kismet's world of darkness title

Cauldron

by: Jay Knioum A Legacy Article from Sanguinus Curae

The Discipline of Cauldron turns its practitioner into an unliving receptacle for the forces of darkness. The vampire's soul seethes with roiling masses of malevolent spirits of all descriptions and foul origins. The vampire learns to call upon the unholy energies pent up within her essence for horrible and destructive effects.

Please note that a few levels of Cauldron have more than one power attributed to them. This reflects the diversity of infernal powers, and the demonic hosts that grant them. The Storyteller and players are encouraged to invent their own variants. In any case, additional powers for a certain level must be bought at the same cost as the first was.

Scent of the Lost
Abishai are truly damned, and can smell their own. Those Husks that are tasked with recruiting new members from mortal and Cainite stock are able sniff out individuals likely to be swayed by the dark lure of the Cauldron. Using Scent of the Lost, the vampire is able to pick out those that are corrupted, hopeless, pliable, or twisted. Armed with this ability, the Abishai always seem to find their way to a potential recruit's side at just the right moment.
System: The vampire rolls Perception + Empathy, difficulty 7. Success means the Abishai is able to tell whether a given individual is "lost." For the purposes of this Discipline, "lost" can mean insane, corrupt, hopeless, suicidal, addicted, or just plain wicked. The number of successes roughly indicates how much information is gained. This Discipline will detect supernatural "perversions" such as vampirism, Wyrm-taint, etc., but it takes at least three successes to discern the presence of such a condition.

Impish Delight
With this power, the Abishai releases minor, evil spirits to corrode, corrupt and bedevil. These minor demonlings are invisible to anyone without Auspex, and will fall upon their target with rakish glee. The imps corrode and rot metals, wood, and clothing. They whisper in victim's ears at delicate times. They spook animals, steal small items, and do everything else they can to make their target's lives miserable.
System: The Abishai spends a Blood Point and rolls Charisma + Occult, difficulty 7. For each success, one "imp" is conjured from the Abishai's inner darkness. The Abishai then sets the imps loose one or more targets, and the imps will go to work. Each imp remains for a scene.
The imps are capable of the following mischief:
Evil Whispers: They can whisper distracting, malevolent thoughts into the ears of victims. Victims must roll their Self-Control, diff 6 to avoid being distracted and maddened by the imp. Failure means the imp's babbling subtracts one from all the victim's Dice Pools for the scene. Multiple imps' penalties are cumulative. However, only one roll is made for the entire group, and the difficulty to resist their whispers is raised by one for every imp after the first.
Tatterdemalion: The imps can swiftly chew holes in soft materials, such as fabric, paper, and food. This can ruin an expensive outfit, destroy important documents, and cause all sorts of embarrassment and havoc.
Rusty Tongues: The imps can cause metal to rust and vegetable or nonliving flesh to rot simply by licking it. The effect is not widespread; an imp could not rust a car to immobility unless it had a few nights to accomplish the task. However, it can ruin expensive items, destroy small metal objects, and completely enrage a vampire as its flesh starts rotting from the beast's tiny tongues. In the case of vampires, this does no real damage, but is very annoying.
Goad the Mongrel: Finally, imps may jeer and infuriate animals, which, incidentally, can see the imps. Affected animals who are otherwise normal for their kind (i.e., not ghouls, influenced by Animalism, etc.) will immediately forget about everything but chasing and killing the imps. Horses will stop in mid stride and pound madly at the infuriating imps. Dogs will bark incessantly and take off after the swift little things. Cats will go berserk and run as the imps take their ears as reins and ride them. It is worth noting that children of four years or younger are also able to perceive the imps, and can even understand them perfectly. More than a few young children have been led away by these evil little creatures, never to be seen again.
In all cases, if the victim of the imps is able to perceive and understand them for what they are, then they are immune to any mischief they cause. Thus, with Auspex and at least one level of Occult, a vampire may disregard these infernal pests.

