Serpentis is believed to be the legacy of Set himself, a gift to his children. The Followers of Set are very careful to guard this Discipline’s secrets, only teaching the art to those who they deem worthy. Most vampires fear the Setites because of the powers of Serpentis and its connection to snakes and reptiles; this Discipline can evoke a primordial fear in others, particularly those who recall the tale of Eden.
• The Eyes of the Serpent Edit
This power grants the vampire the legendary hypnotic gaze of the serpent. The Kindred’s eyes become gold with large black irises, and mortals in the character’s vicinity find themselves strangely attracted to him. A mortal who meets the vampire’s beguiling gaze is immobilized. Until the character takes his eyes off his victim, the person is frozen in place.
System: No roll is required, but this power can be avoided if the mortal takes care not to look into the vampire’s eyes. Vampires and other supernatural creatures can also be affected by this power if the Cainite’s player succeeds on a Willpower roll (difficulty 9). If attacked or otherwise harmed, supernatural creatures can spend a point of Willpower to break the spell.
Note: This is different than normal eye contact. The target must be able to see the vampire’s eyes for Eyes of the Serpent to work.
•• The Tongue of the Asp Edit
The vampire may lengthen her tongue at will, splitting it into a fork like that of a serpent. The tongue may reach 18 inches or half a meter, and makes a terrifyingly effective weapon in close combat.
System: The lash of the tongue’s razor fork causes aggravated wounds (difficulty 6, Strength damage). If the Kindred wounds her enemy, she may drink blood from the target on the next turn as though she had sunk her fangs into the victim’s neck. Horrifying though it is, the tongue’s caress is very like the Kiss, and strikes mortal victims helpless with fear and ecstasy. Additionally, the tongue is highly sensitive to vibrations, enabling the vampire to function effectively in the darkness the Clan prefers. By flicking his tongue in and out of his mouth, the vampire can halve any penalties relating to darkness.
••• The Skin of the Adder Edit
By calling upon her Blood, the vampire may transform her skin into a mottled, scaly hide. A vampire in this form becomes more supple and flexible.
System: The vampire spends one blood point and one Willpower point. Her skin becomes scaly and mottled; this, combined with the character’s increased flexibility, reduces soak difficulties to 5. The vampire may use her Stamina to soak aggravated damage from claws and fangs, but not from fire, sunlight, or other supernatural energies. The vampire’s mouth widens and fangs lengthen, enabling her bite to inflict an extra die of damage. Finally, the vampire may slip through any opening wide enough to fit her head through. The vampire’s Appearance drops to 1, and she is obviously inhuman if observed with any degree of care, though casual passersby might not notice, if the vampire is in darkness or wearing heavy clothing.
•••• The Form of the Cobra Edit
The Cainite may change his form into that of a huge black cobra. The serpent weighs as much as the vampire’s human form, stretches over 10 feet or three meters long, and is about 20 inches (50 cm) around. The Form of the Cobra grants several advantages, including a venomous bite, the ability to slither through small spaces, and a greatly enhanced sense of smell. The character may use any Disciplines while in this form save those that require hands (such as Feral Claws).
System: The vampire spends one blood point; the change is automatic, but takes three turns. Clothing and small personal possessions transform with the vampire. The vampire remains in serpent form until the next dawn, unless he desires to change back sooner. The Storyteller may allow the Setite bonus dice on all Perception rolls related to smell, but the difficulties for all hearing rolls are increased by two. The cobra’s bite inflicts damage equal to the vampire’s, but the vampire does not need to grapple his victim; furthermore, the poison delivered is fatal to mortals.
••••• The Heart of Darkness Edit
A Kindred with mastery of Serpentis may pull her heart from her body. She can even use this ability on other Cainites, although this requires several hours of gruesome surgery. This power can only be invoked during a new moon. If performed under any other moon, the rite fails. Upon removing her heart, the vampire places it in a small clay urn, and then carefully hides or buries the urn. While her heart is hidden, she cannot be staked by any wood that pierces her breast. Moreover, because the heart is the seat of emotion, the difficulties of all her rolls to resist frenzy are two lower while this power is in effect.
Cainites are careful to keep their hearts safe from danger. If someone seizes her heart, the vampire is completely at that person’s mercy. The heart can be destroyed only by casting it into a fire or exposing it to sunlight. If this happens, the Kindred dies where she stands, boiling away into a blistering heap of ash and blackened bone. Plunging a wooden stake into an exposed heart drives the vampire into instant torpor. A vampire may carry her heart with her, or have several false hearts buried in different places. A smart Kindred often avoids her heart’s hiding place, to deter discovery. Those wise in Setite lore whisper that the corrupt elders of the Clan often hold their underlings’ hearts as yet another method of control.
System: This power requires no roll. Those who witness a vampire pull his heart from his breast (or cut the heart from another vampire) must make Courage rolls. Failure indicates anything from strong uneasiness to complete revulsion, possibly even Rötschreck.
