These are the mysteries of the Baali, black arts torn whole and beating from the sorcerer-kings of ancient cultures and prehistoric civilizations, incoherent memories passed from tome to tongue, hearkening to times of oblivion. They are sibilant secrets in which all begins to end and begin again. With every new night and novice brought into the circle, the telling grows shorter.
• Sense the Sin Edit
A real mark always convinces himself. The most dangerous Baali aren’t the ones that use extortion, threats, or over displays of power; the most dangerous Demons simply know how to talk their victims into cutting their own throats. This power allows the Baali to find a target’s particular vice.
System: The player rolls Perception + Empathy against living or undead beings; the difficulty is equal to the subject’s Self-Control or Instincts +4. If successful, the Baali can sense the subject’s greatest weakness. The significance of this information is dictated by the degree of success: One success might determine a low Virtue, weak Willpower, or a poorly defended avenue of approach, while two might yield a closely guarded secret or conversational misstep. Three or more yields a central derangement or formative trauma from the subject’s past.
•• Fear of the Void Below Edit
Once the Baali has mastered reading a subject’s darkest secrets, he can reach into the victim’s mind and twist what he finds there. The shock of feeling one’s most deeply held beliefs and darkest fears manipulated can send the victim into catatonia or fits of panic.
System: The Baali must first employ Sense the Sin (above) or use some other method to discern the tragic flaw of the target. She must then speak to the target, playing upon his inadequacies and the inescapable consequences of his shortcomings. A successful Wits + Intimidation roll (difficulty of the subject’s Courage +4) drives the victim into fits of terror (one success), mindless panic-borne flight similar to Rötschreck (two successes), or even unconsciousness (three or more successes). All effects last for the remainder of the scene. Kindred targets may resist with a Courage roll (difficulty equal to the Baali’s Willpower) — they are accustomed to dealing with their Beasts. If the Kindred target garners more successes than the Baali did on her original roll, he resists the power completely.
••• Conflagration Edit
Not all of the Baali’s powers are designed for manipulation and subtlety. The Demons can also call up the fire from the realms of their infernal patrons, hurling it at their enemies in exultation of the Outer Dark. This fire spreads and burns normally, but at the moment of creation it is black and cold, as though drawn from a place where terrestrial physics do not apply.
System: The player spends a blood point. This creates a bolt of black flame that inflicts one die of aggravated damage; more blood points may be spent to increase the size and damage of the flame. Such fires are fleeting and dissipate at the end of the turn, unless the Baali continues to spend blood points on Conflagration over several turns, gradually creating a larger flame. The player also rolls Dexterity + Occult (difficulty 6) to hit his target, who may dodge as normal. Vampires confronted with this black fire make Rötschreck tests as if confronted with a similar quantity of normal flame.
•••• Psychomachia Edit
With this power, the Baali combines his ability to read the psyche of a victim with the ability to summon up matter from the Outer Dark. Psychomachia pits a victim against the most dangerous, shameful parts of her own subconscious.
System: The vampire, after learning the targets tragic flaw (such as after using Sense the Sin, above), forces the subject’s player to roll her lowest Virtue (difficulty 6). Failing this roll pits the target against an apparition summoned from her darker self, perceptible to the subject only. The target may see or feel his abusive father, a long-dead lover, a childhood bogeyman, or (for Kindred victims) even the Beast itself. A botch indicates the target has been overwhelmed and frenzies — or, worse, becomes possessed by his inner demons.
This imaginary antagonist may be wholly narrated, or assigned Traits equivalent or slightly inferior to the victim’s, at the Storyteller’s option. All injuries sustained by the target in such an encounter are illusory (substitute catatonia or torpor for death as appropriate) and vanish upon the phantasm’s defeat or the Baali’s loss of concentration.
••••• Condemnation Edit
The Baali levies a curse upon the victim. The more skillful in her dark studies the Baali has become, the more dire the curse is likely to be. Legend states that some Baali can wield curses so foul that the victims attempt suicide after a single night — only to find that they can no longer die.
