by James Seidel (12 Nov 94)
"How does one kill fear, I wonder? How do you shoot a spectre through the heart, slash off its spectral head, take it by its spectral throat? It is an enterprise you rush into while you dream, and are glad to make your escape with wet hair and every limb shaking. The bullet is not run, the blade not forged, the man not born; even the winged words of truth drop at your feet like lumps of lead. You require for such a desperate encounter an enchanted and poised shaft dipped in a lie too subtle to be found on earth. An enterprise for a dream, my masters!"
- the Marsden Archive.
This compact, hand-held unit detects minute disturbances in the air and, through the collection of this and other data, works to sense movement within 100 metres. Contacts are displayed as blips on the screen, with a beep that increases in volume as the contact gets closer. Direction, movement and sometimes contact mass can be determined. When used on a vampire under the discipline Obfuscate, this device aids the hunters by letting them make Alertness rolls as if they had one dot of Auspex.
A small cylindrical unit that instantly measures skin temperature and silently reports the data to the user. It can be installed in the tip of a cane so as to call little attention to itself as it is quietly pressed against a suspected Kindred. This is one of the most effective ways of telling who is, and isn't, a vampire. Kindred with the virtue "baby-face" and those who have just fed are not detectable by this method.
This is a combination of an ultra-compact video relay unit which gives real-time images on a small screen, and a high-power suntorch. As it is a video device, it is not affected by vampire Obfuscate. These devices can record details of individual vampires, as well as giving range and direction data to the person wielding it. The sun-torch attached to the base of the unit can be used to severely wound the vampire within the camera's field of view. The damage is determined by the range of the vampire from the unit.
knights have built into their black stalker uniforms an data collection and relay unit, offering 180 degree coverage from their left shoulder epaulets. Along with miniature microphones, all movements are recorded via sattelite navagation and monitored by a microwave receiver unit up to 1km away if the action takes place within a building of heavy construction, 4km if in a normal building or 8km if in the open. Personal body signs are also transmitted in tandem with sound and temperature data.
Designed to the specifications supplied by US Navy SEALS and British SAS anti-terrorist teams, the MP2000 is an attempt to integrate the best features of all the different variants of the MP5 in one handy package. The retractable stock lies flush with the stock when folded to eliminate any projections. When broken down, the MP2000 is as small as theMP5K, and can be concealed in the same suitcase manner. The new vertical forward grip makes for easier point-and-shoot ability with the stock collapsed - as well as a stable fully-automatic firing platform. The suppressor is removable, unlike the SD variants of the MP5. Sights can be switched from standard to silenced modes to allow for the differing ballistic properties.
* Church Knight MP2000s are blessed and contain an holy cross moulded into the pistol grip. This prevents vampires from easily using captured weapons. The MP2000 (Special) is also capable of firing tracer shells along with silver tipped bullets. These guns are fitted with LS45 laser aiming devices, which have a range of 450m at night and 50m in broad daylight.
Cartridge 9x19mm, 40rpm/120/875, 30/60 round removable box magazines, Weight 3.9kg as 60round mag, Length 55/65cm, 14.9 barrel length. Accuracy 20m, body 0.99, hand 0.99, bullseye 0.96; 100m body 0.99, hand 0.85, bullseye 0.47, 200m body 0.98, hand 0.61, bullseye 0.27; Difficulty 7, Damage 2, Rate 21, Capacity 30/60, Concealment T, Range 40.
This is one of the few guns built from the start as a sniper rifle - not as a modified service weapon. The compact bullpup layout rifle is extremely accurate. The barrel is buried in the heart of the gun, everything around it acting as a support. The barrel is fluted, to cut down of vibration and add strength. The calibre of the weapon is easily changed by removing the barrel. A thumbhole grip allows it to be used by either left or right handed operators. A muzzle brake cuts down recoil without affecting accuracy. A folding bipod is unusual in that it can travel along the rail above the barrel to adjust a given situation. The gun can accommodate a wide variety of sights. Even the magazine which has two sets of formed guide rails to align the round with the chamber, protecting the projectile from damage. Rate of fire 18rpm, cartridge 7.62x66mm, velocity 980ms, 6rnd magazine, weight 8.3kg, length 90.5cm. Accuracy 100m all targets 0.99; 200m bullseye 0.93; 400m hand 0.98, bullseye 0.74; 600m hand 0.93, bullseye 0.59; 800m head 0.98, hand 0.86, bullseye 0.49; 1000m head 0.96, hand 0.80, bullseye 0.39, 1200m head 0.93, hand 0.74, bullseye 0.36. Damage 58/.5
A lightweight, plastic pistol with a very high rate of fire. The plastics are not impervious to X-Ray detextion, but are not magnetic. This modern weapon is becoming a favorite among the worlds special forces, replacing such guns as the High Power in the SAS.
Calibre 9mm, Difficulty 7/8, Damage 2, Rate 19, Capacity 17/19, Concealment J, Range 20.
Caseless ammunition, where the propellant acts as the binder for the bullet and primer, is the main innovation in this remarkable weapon. Eliminating the casing saves the weight of the extraction and ejection system, as well as the reduced weight of ammunition. The development of a solid heat resistant propellant made this weapon possible. The firing mechanism is centred around a cylindrical breech block that rotates to align the round with the barrel. The cross-section allows the rounds to be closely packed with no wasted space into the 50 round in-line magazine, set along the barrel in line with the barrel making a streamlined weapon. The new design allows a firing rate of 2000rpm, with a three round controlled burst fired with the last round leaving the barrel before the firer can react to the recoil. This allows a high accuracy rate. When full-automatic mode is selected, this represents a firing rate of 600rpm. Its bullpup layout allows greater accuracy under full automatic firing. Magazine 50round, weight 4.2kg, length 75cm, 40rpm/200rpm/600rpm. Fletchette 30/0.41. Assessment 3.6cm at 300m, three shot burst. Accuracy at 50m, 0.99 at all sizes; 150m, head 0.99, hand 0.99, bullseye 0.97; 250m, head 0.99, hand 0.99, bullseye, 0.88; 350m, head 0.99, hand 0.99, bullseye 0.79; 500m, head 0.99, hand 0.96, bullseye 0.66.
