Hello Ministers! I apologize for not posting recently, but I do have news to share with you all. As many of you know, Storyteller’s Vault has recently been opened to Vampire: the Masquerade Fifth edition content. Well, I’ve been working on a Sourcebook of my own for V5. It’s entitled Secret of the Serpents. It will be retailing for $10 USD.
What is Secrets of the Serpents?
Secrets of the Serpents is an expansion upon the ideology of the Ministry as Presented in Aanarch. It includes an alternative structure for Clan Ministry than what is presented in the official books. The photographer for the front cover is Jan Kopřiva.
What is in this Sourcebok?
As mentioned above the book will cover five different paths that make up the structure of the Ministry. There’s the Path of Montu warriors, Path of Quetesh Hedonists, Path of Set Priests, Path of Thoth Sorcerers, and path of Serket Assassins and Infiltrators. Below, you can find one of the covers for the Path of Montu. There will also be rules to create Paths for your own city. These Paths are not Paths of enlightenment. They are more way to operate within the living church of Set. There will also be loresheets for all of the Paths presented in the book.
Now, unlike the V5 Sabbat book there will be advice on how to create characters for these Paths. Additionally, there is advice for Storytellers ranging from themes to plot devices. While there are not any NPCs pre-made for Storytellers there is advice for how to use each of the paths within their respective sections. Additionally, for you Serpentis fans there will be two new Serpentis amalgams and two new Blood Sorcery rituals inspired by Setite sorcery of old.
Overall, I am Very excited to share this book with you all and I hope to release it before the end of the Month! I’m just waiting on my editor to review it and for the last piece of art I am commissioning. I can’t wait for you all to get your hands on it! Remember, Set lives within us all and soon, you can tell stories about just that.
Note: The promised new artwork before I edited this post on 10/22/2021 will not be in the initial version. It will be added later once the artist has the commission complete.
Roxanne Dimitri was my first ever VtM character. I had no idea what I was doing with her as a Kindred, but I did have a very clear idea about who she was in life. I have chosen to update her to reflect her better and to explore an aspect of a clan that I feel was left out in V5. Before we begin I would like to add a trigger warning for cannibalism. With that said, let us start with my initial version of her, the Gangrel version.
Roxanne’s Life (Gangrel version)
Roxanne Dimitri was born to a loving family in Georgia. As a child she never really fit in much with the other girls and was much more interested in exploring the vast forests behind her house. She would commonly go spelunking in unexplored caves and even injure herself. She quickly learned how to treat some injures that she would get on these adventures. Over time, Roxanne would develop a kinship with the animals of the forest and even gain a distaste for hurting them. As she grew older she gained an interest in Archeology. This was something probably passed down to her from her mother who left a degree in archeology to care for Roxanne.
Eventually, she would take her years exploring the forests and treating injuries and put it to good use, becoming what the press would call the “real life Laura Croft”. She was essentially a tomb raider and got some wealth from gathering artifacts. Though, not all people interested in artifacts are good people. A Mr. Darkwood would hire her for some… less than legal purposes and would get some additional funds from getting artifacts for him, including a strange book with odd symbols. She didn’t bother to read it though. She wasn’t paid to read it, just retrieve it. Besides, reading wasn’t really for her. Of course, this lifestyle had some dangers.
One time during an adventure in the middle east, she was exploring a tomb. She had a local guide and was trying to recover some sort of artifact for Mr. Darkwood and the guide was hired by him. During their exit with the artifact in hand, a trap was triggered that left a boulder on the entrance and they could not move. They were stuck in the tomb for two or three weeks. During which time, they ran out of food and eventually started to starve. The tour guide eventually started to attack Roxanne out of desperation and she killed the tour guide and eventually ate parts of him. Though, she was eventually rescued and the cannibalism was covered up.
After this experience, Roxanne decided to stay in the United States for a while and explore the land by foot. This lead her to travel north towards Maine, but she was stopped near Hartford, Connecticut.
Unlife (Gangrel Version)
Roxanne’s unlife began shortly after she got near Hartford. See, I neglected to mention that Roxanne had a group of cats that followed her all the way up to Hartford shortly after she left Georgia on foot. These cats were actually a pack of Sabbat Gangrel that were trying to judge her worthiness for the Embrace. She was knocked out outside of the city and brought to a park where she was Embraced. She woke up from the embrace in a hunger Frenzy and gorged herself on the blood of someone that was out for a run. This disturbance did not go unnoticed.
