The bailiwick of the Lasombra, the Obtenebration Discipline grants its users power over darkness. The precise nature of the "darkness" invoked is a matter of debate among the Keepers. Some believe it to be shadows, while others, perhaps more correctly, believe the power grants a Kindred control over the stuff of her soul, allowing her to coax it tangibly forth.
In any event, the effects of Obtenebration are terrifying, as waves of enveloping blackness roil out from the vampire, washing over their targets like an infernal tide. Blatant uses of this power are obvious breaches of the Masquerade - of course, as Obtenebration is proprietary to the Sabbat, any Camarilla neonate or ancilla caught using the Discipline had better have an impeccable explanation.
Note: Lasombra vampires can see through the darkness they control, though other Lasombra cannot. Dreadful tales of rival Keepers struggling to blind and smother each other with the same wisps of darkness circulate among young members of the clan, though no elders have come forth to substantiate these claims.
Obtenebration is a Lasombra clan disipline.
This power grants the vampire a limited control over shadows and other ambient darkness. Though the vampire cannot truly "create" darkness, she can overlap and stretch existing shadows, creating patches of gloom. This power also allows Kindred to separate shadows from their casting bodies and even shape darkness into the shadows of things that are not truly there.
Once a Kindred takes control of darkness or shadow, it gains a mystical tangibility while under the vampire's manipulation. By varying accounts cold or hellishly hot and cloying, the darkness may be used to aggravate or even smother victims. Certain callous Lasombra claim to have choked mortals to death with their own shadows.
This power requires no roll, but a blood point must be spent to activate it. Shadow Play lasts for one scene and requires no active concentration. Kindred cloaking themselves in shadow gain an extra die in their Stealth dice pools and add one to the difficulties of ranged weapon attacks against them. Vampires who use the darkness to make themselves more terrifying add one die to Intimidation dice pools. Opponents plagued by flapping shadows and strangling darkness subtract one die from soak and Stamina dice pools. Mortals, ghouls and other air-breathers reduced to zero Stamina in this manner begin to asphyxiate; vampires lose all appropriate dice but are otherwise unaffected. Only one target or subject may be affected by this power at any given time, though some modicum of concealment is offered to a relatively motionless group.The unnatural appearance of this power proves extremely disconcerting to mortals and animals (and, at the Storyteller's discretion, Kindred who have never seen it before). Whenever this power is invoked within a mortal's vicinity, that individual must make a Courage roll (difficulty 8) or suffer a one-die penalty to all dice pools for the remainder of the scene, due to fear of the monstrous shadows.
The vampire can create a cloud of inky blackness. The cloud completely obscures light and even sound to some extent. Those who have been trapped within it (and survived) describe the cloud as viscous and unnerving. This physical manifestation lends credence to the tales of those Lasombra who claim that the darkness is something other than mere shadow.
The tenebrous cloud may even move, if the creating Kindred so wishes, though willing this requires complete concentration.
The player rolls Manipulation + Occult (difficulty 7). Success on the roll generates darkness roughly 10 feet in diameter, though the amorphous cloud constantly shifts and undulates, sometimes even extending shadowy tendrils. Each additional success doubles the diameter of the cloud (though the vampire may voluntarily reduce the area she wishes to cover). The cloud may be invoked at a distance of up to 50 yards, though creating darkness outside the vampire's line of sight adds two to the difficulty of the roll and requires a blood point's expenditure.
The tarry mass actually extinguishes light sources it engulfs (with the exception of fire), and muffles sounds to the point of indistinguishability. Those within the cloud lose all sense of sight and feel as though they've been immersed in pitch. Sound also warps and distorts within the cloud. Even those possessed of Heightened Senses or Eyes of the Beast suffer +2 difficulty penalties for most actions. Additionally, being surrounded by the Shroud of Night reduces Stamina-based dice pools by two dice, as the murk smothers and agitates the victims (this effect is not cumulative with Shadow Play). More than one unfortunate mortal has "drowned" in darkness.Mortals and animals surrounded by the Shroud of Night must make Courage rolls per Shadow Play, above, or panic and flee.
Refining his control over darkness, the Kindred can create prehensile tentacles that emerge from patches of dim lighting. These tentacles may grasp, restrain and constrict foes.
The player spends a blood point and makes a simple (never extended) Manipulation + Occult roll (difficulty 7); each success enables the creation of a single tentacle. Each tentacle is six feet long and possesses Strength and Dexterity ratings equal to the invoking vampire's Obtenebration Trait. If the vampire chooses, she may spend a blood point either to increase a single tentacle's Strength or Dexterity by one or to extend its length by six feet. Each tentacle has four health levels (and is affected by fire and sunlight as a vampire) and soaks bashing and lethal damage using the vampire's Stamina + Fortitude. Aggravated damage may not be soaked.
