Cenotaph

Stat Type: 
List
Category: 
Paths
Subcategory: 
necromancy

Experienced Ghiberti Kindred recognized that mystically compelling the dead required an extensive knowledge of the ghosts to be so commanded. Whereas many among the family content themselves with mastery of the occasional wraith and the means to affect corpses or the Underworld, more erudite practitioners looked into necromantic means to unearth locations or objects holding strong ties to the dead. Some such studies became rituals, whereas others developed into a discrete path concerned primarily with discovering or forging links between the living world and the Shadowlands. Most students of Necromancy attribute the creation of the Cenotaph Path to the eras following the World Wars. The great numbers of dead and dying across the world, especially with displaced soldiers flung to far corners of the globe, made for a brisk trade in soul-catching. Those Ghiberti who could “sniff out” the recently dead (especially in quantity) managed to augment their pursuits with the use of Cenotaph Necromancy to find objects or locations important to the legions of wraiths. A few older members of the Giovanni point out that similar powers proved useful during the ancient heyday of Mediterranean expansion, in seeking out death cults or battlefields during the prime of Rome and Italy. Regardless, the path remains something of a rarity, as it serves primarily to amplify the other powers of an already-skilled Necromancer. Cenotaph Necromancy seems to function on the principle that a Kindred, already a cadaver, is an unnatural bridge between the living and the dead. Through this principle, the path allows the Necromancer to find other, similar linkages. The basic rudiments of the Cenotaph Path function easily enough once the Kindred learns to attune himself to these connections. Advanced mastery of the path usually entails some brief ritual to forge artificial connections, either through breaking taboos to draw the Shadowlands closer by focusing unsavory passions or through techniques of authority and purity designed to command the two disparate worlds together. Note: This Necromancy path is not available to PCs.

* A Touch of Death

Just as a Necromancer may exert mastery over the Shadowlands, so too can some ghosts exert themselves in the mortal world. Whereas obvious displays of wraithly power such as bleeding walls or disembodied moans certainly won’t be mistaken, some ghostly abilities exert subtle effects that aren’t easily recognized. A Necromancer sensitized to the residue of the dead, though, can feel whether an object has been touched by a ghost or sense the recent passage of a wraith. System: The Necromancer simply touches a person or object that he suspects is a victim of ghostly influence. The player rolls Perception + Occult (difficulty 6). If successful, the Necromancer can determine whether a ghost has exerted any sorts of wraithly power on the subject, or even crossed nearby, to the duration detailed below.

1 success

Lasts a turn; detect use of ghostly power

2 successe

Last three turns; detect use of ghostly powers

3 successe

Lasts an hour; detect ghost’s touch and use of ghostly powers

4 successe

Lasts a day; detect ghost’s touch and use of ghostly power

5 successe

Lasts a week; detect nearby passage of ghost, ghost’s touch and use of ghostly power

On a failure, the Necromancer receives no impressions. A botch reveals a misleading answer (an object may seem tinged with ghostly power when it’s not, or vice versa). Should the Necromancer succeed in detection while touching an object or person that a ghost is possessing, he immediately becomes aware that the ghost is still inside. The impression gained in such a case is sufficient to count as a “strong psychic impression” for purposes of the Sepulchre Path’s powers, so the Kindred may be able to (for example) immediately command a ghost to exit a person whom it possesses.

** Reveal the Catene

Necromantic compulsions function much more effectively when the caster uses an object of significance to the ghost in question. Such fetters tie the dead to the living lands through their remembered importance - a favored recliner for relaxing, a reviled piece of art foisted off by hated relatives or some object of similarly intense emotion. Many Giovanni can detect such catene through the use of rituals (e.g. Ritual of the Unearthed Fetter). With this power, though, the Ghiberti can determine a fetter with just a few moments of handling. The Kindred simply runs his hands over the object and concentrates on it. He quickly receives an impression of the item’s (or person’s) importance to wraiths, if any; should the wraith be one known to the Necromancer, he immediately recognizes the object as a fetter to that (or those) wraith(s). Successful identification of a connected wraith is not exclusive; that is, if the Giovanni determines that the object is important to a given wraith, he can also determine if there are other wraiths tied to the item, though he must use the power again to gain their identities. Many Necromancers use this power on objects already identified with A Touch of Death, in order to determine whether the ghost is trying to attune a given fetter or simply toying with the world of the living. System: The Necromancer holds and examines the object for at least three turns - if it’s an item, this means turning it over in his hands, running his fingers along it or otherwise giving it a critical eye; with a person, this may require a more invasive examination. The player then spends a blood point and rolls Perception + Occult (difficulty 7). If successful, the Kindred determines whether the object holds any significance to any wraith and, with three or more successes, the identity of at least one such wraith (which of course allows the Kindred to use the Sepulchre Path on that wraith). If the Necromancer already knows any of the wraiths involved, their ties are revealed with their identity - so, if the Necromancer already knows of a wraith well enough to summon and compel it with other powers, successful identification of a fetter tells whether the object is tied to that wraith, in addition to any other impressions gained. If a botch is scored, the Ghiberti can never successfully use this power on the item being examined.

