“Without reason, we are beasts. Without memory, we lose reason. It is not enough simply to exist, we must continue to be.”
‘For in that sleep of death what dreams may come when we have shuffled off this mortal coil, must give us pause.’ – Hamlet
There is little that disturbs kindred society like the dreams of torpor. When a vampire’s body is at rest, the mind remains active, playing through fantasies and fears alike. A vampire who sleeps for ages soon finds it difficult to separate the visions of torpor from actual events that occurred when they were awake.
During the reign of the Camarilla, a scholar of the Mekhet line was ordered to find a method to keep the histories of the kindred intact, to find a method to record the Requiem and aid in keeping the wisdom of the ages intact. She accepted the challenge, and moved to Alexandria. There, she slept within the pagan temples and gathered her children and like-minded kindred from among the Mekhet to begin the process of researching the history of the kindred.
The amount of research and intense study that was required allowed for a breath-through rather rapidly, and a bloodline was born. Information was gathered, recorded, and stored in scrolls and kept in hidden passages within the temples and libraries of Alexandria, and members of the bloodline were contracted to attend to vampires coming out of torpor, bringing with them their knowledge. It was soon apparent that the bloodline had the ability to sift through the fog of ages, separating the visions of torpor from the truth, and brought clarity to those troubled by their nightmares.
But some did not wish for the truth to be found. As the strength of the Camarilla began to wane, the Lancea Sanctum began to gather power. The Agonistes, however, were in the way of the growth of the Lancea Sanctum, as their knowledge continued to provide a solid tether to the past. The Lancea Sanctum had learned quickly that faith and superstition were powerful tools for conversion, and the fog of ages was a useful tool for sowing the seeds of doubt in vampires awakening from torpor. As long as kindred could go to the Agonistes to reclaim their memories and recall who they were once were – especially among the enemies of the covenant, the bloodline would be a thorn in the side of the Lancea Sanctum.
In the fourth century, Emperor Theodosius ordered the destruction of all pagan temples, and Patriarch Theophilus of Alexandria complied. The destruction of the temples and libraries of Alexandria spearheaded an assault upon the city by the Lancea Sanctum, and provided excellent cover for an assault on the Agonistes. Any kindred with sympathy for the bloodline were hunted down, and the Agonistes were almost completely wiped out.
The Agonistes never forgave the Lancea Sanctum, and began to slowly gather knowledge once again. When the Camarilla was truly destroyed, they gathered those remaining kindred, helping them to rebuild and preventing them from succumbing to the Beast. As the Invictus grew from the ashes of the Camarilla, the Agonistes proved useful in helping the elders of the new covenant keep their faculties over the ages.
The Agonistes were not fools however, and did not wait for a repeat of the destruction in Alexandria. They spread out from the Mediterranean, creating small libraries in various cities, exchanging information and offering their services discretely. As such, by the modern nights, the Agonistes have an extensive network of information, though they are well aware that if the extent of their knowledge were to be made known, the covenants would descend on them and devour them. Rather than let this happen, they play the role of researcher and aid, keeping only small portions of their records in any one place, and disseminating it rather than hoarding it.
Parent Clan: Mekhet
Covenant: The Agonistes have never forgiven the Lancea Sanctum, and refuse to work with the covenant. In turn, the Lancea Sanctum work hard in tracking down any rumours of the Agonistes, and would reward a vampire well for finding one of their libraries. The Invictus shelter the Agonistes when they arrive in a city, as much crucial knowledge can be regained by having an Agoniste as an ally. The Ordo Dracul work well with the Agonistes, though most Scribes tend to keep the covenant at arm’s reach, knowing how the Dragons hunger for knowledge. They would rather not lose themselves to the covenant if possible. The Circle of the Crone are somewhat too creepy for most Agonistes, but there are those who join the covenant to compare the ancient teachings of the Acolytes to the records they still possess.
Appearance: Most Scribes dress in a scholarly fashion, wearing simple suits or loose and comfortable clothing, depending on if they are professional researchers or ‘in the field’. The clothing tends to be out-of-date by about thirty years or so, as Scribes are often too busy with their research to be actively following fashion trends.
Haven: The Scribes prefer to build their havens close to areas of learning, including museums, libraries, and even churches or temples. Havens are chosen with multiple escape routes, allowing the Scribe a quick exit without being noticed, and in the modern nights such havens are also built to withstand penetration by the inquisitive. Areas which can be sealed or protected are important, so that the information gathered by the Agoniste can be contained and safe from those who might steal or destroy it.
Background: The Agonistes value those with a strong sense of history, or have excellent memories. They prefer the scholarly, but also value those who are inquisitive. As their goal is to record the truth and help vampires recall their pasts, empathy is an important factor in selecting a childe.
