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Paths of Enlightenment Altered By Joseph Carriker (oakthorne@hotmail.com)

Author's Notes

I picked up Kindred of the East a while back. One of the most elegant things about the system (IMO) was the way Dharmic Paths were handled. Basically, I feel that they make more sense. I mean, I fail to see how the day-to-day life of a vampire (in which he gains XPs) takes him further from the Beast. In fact, most of the time, it should detract from the character's enlightenment.

Ergo, I have adopted the system of Dharmic Paths for the gain and loss of points in the Sabbat Paths. No, the Paths do not affect how powerful the vampire is (that should be unique to the Dharmic Paths), but the systems for loss and gain of points I have changed for my campaigns. Read on....

OverviewEdit

The following categories are for all the Paths. There are two ways for a Path of Enlightenment to change: Enlightenment (advancement along the Path) and Degeneration (falling deeper into the clutches of the Beast).

Enlightenment CatalystsEdit

  • Being taught by a vampire with a higher rating in your Path.
  • Being taught by a vampire with a higher rating in another Path (see below).
  • Doing something within the Ethics of your Path that costs you something important (see the Paths' Ethics lists).
  • Training at least one month with one of the training methods of your Path (time need not be cumulative).
  • Teaching one of a different Path (see below).
  • Meeting individual Enlightenment Catalysts for your Path.

Enlightenment Roll: Of the entire system, this was the most difficult to create, as vampires have no P'o. This can be handled in one of two ways. I have opted to simulate the idea that Westerners tend to be adverse to improving themselves morally, out of the simple egotistic idea that improvement suggests that the vampire is not perfect already (for lack of a better term). Because some Paths seem better oriented to go with Self-Control, not all Sabbat (or others on Paths of Enlightenment) in my chronicle necessarily have Instincts. Thus, the vampire must fight his own Self-Control or Instincts to advance along the Path. Simply put, the higher his Self-Control is, the less likely he is willing to change (for better or worse). Someone with high Instincts, however, is too attuned to the Beast. This attuning (Riding the Beast rather than reining it in) leads to difficulties with gaining Enlightenment.

An alternate system would be to assume that the character should roll a number of dice equal to the dots not filled in on the Path rating; this is the character's "Beast Rating", for lack of a better trait. One of the reasons I am posting this is to gain advice and opinions on this system. Fire away.

Anytime the vampire meets the criteria listed under the Enlightenment Catalysts, he should roll Callousness (difficulty of the current Path rating) opposed by Self-Control (difficulty of Willpower). The difficulties chosen reflect that the more enlightened one is, the harder it is to improve: a base monster might do the smallest "good" and take a step towards redemption, but a saint might find the "finest" of his actions do not warrant advancement. These terms are very much relative, when dealing with the Sabbat Paths of Enlightenment.

  • Callousness wins: flash of insight (+1 Path rating)
  • Self-Control/Instincts wins: Beast overcomes possible Enlightenment (enter Frenzy)
  • Neither wins: momentary disorientation, feelings of something just beyond understanding.

Degeneration CatalystsEdit

  • Meeting Degeneration Catalyst of path.
  • Frenzying (completely failing either Self-Control or Instincts roll)
  • Being affected by True Faith.
  • Entering Torpor.
  • Being taught by a vampire with a higher rating in another Path (see below).
  • Teaching another vampire of a different Path (see below).

Degeneration Roll: Callousness (difficulty of Path rating) opposed by Self-Control/Instincts (difficulty of Willpower). Again, the more enlightened one is, the easier it is to fall. Conversely, it is difficult for the truly degenerate to get any worse.

Teacher and Students of Differing PathsEdit

When this occurs, the student must make a standard Callousness vs Self-Control/Instincts roll. If Callousness wins, treat as a successful Enlightenment roll (the student gains a point in his Path, having seen the flawed dogma of the other Path). If the Self-Control/Instincts wins, treat as a Degeneration roll (the student realizes that some of the Ethics of his Path are dogmatic and false, losing a point in the Path). If this loss brings the student to a 3 or less in his Path, he may change his Path to that of the teacher. If neither Virtue wins, the student simply gained nothing from the lessons.