Tentacles may constrict foes, inflicting Strength +1 lethal damage per turn. Breaking the grasp of a tentacle requires the victim to win a resisted Strength roll against the tentacle (difficulty 6 for both).All tentacles need not emanate from the same source - so long as there are multiple patches of suitable darkness, there are sources for the Arms of the Abyss. Controlling the tentacles does not require complete concentration; if the Kindred is not incapacitated or in torpor, she may control tentacles while carrying out other actions.
The player spends two blood points and makes a Manipulation + Courage roll (difficulty 7). Failure indicates the vampire cannot undergo the Black Metamorphosis (though he spends the blood points nonetheless); a botch inflicts two unsoakable health levels of lethal damage on the vampire, as darkness ravages his undead body.
While under the effects of the Black Metamorphosis, the vampire possesses four tentacles similar to those evoked via Arms of the Abyss (though their Strength and Dexterity ratings are equal to the vampire's own Attributes). These tentacles, combined with the bands of darkness all over the Lasombra's body, subtract two dice from the Stamina and soak dice pools of opponents physically touched in combat, for as long as the vampire remains in contact with the victim. The vampire may make an additional attack without penalty by using the tentacles (for a total of two attacks, not one additional attack per tentacle). Additionally, the vampire can sense his surroundings fully even in pitch darkness.The vampire's head and extremities sometimes appear to fade away into nothingness, while at other times they seem swathed in otherworldly darkness. This, combined with the wriggling tentacles writhing from his body, creates an unsettling sight. Mortals, animals and other creatures not accustomed to this sort of display must make Courage rolls (difficulty 8) or succumb to a panic that amounts to Rötschreck (though it is inspired by the darkness rather than fire). Many Lasombra cultivate this devilish aspect, and the Black Metamorphosis adds three dice to the invoking Kindred's Intimidation dice pools.
The player rolls Wits + Occult (difficulty 7). Each success lets the vampire create one human-sized illusion; multiple successes can be combined to make a single illusion that is much larger than a human. Victims of these illusions must make Perception + Alertness rolls (difficulty 9) to deduce that they are not real.The vampire can also use Nightshades to fill an area with a cloud of shadowy madness, a reflection of the dark half itself. The players of those in the area who don't have Obtenebration reduce their Initiative scores by three and take a two-dice penalty to all dice pools. The vampire can fill an area up to 10 yards in diameter per success with Nightshades in this fashion.
At this level, the Kindred's mastery of darkness is so extensive that she may physically become it. Upon activation of this power, the vampire becomes an inky, amoeboid patch of shadow. Vampires in this form are practically invulnerable and may slither through cracks and crevices. In addition, the shadow-vampire gains the ability to see in utter darkness.
The transformation costs three blood points and occurs over three turns. The vampire is immune to physical attack while in the tenebrous form (though she still takes aggravated damage from fire and sunlight), but may not herself physically attack. She may, however, envelop and ooze over others, affecting them in the same manner as a Shroud of Night, above, in addition to using mental Disciplines. Vampires in Tenebrous Form may even slither up walls and across ceilings or "drip" darkness upward - they have no mass and are thus unaffected by gravity. Rötschreck difficulties from fire and sunlight do increase by one for vampires in this form, as the light is even more painful to their shadowy bodies.Mortals and others not used to such displays who witness the vampire transform into unholy shadow require Courage rolls (difficulty 8) in order not to suffer the debilitating terror described under Black Metamorphosis.
The player spends 2 blood points and rolls Manipulation + Occult (difficulty 7). Each success on the roll translates into one level of armor, which can be used to soak bashing, lethal and aggravated damage that does not stem from fire or sunlight (unless Fortify Against Ahura Mazda is used). In addition, the character gains three dice to any Intimidation pool. Normal mortals and animals flee before the character. Exceptionally strong-willed mortals and ghouls may roll Courage (difficulty of the character’s (modified) Charisma + Intimidation) in order not to flee.If the player botches the roll to form the Aegis of Shadows, the character is infected by the shadow-stuff of the Abyss. She suffers three unsoakable aggravated health levels of damage as darkness erupts from her body in writhing tendrils.
SystemThe player rolls Dexterity + Occult, and on a successful roll, the character may emerge from another shadow no more than 50 feet away. Failing the roll means simply that the character cannot step through the shadow-realm, while a botch signifies the character has become trapped between shadows (which fiendish Storytellers should have a heyday with). Pulling another individual through the shadow requires a Strength + Occult roll, with consequences for failure similar to failing by oneself.
The player makes a Willpower roll and spends a blood point. The resulting shadow envelops the target and, though it does not physically harm the victim, it may strike terror into him. Individuals observing the Darkness Within, whether as targets or onlookers, will need to Courage roll (difficulty 8) or suffer a one-die penalty to all dice pools for the remainder of the scene, unless they are familiar with the Lasombra's power over darkness.
