Campaign of the Month: March 2017
A World of Darkness
Also known as Moroi, the Kindred are a species of “ensouled vampires” that are separate and distinct from the Strigoi, or demonic vampires that generally populate the world. Not every vampire with a soul is a moroi—indeed, Spike and Angel are notable examples of ensouled strigoi.
When a strigoi dies, their soul leaves the body and is replaced by a fragment of a demon, which raises the body as a black, twisted parody of the personality it once had. Moroi, on the other hand, are true undead. They die to their mortal life, but their soul remains trapped within their body, and they rise anew, with eternal life, so long as they feed on human Essence, usually in the form of blood.
Kindred, also known as Cainites as they believe that Caine, the brother of Abel, was the first vampire, vacillate between struggling to hold onto their humanity and allowing their bestial nature to surface that they may gain in age and power. The core reason for this struggle is that the passage between life and death inexorably alters the vampire, tying a part of a demon (known as the “curse of Caine”) to their soul, which drives them to bestial actions of depravity.
No one really knows the true source or nature of this demon, but the drives it imparts are common to all vampires. Some, such as the Sabbat, give into this bestial nature and seek to rule and subjugate humankind. Others, known as anarchs, indulge the beasts and cause havoc and chaos wherever they go. Still others, the Camarilla, believe that strict order, law and civilization are the key to manipulating the humans, cementing their power, and battling against the beast. Finally, there are the Independents who vascillate between the extremes. Pittsburgh has roughly equal presence between all of the factions, which exist in an uneasy truce.
There are apparently thirteen “clans” of Kindred, which appear to be analagous to the various Covenants of the living. So far the only ones that have been named have been Ventrue, Ravnos, Tremere, Lasombra, Assamite, Setite and Salubri. Each clan has its own powers, known as Disciplines, which are as broad and varied as the mystical arts wielded by human beings.
The character of Amara Dolunay, who has been around since the original campaign, was recently revealed to a few of the Cast to be an Antediluvian, one of the third generation of vampires and the progenitor of Clan Ravnos. For obvious reasons, she seeks to keep this knowledge quiet and though she lives like a rock star, works hard to make sure that the others of her generation remain in eternal slumber, never awakening lest they bring about Gehenna, the Vampire apocalypse. The extent of Amara’s abilities are unknown, but as an antediluvian they are likely nigh godlike. She is currently known among the vampire community as the Ravnos Justicar and ambassador to the Camarilla.
As repayment of a favor to Anita and working closely with the powerful necromancer, Amara recently sired her first vampire in hundreds of years, returning Lorelei Matthews to life after the girl had been dead for 16 years.
Playing a Kindred
Kindred are created using the rules for Vampyres in WitchCraft. They can be created as Caitiff (no clan) or can choose any of the available clans in V:tM. The Clan they choose determines the Disciplines to which they have access.
The Iscariots are a Covenant of Vampyres in WitchCraft. In the Nocturnumverse they form a pseudo-bloodline of Kindred; more appropriately they’re a Covenant of Caitiff Kindred and Clan Kindred who have renounced their Clan ties. They are otherwise unchanged, and are still bound by the Masquerade. Though not technically members of the Camarilla, they still abide by Camarilla tenets regarding the Masquerade and the Laws of the Night.
Each Discipline is purchased as a separate Quality, costing 3 points per level up to level 5, and 5 points thereafter. In addition, Kindred must purchase a skill called “Vitae,” which enables them to access their Disciplines. After character creation, Disciplines can be improved with Experience, costing 5 points per level to level 5, and 10 points per level thereafter. Learning new Disciplines can be done in one of two ways. First, another Kindred must teach the new discipline and the first level costs 10 points to learn.
Second, a vampire who drains another vampire of blood and kills them (called “Diablerie”) learns the first level in any disciplines that vampire had, and increases all disciplines which were shared, but in which the diablerized vampire was more advanced, by one.
Diablerie is a cardinal sin among the Kindred, and those who are caught doing it (which any vampire with Auspex, or any Necromancer, can see by looking at the aura of a vampire), will be declared fugitives and a Blood Hunt called, during which all other Kindred in an area will hunt them and kill them on sight.
Another option aside from Diablerie is often done by sires and childer—a sire who blood bonds with their childer can choose to share disciplines in this way. The effects of gaining abilities are the same as with Diablerie but since the sire’s soul is not drained (they’re not killed), there is no black mark left on the soul of the childer. Since sires can sometimes become the targets of their childer’s ire, most sires blood bond their childer but choose not to share disciplines in this way.
Using a Discipline requires a Willpower and Vitae test, with a number of success levels equal to the level of the power they’re trying to activate.
Using multiple disciplines in a round is possible, and use the multi-action by Dexterity table, but are based on the Kindred’s Willpower instead.
Standard Vampyre powers from WitchCraft are permitted, and just like Disciplines require success levels on a WIllpower and Vitae test equal to the power’s Essence cost to use. Powers that have usage “per action” or “per attack” require their base Essence cost for one use, plus one success level thereafter for multiple additional uses.
For more about the Kindred, see the World of Darkness Wiki
Just as there are two kinds of vampire in the Nocturnumverse, there are two kinds of werebeasts as well. Standard moon-cycle werewolves exist in the ’vese, as those seen in the Buffyverse, like Oz, Veruca, Nina, McManus and Monroe.
