Acolyte Merits and Rituals – Secrets of the Covenants Open Development

Circle of the Crone symbol
The Circle of the Crone

Hey, folks. I said there’d be more to come after Gen Con, and here’s the first of it. Open development is back, with Secrets of the Covenants!

Secrets is primarily a book of artifacts that give you an inside look into the covenants, but also includes Merits, rituals, and so on that give you more options for building characters from each covenant. I’d like to give you an early look at some of those.

David Hill’s been hard at work on those trade secrets, and the first one I’d like to present is the Circle of the Crone. One of our goals for this section was to provide more meat to sorcery than in the core book. We also got a lot of positive comments on the social Merits provided for the Invictus and the Carthian Movement, and thought we’d develop some for the other covenants.

Your comments are welcome and very helpful. (They were a huge help in developing Blood and Smoke/Vampire 2e!) Please remember, though, that this is a first draft — I haven’t even redlined it yet. So let’s forego grammar and style comments in favor of looking at setting and mechanics.

Second, when discussing this article, please link back to it rather than copying and pasting the contents. I sometimes make changes in response to comments

With all of that said, here are the Acolytes in all their bloody glory.

<Click here for the draft>


89 responses to “Acolyte Merits and Rituals – Secrets of the Covenants Open Development”

  1. Griautis Avatar

    Did open commenting on the doc itself not work out? Or did you forget to enable it?

    1. Rose Bailey Avatar
      Rose Bailey

      I found open commenting on the doc too chaotic for me to extract useful feedback from. Much easier (for me) to read the blog comments and forums.

      1. Griautis Avatar

        Uh, seems that the max depth of comments here is 5 (since I can no longer reply to machineiv) Probably this is not the best place for discussions.

  2. Frederick Avatar

    I don’t particularly like glorious reclamation. Maybe there is a Lancea merit to balance it out but it reminds me of the unfortunate tread of last edition where the devs clearly favored Cruac. Furthermore it sort of ignores the idea of Theban being granted to the spear by a higher power and is something other than blood sorcery.

    1. Griautis Avatar

      The merit is fine, I think, however the flavour of it is not, since it really steps on the toes of telling THE truth about the sorceries.
      How about we change the flavour to indicate that the Circle has stolen/replicated the rituals power using Cruac? That way Theban Sorceries actual origins remain unknown.

      1. Frederick Avatar

        The thing I fear is that you’re giving a covenant access to the entirety of a rival covenants main advantage, for relativly
        Little cost. It also removes one of the main limiters on Theban ( the humanity cap) and gives blood sorcerers access to Vitae reliquary, which has the potential for a lot of abuse as it currently stands it gives the Circle a major advantage over pretty much every covenant because it comes with two primary advantages for a two dot merit.

        I do also agree with you in the flavor aspect.

        1. Griautis Avatar

          You need to buy the merit for every single ritual you want to steal.. so it’s not that “free”. And aside of that, you could replicate the effects of the rituals with similar Cruac rituals, so the advantage isn’t “gain two covenant advantages at once”. It’s more like “Take a Theban ritual you really want (since two XP cost overhead, and having to spend both Blood and Willpower)”.
          And the humanity cap is also non issue, since higher Theban Rituals means that you must have higher Cruac, which respectively kicks in the Cruac downside.

          Anyways, all in all, I’ve come to thin of this as a bad merit. Since the rules of Theban Sorcery and Cruac are pretty close as it is, we need to look for merits which *Differentiate* between the two instead of bridging the gap as it is.

          1. machineiv Avatar

            It’s probably worth noting, you can’t usually buy multiple instances of a Merit, unless the Merit specifically says you can. Like in the case of Contacts or Status.

          2. amaterasu Avatar

            More in reply to MachineIV:

            Yes, usually you can’t take a merit multiple times unless it states, but this one is written extremely similar to Quick Draw, which is purchased and linked to a Specialty. Unless Quick Draw is also only intended to ever be allowed once for one specialty, then I would have assumed Glorious Reclamation would work as Griautis says, just being a 2xp “merit” overhead for whatever Theban rituals you’re wanting to take.

  3. Will Avatar

    What Size is the abomination spawned by Opening the Void?

    1. Griautis Avatar

      I’d vote for Size equals to the Retainer dots of the creature? (yes, that means Style merit dots)

      1. machineiv Avatar

        That could work. I intended on it being Size 1-5, depending on the particular manifestation. I’d want small familiars, like a bird or something, to potentially have a higher dice pool not limited by their size.

        1. Griautis Avatar

          That’s an interesting take as well. Perhaps it should be ST’s discretion then? I just wouldn’t like a Crow-like familiar to be rolling too much dice in throwing boulders at people.

        2. Chris Shaffer Avatar
          Chris Shaffer

          Maybe player’s choice and/or ST discretion, up to the Merit rating?

          1. Griautis Avatar

            I wouldn’t like it to be player’s choice. After all, the whole style pretty much states: “You’ve got no idea what you’re messing with”. Giving the player so much control over it feels wrong to me.

  4. Griautis Avatar

    Temple Guardian – as written it seems that you can always apply it, but the flavor suggests that you should be defending your temple/fellow Acolytes. Could that be written up more clearly?

    Rituals: Seems that they are only stated in the levels (made with the Blood Sorcery themes) however, could we have alternative Theme’s in there to know the requirements without having to make them up?
    Something along the lines of :
    The Pool of Forbidden Truths (• / Divination • )
    Of course, at the start it should be explained that whatever’s after “/“ symbol, is for those who use blood sorcery book.

    Birthing the God (•••••)
    Naming this homunculus a God seems somewhat wrong, as the poor creature is not that powerful..