This is an automatic-fire shotgun, allowing bursts of 20rpm, 40rpm or 240rpm. A 10 round removable drum magazine cassette is available, but a 20 round custom modification is becoming available to the knights. The gun weighs 4.7kg fully loaded, with a length of 78.7cm. The round is a 42g shell containing 12x3.6 shot. Designed to take standard or modified shotgun shells, the jackhammer has a bullpup design for ease of use. A gas-firing and dispersal system prevents the gun from overheating as in other automatic shotguns. The inline design and bullpup operating system for the jackhammer give it good control on full automatic fire.
Range is up to 50m. Body accuracy at 10m is 0.94, hand 0.48, bullseye 0.2; Accuracy at 30m body 0.58, hand 0.19, bullseye 0.07; Accuracy at 50m, body is 0.4, hand 0.12, bullseye 0.04. USAS12 (3round burst capable), Calibre 12guage, Difficulty 7, Damage 6, Rate 6, Capacity 10/20, Concealment N, Range 20.
The Militant Order's own technicians developed this weapon, filling a need for a timber-dart projectile weapon that is handy, easy to use and accurate. The dart pistol fills the gap between a manual crossbow and a pistol. This weapon has a canister behind the pistol grip that contains high-pressure air, used to sling small wooden darts up to 50m range. The air canister contains enough charge for 4 full-strength shots, with 2 half-range shots after that. It can be recharged by detaching the hand-grip on the barrel, and using it as a pump. Pumping for 2 minutes replenishes the full charge (30sec pumping for 1 full-charge shot). Accuracy 10m, body 0.99, bullseye 0.93, 50m body, 0.99, bullseye 0.42.
This is a wooden-spike throwing knife based on the unconventional Chinese T86 pistol-knife, developed by the Church Knights own armorers. the single-edged blade has four deep grooves, two on either side, tho allow passage of the wooden spikes fired from a mechanism in the weapons grip. to fire the weapon the knurled hinge at the front of the grip is rotated to the left, which can be done with the thumb in firming hand, uncovering a red dot and unlocking the trigger. the trigger extends below the weapon and is pulled by the normal finger with the thumb of the firing hand braced against the upper pivot of the trigger. With the arm extended and rotated with the wrist up, the sights on the grip can be used but the weapon is intended for very close range. The end cap of the grip contains the firing mechanism and is unscrewed for reloading. The blade is itself coated in hardened silver, giving it the dual-purpose of aggravated injury against werewolves. This dart-knife is a standard piece of equipment, to be worn at all times - even in civilian clothing - in case of an emergency.
Cartridge-dart. 6.7mmx 17mmR, 4rnds in 3 seconds, weight loaded 0.46kg, length 26.2 overall, blade 14cm. Range 50m 0.99 body accuracy, 0.33 bullseye. Faith points can be assigned as in an inverted form it appears as a Christian cross.
This 67mm calibre HEAT weapon has reflex optical sights with a range of up to 500m. Shoulder fired, the 6.3kg recoilless rifle can penetrate 30cm steel, with a 5m blast radius. Each shell weights 1kg, and can be fired at ranges up to 1500m. Penetrative range is 300m. Overall, the weapon is about 85cm long. The Armbrust is the only anti-armour weapon which can be fired in a confined space. Its sound signature is that of a pistol, and its flash is negligible. Most other weapons sound like a cannon and produce a flash like a small sun!
Accuracy at 50m, body is 0.9, hand is 0.44, bullseye 0.18, Accuracy 150m, body 0.54, hand 0.18, bullseye 0.06; Accuracy 250m body 0.37, hand 0.11, bullseye, 0.04; Accuracy 400m body 0.25, hand 0.07, bullseye 0.02.
Cutting off a vampires head is one of the few sure ways of killing a vampire. A sharp blade, such as a sword, is standard equipment on all knights. Embellishments such as silver edges or blessings can add significantly to a blade's usefulness. This ancient weapon has a true saint's relic (generally a bone of some kind) embedded in the hilt. Others are weapons borne by saints themselves, or other holy warriors of significance (such as King Arthur). Its reversed hilt and crosspiece counts as a consecrated holy symbol serving as a channel for the Faith miracle which ignites the holy blade when used against vampires and other unholy creatures. Wounds caused by the blade, when held by one of the Faith Numina, will be aggravated wounds. While wearing the blade, the hunter receives the Virtue Iron Will. When the Faithful prays for a miracle, add one extra Faith die to the roll if the sword is held, cross up, during the prayer. It is a Medieval Broadsword as per the Players Guide rule: three foot long with a nine-inch hilt, requiring a strength of 2 to carry, 3 or better to wield. Difficulty for this particular weapon is 7, though it does Strength + 5 damage (aggravated). The weapon radiates a aura of Faith that is quite discernible to all Kindred through Auspex (it appears as golden fire) and at close range (5 feet) it causes Kindred to sweat blood.
As many such swords are old, Kindred seizing the blade would take damage from it as normal, but would shatter the blade with three successes on a difficulty of 7, if they used Potence, difficulty of 8 if not. Any major blows to the sword itself (strikes against it versus difficulty of 7) will shatter the sword (treated as if it had three health levels).
Such swords are large and ungainly, and is impossible to completely conceal unless one wears a large trench coat. Many of these swords seem to have a mind or their own, wanting to bite Kindred flesh as they did in the middle and dark ages.
* For the Church Knights, these swords are often weapons handed down within their families. Swords which have been lost by their bloodline are maintained by the Orders, and awarded to new recruits of notable abilities. Not all of these swords need Holy relics - their extended service in the hands of the Faithful against vampires and evil being enough to make them Holy items within themselves.
This oil causes fire which will not burn the Faithful. Fires spread by the oil will burn structures, as will mortals without Faith. Vampires subtract 2 dice from their resistance roll against this flame. The oil is especially blessed, and is costly for mercenary vampire hunters.
* The knights carry the Oil in small pressure canisters that can fire spurts of the Oil up to 10m. An igniter can either fire the oil as it exits the jetgun, or afterwards. It is about 10cm long and can be inconspicuously attached to a utility belt.