Breath of Vermin ●●
With the use of this power, the Abishai opens her mouth and vomits forth a swarm of insects, spiders, centipedes and worms. The Abishai can control the swarm, and can direct its movement if she does nothing else besides.
System: The Abishai spends a Blood Point and summons dark energies from within to take the form of the swarm. This requires a Stamina + Occult roll, difficulty 6. The number of successes scored indicates the size of the swarm. One success would yield about a beehive's worth of vermin, while five would conjure a huge, black cloud of crawling, flying and slithering evil.
Any creature caught within the swarm will suffer one Health Level of Lethal (non-aggravated) damage for each success scored by the Abishai. This damage will be inflicted every turn that a victim remains within the cloud.
The swarm lasts for as long as the vampire concentrates on it, and as long as it remains in sight. However, the Abishai may not undertake any other action as long as she concentrates on the swarm. Uncontrolled, the swarm will last as many turns as the Abishai scored successes, and will travel in random directions.

Watcher Within ●●
When an Abishai calls to the Watcher Within, she grows functional eyes all over her body, save for her palms and feet. Some eyes are human, others feline, reptilian, etc. The eyes are imbedded in her skin, and fully enable the Abishai to see in all directions at once.
System: To make full use of this power, the vampire must be naked, or nearly so. The vampire spends a Blood Point to manifest the eyes, and can now see in all directions for the duration of the scene, thus providing four extra dice to all Perception rolls. This power can be coupled with abilities such as Auspex and Dominate, possibly allowing the latter power to be used on more than one victim at a time. Other Disciplines, such as Protean 1 and Serpentis 1, may also be augmented by dozens of extra eyes.
If the Abishai is fully clothed, then the extra Perception dice are not granted. However, a single, well-placed eye can reveal many things, indeed.

Stoke the Infernal Will ●●●
This power allows the Abishai to summon the souls and minds of the infernal spirits she contains to overlap and bolster her own, thereby shredding asunder the effects of Dominate, Presence, and even a Blood Bond. This power is not without its price, however.
System: The Abishai spends a Willpower Point and causes her Cauldron to "boil" as she summons the dark wills of her contained demons. She then rolls Self-Control + Occult, difficulty 7. Each success offers her an extra die on all rolls to resist mind-affecting Disciplines or magick. In those cases where no resistance is allowed, then the one casting the magick has these successes subtracted from his roll to cast it (this includes such powers as Level 1 Serpentis, as well). This lasts for one scene.
It also allows a single Willpower roll, difficulty 9, to sever a Blood Bond. However, five successes are required on this roll.
If, however, the Abishai botches, then the Cauldron "boils over," and the demonic wills completely dominate the Abishai's psyche. The Abishai frenzies immediately.

Unmask ●●●
Similar in effect to Dread Gaze, but far more hideous, the vampire lets go to the infernal denizens of her soul, and makes plain her infestation to all those unfortunate enough to gaze upon her. Misshapen things will crawl and writhe just beneath her skin. Her flesh will distort, her eyes will boil and bleed, and every orifice will ooze with slime, tentacles, vermin, and some things less recognizable. The vision tears at the psyche of onlookers, who realize they stare into the face of Hell itself.
System: The Abishai spends a Willpower Point to Unmask, and rolls Manipulation + Intimidation, difficulty 6. All those who are looking at the vampire must roll Wits + Courage, difficulty 8. Unless they can score more successes than did the Abishai, they will be overcome with terror, and can do nothing else but flee from the vision as fast as they can. Even those who score more successes will be horrified, and will suffer the loss of 2 from all dice pools for the rest of the night. Victims who botch their rolls will go mad; a Derangement of the Storyteller's choice is theirs for the rest of their lives. If someone is using Heightened Senses or Aura Sight on the Abishai, their difficulty on Wits + Courage is 9.

Scarab ●●●
A somewhat rare Cauldron power popular with those Abishai who used to be Setites, Scarab enables the vampire to regurgitate large, black beetles which burrow into the flesh of a victim, devouring vital organs and tissue in a grisly march toward the heart. This power is lethal to mortals, and will do great damage to vampires and other creatures.
System: The Abishai spends one Blood Point per Scarab beetle she wishes to create, and must succeed a Stamina + Occult roll, diff 7 to form these dire creatures. Once done, the scarab beetle will exit the Abishai's body from whatever orifice the vampire chooses. If left to its own devices, the scarab will make a beeline toward the closest creature of flesh and bone, living or unliving, and attempt to burrow into that creature. The beetle can chew through cloth and leather almost instantly, and can even gnaw through body armor in about ten minutes. The scarab will take about 1 to 10 turns to burrow through the victim toward the heart, doing one level of lethal, (non-aggravated) damage per turn, which may be soaked by supernatural creatures. Once the scarab reaches the heart of a mortal victim, that victim will die. If the victim is a vampire, torpor results.
At the cost of three blood points per scarab, the beetles will do aggravated damage as they burrow through the victim's flesh. In any case, the beetles will turn to dust at the end of their journey, or if touched by sunlight or open flame.