    1. Will Avatar

      The only limit to how powerful the homonculus can be is how much blood an entire coven of vampires is willing to spend – a coven of five vampires joining in the creation of the god can make it really fucking nasty.

    2. machineiv Avatar

      Re: Birthing

      In my test run, the cult used a little planning, and the creature ended up somewhere in the range of:

      Strength 8, Dexterity 7, Stamina 8, Wits 7, Vigor 5, Resilience 5, Brawl 5, Athletics 5, Intimidation 5. 40 Vitae, Size 8, Defense 12.

      That was just one run, where they made a monster to bring chaos and destruction in its wake. They considered crafting a god of a more social bent, to literally stand as a god for their cult.

      1. Griautis Avatar

        Alright, and in a second I was proved wrong.
        What about my other two comments:
        Temple Guardian
        Not forgetting Themes

      2. Unahim Avatar

        That God would have 1 dice on most resistance rolls against mind-affecting stuff. Prepare to have an Enthralled God come back at you, Acolytes :p

      3. Aspel Avatar

        Shouldn’t it have some Blood Potency?

        And are those Strength and Stamina values adding the Vigor and Resilience in already?

        Can you contribute more than 15 vitae to it?

    3. machineiv Avatar

      Re: Guardian

      You could technically use the second dot to protect anyone. The third dot bolsters Cruac, so I guess you could protect another Acolyte with it, not just coven-mates. The first dot could be used whenever.

      From a flavor standpoint, it was developed to accomplish a certain goal. It can accomplish that, but it could be used to accomplish other goals. A knife might have been designed to scale a fish, but you could use it to kill a man if you wanted.

      1. Griautis Avatar

        It just seems very powerful, especially given that these manoeuvres do not limit the possibility of other manoeuvres.

        Allowing stuff to stack indefinitely is a sure fire away to reach twinking and power creep.
        Or is this fighting style mutually exclusive with other styles? If so, it should be made more clear.

        1. Unahim Avatar

          It only says the effects stack with the other effects of the style, doesn’t mention other styles stacking.

          1. Griautis Avatar

            Yes, but at the moment I don’t remember where it says that different styles do not stack (since most of other ones specify that only one maneuver/action). So a rule lawyer might try to argue the other way.. which I of course will shoot down fast, however I’d rather not have to go into the “no, because I said so” mode in any case..

  5. Falco1029 Avatar

    *The good: Glorious Reclamation is awesome, the Cruac styles are a great concept, Opening the Void is amazingly cool, the rituals overall are so much better suited to the new Blood Sorcery system (even if I still think the system itself is flimsy), making it so Cruac isn’t a waste.

    I really like the ‘Mantle’ set of rituals, which all have that similar mechanic and theme to it.

    Denying Hades is also incredibly awesome.

    Overall, it really covers a lot of the flavor of the Crone as represented in 2nd edition, and makes them a lot more interesting, mechanically speaking.

    Despite taking fewer words to list the good, I think the good outweighs needed improvements.

    *Needs improvement: Unbridled chaos, as it’s currently worded, seems to be worth more harm than good, since it only is ‘vaguely’ positive on a success, but causes a ton of trouble otherwise.

    Primal Creation I think needs a time limit on the size increases, or only one works at a time, period (as opposed to per target), as that could get out of hand fast, with someone using that quickly turning every animal in an area into a monstrosity at high levels. When you have a nest of rats nearby and then suddenly the 5 dot merit means you have large dog sized hordes of rats entering the city, well..

    Curse of Aphrodite’s Favor seems a little overkill as written, to me, since there’s no listed duration on the conditions, meaning most of those are persistent. For a level 3 ritual, I don’t think it should be reproducing 2 levels of majesty (1 of them 4 dots) so effectively and persistently, even if it’s on someone else’s behalf.

    Gorgon’s Gaze I think should be tweaked to let anything that restores aggravated damage heal the limb, or at least allow supernatural means to, for mortals.

    I agree that Birthing the God could use a rename, as it doesn’t quite seem like a full ‘god’ in how it works. it could also use a bit of information as to its likely personality (or even just a mention that the ST entirely figures it out, if it’s not meant to conform to a pattern).

    Mantle of the Crone doesn’t have a duration listed, unless I missed it (Quite possible, I’m tired), and I think should define that objects raised to life should probably go back to normal at the end of that duration.

    1. Falco1029 Avatar

      Derp, I saw that in Mantle of the Crone objects DO fall apart after an evening, at least, so nevermind that bit.

  6. Darren MacLennan Avatar

    I guess I gotta be the one who asks: In Birthing the God, do you need to contribute genitals to the homunculus, or can you leave that part out please say yes?

    1. Griautis Avatar

      I think you can contribute whatever the hell you want… If you don’t contribute any arms to the creature – too bad, he’s armless.

    2. machineiv Avatar

      “The sacrificed body parts must be enough to build a full, roughly humanoid form.”

      I’d say that’s up to the participants. If they want a god with genitals, they provide genitals. If they don’t, they don’t.

      If you want a god with five sets of genitals, knock yourself out.

      1. Darren MacLennan Avatar
        Darren MacLennan

        Eric Brennan will have a field day.

        1. Rose Bailey Avatar
          Rose Bailey

          Yes, he will.

      2. Scutarii Avatar

        What about a head? It’s kind of a critical part of a humanoid but damned if you’ll find many volunteers to voluntary cut their own head off.

        1. tau neutrino Avatar
          tau neutrino

          The trunk too.

      3. Scutarii Avatar

        Also, it says each ritualist offers up one skill they possess.