"A vampire who has only been half-killed because the killer has run away in panic is a thousand-fold more dangerous than an ordinary vampire."
- Vampire, a Complete Guide to the Undead, Manuela Dunn Mascetti, 1991.
Though vampires are no longer mortal, they still face the possibility of final death and damnation. Inflicting aggravated wounds on a severely injured vampire is the most common way in which he can be extinguished. If a vampire has no Blood Pool or Health Levels left, and sustains an aggravated wound, he is utterly destroyed. Sometimes Final Death results in the complete and rapid disintegration of the body, and within minutes all that is left is a pile of ashes.
Weapons that cause aggravated damage, explosions, fire, certain vampiric diseases and decapitations are other ways vampires can be extinguished.
A stake is a broad definition, encompassing crude pieces of wood with sharpened points, timber-tipped spears, crossbow bolts, arrows and bokens (Japanese practice swords) with sharpened tips. Anything made of wood that can penetrate a vampire's heart with enough force (5 successes) can immobilise one of the undead. Crossbow bolts, carefully aimed, can be most effective, as the hunter doesn't have to get close to the prey.
Fire can come from many sources, such as spray cans, matches, cigarette lighters and flamethrowers. Fire does aggravated damage to vampires. Dragonbreath shotgun shells and tracer rounds have been developed for firearms to produce aggravated damage.
Any weapon with a blade over 3ft can be used as a sword. The special manoeuvre of Lunge allows a character to attack an enemy up to five yards away. The difficulty is 7 and the damage is Strength +4. No dodging is possible for the character making this manoeuvre, before or afterwards. The best way to use a lunge is against a character that is charging you. A lung will enable the character to attack the opponent before the opponent can attack.
Cavalry Sword: A straight blade of 3ft in length, with a serrated section on top of the blade near the hilt. Difficulty 6, Damage Strength +4, Ability Melee, Weight 3-4lbs.
Medieval Broadsword: A simple sword with a 3ft-4ft straight blade and a long hilt. Quite heavy for their size. Difficulty 6, Damage Strength +5, Ability Melee, Weight 5-10lb.
Two Handed Sword: A great-sword has a blade from four to six feet long and a hilt of one to two feet long. Needs six feet clearance above and to the sides of the user. Difficulty 5, Damage Strength +6, Ability Melee, Weight 10lb -15lb.
Roll Dexterity + Archery with a difficulty of 8. The maximum range of a bow is the minimum Strength for the bow multiplied by 30. Arrows can cut many styles of bullet-proof armor - like kevlar.
Small Bow: 30lb. Minimum Strength 2, Range 60 yards, Damage 2 (-1 die per five yards), Weight 10lb,
Large Bow: 60lb, Minimum Strength 3, Range 90 yards, Damage 3 (-1 per five yards), Weight 15lb
Compound Bow: Minimum Strength 3, Range 180 yards, Damage 3 (-1 per five yards), Weight 15lbs
Extras: Bow sights decrease difficulty by one for aimed shots.
Silencers eliminate the twang, difficulty 10. Releases, lets arrow fly cleaner, increase skill by one and increase difficulty of hearing the twang by one.
It is unlikely that weapons of this calibre will ever be used, but there are instances when it is possible. If the nation where the Hunt is taking place is wracked by civil war, has weak government or wide open spaces, such weapons can be used without notice. The powder of a home-made black-powder bomb of 10lb can blow a crater 10ft deep by 20ft radius - larger than the average room. Aircraft bombs usually contain 50lb to 1000lbs of more potent explosive.
One medium sized artillery shell can level half a block of stone houses, shatter windows for five blocks.
A .50cal machine gun bullet retains lethal force after completely passing through a house. Such machine guns fire about 600 rounds per minute.
Military grade heavy weapons are almost always illegal for civilian use. Perhaps only collectors can legally own a disarmed heavy weapon.
Fragmentation Grenades: A fragmentation grenade has a damage pool of 12 dice if it goes off in your hand. For every yard between the grenade explosion and the character, reduce the damage pool by one die. Weight 0.6lb, size 6in x 4in cylinder Concussion Grenade: Has a dice pool of 8 if in direct contact. Reduced by one die per yard distance. Has a debilitating effect on Vampires with heightened hearing. Weight 0.5lb, size 6in x 4in cylinder.
Smoke Grenade: Emit a dense cloud of white or colored smoke. There is no blast. The cloud will fill a 10 by 10 yard room in one minute and will last 10 minutes in still air. Weight 0.6lb, size 7in x 5in cylinder.
White Phosphorus: Generate a temperature of 2700F when they explode. Has a 12 dice pool for direct contact, reduced one every two yards. This is aggravated damage because of the flame. Sets most flammable material alight. Weight 0.6lb, size 7in x 3in cylinder.
High explosives are regulated by state and federal permits and licenses, although anyone can buy the basic ingredients. Every point of an explosive's blast power is worth 1 die per lb of explosive. Each explosive also has a specific type of detonator.
Dynamite: Also called TNT, it is nitroglycerine stabilised in charcoal. Dynamite deteriorates over time. Blast Power 3, Detonate by fulminating primer, Can burn as an emergency flare.
Plastique: Plastic explosive is manufactured in various strengths. It is similar to modelling clay in consistency and is extremely stable. Most military explosives are plastique. Blast power 1-20, Detonate by primer only. It is safe enough to cook on .
Primacord: Also called instant fuse. Primacord is an explosive manufactured in string form. It is used to detonate widely separated explosives at the same time. It can also be wrapped around an item as a main charge. Blast power 5, Detonate primer only, Will not burn.
Napalm: When it burns, it clings to whatever it is burning. The only way to remove it is to scrape it off. Roll one die to determine how much of the body is covered by napalm. Roll that many dice in the damage pool every turn for 10turns. Contained in canisters with a small charge to spread it out (6-10 blast power). Blast none, Burns like crazy.
Provide heavy or sustained firepower and require a separate skill of either Heavy Weapons or Artillery to use. Machine guns are the only exception, requiring the Firearms skill.
Holding and firing any weapon listed as normally requiring a tripod requires a minimum Strength + Potence of 6.
