The previous entries in this series were influenced by the pathways character creation, but a lot of it was ideas I’d had before starting. For example, based on the connections established, it made sense to make The Fire-Drinker a sorcerer and the Darkling Hound a fae beast, and those decisions influenced the cosmology as a whole, but there were a lot of other ideas involved from before character creation.
The Sabbat changes were different. I went into the game knowing that for some reason a bunch of neonates had been created recently (to explain all the PCs), but not much else. Various elements that came out of character creation demanded that most of the elders had also come to the area very recently, and led to an idea of taking back the city from the Sabbat. But other elements gave new definition to what that might mean. Effectively, I was using the players’ preconceptions of “the Sabbat is a rival sect of inhuman vampires” to set up the real mystery of what happened in the city in 1988… which was far stranger.
In hindsight, 1988 must have been the year where it all began to change for the Kindred of Atlanta.
With a Democratic convention early in the year and a growing campaign to attract the Olympics to the city, of course the growing murder rate was suppressed. But those that were local at the time can’t help but recall the almost unconscious foreboding that grew throughout the year. It seems that everyone was only a few acquaintances removed from someone that had just gone missing or turned up mysteriously mauled by some kind of animal. Even in nicer neighborhoods, you just didn’t go out at night unless you absolutely had to. If your neighborhood wasn’t nice, the only thing scarier than the rise in “gang violence” was the realization that the local thugs were staying indoors at night too.
Then, after the long nights of that year’s winter, it was all over. No more strange rumors, no more scared citizens, no more mysterious deaths. The news had never made a mention of it, so it was easy to forget. If the occasional gossip wanted to talk about how someone swore he’d seen cracked-out hobos tearing at each other like animals at 3 am sometime over the winter, it was easy enough to laugh off.
But then you were embraced, and began to pick up clues from your sires that most of them were recent immigrants to the city. The former Camarilla presence had fallen to some kind of “sabbat” and they had taken it back; to the conqueror, the right of rulership. The city had been mostly emptied of Kindred, not enough established Camarilla members wished to make the trip, so they found all of you to welcome to the eternal night and help them shore up their new power structure.
Any inquiries on this subject of what a “sabbat” is, what happened to the previous Camarilla, or what went on three years ago seems to be a secret that all of your elders have agreed not to share with their childer.
The Galilee Codex
From the 1991 translation by Dr. Thomas Gregory:
165 The moon was setting when Cain made his plea to Christ: “If you are truly the son of Jehovah, please, take this mark I have borne so long from me and free me from the land of Nod.”
166 Jesus looked upon the man sadly. “Long have you suffered a curse you believe was given to you by my Father. Never have you thought that your pain was of your own making? If it is true what you have told me about your parentage, then your curse was imposed not by God, but by tainting your own unearthly blood with murder and by the vengeance of the mother of the step-brother you slew. 167 I forgive you. My Father forgives you. But your pain will not end until you gain the forgiveness of the mother of Abel, and until you forgive yourself.”
168 The First Murderer thought for some time on this, and began to look like he might speak in anger to Christ. 169 But the sun was rising over Galilee, and Cain fled back to the Land of Nod, never to speak with the Son of God again.
Significant Connection: Reveals the means of supplication for (Baraquiel the Grigori)
Baraquiel the Grigori
“Quiet, everyone, I’ve never had one of my classes kicked out of Woodruff, and I don’t want you to be the first. This is Theology 101, and we’re very lucky this semester that the library has an exciting bit of apocrypha on loan from the owners. How many people know what apocrypha is? Yes, young lady with the braid?”
“Alice, ma’am. Books that could be part of the Bible but aren’t?”
“Close enough. That’s one of the first things we’ll talk about in the class: all of the holy books we have today are a collection of translated stories and histories often assembled by people with an editorial intent. There are dozens of stories that could have been part of the Bible but weren’t included. Some of them were clearly written after the fact by unrelated authors; you wouldn’t put them in the Bible any more than I would include your Hobbit fan fiction in the next printing of Lord of the Rings. But some of them have a bit more historical argument that they could be valid. But they weren’t included. Why? Yes, young man in the back?”
“Because the editors of the Bible had their decisions guided by God.”
“That is one of the common arguments, yes. I can tell you’re going to be a big talker in the second half of this semester when we start contrasting Judaism, Catholicism, and Islam. Others would argue that the people in charge had a very deliberate political agenda in their choices. My friend, Professor McKinley, likes to spend a lot of time on the Mary Magdalene apocrypha in her Feminism courses. Anyway, that brings us to this particular document, the Galilee Codex. Does anyone know what it is? Yes, young lady in the red shirt?”
“Isn’t it supposed to be a conversation between Jesus and Cain?”