        Does the ritualist lose the skill?

        How many dots of the skill does the God receive as it says the vitae -> dot conversion is attributes and disciplines?

        Do the ritualists have to know the Disciplines they give the God? I.e.: a Ritualist creates a ‘God’ with a single powerful Discipline that they lack, Dominates it into using the Discipline as they desire and then destroys the God, thus circumventing the need for learning the Discipline in question.

        The God will have a poor power stat (or none at all) making it highly susceptible to Clash of Will style effects or other Blood Potency based rolls. Is this desired?

        What knowledge does the God have? Is that determined by giving it skill dots in Academics/Science/Politics/etc.? Or will it be birthed as a literal uneducated child and ready for the moulding of the ritualists into whatever mental state they desire?

        1. machineiv Avatar

          Thank you for all those questions. I’ll clarify in the later version.

          1. AegonTargaryen Avatar

            Please do so ! This ritual is so epic ! However, the current discription indeed leaves so many questions.

            Here is one more: What does the god look like ? Is it Frankenstein’s Monster with the head used in the ritual ? Or can the ritualist will it into being/looking something else (which would be much cooler in my humble opinion) ?

  7. Stephen Avatar

    I *love* the Chorister Merit. Allows members from other covenants (notably the political ones) to be affiliated with the Acolytes without actually having covenant status. Makes it clear that there are followers in other covenant ideologies. I hope the Sanctified will get a similar style of Merit.

    1. Maskah Avatar

      I very much agree here on Chorister. You have a lot of the political Covenants that flock to the Lance or Crone for their spiritual aspects, but not not actually join. The Sanctified should def get something similar.

  8. YeOfLittleFaith Avatar

    I don’t particularly like the suggested flavor for Glorious Reclamation, especially given how Theban Sorcery is supposed to be inherently different from Cruac, drawing from the Man as opposed to the Beast.

    Depending on how you read it, you could just interpret the fluff of the merit as a case of Unreliable Narrator and an example of the Circle’s bias on the matter; but the way it’s writtern personally rubs me the wrong way.

    I think the explanation should be a bit more neutral. As of right now it clearly expresses the hubris, but feels more like an objective observation meant for the neutral observer (the reader) than one open to interpretation.

    Also, Gorgon’s Gaze seems to have an awfully powerful effect for a three dot ritual. According to the Blood Sorcery book, that would’ve been at least a Transmutation 4 ritual, if not 5.

  9. Anaximander Avatar

    I feel like Denying Hades and Birthing the God need a little more.

    What does “laid to rest” mean for the corpse? Complete disarticulation? Staking? Decapitation? Sunlight? Exorcism? Reburial? Conscious choice of the ritualist? When the spirit is released, will the Crone have one really, really pissed off ghost to contend with?

    What is the nature of this “god”? Does it feed like vampires, or does it require ritual sacrifice? Can it be killed as “normal” for a vampire, or is it more spiritual?

    1. tau neutrino Avatar
      tau neutrino

      If the body continues to rot, how long before it becomes useless?

  10. Beard Avatar

    I think just about everything here needs a “playability” once over. The style merits don’t really feel like they need to be a five dot progression the way they’re written now, and are ultimately so circumstantial that they’re awkward to use. Like /every/ ritual summons a minion? Or destroys property? Why would my player pay to break the masquerade every time he uses his blood magic? Likewise the dancing rituals seem like an odd choice; is it a roundabout way of charging a willpower for an all day buff? I guess so, but the way it reads you dance yourself silly so you have the “option” of functioning when the whole purpose of the spell is to enhance yourself for an evening. Making the willpower tax seem like a choice when it is not reads awkwardly.

    What I’d like to see if you’re doing curac styles is a broader variety of paganism; a lot of these rituals don’t seem like the sort of stuff the voudounists from New Orleans would be caught dead doing, for example, and I’d kind of rather see curac rituals be a bit more broad and the style merits actually be about your magical style, instead of a bizarre addition to your spells. One of the big draws of the Circle of the Crone, for me at least, was how every cult of acolytes could be a little bit different, drawing on the huge amount of pagan ritual and lore found in the world, and as it is in Blood and Smoke it seems like the Circle’s inching towards more of a…wicca with teeth standard that works as a baseline, I guess, but I’d really hope there’s some time spent on the variety of acolyte cults you can create. I realize we can do this ourselves but the stuff presented as the covenant baseline leaves a strong first impression, especially for new players.

    The garden merit’s cool. The create a god spell is awesome. The Thebian Sorcery stealing merit isn’t great, I feel like sacraments and blasphemies handled crossing the blood magic streams better. All and all its a good first draft with some interesting ideas that would benefit from a little tweaking.

    1. Jhiriit Avatar

      I disagree, I think the dancing ritual is very evocative, and the Willpower “tax” is presented in an awesome way, embodying the chaotic ways of Cruac.

      I also love the styles, I think involving real life mystical or religious motifs to a greater degree would be a mistake. Mage may deal with that, but this is ancient Vampire blood magic, not any kind of mortal lore. It is already problematic enough that Theban sorcery is so closely tied to Christian mythology, I think Cruac should be left wild and undefined. It reads, if anything, like ancient Greek bacchanal rites or sacrifices, which is a great inspiration to take. I like that Cruac is the ancient beast let loose, not a codified belief system.

      Though I agree that the Chaotic and Primal styles are very unpredictable based on their merit cost and does not really need to be tired, I would hate to have Cruac styles devolved into something like casting bonuses. That is just boring.

    2. Hawthorn Avatar

      I’m with Jhiriit on this one.

