Mortis

Covetously guarded by the Cappadocians, this Discipline is similar in structure to that of Thaumaturgy in that it is divided into paths and rituals. Concerned with the vast secrets of death itself, Cainites who practice and study this discipline have a distinct advantage over their own and others' existences. Indeed, who knows better about the undead that someone who studies the dead?

Most practitioners keep to themselves, and often, over a long period of time, develop a lethargy about the world. They sometimes become obsessed with death itself and a develop preoccupation with vampirism. It is believed that after death, the soul departs the body, but that "something" remains. This echo of life is what users of this Discipline enact upon.

Mortis has three main paths, all of which are common as a primary, as well as a variety of rituals.

The Grave's Decay

This path comes from the observations of entropy and time's ultimate power over all. It gives the Mortis practitioner the ability to harness and focus this wrath.

Level 1: Destory the Husk


Just as the name suggests, this ability gives the Necromancer the power to turn a human corpse into dust. Simple and fool proof for removing evidence. The player spends a blood point, dropping it onto the corpse. A roll of Intelligence + Medicine (diff 6) is made. Only one success is necessary with the number of turns equal to the five minus the number of successes. While useful, it is not foolproof. Mortal Magic, Thaumaturgy, Auspex, or even Mortis abilities can usually tell something about the identity of the remains.

Level 2: Rigor Mortis


This level of the path focuses the change that comes over decaying corpses. It allows the Cainite to force a living or undead body to a state of rigidity not unlike the process of Rigor Mortis. Only an enormous effort of will can circumvent this effect.

The Necromancer spends a point of Willpower and rolls Manipulation + Medicine (diff 7). Each success freezes the target in place for one turn. A botch renders the target immune to the use of the entire path for the next 24 hours. Targets must be visible and no more than about 25 yards away. The target is treated as if he is staked where only a Willpower roll (diff 7) with at least 2 successes can break the spell. If the target fails to resist he receives a level of bashing damage and an added turn of being frozen.

Level 3: Wither


Further bringing forth the power of decay, and not unlike the forth level of the Thaumaturgy path, Hands of Destruction, this power allows the Cainite to cripple an opponent's limb. Muscles shrivel away, skin peels, bone becomes brittle. The limb is practically useless, unable to exert much force at all.

This ability can also be used on other appendages such as hair, or parts of the face. It can even render a sense organ ineffective. Note that this cannot be used on vital organs.

A point of Willpower is spent to enact this abillity, and then the Cainite touches the limb. If the contact is hostile, Dexterity + Brawl is used to hit as normal. The struck limb is crippled and unusable, the victim suffering two aggravated wounds. As with all aggravated damage, mortals cannot heal and are permanently afflicted.

Other Effects: A crippled limb has a strength of 0 and if a leg is afflicted, the victim cannot move faster than a hop or dragging limp (Similar to the Lame Flaw). A single eye or ear being affected gives a +1 difficulty to relevant Perception rolls while both would cause blindness or deafness (Blind or Deaf Flaws). An afflicted tongue imposes the effects of the Mute Flaw, and if a victim's face is affected their Appearance is reduced by 1 for each aggravated wound.

Level 4: Corrupt the Undead Flesh


This path blurs the line between life and undeath, temporarily turning an undead creature into something just living enough to carry and suffer from diseases, loss of strength, clumsiness, and the inability to keep blood in his system. This pernicious influence is extremely virulent among mortals. They pick the disease up simply by spending a few hours near the victim. Other Cainites must consume the victim's blood to do so, but they suffer just as the original victim does, including passing it to others.

The disease fades after roughly a week.

The victim must be within the Necromancer's line of sight and no more than 20 yards away. She rolls Manipulation +Medicine (difficulty 6) and spends a point of Willpower. The victim's player must roll Stamina (and Fortitude if appropriate) against a difficulty equal to the attacker's Willpower. If the player scores more successes than the victim, he acquires a virulent disease immediately with the following affects:

*The victim's Strength and Wits are halved (rounded down)
*The victim loses one point of Dexterity
*The victim must spend one additional blood point every evening to awaken. Mortals lose one health level per day.
*The victim must roll Self-Control or Instinct after each time they feed, with difficulty of 8. On a failure, the vampire cannot keep the blood he just ingested inside his body and will vomit it up in great horrifying gouts of gore. Mortals vomit food.

Every evening at sunset, the victim has a chance to get rid of the plague. He must roll Stamina (+ Fortitude), with a difficulty equal to 11 minus the number of sunsets since aquiring the plaque. On a successful roll, the character fights the disease and begins to recover. He regains his ability to manage blood, and he heals back one lost Attribute point per hour.