LAW: Light Anti-tank Weapon, a disposable, one-shot rocket and launcher. The launcher is a tube of about 2.5ft and about 4in in diameter. The rocket is about 14in long. Difficulty 7, Damage 12, Range 200 yards, Weight 5lbs.
Stinger: A shoulder fired anti-aircraft missile with a heat-seeking guidance system. This is a fire and forget weapon. This weapon (and the LAW) produce back blast, with a 2yard danger zone directly behind the user. Damage of the back blast is four dice of aggravated damage. Difficulty 7, Damage 14, Range 2miles, Weight 25lb
Grenade Launchers: The M79 grenade launcher looks and operates like a stubby shotgun with a 2in diameter barrel. The grenade explodes on impact. There is no magazine and this weapon fires one shot, then must be reloaded. Difficulty 6, Damage grenade, Range 400 yards, Weight 6lb
Flame Thrower: A backpack carries tanks of napalm and a hose connects to a rifle-like launcher. More modern versions of the weapon used by the Church Knights have a canister directly under the barrel, removing the need for hoses. The old version weighs 50lbs with three tanks. Each tank allows five minutes of constant spraying. The Church Knight's weapon only has the equivalent of half a tank. Difficulty 6, Damage as napalm, Range 60yards.
- Re-used with permission from Highlander: The Gathering by Hank Driskill and John Gavigan (firstname.lastname@example.org)
". . . such are they whom God chooses for himself and gathers from the furthest ends of the earth, servants from among the bravest in Israel to guard watchfully and faithfully his Sepulchre and the Temple of Solomon, sword in hand, ready for battle."
- St Bernard of Clairvaux
The sword is the traditional weapon of a Knight. The reasons for this are fairly simple - the sword is the oldest weapon with which you could efficiently decapitate someone, and the first vampire hunters would have used them. Until relatively recently, the sword was the main personal weapon. It's only within the last few hundred years that we have begun using guns, and you can't chop a vampire's head off with a gun. In fact, not counting the battle axe, there still is no practical weapon which can decapitate someone in a duel.
To a Knight, a sword is more than just a piece of steel. It becomes an extension of their body - they keep it with them most of the time, and it becomes an old friend. There are no hard and fast rules for weapons as regards weapons difficulties and damage, etc. A rough guide is that the bigger and heavier sword is, the harder it is to use, but the more damage is inflicts. The Katanas are all Difficulty 6, Damage: Strength + 5. But the two- handed sword is Difficulty 7, Damage: Strength + 6, being, as it is, both heavier and more difficult to use. A Sabre is Difficulty 6 and Damage: Strength + 4, reflecting that it is normally used with only one hand.
Knights may choose between the type of blade, but the weapon itself must by standard Order issue. No elaborate or "fashionable" weapon would be allowed under The Rule. The weapons are obviously finest quality steel or alloy, perfectly balanced and crafted - though without ornamentation or identifying mark.
In normal combat, the combatants will try to be the first to attack, in the hope of inflicting damage first. However, in sword combat, things work a little differently. Sometimes, one combatant may elect to try and surprise the other, by ambushing them and attacking them before they have a chance to draw their weapon. In such cases, use the normal rules for Initiative and Surprise.
With sword-duels, the round takes on a new meaning - Basically, a sword combat round is the length of time it takes for one person to attack the other. This system splits sword combat up into a series of bouts. A bout is a series of rounds, during which there is no pause in combat. At the start of a round, both players roll for Initiative. Then they announce what their actions are going to be. Because sword combat is reactive - ie. you don't know what you're going to do until your opponent has done something - the player with the higher Initiative must announce what they intend to do first.
Normally, the player with the higher Initiative will decide to attack, and, if so, his opponent must either defend or dodge. Alternatively, the character with the higher Initiative may decide to either do some other kind of action, such as leaping onto a table, or they may decide to wait and see what their opponent is going to do. If they do either of these things, combat has basically stopped, and they must begin another bout.
A bout begins with both combatants facing each other, weapons at the ready. It is up to the players themselves who actually moves first and initiates combat. Once one of the combatants announces that they are attacking, both players make a standard Initiative roll - Wits + Alertness, against a target number of four. However, instead of deciding who acts first (as this has already been decided), the difference between the two combatants number of successes achieved is added to the dice pool of the player with the higher Initiative.
Example: Connor and the Kurgan are facing off. They circle each other for a few minutes, before Connor makes an attack. He rolls Wits (3) + Alertness (4), and gets 6 successes. The Kurgan rolls Wits (4) + Alertness (3), getting four successes. Thus, Connor gets an extra two dice to add to his Attack roll.
After this initial round, Initiative is rolled as normal, but, its role during the bout is slightly different than the one it has in normal combat. The character with the higher Initiative gets to act first, presumably attacking, and the other person must defend. Both players make their respective attack and defence rolls and that combat round ends, and the combatants roll their Initiative for the next round. The following modifiers apply:
These rules may seem very complicated right now, but will become clearer later on.
To reflect the complexity of sword combat, and the fact that it's not just a case of hacking at the other person until one of you dies, I have adopted the following list of standard sword- fighting manoeuvres from the rules for Klaive-duelling in the Werewolf Players Guide. They are split up into two types - Attack manoeuvres and Defence manoeuvres. Normally, the attacker will choose an Attacking manoeuvre, and his opponent will choose a Defence manoeuvre, in an attempt to counter it, but in some cases, the nature of the Attack manoeuvre will only allow the defender one option. For example, if an attacker decides to try and disarm his opponent, his opponent must decide to try to hang on to his weapon. He has no other choice.
One dot in the Swordsmanship Skill represents one attack and one defencive skill learned. They must be specified.
- Normal Attack
The attacker attempts to wound his/her opponent, rolling
Dexterity + Melee, with the Difficulty specified by the weapon
Difficulty: Weapon Difficulty
Image: The warrior simply tries to wound his opponent by dint of speed and skill.
The attacker rolls Manipulation + Melee for his attack roll, with a
difficulty modifier of +3. This attack may not be parried - it may
only be dodged.
Difficulty: Weapon Difficulty + 3
Image: With a lightning-quick motion, the swordsman attacks first high, then low, slipping around his opponent's guard, and moving to hit a vulnerable spot.