      For me one of the best improvements made in SEV is the fact that the Crone now have an inhuman religion. Rather then just aping old human pagan rites that frankly, they would largely be making up (its not like a lot of (European) pagan writings (when they existed at all) survived the Church censorship of the last 1000 years).

      The idea of the Crone as this sorta primordial consumptive force that is simultaneously entropic while being weirdly/perversely creative is I feel a lot more interesting and evocative. Its a great “external meta-manifestation” of the beast on a macro level. It really works with the re-fluff of Cruac as this old,old, old idea of completely bombastic/primitive/chaotic magic free of any “intellect” of magical formula, religious belief or ceremonial pomp.

      Basically, the less Vampire magic has to do with Human belief structures the better. As Jhiriit mentioned, it bad enough that Theban Sorcery is so closely linked to Christianity/Judaism. That’s just about tolerable considering the Lancea make a big deal about not being very Christian and having a whole other relationship with God.

      The Crone being a bunch of undead neo-pagans and hippies that are “making it up” as they go along using the underlying idea of the Crone and dressing it up in mortal Paganism, is a bit…well, insulting to the Crone’s belief structure I think. Hard to phrase that last part.

  11. shkspr1048 Avatar

    Birthing the God: Does the god have a permanent duration, a set duration, or a time limit determined by modifiers?

    Can a god have access to Devotions or Ritual Disciplines?

    It’s shape must be (roughly) humanoid, but is it strictly limited to human body parts?

    If it is to be a god, as opposed to Homunculus+, could it have strange abilities not necessarily linked to Disciplines, or Discipline powers at a greatly magnified effect (for example, using Protean 5 to manifest as a vast stormcloud)?

  12. youvegotwildtalents Avatar

    It could be the GM in me but I totally see Cruac Style as a plot honey pot. Players try to go crazy with them and then mages sense someone is messing with reality in a bad way and come sniffing around. .

    1. Griautis Avatar

      Well, I imagine these styles a lot more common in setting (as for me, the gut feeling says almost every Cruac practitioner will/should have a style at least to some degree… Of course that requires there to be a lot more different styles, but hey, that’s somewhat easy to make) as to not be something out of the ordinary for the mages… 🙂 However knock yourself out

  13. ConfusionInTheRanks Avatar

    The second Cruac says that it can make infertile things fertile, but then in the write up, it only talks about making fertile things /more/ fertile, so it was confusing.

  14. Griautis Avatar

    I just realised I got a Problem with Chorister. At the moment you pay two xp to gain, what is essentially a Status dot in Circle (minus capability to get Cruac) and what is essentially a limited version of Allies dot one…
    Instead, for the same price, you could buy a full dot of Status (and with the new twist towards multiple Covenant memberships, it’s completely feasible) and a dot of full Allies, which is not as limited.
    Making the second choice much better for anyone (since if you’re so close as to attend all the rituals, you might as well be considered a member at Status 1). Well, the exception is the leaders of Carthians/Invictus who get hit by the “Max 5 Covenant status dots” rule, but anyone else is simply better off just buying Status and Allies.
    Perhaps this should be lowered to 1 dot? That way, it’s a special kind of status/allies thingie, but then..
    I think a better option would be to increase the power of the merit somewhat, however it must be done carefully, since being a full member should still be more beneficial…

    The more I think about it, the more I dislike this one and think it should be completely rewritten (into something else entirely, or preserving the idea), since at the moment, these bonuses really.. is just a trap for players. Why can’t I just be a believer, and take a Dot of Status to represent that? I’m completely fine, and very likely get as much benefit as someone with this merit (More if you add in the possibility to learn cruac, but not everyone wants to be a Witch so this one is a so so)

    1. machineiv Avatar

      Part of it is that it lets you skirt the normal Status limitation for having Status in multiple covenants. You can be, say, a Status 5 Invictus Prince who hangs out with the Circle, and is a Chorister.

      1. Griautis Avatar

        Yes, but that is THE only benefit of the merit, anyone else, who is not hit by the limit is better off purchasing other merits. Having a merit, usable only by the very top tier of vampire feels somewhat wrong.

        maybe a one dot merit, which gives these same benefits except for the “if you join you’re status 2” one? That simplifies this, and gives a reason for low ranking people to consider this (if I just want to express my faith, but not become a sorcerer, I can take this merit)

    2. tau neutrino Avatar
      tau neutrino

      It’s “a dot of Allies: Circle of the Crone, Contacts: Circle of the Crone, Mentor, or Herd.” So it’s more flexible than a dot of Allies.

  15. Griautis Avatar

    About all the rituals which have “Dance to death -> Spend willpower” clause. That feels mechanically awfully getting closer to Theban (WP cost). How about instead of a Spend Willpower to pick yourself up, you get a condition “Exhausted” or something along those lines?

  16. Shane Avatar

    “Denying Hades”
    Is the Revenant/zombie obedient to the caster(s) of this ritual? It seems like a dangerous spell if not as I doubt the person would enjoy being revived to do someones bidding.

    Perhaps some kind of token or something that would “force” them?

    otherwise i find it to be an interesting ritual

    1. Griautis Avatar

      Well… Since the thing will rot and die, I guess the main use for the ritual is to get THAT specific person up and walking for a while… Need to get some information? Need a friend to help you out? Want to torment your enemies for a little while longer? Want to find out who murderer the victim, so you might exact revenge for him? Or better yet, let him exact his own revenge? There’s so many possibilities for this without any forced obedience 🙂

  17. tau neutrino Avatar
    tau neutrino

    Mandragora Garden: “An Acolyte can use mandragora she’s created herself as if they were her own hands and eyes for the purposes of Crúac rituals. This allows her to use her rituals at a distance.” Does that means if she uproots a plant and puts it somewhere else? Adding dots to Cruac might be overpowered, esp with rituals like Gorgon’s Gaze and Bounty of the Storm.

