contest for control begins, with Will+3 of the Makhomenos vs. Will of the target. Note that, as before, each struggle saps 1 WP from the Makhomenos. The Makhomenos can urge his wielder to drop the weapon at any time, and an effect similar to Dominate 3 kicks in, compelling the fighter to wander off.

However, there is a terrible danger to this. Every day that passes, the Makhomenos' material form consumes 5 BPs to maintain the magic. If the True Weapon is not returned to the hands of the Makhomenos by the time the vampire runs out of blood, the Makhomenos' body will deteriorate into dust, and the vampire will be trapped in his True Weapon forever, unable to control his wielder, and granting only those disciplines that do not require blood. If the wielder is a vampire, the trapped Makhomenos can use her pool to fuel the power, but only with the consent of the wielder.

The True Weapon will never rust, lose its edge, or fail from lack of care. They are weapons of fine quality, some of which still have Makhomenos spirits, waiting to get a proper wielder.

[8] Leg: Blood Sprint: Similar in every way to Blood Run, this incredibly powerful application allows the Makhomenos to walk in full daylight without any loss of power. The bathing ritual still must be accomplished. The primary difference lies in the fact that the Makhomenos still cannot take in Blood during the day, and will die the True Death if all blood is destroyed (rather than falling into Torpor). Further, every hour awake after the bath costs the Makhomenos 5 BPs. Although the Makhomenos can heal, he will still die the true death if taken below incapacitated, even by normal weapons.

[8] Chest: Animation: With this potent power, the Machomenos can transfer his consciousness to non-living things in chains (i.e., one must touch the other, which must touch the next, etc.) The Makhomenos prepares a figurine as above, but is not tethered to this form. He can animate any object that can be lifted by MothM 2, and merely has to touch it with his figurine. Further, he can always jump back to the figurine, at the cost of a blood point.

The figurine now enjoys the protection of Fortitude, although its destruction is still traumatic (1 agg.) Also, all "mental" disciplines (those that work in Torpor) work in whatever object he is possessing. A limited form of Telepathy allows him to send simple picture images to targets. This can be useful to take over a weapon. For instance, a Makhomenos sneaks into the enemy camp, as a panther figurine, to overhear the details of the plan. He realizes that he must stop the general, and to do so, needs to take over a guard's spear. He touches the guard's sandal, and commands it to start itching the guard, while mentally sending a message to the guard to scratch the sandal with the spear. When spear touches sandal, the transfer is made.

Note that using items as weapons follows the same rules as if you were to use MotM. First, one can only hope to control objects that can be lifted with MotM 2. Next, if the item is being held, or otherwise restrained, and the target knows that the weapon can be "possessed," there is a resisted test, pitting the Makhomenos' WP vs. the target's Str+3. Thus, most of the time, the Makhomenos prefer a secret attack.

The duration of the Discipline is the Makhomenos' Sta+Artistic Expression (diff 6) in hours. The Makhomenos may opt for longer, at a rate of 1 WP/hour.

[9] Enhance: Perhaps the reason why Hassam destroyed Clan Makhomenoi, no good could come of this potent Discipline which the Clan apparently used far too often. With it, the Clan could modify a potential Makhomenos before he is embraced, making up for natural discrepancies, or truly improving him in every way. Near the end of their reign, the Clan was endeavoring to create the ultimate warriors, and subsequently passing them around the Arms, Legs, and Chests.

Each of the Makhomenoi subgroups have a set of abilities and attributes that they prize above all others. Those mortals being Enhanced drink the potent blood of Vampire warriors, and are forever changed with the power. The dark secrets and potentials of the vampire are realized with only a sip, and the outcome is usually always dramatic.

The Makhomenos who is performing the Enhancement rolls Man+Empathy (diff 6). Each success means 1 extra point which can be added to any subset which the vampire controls. The change is permanent, and carries over into vampiric existence.

The sets are:

Thus, a Chest, desiring to enhance a mortal, gives him a point of potent vitae, specially prepared (it takes a week to prepare a dose). The Makhomenos rolls Man+Empathy, and gets 4 successes. The mortal may add permanent levels to Sta, Man, Int, and Kno (enhancing or adding the Knowledges the Chest knows). However (thankfully), once one subgroup performed their ritual, they cannot use it again on the mortal. He still can be passed off to the other groups.

Once Enhancement was a gift only for heroes, and warriors of distinction. Near the ned, it was bandied around too freely for the likings of many, avaliable not to reward, but to make hum-drum existence more exciting. The legacy still lives on, however, in the form of unopened vials, still waiting to be drunk.

[10] Usurpation: The title Warlord was more than just lip-service. Within its range of powers lay the most devastating of all, the power Hassam did everything to squelch. The power of Usurpation is the ability to oversee a conflict, and suddenly throw the odds out the window. Thus, if the Warlord were to witness a battle between overwhelming forces and a group about to be massacred, with but a wave of his hand, the battle would be turned, though some horrid tragedy or coincidence. The power of Usurpation allows him to tip the scales any way he pleases, from a devastating upset, to an even match, to a slight advantage. This power affects any conflict on any level, from a single fight to a war. The only flaw in this power is that a Warlord cannot Usurp a conflict which he himself is personally involved in. Thus, the Warlord, to keep this ultimate veto power in reserve, must remain neutral most of his career, a prospect which rankles most Makhomenoi more than anything else. Hassam wisely drew the Warlord into the fray, preventing him from using this power to prevent his own death, the ultimate of ironies.