The attacker rolls Dexterity + Melee, resisted by Dexterity +
Melee from their opponent, both rolls difficulty six. If either
combatant rolls three successes or more above their opponents
successes, they disarm their opponent, and their weapon falls to
the ground. If you botch this roll, you automatically drop your
Image: With a quick movement, you catch your opponents sword and it drops out of his nerveless hand, onto the ground.
- Great Blow
The attacker commits themselves completely to a devastating
blow (but not a blow to decapitate their opponent). They roll a
normal attack roll, with a +2 to difficulty. Although a Great Blow
cannot be parried, it can be dodged. If the attack succeeds, the
attack dice are doubled. However, the attacker's difficulty for
their Initiative the next round is 5, not 4, and they have a +2 to all
Defence difficulties during the next round also.
Difficulty: Weapon Difficulty +2
Image: You bring your sword back and fall forward, lunging at your opponent. Heedless of the danger, you throw your body forward, your sword serving as the tip of a monstrous battering ram - you.
- Target Blow
Roll Perception + Melee, the difficulty number is your opponents
Dex + Dodge. If successful, the number of successes add to the
number of damage dice done by your weapon. Optionally, you
may elect to target a specific area - See the table below for details
of Difficulties and effects. This blow can be parried or dodged as
normal and is often used to start off a bout.
Difficulty: Opp. Dex + Dodge
Image: You try to hit a specific part of your opponent's body. You hold your blade up, and strike, attempting to bypass you opponent's defence to strike your target.
The combatant must roll Dexterity + Melee against their weapon's
normal difficulty. Each success on this roll subtracts from one
attack success made against the parrying warrior.
Difficulty : Weapon Difficulty
Image: The swordsman brings his weapon to bear, holding it steady and catches the force of his opponent's sword with his own.
This manoeuvre may only be used after the one who wishes to
use it has successfully parried a blow. This manoeuvre is a
Strength + Melee roll, the weapon's difficulty serves as an attack
roll. This sort of attack may not be dodged, though it may be
parried, and if successfully parried, this attack may also be
Difficulty: Weapon Difficulty
Image: You parry your opponent's strike. Klang! With catlike speed and grace, you bring your sword around his arm, hoping to catch him off guard.
- Caught Steel
Roll Strength + Melee versus a difficulty of your opponent's
Dexterity + Melee. If successful, you lock swords with him for a
short interval, during which you struggle with him before your
blade and his can be freed (he can do no damage this attack). If
you receive more than three successes on your roll, you manage
to put him off-balance for the following round, adding one to the
difficulty of his Initiative roll.
Difficulty: Opp. Dex + Melee
Image: You lock steel with your opponent. "So, Highlander, we meet again!" You struggle for a moment, then the fight sparks again.
This is an Aimed Attack at the neck, requiring a Perception +
Melee versus a difficulty of your opponent's Dex + Dodge. To
decapitate, you must reduce your opponent to one level past
Difficulty: Opp. Dex + Dodge
Image: With fluid-like agility, you swing your sword around, and, before your opponent can block you, your blade slices through his neck, and his head falls to the ground.
This is by no means meant to be an exhaustive list of all the possible manoeuvres, but more a guide to help Storytellers decide the types of rolls and difficulties which should be applied to various manoeuvres.
* Hands/Arms - Difficulty +3/+2, Damage: A Wounded result means the hand/arm is broken and any weapons in that hand cannot be used; if the hand is holding a sword, it is dropped. A Crippled result means that the limb is sheared off.
* Legs - Difficulty +1, Damage: A Wounded result means that the limb is broken; the penalties to the Dice Pool apply to any activities requiring running. An Incapacitated result with a sharp weapon means the limb is cut off.
* Chest/Torso - Difficulty +1, Damage: The character will have the air knocked out of his lungs on a Wounded result (stunned for the turn), and his ribs broken on a Mauled result (must make a Willpower roll, difficulty 8, each turn to keep acting). If the Knight is attacked from behind, and the result is one more than needed to Incapacitate, then the spine is broken, and his lower body is paralysed.
- Dodging On some occasions, it may be necessary to dodge a blow rather than parry it. On these occasions, the target rolls his Dexterity +Dodge against a target number of six. The successes on this roll are subtracted from the successes of the Attacker. If the attacker's successes are eliminated, the target manages to dodge the blow.
Damage is resolved as normal - The attacker rolls the Damage dice pool for that weapon, against a target number of six, each success causing the target to lose a health level. The target makes a Soak roll, rolling his Stamina (difficulty 6) and subtracting his successes from his opponent's.
"Kings, emperors and nobles used to rule the world, today I see sovereignty held by the clergy by means of robbery, treachery, hypocrisy, violence and preaching. . . They are anxious to make the world theirs. . . "
- Peire Cardenal of Le Puy, 1229, in Atlas of the Crusades, Jonathan Riley-Smith
Each of the three Militant Orders, knights Templar, knights Teutone and knights Hospitaller, have an air of mystery surrounding their traditions, purpose and history. None more so than the Templars.
The knights Templar have been a favored subject of "History Sleuths" throughout the 1980s. The best seller lists have features books such as Holy Blood and the Holy Grail, The Temple and The Lodge, The Sword and the Rose etc. All have put forward interesting postulations about the Militant Orders true role, often delving into Arthurian and Grail legends.
Some of these theories refuse to go away, and more pieces seem to fall into place all the time. These may have potential for a storyline.
The Sonja letter (Internet, Aug 6, 1993) briefly outlines one of the more interesting theories associated with the Knights Templar - that of an extended bloodline of Jesus Christ.
The storyline is basically this. Mary Magdalene and her child (Jesus' progeny) flee Israel because the political situation for Jesus' immediate family was too hot. Jesus' brother (Judas Thomas) was leading the war against the Romans. Because the concept that several of Jesus' disciples were Zealot resistance fighters (indicating he was possibly one of them himself) did not go down with the passive message trying to be pushed by the early Christian Church, Judas Thomas' (Jesus' twin brother, a Zealot warrior priest) identity was split and most references to the Zealoti removed. This included the watering down of the importance of Simon and James - also prominent Zealots. The gospels written by Judas Thomas and James were deliberately destroyed or drastically edited by the Church before the 8th Century.
