This Discipline is an exclusive development of the Samedi bloodline, and it is tied intrinsically to the Stiffs’ identity and history. Although Thanatosis appears to deal closely with death and the energies of decay, no Giovanni have ever claimed mastery of this power. Outsiders assume the Giovanni must be interested in learning this Discipline. However, the Giovanni view the Samedi with distrust and loathing, while the Samedi take on the Giovanni is usually expressed by muttering a curse on the Clan and spitting blood. Thus, the possibility of an exchange of information approaches nil.
• Hag’s Wrinkles
Perpetual rot makes the character’s flesh malleable. The Samedi can open large folds in her flesh, storing objects in them like a kangaroo’s pouch. She can also massage the slimy flaps of fatty tissue to alter her appearance slightly (though this does nothing for the smell). Other Kindred can learn this Discipline, of course, but if they do not possess the “advantage” of having skin that already falls in droops and folds, large wrinkles and bulges may be visible.
System: This power requires one turn to shape the wrinkles and the expenditure of a blood point. If the power is used to distort a character’s features, the Samedi player must roll Stamina + Subterfuge (difficulty 8). Success raises the difficulty to visually identify the character by one and lasts for one hour per success rolled. If the character is attempting to hide a small object (a wallet, a letter, a small pistol), the roll and duration are the same, but all rolls made to see if the object is detected (for example, a pat-down search or a security guard’s visual inspection) are at +2 difficulty.
The character can, with a touch, inflict decay upon a target. Hair falls out, teeth loosen, flesh rots and fungus grows on the skin. This power works on targets living and undead, and is obviously quite unsettling both physically and psychologically.
System: This power first requires that the character touch his intended target. The player then rolls Dexterity + Medicine (difficulty of the target’s Stamina + Fortitude) and spends a blood point. Success inflicts one health level of lethal damage on the target and removes one point of the victim’s Appearance. This Appearance loss returns to vampires at the rate of one point per night, but is permanent for mortals (though plastic surgery can correct mortals’ physical disfigurement). If a mortal suffers three or more health levels of damage from repeated uses of this power in one scene, gangrene or other ailments may occur.
Putrefaction can also be used on plants, in which case the target becomes blighted and withered. It cannot, however, be used on inanimate objects such as cars or wooden stakes.
••• Ashes to Ashes
The character collapses into a thick, sticky white powder. While in this form, the character cannot move and is only dimly aware of her surroundings, but is immune to fire and sunlight (meaning that this power is an effective escape in some situations). The character must take care, though — if the ashes are scattered, she might never be able to reform.
System: The transformation to ashes requires one turn and the expenditure of two blood points. While the character is in ash form, the player must make a Perception + Alertness roll (difficulty 9) for any scene in which she wishes her character to be aware of her surroundings. Reforming from the heap of ashes takes one turn. If the character is in a confined space (such as an urn), she explodes from it in a suitably dramatic manner as she brings herself back to full size. If a Samedi is scattered while in this form, one health level and one blood point are lost for each tenth (roughly) of the character that has been dissipated. Five blood points are required to heal each health level lost in this manner.
At the Storyteller’s discretion, the Samedi may be missing limbs or vital organs (though never the head or the heart) until the missing health levels are healed.
The Stiff can shrivel and render useless an opponent’s limb. This power works on Kindred as well as mortals. Kindred, of course, are horrified by the power, as they tend to think of their bodies as immortal and invulnerable to such ravages.
System: The Samedi must touch the limb he intends to shrivel. The player spends a Willpower point and rolls Manipulation + Medicine (difficulty equal to the victim’s Stamina + Fortitude). Three successes are required for this power to shrink a limb. With one or two successes, the victim takes one health level of bashing damage, which may be soaked normally, but is otherwise unaffected. (If the Withering attempt is successful, the subject suffers no health level of damage, but rather the withering of the limb itself.)
The effects of Withering fade after one night if a vampire or other supernatural creature is the victim, but mortals (including mages) are permanently afflicted unless some type of supernatural healing is used. If this power is used on an arm or leg, the limb instantly becomes useless. If this power is used on an opponent’s head, mortal victims die instantly. Kindred lose two points from all Mental Attributes while their heads are shrunken and are unable to use any Disciplines except Celerity, Fortitude, and Potence. Multiple uses of this power on the same appendage have no additional effect.
A more horrific and potent form of Putrefaction, this power causes flesh to decay and slough off, exposing the bone beneath. Use of this power can render an opponent unable to move from lack of muscle tissue.
System: The Samedi must make contact with the victim. The player spends two blood points and rolls Dexterity + Medicine (difficulty of the target’s Stamina + Fortitude). The victim takes a number of health levels of lethal damage equal to the number of successes rolled and suffers additional effects as listed below.