The Kiss of the Fallen ●●●●
To use the Kiss, the Abishai plants her lips on the mouth of her victim and exhales an evil spirit from the depths of her Cauldron into the poor fool's soul. This spirit attempts to possess the victim, utterly ripping apart his former identity and replacing it with an evil shadow of his former self. If successful, the victim is forever after the tool of evil. The Kiss may be used on any mortal, and any supernatural creature except Wraiths.
System: The Abishai spends a Willpower point and must hold her victim in a kiss for a full turn. If the victim is affected by Dominate, Presence, or a Blood Bond, no resistance will be made. However, a uninfluenced victim may try and resist the Kiss with a contested Strength roll.
Assuming resistance is unsuccessful, the evil spirit invades the victim's body, forcing a contest of wills. The victim must roll his Willpower against a difficulty of 8. The number of successes scored indicates how well the evil is staved off.

Suc. Effect
None
The victim's soul and identity are no more. He is now a demon with a new body, and this demon possesses the memories of its victim.
1
A small shard of the victim's soul is left, but is overshadowed by the darkness. The victim will be hereafter so driven by evil that he will be unrecognizable as the former person. However, the demon will be influenced by the tiny portion of the victim's soul that is left, and will unconsciously perform acts resembling those the victim did regularly. For example, the demon may feel itself drawn to the victim's home, or to the victim's loved ones. The demon may smoke cigarettes or use certain catch-phrases common to the victim.
2
The victim is still driven by darkness, but very occasionally will feel a pang of regret and remorse, and actually retains a tiny measure of control. The victim may spend a Willpower point to resist committing a certain act.
3
The victim remembers his former life completely, but is still transformed. He may resist committing the will of the demon by scoring one or more successes on a Willpower roll, diff 7.
4
The victim largely retains self-control, but will periodically enter fits of psychosis and dementation. During these times, the victim will commit unspeakable acts, which he will not remember upon regaining his self-control, except perhaps in dreams or under hypnosis.
5
The attempt was unsuccessful, but until the demon is exorcised, the victim will be plagued with horrid nightmares as the demon, now imprisoned, fights to get free.

'Exorcism' and the methods to effect it are up to the Storyteller. True Faith priests may be able to accomplish it, as may those skilled in Necromancy, or similar magick. Even a demon that has total control may be exorcised, but the stronger the demon's hold, the harder this will be to accomplish.
The victim of this power is not under the Abishai's control, unless previous measures were taken to insure this. It is common among Abishai with this power to Blood Bond other Kindred, and then complete the corruption by using this power. The result is a demon-possessed slave.
As for what kinds of supernatural powers the possessed individual has, these are up to the Storyteller. However, they will likely have at least one dot in Potence and/or Fortitude. Any such powers will probably improve as time goes on, and the possessed individual is virtually immortal. It is worth pointing out that, even though the victim will not die of natural causes, nor will he stop aging. Very old victims of this power often resemble walking corpses.
Finally, this power is usually employed in preparation for the level 6 power Corpus Nocta (q.v.)

Cage ●●●●
When an Abishai calls Cage into use, her flesh splits into many wounds, allowing the things inside to reach out and inflict harm on the outside world. The Abishai's wounds explode with clawed hands, tentacles and other appendages, which lash out at the Abishai's enemies.
System: The Abishai burns three Blood Points and rolls Stamina + Occult, difficulty 6. Each success allows the vampire an extra brawl attack per turn and a full dice pool is allowed to each. Damage is Strength + 2, and is aggravated. In addition, the Abishai gains extra dice equal to the number of appendages, added to any rolls other than attacking that make use of such limbs - climbing, for instance. The appendages can also use melee weapons, but not firearms.