There was apparently a dispute among the disciples, the mystics under Paul and the Nazarean Party under James. Some evidence exists that Paul was outcast by the other disciples because he was trying to attach messianic qualities to Jesus, who the rest of the disciples "knew" was simply the "Messiah" - King-Priest of Israel.
The upshot of the situation was that Israel was "destroyed" in the AD70s. Before this time many Jews left the country for safer parts, including Alexandria in Egypt, Greece, Rome and southern France. Allegedly, Mary Magdalene (possibly Jesus' wife) ended up in southern France with Jesus' son, along with Cathar Jews who believed Jesus to be a prophet-king.
The Templars, upon the capture of Jerusalem in the 1100s, apparently discovered some remaining copies of the "heretic" gospels, and traced the movements of Magdalene. The knights apparently took the family's bloodline (or grail) into their own protection. Known as the Merovingian's, the family had spawned a line of French Kings often associated with mystical happenings and arcane power. Some say the Templars, now known as the Prieure de Sion (Rock of Sion - the Temple), still guard Jesus' descendants - and working hard towards the unification of Europe!
It is because of the Templars association with the Cathars (the descendants of the group which included Magdalene) that the Order fell out with the Pope.
There is strong speculation that many of the authors of various Grail and Arthurian sagas were either strongly associated with the Templars, or were Templars themselves. Some say the legends were a secret way of perpetuating the "true" story of Christ. The Church had been suspicious the Templar "heresy" for some time, but the jealous French King Philip IV used it as an excuse to try and grab their property. While the Order was disbanded, no convictions of heresy were ever made. (Both the Pope and Phillip IV died within a two months of the death of the Grand Masters execution. Historical legend claims the Grand Master "cursed" them both, but it is also possible Templar contacts within each household poisoned them.)
There is plenty of evidence to suggest that the Temple did not dissolve after 1314. While hundreds of Templars were captured and put before the Inquisition, only a few were full knights. The ratio was something of 1 knight per 5 Templars, the bulk being Sergeants and support staff. Only 1 in 20 of those facing the Inquisition in France was a knight - and in the UK, none were knights. The whole treasury department disappeared, along with the entire Templar fleet. Nevertheless, the Order obviously broke up over the years because it was hard to manage such a huge organisation secretly. While many Orders such as the Spanish knights of Christ were formed by the Templar remnants, evidence suggests the "pure" core survived in Scotland - a country not inclined to pay any attention to the Pope.
Take any Arthurian or Grail legend, shake it, and out will fall a pile of Templar propaganda. While often apparently purely fanciful, they may conceal grains of truth relating to particular issues or philosophies.
1) One legend that has been researched (The Sign and the Seal) relates to one of the Templar's greatest dreams - finding the Arc of the Covenant. The first thing the Templars ever did was to excavate the site of the Temple of Jerusalem, and many other areas. While they never said what they were after, the Arc is a good guess. It appears the Templars followed the trail of the Arc into Ethiopia, where a small group of dedicated (and unforthcoming) monks even today jealously guard what is possibly the Arc of the Covenant. The Templars, possibly unable (or unwilling) to gain the powerful and destructive icon for themselves, established a chapterhouse in Ethiopia to keep an eye on it.
2) Another refers to a little half-completed chapel in middle- of-nowhere France. Known as Rennes le Chateau, it is believed this little place was where much of the treasure of the Temple of Jerusalem was hidden by the Templars. Maybe it was even their own treasury - or it had some other significance. Whatever the case, one of the Chateau's priests was very interested in solving several mysteries about the Templars. After researching designs on various cathedral walls and windows, unusual historical paintings and some hidden parchments in the Rennes le Chateau church, he suddenly became very rich.
Complicating the story is the fact that Rennes le Chateau is in the dead centre of an ancient grid of "power lines". Multiple geometric designs (ranging from a near-perfect pentagon formed by natural? mountain peaks to clusters of towns and even standing stones) use the area as its focus. It obviously had strong pre-Christian, pre-Roman significance - similar to the Nazca lines of America.
3) The mystery of Rennes le Chateau may be linked to the theory that the Templars were guardians of the Sacred Geometry. Mathematical and engineering abilities were looked upon as miraculous in the ancient world, even in Medieval Europe until the Renaissance. Mathematicians, architects and engineers were regarded as wizards etc, a fact perpetuated by their secrecy about their valuable art. People like the architects of the great pyramids and the Temple of Solomon were given god or prophet-like status. The modern day Freemasons trace their ancestry back to the architect of the Temple, who was murdered by jealous co- workers. This "society" of architects was either strongly associated with, or part of, the Templars. Legends of ancient power abound - some hinting at the strange geometry of the standing stones throughout Europe, others of an almost "Atlantean" technology.
4) Another legend refers to the disappearance of the Templar Fleet. One book, the Sword and the Grail, claims that the Templars actually colonised the New England area of the United States 180 years before Columbus. This was done by the Scottish Templars and Prince Henry St Clair - the Navigator. Rosslyn Chapel in Scotland, built more than a century before Columbus, clearly shows ears of corn and aloe cactus - items unique to the Americas. Mayan legends in Central America talk of a pre-Spanish Conquests visit by a group of friendly white men, who gave them several technologies similar to European techniques of that time. Unfortunately most of the Aztec documentary evidence of this "visit" was destroyed by the Spanish Inquisition.
5) One persistent rumor is that the Knights Templar were the custodians of the Shroud of Turin. Scientific and historical evidence places the shroud's origins in the east of Turkey, just above Lebannon.This area was at one stage under the influence of the Templars who built several fortresses there. It appears the Byzantium Church revered a cloth with Christ's head upon it - the only part of the shroud visible when folded. What happened to it is uncertain. Either it was taken to Constantinople for protection (and stolen when that city was looted by Crusaders) or it was lost before then. When the shroud was revealed once again in late medieval times, it was by the de Charney family - a member of which was Geoffrey de Charney, the senior officer who was burnt at the stake alongside Jacques de Molay. Some say it was placed in his family's protection the night the French king arrested the Templars. Speculation also attempts to explain the charges laid against the Templars by the Inquisition. One of the main charges was worshiping the image of a head - baphomet. Maybe the Templars secrecy to protect the holy relic backfired, and the rumors arose from their own ranks!