1 success No additional effects
2 successes Lose one point of Appearance
3 successes Lose a point each of Appearance and Dexterity
4 successes Lose a point each of Appearance, Dexterity, and Strength
5+ successes Lose two points of Appearance and one each of Dexterity and Strength
Attributes lost in this manner are regained when all damage from the Necrosis attack is healed. If a victim is reduced to zero Strength or Dexterity, he is unable to move except for weak flailing and crawling but may still use Disciplines and spend blood points normally.
••••• • Creeping Infection
Rumors state that Samedi, especially elders, are infectious, that their presence or touch causes a wasting disease. This power might be the source of these rumors. Creeping Infection allows the Samedi to use Putrefaction, Withering, or Necrosis, but prevent the Discipline from taking effect until the Samedi is well away. This power allows for subtle curses, or insurance against someone who might hire the Samedi and then refuse to pay up.
System: The player must successfully roll for a use of Putrefaction, Withering, or Necrosis, as above, and may delay the effect for a number of months equal to the Samedi’s Stamina. The player may spend a blood point at any time during this period in order to activate the dormant power. If the Creeping Infection is not used before the end of its duration, it fades away with no effect.
••••• • Marrow Sucker
All animals contain a spark of life. This power allows you to scrape, suck, and savor those small bits of life out of dead things to allow you to survive. It’s not pretty and it’s messy as hell, but when you’re locked in a crypt with nothing but bones, it can keep you out of torpor for a while.
System: For every 20 pounds or 9 kilograms of bone the Kindred eats (roughly the weight of the bones in one human skeleton), they gain one point of blood. The Kindred places the bone in or near its mouth and begins to suck. The bones turn into a grey, pulpy mass which the Kindred must then swallow. The product of this Discipline is far less satisfying that animal blood, and only those with this level of the Thanatosis Discipline can benefit from consuming it.
••••• •• Dust to Dust
With this power, the Samedi retains cohesion, awareness, and mobility while in ash form. While not as impressive as the Tzimisce Horrid Form, a clever Stiff can find many tactical uses for such a power.
System: While a pile of ash, the Samedi remains fully conscious and may use any Discipline powers that being a pile of dust would permit (for instance, Majesty will make the pile of dust very impressive, and no maid in her right mind would dare sweep it up). The character cannot be blown apart by high winds, and any deliberate attempt to separate the pile of ash may be resisted with a die pool equaling the character’s combined Strength, Stamina, Potence, and Fortitude. The character may move voluntarily at a speed no higher than that at which a pile of normal dust would be blown by the wind, even if he is indoors. He does not have to move in the direction of the prevailing air currents, and may “flatten” himself by spreading his ashes thinly so as to slip under doors and through cracks. This power functions like Ashes to Ashes in all other respects.
••••• ••• Putrescent Servitude
The practice of creating zombified servants is an old one in vodoun, though most powerful Samedi can perform feats of reanimation that put the finest houngan to shame. The Stiff can raise a recently dead person as an undead servant. The zombie can’t think critically or move faster than a quick walk, but it is tough, strong, and unquestioningly loyal.
System: The first application of this power allows the Samedi to feed some of her blood to a recently dead corpse (maximum time since death equal to the Samedi’s Stamina in weeks) in order to animate it. Three blood points must be spent to bring the corpse back to a semblance of life. A reanimated corpse has the same Physical Attributes as it did in life. It is capable of limited reasoning (reduce all Mental Attributes by one), but free thought is beyond it and the only person it can clearly understand is its master or an individual who its master has directed it to obey. Reanimated corpses possess two levels of Fortitude and three extra health levels. They suffer no dice pool penalties from wounds until they lose their last health level, at which point they collapse and cannot be reanimated again.
A reanimated corpse crumbles to dust at the third sunrise after its creation. Its “lifespan” can be extended by feeding it more blood at creation — one blood point per extra night.
This power can also be used on a mortal. The Samedi creates a ghoul in the normal fashion, by feeding the subject one blood point. The player then rolls Manipulation + Medicine (difficulty equal to the mortal’s permanent Willpower). Three or more successes are required to turn the mortal into a zombie. If this roll succeeds, the mortal loses all free will, becoming completely subjugated to the Samedi’s command. The mortal may try to break free once per night by rolling his Willpower (difficulty equal to the Samedi’s Manipulation + Leadership). If the mortal frees himself, he is still considered a ghoul but regains his free will and normal Mental and Social Attributes (see below). A mortal who botches his Willpower roll or who becomes blood-bound to the Samedi may never again attempt to break free.
A mortal under the influence of Putrescent Servitude becomes pale and corpselike. He loses one point from all Social and Mental Attributes (to a minimum value of one). He gains three extra health levels and takes no dice pool penalties from injuries until he reaches Incapacitated, at which point he collapses. One more lethal wound will kill him once he reaches this point. The mortal also gains one level of Potence, as a normal ghoul would, and has the potential to learn other Disciplines if the Samedi feels inclined to teach him.
A ghoul zombie who goes a month without vampiric blood loses all benefits of being a ghoul, as would normally occur. He also loses all effects of this power and regains his free will, though he may still be bloodbound to his master.