Individuals touched by The Darkness Within lose one point of blood per turn, though players may resist this effect by succeeding on a Stamina roll (difficulty 6) each turn the vampire remains in contact with the cloud.The Cainite invoking The Darkness Within must devote all her attention toward maintaining the could. If the vampire is attacked, the darkness immediately returns to her, through whatever orifice it originated. The Cainite can summon the darkness back at any time, gaining a number of blood points equal to one-half the number the shadow siphoned from its victims (rounded up). Taking blood from another in this fashion is similar to drinking from that vampire - blood bonds may result if it happens enough. Additionally, the Darkness Within may take blood from only one individual per turn, though it may be in contact with many.
SystemWhen the character invokes another Obtenebration power, the player spends 3 blood points in addition to whatever cost the power in question has and rolls Stamina + Occult (difficulty 7). Each success translates to one turn in which that Obtenebration power is unaffected by sunlight. The duration of Fortify Against Ahura Mazda cannot be extended by the use of additional blood points.
Needless to say, this power unnerves mortals and even a few inexperienced vampires. The Lasombra commands the individual's shadow, and some vampires report having seen mortals literally scared to death, as their shadows leapt away to taunt or menace them.
The player spends a blood point and makes a Willpower roll (difficulty 8). If the roll succeeds, the shadow springs to unholy freedom for one hour per success on the roll (though it disappears at sunrise regardless of how many successes the Lasombra had). The Shadow Twin has Attribute and Ability ratings equal to half those of its parent body; they won't do much talking or thinking, so Mental and Social Traits don't matter much, though Wits may come into play. Additionally, the Shadow Twin has an Obtenebration score equal to one-half that of the Lasombra who animated it (rounded down).The twin may separate itself from the parent and travel up to 50 feet away, crawling through crevices or sliding up walls. It may attack and be attacked, though it takes and does only half-damage (again rounded down); flame and supernatural attacks (werewolf claws, vampire fangs, magical spells, etc.) do full damage, however. If the Shadow Twin is killed its parent loses half her Willpower pool and must roll to avoid Rötschreck (difficulty 9).
A summoned Dark Hunter will do nothing until given a quarry. Once the target has been assigned, however, the Dark Hunter is relentless in stalking him, never resting (except during hours of daylight) until the chase is finished. However, that doesn't mean that the Hunter is stupid or self-destructive; single-minded does not necessarily mean simpleminded.
Depending upon instruction, a Dark Hunter can seek to either subdue or slay its target; in the former case, it will automatically bring the victim back to its master by whatever means available. Contrary to rumor, the Hunter cannot vanish into shadow and transport itself "home"; it must cover every foot of ground between it and its master. Once the Hunter's mission is accomplished, however, it vanishes instantly, returning to whatever dark realm from which it came.
To summon a Dark Hunter, the player rolls Stamina + Leadership (difficulty 8), "feeds" the newly summoned shadow 5 Blood Points and invests a point of Willpower to give the creature some permanence. However, the creature will not act until given a target and instructions. To fix a target within a Dark Hunter's mind, the summoning vampire must give something of the quarry's to the Hunter so that it can gain the "spiritual signature" of the one being hunted. Once that is done, the Hunter sets off at once.
A Dark Hunter possesses the same Attributes as the vampire who created it, down to Willpower. However, the Hunter's use of Disciplines is limited to Unseen Presence only. Still, in most cases that is more than enough.Like Night Shades, Dark Hunters take damage normally, as well as from fire and sunlight. A Dark Hunter supposedly can speak (in the voice of its vampiric creator), but there are none alive today who can testify to that fact.
In order to summon the Inner Darkness, the character must meditate for 10 minutes. The player must spend 3 blood points and roll Manipulation + Occult (difficulty 7). If the roll succeeds, the player must then spend a Willpower point and roll Willpower (difficulty 9). Inner Darkness lasts until sunrise, though it can be dispelled earlier with another Willpower roll, this one at difficulty 7. When Inner Darkness is in effect, the character’s eyes become orbs of darkness, but this is the only visible sign of the power.
A vampire who has activated Inner Darkness may invoke Shadow Play (Obtenebration 1) at any time without spending blood. She also gains three dice to all Obtenebration dice pools. She can see through natural or supernatural darkness at no penalty, including Obtenebration effects up to level 7. If anyone wounds her with a weapon that breaks the skin, the darkness lashes out against the attacker with the same Traits and effects as an Arm of Ahriman summoned by the character. It attacks once and then retreats back into the character. Anyone trying to drink the blood of the character finds herself being infused with the darkness, which ravages the person’s body, inflicting three dice of aggravated damage per blood point imbibed. This damage can be soaked only by Fortitude. Finally, the darkness within makes the character unnaturally calm. All Self-Control/Instinct or Courage rolls, as well as Willpower rolls made to remain unshaken, are at –2 difficulty, and any uses of Presence against the character incur a +2 difficulty.Botching the summoning roll has the same effect as botching the roll to summon the Aegis of Shadows, above. Failing the roll to control the darkness means it runs amok. The character suffers damage as with Aegis of Shadows, above. In addition, she becomes the center of a patch of darkness 30 feet in diameter that not even she can see through, and four Arms of Ahriman lash out from her to attack the nearest targets. Botching the control roll is worse yet — the character’s undead body is taken over by something from the Abyss. This is usually a sinister and demonic creature of shadow, and its agenda usually revolves around releasing more creatures from the Abyss, as well as causing suffering and destruction. The character remains possessed for 11 weeks minus her permanent Willpower.