Level 5: Dissolve the Flesh


In an archetypal coming of full circle, this path brings back the power of the first level, Destroy the Husk, but with great amplification. This power can now be used against Cainites, allowing the Necromancer to turn a vampiric flesh into ash as though the target has been left out in the sun.

The Mortis practitioner spend two blood points and a Willpower point, giving the blood the full power of entropy's might. Necrofied blood that touches undead flesh causes whole chucks of the victim's body to crumble to ash, though a few drops are relatively ineffective. The player rolls Willpower against a difficulty of the victim's Stamina + 3. For every success, the target takes one aggravated wound. Every wound taken represents the loss of about one-eighth of the target's weight.

It is said that the dust created in this process has many mystical properties that could be useful to a Cappadocian, Tremere, or other type of sorcerer.

The Corpse in the Monster

The corpse is the gateway between life and death. This path gives the Necromancer insight into that gateway, and the ability to utilize it.

Level 1: Masque of Death


This ability allows the Cainite to assume the visage of a corpse, offering several advantages. It allows him to hide in plain sight in a tomb, crypt, or mausoleum. This power can also be used on another Cainite, as though it were a minor curse.

The necromancer spends one blood point to enact the ability. The person afflicted loses two points of Dexterity and Appearance (minimums: Dex - 1, App - 0), and also gains two dice to any Intimidation rolls. If this ability is used on someone else, then the necromancer must make a Stamina + Medicine roll (difficulty of target's Stamina + 3 if resisting). If the character is hiding (not moving), then any onlookers must roll Perception + Medicine with a difficulty of 7 and a minimum of 5 successes to distinguish the character from a standard corpse. The affects last for a full night and day, or until the sorcerer removes them.

Level 2: Cold of the Grave


While most undead feel pain, the dead do not. This level of the path allows the character to temporarily take on the unfeeling semblance of the dead. His skin becomes unusually cold, and his breath mists even in warm air (exceptional senses might pick up a fine red mist in the air).

A sense of lethargy clouds the character's thoughts, where little seems important enough to worry about as the character is in effect one step closer to the gates of death.

A Willpower point is spent and for the remainder of the scene, the character takes no wound penalties and gains an additional die to all dice pools that involve resisting emotional manipulation, such as Intimidation or Empathy. This works reflectivelt as well, causing the player to lose one die from dice pools to emotionally manipulate others.

Level 3: Curse of Life


Undead victims inflicted by this ability regain unpleasant aspects of their former lives, creating a fale life to remind them of the worse parts of it. Though determined by the living memory of the necromancer, affects may include hunger, thirst, sweat, urination, defecation, a decrease in senses, or even a vulnerability to various attacks.

Spending a Willpower point, the necromancer rolls Intelligence + Medicine with a difficulty of 8. As with most Mortis abilities, the target must be within line of sight and no more than 20 yards away. The target suffers a +2 difficulty to all rolls, being distraction by the weakness of living while gaining no benefits. If he spends a Willpower point per scene he can ignore the distractions, temporarily removing the penalty. Additionally, the victim cannot use blood to raise his Physical Attributes while he is cursed. This cannot be eliminated by spending any number of Willpower points. The curse last until the next sunset.

Level 4: Gift of the Corpse


Taking on even more corpse-like attributes, this power allows the Cainite to ignore many inherent vampiric weaknesses.

The player spends one WIllpower point and rolls Stamina + Occult with difficulty of 8. For every success, the character can spend one turn in a state in which is is more akin to an animated corpse than a vampire. Holy artifacts and sanctified ground have to effect, and the character is immune to frenzy and Rotschreck. Sunlight does only mild damage (bashing and only bared skin on a clear day). Being staked is of no danger, either, and Fire only causes lethal damage. These elements take full effect upon the ending of the power's duration.

The character's aura also may show a pulsating red tinge to it. The character's appearance also becomes even more palid and corpse-like than what is normal for Cappadocians. He is also free to use any other vampiric advantages, however it is sometimes considered a rejection of the echo of humanity in the Cainite form and may interfere with a character's road advancement.

Level 5: Gift of Life


This final level of the path culminates the power of the Cappadocian's knowledge over life and death. It blurs the line between life and undeath, giving the character the ability to experience the richness of mortal life, however it is only temporary.

The character may eat, drink, and even enjoy food. He may experience and enjoy sex, and even the sun does not harm him.

However, this requires a very dark cost (depending on one's point of view). It requires an enourmous amount of blood to enact. The player spends twelve blood points, burning as much blood as possibly each turn until she meets that level. He then rolls Stamina + Occult with difficulty of 6, needing only one success. A botch can be catastrophic, causes sometimes death to the necromancer, or even accidentally embracing the victim from which the character is drawing blood from. The 12 blood points must be spent continously, if broken over several turns, though he may continue feeding while spending the points.

