The Graves Decay

This path is derived from the observation of the working of time on all things mortal. Stone crumbles and the corpse rots away to nothing, a process of endless fascination to the lost Cainites known as Cappadocians. Indeed, for the undying, the process of decay is a fascinating disease that afflicts everyone and everything save them. Under this path, a practitioner of Necromancy channels that force.

• Destroy the Husk

Cainites who kill their victims, rather than just feeding upon them, frequently find themselves in need of a quick way to dispose of a corpse. While there are many ways to make sure that a corpse is not found — feed it to a pack of hounds or weigh it down and throw it in a river — many of these methods do involve risk to the vampire and are not guaranteed to succeed. Destroy the Husk, by contrast, is foolproof. Use of this power simply turns one human corpse to a pile of about 30 pounds (13 kilograms) of unremarkable dust, roughly the size and shape of that body.

System

The player spends one blood point as the vampire drips her vitae onto the corpse. The player then rolls Intelligence + Medicine (difficulty 6). One success is all that is needed to render the corpse into dust, although the process takes a number of turns equal to five minus the successes.

•• Rigor Mortis

One of the first changes that comes over a dead body is rigidity; the corpse becomes stiff as a board, frozen in a single pose. The Cainite who wields Rigor Mortis is able to push a living or undead body to that frozen point using only his will and understanding of the forces of decay. She forces her target to become rigid and unable to move without enormous effort of will, as his very muscles betray him.

System

The player spends a point of Willpower and rolls Intelligence + Medicine (difficulty 7). Each success freezes the target in place for one turn. A failure simply indicates the loss of the Willpower point, while a botch renders the target immune to powers in the Grave’s Decay path for the next 24 hours. The target must be visible and within about 25 yards or meters for this ability to take effect. A frozen target is treated as though he has been staked (see p. 280). With a Willpower roll (difficulty 7) and two successes, the target can break out of the rigor on her turn. Failure causes her a level of bashing damage and means another turn wasted and frozen.

••• Wither

Reminiscent of some of the powers of Vicissitude, Wither allows a vampire to cripple an opponent’s limb. Whether the foe is living or undead, muscle shrivels away, skin peels, and bone becomes brittle. The target is unable to exert any noteworthy strength in the crippled limb. This injury lasts for far longer than most injuries trouble vampires, and in mortals it simply does not heal.

Wither doesn’t have to be used on a limb, although that is its usual purpose. It can also be used simply to affect the target’s face and hair, making him appear far older than his years. It could also be applied to a target’s eye or ear, killing the sense in that organ (and thus requiring two uses to permanently blind or deafen). Wither cannot be used as an “instant-kill” power — necromancers cannot wither internal organs — but it can inflict a wide variety of injuries on a foe.

System

The player spends a Willpower point. The character chooses a limb on the target and then touches that limb. If the target is trying to avoid contact, the invoker’s player rolls Dexterity + Brawl to hit as normal. If the character succeeds in touching the intended limb, the target suffers two aggravated wounds. Unless the target soaks both wounds (such as with Fortitude), the struck limb is crippled and unusable until both of those wounds have healed. Kindred heal the wounds as they would any other aggravated wound (see p. 285). Mortals are incapable of healing aggravated wounds, so they suffer throughout their lives unless they are healed through supernatural means. A withered limb does not degenerate further, even on a mortal. The character may be crippled for life, but the limb won’t become infected or gangrenous.

The effects of the withering depend on the affected limb. A crippled arm has a Strength of 0, cannot benefit from Potence, and cannot carry anything heavier than about half a pound (200 grams). A crippled leg prevents the character from moving faster than a stuttering hop or dragging limp. The character suffers the effects of the Lame Flaw (see p. 482). A single withered eye or ear imposes a +1 difficulty to relevant Perception rolls. Losing both eyes or both ears imposes the effects of the Blind or Deaf Flaws (see pp. 484 and 483). A withered tongue imposes the effects of the Mute Flaw (p. 483), while a withered face reduces the target’s Appearance by one for each aggravated wound suffered.

•••• Corrupt the Undead Flesh

Corrupt the Undead Flesh blurs the line between life and undeath, turning an undead creature into something just living enough to carry and suffer from disease. The disease inflicts the target, causing lethargy, dizziness, loss of strength, clumsiness, and the inability to keep blood in his system. This pernicious influence is extremely virulent among mortals. They pick the disease up simply by spending a few hours near the victim. Other vampires have a harder time acquiring the disease. They must consume the victim’s blood to do so, but afterward, they suffer just as much as the original target — including passing the affliction on to others.

The disease fades after roughly a week.

System

The player chooses a target within her character’s line of sight and no more than 20 yards or meters away. She rolls Intelligence + Medicine (difficulty 6) and spends a point of Willpower. The victim’s player must roll Stamina (+ Fortitude, if appropriate) against a difficulty equal to the attacker’s Willpower. If the player scores more successes than the victim, he acquires a virulent disease immediately. The disease has the following effects:

  • The victim’s Strength and Wits are halved (round down).
  • The victim loses one point of Dexterity.
  • The victim’s player must spend one additional blood point every evening for the vampire to rouse himself to consciousness. Mortals lose one health level per day instead.
  • The victim’s player must roll Self-Control or Instinct each time the character feeds (difficulty 8). On a failure, the vampire cannot keep the blood he just ingested inside his body, and he vomits it up in great horrifying gouts of gore, losing any benefit the blood might have provided. Humans vomit up food.

Every evening at sunset, the victim has a chance to throw off the plague. The victim’s player rolls Stamina, with a difficulty equal to 10 minus the number of sunsets since acquiring the plague. On a successful roll, the character fights the disease to a standstill and begins to recover. He instantly regains his ability to manage blood, and he heals back one lost Attribute point per hour until all have returned.

••••• Dissolve the Flesh

This ability brings the Grave’s Decay path full circle, as it causes Destroy the Husk to apply to vampires. Dissolve the Flesh allows a necromancer to attempt to turn vampiric flesh to dust or ash, as though the target had been burned or left out in the sun.

System

The player spends two blood points and a Willpower point as the vampire extracts a quantity of her vitae charged with the power of the grave. If she drips it onto a single Kindred victim anytime within the next few turns (most of the blood must reach the victim, so flinging a few drops is ineffective), it causes whole chunks of the victim’s body to crumble to ash. The player rolls Willpower against a difficulty of the victim’s Stamina + 3. For every success, the target takes one aggravated wound.

The undead flesh damaged by this power turns to dust (gone for the time being), and it must be regenerated painstakingly by the victim, should he survive. That dust doubtlessly has mystical properties that various sorcerers might be able to take advantage of. Every wound inflicted by this ability represents the loss of about one-eighth of the target’s weight; the Storyteller chooses where the loss comes from. (It might also be shed from all over, leaving the victim a bit gaunter or missing chunks of flesh.)

Regenerating body parts occurs naturally while healing aggravated wounds at the normal rate (see p. 285).

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