by Timothy Toner
"There...almost done. Now will you stop bitching, you big baby!"
"Evan, it hurts!"
"You're a damn Brujah! Eat the pain!"
"I wanna know why I had to be the one you did this to." "Because you were the only one stupid enough to volunteer." "Oh yeah, right. Could we go over this one more time? My zeal may have been a tad unfounded. Ow!"
"Sorry. It's really quite simple, and probably would not have occured to me if those Inner Council bastards hadn't laughed at me.
"Soon after the meeting, I began examining the Pages I had. I began thinking: what were they made out of? Animal skin! And which would allow the magic to flow better, animal skin, or human skin? Human, of course...at least, that is, for our kind of magic. Lupine works best, but that's because they're so magical to begin with. It was best to stick with human, for proper effect.
"I knew I needed a large supply of dead human tissue: people would wonder otherwise. The Vienna morgues were too well regulated, and there seemed no other way, when it occured to me. We, as vampires, are walking bundles of human skin, perfect for the parchment. But then I would have to keep the book out of sunlight...
"And then you walked into the room, babbling about your friend Oscar, and his blasted new tattoo, how he paid 200 DM for it, but it all went away when he woke up. It finally hit me. Why bother with removing the flesh? Why not preserve it on the body, as the Codex describes, and inscribe the spell on the vampire! It was too simple.
"then I convinced you to volunteer. Oh, I admit it was a bit rough, strapping you to the table for a week, as I completed the process. You were rather good about not being able to hunt. I couldn't have you harming my greatest work, eh? And I do hope you don't mind being Blood Bound to me."
"No, not at all. In fact, I'm beginning to like it..." "Shut your trap, and let's see if it works." Evan loosened the straps on Clint, who was lying on his stomach. Innate runic constructs were carved into his back in four quadrants.
"Now, Clint, I want you to focus your blood to this area of your body." He touched the lower back, and Clint winced. "Not much...just enough."
Clint concentrated. The blood seemed to want to well out from his body, but it didn't. Instead, it created a symbol, as vivid as any created by a thaumaturgist, not a bit seeping from the channels.
Power flared from Clint's body. The carving glowed a hellish red, and then fire shot out of Clint, igniting the wastebasket.
"It works!" Evan danced a quick jig around the room. "I have done what no man, living or unliving has done! I have given the Gift permanently to the UnGifted!"
"Great, Evan...now can I heal up?"
"No, Clint, you must not heal...EVER! To do so would remove the runic construct, and all this would be for nothing."
"But Evan, this hurts!"
"I'm sure it does, but you have no idea what I have done for you. On your upper right back is the Path of Blood. On your upper left is Movement of the Mind. On your lower right is Weather Control. On your lower left is Lure of Flames. Each carved into you delicately, each forevermore a part of you, as long as you will yourself not to HEAL!"
"All I know is that I let you put me in a world of hurt, and now I feel pretty stupid. I wanna get up."
"Oh, all right. Get up."
"I can't move. Not a muscle."
"It hurts too much, and it's like those areas you carved into me feel like solid rock."
Evan ran over to the Brujah. "Dear me...you're right. Hard as a rock..."
"Evan, get me up...I'm getting a little pissed. Not at you, or anything. Just the state of the world, and all."
"Thank Caine for Blood Bonds," muttered Evan. "All right. I don't want to damage this work I've done...let me just grab this knife and..."
"What? It will grow back..."
"Evan...get it off...NOW. With no pointly instruments." "All right...sheesh. You try to do a guy a favor, and horn him in on a little world conquest at the same time..."
"The pain was worse than the time Clint disobeyed his Sire's warnings, and on a dare, stuck his tongue to a Harley in sub zero weather. The harley then drove off. It took a hacksaw to get the two apart. Considering it was the Prince's bike, the hacksaw was taken to the less valuable commidity. That was nothing compared to this.
Alas, it was over, and the two retired: one to scrounge around the neighborhood, looking for munchies, the other back to the drawing (or carving) board.
But deep within the walls of that building, two Kindred, their souls black as coal, secretly wept at their good fortune.
"The Archbishop will be pleased. I'm sure Evan will not mind what we offer him. Even if he does...I don't think he'll mind."
Both laughed. The other spoke. "What of the Brujah?" "Crush him like a bug, the ungrateful bastard. No witnesses." "Never."
They slipped away, each to their prospective destinations.
Runic Constructs: Using the Rules for Pages presented before, it is possible to specially treat an area of a Kindred's skin so that it will react much like the Page of Thaumaturgy did. The difference is that the skin is permanent until healed.
The "carver" must know, first, how to prepare a Page. This can be found or researched, and will probably be an adventure in itself.
First, the creator prepares the area by immersing it in unguents specially created for this purpose. The unguests ought to be rare, and specific to each Path. The flesh is cured, until it has the same consistency as rough parchment. The process takes roughly three days, and the creator must roll Intelligence + Chemistry/Alchemy (diff 7) to get it right.
Next, the creator begins the carving process. A stylus, much like the one used to create a Page, is employed. The creator must be able to utilize the Path in question, to the desired level. Thus, if a mage is only able to cast Path of Corruption 3, he cannot instil Path of Corruption 4 or above into the carving.
The creator must spend the entire night at the chore, with only one hour for meditation, and two for hunting. The reason for two hours is that the "canvas" cannot move, so the Trmere must hunt for the "canvas." This often leads to a Blood Bond.
For every level of the Path the creator is trying to instill, a day must be spent. Thus, Roger, a carver with Movement of the Mind 5, will take five days to carve the runic structure for MotM 5. He may elect to only instill MotM 3, in which case it only takes three days. Every day, the carver must roll Dexterity + Occult (diff 8). Any failures, and the carving is ruined, and the "parchment" takes an aggravated wound level, as seen below. Any botches, and the "parchment" takes 2 aggravated levels.
The power is then activated by making a Stamina + Occult roll, difficulty 5. The number of successes determines the effectiveness of the casting. Thus if Bruno had Lure of Flames 5, but only rolled 4 successes, he can only cast Lure of Flames 4. Whatever the level is finally discovered to be, the user must then spend blood points equal to effect level to make it work. If Bruno in the above example rolled only four successes, it would take him 4 blood points to unlock LoF 4. If he only spent 3 blood, he would get LoF 3.
Now the drawback: besides most of the recipients being virtual slaves to the Tremere (after a quick Blood Bond), the pain of the carving is so intense that it actually simulates a aggravated wound level per Path. Thus, to have Movement of the Mind, the user is permanently at "Bruised." More runic structures are possible, but each carry a 1 aggravated wound / path penalty. Sometimes the best just isn't the one with most.
The wound is healed just as any aggravated wound (5 BP) would be. However, doing so utterly destroys the runic construct.
The reason why the control roll is Stamina + Occult, is that the user is actually redirecting the flow of blood through the body, and forcing it NOT to heal the damaged body parts. Any botches on this roll, and the runic construct heals.
Number of Paths is controlled by how many Aggravated health levels the character has. However, one that dips too low is certain to get creamed, no matter how powerful,
Duration of an activated rune is dependent on a few factors. First, "damage" Paths, like Lure of Flames and Weather Summoning 5 are instantaneous. Those that impart control usually last for one scene (3 minutes). Some, such as weather summoning, can last longer.
Before one thinks that this would be abused, recall that One level of aggravated damage is a lot, and a Tremere who carves a MotM 5 rune will demand a LOT in return. Roleplaying is everything.