“That’s right. Its exclusion from the Bible is potentially a mixture of provenance and politics. For one, we can’t really prove that it is even from the right time period, though the Aramaic used is apparently accurate. The politics are more interesting. The modern Catholic church likes to leave itself some room on taking Genesis literally, but tends to say that the New Testament is pure fact. Adding a book to the New Testament that has the potentially thousands of years old son of Adam and Eve talking to Christ would make that a much thornier road to walk. Yes, boy with the Braves cap?”
“But he’s not the son of Adam.”
“Excellent! Someone did the reading. Yes, that’s one of the most interesting things about the passage. Scholars are still debating the translation, but the document sets up a contrast between Jesus being the son of Mary and God with Cain being the son of Eve and an angel, as a way for Cain to build a rapport with Jesus. Specifically, a fairly obscure angel named Baraquiel. This would make Cain one of the Nephilim, and I’ll leave it to you all to look that up if you’re interested. But, more importantly, it gets me back to politics: none of the modern Judeo-Christian religions are particularly interested in adding a chapter to Genesis where, right after leaving the Garden, Eve gets seduced by a fallen angel and then Adam hooks back up with his ex-wife, Lilith, as payback. It complicates the narrative and raises too many questions without answers. For next class, I want all of you to read the translation of the Galilee Codex and write a five paragraph essay supporting that the passage wasn’t included due to it not being provably true or because it wasn’t good for politics. Or both, but be careful you don’t half-support both ideas. See everyone on Friday back in the classroom.”
“Where the father of monsters goes, the mother of monsters follows.”
The Garden of Eden was raised to mythical status by the children of Seth, but it was not the true genesis of humankind. Instead, it was something of an experiment: an attempt to create a more perfect humanity by raising two innocents free of want and fear. It worked out about as well as has been recorded.
What is only included in apocrypha, and even then wrong, is what happened after Adam and Eve left the Garden, and had their first experience with infidelity. Both angry at Jehovah for different reasons, Baraquiel and Lillith, powerful earthbound celestial spirits, separately seduced Eve and Adam. In time, Eve bore Caine and Lillith returned to them Abel to raise as their own, never to admit their failings.
Again, the rest of the story proceeded as recorded, save that Caine’s curse was not imposed upon him by Jehovah, but was a catalyzing of his own unearthly powers by the act of kinslaying. He, in essence, became the Nephilim of kinslaying. The weaknesses he picked up as curses from Lillith, as punishment for the murder of her son (though he did not know this, and she would continue to manipulate him for the next few aeons as capricious as ever).
A few hundred years ago, the Galilee Codex revealed how to summon Baraquiel and, through him, Lillith. Both are required to construct a Red Forge.
Since the latest escapades left the Forge active but not empowering anyone, Baraquiel remains tied to the city. It is his goal to either see all last infections destroyed so he can leave or tempt the city back into congress with the device. His pawn of choice in this is Montoya, as he believes she could be persuaded to kill Niki’s friend Lucille (and thus break the last minor die empowering the Forge) or take up the power of the Forge herself.
Unfortunately, despite his immense power, he can only manifest in Hallowed Ground due to its deliberate thinness to contact with the celestial realms.
Little Five Points
The area that is now known as the center of Atlanta’s counter-culture started off as a more traditional sort of shopping district, dating back to the 1890s. For more than half a century, it was little more than that, but in the 1960s something strange happened.
According to mortal historians the population packed up and moved because of a proposed freeway, one that eventually got built elsewhere. For some reason, they never mention that the kids growing up there in the years following WWII got weird. The families tried to keep it quiet, sure, and they hired the best psychologists money could buy to “fix” their troubled youths. When that didn’t work, well, there was no choice but to pack up and move to the country, where people were still decent and wholesome, and hope the fresh air and isolation would do what shock therapy couldn’t.
Maybe it was just because there weren’t enough locals left, or maybe the influence was growing somehow, but after a decade or so of quiescence, the weirdness escalated. There weren’t a whole lot of residents left to strangify, so maybe that’s why all the oddballs from the rest of the city started converging there. New Agers, punk rockers, stoners, and wanna-be mystics all found a haven for themselves inside the borders.
As the major Occult gathering area for Atlanta, it’s pretty easy to find theories for why this might be among the locals. The most common supposes that the growing city and realignment of the roads was having a major impact on ley lines. Creating a potential but never implemented freeway moved a line that should have been along the road into the air right down Euclid, its energy out of tune due to its accidental nature but calling out to individuals that are a little off-key themselves.
What really weirds people in the area out is that around ‘88 the squares started coming back. Ever since, the neighborhood has been fighting corporatization. Maybe the tourist money in safely packaged counter culture finally overwhelmed the strange vibes enough to draw in the suits. But locals worry that their “exposed wire” finally settled back down and there’s no longer a mystical tune that keeps the normals out and the cool people in. Some worry that whatever happened to their vibe was deliberate.
