These horrible creatures are the fleshcrafted minions of the Tzimisce. Many szlachta are lobotomized as part of the process, making them bestial creatures who understand only how to obey. Szlachta are typically twisted into nightmarish caricatures of living creatures.
The appalling alterations they undergo serve two purposes: First, they become more frightening, often a crucial edge in battle. Second, no szlachta may ever enter human society again. Without the temptation of flight, szlachta are among the most brutally loyal ghouls an unfortunate intruder may encounter.
Fleshcrafted beyond recognition of their original form or purpose, the szlachta are ghouls that have been transformed into battle-ready soldiers replete with armored carapaces, deadly spines, and horrific bone-blades that erupt from their forearms. Named after the Polish word for “nobility”, the szlachta were initially meant to be wielded as fleshcrafted weapons or shields in combat to protect their Lords. Though they were commonly used in centuries past on bloody battlefields, the Fiends rarely fight in open combat in the modern era. Thus, many of the szlachta are now used as guards and sentries for the Fiends’ havens and strongholds, hidden from the public eye, but omnipresent and ready to be use at a moment’s notice. Many Fiends also use them as a testament to their use of Vicissitude and to ward off rivals.
The szlachta are created from a painstaking process that involves starving and torturing a ghoul in order to ensure the victim is more compliant. Most, if not all, of the szlachta do not emerge from this process unscathed. They are barely lucid, have little to no will of their own, and are not expected to have a long lifespan.
Their hideous, inhuman appearances are thought to serve a dual purpose, even beyond their ability to attack and defend their masters. First, each szlachta is a clear sign of the Tzimisce Clan’s mastery of Vicissitude, and the sight of a single war ghoul is enough to give most vampires pause. Second, it is suspected that each Fiend “marks” his creations in a specific fashion, as a way to note ownership and mastery over that ghoul. Thus, while most szlachta carry the same types of attributes, each individual ghoul is unique. Most Fiends consider their signature to be a mark of their pride and talents.
In addition to being used as sentries and guards, a Tzimisce master of Vicissitude might stockpile a unit of szlachta soldiers on the eve of a planned, major conflict. Should there be a battle for territory in Los Angeles, Paris, or Vienna, for example, a Fiend might prepare an army of szlachta for months, if not years, in anticipation of an upcoming siege. The demands of maintaining such a horde are not inconsequential, which is why some Fiends opt to share blood to ensure the survival of their war ghouls. Other vampires might donate ghouls or vitae to help bolster the supply of pre-fleshcrafted szlachta, and will wait to repossess their charges until after the spurs, spines, and armored bone plates are added.
Most vampires understand that crafting takes time, so building up and maintaining a sizable force of szlachta is a challenge at the best of times. Like other ghouls, the szlachta may be punished by their domitors. Often, war ghouls are at risk of succumbing to frenzy, and their eroded Humanity can result in other problems. To upset a Fiend, however, is to invite the worst kind of punishment. Some Tzimisce masters continue to fleshcraft their war ghouls as a warning to show what happens when any ghoul run afoul of his domitor. One transgressor might be fleshcrafted into a veiny, wingback chair, while another war ghoul might be reformed into a skeletal coat rack. Any szlachta ghoul that has been fleshcrafted into furniture, clothing, or other inanimate objects loses all stats with the exception of Stamina, Perception, and Intelligence.
Attributes: Strength 4, Dexterity 3, Stamina 4, Charisma 1, Manipulation 3, Appearance 0, Perception 3, Intelligence 2, Wits 2
Abilities: Alertness 3, Athletics 2, Brawl 3
Disciplines: Potence 1 or Fortitude 1
Health Levels: OK, -1, -1, -2, -2, -5, Incapacitated
Armor rating: 4 (eight soak dice, total, no armor rating penalty)
Attack: Bonecrafted weapon for two dice (lethal or bashing); bite for four dice (lethal)
Blood Pool: 10