The player must spend one Willpower and five Blood Points to invoke Night Shade (so if three of the creatures are summoned, the player must play three Willpower and 15 Blood Points). The vampire drips the blood into his own shadow, creating a doorway through which the Night Shade enters this world. The shade can only emerge from the character's own shadow but may move about freely thereafter. Once created, the shade is ready to serve the Cainte.
The Lasombra may call up to three of these tenebrous forms at any time. While weapons strike them as effectively as if they were mortal, they suffer no wound penalties from such blows (although the shades dissipate if their Health Level drops to Incapacitated). The Night Shade's dark form posses some sort of awareness, as they are able to carry out their summoner's verbal directions and even act independently when required to. Barring their untimely destruction, the shades do the vampire's bidding for the remainder of that night, and vanishes at dawn.
Specific information on Night Shades are listed below.
Physical: Strength 3, Dexterity 4, Stamina 3
Social: Charisma 0, Manipulation 0, Appearance 0
Mental: Perception 4, Intelligence 1, Wits 5
Virtues: Conviction 0, Instinct 0, Courage 5
Talents: Athletics 1, Brawl 3, Dodge 1
Skills: Stealth 8
Disciplines: Obtenebration 3. A night Shade is considered to be in Tenebrous Form at all times, though it may attack and be injured by mundane means.
Blood Pool: 0, Willpower: 5Other Information: A Night Shade senses things in ways that mortals cannot comprehend. It is not blinded by the light (although flame injures it as does any other attack), and it is not affected by illusions or by darkness, natural or unnatural. The Night Shade's deathly-cold touch does aggravated damage. Finally, the Night Shade need not spend Blood Points to use its Disciplines.
SystemThe vampire spends a blood point, but no roll is necessary to create the Oubliette. To actually create the Oubliette around someone requires a contested Wits + Security roll against the target's Dexterity + Occult (difficulty 7 for both rolls). Mortals suffocate within a number of minutes equal to their Stamina (though the Lasombra may choose to leave their head exposed or trap a quantity of air inside as well), while vampires are simply suspended impotently in darkness and may not use Disciplines or take other actions. The Oubliette vanishes instantly when touched by sunlight - which has left more than one vampire under the sun's unforgiving rays - or when the Lasombra chooses to relax it. A vampire may maintain only one Oubliette at a time, which leads some Cainite philosophers to argue that it is a prison created from the vampire's very soul, and this limited to a single incarnation.
SystemThe player spends two points of Willpower and concentrates for three turns. During this time, the blackness billows out of the character's hand, growing to fill the area. At the end of the third turn, the player rolls Manipulation + Occult (difficulty 6). Everyone in the darkness' area suffers that many health levels of damage (aggravated, if the victims are vampires) outright - six successes yield six levels of damage, not six dice of damage. After Ahriman's Demesne does its damage, it collapses, taking with it the bodies of any who died when they came in contact with the dreadful shadow.
The player rolls Strength + Occult (difficulty 7) for the character to enter the Abyss. The character may take a willing person along; this requires the player to spend a point of Willpower. If the vampire wants to take an unwilling victim with her, she must first establish a solid grasp on him (possibly requiring a roll to grapple). The player spends a point of Willpower and then enters into an opposed Willpower roll against the target (both rolls are difficulty 6).
The character may exit the Abyss at any time. Anyone taken along must be touching the character in order to exit. Stranding someone in the Abyss is said to be a favorite punishment of a certain Lasombra Methuselah. The user can exit anywhere she has previously seen (including places viewed only through Auspex), as long as a large enough shadow is present.What exactly the Abyss is, how it is perceived and what lurks there is best left up to the Storyteller. It is a highly disturbing place, and anyone entering it for the first time should roll Courage + Obtenebration (difficulty 9). On a failure, a temporary derangement is inflicted. On a botch, the derangement is permanent. Staying in the Abyss for too long is not a good idea. Demonic creatures lurk in the Abyss and might decide to attack the character. In addition, the Abyss itself has an insidious influence upon those who stay there, and anyone spending too long in it might find himself becoming more and more obsessed with suffering and darkness.
By invoking this power, a Lasombra blots out the sky with darkness. The moon, the stars, even the sun - are all covered by an inky black shroud that stretches from horizon to horizon.