Adversary ●●●●
This power enables the Abishai to call upon her Cauldron for raw physical power. The vampire becomes monstrous in every aspect, with long, jutting fangs, blood-red eyes, and angular, demonic features.
System: The Abishai spends a Willpower point and rolls Stamina + Self-Control, difficulty 8. Once done, the Abishai transforms and gains three levels to Strength, Dexterity and Stamina. If the roll is botched, the Abishai must roll to avoid frenzy, without benefit of the transformation.

Infernal Being ●●●●●
Normal vampires may spend Blood Points to increase their Physical Attributes. This power draws upon the demonic forces inherent in the Abishai's Blood to make it possible to increase Social or Mental Attributes as well. The Abishai is calling upon the various dark spirits to add their charms, guile, and intelligence to her own. Thus, even the most putrid Abishai can become seductive, and even the most brutal can become cunning and diabolic by calling upon Infernal Being. However, this aid comes with a price; calling the Cauldron to the fore in this way is dangerous to the Abishai's already frayed psyche.
System: The vampire spends a Willpower Point to use Infernal Being for a scene. Thus done, she may spend Blood Points as normal, but may allocate the points to any Attribute she wishes, be it Physical, Mental or Social.
However, every time the Abishai spends Blood in this way, she must roll her Humanity/Path rating against a difficulty of 7. Failure means that the Abishai will suffer a one-die penalty from her actual Mental Attributes for the remainder of the night. This can be temporarily countered by further use of Infernal Being, with the same risks.
If at any point an Abishai's actual (unmodified) Intelligence, Perception, or Alertness is dropped to 0, the Abishai is now completely under the control of her Cauldron. Just what motives the Cauldron possesses are up to the Storyteller. This condition lasts until the next dawn, when the Abishai returns to normal.

Form of Doom ●●●●●
The Abishai has learned to meld her form with the darkness within, thereby transforming into roiling mass of vermin.
System: The Abishai must concentrate for one turn and spend a Willpower point. Once done, the Abishai will now exist as a swarm of a single type of insect, arachnid, or worm. The swarm may move and act according to the type of vermin chosen. For example:
Arachnids/crawling insects: Swarm may move up walls and overrun up to three targets, doing five dice of normal (lethal) damage per turn. Even though beetles and roaches may fly, they count as crawling insects for purposes of this power.
Flying insects: Swarm may fly, and sting up to four adjacent targets for four dice of normal (lethal) damage per turn.
Worms: Swarm may burrow into the ground, thereby escaping pursuers and sunlight.
None of the above swarms may move through water. It is possible to transform from one type of vermin directly to another, but this requires another Willpower point (returning to her original shape costs the vampire nothing). Form of Doom lasts for as long as the Abishai desires.

Desecration ●●●●●
This is similar to Kiss of the Fallen, except that the Abishai is infecting a place or object with an evil spiritual presence, not an individual. The bloodline most often uses this power to "bless" a Haven or precious object.
After a place, structure, or object has been Desecrated, it will radiate sheer evil and hellish power. The affected item or area will bolster the infernal power of all Abishai in contact with it.
System: By spending blood points (see table below), an Abishai may Desecrate an object, room, structure, or area with a hellish taint.
The item or area Desecrated radiates such a powerful unholy aura that animals will not approach, even attacking those that try and force the issue. Mortals must spend a Willpower point to handle an object or enter an area that has been Desecrated. While in contact with the item or area, mortals will feel distinctly uncomfortable and on edge; suffering a two-die penalty from any roll they make while handling the object or being in the area. Mortals will want to leave the area or get rid of the Desecrated item as quickly as possible, above all other concerns. If this is not role-played adequately, the Storyteller is free to require further Willpower expenditures.
Supernatural creatures find themselves assaulted by dark urges while in the zone or handling the object, although they can do both freely. Demonic whispers will echo in the intruder's mind for as long as she remains in contact with the Desecrated object or area. While such contact is maintained, any Supernatural creature will suffer any of the following consequences that are applicable:

