Setitie Sorcery is the name used by Kindred of other clans for the blood sorcery practiced by the Followers of Set.
"Setite Sorcery" is a term usually used in ignorance; Setite spells are closely guarded secrets and few outside the clan know of them in any detail. The term is never used within the clan.
Most Kindred who have experience of Setite magic will have encountered Akhu, but in truth Setites practice at least four different forms of heavily religious blood sorcery. The trappings, traditions and beliefs vary between the branches and bloodlines of the clan:
Setite sorcery is unlike normal Thaumaturgy, in that its paths don't necessarily require inherent vitae expenditure or Willpower rolls. The power for these paths usually comes from the Western Lands, not from the sorcerer herself. In fact, these paths are more like closed-ended Disciplines than more Traditional thaumaturgical paths, though they are finite and depend on the larger theory of Setite sorcery.
**Note:** Just because a path is fundemantally the same as another (it uses the same system) does not mean that the vampire can learn it from someone who does not know their 'brand' of magic. For instance: Ann the Tremere knows The Path of Conjuring via Thaumaturgy. She cannot teach Jayakar, the Assamite Sorcerer, Jinn's Gift. The process for which each blood magic casts its spell is different.
Set's perversion of traditional Egyptian magic, practised by lector-priests of the mainstream clan.
The game mechanics of Akhu differ from Hermetic Thaumaturgy in several important ways. Most immediately, Setite Sorcery paths do not all use a Willpower roll. Some paths call for an Attribute + Ability roll – always the same roll for each power in the path. All rituals use an Intelligence + Occult roll. Difficulties are usually the power or ritual's level + 3, to a maximum of 9. In some cases, however, a power or ritual might use the victim's Wilpower as the difficulty instead.
Most Akhu path powers do not require expending vitae. The lector-priest draws upon her blasphemy-shrine's power instead. Vitae expenditures within Setite Sorcery often take the form of sacrifices to Set or another god.
A lector-priest character needs at list one dot of Occult and one dot of Linguistics to know the requisite mysteries of Egyptian myth, magic and language. Alchemial rituals demand that the magician possess at least one dot of Medicine or Science. If a character lacks at least one dot of Crafts, the difficulty of all rituals that involve written spells, engraved amulates or other inscriptions increases by one.
Storytellers may impose other difficulty penalties of bonuses upon a player's roll, depending on how thoroughly the character adheres to the full pomp of Egyptian priestly tradition. For instance, rituals that involve writing assume that the character empoys an authentic reed pen, ink and papyrus. She could also draw her inscription on a moist clay tablet and bake it hard. Chiseling the spell into a stone stela and painting the hieroglyphs would merit reducing the difficulty by -1. Conversely, scribbling spells with a ballpoint pen on a three-by-five note card would increase the sending's difficulty by +1. Other factors that could reduce difficulties include the use of genuine Nile water, ancient ritual tools or congregation of fellow Set cultists (such as a personal blood cult). Negative factors include wearing synthetic or animal-derived fabrics (Egyptian priests wore linen), or improvised ritual tools. We recommend that Storytellers not adjust difficulties up or down by more than two.
Some Akhu paths require the use of a material focus. In most cases, the path requires only a small amulet or item of jewelry. A few paths require as much time and preparation as rituals – but they are so fundamental to Akhu that players spend experience points for their characters to learn them.
A vampiric version of Hindu sorcery, practised by the Daitya and other Indian vampires.
Sadhana paths all call for Willpower rolls. A sadhu evokes all path magic by sheer force of will because that's how she believes ascetic magic works: If you gain enough merit through your austerities, what you wish comes true. Most Sadhana rituals call for an Intelligence + Occult roll from the player, just like every other style of Thaumaturgy. The exceptions, like Rakta-Maya rituals of hypnotic illusion, are noted in their sections.
Unlike Hermatic magus, a sadhu needs to learn an additional Ability besides Occult. Sadhana's austerities demand that a practitioner also develop the Secondary Skill of Meditation. A sorcerer cannot employ path magic at a higher level than her Meditation Trait, though she may perform rituals of a higher level. She still knows her primary path to the lefel of her full Thaumaturgical mastery; she simply lacks the spiritual force or focus to use it. When her player raises the character's Meditation Trait, she can use the path to the higher level. Note: This applies to ALL paths learned in this line, including ones "imported" from other paths.