*** Tread Upon the Grave

The extended awareness granted with the Cenotaph Path allows the Necromancer to sense the vagaries of the sudario and to find locations where the Shadowlands and the living world come close. Often, the Necromancer experiences a chill or shiver when stepping into an area where the Underworld lies near the living one. With practice, the Giovanni can tell exactly where such locations are. Experienced Necromancers learn that certain locations are susceptible to ghostly influence; these haunted areas often become homes of a sort for wraiths. A knowledgeable vampire can thus discover places where the dead are likely to congregate, the better to snare them with other Necromancy powers. System: The player simply declares intent to sense the Shroud in an area and makes a Willpower roll (difficulty 8). Success reveals the Shroud rating. The Storyteller informs the player of the rating, while in story terms the Giovanni learns that the location is highly attuned to the Shadowlands, about average (not very close to the world of the dead) or far removed from the realm of death. Failing use of the power has no adverse affect, though it may be attempted only once per scene (so the Necromancer must either wait for a time or move to a different area before attempting Tread Upon the Grave once more). A botch stuns the Giovanni into inaction for a full turn as well as costing him a temporary Willpower point, as he is overcome by shivers and the sense of overwhelming despair from the Shadowlands. With three or more successes, the Necromancer can determine whether the Shroud’s strength has been artificially altered in the area (perhaps through the use of the Ash Path or certain ghostly powers).

**** Death Knell

Not all who die go on to become ghosts - many lack the drive to hang on after death or simply have no overwhelming needs that compel them to stick around. Normally, even Necromancers have no way to sort those who might become ghosts from the masses who go on to whatever rewards await. Over time, though, a Necromancer can become sensitized to the pull of death that occurs when a soul escapes from a body only to hover in wait, enslaved by its postmortem desires. The weight of desperation becomes like a tangible tug, and some Necromancers even learn to savor this emotion even as they follow the sensation to find the new ghost. The Kindred may need some means to see through the Shroud or may have to send other wraiths to look for the new unfortunate, especially if a large accident or massacre leaves too many corpses for the Ghiberti to easily discern and test names with other compulsions. Furthermore, new ghosts typically enter the afterlife insensate and covered in a sticky plasm that clouds their minds; the ghost must be freed from this spirit sludge before she can be useful, which again requires the Necromancer either to reach through the Shroud himself or to send a wraithly proxy to do so. System: Whenever someone dies and becomes a wraith within a half-mile of the Ghiberti, the Necromancer automatically senses the demise (though many choose to ignore this “always-on” power unless actively seeking someone). This power does not automatically pinpoint the location of the new wraith or identify it, but the player may spend one Willpower point and roll Perception + Occult (difficulty 7) for the Necromancer to gain a vague sense of the distance and direction to the new wraith. With one success, the Kindred may sense a vague pull in a general direction; with three successes, the Necromancer can sense the direction and guess distance to within a quarter-mile. With five successes, the Necromancer immediately senses the location of the new ghost to within a foot. A failure carries no penalty but a botched attempt naturally sends the Necromancer scurrying off in the wrong direction. The Storyteller may rule that disturbances in the Underworld, intervening magic or other similar phenomena cloud this sensation, simply to prevent overburdening a chronicle with constant ghost-hunting and dice rolling.

***** Ephemeral Binding

The most puissant Necromancers learn not only to sense the ties between living and dead, but to forge such ties themselves. The master of Ephemeral Binding turns an otherwise mundane object or person into a depository for his own mephitic energy, the undying Curse transforming the subject into a sort of linkage between living and dead. The Ghiberti smears his blood on the item in question, which mystically absorbs the vitae and, in doing so, becomes a vessel to anchor a spirit. System: The Necromancer must coat an object with his blood (a full blood point’s worth); if the subject is a person, then that individual must ingest the vitae. The player marks off the blood point, spends a point of Willpower and rolls Manipulation + Occult (difficulty 8). If successful, the item temporarily becomes a fetter to one wraith. If the Kindred already knows the name of the wraith or has a strong psychic impression, then the object can become a fetter at any range, even to a ghost who normally does not come near the living world (so long as the ghost still exists). Otherwise, the Ghiberti must be able to see or sense the ghost (with Shroudsight or other such means). A fetter artificially created in this fashion functions for all necromantic and ghostly purposes as a normal fetter: It can be detected with other necromantic powers, the Giovanni gains a bonus to Necromancy against the wraith attuned to it, and the ghost similarly finds exertion of its powers easier upon the subject (so the Giovanni might turn an unwitting ghoul into a consort for a wraith familiar with possession...). The wraith can sink into the fetter to heal; conversely, if the fetter is destroyed, the wraith is banished to some inaccessible region of the Underworld, perhaps never to return. A fetter created with Ephemeral Binding lasts for one night per success scored. The expenditure of an additional point of temporary Willpower increases this duration to a week per success, whereas spending a permanent point of Willpower extends the duration to a year and a night. Botching with this power not only causes failure but also makes the ghost immediately aware of what the Necromancer was trying to do. Most ghosts do not take kindly to meddling Kindred trying to make artificial chains for them.