Some vampires forgo the petty mortal concerns embodied by the concept of Humanity. These Kindred reason that they are no longer human, so they have no need to apply the sentiments of the living to themselves.
Whether or not a Kindred chooses to follow the moral tenets of Humanity, some sort of behavioral system must exist. To accept utter randomness is to invite the Beast to rule, and no vampire wishes to sink into the clutches of mindless depravity. Even those vampires who plumb the depths of immorality have some ethical bulwark they use to anchor themselves against the Beast.
Kindred who voluntarily abandon Humanity follow behavioral codes known as Paths of Enlightenment. While mechanically similar to Humanity, these codes have very little — in fact, sometimes nothing — to do with the mores of mortal culture. Adopting a Path of Enlightenment means giving up everything that matters to a “normal” person (or indeed, many vampires).
Only those Cainites who have truly abandoned themselves to the dark majesty of vampirism follow Paths, and rarely do any turn back. Players may choose between a variety of different Paths (at the Storyteller’s discretion). It is important to know a few things before you commit to a Path of Enlightenment, however.
• Paths are exclusive. Few Kindred are initiated into the secrets of the Paths. Most vampires — even those of the independent Clans and the Sabbat — follow the ways of Humanity; they simply tend to degenerate to very low levels over time. Not just anyone can follow a Path; becoming such an inhuman creature requires discipline and spiritual strength, albeit of a distinctly alien sort. A person seeking to join a Path must have the capacity to discard her human nature, as well as the fortitude to survive the process.
• Paths are utterly inhuman. Players wishing their characters to adopt Paths of Enlightenment are in for extremely demanding roleplaying experiences. These are codes of immortal ethics that Kindred have spent hundreds of years, if not millennia, studying. It’s fine and good to have a Lasombra character following the Path of Night, but the player will have to devote an enormous amount of energy toward understanding how that character really thinks.
• Paths shock conventional moralities. Paths use game systems similar to Humanity, but the codes that constitute these ideas emphasize such alien ideals that mortal characters observing an adherent is likely to be put off. Some codes espouse killing, while others cannot be bothered with it. Indeed, some codes are so selfish that even thinking about helping others constitutes a moral failure.
These Paths are here to illustrate how utterly inhuman and removed the Kindred are from humankind, and to give them spiritual protection from the talons of the Beast. Use the Paths when the story or character demands them, not to free the characters from penalties for wanton murder or perversion.
Rules and Sistems Edit
Characters on Paths of Enlightenment use the same systems for degeneration as characters who still subscribe to Humanity. Each Path has its own Hierarchy of Sin, which functions the same as the one on.
Some Paths are so far removed from conventional human morality that concepts like Conscience and Self-Control do not apply to them at all. For these codes of ethics, different Virtues apply. Depending upon which Path a character follows, Conscience may be replaced by the Virtue of Conviction, while Self-Control may be replaced by the Virtue of Instinct. No character may have both Conscience and Conviction or Self-Control and Instinct. Which Virtues the character actually possesses depends upon which Path he follows.Remember, however, that all characters have Courage, regardless of Path.
The Conviction Virtue quantifies a character’s ability to maintain a sense of reason when faced with desire, suffering, or need. Conviction represents the reconciliation of the predatory urge with the character’s capacity for atrocity.
As opposed to Conscience, which deals with remorse and atonement for Path transgressions, a character with Conviction recognizes his failure and plans to overcome it. Conviction is completely inhuman; the character who has this Trait can no longer pass for human under anything but the most cursory of scrutiny.
Creatures who can sense the Beast (vampires, werewolves, etc.) immediately recognize someone with the Conviction Virtue for what he truly is: a monster. Like Conscience, Conviction comes into question when a character must check for degeneration.
••••• Completely self-assured
The Instinct Virtue refers to a character’s ability to control the Beast by familiarity rather than denial. It allows characters to “ride the wave” of frenzy and emotional excess by keeping a close rein on their passion, rather than letting passion control them. As atavistic as Conviction, Instinct is the Virtue of a monster who accepts his nature rather than maintaining a sense of human compassion.
Instinct allows the character to harness the Beast’s destructive power; a character with high Instinct is primal and turbulent. A player rolls Instinct when attempting to control a character’s existing frenzy.
When a character who possesses the Instinct Virtue faces frenzy, she always enters the frenzy, unless the difficulty to avoid it is less than her Instinct Trait, in which case she may choose whether or not to frenzy. Thereafter, for the duration of the frenzy, the character is wholly under the Beast’s sway, and must be run by the player (or controlled by the Storyteller) in an appropriate fashion. Any time the player wishes the character to consciously take an action (known as “riding the wave”), she must roll Instinct against the difficulty to avoid the frenzy. Frenzies affect the character normally (including ignoring wound penalties, etc.), though she may sometimes exert a bit of control while so enraged.