There are precisely three Lasombra who have demonstrated mastery of this power: Lasombra himself, Montano and a Magister of Greek heritage formerly known as Boukephos. These three steadfastly refuse to teach this art to any others, and those who press too hard for this knowledge run the risk of incurring the displeasure of these three elders.
SystemThe player spends two Willpower points for the Cainite. The effects of this power last precisely one hour, and which point the darkness fades away. The power of this veil of blackness are such that while it is in effect, a vampire can walk about at midday and not feel any ill effects from the sun. The darkness of Tchernabog is complete, and under its shadow even lanterns and torches seem dim and weak. Otherwise the darkness conforms to that summoned forth by the Obtenebration power Shroud of Night.
The vampire can remove his victim from this world and send him to the abyss from whence the darkness originates. None have ever escaped this doom on their own. What happens in the abyss is left to the Storyteller's fiendish imagination.
The victim has no control over the effect, but the length of time the victim is held depends on the number of successes the vampire makes on a Willpower roll (difficulty is the opponent's Humanity or Path rating).
|1 success||One Day|
|2 successes||One Week|
|3 successes||One Month|
|4 successes||One Year|
|5 successes||Permanent, unless the victim can somehow escape|
As pragmatic as they are ruthless, most Lasombra regard Obtenebration as a tool. It is an important tool and a gift from their founder, but ultimately just one power among many. Only the most eccentric and arcane savants among the clan understand the true significance of their dark art. Obtenebration is more than mere shadow-play. It is a window to the Abyss itself, that great and terrible unknown that lies at the center of all things. The Abyss gnaws at the heart of the underworld and the doubt in every question never answered. It is present in the absence of light and lurks in every shadow. Ghosts rightly fear its hunger, but they do not understand it. Demons call it Hell, and they only begin to comprehend. No Lasombra knows where it comes from or its purpose or even the purpose of its strange denizens, but the clan’s mystics know the Abyss is the ultimate source of their power. So the mystics vainly pry into the dark places in search of secrets and answers and perhaps more questions. For these driven souls, conventional Obtenebration is only the beginning. With rituals they unlock the hidden powers of shadow and summon the unnamed primordial horrors that lie beyond. Either from fear or distaste, the Amici Noctis follow a policy of ignoring mystics until times of great crisis. Even the most fervently Christian Lasombra do not hunt or discourage Abyss mystics, for it is whispered that the Eldest watches those who watch the void. And so the mystics research quietly in the hidden places, for the Abyss is their calling, their quest, their god.
The mystic invokes the Obtenebration power Shadow Play and concentrates, focusing the manipulated shadows to gather into a sphere. She holds this intangible sphere in one hand and gazes into its depths, while her player rolls Perception + Occult (difficulty 8). Success means the vampire permanently gains the Merit Darksight, while a botch results in the mystic permanently gaining Darksight as a Flaw. A failure means the Cainite fails to comprehend the lesson and must try again another night.
Side EffectWhen a vampire uses Darksight obtained from this ritual, her pupils appear to grow in an inky stain that envelops iris and white in pure black. Those who botch this ritual obtain blackened eyes for the rest of their unlife along with their warped perceptions.
The vampire crushes and extinguishes a candle in his fist, suffering one level of aggravated damage and prompting an immediate check for Rötschreck (difficulty 4). If the vampire can maintain control, his player rolls Intelligence + Occult (difficulty 6). Botching this roll results in a further level of unsoakable aggravated damage. If successful, however, the vampire tightens his fist until blood drips from his fingers. The blood blackens and burns as it falls, undulating and extending horrible tendrils to reclaim the wisps of acrid smoke. When the blood lands, it shrieks in pain and births a momentary gateway to the Abyss. Out of this brief rift emerges a globe of shadow substance the size of a child's hand. As the vampire opens and upturns his burnt and bloody palm, the orb flies to his hand and licks it clean with extruded tentacles. The creature endures one night per success on the casting roll before returning to the Abyss. Until this time, it serves the vampire's spoken will with unquestioning if unimaginative fervor. It can crudely communicate with material beings in images and emotional impressions, but only while in physical contact.
A level-two version of this ritual exists, known as The Heart That Beats in Silence. This ritual follows the same rules and process, save that the summoned being is twice as large and possesses greater mastery of Obtenebration, allowing it to attack its caster's foes physically. A vampire may not summon more beings through castings of The Shadow of Hands That Serve and/or The Heart That Beats in Silence than his Occult rating.
The mystic devotes a full turn to meditating; her player spends one Willpower point and rolls Stamina + Occult (difficulty 8). A botch inflicts one level of aggravated damage. For every success rolled, the vampire may spend one blood point to heal two levels of bashing or lethal damage. For the purposes of this unholy healing, the vampire may even surpass normal generational limits on blood expenditure. The Abyss takes its due, however. Whenever the vampire feeds, the Abyss consumes the blood until it has taken a total number of points equal to twice the number of health levels healed. No blood actually enters the vampire's system until the cost is paid in full. Moreover, this ritual cannot be used again until the Abyss receives its toll and never more than once per night.