Meditation has many uses in its own right, in accordance with an Indian adept's overmastering will. At the Storyteller's option, a sadhu's player can substitute an Intelligence + Meditation roll for a path power's Willpower roll – but at the cost of the power taking as much time as a ritual of the same level. Meditation is not quick.
The sorcery of the heretical Serpents of the Light.
Wanga operates very differently than most traditional forms of Thaumaturgy. One of the many reasons that the practice is so loathed by conservative and custom-bound Tremere (and other thaumaturges) is that it refuses to follow the rules.
Wanga blurs the lines between rituals and paths. The invocation of its paths often requires the presence of specific materials and the vocalization of names of power – requirements reserved for rituals alone in Hermetic Thaumaturgy. Even the most basic tenet of Thaumaturgy – that it requires the expenditure of blood to invoke – is belied by one of Wanga's paths. Some of the Wanga's detractors among the Warlocks wish to declare it an entirely separate form of blood sorcery, unrelated to Thaumaturgy at all. Wangateurs laugh at this notion; Wanga was separate, after all, until the Tremere spearheaded the effort to bring the practice into the fold.
Except for the path known as The Flow of Ashé, Wanga paths require the expenditure of blood for activation. In addition, any time Wanga is invoked, be it a path or ritual, the wangateur must call upon the spirit appropriate to the intended effect. For instance, a wangateur invoking Lure of Flames might call on Chango, Alternatively, were she attempting to call upon the Path of Weather Control, she might invoke Agarou Tonerre, aloa of thunder.
In addition, Wanga possesses its own unique wet of tools, components and ritualistic items that must often be present for the magic to work. Not every ritual involves all of these tools, but the vast majority of them require at least a few. Listed below are the more common of Wanga's tools, once again, a bit of research on the players' part will turn up a wealth of additional material.
Used primarily in voudoun. This is a rattle wielded by the houngan or mambo, and is considered a magical and sacred object. It is normally constructed out of a gourd to which has been affixed a wooden handle, and is often decorated with such esoteric items as snake bones and bits of coral.
From the Santerfa faith, this is a thin chain measuring about 50 inches in length, and broken at regular intervals by one-and-a-half inch disks made from a tortoise shell. It is used in the practice of Ifa, a form of divination.
Also from Santerfa, the Ese are poetic verses used in the interpretation of Ifa. Babalawos often have hundreds of these committed to memory.
This flour used to trace the veves utilized in voudoun rituals.
A gris-gris is a charm, talisman or any other small magic item. Many of the faiths refer to such charms as wangas; gris-gris is the voudoun equivalent.
A temple or structure used for ceremonies to the god of voudoun.
A human shinbone wrapped in black rags, this is a common component of Palo Mayombe ceremonies.
A large iron cauldron filled with graveyard earth, bones, and sticks and other disturbing ingredients. It is one of the most important components of Palo Mayombe. (This term also refers to a priest or shaman of certain African religions, though it is never used in that context here.)
An open courtyard in which voudoun ceremonies are held. There is often, but not always, a hounfour located on the property.
The pole that stands at the center of peristyle or hounfour. It is often carved or decorated, and represents the center of the universe and its connection with the spirit world. All dancing during the ceremony revolves around the poteau mitan.
Common to many of the Afro-Caribean faiths but most prevalent in voudoun, this is a symbolic design representing one of the Ioa (or other spirit). Veves are used as the focus of rituals, and serve as a temporary altar when a more permanent construct is unavailable. Although they can be found written or inscribed on all manner of surfaces, they are most commonly constructed by pouring flour on the ground during rituals.
Kindred or kine, you cannot just wake up one morning (or evening) and decide, "Today, I will become a houngan (or tata)." As with any position of authority in any other religion, it takes years of learning and initiation to become a priest of voudoun, Santeria. Palo Mayombe or any of the Wanga-practicing faiths. Many are the steps between a simple practitioner and a recognized master of mysteries.
It is relatively uncommon for a Kindred follower of an Afro-Caribbean religion to learn the secrets of Wanga without being initiated as a priest of the religion. Remember, Wanga is much a religious system as a form of Thaumaturgy, and like any religious secret, it is rarely taught to those who have not gone through the proper steps and initiations.
What does this mean for your Kindred wangateur? For stargers, it can mean years – often as muc as a decade or two – to reach this level of initiation.
