Nameless & Accursed: Tremere [Mage: The Awakening]

Mage: The Awakening

Hi all! Meghan here, with our first preview from the upcoming Night Horrors: Nameless and Accursed for Mage: The Awakening. Please enjoy House Vedmak, one of the Houses of the Tremere Order of Reaper liches, from the inestimable Malcolm Sheppard.

House Vedmak

The Keepers of Vedet were a Slavic Legacy devoted to helping the virtuous dead rest, and protecting Sleepers from angry ghosts, spirits, and similar malefic beings. Wandering Vedma (women) and Vedmak (men and non-binary practitioners) made themselves quietly known to the communities throughout Eastern Europe and Central Asia. This earned them cautious respect, as common people supposed these “witchkeepers” drew power from the devil, but somehow managed to twist it to the service of good. Founded in the 8th century, the Keepers survived the Mongols and went on to train hundreds of members, reaching such popularity that by the 16th century, Legacy Masters considered asserting themselves as an independent Order.

These plans went awry when rumors arose that witchkeepers had fallen to Satan, killing and unleashing evil spirits upon Sleepers across the Keepers’ territory. Its reputation tarnished, the Legacy hunted for the source of the trouble, locating it in the Eastern Carpathian Mountains. Divination suggested a place of great, ancient evil, located in a tower fallen from the Time Before — one ruled by the Tremere. The Order had lured the witchkeepers to Chur, fortress of the Seventh Dragon, where it possessed an unmatched advantage. They would have wished to destroy the Legacy in any case, but the witchkeepers’ rising power and proximity inspired the Tremere to not only unify against them, but risk Chur in the attempt. The Tremere prevailed, though it was a hard-fought battle. Today, the Keepers of Vedet are gone, replaced with House Vedmak.

Due to its history, Vedmak is the largest Tremere House. Tremere use Vedmak lore to perform feats of reverse possession, chaining ghosts or spirits to the souls they command. Vedmak also use souls as arms and armor to fight Twilight-bound threats. Some Vedmak even act as witchkeepers of old, protecting communities, but only when local citizens promise the Vedmak their souls as payment.

Origins and Doctrine

Background: Vedmak are defined more by community than personal inclination. Many Vedmak grew up in Eastern Europe and Central Asia, close to rural communities. Neopagans, folklorists, and anthropologists among the Tremere are also drawn to the House.

Appearance: Members of House Vedmak usually dress to travel, in rugged and practical clothing, with a satchel or backpack always at hand. This is part of the House’s nomadic tradition. On the other hand, some modern members prefer casual suits, tablets, satellite phones, and first-class flights. Vedmak often worm Slavic pagan symbols into their clothing and jewelry.

Prerequisites: Space 2, Wits 3, Occult or Survival 2

Initiation: A successful initiate banishes a ghost or spirit from a place. He can use brute force or cleverness, but the task must be challenging, and he must destroy the being, enslave it, or decisively drive it away.

Organization: House Vedmak is led by the Svetovid, a quartet of princeps who identify themselves with the deities Svarog, Perun, Lada, and Mokosh. The Svetovid rarely grant personal audiences, preferring to communicate through bound ghosts and spirits. The branches of Perun and Lada use Spirit as a secondary Arcanum, while those under Svarog and Mokosh utilize Death. A Vedmak must choose whether to learn the Spirit- or Death-based optional effects for his Attainments; this remains the same for each Attainment.

Theory: Magic filters through the desires of capricious gods and the unquiet dead, but one may use trickery, bargaining, and force to steal their powers and make them serve one’s own desires. To understand this cosmos of hidden motives, one must cultivate exceptional sensitivity, to see the conspiracies of gods in the placement of a single stone or the fetters that keep a ghost bound to the world.

Magic

Yantras: Eating a meal ritualistically (+1); drawing the traditional symbols of Slavic witchcraft (+1, +2 if in blood); invoking deities in the four cardinal directions (+1); indulging in one’s fixation (see House weakness) for longer than necessary or seeking out an opportunity to do so (+1, +2 if this involves significant effort or leads to injury)

Oblations: Traveling to a wild place on foot; holding a ritual banquet for multiple people; carving a four-headed representation of the Svetovid: four gods in one

Weakness: The House’s emphasis on sensitivity to the natural and supernatural worlds sometimes manifests as a fixation that emulates the folkloric weaknesses of certain supernatural beings. Each witchkeeper chooses one such fixation. Suggestions include counting plant grains (rice, barley, etc.), being transfixed by the appearance of running water, shedding the blood of animals, staring at one’s reflection in a mirror, and concealing or destroying symbols of religions and magical practices other than one’s own.

The fixation confers the Addicted Condition (Mage, p. 314). If resolved, the character acquires a new fixation, which confers a new Addicted Condition. If he goes a scene without indulging the fixation when the opportunity arises, he suffers the Deprived Condition also.

Attainments

All House Vedmak Attainments require the use of a soul. This soul can either be attached to the character, or held in a soul jar or hollowstone.

Apprentice Attainment: Eyes of the Invisible

Prerequisites: Initiation
The Vedmak sends a soul to quietly inhabit a subject, and experiences what the subject does. This emulates a sympathetic Space spell for which Potency is the primary factor, which requires a sympathetic connection and Yantra as usual. It lasts up to one scene, adds 1 to Potency, costs a point of Mana, and requires a scene of ritual preparation. It affects supernatural beings, including those in Twilight, if the character can perceive them. He experiences all the target’s physical senses, but not their thoughts. As a side effect, he suffers any wound penalties and sensation-dependent Conditions or Tilts the subject experiences.