Side EffectThe taint of the Abyss never fully leaves a vampire's blood after casting this ritual. As a result, the mystic's vitae thereafter has an unnatural darkened hue. This effect is purely cosmetic, though few sights are more disturbing than the ebon tears of a weeping Abyss mystic, save perhaps the horrors that make her weep.
The mystic summons a Nocturne and cuts her palm with a knife that has never tasted blood. Chanting softly, the mystic flicks blood into the Nocturne, drawing its hunger into her wound. The shadow melds into the palm, traveling through the veins to suffuse the vampire's entire form. This painful process takes half an hour. During this time the vampire is at –2 dice from the cold agony of the fusion. At the end of the ritual, the vampire's player rolls Manipulation + Occult (difficulty 8). Failure means the fusion is unsuccessful and the shadow escapes to the Abyss. A botch means the shadow drinks one blood point per 1 rolled before departing. Success causes the vampire's skin to darken noticeably and her eyes to become the impossibly inky black of the Abyss. In this augmented state, all Physical Attributes lower than her Obtenebration rating rise to that level. All Obtenebration powers up to level three receive a –2 difficulty, and the blood cost to grow or expand an Arm of Ahriman is halved (rounded up). The void-augmented vampire must spend a number of blood points upon awakening each night equal to her Obtenebration rating. Failure to pay this surcharge immediately revokes the transformation. In addition, the vampire's shadowy form takes triple damage from sunlight and her Appearance drops by one dot while this ritual is in effect.
Side EffectOnce a vampire spends more consecutive days in spectral form than her highest Virtue, the darkening of her skin becomes permanent. This resembles the darkening of an elder Assamite and grows more pronounced the more frequently the mystic casts and maintains this ritual.
A mystic may initiate this ritual any time between dusk and midnight. To begin, the vampire stands at the center of the intended summoning area and slits his left palm. He then turns counterclockwise in silence with bloody hand outstretched to drip a circle of blood. Next he steps out of the circle, taking care to drip no more blood outside its edge. He then begins a whispered chant of invocation as he prowls around the circle in a spiral that winds slowly inward. Multiple Abyss mystics who know this ritual may assist and usually do, circling equilaterally apart from one another in synchronous steps. The total number of participating mystics cannot exceed the highest Occult rating in the group. Make an extended Intelligence + Occult check (difficulty 6) for every mystic involved, rolling once per hour of chant without looking at the dice. The Storyteller should privately keep track of the total number of successes amassed and permit players of the participant mystics to continue as long as they like until an hour before dawn. A botch from any mystic reduces the number of accumulated successes by five. When the mystics choose to resolve their processional litany, they stop and turn to face the center of the circle. Each speaks a syllable of summons in perfect unison and their players spend one point of Willpower. It is at this moment that the air tears asunder and a Hungry Shade rises in the blood circle.
The statistics of each summoned Hungry Shade vary. Each success in casting generates three bonus points that may be used to generate its statistics at the same cost of spending freebie points on character creation. The shade begins with a rating of zero in all traits except Obtenebration and may not have Backgrounds, Virtues or a Humanity or Path (as it has no need of such Traits). Health levels cost two bonus points each and the creature never suffers wound penalties. It can also store more Willpower than its permanent rating for a cost of one bonus point per additional point of capacity and begins with a full pool. None of the shade's traits may exceed the rating of the highest Obtenebration score among the participating mystics. The only exceptions are Obtenebration (begins at five dots; cannot exceed a rating of eight), permanent Willpower (can equal double the highest caster's Obtenebration), total health levels (up to twice the shade's permanent Willpower) and temporary Willpower capacity (no upper limit). The shade may possess only the following Disciplines, or rather analogous powers: Celerity, Fortitude, Obtenebration and Potence. The shade's default state is immaterial as per Tenebrous Avatar, so its version of that power allows it to solidify for a turn at the cost of one Willpower point. The shade can see in all darkness, natural or otherwise. It regains one point of Willpower for every blood point consumed or health level of damage inflicted, and all its attacks (including Arms of Ahriman) inflict aggravated damage. It has no blood pool and does not need to spend blood to activate Obtenebration powers but substitutes Willpower to augment shadow effects or use Celerity. The shade suffers aggravated damage from sunlight and fire and soaks like a vampire when materialized. It cannot speak but may telepathically communicate at will in images and emotions with any sentient being it can see.
Once the Hungry Shade is built according to the number of successes rolled, the player of the lead mystic makes an opposed roll of Willpower against the sum of the shade's two highest permanent traits other than Willpower (both rolls at difficulty 4). The vampire receives one extra die per assisting mystic. If the vampire wins, the shade must serve him faithfully in all endeavors for a number of nights equal to his Willpower. This duration may be extended by one night per point of fresh human or vampire blood immediately fed to the monster. It is not possible to increase the duration of servitude after the ritual ends, though it is believed that more powerful summoning rituals may exist for such purposes.
