by: Belladonna for Sanguinus Curae
This Path begins with a Ritual that unlocks the potential for the execution of the Path in the kindred initiate. This ritual focuses a portion of the warlock's magic into an inner fire of passion, at once more and less than any she may have experienced in life. Because these feelings and this ability are foreign to the dead flesh of the kindred, she runs the risk of being consumed by it and losing all control. The warlock that fails to assert herself in the opening ritual will be lost to the uncontrollable fire that is awoken within her, becoming a mindless slave to the ecstasy of sensation.
The first part of the Ritual that begins this Path is the preparation of an alchemical solution which includes several rare substances, generally requiring a full night to prepare. The resulting substance is used to coat the blade of a knife, scalpel, or dagger used in the second part of the Ritual.
The second part of the ritual is the most crucial, though by no means the last. In this stage, the prepared blade is used by the Master of the Path to inscribe a complex ten-sided mystical symbol into the skin of the initiate. The symbol is cut into the kindred's flesh just above the base of her spine. Because of the coating on the blade, this symbol will become a scar that cannot be healed away, and can only be removed by cutting away the flesh itself, which will result in severe pain for the kindred, and heals very slowly. Removing the symbol will also remove the kindred's ability to use any level of the path, and their flesh will return to unfeeling death. The process of the inscription is both exceedingly painful and exhilarating for the initiate, as they feel certain dead reflexes and reactions reawakened to new acuteness within their body. By the end of the inscribing process the initiate feels her body coursing with sexual and sensual energy and power, and even the slightest touch brings ecstasy.
It is at this point that the third and final stage of the ritual begins. The Master of the Path must allow the initiate to be stimulated to extreme degrees, forcing the initiate to cope with the overpowering and maddening temptations of ecstasy. Some Masters do this by allowing the initiate to feed, although this is the most extreme version of this stage and most often results in failure. Others simply have the initiate stimulated by touch, either by ghouls or by their own hand. The initiate must do battle with her own instincts to give in to the overpowering pleasure, she must assert herself over her animal mind and learn to both experience and control these extreme sensations. If she cannot be the master of her own passions, then she will never be the master of anyone else's.
In system terms, the character must make an extended Self Control roll over the course of an hour, rolling six times in that period. If she does not achieve ten cumulative successes (difficulty 8), she has failed and has lost herself to the animal passion - her mind and will consumed by a lust for sensation. The only way to save her then is to remove the sigil from her skin and begin the process again from the beginning.
The presence of the sigil on the skin of the initiate and the underlying passions that it evokes also carry an interesting side effect that is considered very useful. As long as the initiate is subject to the effects of this Path and sigil, she is relatively resistant to all other effects of influence and persuasion, including Dominate, Presence, the Vaulderie, and the Blood Bond. This ability is not without cost, for it does require a considerable effort of both Will and Blood to fully resist the effects of these influences ((In system terms, the character must spend a point of Will and a point of Blood to fully resist the effects of Dominate, Presence, the Vaulderie, or the Blood Bond. Once both have been spent, the power applied against them is considered to have failed.))
The most basic ability of this path allows the kindred to share her power to perceive ecstasy with any lover she takes. In one act she becomes the most perfect lover her partner has ever known, because it seems to that partner as though her every touch is indescribable ecstasy. The practical function of this is that it creates in the target or victim a deep physical fascination with the kindred. The victim's heart and mind may belong elsewhere, but their body's desires now belong to their kindred lover, and the magnetic pull - even need - is virtually impossible to deny. Presence may cause fascination, and the Blood bond may create a perverted form of true love - but this creates a physical addiction like the powerful need for a drug. The victim's life and priorities become re-ordered over night, with the pleasure felt with the kindred lover becoming number one. The victim begins to suffer an obsession that will affect their work, their daily life, and their relationships almost immediately. If they deny their urge, the distraction and obsession only becomes worse. It may be months or years before they can break the need entirely, and even then they may never enjoy 'normal' relationships again.
Blood Cost: 1
The victim may attempt a Self Control roll during the initial stages of seduction by the kindred (difficulty 8). If they succeed, their recourse is to avoid the seduction entirely. If the victim goes through with it, then they are lost to the addiction. Once the addiction takes hold, it is treated like any other consuming addiction. Self Control rolls must be made by the victim each time they wish to do anything but give in to the urge (difficulty 10), this includes leaving the presence of the kindred, concentrating on anything but the next time they will be together, attempting to function normally in life, and so on. This addiction cannot be resisted in any other way, and is debilitating beyond belief.
While the Touch of the Houri creates an addiction in the victim, Bonds of Ecstasy takes this addiction to a new and far more useful level. With this ability, the kindred binds her victim's heart, will, and soul to her with chains of desire and pleasure. The victim becomes the kindred's willing slave, eager to offer any service or make any sacrifice to please their mistress. No request made by the kindred is too unreasonable once the victim is bound. Careers have been destroyed, countries betrayed, and fortunes lost by the victim's of these Bonds.