Fortitude difficulties to soak sunlight damage are halved, and no damage is taken if the character is covered. He is still vulnerable to holy artifacts, faith, and being staked. Fire damage is lethal instead of aggravated, but Frenzy and Rotschreck difficulties are halved (rounded up), and he can remain active during the day without dice pool caps, though fatique still sets in.

This power has a rubber band effect. After the duration is completely, the character suffers six nights of lowered difficulty to resist frenzy by three. Note also that this false-life might affect the character's road.

Cadaverous Animation

While the other paths deal with relating death to other matters, Cadaverous Animation gets to the root of Necromantic skills by dealing with corpses directly.

Level 1: Trace of Life


The Cappadocian with this ability can cause a corpse to exhibit one or two traits of life by directly stimulating the dead flesh to twitch or move slowly. This power is most often used either to convince those beloved of the deceased that their loved one is alive, or to cause them terror. The vampire cannot force the corpse to speak, and if he makes its eyes open, any doubt that the subject is still dead is dispelled by the milky, rotted appearance of its orbs.

System: The player rolls Manipulation + Occult (difficulty 6). With even one success, the character can make a single corpse within 30 feet twitch or make similar slight movements. This ability can even replicate the throbbing of a human's pulse. More successes enable more realistic motions, though the character cannot make the corpse do more than replicate a sleeping mortal, even with many successes. A single success allows a quick twitch, a deep breath or another single movement. Four or more successes allow the vampire to establish a pattern of movement a pulse, breathing, slight stirring or even all three that lasts for a scene. A failure means the power has no effect, but the player can roll again next turn. A botch causes the corpse to rapidly decay as though the Cainite had used the Destroy the Husk power of the Graves Decay path. In any case, observers must roll Perception + Medicine (difficulty 7) and earn more successes than the character did in order to realize that the corpse is, in fact, dead. This difficulty drops to 5 if the observer touches the body and notices the lack of warmth. Success is automatic if the observer can look at the corpses milky eye. The Mortis wielder can use Trace of Life on a vampire in Torpor. The results are the same as with a corpse, save that the player needs two additional successes. (Therefore, he needs a minimum of three successes to achieve any effect at all.) This power is ineffective on vampires of stronger blood (i.e., lower generation) than the wielder.

Level 2: Call the Humuncular Servant


With a small application of her blood, a Cappadocian using Call the Homuncular Servant can cause a small, mobile piece of a dead body to slough off the rest of the corpse and move around under its own power. Generally, the Cappadocian animates a hand, but the power has been used in the past to enable eyeballs to roll around under their own power, and even stranger stories occasionally make the rounds. The homunculus has mystical senses enabling it to see and hear, it hides extremely well, it moves quickly, and it has a modicum of its own intelligence. When it is within a quarter-mile of the vampire, the servant can communicate what it sees and hears with the vampire who created it, via a rough sort of telepathy. The servant is intelligent enough to understand simple spoken or telepathic commands, but it lacks initiative, a failing that is particularly obvious when it leaves the Cainites radius of control. The servant cannot carry anything, although jewelry or other very small objects might be attached to it.

System: The player spends a blood point and rolls Dexterity + Occult (difficulty 7) while the character drips vitae on the appropriate piece of an available corpse. With one success, the
corpses hand (or other member) becomes an animated creature. If the roll fails, the character may attempt to create a servant from the same member again next turn. A botch spoils the life-like residue in the cadaver, making it forever useless for the purposes of this path. The homunculus is
totally obedient to its maker, and it utterly ignores other orders or requests (although rumors persist of a ritual to usurp control of a servant). It can communicate with its maker telepathically as long as it doesnt move more than a quarter-mile away. If it does, it acts according to its most recent instructions from him until it hears otherwise. The servant remains active for one scene per success. If the player spends blood again and rerolls Dexterity + Occult at the end of this duration, he can extend the life span of the servant for a further scene per success. This process can continue indefinitely, and many Cappadocians have a long-term homunculus of this sort. The servant can be killed in combat like any other creature, and it does not gain a vampires resistance to bashing damage.

Level 3: Raise the Corpse to Service


This ability allows the Cappadocian to bring a lifeless corpse into a semblance of unlife, turning it into a shambling mockery. Raise the Corpse to Service works equally well whether the corpse is just half an hour old or has decomposed to a purely skeletal state. The servant is not capable of independent thought, but it can follow spoken orders perfectly well. A corpse servant is not a combatant, however. It can interfere with the vampires enemies by getting in their way or trying to take their things, but it does not have the ability to attack. It is most akin to a shambling major-domo, and it is a mainstay of Cappadocian monasteries and havens.