System: An Intelligence + Occult roll (difficulty equal to the subject’s Willpower) dictates the length and severity of the curse. Successes must be split between both these effects, as per the table below. The player must split successes between effect and duration – curses with zero successes allotted to duration last for one night. For example, if the Baali’s player rolls four successes, she can inflict a two-success curse for one month, a three-success curse for up to week, or a four-success curse for one night. At any time, the Baali may choose to end the curse. Storytellers should feel free to invent creative or story-appropriate curses.
|1 success||Up to one week||“No voice shall be lent your lying tongue.” — All Subterfuge rolls suffer a +3 difficulty.|
|2 successes||One month||“Sicken and wither, infidel… a babe’s weakness upon you.” — All Strength rolls suffer a +2 difficulty, or vampire cannot use blood to boost Strength.|
|3 successes||One year||“Reap this bitter harvest — may your closest friends turn foe.” — The character’s friends do not trust him. This can have any number of mechanical effects (higher difficulty on Social rolls, friends might be more prone to frenzy around the character) at the Storyteller’s discretion.|
|4 successes||Ten years||“Barren be thy seed and the loins of all your line.” — The character becomes sterile or barren, or (if Kindred) cannot Embrace childer or create ghouls.|
|5 successes||Permanent||“The mark of doom — all you touch must fail.” — Simple failures are considered botches while the curse is in effect.|
••••• • Concordance Edit
The Baali makes a Devil’s bargain and takes the unholy nature of his masters into his own being. This warps his body both to his detriment and benefit. A truly dedicated Demon might make numerous such pacts, growing more grotesque and more powerful each time.
System: The most typical manifestation of this power incorporates immunity to the damaging effects of fire, though other equivalently-powered assets may be available at the Storyteller’s option. Most of these tributes take the form of left-handed “gifts” with unforeseen consequences (a telltale bronze tint to flameresistant flesh, a vestigial set of wings, visible talons or horns that cannot be concealed, etc.). This Discipline may be purchased more than once at greater cost to body and soul. (The current shaitan is said to have been so gnarled and twisted by the Masters as to be no longer even remotely mistakable for human.)
Note that three of the banes particular to the Baali — piety, vulnerability to sunlight, and dependency on blood for sustenance — may not be overcome by this Discipline under any circumstances. In the end, it is up to the Storyteller’s discretion what the Baali can or cannot withstand.
••••• •• The Re-Embrace Edit
While most Baali are Embraced in the traditional fashion, at other times, it is the choice of a vampire who wants to leave their blood-tied clan for the Baali’s greener pastures. The ritual of Re-Embracing is not a complicated one, but does require a willingness to endure a tortuous realignment of one’s soul, or whatever Kindred have left of one.
When The Re-Embrace is invoked, the sire takes their would-be childer by the throat and bleeds them into four bowls inscribed with ancient and demonic runes. This is to remove that which dictates their current state of being, very similar to a normal Embrace. The sire then fills another four bowls with his own blood, surrounding the childer with them in alternating order. At the initiate lies on the ground, bleeding and reaching ever closer to their final death, the sire calls forth a soul fragment of the bloodlines’ most powerful demon, Namtaru, and combines it with the childer’s soul to corrupt it and draw their spirit closer to that of a Baali. This process can take hours to complete. If this part of the ritual is completed with finesse and meticulous attention, the childer may just make it out alive.
All of the blood in the surrounding bowls flies into the air, entering the childer’s mouth, mixing and merging with their new soul in an explosion of dark energy. When they awake, they are now of the Baali bloodline, blasphemous in their glory.
System: The player spends 2 Willpower, and then rolls Manipulation + Occult (difficulty 8) against the target’s Willpower (difficulty 7). If the childer is of a lower Generation than the new sire, they receive a +1 dice bonus, as their soul is extra resistant to the change. Leftover successes are then compared to the effects below.
No Successes No effect; the childer writhes in pain until they meet Final Death.
1 Success While the transformation is complete, the childer will forever appear with an aura of one who has committed diablerie.
2 Successes The process transforms the childer’s soul, but their undead body could not retain much of its power. They lose one dot of a Discipline they know.
