The Sepulchre Path

Through the Sepulchre path, the vampire can witness, summon, and command the spirits of the dead. At higher levels, the necromancer can force the ghost to remain in a particular place or object, or even damage wraiths directly. Since many other areas of Necromancy involve dealing with ghosts, this is the most common path for necromancers to start with.

Note: If a Kindred uses a Sepulchre Path power in the presence of the ghosts' fetter, the chances for success in the summoning increase dramatically (reduce the difficulty by 2). This might be the bathtub in which the ghost’s mortal body was drowned, the rusted-out wreck of the car where the ghost’s physical body was trapped alive, or something unrelated to the ghost’s demise, such as a favorite book or a child-ghost’s beloved nursery.

• Witness of Death

Before it is possible to control the dead, one must perceive them. This power allows just that, attuning a vampire’s unliving senses to the presence of the incorporeal.

Under its effects, a necromancer sees ghosts as translucent phantoms gliding among the living and hears their whispers and moans. She feels the spectral cold of their touch and smells their musty hint of decay. Yet one cannot mistake the dead for the living, as they lack true substance, and appear dimmer and less real than creatures of flesh and blood. When a vampire uses this power, her eyes flicker with pale blue fire that only the dead can see.

Ghosts resent being spied upon, and more powerful shades may use their own powers to inflict their displeasure on the incautious.

System

The player rolls Perception + Awareness (difficulty 5). Success allows the vampire to perceive ghosts as described for the rest of the scene (in the mortal world — seeing ghosts in the land of the dead requires Shroudsight, on p. 163). Failure has no special effect, but a botch means the vampire can see only the dead for the scene; everything else appears as shapeless, dim shadows. While the vampire’s other senses remain attuned to the living, he is all but blind in this state and suffers a +3 difficulty to most vision-based Perception rolls and attacks. Ghosts notice the glowing eyes of a vampire using this power only with a successful Perception + Alertness roll (difficulty 7).

•• Summon Soul

The power of Summon Soul allows a necromancer to call a ghost back from the Underworld, for conversational purposes only. In order to perform this feat (and indeed, most of the feats in this path), the vampire must meet certain conditions:

  • The necromancer must know the name of the wraith in question, though an image of the wraith obtained via Witness of Death (see above), Shroudsight (see p. 163), Auspex, or other supernatural perception will suffice.
  • An object with which the wraith had some contact in life must be in the vicinity, though it need not be something of significant importance to the ghost’s living consciousness. A piece of the ghost’s corpse works well for this purpose (and even provides a -1 difficulty modifier).

Certain types of ghosts cannot be summoned with this power. Vampires who achieved Golconda before their Final Deaths, or who were diablerized, are beyond the reach of this summons. Likewise, many ghosts of the dead cannot be called — they are destroyed, unable to return to the mortal plane, or lost in the eternal storm of the Underworld.

System

The player spends one blood point and rolls Manipulation + Occult (difficulty equal to 7 or the ghost’s Willpower, whichever is higher). The vampire must know the name of the ghost and have on hand an object the ghost had contact with in life. Provided that the target has died and become a ghost, success means the shade appears before the necromancer as described above. Not everyone becomes a ghost — it requires a strong will to persevere in the face of death, and souls that have found peace pass on to their eternal rewards. Moreover, it is possible for the dead to suffer spiritual dissolution and destruction after they become ghosts. The Storyteller should consider all these factors when deciding whether a particular ghost exists for a vampire to summon.

Vampires know if their summons should have succeeded by a feeling of sudden, terrifying descent as they reach too far into the great Beyond, so this power can be used to determine whether a soul has endured beyond death. While a failure means the vampire wastes blood, a botch calls a spirit other than the one sought — usually a malevolent ghost known as a Spectre (see p. 385). Such a fiend torments the one who summoned it with every wicked power at its disposal.

Once a ghost is summoned, it may not deliberately move out of sight of the vampire, though it can take any other actions, including direct attack. The vampire’s player may spend a Willpower point to dismiss the ghost at any time (unless he rolled a botch). Otherwise, at the end of the scene, shadows engulf the spirit once more and return it to its original location.