    Cruac Style Merits: Can these effects be resisted?

    The Pool of Forbidden Truths might be too powerful for level 1.

    Gorgon’s Gaze: In addition to the concerns about aggravated damage, what does a complete transformation do to other supernaturals like werewolves and mages?

    1. Griautis Avatar

      I’d say that the merit corresponds to the garden. So if you uproot a plant and move it elsewhere – it’s no longer in your garden, so the bonus does not apply.
      Yes, you’re a powerful ritualist in your garden.. now get someone to stay there with you 😉

      What effects do you want to resist? Kindred are immune to them, and for humans, who cares bout them enough? It’s Kindred magic, let humans be messed up.

      The Pool of Forbidden Truths – are we totally dropping Blood Sorcery book or what? That effect is Divination 4.

      Gorgon’s Gaze – works on them just like on humans.. – kills them, I’d say. However, I’d also say that there should be a way to resist the effects, since now it’s just insta kill anyone with enough successes.

      1. tau neutrino Avatar
        tau neutrino

        So what’s the part about using rituals at a distance mean? If she’s outside her garden she can cast one inside it?

        What about mortal Retainers, Herd, etc., and PC Hunters?

        The victim already contests with Stamina + Blood Potency. Still, losing a limb with a single success seems high for a level 3 ritual.

    2. tau neutrino Avatar
      tau neutrino

      Also about Gorgon’s Gaze: does it take if eye contact is by reflection (ala Perseus) or over a closed-circuit TV?

  18. Griautis Avatar

    Temple Guardian Eris’s Glory (•••) is somewhat strange. It grants bonuses to other people’s Cruac rolls, however only if you’re wounded.. if you’re wounded you’re most likely in combat, which means that Cruac is useless (30 min rolls, after all).

  19. Karasu Avatar

    One of the things which I really liked about the God Machine Chronicle rules update was the vast pruning of Fighting Styles. There were just too many before. I’m slightly worried that having a fighting style for a Covenant is the first step in restarting that bloat.

    I concur with the people who feel that Glorious Reclamation doesn’t quite feel right as described there.

    With regards to Chorister, my preference would be to reduce the cap on total Covenant Status dots if you have more than one, but I guess that boat has already sailed.

  20. Maina Avatar

    Most of this is absolutely incredible.

    Two main concerns, though.

    1. Does Athena’s Armor stack with Enyo’s Defense? Seems important, but left unclear by the wording.

    2. Glorioius Reclaimation looks useless if you’re using the expanded Blood Sorcery rules. Am I missing something that makes it not so? On a related note, is expanded Blood Sorcery going to be covered at all, at least in passing?

    The styles are entirely incredible, though, so kudos there.

    1. Griautis Avatar

      1. It states in the beginning that all of these maneuvers stack.

      2. Indeed, it’s a lot worse with those rules in mind. However, I don’t think that every merit must make sense with everything. Although I’m a bit sad that Blood Sorcery rules are beig put on a backburner, with all these rituals breaking them. Especially when B&S recommends using them.

  21. Nox Ascensa Avatar
    Nox Ascensa

    Gorgon’s Gaze: it reads as if you are blinded from the moment you start the ritual until its effect activates, which could conceivably be a long time. Also, it is quite difficult to target, being blind and all – you’d need to cover your eyes and have a guide position you correctly, not exactly appropriate behavior for a powerful blood sorcerer.

    Moreover, it seems like an insta-kill is probable with this power. As a player, I’d be outraged if I was murdered like this, without any chance to counter it.

    Perhaps this whole power requires a fresh look. Petrification is a thematically appropriate power, but this particular ritual seems unplayable in its current form.

    1. AegonTargaryen Avatar

      Instant kill ? I dont see it. Vampires would go into torpor. And only if the Acolyte has five successess left on her Presence+Occult+Cruac roll after you substract your Stamina+Blood Potency. And the Acolyte really needs to set up a scenario were she can use the gaze on you. Remember that she has to cast the ritual first which will take some time and is blinded afterwards until the power is unleashed.

      The concept of additional drawbacks result in more dangerous powers for the Acolytes I really like about the new rituals. The Acolytes now have these dangerous means at their disposal, they are just not for daily use. They are something the Acoloytes will most of the time only draw upon if there really is the need for it. I believe this is like it should be with Cruac rituals, or it will feel like just another discipline. If the other players are starting to take cover when the witch uses her magic, then Cruac is in the right spot.

  22. Blackheart Avatar

    This is some great boons for the Circle!! I hope the additions to the other covenants are just as awesome.

    The low point: Gorgon’s Gaze
    There are too many things that just seem wrong with this ritual.

  23. Possessed Avatar

    Completely contrary to most I have to say that I liked the Gorgons Gaze rite as it is perhaps the first WW/Onyx Path petrification power that seems to work. Also it isn’t all or nothing affair which is very nice.

    In function and usability it clearly beats even the actual Gorgons from Scion, where it’s all or nothing and practically means that you either resist it automatically by having high enough Epic attributes or not.

    It also has quite nice mechanics in my opinion having a clear resistance roll which still does not completely neuter it. In general against anything supernatural its a matter of 3-15 dice vs 2-15 dice but still it is powerful against mortals who only gain 1-5 dot resistance yet I find this completely acceptable situation looking at B&S Disciplines in general vs mortals.