A local Baron by the name of Shelly sent out a coterie to investigate the disturbance in the park. There, they discovered Roxanne and by discovered I mean ran over as she was trying to get help for the person she unknowingly killed. The body was covered up to preserve the masquerade and she was accepted into a coterie of three, now four, called the Flat-Liners. The original coterie included Roxanne, a Catiff on the path of Golchonda named Esrael, a Nosferatu ex-cop by the name of Gordon, and a Tremere with a third eye by the name of Felix. This coterie wouldn’t always stay the same. Felix and Gordon would eventually leave for their own reasons and three new members would join them. A Toreador by the name of John Dashwood, a Brujah by the name of Aaron, a thin-blood turned Tzimisci named Daniel, and after she left the coterie a Ravnos by the name of Diana.
Roxanne wouldn’t have a difficult time adjusting to being a kindred. Though, she would commonly frenzy and end up killing people. Due to making some poor choices she would become quite self-destructive feeling that she was a burden to the coterie, and after her mortal mother discovered the existence of vampires she went after her. What exactly happened to her is unknown, but what is known is that she was an extremely low humanity (humanity 2) when she left the coterie to look for her mother.
What I learned from my initial version of Roxanne
I learned many things from my initial version of her. While I couldn’t get into too many details as I played her for an entire year I learned so much about the World of Darkness from playing her. Though I think one thing I learned was that I was putting my own mental health issues into her. I was deeply depressed during the time I was playing her and that self-destructiveness was maybe a side-effect of my mental health at the time. For example, she almost tried to turn herself into a Baali to save her Friend/Sire-figure Esrael. She also danced the spiral. There’s more I could talk on with her, but overall I stopped playing her because I was no longer happy with her and she had a lot of emotional baggage on my end due to how I played her when my depression was really bad. This was through no fault of my ST and was completely in my head. This emotional baggage plus a better understanding of the WoD on my end made me want to start over and make a better version of her.
My philosophy when remaking Roxanne
Roxanne was a fairly complex character at least on my end. She had to deal with a lot of stuff, but no matter what she did she was always trying to do what was best for the coterie. This inherent kind streak within her really made me start to think about how to improve upon her original design and make her a character I could truly learn to enjoy once more. Thus we come to her second, and now current iteration of the Salubri version.
From wandering Warrior to Paladin
This version of Roxanne has taken my more experienced approach on the World of Darkness and sprinkled that in. So, let’s begin. This version of Roxanne has a very similar childhood. She still likes the forests and was a bit of an adventurer, but never went on any globe-hopping adventures. After being Embraced by her Sire, Highlander, of the Salubri Antitribue she realized the Sword of Caine was not her her and she shortly aboned it after her Embrace. She then ventured to reclaim the lost title of the Warrior caste of the Salubri. She wasn’t just someone who could heal, she was someone who could fight. Due to how the Salubri work in V5 she will have to fight. If other Kindred want her Vitae she will not just let them. She will fight for it. She is proud to be a salubri and only hides what she is from the Mortals of the world using a hooded robe. Because she uses a sword, she also wears a ballistic vest to protect her from gunfire. Now she roams the nights trying to reclaim the lost title of the Salubri Warrior caste and is a fervent supporter of the Anarch movement.
Character Discussions is a new series I hope to run on this blog where I discuss characters I have played. I wanted to create this series not only to tell the stories of the characters I’ve played, but to also maybe spark some inspiration in either players or STs. There will also be discussions about playing a character in general sprinkled throughout this series.
Who was Flora Íñiguez in life?
In life, Flora was an Iberian noble who was born on 6/4/1050. She was raised as a noble, but she always had a hint of rebellion in her. She wanted to defy certain aspects of what were expected of women. She would join her brothers on hunting parties and would occasionally get in fights with some young boys. She was eventually granted to have a brawling tutor. Her parents only did this to humor her, of course. They were probably hoping that once she was older she would have grown out of that rebellious streak. While it certainly did cool with age it never entirely went away.
As for schooling, Flora was taught in the ways of etiquette and commerce, but never did take to religion or Hearth wisdom as she probably should. One point that was probably deliberately lacking in her education was that she was illiterate. She could speak Mozarabic, Arabic, and Latin, though. As Flora grew older, she was eventually betrothed and wed another noble. He was the Count of Polen. Shortly after she was wed, she would have been embraced by her sire, a Tzimisci by the name of Don Sebastain Morales-Khazi. She was 18 at the time of her death in 1068.
Early on in her unlife, Flora was being tutored in the ways of Vicissitude by her Sire. During this time, Flora realized that her flesh was much easier to mold than one would expect. Her sire mentioned something about “Promethean Clay”, but Flora didn’t fully grasp it. She was instructed to not trust the Tremere as, in her Sire’s own words, “The Tremere are parasites ignorant of the power they have stolen”. She, of course, took heed of her Sire’s words and grew a sense of loyalty to him. This loyalty was not through the power of a blood bond, but through the power of feeling thankful for elevating her from the shackles of mortality. Though eventually, she was freed from her sire and had to go back to her husband.