Optional: Death 2 or Spirit 2
If the subject is a ghost (Death) or a spirit (Spirit), the witchkeeper can also perform an elementary act of possession while experiencing its senses, willing it to perform tasks. This emulates the Spirit 2 spell “Command Spirit” (Mage, p. 181), but the character shares the spirit’s senses for the duration, and may suffer sensation-based ill effects. If the creature has supernatural senses, the Storyteller decides which ones translate into sensations the Tremere can comprehend and which are unavailable, although mages are intimately familiar with unusual senses and the Vedmak already possesses the appropriate Arcanum by necessity, so the Storyteller is encouraged to be generous.

Disciple Attainment: Distant Presence

Prerequisites: Space 3
The Vedmak possesses a soul and sends it forth as an extension of himself. This emulates a Space 3 spell with Duration as its primary factor; this phantom body appears anywhere within the mage’s sensory range. It requires a scene of ritual preparation, using its fixed Reach for advanced Duration. The manifestation is solid, and has a combination of the witchkeeper’s physical features and those of the soul’s original owner. The character is fully present in both the manifestation and his real body, and must choose which one to act with at any given time (or on each turn, in action scenes). Injuries and other afflictions, such as Conditions, affecting one body affect the other also; he maintains one collective total for Health, Willpower, Mana, and other traits, at their usual ratings. The Vedmak may eliminate the Distant Presence as an instant action, leaving the harnessed soul floating free wherever he sent it.

Optional: Death 3 or Spirit 3
The Death 3 variant lets the witchkeeper manifest the phantom body in Twilight and gain access to places only ghosts may visit. With the Spirit variant, the manifestation may enter the Shadow as if crossing through an Iris.

Adept Attainment: Bind Within

Prerequisites: Space 5
The Vedmak can physically imprison subjects within a soul under his command. This emulates the Space 5 spell “Pocket Dimension” (Mage, p. 178) with +2 Potency and advanced Duration, requiring a scene of ritual preparation to acclimate the soul to its new purpose. The willworker must use other Space magic to transport a subject into the Pocket Dimension, which has Connected sympathy to the soul to which it is linked. Vedmak do not place themselves within their own attached souls, since this produces a paradox: a Tremere inside a soul, inside a Tremere, inside a soul…. The Storyteller is free to invent a strange consequence for characters who do it anyway.

Optional: Death 2 or Spirit 2
With one of the optional Arcana, the Attainment gains the appropriate type of Twilight, as the spell’s usual effect with these conjunctional Arcana.

  11 comments for “Nameless & Accursed: Tremere [Mage: The Awakening]

  1. Mal
    August 20, 2019 at 11:31 am

    Wouldn’t a Space 5 attainment be a master one, not an adept one?

    • Dave Brookshaw
      August 20, 2019 at 12:54 pm

      Tremere have weaker Attainments than regular mages, to compensate for having so much more (like their soul manipulating/eating powers). They have “Houses” instead of Legacies, of which this is one.

      • Dave Brookshaw
        August 20, 2019 at 12:55 pm

        So much more other stuff, that should be.

  2. Raziel
    August 20, 2019 at 6:37 pm

    It is super amazing that you’re going to represent some Slavic Legacy as new Tremere house, but as a Slav I have to say, Vedet does not sound slavic at all. Especially the whole name – Keepers of Vedet.

    I know what you’re going for with Vedma (Wied?ma) and Vedmak (Wied?mak) but Vedet just looks like cleare case of someone not really knowing culture and throwing around some vaguely slavically inspired word to have draft done.

    Vedma (Wied?ma) means Witch, though etymologically comes from wiedzie? (to know), they could also be called wiedz?ca (literally “the one who knows” but more specifically, the one who knows secrets/magic).

    Vedet just isn’t something that would make sense. It seems to be closest to “wiedzie?”, which is “to know” but Keepers of Wiedzie? wouldn’t make sense lingiustically. It would literally look to us as Keepers of To Know. If you were going for Keepers of Knowledge then you’d have to change the word to veda (as in The Vedas, yes).

    The Keepers of Veda(s) would be most like The Keepers of Knowledge. Our word “wiedza” for “knowledge” goes back etymologically to indoaryan “veda” just like in India.

    • Shad
      August 21, 2019 at 5:02 pm

      I’m assuming that they didn’t use Vedma due to the Vampire bloodline of that name.

      • Raziel
        August 22, 2019 at 3:52 pm

        My overall point is that Vedet makes no sense and doesn’t sound like actual proper Slavic word for a Slavic person.

  3. Atavist
    August 20, 2019 at 9:17 pm

    This is really neat, I take it these are also tied in with the Scandinavian Witch Hunt Dark Era?

    • August 21, 2019 at 2:34 am

      “Slavic” and “Scandinavian” are different things.

      • Atavist
        August 21, 2019 at 6:25 pm

        Oh yeah, several thousand miles off. But spreading rumors about Satanic witchcraft and the time period is what triggered the question.

        • Meghan Fitzgerald
          August 23, 2019 at 6:38 pm

          Unfortunately, each Dark Era could only contain so many words, so we really had to zero in on the two or three major game lines in each era to fit in all the important info for playing in that period. But of course, nothing stops you from tying the two together at your table! 🙂

  4. Flux
    August 25, 2019 at 3:37 am

    I really enjoyed reading this. Loved the flavor of house and the way they use souls. I’m also excited that Tremere houses have a weakness to them. It gives them an inherent strangeness and reminds me a bit of the Proximi curses.

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