Attempts to follow up on this information result in the city elders pointing out that, if true, it sounds a lot like something involving elves or sorcerers, and maybe it’s better left alone for now. Kindred aren’t banned from the area, but it’s suggested they should take the situation as an opportunity to get in on the ground floor of what’s apparently on the way to becoming a popular and profitable night spot rather than interfering with the mystic power sources of other supernaturals.
The Red Forge
The Red Forge is the focus of a sabbat, an altar to Lilith where Cainites can make blood sacrifices to gain her favor. With each such sacrifice, pouring the life’s blood of an innocent mortal upon the Forge, Lilith strengthens the blood of the supplicant. Each such sacrifice lowers the Generation of the Cainite by one and raises each of the three categories of Beast Trait by one. It is not long before the Cainite is completely in thrall to the Beast, a potent-blooded monster.
The Red Forge was dedicated in a vault beneath Little Five Points and snatched the rogue ley line out of the air to fuel its power. It remains empowered by the line, and no Cainite can safely get near it without risking it getting its hooks into them. It remains linked to Lucille, from when she tried to turn it off. The Kindred of the city do not know how to turn it off, and don’t want to risk telling mortal sorcerers about it for fear that they would use it as an unassailable seat of power. Ultimately, the only way to be rid of it for good would be to kill Lucille and wait for the energies to dissipate with no further direct link to the world or to somehow move the ley line sufficiently to break the connection to the device.
Recent History, Revisited
- 1985: [Dead Kindred to be named later] arrives in the city with plans to turn them to Lillith worship.
- 1986: The Red Forge is consecrated beneath Little Five Points.
- 1987: Social conflict in the city heats up as advantage shifts to the Kindred that are newly ruthless and strangely possessed of more potent blood.
- 1988: Most Kindred in the city are either destroyed, hiding, or have almost totally succumbed to their Beasts. Lucille sends to Silas for help, and The Vigil arrives and begins to establish a base of operations. They realize the situation is dire enough to begin inviting other Kindred to help retake the city.
- 1989: Nearly all of the forged Kindred are destroyed in January and February, with the remaining few hunted down over the course of the year.
- 1990: Given that the new guard cannot honestly say that the problem is totally secured, given the continued presence of the Forge and no clear way to remove it, recruitment is sparse. The Kindred of the city agree that it might be wise to shore up their numbers through Embrace, and they begin to turn likely candidates.
Bonus Entry: Golconda
(This wasn’t directly related to the Sabbat, but I liked the spin that some of the player connections put on Golconda)
I met the notorious former Justicar in New York, 1939. I don’t know what I’d expected. Legend had painted him as an Egyptian mystic, and certainly some of that came through in what he would tell me. But the legends also said he was a Ventrue, and I would never expect one of them to be less than impeccably and fashionably dressed. Perhaps I thought he’d be taller, or even less blond. Let us just say that my first impression was underwhelmed. My second, after he began to speak, was that none of the legends captured a fraction of his power.
What follows is a recounting of our conversations, after he was kind enough to grant me a week of guidance after years of seeking him. I haven’t followed it all myself, yet, but I write it down so that others might be set upon the same path as I now tread. It’s everything I could remember of the man’s wisdom distilled from centuries of travel, conversations with the greatest minds of the past, and, if I read his insinuations correctly, a little bit of ineffable divine aid.
So read on, if you have set yourself on the path to transcending the mark of Caine. Just be wary: once you have started this path, you must complete it. There is no going back to the way you were, and should you stop or fail, the consequences are truly dire.
“We are here to recover the soul star fragments of Aten.”
His look dares me to challenge this insight. Is this a strange koan that is the secret to everything I have sought? Aten? My new mentor is, of course, Egyptian, but I know little of the term other than it is a heretical belief of a long-deposed pharaoh.
He takes pity, and rephrases. “We are all seeking Ananda, the heartbeat of the world. We have no greater need than to feel again the touch of the almighty. We crave the return of the touch of sunlight. We yearn to touch the skin of another and feel something other than the beat of food beneath the flesh…
“But I like the soul star fragment metaphor best. If you’ve spent enough time with Catholics, you’ll believe we’re damned. That’s not precisely true: it’s more precise to say we’re shattered. The Embrace tore your soul to pieces, they cling to your dead body out of habit, and they will fly into oblivion upon your final death.
“Worse, some of those pieces are everything that is wrong with your soul. When you were mortal, your dark thoughts and evil actions were spread out, like adding dye to a pond: it took a lot to truly blacken it beyond saving. Now, it accumulates in something most Cainites call ‘The Beast’ and cannot dilute itself. The lights of your soul can shine brighter than any star, but none of that can burn away the shadows of your crimes.
“That is the secret of your condition: your darkest nature—my friend Jung would literally call it your shadow—is all but impervious to your will to improve, for it is untouched by your better nature. If you wish to transcend your undead state, your goal should be to reintegrate your soul.
“We are here to recover the soul star fragments of Aten.”