    I also like those Crúac Style merits especially since they affect all castings. Taking one is a choice between getting an extra effect or kick onto your Blood Magic at the cost of being even more obvious than Magic tends to be normally. I especially like the Opening the Void Style though Primal Creation is also something I could build a character around. They are great fodder for imagination.

    Also about the Glorious Reclamation, I find it satisfyingly suitable since Theban Sorcery is something build on Egyptian Magic and later converted to Christian trappings. It’s so thematically suitable that some Crúac practitioners are able to grasp those ancient roots and twist the modern magic accordingly.

    But similarly I could see some Theban Sorcerer’s being able to crudely convert some ancient magical practices into Christian Paradigm, though that would naturally require an individual willing to risk the taint of pagan practices and a generally open mind set that would allow for such conversion.

    1. Blackheart Avatar

      Just to clarify, the only problem most people have with Gorgon’s Gaze is that it is a third level ritual, which goes against the rules we got in the Blood Sorcery book. That means that either these rules will be abandoned, which is sad cause that was an awesome product, or that this ritual and some of the others need tweaking.
      Other than that, this first draft was really good.

  24. AegonTargaryen Avatar

    I am so looking forward to the final versions of these new Cruac rituals and merits. They hit the mark for Cruac with me.

    A couple of years ago an Acolyte player in our chronicle made up a threat when she wanted the Prince to intervene on behalf of the High Priestess who had been abducted by the local branch of the Lancea et Sanctum, the Knights of the Final Judgement: “I beg you to help our High Priestess, my Prince. If you do not, we will have no other option but to wake the Old Ones in the forest.” She succeeded in intimidating the Prince, but if he would have called her out, she could have done little at that time to turn rhetoric into action.

    However, looking at the new 5-dot rituals, her empty threat would not quite be so empty any more : ).

  25. AegonTargaryen Avatar

    And I really wish you would add a few additional rituals to Cruac in Secrets of the Covenants. Then Blood&Smoke / Vampire Second Edition would have a very satisfying stand alone Cruac system and the Blood Sorcery: Sacraments and Blasphemies rules would not be a must anymore, but only an additional option for those who like it (and I am not among those). The same is probably true for Theban Sorcery.

    1. Rose Bailey Avatar
      Rose Bailey

      I’m glad you like what you’re seeing with these rituals. As for more rituals, we’re planning to dev blog the porting of some first edition rituals. I’ve got a whole list. 🙂

      1. AegonTargaryen Avatar

        Sounds great! Can’t wait 🙂 !

      2. Maskah Avatar

        Let me know. I am very familiar with Cruac Rituals from first edition. I have some really good suggestions as far as flavor and balance goes.

      3. Maskah Avatar

        Let me know. I am very familiar with 1st edition Cruac rituals and have some good input as far as balance and flavor for the new edition.

  26. ale Avatar

    what is the benefit with the styles opening the void seems interesting but the other 2 just seem to just add some special effects and all are described as not being completely beneficial to the caster, so why would i want to put up to 5 merint dots in that??

    1. AegonTargaryen Avatar

      Both styles appear very powerful to me. To summon a natural desaster whenever you cast a high level Cruac ritual may not be your kind of thing, but it is very intimidating for sure. Thunderbolt and lightning, very very frightening ! And imagine casting a high level ritual in the center of the town. This would bring forth some serious destruction for sure. Such effects should not come for cheap. And the unpredictability prevents the effect from being abused, as the storyteller has the last saying in what’s happening. An Acolyte of Unbridled Chaos is nothing to laugh at.

      Creating powerful animal companions and spreading plant growth can also be very effective. Wouldn’t your 7 feet Doberman Pinscher dog ghoul strike terror into your enemies hearts?

      1. Maskah Avatar

        Here are my thoughts on Crúac Style’s from the document I posted:

        I really love what you are trying to do here, however I feel that the Merit’s in their current form really miss the mark. These feel like flaws and nothing beneficial to a player or character. With rewording these are far better suited as rituals. Anyone can summon and control and other worldly entity with much more precision using the rules on page 230 to 232 of the God Machine Rule book. In fact open the void has similar mechanics to Imperious Call, Servant from the Hidden realms, Veiled Curse and Eternal Guard rituals on page 201 to 202 of the Circle of the Crone book. However these rituals would need some serious rebalancing for B&S, but are still a great starting point for Crúac that involves spirits.

        • to •••••, Style is very valid for what you are doing. Maybe a dot in one style allows you to spend a will power for 5 bonus dice to a Crúac roll instead of the normal three. Maybe another dot allows you to spend a willpower point to add 1L to a ritual. In another instance another dot in another style can allow the Acolyte to accept a condition to gain a benefit in (maybe even out) of her casting. Temple Guardian, Viral Mythology and Mandragora Garden merits would be great candidates to be worked as a Style merit for Crúac.

        When reading the description for Crúac Style Merits I got the strong impression that these are themes that are adopted as the core of who an individual is and manifested in the real world. Anyone can make Mandragora, but it takes special individuals to cast through them, just at it takes special individuals to be guardians and special individuals to build their own legends.

  27. Maskah Avatar

    Gorgon’s Gaze needs to be slightly re-wroked. The victim’s Stamina + Resistance should be subtracted from the attack roll, which is there. The power should do 1 lethal per success to vampires and 1 aggravated to all others. If the caster obtains enough successes to fill in the target’s health box’s with a combination with a combination of lethal, aggravated and damage done with this spell they are turned to stone and are killed.

    If a vampire sustains a enough lethal, aggravated damage and damage from this spell to fill their health boxes they are put into torpor and can be revived by normal means of waking up from torpor.