3 Successes The childer is so overcome with Namtaru’s soul, that they enter a coma for (10 – childer’s Stamina) days. Once they awaken, they have joined the ranks of the Baali.
4 Successes The ritual is a complete success, with no negative impact on the character.
5+ Successes Not only are they transformed, but the childer’s body and soul embrace their new life as a Baali. The childer receive Daimoinon • for free.
••••• •• Summon the Herald of Topheth Edit
Using the same skill that allows for calling up demon-fire, the Baali can call a minion of his masters to Earth. Although the names assigned them differ (angel, demon, daeva, djinn, efreet, malakim, shedim, and countless others), the end results are the same. This being is under the Baali’s control, at least for a short time after being summoned. Yet scholars who have studied the blasphemous rite by which this Discipline is enacted note that no provision is made for banishing the Herald.
System: To summon a Herald of Topheth, the Demon must spend at least three blood points and perform an infernal ceremony. Heralds of Topheth have the following stats: Attributes 10/7/3, Abilities (15 points worth), Willpower 8, Disciplines (10 points worth), Fortitude of at least 3, and the capacity to heal one health level at least every other round. Storytellers should feel free to alter these guidelines based on the power level of the troupe and the form the Herald takes. Though most celestial beings chafe at the notion of wearing a single shape, many adopt those common to myth and legend; preternatural succubi or angels, reptilian horrors, and bat-winged monsters are among the most often seen.
••••• ••• Contagion Edit
The most damaging disease is human sin. Pandora learned it to her detriment, as did the ungrateful and impolite denizens of Sodom. The Baali, of course, revel in the slow decay of human settlements, and Methuselahs of the bloodline learn to infect a mortal community with jealousy, slander, hate, and bigotry. Crime and violence soar, petty angers give rise to seething hatreds, and local economies take a downward spiral.
Marriages end over trivial quarrels and the world becomes a nastier place in general. In the history of the Baali, entire towns and villages have been temporarily enslaved to an infernal master’s will. System: Successes garnered on an Intelligence + Occult roll (difficulty 9) must be divided between the intensity and the area of the desired effect – at least two successes are needed to cover both area and effect. Sufficiently high degrees of Auspex or powers that detect demons may be able to pick up on this vague, malevolent aura; otherwise they will simply assume that times have taken a dire change for the worse.
|1 success||Immediate||Ill-tempered/out-ofvicinity sorts behavior|
|2 successes||An office||Civil/domestic complex unrest, prejudice|
|3 successes||A city block||Angry (even riotous) dissent|
|4 successes||A stadium or apartment complex||Bar-brawls, hate crimes, blood in the streets|
|5+ successes||An entire city||A throng of blood thirsty single-minded Philistines|
••••• •••• Call the Great Beast Edit
This Discipline is largely theoretical. Baali have, in the past, boasted that their most powerful elders know a ritual that can tear a rift to the Outer Dark and allow the creatures that dwell there into our world. Occasionally, a vampire destroys a Baali and sees the beginnings of such a ritual carved on a wall or tattooed onto a minion’s flesh. But even among the Kindred who know of the Baali and what they are capable of, the ability to Call the Great Beast doesn’t meet with much credence. This isn’t because the Kindred don’t think it’s possible, but because they realize that if a Demon ever succeeded in using it, there wouldn’t be much to be done anyway.
System: The preparatory ritual requires a tremendous investment of time and sacrifice; veiled allusions such as “fivescore souls, plucked clean and whole” and “when three times sets the hooded sun” indicate a selective sacrificial rite spanning days, nights, and dozens of victims. (Deviation or imperfection in this litany may well have unforeseen consequences, ranging from simple failure to unwelcome demonic attention) At this point, the high priest expends all of his permanent Willpower and releases his consciousness in a desperate attempt to breach the gulf Beyond, becoming an empty vessel for whatever will most effectively end the world as your chronicle knows it. You’re the Storyteller — what would the Devil do to your world? (Call the Great Beast has two main functions in the chronicle. It’s either a plot device that the characters must work to prevent, or a means to change the world of Vampire into a demon-infested apocalypse. Either is useful, but it’s not the sort of power that a vampire just pulls out casually.)