Houngans and mambos, santeros and santeras, babalawos, tatas and yayas – they're all religious leaders, which means they have certain social obligations demanded of them by their community and by their own beliefs. In communities where these religions are the norm, the local priest is expected to lead ceremonies on a regular – sometimes weekly if not daily – basis. Many in his community seek his aid, his advice, even his powers of divination. He is expected to his magics to help those around him, to protect them from evil spirits and the influence of malice, or evil spells.
This can cause real problems for those of the vampiric persuasion. Leaving aside the fact that most such events, petitions and requests come during the hours of daylight, bear in mind that such a character is constantly standing on the very edge of the Masquerade. Even if you've managed to explain away your nocturnal leanings, what happens if you frenzy in the midst of a ceremony? Many such ceremonies involve the spilling of blood (albeit anima blood). Between the scent of vitae, the pounding drums, the pulsating pass of humanity dancing their ritual dances – the situation is absolutely ripe with disastrous potential.
There are cultures in which the use of magic isn't inherently a Masquerade breach, where magic is almost common – but most Western princes aren't going to see it like that. You can argue all you want that it wasn't really breaking the Masquerade to use Thaumaturgy in front of witnesses because they were expecting you to do magic, but the local sheriff or archon is still likely to stake first and decide later if she should bother asking questions.
At the same time, such a position of authority offers its own advantages. Herd, Allies, Contacts, even a few dots of Fame or Influence, are all easily justifiable – if not mandatory – for such an exalted post. Your position as a religious leader places all sorts of demands on you, but it opens up an equally large host of opportunities. Don't hesitate to make the most of them.
Some few wangateurs do not bear these responsibilities. Perhaps they have left such concerns behind them after years of practice, or perhaps they serve the spirits in some other capacity. The Storyteller should not feel obliged to include these social aspects if they're going to negatively impact the story.
Wanga is often a group activity. Although most of its rituals can be performed alone, they prove easier and more effective when cast as part of a ceremony involving numerous participants. Only the primary caster need follow the steps of the ritual itself; all others are involved primarily in the drumming, singing and dancing common to these religious. These other participants need not be wangateurs, or even Kindred, but they must be true believers in an Afro-Caribbean faith, they must be willing participants (no Dominated dancers, though thralls subjected to blood bonds are common among certain less-savory wangateurs), and they must know the true purpose of the ritual. If the number of participants is at least twice the level of the ritual, the difficulty of the Intelligence + Occult roll is reduced by 1.
Not the downside to this: Rituals invoked this way take substantially longer to cast. Although the standard casting time for a ritual is five minutes per level, the casting time for Wanga rituals that are cloaked in these ceremonies is half an hour per level. Of course, nothing forces the wangateur to make use of other participants if she's in a hurry.
Wangateurs have access to several rituals of "traditional" Thaumaturgy. These include many wards and other defensive rituals, divinations, various bone-related rituals and those that are designed to cause injury or consternation from a distance ("curse" rituals). In addition, Wanga has its own rich library of unique magics that call upon the spirits and the ashé around them.
To perform a ritual, a wangateur must wield an asson, an ekwele, a kisengue or other religious talisman, in addition to listed components. Wanga rituals require a roll of Intelligence + Occult versus difficulty of the ritual's level + 3 (maximum 9). A failure on this roll indicates that the magic has not been properly invoked; any required components are still consumed, and must be replaced if the caster wishes to try again. Botches indicate the orishas' displeasure and often pervert the intent of the ritual, causing an effect exactly opposed to that which was intended.
Many of the rituals draw upon components and practices taken from a specific religion (Voudoun, candomblé, etc). These are usable by any wangateur; if, however, a character is willing to dray only on one faith, she might have to make use of a modified variation of the ritual. Players should feel free (in fact, feel encouraged) to do some research in that direction if they're so inclined.
Some rituals, such as Grandfather's Gift, Ori Sight, and Shackles of Blood, call specifically upon ancestral spirits. The Ara Orun, while often generous and helpful, can also be malicious and cruel on whim. Any time such a ritual is attempted and failed, the Storyteller should secretly roll the caster's Charisma. If this roll fails or botches, the failed ritual bay be considered a botch, rather than a simple failure – at the Storyteller's discretion; the Ara Orun have proven exceptionally hostile this night.
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