    Granted you would have to come up with a way to figure out how much of their body is turned to stone as well as what parts since everyone is going to have different hit points.

    Instead of one target, make this anyone (even allies) who see (mechanics should be easier than eye contact) the crone when the spell is unleashed with in a number of yards dictated by their Cruac. Instead of being blinded, make the crone disfigured in some kind of Gorgon/Medusa kind of way that levies social penalties and breaks the masquerade until the spell is unleashed.

    Lastly make this a lvl 4 or 5 ritual. Keeping the attack of Presence + Occult + Cruac seems pretty balanced to me.

    In any case these are just some ideas off the top of my head you can play with to keep the theme you are going for and balance out this spell.

    1. Maskah Avatar

      I decided to do a breakdown that is more clear of what I think would make this spell work better, be balanced and stay thematic. These are the following current re-works I suggest:

      • The victim’s Stamina + Resistance should be subtracted from the attack roll, which is included in the original version.

      • The ritual should do 1 lethal per success to vampires and 1 aggravated to all others.

      • If the caster obtains enough successes to fill a non-Vampire target’s health box’s with a combination of lethal, aggravated and damage done with this spell they are turned to stone and are killed.

      • If a vampire sustains enough lethal, aggravated damage and damage from this spell to fill their health boxes they are put into torpor where they can revived as norma.

      • Sufficient supernatural healing reverses the effects unless a victim has sustained enough damage to kill them.

      • Instead of one target, make this anyone (even allies) who see (mechanics should be easier than eye contact) the crone when the spell is unleashed within a number of yards dictated by their Crúac.

      • Instead of being blinded, make the crone disfigured in some kind of Gorgon/Medusa kind of way that levies social penalties and breaks the masquerade until the spell is unleashed.

      • Keep the attack of Presence + Occult + Cruac.

      • Lastly make this 4 or 5 dot ritual.

      Aggravated damage in of itself is more than enough to destroy limbs and body parts of a non Vampire Character.

  28. Maskah Avatar

    I actually had a lot input which I put into your document and uploaded to my dropbox. Red is things I added, blue are input and lined out things I thought should be removed. I did get kind of lazy (tired) at the end with writing and mostly stuck to thoughts as to what should be removed or changed.

    In any case these are merely my suggestions. Link below.

  29. Maskah Avatar

    I updated my thoughts on Denying Hades today in my word doc. Below is the update on that:

    Vampire in Brooklyn comes to mind when I read Denying Hades in current form. The original mechanics are too similar to Gift of Lazarus (B&S 154), which is a Theban ritual. The best approach would be to treat this as Raise the Familiar (B&S 126). As a secondary ritual you could have it work like Undying Familiar (B&S 148) but for a living human. In either case they are technically a ghoul and in both cases this ritual is done at an Underworld Gate (God Machine Rules Update 226) where the person you are casting this on or their corpse has to be present.

  30. Maskah Avatar

    I am going to post final updates from my word doc here so they are not missed. Sometimes I forget a mechanic that exist, such as the case with The Mantle of Amorous Fire.

    There is an equivalent Lance ritual called Damned Radiance in the Lancea Sanctum Book on (page197) and it is 2 dots. In the B&S system this ritual overlaps with Awe (Majesty) and does pretty much the same thing, but Awe does it way better. This ritual does nothing more than allow for power creep (in current form) by stacking bonuses. I also say do not port Damned Radiance over in the future with the same mechanics for the same reasons.

    The biggest hole in this ritual is that physical exhaustion does not make sense for Vampires, unless they are being forced to sleep by the Sun, banes, or other supernatural affects.

    I had been working on a port for Fires of Inspiration and dancing would easily be a form of artwork one can create, even if it was an improvisation.

    Using conditions seemed far more appropriate for fires of inspiration. It also seemed a more appropriate way to regain willpower than Confidence in Adversity (another bad port in current form) since the Fires of Inspiration and creation of art can be a lengthy process among other things and you are not guaranteed to get the 3 successes on any roll to get the willpower in the first place. Creation is also a major theme of the crone.

    The original write of for Fires of Inspiration can be found in Circle of the Crone covenant book, pg204.

    Below is the rework for Fires of Inspiration:

    Fires of Inspiration –

    The ritualist turns her blood toward the process of artistic creation. For the rest of the night, she gains the inspired conditions a number of bonus dice equal to her dots in Crúac on all Craft or Expression dice pools to create a particular work of art. The artwork must be specified at the time the ritual is performed. If creation is an extended action, the bonus applies to every roll made that night. The ritualist suffers a penalty equal to the bonus on all Craft or Expression dice pools to create anything other than the specified artwork; She also gains the obsession condition (with regards to making her work of art) due to the ideas for her artistic creation are burning inside her up, and making it difficult to she cannot concentrate on anything else but her mystically charged idea.
    Alternatively an Acolyte may choose to invoke this ritual on another instead of herself.

    Another version of this ritual exists that can be cast upon others, rather than invoked on the sorceress herself. The roll to activate this counterpart ritual is penalized by the subject’s Composure.

    1. Maskah Avatar

      Here is the correct description for fires of inspiration as I have reworked it. A lot of original text was use so I used Red to show what I added and strike through to show what I would take out. None of that formatting transferred over.

      Fires of Inspiration (Correct Format)-

      The ritualist turns her blood toward the process of artistic creation. For the rest of the night, she gains the inspired condition to create a particular work of art. The artwork must be specified at the time the ritual is performed. She also gains the obsession condition (with regards to making the specified art) due to the ideas for her artistic creation burning inside her and making it difficult to concentrate on anything else.

  31. Maskah Avatar

    Last one for the night.