Blood Cost: 1
The kindred need only establish the bonds once, spending the Blood needed while making love to her victim. Once the Bonds are in place, she is only required to spend a point of Will while giving instructions or making requests, and her victim is unable to deny her. If the Kindred attempts to establish the Bonds of Ecstasy over a victim that has not yet succumbed to the Touch of the Houri, then the victim may attempt the same Self Control roll (difficulty 8) to resist the seduction and leave before the act is completed. The same restrictions apply, however - if the victim goes through with the full act, then they cannot resist.
To achieve this level of mastery over her victim, the Kindred must first employ the Bonds of Ecstasy. Once this is done, Call of the Siren may be invoked whenever the Kindred wishes. Through an effort of the Blood, the kindred can summon her victim across any distance, calling to them and forcing them to hasten to her side. The Call is irresistible, and the victim will do anything required, even commit theft and murder, to respond as swiftly as possible.
Blood Cost: 1
Call of the Siren cannot be employed on any victim that is not bound by Bonds of Ecstasy. The kindred need only spend a point of Blood when making the call, and the victim is helpless to do anything but obey and respond immediately. This cannot be delayed or resisted. If the victim is held by force against responding to the Call, they will go mad - willing to kill their captors to escape, or die in the attempt.
To achieve this level of mastery over her victim, the Kindred must first employ the Bonds of Ecstasy. The Kiss of the Nocturne allows the Kindred to go beyond request and command over her victim, and begin taking what she desires directly from them. The Kiss allows the Kindred to form a temporary mental and emotional bond with her victim while in the act of making love, stealing thoughts and secrets from her victim's mind, and thieving emotions and reactions from them. The victim cannot resist these thefts, and is left with a vaguely lessened and disconnected feeling. In time the kindred may be able to steal the victim's entire life experience - which leaves the victim as a distracted, helpless, amnesiac husk.
Kiss of the Nocturne can be highly addictive for the Kindred as well, especially if she suffers from ennui or emotional isolation. The emotions she steals are felt as acutely as the moment they were experienced by the victim, essentially granting the Kindred a piece of the mortal reality she has lost. Some kindred begin to treat these human emotions like a drug, reliving parts of herself through this means that her existence as a vampire has left dead long ago.
Blood Cost: 1
Kiss of the Nocturne cannot be employed on any victim that is not bound by Bonds of Ecstasy. The kindred need only spend a point of Blood while engaged in the act of lovemaking with her victim, and the Kiss takes effect. After that she can take from her victim's mind any single thought, concept, memory, or emotional reaction to a past event that she desires. Whatever she takes will be forgotten by her victim completely - as though it was removed with a scalpel from their mind.
The final power of this Path moves from the debilitating to the deadly, and is one of the few levels of this Path that does not require the victim to be bound prior. The Embrace of the Incubus allows the Kindred to steal the very essence of life from her victim through the act of sex, a greater theft than merely draining them of their blood until death. The Embrace destroys the victim completely, body and soul, leaving nothing even for the afterlife - in this way it resembles Diablerie more than mere murder. From this the kindred gains several things; the first being the victim's entire Blood supply. Secondly, she gains access to the victim's entire store of knowledge and memory, although it takes an effort of Will to make use of this knowledge and these memories later, as it is more akin to tapping into an external source than it is like making them a part of herself. And finally, the kindred will find her own mind and Will strengthened by this victory over and consumption of another being, although she will also find that her Humanity may suffer for it. Use of the Embrace leaves the victim as a desiccated, shriveled corpse.
Blood Cost: 2
This power, like any of the others, can be employed against kindred as well, but kindred have a chance to resist this. The situation becomes a battle of Wills, each of the vampires make Will rolls (difficulty 8), and continue to do so until one of them accumulates three successes over the other.
If the total Blood absorbed raises the kindred's Pool above her normal maximum, it will remain that way until she has used the Blood after which her Pool limit will return to normal.
Once the victim has been absorbed, the kindred need only spend a point of Will to access the victim's knowledge and memories. This can include employing special skills, using basic disciplines, or recalling pieces of information. All other difficulties, restrictions, and costs still apply.
Absorbing her victim also adds a permanent point to each of the following scores for the kindred: Intelligence, Wits, Self Control, and Willpower. The negative side effect of this is that her Humanity is lowered, depending on what her Humanity score was to begin with.
Humanity 10, 9, or 8 is lowered to a 6.
Humanity 7 or 6 is lowered to a 5.
Humanity 5 is lowered to a 4.
Humanity 4 or less is unaffected.
This lost Humanity is difficult to regain, costing three times the normal amount of experience to replace.
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