If the shade wins the contest of wills, it may freely attack the mystics and usually does, though some have been known to flee the area and wreak havoc elsewhere or even return to the Abyss without incident. A freed shade may remain in the physical world as long as it desires, although it loses points of Willpower equal to its Obtenebration rating each dawn. If it runs out of Willpower, it can no longer bear separation from the Abyss and returns home through the closest shadow.
The Cainite calls upon the Obtenebration power Nocturne and wills the globe to contract (this costs one Willpower point). The sphere shrinks to the size of a man's head and becomes tantalizingly translucent, dimming everything seen through its murky depths. The vampire gazes into the orb and concentrates on a being or location he has previously seen. If the target is within a number of miles equal to the vampire's Obtenebration + Occult and the vampire's player successfully rolls Perception + Occult (difficulty 7), the target appears in the Nocturne as seen through the shadow that has the best view of the scene. The vampire may continue to spy through this sensory portal for the rest of the scene or until the target leaves the vision of the shadow. Any vampire or supernatural being with Obtenebration, Auspex or powers similar to either may sense the thickening shadow that spies upon them on a successful Perception + Occult roll (difficulty 8). Botching this ritual disperses the Nocturne and leaves the mystic confused for the rest of the scene (–2 to all dice pools). Failure releases the Nocturne to expand and act as normal.
Side EffectA Cainite who sees and plots too far may not see the obvious. For the rest of the night following a successful casting of this ritual, the mystic loses two dice from all Alertness checks to notice events in her immediate presence.
The vampire conjures a Nocturne and forces it to contract as outlined for the ritual Reflections of Hollow Revelation. Rather than staring into the orb and viewing another place, the mystic swallows the darkness and so is swallowed by it. The vampire falls into immediate torpor as her consciousness merges with the Abyss. The vampire may ask one question of void, which may be as mundane or arcane as desired. The Storyteller assigns a rating for the question from 1 to 10 based on complexity and significance. Truly impossible or momentous questions may even surpass 10, rising as high as the Storyteller deems appropriate. The vampire's player rolls Intelligence + Occult (difficulty 9) at the conclusion of every night the mystic spends in torpid contemplation. Successes accumulate from night to night until they match the rating of the question and the vampire awakens knowing the answer. If the vampire fails to obtain any successes during a night, the interval between rolls increases to weeks. Further failure to obtain successes extends the interval to months, then years, decades, centuries, millennia and perhaps onward to the end of time itself. A fable among Abyss mystics states that the first mystic, a beloved childe of the Eldest, asked the Abyss how he might slay God. It is said that he slumbers still in some forgotten tomb, dreaming the incomprehensible nightmares of that which preceded light.
Side EffectA vampire who has successfully communed with the Abyss thereafter reduces the difficulty of all Intimidation rolls by one and adds one to the difficulty of all other Social rolls. These modifiers do not apply when interacting with other Abyss mystics. She also suffers the effects of the Flaw Nightmares. All who behold the mystic instinctively know she bears the touch of something alien and inimical to the whole of creation.
The Cainite spends an hour painting a circle of glyphs with three points of her own vitae. The circle must be as wide as her outstretched arms and may adorn wall or floor, as long as the surface is smooth and unbroken, like polished stone or glass. Her player then rolls Intelligence + Occult (difficulty 7). Failure means the glyphs burn black and vanish in a cloud of foul smoke, wasting the blood and effort. A botch or success opens the portal, causing the oily black of Obtenebration to spiral into a gaping maw of liquid darkness. The portal lasts a number of turns equal to the number of successes rolled. On a botch, the portal remains open for one turn only and disgorges a number of Hungry Shades equal to the number of 1's rolled. These monsters attack everyone present and may not be controlled. Anything may pass through a successful portal while it remains open, willingly or otherwise. If multiple characters wish to travel together, they must maintain unbroken contact as they enter and throughout their journey. Otherwise, some may become lost in the void or emerge at very different destinations than their companions.
The Abyss is infinite in its darkness. Those with the Protean power Witness of Darkness or any levels of Obtenebration may perceive the shapeless murk in all its dizzying, impossible geometry and thus see the approach of Abyss spirits, vortices or other travelers. Those without such powers are truly blind and must rely on their other muted senses to perceive anything. The only clear sensation is one of soul-numbing cold that inflicts one die of lethal damage to living beings per minute of exposure.