Speaking of her husband, once she returned she laid low for a little bit. She was instructed to be her Sire’s eyes and ears away from the mountains of Iberia and was still adjusting to being a Kindred. She was thinking about how to increase her station. This lead her to devising a plan to murder her husband. She was taken out on a night hunt one evening by her husband. At one point they were chasing an animal and got separated from the group. During this time, flora murdered her Husband and then was later able to blame it on roaming bandits. Of course, she “mourned” for the loss of her Husband and became the Countessa of Polen.
What is she up to now?
Currently, Flora’s “exploits in the southern plains are those of a young Cainite beginning to come into her power”. She’s currently exploring the powers of vicissitude and molded the flesh of a hunter so that his face was smooth, much like the Slenderman. Of course, the Proto-Gargoyle that was fighting the hunter is what ended him, not suffocation. I think that a letter that she recently wrote to her Sire will give a better explanation of what she is up to better than I ever could.
An intercepted letter:
Dear Sebastián Morales,
I hope this letter finds you well, my Sire. In recent nights there has been a bit of a excitement in Toledo. A hunter attacked the city. He seemed to induce rötschreck in those who were too weak-willed and had what appeared to be holy fire in his eyes. He even seemed to have some minor resistance to our arts as his flesh was more difficult to mold than I would have expected. This hunter seemed to also have slain several Brujah neonates among others from what was spoken to the court. What concerns me more is that when court was called in the city, it is said that the Sultan himself was injured. I am, as of now, unable to confirm such things, but considering he did not show up in court and had his seneshal do the talking for him I assume that it is true.
I have volunteered to go on a mission to a Nieves to the north, where it is currently expected that the hunter originated from to check on the court there to see if there are any hunter problems. Though, I must admit I do have some reservations about this mission. There is a thought in the back of my mind that maybe not is all as it seems here. Also, I will be accompanying one of those witches, Laurent Delacroix, and his pet Gargoyle, which he calls Bruce, on this mission. Well, the Gargoyle didn’t say he was going, but it seems those two come together on everything. Speaking of Laurent, he seems to be quite the bold one. He directly contradicted an elder Tremere, Viktor Nagy, in front of the entire court. It was clear that Viktor was quite upset with the young witch. Perhaps there is more between those two than I would have initially expected? Though I cannot confirm this at this time.
As for other goings on in the city of Toledo, it appears that the Salubri harpy, Astrina Perero, has taken a liking to me. She has even invited me to visit the Pool of Eden which she runs. A young Brujah knight by the name of Sandalius is teaching me to read so that I may better perform my station here, There is an up-and-coming young Toreador by the name of Alvito that I am on friendly relations with. I have also stuck a sense of companionship with the new Hound of the city, a Gangrel by the name of Rahim. From what I know of him he was a wondering mercenary before becoming the hound of this city. I do wonder what made him stop roaming, I hope this report is to your liking, my Sire. If there is anything that I can do for you in the city of Toledo or in Polan all you need to do is send a letter. In case the results of the investigation of this hunter problem interests you, I will send you a letter detailing the findings.
Sincerely, Flora Íñiguez, your Childe.
My plans for Flora.
As of right now I plan to put Flora down the path of pleasure. Currently she’s fleshcrafted herself to have appearance six. She would go higher, but appearance six is as high as she can go being seventh generation. I intend for her to realize tat she enjoys the attention that her appearance brings her and maybe even sleep with some mortals or other Kindred. This will lead her deeper down that path and eventually she may be tutored by that Salubri mentioned in the letter above.
What have I learned from playing Flora?
If I would have to say I’ve learned anything from playing Flora it’s how to do any amount of politicking. I, at least with my first character Roxanne, never understood the political side of Vampire: the Masquerade. I’ve actually been able to make some minor political moves with her and I’m actually enjoying doing some politics. I was able to gain some ground by speaking at the right time, and then being backed up by a fellow Tzimisci. I think that is by far the thing I have learned from her.
For the uninitiated to V5, you only have five hunger slots. You have a chance to earn an additional hunger every time you make a rouse check with what is called a hunger die. Hunger dice are dice that make it more difficult to get a success, which means you gain more hunger. Hunger dice also include the messy critical and bestial failure systems, but that is a topic for another time. Also, you cannot go below hunger one without draining someone dry. Starting at hunger four, you need to start making hunger frenzy checks if you see or taste blood. I’m sure some of you can already see the problem here.