••• Compel Soul

With this power, a vampire can command a ghost to do his bidding for a while. Compulsion of the soul is a perilous undertaking and, when used improperly, can endanger vampire and wraith alike.

System

The vampire locates and approaches the intended ghost or calls it to his presence with Summon Soul. As with the previous power, he must have the ghost’s name and an object it handled in life. His player then spends one blood point and rolls Manipulation + Occult in a resisted roll against the ghost’s Willpower (difficulty 6 for both rolls).

If the vampire wins, the number of net successes determines the degree of control he has over the ghost (as described below). Moreover, the vampire’s control keeps ghosts that have been called with Summon Soul from returning to their original locations at the end of the scene. If the ghost wins, the vampire loses a number of Willpower points equal to the ghost’s net successes. On a tie, the roll becomes an extended contest that continues each turn until one side wins. If the vampire botches at any point, the ghost is immune to any use of the vampire’s Necromancy for the rest of the scene. If the ghost botches, it must obey as if the vampire’s player had rolled five net successes.

1 success
The ghost must perform one simple task for the vampire that does not place it in certain danger. It must attend to this task immediately, although it can delay the compulsion and pursue its own business at a cost of one Willpower point per scene. The ghost may not attack the vampire until this task is complete. It is possible to issue the task of answering one question, in which case the ghost must answer truthfully and to the best of its knowledge.

2 successes
The vampire may issue two orders or ask two questions as outlined for one success. Alternatively, the vampire may demand a simple task with a real possibility of danger, as long as the danger is not certain. The ghost may delay this compulsion with Willpower.

3 successes
The vampire may issue three orders as outlined for one success. Alternatively, he may demand the ghost fulfill one difficult and dangerous task or a simple assignment that has an extended duration of up to one month. The ghost may delay such orders with Willpower.

4 successes
The vampire may issue four orders, as outlined for one success, or assign two tasks, as for two successes. Alternatively, the vampire may command the ghost to perform one complex assignment that puts the ghost at extreme risk, or perform any number of non-threatening tasks as the vampire’s slave for up to one month (or, if the necromancer spends a permanent point of Willpower, for a year and a day). It is possible for ghosts to delay individual tasks, but not put off enslavement.

5+ successes
The vampire may issue multiple orders that have a sum complexity or danger of five successes’ worth. Instead, the vampire may order the ghost to perform any one action that it is capable of executing within one month. Such a task can place the ghost in immediate peril of destruction, or even force it to betray and assault loved ones. It is not possible for ghosts to delay a task of this magnitude with Willpower — they must obey.

•••• Haunting

Haunting binds a summoned ghost to a particular location or, in extreme cases, an object. The wraith cannot leave the area to which the necromancer binds it without risking destruction.

System

The player spends one blood point while standing at the location for the haunting or touching the intended prison. She then has the ghost brought to her by whatever means she desires, though Summon Soul is quickest and most reliable. Her player then rolls Manipulation + Occult (difficulty is equal to the target’s current Willpower points if resisted, to a minimum of 4; otherwise it is 4). The difficulty rises by one if the vampire wishes to place the ghost in an object. As usual, the difficulty decreases by one if the necromancer has a part of the spirit’s corpse in addition to knowing its name (minimum difficulty 3).

Each success binds the ghost within the location or object for one night. This duration extends to one week if the player spends a Willpower point or a year and a day for a dot of permanent Willpower. A wraith attempting to leave the area of a haunting must make an extended Willpower roll (difficulty 9, four cumulative successes necessary in a single scene) or take a level of aggravated damage for each roll. If the wraith runs out of health levels, it is hurled deep into the Underworld to face destruction.

••••• Torment

It is through the use of this power that powerful necromancers convince bound ghosts to behave — or else. Torment allows the vampire to strike a wraith as if he himself were in the lands of the dead, inflicting damage on the wraith’s ectoplasmic form. The vampire remains in the real world, however, so he cannot be struck in return.

System

The player rolls Stamina + Empathy (difficulty equal to the wraith’s current Willpower points), and the vampire reaches out to strike the wraith. Each success inflicts a level of lethal damage on the wraith. Should the wraith lose all health levels, it immediately vanishes into what appears to be a doorway to some hideous nightmare realm. Ghosts “destroyed” thus cannot reappear in or near the real world for a month.

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