Creating a Path Follower Edit
If a player wishes to create a beginning character on a Path, a few changes in the character-creation rules take place.
• Alternate Virtues begin at zero: While every human (and thus every recently Embraced Kindred) has a modicum of their “natural” Virtues, vampiric Virtues must be learned from the ground up. So, while a character with Conscience, Self-Control, and Courage is created with one free dot in each Virtue, then has seven points to spend on Virtues, a character with Conviction, Self-Control, and Courage begins with only two free dots (in Self-Control and Courage). A character with Conviction, Instinct, and Courage begins with only one free dot (in Courage). All characters receive seven points to spend, but must use points to buy the inhuman Virtues to at least 1. This may seem unfair, but shunting off one’s human nature is not undertaken lightly. Even monsters are not created overnight.
• A vampire following a Path of Enlightenment must begin the game with a Willpower Trait of 5, minimum: This can be achieved by spending points on Courage or raising Willpower with freebie points. Beings of lesser ego simply do not have the spiritual vigor needed to break down their souls and rebuild them from the ground up.
• Beginning characters may not start the game with Path ratings above 5: If the combination of the character’s Virtues would indicate a Path rating of higher than 5, simply record “5.” Likewise, freebie points may not be spent to increase a beginning character’s Path rating above 5, either. Beginning character vampires who subscribe to these codes still have only 25 or fewer years of experience as Kindred — hardly enough time to master the rigors of inhuman codes of behavior. (Players starting with older characters may start with increased Path ratings at Storyteller discretion.)
• In all other ways, unless otherwise specified, inhuman Paths and Virtues are used like their human counterparts. So, if a roll calls for the player to use Perception + Self-Control, and the character has Instinct, roll Perception + Instinct. Mechanically the Virtues often fulfill the same purpose, even if some of the application differs.
Switching from Humanity to a Path Edit
A character may also elect to eschew his human nature in favor of a Path. This is exceedingly difficult, and those who fail find themselves permanently soulscarred as a result.
A character seeking to switch from Humanity to a Path must have a Humanity rating of 3 or below, as well as ratings of 1 in whichever Virtue or Virtues are to change to their counterparts. For example, a vampire seeking to follow a Path espousing Conviction and Instinct must have Conscience and Self-Control ratings of 1.
During the chronicle, a candidate is typically approached by a Kindred already on the Path; in this sense, Paths resemble secret fraternal orders, approaching candidates they deem worthy rather than being open to solicitation. This process should be roleplayed.
If the character chooses to initiate himself toward the Path, he begins a program of rigorous study, and a vampire already on the Path is assigned as the initiate’s mentor. An initiate spends at least a year in contemplation and study of the Path’s ways. During this time, the initiate must forcibly degenerate his human Virtues, dropping them to “acceptable” levels (Humanity 3 or below, ratings of 1 in appropriate Virtues), if he has not done so already.
The vampire then undertakes a test, which can be roleplayed by the player and Storyteller. This test can involve study of forbidden lore, answering of riddles, completion of ordeals and tasks, or whatever else the Storyteller deems appropriate for the given Path. However, part of the test always involves the vampire committing an act that, in human terms, would be viewed as an atrocity. Such a deed is undertaken not for the sake of mindless evil, but rather to impart a lesson about the character’s nature in relation to the Path.
Following the completion of the test, the character makes a Willpower roll. If the character’s Humanity is 3, the difficulty of the roll is 8. If the character’s Humanity is 2, the difficulty is 7, and if the character’s Humanity is 1, the difficulty is 6. Willpower may not be spent to gain automatic successes on this roll. If the character succeeds, he sheds his human nature and the Virtues that accompany it, gains ratings of 1 in all appropriate Path Virtues, and gains a Path rating of 1. If the character earns three or more successes, he experiences a profound (if twisted) enlightenment, gaining a Path rating of 2.
If the character fails the roll, he commits a stupid, pointless atrocity without gaining any corresponding understanding. He loses a point of Humanity, fails to attain the rudiments of the Path, but may reattempt the test (at a difficulty appropriate to his lowered Humanity Trait) in a month’s time. If the character botches the roll, he loses a point of Humanity and may not reattempt the test for an entire year.
Should a character be driven to Humanity zero in this fashion, his soul is lost to the Beast, and the character is permanently taken over by the Storyteller.
Paths of Enlightenment Edit
- The Path of Asakku
- The Path of Blood
- The Path of the Bones
- The Path of Caine
- The Path of Cathari
- The Path of Ecstasy
- The Path of Entelechy
- The Path of Evil Revelations
- The Path of the Feral Heart
- The Path of the Hive: Via Hyron
- The Path of Honorable Accord
- The Path of Lilith
- The Path of Metamorphosis
- The Path of Night
- The Path of Paradox
- The Path of Power and the Inner Voice
- The Path of the Scorched Heart
- The Path of Self-Focus
- The Path of Typhon
- The Path of the Warrior