The Problem I have with hunger in V5
The main problem I have with hunger, given that there are no elder rules at the time of writing, is that you are already 20% hungry pretty much no matter what. I understand that V5 focuses mostly on fledglings and neonates, but in my personal experience you are constantly hungry in V5. On average, I found myself at hunger two or three. While I understand that V5 has themes of dis-empowerment, I feel that it is too limiting. A great way to see why this is a problem is that in the year-long Chronicle I was in we would spend at least an hour or two every session on feeding – and that’s assuming everything went well! I understand that an important part of being a vampire is that thirst for blood and V5 does an amazing job of making you feel like a vampire, but there’s needing to feed and practically starving during combat when disciplines are flying and you’re making many of those rouse checks. Speaking of combat.
This hunger system is crushing in combat where every discipline power above level one requires one or more of them. So, let’s say you’re playing a combat Gangrel. You’d be rousing to use Feral Weapons, maybe rousing to increase your combat dice, and then rousing to heal. In this theoretical combat let’s say you pop your claws, that’s one rouse. Then, you have a contest or two that you’re not sure you can win so you rouse for them that’s three rouses. After the combat let’s say you took 3 superficial damage, that’s three additional rouses assuming BP1. In total, that brings us to a grand total of six rouse checks! I will now roll a hunger die six times on my desk and record the results: success, fail, fail, success, fail, and success. In this example, we would have gained three hunger. That would take us, assuming we had one hunger at the start of this, to hunger four. At hunger four, you need to make a frenzy roll to feed. Are you starting to see the problem yet?
I want to make it clear that I am not advocating for the hunger system to change drastically. I like the hunger system for how it makes you feel like a vampire, but I see the problems. Especially with combat characters, this system punishes then too harshly. See the example above. Before I write out two ways of solving this issue, I will address counterpoints to my opinion.
Counterpoints to my opinion
I have had a discussion or two about this topic and I wanted to address some of the common arguments against me disliking how limiting the hunger system in V5 is.
“Elders didn’t fight all the time, they had sphere of influences or had ghouls do things for them.”
Yes, they did, but V5 focuses on neonates and fledglings, mostly. Quite frankly, while neonates and fledglings do a fair amount of politicking, you’re going to fight much more as a fledgling. This system punishes them unfairly, I feel.
“Combat should be a last resort for Kindred.”
I agree, but sometimes you get an SI on your tail or another Kindred just refuses to listen, so you have to go in and do the dirty work. As I said, due to this system focusing on fledglings, combat is going to be inevitable at one point or another unless you’re amazing with words.
Also, what if you want to be a combat-focused character? That’s just punishing someone for playing the game in a way they find enjoyable. You cannot tell me that there is not a guard dog of some kind for a Ventrue or a Prince’s personal bodyguard that is there purely for combat.
Let us not forget about the Sabbat, who have not been released at the time of writing. Their whole perspective is that they are fighting a war against the antediluvians and their servants. They’re going to engage in combat a lot.
“Maybe you should be more strategic when you use your rouses.”
This argument is like saying “Don’t use the powers that are given to you”. While, yes, some situations don’t call for them they can be really useful. Now, you can argue that this is using your disciplines as a crutch which is a fair argument, but to that I say yes. Kindred sometimes need to rely on their disciplines. It’s a fairly big part of the game and I’m not saying you should be able to use them 24/7, but there should be some more wiggle room than there currently is.
“But I like the hunger system how it is.”
I’m glad you do and your opinion is completely valid. I just personally feel it is too punishing to combat characters as I mostly play one. If you find it good at is it I’m happy for you and I hope you continue to enjoy it!
I have to ways to fix this problem that I can think of. One is how I handle it, and the other is one suggested by a friend of mine who is also an ST.
Solution 1: sect food supplies.
This was the solution I came up with for the chronicle I ran. Basically, given that hunger is such a big problem, it would be reasonable that the sects, especially the Camarilla, would have a place where people could go to get unlimited blood. Though, with the caveat that you cannot find dyscrasias there. In order to find those you would need to actually hunt.
While this does lessen parts of being a vampire this also would make sense given how easy it is for people to frenzy. This way, you don’t need to spend hours feeding you can just go “Hey, I’m stopping by the place we get blood” and you’re ready to go.
Solution 2: have a total of seven hunger
This solution was given to me by one of my friends who is also an ST. He suggested increasing the hunger to a total of seven. That way you could still have a limited amount of hunger, but you have a little more breathing room. This would alleviate this system being so crushing for combat-focused characters and also allow you a little more flexibility on when you can use your disciplines.
The downside suggested to being above hunger four is that you have the equivalent to the Obvious predator flaw (V5 p.189).
I love the V5 hunger system, but I feel that it is a little too punishing for people who want to be combat-focused. The system also is a little too restrictive on when you can use your disciplines. I love V5 and that’s why I care enough to write about this. I will probably write about the resonance system at a later point because I have opinions on that system. In the meantime, feel free to discuss in the comments. I’d love to see what other people think about my take on this topic.