System: The player spends a blood point and rolls Manipulation + Occult (difficulty 6) as the character drips vitae into the corpse's mouth. The process takes three turns, and the corpse servant is active for one day per success on this roll. If the roll fails, the character may attempt to create a servant from the same corpse again after the three turns have passed. A botch destroys the corpse in an unholy flame. The servant is not completely stupid. It can do simple household tasks such as tidy, prepare meals, and escort visitors through a home. However, it is a corpse, not a vampire. It is slowly decomposing, and exhibits symptoms of that decay. It cannot speak, but it can gesture (though its gestures are typically ponderous and simple ). While it cannot fight, it is happy to attempt to relieve guests of heir heavy weapons and armor, incompetently trying to disarm foes if ordered to do so. Once the duration of the raising ends, the corpse can be raised to service a new at no penalty.

Level 4: Call the Athanatos


Unlike Raise the Corpse to Service, Call the Athanatos turns a human or animal corpse into a true monster, an animated killer. The Cappadocian controls the undead warrior through force of will, but the thing itself is driven by only one motivation: death. Legends surrounding this power suggest that the undead warrior is a tool not of its creator, but of Death itself, an unholy spawn of the Grim Reaper. The creature animated with this power is a skilled combatant, familiar with most melee weapons even if its body was not that of a warrior in life (though the corpse of a warrior is more effective then that of a peasant). Anthanatos (plural Anthanatoi) is a slightly ironic usage of Herodotus' term for the so-called "Immortals," elite guards of the ancient kings of Persia. Cappadocians of a less classical bent often simply call the warriors corpse knights or ministerialis (a name borrowed from the serf-knights of Germany).
This power must be used with caution. Stories abound of foolish Cappadocians who created an undead warrior only to lose control of it and be taken to their doom by their own creation

System: The player spends two blood points and rolls Stamina + Occult (difficulty 8), as the character spends five minutes dripping vitae upon a corpse in a ritual pattern. Successes means the corpse rises to become an animated warrior (with the game statistics listed on page 312). Additional successes can improve the warrior's combat abilities. The warrior immediately attempts to become free of the character's control. Though mindless, it is strong-willed, and if the Cainite loses control of the warrior, it will attack the nearest thing, be it mortal or vampire. The character must roll Willpower (difficulty 7) to retain control of the Athanatos, at which point it obeys commands.
The warrior's game statistics are on page 312. Note that if the corpse from which the warrior springs had (in life) Brawl, Dodge, Archery or Melee ratings greater then the creature's default, the creature has those statistics instead. Additionally, extra successes on the initial Stamina + Occult roll can be applied to give the warrior points in any of those abilities, with a maximum of 5 in any of them. The warrior is utterly incompetent at all but the simplest non-combat activities. It can open a door, but pouring a goblet of wine is beyond it.
This ability lasts a full night, at which time the undead warrior must be reanimated with the expenditure of more blood and another Stamina + Occult roll. Additionally, the character must keep a tight lid on the monster's murderous impulses. If the undead warrior moves more then 100 yards away from the character, it acts on its own, trying to kill nearly anything it encounters. The Cappadocian can attempt to impose his will on the thing again with a new Willpower roll, but he must get within a few yards of the murderous thing to do so. If the creature does enter combat, the character must make another Willpower roll (difficulty 7) to retain control when the combat ends and no further enemies are in the vicinity.

Level 5: Muster the Corpse Army


This power is similar to Call the Athanatos, except that it creates a number of warriors to serve the character. Mustering a corpse army is an even greater risk to the user than Call the Athanatos is. While a loss of will for a Cappadocian using Call the Athanatos means that she might have to face down one of her own creations, loss of will for a Cappadocian facing down a corpse army means that hell surely have to fight half a dozen of the same creatures.

System: The player spends three blood points and rolls Stamina + Occult (difficulty 8), as the character spends 10 minutes ritually sprinkling vitae upon as many corpses as she wishes to animate. Each success animates two undead warriors. Additional successes cannot be used to improve the abilities of a hordes members, but the corpses of soldiers and knights are more potent than those of peasants or highborn ladies. Failure and botches have the same effects as in Call the Athanatos. As with that power, the Cappadocian must maintain rigid control over the murderous things she has summoned, a task far more difficult with an army than a single warrior. The Cappadocian must impose and maintain control exactly as described under Call the Athanatos, save that the difficulty of the Willpower roll is 9. As with single warriors, the army lasts for a full night. This power can be used more safely to create a group of corpse servants. The difficulty remains the same, but successes can be used to create corpse servants who do not require Willpower rolls to control.

See Also: Mortis Rituals
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