    Chorister is better suited as a 1 dot merit that has the additional prerequisite of having 1 dot in Allies Circle of the Crone and only allowing you access to the Altar Merit. Finally adding the option to refund or convert it to Status Circle of the crone. Below is my suggested write up:

    Chorister (•)

    Prerequisites: Allies Circle of the Crone • and Not a member of the Circle of the Crone

    Your character is not a member of the Circle of the Crone, but is close enough that she’s invited to rituals and observances.

    Effect: This Merit provides a handful of advantages:

    • While she cannot purchase Crúac, she may purchase the Altar Merit (see Vampire: The Requiem, p. 109) and contribute to rituals thusly.

    • If she ever formally joins the Circle of the Crone, she may choose to either refund this merit or convert it to one dot of Covenant Status.

    1. Maskah Avatar

      Glorious Reclamation

      Makes sense only from the Ancient Egyptian Covenant’s point of view. The mechanics are sound due to the higher than normal cost of completing a Theban ritual with Cruac.

      The following (if ancient mysteries is valid in the new mythology) implies that Theban Sorcery is actually stolen from the Ancient Egyptian Covenants:

      (Ancient Mysteries 173) The Lancea Sanctum has learned thata new bloodline has crawled from the sandpits of Egypt to test their faith. Creatures called the Bak-Ra are claiming, publicly, that the rituals and secrets of Thebes rightfully belong to them and that they were stolen by the thieves of the false prophet Longinus. Can the Bak-Ra prove their claims and can the Sanctified even allow them to try?

      (Ancient Mysteries 83) Asar has made a quick study of Crúac, but it is a far cry from the power he once wielded as a priest of Osiris. Theban Sorcery, of course, would be a better fit, but his hatred of the Lancea Sanctum makes any attempt to learn (or relearn) such magic impossible. If he were to regain even part of his memory, however, he might be able to lead an enterprising vampire to a treasure trove of mystical knowledge.

      (Ancient Mysteries 170) This specific passage is pretty damming “Ironically, the Sanctified claim the angel Amoniel led them to the tombs of Thebes. Further, Amoniel is a derivation of the Egyptian god Amun-Ra. Coincidence?”

      (Ancient Mysteries 167 to 173) There is a decent amount of detail on the Ancient Egyptian Covenants, but even more there is a lot to imply that the Ancient Egyptian Kindred invented Theban and that the Sanctified stole it.

      It is never explained in any book why all the Ancient Egyptian (yes they are still around) Kindred no longer know how to do Theban. They do imply they all shifted to the crone, but do not explain how that shift happened. Without the above-mentioned mythology, this merit does not make sense.

  32. Maskah Avatar

    Temple Guardian should actually be a Crúac Style Merit (instead of another fighting style) since there is a super natural feel to this merit. If it is changed to a Crúac Style Merit, the 4th and 5th dots would have to be written. I also go more into detail on the forms for Crúac Style discussion here:

    As far as the Merit as it stands written it makes more sense when you change Enyo’s Defense to the 1 dot and Athena’s Armor to a 2 dot. From what I gathered, this style is used to protect other acolytes and that should be the first thing they learn to do. I wanted to guard against power creep abuse, but still keep this style useful. The addition of Crúac also makes this very Crone and not some Merit anyone can use. You can see the text changes I made in red on the word document I posted above. Below is what it looks like with my changes:

    Temple Guardian (• to •••, Style)
    Prerequisites: Crúac • and Athletics •• or Brawl •• or Weaponry ••

    The Circle of the Crone is no stranger to persecution. This Fighting Style was developed by a pre-Circle cult in ancient times, so its Gorgons could defend the group from the newly ascendant Lancea et Sanctum’s purge of all pagan traditions. The practitioner learns how to channel their Crúac in order to better protect sacred sites and allies.

    Effect: Your character gains access to the following abilities at their respective dot levels. Temple Guardian abilities can be used together in the same turn. For example, Athena’s Armor can be used when your character protects someone with Enyo’s Defense.

    Enyo’s Defense (•): Your character defends her sisters at all costs. So long as your character has access to her Defense, she can reflexively move up to her Speed in yards to intercept an attack against another character. The acolyte must still have their move action available as this counts as that action for the turn. The attack roll is made against your character’s Defense (multiple attacker penalties apply normally), and she suffers any resulting damage.

    Athena’s Armor (••): Your character stands her ground for her temple, and remains unshaken. When protecting another character with Enyo’s Defense or defending a sacred covenant (crone) site, she may ignore the first level of damage from any attack that hits her. Her haven is also included when considering sacred sites for purposes for this merit. This merit may not be used in conjunction with any other merit or power that reduces damage, unless expressly stated. It does combine with Resilience.

    Eris’s Glory (•••): Your character’s relentless defense of her sisters inspires them to greatness. Any turn where your character takes lethal or aggravated damage from a successful attack, choose an ally to gain the Inspired Condition. Additionally, any wound penalties your character is currently suffering from protecting allies add to their Crúac rolls while she is in their presence.

  33. Blitzkitty Avatar

    So, just my two cents here. Why are Unbridled Chaos and Primal Creation merits? They feel a LOT more like heavy tradeoffs, since you can’t -actively- control what’s affected. It’s just adding a bunch of random chaotic crap around you, and… To be quite frank, it seems situationally if at all helpful. Now, Opening the Void is flat-out useful. It’s a single minion per ritual, which is a side-benefit. I’d just say that in general, the first two need a good deal more work.

  34. […] we got into the grisly magic of the Circle of the Crone last time, I thought this time we’d talk a little about politics. Of course, the Carthians […]