••••• • Cobra Fangs Edit
A character using Form of the Cobra gains a venomous bite along with his serpentine form. Unfortunately, huge black cobras tend to make people run away as fast as they can. This Serpentis power enables a vampire to gain the deadly bite without the full-body transformation, making it more useful for taking victims by surprise. The police do ask questions when someone dies from a cobra bite under unlikely circumstances, so Cobra Fangs still requires some discretion in its use.
System: The Kindred expends one blood point, and in one turn his fangs become hollow, more slender and venomous. The vampire injects venom when he bites. He must still grapple with the victim to deliver a bite attack, and the bite does the usual amount of damage; the venom, however, kills mortals within one minute. Bitten vampires or other supernaturally resilient creatures suffer (10 – victim’s Stamina and Fortitude) levels of aggravated damage over the course of five minutes.
••••• •• Divine Image Edit
Many of the low-Generation Setite elders no longer need the illusions of Obfuscate to appear as a god. Through this Serpentis power, a vampire can physically metamorphose into the form of a god. Male Kindred generally take the form of Set himself: a muscular man with the head of the “Typhonic Beast,” an animal with a long, narrow snout and upstanding, square-topped ears. Less often, they take the form of the crocodileheaded god Sobek, whom the Egyptians often linked to Set, or the wolf-headed war-god Wepwawet, often identified with Set’s son Anubis. Female vampires generally assume the form of the cobra-headed goddess Renenet, wife of Sobek, or the hippopotamus-goddess Taweret, sometimes considered a consort of Set. Both were goddesses of pregnancy and childbirth. Setite doctrine labels all four deities as Set’s eldest childer.
While assuming the Divine Image, the vampire becomes stronger, tougher, and more impressive. More importantly, perhaps, the vampire’s will becomes more powerful as he identifies with a divine forebear. System: The character expends three blood points and transforms into the Divine Image in one turn. In the Divine Image, the vampire gains two dots each of Strength and Stamina and a dot each of Charisma and Manipulation, but her Appearance drops to 1. These enhancements can push the vampire over his generational limit. The character also gains two full dots of Willpower (to a maximum of 10). The Cainite can stay in the Divine Image for a full scene. A vampire has only one Divine Image form (unless the player buys this power twice). The character does not know what Divine Image he will manifest until he invokes the power the first time, although the player can freely choose the preferred form.
••••• ••• Heart Thief Edit
The Serpentis power Heart of Darkness normally takes hours to perform upon other vampires, and only works at the dark of the moon. Some elders, however, can pull the heart from another vampire’s chest with a quick snatch. This does not destroy the victim, unless the attacker then destroys the stolen heart. Heart Thief is not an easy power to use despite its speed, but few Discipline effects can place one vampire in another’s power so suddenly and completely.
System: The character must expend one Willpower point. Removing the heart of a reluctant vampire is a difficult feat, comparable to staking: the attacker must garner at least three successes on a Dexterity + Brawl attack (difficulty 9). The victim may use Fortitude to “soak” the attacker’s successes, but mundane Stamina has no effect against this magical attack. A vampire who loses his heart this way takes one unsoakable level of aggravated damage, and receives all the benefits and drawbacks of the Heart of Darkness power. Resisting frenzy becomes easier (-2 difficulty) and he cannot be staked by wood that impales his breast. On the other hand, thrusting a stake through the removed heart will instantly force the vampire into torpor and exposing the heart to fire or sunlight will bum the vampire to ash; even biting into the heart will cause aggravated wounds to the vampire in question.
••••• •••• Shadow of Apep Edit
Only Set and Set’s own childer can perform this terrifying power. These ancient monsters can take the form of Set’s defeated enemy, Apep. The vampire becomes a giant serpent of fluid, glittering Darkness — not mere shadow, but anti-light, like the black force commanded by Obtenebration. In this form, physical force cannot harm the vampire: not claws or fangs, not bullets, not explosions, nothing but fire, sunlight, or mystical powers. Physical barriers cannot easily stop the vampire, whose shadowy form can seep through even the tiniest crack. The vampire, however, can still exert physical and supernatural force quite freely.
System: Taking the form of Apep costs a Willpower point. The transformation takes three turns to complete; once the vampire has transformed, her body remains changed for one scene. In this form, the vampire takes no damage from any physical attack: fists, weapons, or falling buildings pass through the vampire as if she were a shadow. Fire and sunlight inflict the normal aggravated damage, however, and mystical powers (such as Thaumaturgy) still affect the transformed vampire. The vampire’s new body gains three dots in each Physical Attribute. Ignore generational limits for this purpose. The transformed vampire can use her Strength to make normal close combat attacks and can bite for Strength + 2 dice of damage. The vampire can also employ any Discipline that does not require hands.