Much like strigoi vampires, these werewolves are infected by a demon, a creature suspected by the Ferals to be the Wyrm they are sworn to fight (in truth this is unlikely, as the Wyrm is a corrupt Outer Dark being, and not the same as a Buffyverse demon). In the case of werebeasts, this demon takes hold for the three nights of the full moon, every month, transforming the host into a near-mindless monster, driven by rage and all-consuming hunger, their conscience and soul corrupted into its darkest, most unreasoning form. While transformed, these creatures are beasts, pure and simple. They look like beasts, they act like beasts, and they cannot be easily reasoned with (though there have been examples of a loved one causing a werebeast to briefly hesitate before attacking as a glimmer of recognition sparks through).
There are different “Species” of this kind of werewolf, largely differentiated by size, viciousness and the degree of change that comes over them. They are those who are infected with lycanthropy, and a simple bite is enough to pass on the disease. Such werewolves have no control over themselves while in werewolf form, though some can learn to control when the shift happens, and some can learn to (clumsily) “aim” their feral rage when the shift happens, giving allies time to get out of the area.
The other kind of werebeast in the ’verse are Ferals, also known as Changing Breeds. These are a combination of the Ferals in WitchCraft and the Garou and other Fera from the World of Darkness. The rules for creating a Feral use WitchCraft for Qualities and the like, while Gifts and Gnosis are in play as in Werewolf: The Apocalypse
The History of the Ferals
The Ferals believe that they are the guardians of the spirits of Gaia against an otherwordly force of entropy, madness and corruption known as the Wyrm. They believe that when the Wyrm rises, the Apocalypse will begin. This is well in line with the Lovecraftian (and Chambers-ian) themes of Nocturnum, and as such the Ferals tend to side firmly on the side of those who fight against the Outer Dark. They are natural enemies of vampires, both Strigoi and Moroi alike, viewing them as manifestations of unnatural corruption to be destroyed.
As the Moroi are divided among clans, the Garou and Ferals are divided into Tribes. There are 13 Tribes, again roughly analagous to the Covenants of the Gifted. These Tribes tend to be of a similar bloodline, their curse (or gift) of lycanthropy passed down from “parent” to “child”—sometimes literally, sometimes through transferring the gift.
Like Vampires, each Tribe has its own powers, or Gifts, that are common to it. Most numerous of these are the werewolves, or Garou, who have a number of sub-tribes within the race. Other Ferals tend to be less numerous, with tribes breaking down into individual species—werejaguars, or Balam, for example, are their own Tribe.
Changes from the World of Darkness
The most important change from the World of Darkness is that in the Nocturnumverse, the curse of True Lycanthropy can be passed from a Feral to a nomal human. Unlike demon-cursed werewolves, getting True Lycanthropy can only result from a near-death experience. A Feral must reduce a human to below -10 life points, and that human must somehow survive the experience. Then there is a chance they will become a Feral.
This is, however, by no means guaranteed; most werewolves thus transformed end up as solitaires or members of the Nomads; only true born werewolves and Ferals are welcomed into the Tribes. Very occasional exceptions to this rule are made among the Silent Striders and the Uktena, both of whom know what it is to be cast out and exiled.
The Nomads are a Covenant of Ferals in WitchCraft. In the Nocturnumverse, they form a Covenant of tribe-less werebeasts who have come together to work alongside the other Gifted in fighting off the coming Reckoning, which they feel to be a manifestation of the Wyrm. They enjoy an uneasy peace with the other Ferals, but aren’t entirely trusted, as they welcome all Ferals of all species and Tribes into their ranks, and may be willing to freely share Gifts among their members, something seen as a near-blasphemy among the Garou and other Feral species.
Playing a Feral
Ferals are created per the rules in WitchCraft. All species of Feral have access to all Feral powers from the WC RPG. In addition, players should choose a Tribe or Feral species, using the guidelines in the Werewolf: The Apocalypse RPG. Use of Gifts is described below.
Each Gift is purchased as a separate Quality. Gifts cost 3 points per level up to level 5, and 5 points thereafter, at character creation. After character creation they cost 5 points per level to level 5, and 10 points thereafter, with experience points.
A feral may never have more gifts at a higher level than they have lower. That is, before a Feral can gain a level 2 Gift, they must possess a level 1 Gift. Before they can get a level 3, they must possess a level 2. Before they can get a second level 2, they must possess a second level one, etc.-
Thus, at character creation, if a Feral wants a level 3 gift, they must first purchase a level 1 gift and a level 2 gift. The total cost then for all 3 gifts would be 9 points. After character creation, if the feral has 1 Gift each of levels 1 to 3, and they wish to purchase a level 4, the cost is 5 points.
Gifts work the same as Vampire Disciplines or Chi Abilities; they are restricted based on the Feral’s breed and tribe, and are purchased in levels. Using a Gift requires rolling Willpower and Gnosis, and achieving success levels equal to the Gift’s level. Thus, if a power is a Level 2 Gift, then activating it requires 2 success levels on a Willpower and Gnosis Test.
Using multiple Gifts in a turn is possible; this uses a variation on the multi-action rules as with Chi users. The numbe of powers a Feral can access in a turn is based on their Willpower, consulting the Multi-action table by Dexterity. Thus, with a Willpower of 6, a Feral can activate 3 powers in a round.
The Feral makes a Willpower and Gnosis Test, reducing the score by -2 per additional power activated, and consulting the success levels for each activation to see if the power works, and how well. Multi-action penalties for powers activations are calculated separately from those for actual actions. Thus, activating 3 powers in a round imposes no penalty on the first power, -2 on the second and -4 on the third, but these penalties do not carry over when taking actions, which start at no penalty, then go -2, -4, etc,. as standard.
For abilities like Spirit Claws (from WitchCraft) the Feral needs a number of successes equal to the power’s Essence Cost to activate for a single attack, with each success level after that adding another attack to the routine.
For more about Ferals, see the World of Darkness Wiki