Because the knights Hospitaller have been in continuous existence, the opportunities for legend have not arisen - either because members have remained secretive because of the Order's survival, or because the Order has been able to stamp out any fanciful (or true) mysteries before the have taken hold. However, there are rumors based on their unique position within the World's diplomatic society.
1) The worldwide network of medical care units, ambulance services and disaster relief teams - combined with the diplomatic status offered to the Order (who still insist that Senior knights must be able to show a coat of arms dating back 300 years proving direct male lineage) - make them an ideal network for intelligence work. The hospital and medical services are often placed strategically in areas of crisis (such as Northern Ireland). Membership extends from medical staff and ambulance drivers to important political and financial officials. Rumors have it that the Hospitallers are closely linked to the Vatican Intelligence Service - a role similar to that of the Crusades. Other rumors have it that the knights are used as a link between the Vatican and the CIA. The knights actually have a world-wide award for counter- intelligence work. Those who have received this award include the head of the West German Secret Service and several high- ranked CIA operatives. Most of the CIA directors since the 1940s have become knights of Malta, as have many American diplomats. The extent of their actions is not know, but much of the credit for peace efforts in Central America has been quietly given to Hospitaller operatives.
The Teutonic knights fell into disfavour after the Order was used for propaganda purposes by the SS during World War II. As a result, not a lot of modern popular literature has delved into the back ground of this Militant Order. What little there is of it is mostly focussed on the modern Nazi era and a brief, skeletal description of the Order's role during the early Crusades. Acurate analysis appears confined to academic literature.
1) Heinrich Himmler conceived the SS as the reconstituted Teutonic knights: Deutschritter - modern equivalent of the white- mantled knights with black crosses who had spearheaded the earlier Germanic drive into Russia. The original, pre-war, SS was a strictly recruited, organised and ritualised unit. The elaborate and mystical induction ceremony was obviously reminiscent of the Teutones chivalric investure. Candidates had to show a pure Aryan family tree dating back at least 250 years for general recruits, 300 years for officers. Each candidate had to undergo a religious-style novitiate before he was accepted into the Order. Much of the SS insignia and runic inscriptions were based on masonic and Teutone patterns. SS itself was meant to be based on the Sig rune, the rune of power used to denote the lightning-bolt of the storm gods.
The true Order at this time was obviously driven underground. Apart from genocidal racist behavior, the SS's rituals included conceiving children on the gravestone of prominent historical figures, marriages which were little more than Aryan orgies, and other mystical ceremonies. Himmler instigated an Order of the Round Table with 13 knight officers. Its headquarters was in Wewelsburg, near Paderborn, in West Germany. Although never completed, this town (centred on a modern castle) was supposed to become the SS capital. The town and castle's architecture was based on the numbers 3 and 12, the significance of which is not known. Himmler often spoke of Sacred Geometry, "earth magic".
Interesting links have been drawn with the "old school" army officers who were involved with the plot to assassinate Hitler. Apparently, the leaders were members of noble families with histories of association with the Teutones. This may have been a desperate attempt by the remnants of the Order to cut the Fuhrer's career short.
The link with the SS provides scope for many of the mysterious activities of WWII to be utilised, ie the collection of mystical books and artifacts, as could the disappearance of many of these valuable historical objects after the war.
2) The Jesuits, the largest Clerical Order of the Catholic Church, are believed to have either styled themselves upon, or branched from, the Teutonic knights. This could have occurred with members of the Teutonic Order forming a new group once its leaders converted to Lutheranism. The extent of the association is unknown, but may provide another opening.
"Since the occult world is a continuum which in many ways defies time and space, the Templars are not in this view mere carrion for university professors to feed on, but a living tradition of hidden knowledge which may be shared by the elect"
- Murdered Magicians, the Templars and their Myths.
From the start, the Templars had a strong relationship with the Cathars. Many members of this "heretic" religion had donated broad reaches of lands to the knights, and it is possible one of the 9 founders may have been a Cathar.
The fourth Grand Master was undoubtedly Cathar and many recruits came from the southern regions of France where the religion was strongest.
The Templars remained neutral during the Albigensian Crusade - an attempt to exterminate Catharism because of its direct conflict with Catholicism. Cities were razed and thousands massacred. Rumors emerged that the Templars had actually helped hide Cathar treasures, as well as protect many prominent families. It was during this time that the first allegations against the order was made. Pope Innocent III, upset that the knights had refused his order to join the attack on the Cathars, berated them for un- Christian behavior and accused them of necromancy.
The Albigensian Crusade (the Templars refused to refer to it as a crusade, they repeatedly insisted the only true crusade was to invade Israel) actually increased the numbers of Cathars among their ranks. In some preceptories, more officers were Cathar than Catholic.
Through their contact with Islamic and Judaic cultures, the Templars had absorbed many ideas and ideals alien to the orthodox Roman Christianity of the time. Templars often employed Arabs accountants and secretaries, they learnt to speak and write the languages and financial exchanges were commonplace.
Philip IV of France hated the knights independence and wealth (he had also been rejected by the order as a recruit - and he owed it money). He may have used this tolerance for other schools of thought as an excuse to bring about the Order's destruction. Undoubtedly, the almost open links with the Eastern cultures exposed Templars to occult thinking. It would have been in the knights interests to at least find out about such rites, rituals and beliefs in an effort to "understand one's enemy". How much of this secular information was gathered - and even adopted - is pure speculation. All the Order's books were burnt at the instruction of the Grand Master shortly before Philip IV moved to have all the knights in France arrested.
Links have also been made to the Johannite (or Mandaean) heresy, which denounced Jesus and a false prophet and acknowledged John as the true Messiah. The Templars undoubtedly came in contact with this sect.
By the eighteenth century, many Masons were claiming their rituals and beliefs were descendants of the rites performed by the knights Templar. Many of these claims are preposterous, but an equal amount may actually have been maintained through the Order's survival in Scotland - one of the most Masonic places on earth.