If the student makes an Enlightenment roll, the teacher must make a Degeneration roll, as he failed to impart the wisdom of his Path, a sign that he himself may not understand his Path quite so well. If the student makes a Degeneration roll, the teacher may make an Enlightenment roll, for in allowing another to see wisdom, he gains it himself.

Path of CaineEdit

Virtues: Callousness & Self-Control

Enlightenment Catalysts:

  • Lose all Willpower through exertion or Discipline use.
  • Learn new Knowledge (ancient in nature)
  • Commit Diablerie.
  • Gain a new Willpower point.
  • Almost dying in persuit of Caine's Lore or Diablerie.

Degeneration Catalysts

  • Ignores chance to learn or Diabolize.
  • Stepping outside role as Cainite.
  • Acting against the Sabbat.
  • Showing disrespect to superiors.
  • Accepting humans as valuable.
  • Drinking animal vitae.

Strengths: May forego Lore of the Animus stage of Diablerie (see my Diablerie Unveiled post).

Weakness: Must mediate or study for 3 hours per night. Failure to do so for 3 nights in a row gives a -1 to all Dice Pools which remains until meditation is undertaken. This penalty is cumulative every 3 nights, as the character experiences disorientation due to keeping the Beast in check. Note that these penalties disappear when in Frenzy.

Training Methods: Noddists utilize various scholarly pursuits to achieve understanding, including study of the Book of Nod, reenacting scenes from Noddist Lore, intense meditation, study into subjects such as archaeology, religion, history and the occult. Noddists also enjoy debate, sometimes holding week-long debates and inviting Noddists from all around. A Noddist will often take time to test himself in physical and mental trials, often by surviving in the wilderness in emulation of Caine being cast into Nod.

Path of CathariEdit

Virtues: Callousness & Instincts

Enlightenment Catalysts:

  • Gain dot in Resources or improved creature comfort (lush new Haven, etc.)
  • Embracing and tutoring a vampire on the Path.
  • Receiving or giving consolamentum (must be a Perfectus, one with a 7+ on the *Path, to give consolamentum).
  • Entering romance with a Cainite or kine.

Degeneration Catalysts:

  • Resisting temptation.
  • Disrespecting Perfectus.
  • Acting altruistically.
  • Maintaining romance too long (usually 10 - Path in months).

Strengths: All Cathari can eat food and may engage in sexual activity (though only blood remains in the body) without Blood or Willpower point expenditures.

Weakness: Cathari are notorious braggarts, resisting the urge with a Willpower roll (difficulty of Path raing + 3; Perfecti cannot resist).

Training Methods: The Cathari practices of gaining enlightenment are mistaken by many as simple debauchery. Huge week-long parties filled with substance abuse and orgiastic behavior, nights on end of dancing, retreats marked by use of laudnum, opium and absinthe (a la Shelly and Byron) and even night after night of Sabbat games might offer Enlightenment. But the Cathari also undertake less frenzied reverie -- periods of studying and writing poetry, long romantic (or at least lascivious) getaways and time writing and performing music.

Path of Death & the SoulEdit

Virtues: Callousness & Self-Control

Enlightenment Catalysts:

  • Study death from a new angle or perspective.
  • Nearly dying.
  • Gaining a new Knowledge (scientific or occult) or Discipline (mystic, such as Thaumaturgy, Necromancy, Auspex, etc.)

Degeneration Catalysts:

  • Acting emotionally.
  • Preventing a death.
  • Ignoring the chance to learn about death.

Strengths: Necronomists often receive visions into the Shadowlands in areas where the Shroud is low (primarily Haunts).

Weakness: Necronomists are insatiably curious, as per the Flaw: Curiosity.

