The Path of Paradox
Nickname: Shilmulo (a Romani word for vampire)
Virtues: Conviction and Self-Control
Bearing: Confidence. The Shilmulo believe that they are in the exact place and time they are meant to be, doing what they are meant to do — and it shows. The bearing modifier applies to attempts to manipulate or lead others.
Basic Beliefs: Inspired by Hinduism and upheld predominantly by vampires of the Ravnos Clan, the Path of Paradox concerns itself with the vampires’ karmic duty to continue the grand cycle of ages. According to the Path of Paradox, Kindred are locked perpetually outside the illusory cycle of the universe (maya). Whereas most beings are reincarnated through samsara, a continual “entanglement” in the cycle of rebirth, Kindred have eluded that cycle. Every individual has his own purpose, or svadharma, according to the Path of Paradox, although vampires, excluded from the cycle, have lost theirs. In place of the dharma they once followed, each Kindred must now try to advance maya, hopefully understanding it in the process and finally penetrating the great illusions that shroud Ultimate Truth from their eyes.
The means by which the Ravnos undertake this cyclical advancement, however, is by selective deception. Other vampires look upon the Ravnos as untrustworthy, and can hardly be expected to take the advice of the Deceivers. As such, the Ravnos have had to resort to elaborate ruses in order to get other vampires — or, indeed, anyone with whom they come in contact at all — to undertake a course of action. Ravnos vampires see their undead state as a curse, like many other Kindred do. However, the Ravnos believe this is due to their failure to understand maya. Other Kindred, also removed from the karmic wheel, often fail to realize the necessity of their return to the cycle. Shilmulo understand this — and expedite their return by destroying them.
The Ethics of the Path
• Embrace only if absolutely necessary, and then only from the jati (family line).
• Interpret the svadharma of others and aid them in their fulfillment of it.
• Destroy other Kindred, for they are unnatural to maya.
• Erase karmic debt, dispel maya’s illusions and return to the samsara.
• Use deception to achieve your ends, as others bear the fault of distrust.
• Confuse the Antediluvians by returning their childer to the cycle.
This Path arose among the Ravnos during the latter nights of the Roman Empire. The deceit the Ravnos command is even believed by some to have played a major role in the collapse of the empire. The Path, according to many Ravnos, had become debased shortly after Rome’s collapse and had remained so for hundreds of years until a stirring (and secret) event contrived to encourage the Ravnos to rethink their ways.
It is too simple a conceit to say that the Ravnos destroy vampires and burn karma. In fact, the Path of Paradox is arduous and demanding. Many of the Ravnos’ deceptions are, in reality, complicated tests designed to cause the subject to reveal hidden aspects of herself. Thus, the Ravnos travel the world, ousted by ignorant Kindred who fail to realize the necessity of the Shilmulo’s duties.
Description of Followers
Most followers of this Path are Ravnos, though small numbers of Malkavians and Gangrel adhere to the Path. Increasingly cosmopolitan Kindred have surfaced among the Ravnos Clan, indicating that either the Ravnos pay little heed to their code or that jati are more extended than one might think.
Path of Paradox Hierarchy of Sins
|10||Embracing a woman||Women should be bearers of life, not death.|
|9||Embracing outside the jati||Most others fail to comprehend the depth of the Paradox philosophy.|
|8||Destroying another Shilmulo||Charity does not, as is widely believed, begin at home.|
|7||Killing a mortal for sustenance||Death robs a person of the ability to fulfill their svadharma.|
|6||Failing to destroy a vampire on another Path||Those who cannot see the true way should be returned to a productive role in the cycle.|
|5||Killing a mortal for reasons other than survival||A person may not have achieved her svadharma, and preventing such is anathema.|
|4||Failure to aid another’s svadharma||The gods have set this as the Shilmulo’s purpose.|
|3||Allowing one’s Sect affairs to take precedence over one’s dharma||One’s allegiance should be to the gods, not one’s companions.|
|2||Becoming blood bound||One may never destroy one’s regnant, which is the whole purpose of this Path.|
|1||Embracing needlessly or out of personal desire||One must return others to the cycle, not extract them from it.|
Following the Path
Kindred on the Path of Paradox commonly hold other vampires in contempt, believing that they ignorantly or arrogantly refuse to seek their reintroduction to the cycle. As such, the Ravnos have taken the responsibility upon their shoulders to do it for them. This may require concocting complex webs of deception in order to ascertain what a given person’s svadharma is, or simply destroying a vampire and placing her back in the cycle, where a new svadharma awaits.
Common Abilities: Kindred on this Path focus on Abilities that allow them to gain advantage over others, such as Alertness, Empathy, Subterfuge, Stealth, and Investigation.
Preferred Disciplines: Followers of this Path practice Chimerstry in order to dupe their subjects and as a means of manipulating the illusions intrinsic to maya. Shilmulo favor Fortitude as well, to protect themselves from their subjects’ ire. Many also master Auspex, with which they may better divine hidden secrets.