»
All difficulties to avoid Frenzy are raised by 3. A Frenzy resistance roll must be made immediately upon contact with the Desecrated object or area.
»
All Flaws possessed by the creature will intensify. How this happens is up to the Storyteller, but it is suggested that all existing dice penalties increase by one at the very least.
»
Any supernatural creature with some sort of "taint" in her past (Wyrm Taint, Infernalism, Nephandi, Diabolist, etc.) must succeed a Willpower roll, diff 8, or be seduced by the Desecrated area/object. The creature will become obsessed with the Desecration and will seek to protect it from outside intruders, or from harm. She will not wish to leave the area, or be rid of the object, even going so far as to attack those who try to force the issue. Once the creature is separated from the area/object, however, the obsession will fade.
»
Abishai involved in the Desecration (by spending Blood Points) will be bolstered by the energies within the area or object. Such vampires regain one Willpower point per night they spend in the Desecration's area, or in possession of an affected object. In addition, any Abishai in the area will gain an extra die on any roll involving her Cauldron. Abishai who have donated blood to the Desecration are otherwise immune to the effects of the energy, aside from feeling a strong protective urge toward the area/object affected.

Abishai must spend a certain amount of Blood Points to desecrate an area, as given by the table below. Multiple Abishai may choose to pool their Blood Points for this purpose, but one of them must know Desecrate for it to work. These blood requirements are only estimates, the Storyteller is the final arbiter.

BP Required Area Affected
1 Hand-held object (box, weapon, clothing), Small opening (window)
2 Large object (furniture), Door
3 Very large object (car, van), Small room
3-6 Large room (living room)
10 Huge room (theater)
20-50 House
50-100 Large building

Threshold ●●●●●
This grotesque, yet potent ability allows the Abishai to tear open her flesh and release demonic horrors into the world.
System: The Abishai spends a Willpower point and rolls Stamina + Occult, difficulty 9. For every success thus scored, one minor demon howls forth from the void thus opened in the Abishai's flesh, and wreaks destruction in the physical world at the vampire's whim. Even so, the Abishai suffers one wound level of normal damage for every success scored, as this power tears the vampire's flesh apart.
Each demon has the following attributes:
Physical: Str: 4, Dex: 4, Sta: 4
Social: Cha: 0, App: 0, Man: 3,
Mental: Per: 2, Intelligence: 3, Wits: 3
Attack: claws and bite, Strength +1, +2 aggravated damage (respectively).
Blood Pool: 10
Talents: Brawl 2, Dodge 3, Athletics 2, Intimidation 3, Subterfuge 2
Skills: Stealth 3, Survival 2
Knowledges: Occult 3
Disciplines: Potence 1, Celerity 2, Fortitude 1
Health levels: OK, OK, OK, -1, -1, -1, -2, -2, -2, -5, -5 Dispelled

The demons will follow any order the Abishai gives them, and will carry it out to the best of their ability. However, the demons are given to wanton cruelty and evil, and will stray from the Abishai's wishes if she is absent. In any event, the demons will only last until the sunrise, when they vanish. The demons absolutely cannot touch any object or enter any area resonating with True Faith. They are also completely immune to any damage caused by fire. Other sources of aggravated damage (such as a vampire's fangs) affect them normally.
Finally, if the Abishai rolls five tens in the use of this power, then a more powerful, more intelligent creature will emerge. This creature may or may not be immediately given to follow the Abishai's commands and may well be powerful enough to destroy the vampire outright. The Storyteller may assign any powers/attributes to this creature as she sees fit. However, the Vampire: the Dark Ages book contains some useful templates for demons and their ilk. This creature will remain in the world indefinitely; it will not vanish with the sunrise.

