Is this thing on?
Hi everyone. David A Hill Jr here. It’s been a while since I’ve chatted V20 Dark Ages with all of you. Since we last spoke, I moved to the other side of the planet. It turns out, that’s actually pretty difficult to do. I’ve also had a lot of stuff going on with Hunter: The Vigil, and I’ve been catching up on Trinity/Aeon, Idigam Chronicle, W20 Umbra, REDACTED, and Too REDACTED REDACTED: The REDACTED REDACTED.
I’ve brought on a few new writers, and we’re hunkering down in the next few weeks to knock this baby out of the park. Some drafts are in editing. Some are getting revisions. I’m very excited for it.
So here’s Road of Heaven, written by the wonderful Anna Kreider who helped me with the outstanding Vampire chapter of Dark Ages: Darkening Sky. This is a great example of the updated Roads. We wanted to give a little more meat to each, offering options and ideas as part of their writeups.
Road of Heaven
Many Kindred feel the mark of Caine as a curse and rail against fate and the injustice. However, others cling to the belief that divine purpose guides the hand of fate and that even great evil can serve a greater purpose. Kindred who walk the Road of Heaven devote themselves to understanding that purpose through subservience to a higher power.
Known as the Faithful, most Kindred on the Road of Heaven cling to the faiths that they held in mortal life. Outwardly, the Road of Heaven appears as the most fragmented and chaotic of roads; medieval Europe teems with religions, and it is not uncommon for older Cainites to retain faiths that no longer have mortal adherents. Differences between Faithful tend to be entrenched, with different Paths often representing distinct religious traditions.
These differing religious traditions inform how Kindred on the Road of Heaven make sense of their Embrace. Christian Cainites liken themselves to Job, seeing themselves as subjects of a cosmic test of character. Muslim Cainites see the Embrace as a call to destroy the servants of Shaitan. Jewish Kindred find the Embrace an invigorating call to scholarship, a new avenue for insight into the nature of God. Druidic Kindred reason that serving the Great Balance requires light as well as dark. And a servant of the old Roman Gods believes that she had somehow offended one of the gods and must strive to regain that god’s favor.
However they practice their faith, every Kindred on the Road of Heaven believes in the existence of a higher power and its dominion over all things, that the mark of Caine is part of a divine plan, and only through submission to divine will can the Beast be contained.
Ethics: The Road of Heaven is a bit different from other Roads; there is no base Road; rather adherents of the Road agree to a core set of beliefs:
The existence of a higher power and its dominion over all things
Kindred existence as part of a divine plan
The Embrace is a call to direct service of the divine
Serving divine will over individual will
Following divine law and rejecting evil is the only way to shackle the Beast
Each Faithful must choose their own Path, which determines more specific ethics and morality that they adhere to.
Organization: The organization of the Faithful breaks down largely along the lines of Path and faith traditions. Many Faithful prefer to gather for worship in communities of like faith, particularly followers of the Abrahamic faiths. Jewish Kindred place great importance on forming and maintaining communities of faith and tend to limit unnecessary contact with Kindred of other faiths. Muslim and Christian Kindred also tend to form large local congregations of faith, although the Christian communities tend to be rather more fragmented as disagreements over doctrine and appropriate practice cause frequent rifts among some congregations.
Some Kindred, however, often those of pagan traditions feel their faith is best practiced in secret, in sacred groves and caves, out in nature where faith is between oneself and the spirits of nature. A few even prefer to gather with groups of Kindred of mixed faith, discussing and debating the merits and flaws of the different faiths.
Aura: Holiness. The Faithful receive bonuses whenever they are in situations where being seen as holy would lend them social advantage.
Virtues: Conscience and Self-Control
Paths: The Path of Christ, Derech Chaim – the Path of Life, the Path of the Prophet, the Path of Guiding Spirits, the Path of Watchful Gods
The Abrahamic religions – Christianity, Judaism, and Islam – are nominally the most similar in their approaches to using the Road of Heaven to master the Beast. However, despite a core common set of ethics and common commitment to the monotheistic worship of the God of Abraham, each faith chooses to emphasize very different practices in their daily worship practices.
Medieval Christians are very focused on maintaining sexual purity and spreading the Gospel of Christ through proselytizing. Medieval Islam is focused on care for the weak and vulnerable and commitment to practicing humility and piety. And medieval Judaism is commited to maintaining and protecting communities of Jewish faithful, submitting to God as interpreted by rabbinical authority, and maintaining ritual purity. As such, the Paths for each faith are very different.