Character Creation: Agonistes have high Mental Attributes, allowing them to perform research and recall what information they have. Social Attributes are also important, allowing them to interact with subjects and help keep their ‘clients’ at ease. Mental Skills are quite important, especially in areas which help them gather knowledge, such as Academics or Investigation. A quick mind and a knowledge of history and the occult are also useful.
Bloodline Disciplines: Auspex, Celerity, Dominate, Obfuscate
Weakness: Like the Mekhet, the Agonistes take increased damage from fire and sunlight. When they suffer damage from sunlight or fire, they take an additional point of aggravated damage. In addition to the weakness of their parent Clan, the Agonistes also suffer from their pursuit of knowledge and their quest to aid others in retaining their identities. An Agoniste who discovers a clue about the past of kindred society (ancient scrolls, a lost journal, or a particularly old vampire suffering from the fog of ages) must make a Resolve roll. Failure results in the temporary Derangement similar to Fixation until the information is theirs. Attempting to ignore this fixation requires the expenditure of a Willpower point, and only lasts for the Scene.
Organization: The Agonistes shroud themselves in secrecy. They keep in contact with one another through drop boxes, encrypted letters, and unknowing contacts, and only know the location of one or two other members of their bloodline so that they may share the knowledge they gain. As such, if an Agoniste is captured or hunted, it is possible for them to sever connections with the rest of the bloodline and minimize the damage and loss of knowledge.
Concepts: Reclusive Historian, Occult Researcher, Psychologist, Mysterious Patron (to researcher/archaeologist)
Devotions of the AgonistesEdit
The Agonistes have developed a series of Devotions to assist them in their work, and to help stave off the effects of the Fog of Eternity. These devotions are rarely, if ever, taught to those outside of the bloodline.
Sifting through the Ages Edit
(Auspex ●●●, Dominate ●●● or ●●●●)
This Devotion may be used on themselves (with Dominate ●●●) or on another subject (with Dominate ●●●●). The subject is placed into a brief trance (up to a minute in length) as they recall a memory from the past with perfect clarity. Memories long forgotten are brought back to the surface, without the influence of the Fog of Eternity, letting the vampire experience the event once more. The vampire using this power on another does not experience what memories are brought back, only the subject has access to these memories. The memory brought to the surface is determined by what the subject is attempting to remember.
Cost: 1 Willpower
Dice Pool: Intelligence + Resolve + Auspex (- target’s Resolve if used on another)
Successful use of this power allows the subject to experience a single event once again, up to a Scene in length. The subject relives the event, though feels somewhat like an outsider as they have no control over their actions in the memory. An Exceptional Success allows the subject new insight, unclouded from their perceptions and biases, allowing them clarity and a potential understanding of what they had experienced. (Where they may have thought someone had betrayed them in the past, they may notice subtle emotional cues indicating the person acted out of loyalty to them). A Dramatic Failure results in the subject reliving the event, but the memories become altered by the character’s current biases and perceptions, which can subtly alter and twist events to seem quite different than they actually were. This power costs 21 experience points to learn, regardless of the character’s level of Dominate.
Steal Insight Edit
(Auspex ●●●●, Dominate ●●● or ●●●●)
This Devotion may be used on themselves (with Dominate ●●●) or on another subject (with Dominate ●●●●). The character is capable of recalling the dreams and nightmares of the subject, studying them and gleaning significance from them. The character experiences the dreams and nightmares in brief flashes, allowing her to take the time to analyse the images and attempt to understand why the dreams manifested as they did.
Cost: 1 Willpower
Dice Pool: Wits + Investigation + Auspex (- target’s Resolve if used on another)
Successful use of this power calls forth the dreams and nightmares of the subject. The character falls into a trance for a number of minutes equal to the successes rolled, and can study a month’s worth of dreams for each success gained. The dreams are disjointed and can prove disorienting to characters who are unprepared, but the character can manipulate the dreams, moving ‘forward’ or ‘backward’ among them as needed to attempt to learn. For every success gained, the Storyteller may give the player one piece of insight into an aspect of the dream (such as who the subject had a bias against, or why they experienced the dream in a specific way, or what suspicions the character may have had which triggered such a dream). An Exceptional Success does not grant anything specific, but just grants the character more information. A Failure results in the character becoming confused, and may result in the character’s own memories becoming disjointed. A Dramatic Failure results in the character remaining lost for a Scene, with a roll made at their current level of Humanity to see if they gain a derangement. (The derangement will either be one the recipient has, or if the recipient does not have a derangement (or the character was using the devotion on themselves), a new derangement will be gained, appropriate to what the dreams or nightmares were about. This power costs 25 experience points to learn, regardless of the character’s level of Dominate.