Corpus Nocta ●●●●●●
This dark perversion allows the Abishai to create a Cauldron in another vampire. This action thereby grants the Discipline of Cauldron to the recipient, and the recipient must be willing to do it. (Note that a victim of the Kiss of the Fallen, if completely taken, is always willing to receive Corpus Nocta)
After Corpus Nocta takes effect, the vampire's clan is suddenly and irrevocably changed to the Abishai line, as the incursion of hellish forces obliterate any traces of the vampire's bloodline and Antediluvian. Even clan weaknesses are dispelled, save for a Malkavian's madness, and a Nosferatu's appearance. From then on, Cauldron (at level 1) will replace one of the vampire's previous Disciplines as a "clan" Discipline. The vampire doesn't lose the previous Discipline, but it now advances more slowly.
System: The Corpus Nocta ritual takes about one hour, and must end at the stroke of midnight. A priestess may only perform this ritual on a single vampire in a given night.
To perform the ritual, a priestess must roll her Intelligence + Occult with a difficulty of 8. If she succeeds, the "victim" must roll Stamina + Courage to withstand the invasion of the Cauldron. The price of failure is high; the victim is completely, agonizingly destroyed as the Cauldron devours him from the inside out, vermin chewing their way free from the wretched, doomed vampire.
If the recipient succeeds, then she enters torpor for six full nights and days as the Cauldron replaces the vampire's soul. On the seventh night, she awakens as a full-blooded Abishai.
Note: The period of torpor after receiving Corpus Nocta is the only time in which the ritual may be reversed. To do this, the victim has to literally be re-Embraced, as all blood is drained from the victim, and replaced by the blood of another vampire. Thus done, the victim will re-awaken as Caitiff; any traces of Clan or sire are gone, but the influence of the Cauldron is also erased. Kiss of the Fallen, however, may yet remain.
Once a vampire reawakens as Abishai, however, the transformation is permanent.

Persistence of the Infernal Soul ●●●●●●●
This coveted power is the main reason the Abishai line has survived through the centuries, even though the Camarilla and Sabbat have worked hard to eradicate them. An Abishai with this power forges a special link between her Cauldron and any vampire which is Blood-Bound to her. This link enables the Regnant with this power to transfer her soul and Cauldron to the Thrall in the event the Regnant's body reaches Final Death.
In short, if the Regnant is destroyed, she may "escape" from her body to possess utterly the body of any other vampire Blood Bound to her. The Bound vampire's essence is utterly obliterated, replaced by the Regnant's. Worse still, the Regnant retains all her Disciplines, Generation, etc. because these things are part of her Cauldron. The only thing that may change is the Abishai's Physical Attributes and Appearance...these depend on her new body.
Effectively, any Abishai with this power who always maintains a few Blood Bonds is truly immortal.
System: In an event which the vampire would ordinarily reach Final Death, the vampire spends a Willpower Point and her soul and Cauldron are immediately transferred to any other vampire which is Blood Bound to her at that moment. So doing, she completely takes over the vampire's body, and all traces of the former Thrall are obliterated (Clan, Disciplines, Weakness, etc.) and replaced by those of the new tenant. Thereafter, the vampire has a new body.
All other vampires Bound to the Abishai's former body are freed, and the Abishai must re-Bind them to her new body if she wishes to retain them.
The new body must already be a vampire, this power doesn't work on ghouls. The Thrall may be of any Clan, however, and distance is not a factor in the soul transference.

Manifest ●●●●●●●●
At this level, the Abishai releases the dark energies she contains into the world, but instead of sending forth hordes of demons given flesh, the demons manifest instead as other forces. A Manifest may take the form of a swarm of locusts, a raging storm, or even a horrible, incurable plague.
System: The Abishai spends one Willpower point and enters torpor in the center of the spot she wishes the Manifest to appear in. As long as the torpid vampire remains there undisturbed, the Manifest will grow and take shape, increasing in area and effect. However, for every week the Manifest continues, the Abishai must spend another Willpower point.
The exact effect of the Manifest is determined by the Storyteller, although the general effect (a storm, a plague, a swarm, etc.) is up to the Abishai. Only one thing is common to all Manifests, and that is they are completely uncontrollable or unstoppable except by one means: the Abishai must either be awakened, or destroyed.
For every week the Manifest is allowed to progress, it will spread another mile from the Abishai's sleeping form.
At the Storyteller's discretion, bizarre Manifests may be devised in lieu of more conventional storms and plagues. For instance, perhaps a Manifest renders all blood in the area undrinkable by Kindred. Another Manifest may cause all corpses in the area to rise and walk as zombies. Animals in the affected area may become rabid and hostile. Affected mortals may give themselves utterly to their darkest emotions. In all cases where a Manifest affects the mind or behavior of victims, supernatural creatures may roll Wits + Self-Control, difficulty 8 to resist the effects.
Even so, an Abishai may keep a Manifest going so long as she has Willpower points. There are rumors among this bloodline of extremely powerful Abishai that can substitute the Willpower of various named demons for their own, and thereby gain an endless supply of willpower to use for a Manifest. These rumors also point to the Black Plague as one instance of such a Manifest, perhaps by Tlala himself.

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