In addition to serving as a profound spiritual experience for Abyss mystics, travel in the void serves a more utilitarian purpose. The shadow realm intersects all shadows and all darkness, allowing a traveler to emerge from any patch of darkness large enough to contain her. She need only break the enfolding silence to speak the name of her destination. Her player rolls Wits + Obtenebration (difficulty 6 for those with the Occult specialty Abyss Mysticism; difficulty 8 otherwise). On a success, the shadow-space stretches and tears around the character, disgorging her at her destination with a feeling of falling from a great height. A character must have seen or visited a destination to name it. Failure increases the difficulty of the next navigation attempt by one, to a maximum of difficulty 10. A new attempt can be made every minute until the character succeeds. A botch means the character's navigation difficulty increases by one and she attracts hostile Hungry Shades as a botch in casting the initial ritual. One character may lead others provided all maintain contact, though this requires the expenditure of one Willpower point from every person led in this manner before they step into the portal. Once a passenger lets go of the group, she must find her own way out. It is worth noting that no denizens of the Abyss bear blood, so any vampire who remains trapped within will eventually starve into torpor and an eternity of forgotten nonbeing.
Side EffectVampires who walk in the Abyss risk bringing a fragment of its alien malevolence back with them to the material world. After every sojourn, roll Willpower against a difficulty of trip's duration in minutes (maximum difficulty 9). A failure means the vampire gains the Flaw Animate Shadow, while a botch means the vampire gains the Flaw Harbinger of the Abyss. It is possible to gain both Flaws from repeated journeys. Passengers in the Abyss may also develop Flaws from their sojourn, though all such curses fade with the coming of dawn. Only the mystic opening the way risks the eternal mark of that which lies Beyond.
The vampire spends a full turn in concentration, focusing upon his victim and the hunger of the void. If the vampire is disturbed during this time or breaks off to attempt any other action, his player must roll Wits + Occult (difficulty 8) or suffer the effects of a botched casting as described below. On the turn following the preparation, the vampire gestures forcefully at the victim and his player spends 3 blood points. The actual attack is made with Perception + Occult (difficulty 6) and may be dodged but not parried. A failed attack means the tendrils simply close on nothing and withdraw. If the attack results in any successes, the tendrils envelop the victim and drag her into a spherical prison of emptiness within the Abyss. The mystic may recall the victim at any time for the cost of one blood point, in which case the nearest shadow disgorges its prisoner with a shuddering sigh. If the mystic does not recall the victim before a number of nights equal to his Occult score have passed, shadows disgorge the victim as near to her original location as possible. On a botched attack roll, the shadows swallow the mystic and keep him prisoner for a number of hours equal to his Obtenebration rating. After this time has elapsed, the Cainite returns to his original location and immediately enters Rötschreck. Weak-willed prisoners of this ritual may go mad as a result of their captivity. If a victim’s Willpower is less than the caster's Obtenebration rating, the victim gains a derangement that lasts until cured with repeated Willpower expenditure. It is possible for vampires to drive themselves insane with a botched casting.
A level 8 variant of this ritual exists called Ahriman's Beckoning. This ritual follows the same rules, save that the caster need not see the target. Instead, he may simply speak her name to the Abyss. If the victim is within a number of miles equal to the vampire's Obtenebration + Occult, the tendrils can seize her with a successful attack. It is said that the Eldest once used an even greater ritual to bring guests to his castle from distant nations, although not in recent centuries.
Side EffectUpon learning this ritual, a Cainite immediately gains the Flaw Grip of the Damned. The kiss of the Void imparts no comfort, only emptiness and pain.
A Cainite wishing to shout the Cry That Slays Light must spend one week in absolute silence. She may not utter the briefest syllable or she must begin her quiet meditations again. During this time, she spends all waking hours mentally repeating a litany of hatred for the sun and moon and the Creator of light — bringing her wrath to the edge of sound without ever giving it voice. Once the ritual is complete, the vampire’s player rolls Intelligence + Occult (difficulty 8). A botch results in the vampire’s banishment into the Abyss for a century per 1 rolled, during which time the vampire gains at least one derangement and loses all blood but never falls into the release of torpor. When the imprisonment ends, the Cainite returns to the Earth in a frenzy that may last weeks or even longer. Failure on the casting means the caster fails to channel the dark energies properly and nothing happens. Success means the vampire hears the whispers of Ahriman proclaiming the syllable that is opposed to all being. The syllable remains in the vampire’s consciousness and cannot be telepathically extracted or mystically removed by any power short of divine intervention. At any time in the vampire’s unlife, he may shriek this syllable to turn day into night. For one hour, vampires may walk openly without fear — utterly immune to Rötschreck and protected from the sun by the undulating curtain of shadow above. The syllable then passes from the mystic’s memory unless he casts the ritual once more to rediscover it.
Side EffectUpon actually invoking the Cry That Slays Light to blot out the sun, roll the mystic’s Humanity or Path (difficulty 4). Each success allows the vampire to retain one dot of her Humanity or Path. If this sudden degeneration reduces the vampire’s Humanity or Path to zero, she rampages under the cover of darkness and kills everything and everyone she can find. When the darkness ends, it subsumes her into its being and her hunger is added to the Abyss.
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