Training Methods: Necronomists tend to prefer methods of training involving study. Many of them often study things such as Alchemy, medicine, psychology, chemistry and toxicology. In addition to these sciences, Necronomists often seek to learn esoterica such as the occult, spiritualism, religion and the like. Hands-on studies are enjoyed and preferred -- torture sessions, psychoanalysis and demonstrations of Necromantic and Thaumaturgic processes. Occasionally, Necronomists will venture out to areas known or thought to be haunted, sometimes inviting others on the Path to accompany them. Sometimes, Necronomists will hold large gatherings to hear lectures and theses, engage in debate and update one another in studies. Finally, many Necronomists disappear for weeks at a time, meditating at graveyards and the like.

Path of HarmonyEdit

Virtues: Callousness & Instincts

Enlightenment Catalysts:

  • Gain a new friend or keep a (non-ghoul) pet for a minimum of (Path rating) months.
  • Almost dying while protecting comrades/loved ones.

Degeneration Catalysts:

  • Killing when not necessary.
  • Destroying the natural environment or the animals therein.
  • Acting needlessly cruel.

Strengths: Harmonists do not register as Wyrm-tainted until they fall below a 5 in their Path.

Weaknesses: Harmonists must spend two hours in the natural environment meditating or be unable to regain Willpower.

Training: Many Harmonists utilize time in the natural world to bring Enlightenment. Whether peaceful pursuits, such as meditating, writing, or observing animals or activities such as rock climbing, hunting, riding, hiking & swimming, the Harmonist usually finds insight in the outdoors. More rarely, Harmonists will often spend time with pets or those they are close to, for such activities strengthen the Man Within.

Path of Honorable AccordEdit

Virtues: Callousness & Self-Control

Enlightenment Catalysts:

  • Nearly dying in service to the Sabbat.
  • Enforcing the Code of Milan.
  • Supporting your comrades well.
  • Showing hospitality.

Degeneration Catalysts:

  • Failing to serve leader (if said leader acts in the best interests of the Sabbat).
  • Not participating in Auctoritas/Ignoblis Ritae.
  • Breaking word of honor.
  • Breaking Code of Milan.
  • Showing cowardice.
  • Being too soft.

Strengths: All Canonici gain the Code of Honor merit.

Weaknesses: Those on this Path consider themselves their brothers' keepers and must make Willpower rolls or force those around them to keep their word.

Training Methods: Canonici pursue both physical and mental training, considering both of equal importance. Among the physical methods employed are studying ways of combat, military-like training, hunting and physical exercise. The Canonici occasionally hold week-long war games, pit-fighting contests or martial-arts training camps. To train mentally, Canonici study law and government, especially the Code of Milan. Often, a Canonicus will go to a leader (usually of Bishop rank or better) and request the chance to serve as a bodyguard or assistant.

Path of Power and the Inner VoiceEdit

Virtues: Callousness & Instincts

Enlightenment Catalysts:

  • Assisting another Unifier in his quest for power, if it doesn't interfere with own quest.
  • Challenging another to and winning Monomacy.
  • Making a powerful Ally.
  • Gaining Resources, Status, Prestige, Pack Recognition or a leadership position.
  • Maxing out a Trait.

Degeneration Catalysts:

  • Giving or requesting mercy.
  • Failure in mission or quest; not punishing the failure of subordinates.
  • Treating underlings/subordinates poorly.
  • Accepting defeat.
  • Not respecting those of greater power and wisdom.
  • Being humiliated.
  • Accepting an inferior as a superior.

Strength: While meditating, Unifiers often receive visions or messages from their Inner Voice.

Weakness: Those who abandon this Path lose 1 permanent Willpower.

Training Methods: To the Unifier, the ability to ascertain the wisdom of the Inner Voice is utterly important. Thus, methods used to better hear it are favored, such as meditation, the study of politics, diplomacy and psychology, as well as games of intellect and skill such as chess. Indeed, some Unifiers feel that all types of inter-personal contests such as intrigue, debate and seduction increase the ability to hear the Inner Voice as well. Unifiers tend to sponsor huge gatherings, party-like events with dancing, courtly relations and games played. But because of the emphasis on the ability to take power as well as weild it, Unifiers often train in combat, such as sword-play and martial arts. Indeed, the Unifier courts often witness a duel or three during the course of the gathering.

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