The Path of Ecstasy
Nickname: Ecstatics (sometimes known as Maenads or collectively as the Thiasus)
Virtues: Conscience and Self-Control
Bearing: Rapture. Ecstatics know how to use earthly sensations and passions to transcend the mundane. Their bearing modifier affects rolls to excite extreme and transformative emotional responses in themselves and others.
Basic Beliefs: Conventional morality is a rigged game set by the Aeons. All those rules, taboos, and obligations shackling all the world’s souls. Shame is a thorny chain. To escape, the Ecstatics grease the spiritual fetters and writhe and writhe. For initiates on the Path of Ecstasy, the act of reveling is holy. They seek elation beyond mortal limits — bacchanalian euphoria — pleasure so pure and passion so dire, the gods above quake. Ecstatics glut the beast with sensation until it is sluggish and pliable. Although this Path shares certain precepts and mythology with the Path of Typhon, its practitioners reject the base cruelties of the Theophidians. Corruption is incidental. The pleasure’s the thing.
For these serpents of mania, the pleasure has a higher function. In a world hopelessly ensnared in materialism, the Ecstatics push that materialism to such extremes that they crash through the other side into a religious experience. Ecstatics reserve a special contempt for secular sensualists. Hedonism without a spiritual dimension is one of the few profanities they recognize.
The Ethics of the Path
• Pursuit of pleasure is a spiritual obligation. Those who adhere to the hypocritical moralities seek to befoul the spirit.
• Ignite rapture in yourself and others. Spread holy delirium.
• To resist temptation is a great wrong.
• It is not a crime to kill, as long as the killing is committed beautifully.
• Erode the imprisoning paradigms of the Aeons whenever possible. Crossing taboos weakens them.
• Moments of transcendental rapture open a window to the beyond. Create these “beautiful moments” whenever possible.
The Path of Ecstasy began as scattered seeds of spiritual philosophy, back in the earliest nights of the Theophidian cults. It was not until after the fall of Egypt that the Followers of Set dwelling in Constantinople wove the disparate threads into a cohesive whole. In that voluptuous scene of Byzantine decadence, the Path founders reached such levels of feverish mania, their supernal senses dilated.
In that beautiful moment, the vistas of the true spiritual war and their invisible enemies took on terrible clarity. Since then, the Ecstatics have waged that war, cloaked in their guise as debaucherous sense junkies.
The modern world teems with so many more traps that drain the soul down to a dull, sepia husk, and yet so many new ways to explore sensation. The Ecstatics exalt in the new challenges and possibilities. Theirs is a path that benefits from an emotional feedback loop — ecstasy shared is ecstasy multiplied — so they work well with mortal cultists. Ecstatics sprinkle themselves throughout the Setite cults and factions, with a large portion of their number joining the Cult of Taweret. Ecstatics rarely get along with practitioners of the Path of the Warrior, but the Typhonists tend to understand their worth. The Ecstatics make good ambassadors to the other Clans and an excellent gateway to the larger Setite religion. Want the local Prince to underestimate your chthonic cult? Let the Ecstatics be your face.
Description of Followers
Ecstasy takes on many forms, as do its practitioners. The drug pusher leads you away from the troglodytes of the cocaine circle and rubs the semi-toxic extract of some extinct amphibian on your wrist. The meditation guru’s voice, accompanied by the reversed recording of whales in distress, guides you to a screaming catharsis. The extreme sports enthusiast shows you an all-new adrenaline high, before you have to flee the approaching red and blue lights. The dominatrix invokes god through your nerve endings. The snake-handling preacher brings you to a frothing rapture, as you writhe on the floor. Your eyes tear up at the beauty blessing your taste buds, as the epicurean feeds you your ex-spouse.
While the Path of Ecstasy may appear outwardly similar to the Path of Cathari, they diverge in key points. The Ecstatics are less concerned about corrupting the physical world, than they are about achieving preternatural ecstasy to transcend it. Where the Albigensians see themselves as barred from the spiritual world, the Ecstatics see it as their right and create windows to it through beautiful moments.
Sin is not the end goal, but a potential tool in crossing the tyrannous taboos of the moralists. The Ecstatics do not serve the cosmic Punch and Judy show of dualism, but seek to break the paradigms entrapping the world.
Path of Ecstasy Hierarchy of Sins
|10||Suffering an innocent to live||A soul unwilling to touch the beyond, via sensation, should be sent by a more direct route.|
|9||Not wallowing in absolute decadence||Always, always drown the Beast.|
|8||Refusing to break a taboo||Transgressing any sacred border deteriorates the paradigm of the Aeons.|
|7||Allowing an infector of impurity (i.e. priest, nun, etc.) to live without good reason||Unless they can be compromised, the hypocrites will continue serving the purpose of the Aeons.|
|6||Failing to create a beautiful moment||In a world choked in nihilism, it is a sin to not open a window to the divine when inspiration strikes.|
|5||Not attempting to corrupt an innocent||Free the shackled sheep when you can.|
|4||Not taking at least one drug regularly||A malleable mind is more open to the supernal.|
|3||Restraining your natural impulses unnecessarily||The compulsion of repression is a useless artifact, implanted by the Aeons, and must be cut out.|
|2||Refusing to subvert the chains of the Aeons||Without our glorious purpose, we are naught but shabby hedonists.|
|1||Destroying something of beauty, even an innocent||We refuse to make the world any less interesting.|
Following the Path
Ecstasy is the art of extremes. Ecstasy produces a trancelike state in which one loses consciousness of one’s surroundings, breaking down the hypocritical illusions that that bind one’s animus. This philosophy may seem gentler than the other Setite Paths — and it often is — but it contains more frightening dimensions beneath. To achieve the supernal, the Ecstatic must reach past the limits of human experience. They will go to any lengths to achieve these beautiful moments. Any sensation that unlocks this is valid, any extreme emotion. Some do so through beauty and pleasure, and some through the repulsive glamour of transcendent horror. Ecstatics often lose themselves to their passion and rage with the terrible joy of the Maenads, and not everyone survives their Bacchanalian orgies. Ecstatics often awaken wearing the parts of the one they loved the night before. Sparagmos is a holy rite.
Common Abilities: Ecstatics prize any aptitude that helps them inspire extremes in sensation and experience in themselves and others. Useful Abilities include Crafts, Empathy, Expression, Medicine, Performance, Streetwise, and Subterfuge.
Preferred Disciplines: As a harbinger of rapture, an Ecstatic’s most prized Discipline is Presence. They also find Fortitude useful in allowing themselves to break thresholds of physical experience far beyond what a mortal could endure. Auspex is particularly cherished by those on the Path.