The Path of Christ (Christianity)
Minimum wrongdoing Rationale
10 Failing to denounce corruption and sin All that evil needs to triumph is the inaction of the righteous
9 Acting out of pride, avarice, lust, or other sinful impulse The road to the Beast is paved in sin
8 Bearing false witness a lying tongue is hateful in the eyes of the Lord
7 Causing harm to a pious person God protects the innocent
6 Feeding from an innocent without permission Corruption of the innocent is a grave sin
5 Blasphemy or heresy in word or act Blasphemy is a sin against God
4 Murder of innocents Thou shalt not kill, sayeth the Lord
3 Worshiping false idols Thou shalt not have any other god before me
2 Aiding demons or supernatural evil It is the duty of the righteous to smite the wicked
1 Failing to spread the Gospel of Christ It is the duty of all Christians to spread the good news of our Lord
Derech Chaim – the Path of Life (Judaism)
Minimum Wrongdoing Rationale
10 Failing to maintain a state of ritual purity And ye shall be holy men unto me
9 Unnecessary contact with non-Jews for the protection of Jewish communities
8 Failing to find a rabbinical authority to make rulings for you, and obey those rulings. In whatever place there is a profanation of God’s name, they do not show respect to their rabbi
7 Failing to obey the laws and customs of the local Jewish community The spiritual needs of the individual can only be met through community
6 Failing to maintain a connection to a local Jewish community Jews cannot exist in isolation
5 Drinking impermissible blood For the life of the flesh is in the blood
4 Worshipping idols Hear, O Israel, God is One.
3 Committing sexual violence It is worse to wrong a fellow person than it is to wrong God
2 Murder Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed
1 Endangering the Jewish community You shall not stand by the blood of your fellow
The Path of the Prophet (Islam)
Minimum wrongdoing rationale
10 Failing to honor your elders say not to them a word of contempt but address them in terms of honor
9 Failing to care for the defenseless all power is a gift from God
8 Being dishonest or unfair in your dealings with others Give full measure for measure and weigh with a balance that is straight
7 Breaking a promise for every covenant will be inquired into on the Day of Reckoning
6 Boastfulness or arrogance Successful are those who humble themselves in prayers
5 Feeding from a non-Muslim He hath forbidden that which has been immolated to any other god
4 Killing unjustly Nor take life – which Allah has made sacred – for unjust cause
3 Acknowledging any god but Allah (and Muhammad is His Prophet) Take not with Allah another object of worship
2 Breaking the unity of Islam You Muslims are the best nation brought out for Mankind
1 Failing to submit to the will of Allah as revealed through his Prophet and revelation God alone possesses all power and glory
The Path of the Eightfold Wheel takes its name from Druidic paganism and its focus on honoring the gods and spirits of nature through devotion to nature and the spirits, serving balance in all things, and a rotating calendar of astronomically based festivals. Many Kindred who walk this path are of the Druidic faith, though many shamanistic pagan traditions would have Kindred on this path as well.
The Path of Watchful gods is less practiced than it used to be. Its adherents mainly consist of followers of the old Greek and Roman faiths, though there are practitioners of more modern pagan traditions that walk this Path as well. Kindred on this Path devote themselves to serving the gods through making regular sacrifices, honoring and protecting that which the gods deem sacred, and adhering to strict codes of honor.
Path of the Eightfold Wheel
Minimum wrongdoing Rationale
10 Failing to spend time alone in the silence of nature It is through nature that the gods are revealed to us
9 Betraying a secret The Druids teach us that we must be blind where secrets are concerned
8 Failing to care for the sick and the weak One cannot be strong without concern for others
7 Letting pride come before justice One must be strong toward the strong and weak toward the strengthless
6 Failing to honor the spirits of nature The spirits aid and guide us
5 Failing to honor the gods The gods created the world that sustains us
4 Breaking a promise A promise is a sacred bond
3 Acting to upset the balance of nature For the righteous must seek balance in all things
2 Failure to conduct yourself with honor The gods honor those who live with honor
1 Failure to seek self knowledge Never permit self-deception to obscure knowledge of the self
Path of the Ancestors
Minimum wrongdoing Rationale
10 Failing to make regular sacrifices Regular sacrifices give the gods strength
9 Lying Do not dishonor yourself in the eyes of the gods with false truths
8 Offending the gods or spirits with violence Do not disrespect the spirits with violence, for they are quick to take offense and their memory is long
7 Failing to act honorably The gods reward honor and punish dishonor
6 Stealing from offerings or sacrifices Give the gods the first fruits of your labor and do not grudge them their portion
5 Not honoring priests Priests are the servants of order and balance favored by the gods
4 Killing a sacred animal Honor that which the gods have decreed sacred
3 Defiling sacred places Defiling a temple is like cursing the gods themselves
2 Damaging the image of the gods One should strive always to honor the gods in thought and deed
1 Reviling a god or the gods The gods are the source of all life and goodness