By 1798, the era of romance, many legends were attributed the knights with mythical powers. They were supermen with awesome arsenals of arcane powers and knowledge. They were called occult adepts, illumined alchemists, magi and sages, master masons and high initiates.
The Masonic link may have significant relevance. Much of the suspicion against the knights was brought about by their superior technical skill. While the knights themselves were generally uneducated, those within the Order who were specialists (such as architects) had much more advanced knowledge than their civilian counterparts. Much of the learning of the Greek and Roman philosophers, mathematicians etc had been lost in Europe during the dark ages. But the Arabs were not so stupid. Some of this information was captured with the Spanish Crusades after the fall of the Templars. But, much information suggests the Templars had gained much of this knowledge through their interaction with the Arabs - and then kept it for themselves.
The greatest engineering feats of their time, the first Gothic Cathedrals, can be directly attributed to Templar involvement. The ignorance of the general populace (and even nobility) often attributed such works of engineering to magic.
Rumors that circulated Europe after the sudden arrest of Templars and the suspension of the Order included the supposed worship of a devil called Baphomet. The rumors said Templars prostrated themselves before a bearded male head, which spoke to them and invested them with occult powers. (However, the rumor said that witnesses of these ceremonies were never seen again) Other vague charges were layed against the Order, including teaching women how to abort, obscene kisses at the induction of new recruits and homosexuality. Even during the actual Inquisition, none of these allegations were substantiated.
The most serious allegation was that the knights ritually denied Christ. The ceremony is said to have involved, trampling, spitting on and defecating on the cross.
Even before the Inquisition, some said the knights were sorcerers and magicians, secret adepts and alchemists. Some of their contemporary monastic Orders shunned them, believing them to be in league with arcane powers. Much of this can be attributed to the knights greater understanding of medicine, architecture and basic chemistry and physics - all learnt from the Arabs and Jews. It is interesting to note that among all monastic Orders, only the Templars were given permission in their charter to associate with, and make deals with heathens.
Many members of the Order were burned, imprisoned or tortured. It is interesting to note that the few "confessions" that were made were only extracted under torture - and the knights almost always repudiated their confession afterward. Extremely few "clear convictions" were made by the Inquisitors, but then, Inquisitors didn't need to justify their actions.
After the Orders extinction, rumors of the Occult escalated. The Grand Master and the preceptor of Normandy are said to have cursed the king and the pope as they were being burnt alive. Within months of the knights execution, both Pope Clement and King Philip were dead.
Baphomet - derivation of Muhammad
Baphomet - bifihimat, "Father/Source of Wisdom and Understanding"
Baphomet - gonfalon Bauceant, the battle standard of the Templars and battle cry. Bauseant, meaning "of comely appearance", or "piebald" or "standard", but likely to mean "for glory"
When subject to the torture of the Inquisition, many knights referred to something called Baphomet. There is little indication on who or what Baphomet was, what it represented or even if it was significant. It appears that it was regarded with reverence - perhaps idolatry. Sometimes the name was associated with a demonic sculpture found in some preceptories, other times with a bearded head.
The link between Baphomet and the concept of a bearded head remains obscure.
One strong possibility is that the head may be that of the Turin Shroud - a revered artefact believed to be in the possession of the Templars between 1204 and 1307. The way it was folded (it was almost never unravelled) placed the head in the most visible position. In fact, the surviving images of the Templar "head" bear a striking resemblance to the Shroud.
According to Inquisition records, a reliquary in the shape of a woman's head was confiscated from the Paris preceptory. It was hinged on top, and contained a relic of some kind. The report said "a great head of gilded silver, most beautiful, and constituting the image of a woman. Inside were two head-bones, wrapped in a cloth of white linen, with another red cloth around it. A label was attached, one which was written the legend CAPTU LVIIIm (Head 58m). The bones inside were that of a rather small woman." The "m" may have actually been a misreading of the sign of Virgo. Some speculation has been made - on minimal evidence - that the head may be that of Mary Magdalene, an artefact rescued from the Cathars.
Myths involving sacred heads include that of Isis, Tammuz or Adonis whose head was flung into the sea, and of Orpheus, whose head was flung into the river of the Milky Way. Bran the Blessed in Celtic mythology also had his head severed, but it was kept alive in a magical cauldron.
According to Inquisition records, the charges against the
in each province they had idols, namely heads.
that they adored these idols
that they said that the head could save them.
that it could make riches
that it made the trees flower
that it made the land germinate
that they surrounded or touched each head of the aforesaid idols with small cords, which they wore around themselves next to the shirt or the flesh.
These properties were extraordinarily similar to that attributed to the Holy Grail. Cathars wore sacred cords.
It is likely that many Templars did not believe in Christ, as many knights gave testimony that they only believed in God in heaven, not in Jesus. Such charges were consistent, and lend credence to the idea. But it may also simply have been a well organised conspiracy on behalf of the Inquisitors. It may also have been an internal faction split. However, the strongest arguement revolves around the Shroud of Turin. The Templars were very secretive about their posessions, wealth and relics - and any information about such an item would have been distorted "through the telling".
There is little doubt that much which is now considered occult would have at least been studied by the Templars. In their militaristic way, the Templars studied their enemies closely - their customs, traditions and beliefs. Some sources claim the Templars had a large library of old documents - including the suppressed books of the Bible, old Jewish texts, Islamic doctrine, Cathar beliefs, Celtic rituals etc. This library disappeared with the Templars treasury, probably with their fleet, shortly before the Inquisition's axe fell. No inventory of these texts has ever been found, but is said to include many occult authors.
Better far be cowardly and alive, Than dead, the most famous of them all. The Order of the Templars, I know well, Is beautiful and excellent and sure - But keeping healthy keeps me from war.
- Guiot de Provins, 1316
This work only covers the three most popular and powerful Militant Orders:the Knights Templar, Hospitaller and Teutone. However, these were not the only ones.
Many Orders were spawned by the crusades, some lasting only months while others endured for centuries. If you wish to supplement the Church Knights sourcebook with re- interpretations of these other Orders I suggest you research the following: