Baptized by Blood\\ Gifted with Hatred\\ Fueled by Vengeance\\ Death is your Gift
This concept began to percolate in my mind when a person on the White Wolf forums asked about vampires (small v) in the Exalted setting. We all know the Abyssal Exalted fill the niche of the knights of death, the elegant souls who feed on the living and bring the silence of eternal rest in their wake.
But that's nice if you want your undead monsters to be elegant, beautiful and close to all-mighty. What if you want the standard horde of vampires? Individually not as strong as the mighty deathknights, but certainly beyond the limits of simple human beings. Not to mention that all deathknights are Exalted in such a way that they choose to become servants of the Deathlords and Malfeans. What if you want the vampires to be spread in a more traditional manner?
So, I came up with a new idea.
Warning, those of you who think that Exalted has quite enough different splats already, feel free to skip this entire document. Thank you.
Credit to Ikselam for the idea for the Deathlord name, even if I butchered it and the concept to fit my own personal preferences.
The Unrighteous Pharaoh Who Dwells in Silence is a deathlord that has been considered for centuries to be a minor power among the servants of the Neverborn. Once a powerful Eclipse Caste Exalted the woman who would become the Pharaoh was known for never dwelling in hate same household for more than one night, leaving a string of diplomatic and sexual victories in her wake that were considered legendary in a time of living legends. What few in those days do not know is that this woman also kept her time in more dangerous courts. Some days she spent lounging under the mad green sun of malfeas, other she spent walking the twisted halls of the Labyrinth listening intently to the whispers which rose up from the anything-but-empty funeral caverns beneath her.
When she was still alive she was taught forbidden secrets by those who she made diplomacy with, and she used those secrets to enhance her power and delight in the Old Realm. Yet she was never foolish enough to sell her soul to these dark powers. Though they offered her blandishments and pleasures and powers even greater she refused them. Then came the Usurpation. The Pharaoh was caught alone by a horde of dragon-bloods and slaughtered like a caged animal. In this moment of death a new hatred was born that has survived and grown ever since. The only goal the Pharaoh has now is to take her revenge on the ancestors of those who destroyed her in life, although over the millennia she has forgotten much of what she was.
The Pharaoh hesitated not at all when approached by the Malfeans and gladly gave herself over to their dark works. When she emerged in the Underworld she created for herself a magnificent pyramid of black jade in one of the major demesnes of the dark land. Then she set herself apart from her fellows. All overtures of alliance were ignored. All attempts at disturbance were met with bizarre and undefeatable magic that repelled everything from supernatural assassins to legions of dead souls with alacrity and overwhelming power. Since the Pharaoh showed no signs of interest in expanding her power beyond her black manse, the other Deathlords began to ignore her.
The Pharaoh appeared only twice among her "allies". Once was when the thirteen gathered to unleash the Great Contagion upon the world above. Even then she only contributed the minimum magical energy necessary for the rituals of contamination that would lead to the destruction of much of Creation. Afterwards she returned to her lonely studies. While the other Deathlords fought over what scraps of power could be gathered in Stygia or the nascent Shadowlands of creation the Pharaoh remained silent and unseen.
Unknown to anyone but herself and those she parleyed with the Pharaoh was no quiescent during the long centuries. Instead she continued her task as a diplomat, serving as an emissary between the Neverborn and their cousins the Yozis. She trafficked what few exchanges were necessary between them. And during this time she continued to glean information from them both, learning the secrets of death and corruption. Her silent counsel hatched a plan among the Neverborn, a plan to learn what the Yozis knew of Essences. So it was that a plan was hatched that would lead to the eventual releases of the Solar Exalted and the creation of their dark reflections, the Abyssals.
And while the Pharaoh carried messages back and forth as necessary she learned herself the secrets that her undying masters wished to learn, and her smile was secret and unseen. While the twelve other Deathlords conspired to build free their former souls form the Jade Prison the Pharaoh retreated once again to her black manse. What did she care about the Solar Exalted? They had not been the cause of her downfall. Her special hatred was for the dragon-blooded. Her special intent was to destroy her hated enemies in the most vicious and ironic manner she could.
Last year she completed her rituals and studies and the first of her new servants was reborn.
The Unrighteous Pharaoh Who Dwells In Silence does not strike an imposing or otherworldly figure. She appears small and timid to those who meet her. Her manner is almost childish, and with her size and undeveloped physique those who see her have often had trouble believing she is so much as twelve, much less over three-thousand years old. In her black basalt throne she is dwarfed by the scale of the manse within which she dwells. She wears clothing in somber hues that is perhaps one size to large for her and hangs limply across her frame. Her large soulful eyes appear filled with an innocence and joy at most times, but can take on a vast unspeakable wrath if she is ever in the presence of a Terrestrial Exalt. She does not often speak, but is capable of it. She speaks in a low whisper but trying to remember her voice is as hopeless as trying to remember the moment of one's birth.
She never deigns to engage in physical combat, though those her underestimate her will find her command of ancient styles of martial arts thought lost in the First Age is both wide and deep. She prefers to rely on sorcery and necromancy to fulfill her needs, summoning what few servants she thinks will be necessary to deal with any minor annoyance that gets between her and her goals. Many bound First and Second Circle demons do her bidding in Creation, seeking out lone Dragon-blood's and dragging them alive to her hidden laboratories.
The Pharaoh has no large forces that she commands in the Underworld. She alone among the Thirteen Deathlords has no palace in Stygia, and has never bothered to forge an alliance or develop a rivalry with one of her fellows. To her mind such pursuits as the other Deathlord's engage in are irrelevant to her goals and ambitions. Her only notable power base is her black manse, built in the Underworld's analogue to the city of Gem. This huge structure has no name, and those who look upon its impossible geometry can never remember what exactly it was they saw. Walking through the dusty corridors is like walking the aftermath of the end of Creation, and those who do so for long will find themselves slowly driven mad by the absolute lack of noise except for that they themselves create. At the apex of the manse are the Pharaoh's experimentation chambers and collection of lost lore. The Pharaoh has declared herself the keeper of all secrets that have been forgotten and as such she has a massive library of First Age (and even older) lore that can not be found anywhere else. This treasure trove is guarded by bound demons and necromantic constructs of immense power. No ghosts walk these halls, no Abyssal Exalted has ever seen them. Few who enter the dark building ever leave again.
In creation the existence of the Pharaoh is something not even the most skilled savant of death suspects. While it is known the Terrestrial Exalts who come to the area of Gem have a tendency to disappear or be attacked by demons more often than perhaps in other places, nobody suspects that those who vanish disappear into small Shadowlands scattered across the Shadowlands. Even fewer suspect that many of those who vanished are about to return to Creation, or what horrors they will bring in their wake.
Ever since her death the one and only goal of the Unrighteous Pharaoh Who Dwells In Silence has been to gain her vengeance on the Terrestrial Exalted. After her rise as a deathlord she did this directly, summoning monsters from the planes of Malpheas to harass and harry them. But this killed a dozen, maybe a hundred of the Dragon-bloods at a time. It also merely killed them. What use did she have for their death? They would only be driven on to lethe and their Essence would spread through the children and the mass of them would continue. Those few who became restless spirits she tracked down and enjoyed her inventive torments with, but still it wasn't the same. How could she wreak vengeance on an entire species of Exalts?
It took her only a few decades to hatch her mad scheme, and everything she has been doing since has been dedicated to its fulfillment. She knew that the Yozis had the power to alter and corrupt and Exalted Essence, creating Infernals. Her goal was to learn the secrets of this process, pervert it to her own ends and unleash her twisted justice upon the entire Dragon-blooded host. She traveled between the land of the dead and the twisted hell-prison of the Yozis many times. Often on official business, but also in secret, learning all she could of the nature of Exalted Essence and how to control it. The final key came when she convinced her Neverborn masters of the potential of corrupting Solar Essence to their service. She walked away from the bargaining tables of the Yozis with far more information on how to control Essence then she ever turned over to her masters. Let them play at creating Dark Princes to bring the world to ruin. She went to her manse and perfected her practices over the next four years.
Her plan was both simple and horrific in its proportions. Far from being divorced from the world, the Pharaoh has kept abreast of the society of the Dragon-bloods through her interrogations of captured dynasts. She know how proud they are of their precious heritage and the blood that runs in their veins and gifts them with power. It is this very blood she will turn against them. Corrupting the much smaller Essences of the Terrestrial to her needs was a simple affair, she had learned how to turn them to dark warriors hundreds of years ago. The key to her revenge was replicating the ability of the Terrestrial Exalts to propagate their species, and it is only in the last year she has perfected her twisted version of this practice.
She dubbed her new creations the Blood-dragons to mock their forebears. Their official name is the Plasmatic Exalted, but she almost never refers to them as such, and they known very little about their own condition. They exist as dark reflections of their living cousins, each drawing their Essence from the dark essence of death and the five corpse elements of the Underworld. In terms of power, that match their living cousins, although their twisted power is far more destructive and less suited to subtlety. In the living world they are cut off from the corpse elements which empower them, and must draw their Essence from the blood of the living in order to fuel their magic. It is also in this act of feeding that they gain their most frightening power.
The living Terrestrial Exalts pass on their power through the ultimate affirmation of the cycles of life, passing their Essence onto their children and each successive generation. Even if their first born children do not Exalt, it is possible that two, or three, or ten generations down the road the divine spark will ignite and an new Terrestrial will walk the earth. The Plasmatic Exalted pass on their power through the ultimate affirmation of the cycle of death. By consuming the blood of a living mortal and feeding that mortal a small portion of their own blood there is a chance that the victim will receive the profane spark and be unborn as a Blood-dragon, cursed to live forever in a cursed position between life and death. This process is most effective when it is done to a (willing or unwilling) Terrestrial Exalt, but it sometimes effective when done to mortals who have only a loose connection to the blood of the Five Greater Elemental Dragons. In this manner the plague which the Pharaoh plan to unleash upon Creation may spread with frightening speed, especially when her Dragon-bloods reach the shores of the Blessed Isle and get their teeth into the pure bloodlines of that crumbling empire.
At the moment The Unrighteous Pharaoh Who Dwells In Silence is holding her new creations back. She had created maybe fifty of her dark servants, equally spread among the five corpse elements, and bound their service with black sorcery and necromantic ritual. In the heart of her manse she teaches them the secrets of changeling their new Essence, imparting knowledge of Charms she developed over thousands of years of experimentation into corrupted Essence. She knows that the rituals she has used to secure their service will not spread to the new generations, and so she hopes to make her strikes sure and true. In due time she will use the power of her growing legion to destroy the city which rests above her citadel and raise her black manse into the real world. From there she envisions the Blood-dragons spreading across the wave like a terrible disease, destroying or converting their brethren wherever they go. She even fancies creating an Anointed Order in the center of her new Shadowland to mock the religion of the Realm and pay what petty tribute to Oblivion she feels will satisfy her dead masters. How successful her plans will be, remains to be seen.
BECOMING A BLOOD-DRAGON
Blood-dragon's are not Exalted by the choice of the Pharaoh, it is the blood which chooses who will come under the Black Embrace. Like the scions of the Dynasty, the stronger the power of the five elements runs through your veins, the more likely the touch of the corrupt power will drag you into their unliving hell. Of course, the Pharaoh enjoys the thought of bringing her new gift to the most powerful bloodlines of the Dynasty, but so far has not the reach to accomplish this.
In order to become a Blood-dragon a mortal must have all the blood drained from his body, killing them. Then, just after their higher and lower soul separates but before they depart the body, they must be fed a sample of blood from an existing Blood-dragon. In many cases, the unfortunate mortal who is touched by this black magic will find his body twisted by the magic and will arise at the next sundown as a walking dead, the lower soul trapped screaming in the decaying body while the higher soul (and any Exalted Essence) moves onto whatever final fate awaits in. For many poor unfortunate fools the blood reacts to the power of the elemental dragons and forever binds the souls to the body, changing the victim immediately into one of the Plasmatic Exalted. The more powerful the bloodline connection to the great dragons the victim is, the more likely the Black Embrace is to fully take. The only other method available to create Plasmatic Exalted is the Labyrinth Circle Necromancy "Black Embrace" spell.
Celestial Exalted can not be turned into Blood-dragons in this manner. While they may certainly have their blood drained by the voracious appetite of the Plasmatics, if their lips are touched by the tainted blood the magic of the Pharaoh's twisted creation will not hold. In the case of Solar Exalts there bodies will immediately burst into an explosion of brilliant light as the Unconquered Sun briefly channels his outrage at the profanity committed, anybody within a few feet of this will surely be destroyed leaving only a fine ash behind. For Lunars their bodies will simply melt away like ice, leaving nothing but a lingering phantom mist soon dispersed on the wind. Sidereal Exalts subjected to this condition will unravel into motes of maiden colored Essence, their bodies absorbed into the tapestry of creation around them (even in a place outside creation proper). If an Abyssal Exalt is ever subjected to this treatment, they will explode into a black vortex which draws in all around it, leading straight into the Mouth of the Void.
A newly minted Blood-dragon awakes with all their old memories, personality and knowledge. The first sign that the Plasmatic will have that anything is wrong is the numbing cold that has permeated their bodies. Even then the cold is not as exceptional and overwhelming as the bone-chilling Abyssal Exaltation, instead it is more a lack of the natural heat they have felt all there life. At first the new being will look much like it did in life, but over the next several sunsets the body will subtly change as the Aspect Markings of the Corpse Elements make themselves manifest on the victim's body.
However within a few hours the true horror of their new condition will become clear as The Hunger settles in. The Pharaoh altered the Great Curse laid upon the souls of the Terrestrial Exalted to suit her purpose, and the Hunger is the outcome of that magic. No mortal food will satisfy the pain that slowly fills the body of the victim, in fact any attempt to swallow solid food will result in violent illness. Liquids may be consumed, but they will not slake the victim's thirst. Soon the victim will see a living human being, and will be drawn to the smell of life about them. If they do not resist they will attack and use their power to drain the blood from them, and in so doing stave off the Hunger for a time. Those who do resist will find themselves slowly losing their sanity as the pain in their body grows from a slight discomfort to mind-rending agony. Eventually all will give into their need to feed on the blood of the living. Nothing then compels the Dragon-bloods to confer their condition onto their unfortunate victims, but many do at the mandate of their dark mistress.
Terrestrial Exalts who are tainted by this magic will find their Aspect changed to its corresponding Corpse Element (Air to Prayer, Earth to Jade, Fire to Ghost Flame, Water to Blood and Wood to Bone). Those who were strictly mortal will almost always take on the Aspect of the Blood-dragon that created them.
Finally the magic of the Black Embrace will slowly grow through their minds, and they will grow to no they are dead men walking. Every Blood-dragon knows two facts instinctual. The first is that they will never grow older or die of old age. The second is that if they are ever struck down by violence, accident or disease then their soul will not pass on to Lethe and the cycle of reincarnation. Blood-dragon's are doomed from the moment of their undeath. Should they die, their soul will immediately fall into and be co summed by Oblivion.
Mechanically the possibility of creating a new Blood-dragon is basically left up to Storyteller's fiat. If it becomes necessary to resolve the transformation via random roles refer to page 282 of Exalted: The DRagon-Blooded in the side-bar for Multi-generational series. The rules for passing on Terrestrial Exaltation through the generations there should serve well enough for our purposes. Just make the "parents" include both the Plasmatic who donates his blood to the ritual and the victim and the "child" is of course the victim himself. On any failed role the victim instead becomes a Ghoul. Note: This means at bleats 30% of all victims will Exalt under those rules, if you wants to make the process rarer, shave off 1 or 2 from the die rolls at your discretion.
The body of every Blood-dragon is imbued, physically, with the power of one of the five Corpse Elements. When first Exalted by the Black Embrace, the victims of the twisted magic appear mostly human, with perhaps a touch of aspect marking here and there. As they grow in age and Essence their body begins to take on more and more of the character of their Aspect. One day supremely powerful Blood-dragon's will appear as elemental forces of undeath, human only in shape. Since Dragon-blood's do not age and die as their mortal brethren do, unless someone does something soon to stop the spread of these abominations, that is only a matter of time.
As has been stated previously the Blood-dragon's are broken up into five Corpse Elements that correspond to the elemental poles of the Underworld. These Aspects determine many of the Blood-dragon's traits. The element twists and distorts the Plasmatic's personality, coloring their perception of the world in subtle and meaningful ways. It colors the form of their anima and determines which skills and talents they will find they acquire most easily (and subsequently, which Charms they will have the most access to). Finally, the aspect serves to twist the Great Curse under which the Blood-dragon's operate, turning it to the purpose of Oblivion in its own way. The five corpse elements are Blood, Bone, Ghost Flame, Jade and Prayer.
Aspects of Blood: Blood beats. Blood is the relentless pressure of life, the interminable echo of what has been forever lost. Blood Aspected Blood- dragon's find themselves both the closest and the furthest from the living world. They appear the most human, with skin flushed with a healthy glow and a seemingly never-ending supply of energy. But this same connection only serves to sharply define to them what they have lost. For the Aspects of Blood, life is like an image seen through exceedingly thin but unbreakable glass. They can almost touch it, but are forever denied. This lingering echo of life can drive them mad with jealousy and hatred, causing them to strike out at that which they are denied.\\ The Aspect markings of these Plasmatics include a steady darkening of the skin to a bleeding scarlet, eventually leading to blood dripping from their mouths and constantly bleeding wounds that flow across their body. Their hair almost always takes on a scarlet quality but becomes limp and their eyes are constantly bloodshot.\\ The Anima Banner of the Blood Aspect resembles their namesake, forming in swirling scarlet lines of liquid light that etch the air around them. This is usually accompanied by a soft, but increasingly loud, beating sound. Large expenditures of Peripheral Essence result in disquieting displays of gore, phantom organs pulsing about their body and other unsettling imagery. A Blood Aspect may spend 5 motes to grant his body the mobility of plasma. For the rest of the day, the character may freely move through water or underworld plasma as if he was on dry land, even to the point of making ranged attack and need not breath to survive.\\ Blood Aspects are skilled at dealing with the living world, being the most adept at concealing their true nature and gaining power over those around them. Blood aspects favor the Abilities of Brawl, Bureaucracy, Investigation, Larceny and Sail.\\ In the grip of their Great Curse, the Blood Aspect Plasmatic becomes an insatiable cannibal. No matter how much she consumes, it is never enough. All living blood is food to them, and if the blood goes cold or stale from death after even a few seconds it becomes unsatisfying and the Blood Aspect is driven to find a new victim for their hunger. Their anger knows no bounds, and their temper beats constantly under the surface, waiting for only the slightest scratch to erupt outward on anyone unfortunate enough to be nearby.
Aspects of Bone: Bone lingers. Bone is the permanent touch of entropy we carry with us through life, and when we die it will be the bone that survives long after the rest of our body has turned to ash and dust. No single symbol conjures up the certainty of death more than that of naked bone. As such those aspected to bone feel themselves the furthest from the land of the living, and most connected to the grim power of the Underworld. As time goes on their connection to the living world eventually withers away entirely, as bone becomes dust. Eventually, there is no empathy in the Bone Aspect for the living world at all.\\ The Aspect markings of the Bone Aspect evolve into the most obvious signs of death. The skin, hair and eyes fade and drain of color over time. The body thins, flesh eventually pulling taunt over the skeleton with no loss of strength.\\ The Anima Banner of the Bone Aspect is starkly white, forming as a tight sheath of calcified Essence about her body but cracking and expanding as they spend Peripheral Essence. Eventually, this leads to huge skeletal displays, elaborate or simple and shocking depending on the individual. They may spend 5 motes to attune their anima to their skeleton, granting it unparalleled flexibility as joints shift in bizarre manners that anatomy never meant them to. For the rest of the scene, she may add her Essence in dice to a single Dodge or Athletics action once per turn. This is a reflexive action and thus the character can either add dice to an action or gain a free Dodge or Athletics action with a pool equal to her Essence.\\ Bone Aspects are skilled at arts of the dead, both the acts or propriety and reverence which all dead things require, and those skills most tied to those things which must always, in time, pass on to the dead world. Bone aspects favor the Abilities of Archery, Medicine, Performance, Ride and Survival.\\ In the grip of their Great Curse, the Bone Aspect finds living blood unpalatable. Victims must be slain and their blood drunk cold to sate them. They will withdraw from contact with living things, preferring the lonely solitude of the Underworld, or the quiet company of the dead.
Aspects of Ghost Flame: Ghost Flame consumes. In the moment of passing between life and death, all feel the touch of the Ghost Flame, the touch of Oblivion upon their soul. The touch of Ghost Flame is the touch of pain, for its consumption does not make way for new growth, it cleanses away life with unholy fire. For those gifted with this Aspect, pain is a constant companion, their touch is pain to those around them, and they feel aches in every movement they make. Eventually, they grow to enjoy this sensation, and seek to bring it to others. After all, there is no better testimony to the frailty of flesh than pain.\\ Aspect Markings of those attuned to Ghost Flame tend to involve a steady darkening of the skin, as if from terrible sunburn. Eventually, this leads to blisters and raw burns that score up and down the body. The touch of their skin is frighteningly cold, even more so than the usual cold of corpses but it never forms ice.\\ The Anima Banner of these beings erupts into a noxious green light that is terribly cold, so cold it burns. The anima grows as you spend Peripheral Essence, gaining a resemblance to flame in appearance only. Anything that touches this flame withers and dies, not burning away but rotting from the inside out. The Exalt may spend 5 motes to ignite her anima. For the rest of the scene, the character is immune to fire damage (including pyre flame) and anyone touching her even for long enough to hit barehanded takes lethal damage equal to the Exalt's Essence. Similarly, if the character strikes unarmed she does a similar amount of damage, applied separately from the damage of the strike.\\ Ghost Flame aspects are well-acquainted with pain, and best understand the driving force that pain represents when applied either physically or emotionally. This excellence leads them to mastery of those arts which can often benefit from the encouragement of pain. They Favor the Abilities of Athletics, Dodge, Melee, Presence and Socialize.\\ Those Ghost Flame aspects who succumb to their Great Curse find themselves experiencing one of the few pleasures they enjoy, the experience of pain in others. When they feed their victim must be in agony, for the taint of fear and torture flavors the blood to just the right degree. This penchant for cruelty extends to their other endeavors, and they will often go out of their way to inflict or exacerbate pain in others.
Aspects of Jade: Jade persists. Even in the unchanging world of the dead, Jade is noted for its stability. It is magic given physical form, the pure ideal of stability for those who dwell in the twilight of creation. In the Underworld, Jade is static and unyielding, coveted for its value even more so that mere mortals could ever hope for. In the same way, those who embody the Jade aspect have become mountains of stability, forever caught in a single moment in time. They have been shaped into a single form by their Exaltation and they will preserve that form for all time. They are the bringers of the order of death to the chaos of the living.\\ Aspect Markings of the Jade Blood-dragons only enhance their inhuman nature through their stability. Their body grows rigid, the skin taking on a glossy sheen and hair changing color to resemble one of the five varieties of Jade. Eventually, they will take on the appearance of living statues, perfect in ever way, but cold and lifeless.\\ The Anima Banner of the Jade Aspect flows through the colors of the five varieties of Jade, depending on the Charms they are using. It slowly fills up with phantasmal shards of broken jade that can slash and pierce through the skin. At the most iconic level, the power may spontaneously erupt into displays of organized structures or statuesque ideal forms.By spending 5 motes the Jade Aspect takes on the permanence of the magical material in his body. For the rest of the scene, he may soak Lethal damage with his total Stamina score. Jade Aspects maintain perfection in eternal stasis, both when it comes to themselves and when it comes to their influence upon the world around them. They possess a natural affinity for the Abilities of Awareness, Crafts, Endurance, Martial Arts and Resistance.\\ The Great Curse manifests in Jade Aspects as about stillness. When they feed they prefer to bind or otherwise immobilize their prey beforehand, disliking it when the food struggles of moves about. If stated they will tend to stand inviolate, contemplating their own natural eternity and reacting only to the most immediate stimuli.
Aspects of Prayer: Prayer remembers. It is through reverence and proper acknowledgement of our ancestors that we maintain continuity between what was and what is. It is this prayer which forms the stagnant wind of the Underworld. Unseen and unfelt, the power of memory has a strength which belies nature. Prayer Aspects thus have long memories and a tendency to be more contemplative than their fellows. There affinity for memory and the ethereal world manifests to many as a ghostly dispassion for the here and now. It is far more important to understand what came before, then what is to come tomorrow.\\ Aspect Markings of the those attuned to Prayer manifest as a ghostly manner and eyes which seem always to see through those they look at. The skin grows thin and the entire body takes on a translucent, shimmering quality. The shadows of the Prayer aspect always reveals their nature, as the shadow they cast always seems to flicker and shift, even in the steadiest light.\\ The Anima Banner of these of the Prayer aspect is the most subtle but at the same tie the most disturbing. The shadows they cast seem to grow larger, and light around them dims as shadows deepen. Hollow chants begin to emerge from the air about them. As this power grows it forms into ghostly images, phantasmal illusions of people and things long gone. Using their connection to the land of the dead the Prayer Aspect can spend 5 motes to give their body the weight of an incorporeal shade. For the remainder of the scene, he may triple his leaping distance and takes no damage from falls.\\ The magic of the Prayer Aspects deals best with those things related to reverence and remembrance, often taking on a special appreciation for the invisible world. They excel in the Abilities of Linguistics, Lore, Occult, Stealth and Thrown.\\ The Great Curse of the Prayer Aspect manifests as a ghostly disdain for the present and future in appreciation of the past. They prefer to engage in elaborate rituals of consecration and appreciation before feeding on their prey, taking pleasure in the sacred energy their actions infuse into the blood. Left alone they often withdraw into ritual and contemplation, unable or unwilling to consider approaches that have not already been proven valuable by the ancestors.
MAGIC OF THE BLOOD
Despite their parasitic state the Blood-dragon's are still Exalted, and thus they have access to Charms. The magic of the Blood-Dragon's is lesser than their Celestial cousins and tends to exist at approximately the same level as the Terrestrial Exalted. There are significant differences between the magic employed by the Blood-Dragons and their former brothers and sisters. They are slightly better at inflicting pain and harm, and much less suited for other pursuits except when they employ pain, fear and despair as their tools. Also while dragon-blooded Charms tend to manipulate outside elements, Blood-dragon magic tends to take violent control of their own bodies, often in grotesque or disturbing ways.
Dragon-blooded Charms tend to work best in groups, as the cooperative and synergistic nature of their magic aids them. Plasmatic Exalted do not gain this benefit, their magic is more parasitic, draining strength from those around them to supplement their own power. They are very good at driving wedges between people, and in turning an opponent's own strength against them. Like Terrestrial Exalt's the maximum dice-adder limit is the Blood-dragon's relevant Ability score plus any applicable specialities. They also gain the advantage of free reflexive Charm use without the need for a Combo. Finally some of the their Charms can force an opponent to re-roll a dicepool, and take the worse of the two results.
Blood-dragon animas grow at the same rate when spending Peripheral Essence as their Terrestrial brothers and sisters. They also experience Anima Flux (see Exalted: The Dragon-Blooded page 161). This damage is additive to the Ghost Flame anima power. In addition any Blood-dragon may spend a 3 motes of Essence to grow a pair of simple blood-sucking fangs for the duration of the scene. These fangs are necessary for feeding and are the only way to regain Essence (short of Hearthstones) while inside Creation. Blood-dragon's do not regain Essence through respiration in Creation, but may do so while in the Underworld (see Exalted: The Abyssals page 25 for full details). Even if they can regain Essence in the Underworld, their Great Curse compels them to seek out fresh blood on an almost daily basis, so they spend most of their time away from the Underworld if they can help it. For full rules on feeding see Exalted: The Abyssal's page 136, the process of Plasmatic feeding is identical to that of Abyssal feeding. The fangs a Blood-dragon produces are Spd -2, Acc +0, Dam +1L, Def -2 as they are slightly more dangerous than Abyssal fangs and they are optimized for the consumption of blood only. A Plasmatic could feed on flesh, but doing so gives them no sustenance.
Like all Exalted supernatural martial arts are the birthright of the Blood- Dragons, as such they can learn any Martial Arts style of Charms with proper training and dedication. However for the most part the Plasmatics are limited to the inferior Terrestrial level martial arts styles (such as Five Dragon Style and their own Blood Hydra Style). It takes a special focus to push the Blood- dragon into the level where they can gain access to Celestial level martial arts. For Dragon-blooded this is accomplished via intense training of the Immaculate Order through the paths of Spirit Mastery and the Five Glorious Dragon Paths. For the Blood-dragons this training is unavailable, for obvious reasons. Instead, to open themselves up to the ability to channel Celestial level martial arts the young Plasmatic must undergo a dangerous pilgrimage through the Labyrinth to the tombs of the dead Malfeans. There he can swear fealty to them and sacrifice his name and Destiny to the void, allowing them to be consumed for all eternity. In return the Blood-dragon gains the blessings of the Neverborn, opening up his soul to the energies of Celestial Martial Arts. of course, only a fraction of those who come before the Malfeans for this treatment are even noticed by the undead things (one could wait centuries in their maddening presence without attracting their notice) and many of them will, depending on their mood at the time, be just as likely to consume or destroy the Blood-dragon as gift them with a dark miracle. The best path to this process is to seek out The Unrighteous Pharaoh Who Dwells in Silence and pledge yourself to her service. She may then anoint you in her dark religion and serve as an intermediary with the Malfeans, greatly increasing the chances of this process succeeding. Most of those who receive this instruction will be taught Hungry Ghost Style or Ivory Horde Style.
(Mechanically the character must choose a new name, becomes a "Being Outside Fate" and gains the Whispers background of at least one dot and often much higher.)
The final noteworthy nature of the Blood-dragons magic is that they have no access to Sorcery at all. Their divine spark has been irreparably damaged by the Pharaoh's ministrations and they no longer have the grasp on reality. However this has been replaced with a taint of death that gives them access to Necromancy, at least up to the Shadowlands Circle.
THE GREAT CURSE
The Pharaoh did her homework when she created the Plasmatic Exalted. Her liaisons with the captive Yozis and her study of the Neverborn revealed the existence and nature of the Great Curse. When she forged her weapon against the Terrestrial Exalted, she manipulated the nature of the Curse itself to further her own ends.
The basic reality of all Blood-dragons is that to them blood -is- life. It is the only source of true sustenance they can enjoy. They crave it in their every waking moment, and their nightmares always involve blood in some way. They literally can't live without it. And they know that what waits them at death is not reincarnation and the release of Lethe, it is the harsh finality of Oblivion. The source of this hunger is the Exalt's lower soul, which has been bound into their flesh by the Exaltation. While not sentient in any sense of the word, it does hunger, endlessly and the magic of the Pharaoh has given its hunger a focus on blood. The Blood-dragons can survive on the blood of lesser mammals for a time, but such blood tastes weak and flavorless to them and does little to slack their needs. When feeding on human beings, the Exalt must succeed at a Temperance roll if he wishes to avoid draining the victim dry for some reason.
Blood-dragons who go more than twenty-four hours without feeding on the blood of a living human being (as little as one Health Levels worth will do) will automatically lose one point of Temporary Willpower. If the Blood-dragon ever falls to zero Temporary Willpower for any reason then they enter a feeding frenzy called "The Riot of the Blood". In this state they will seek out a victim and attack and drain them dry as quickly as possible, with some variation in how they accomplish this based on their Aspect (see above). Once they have sated this thirst they will continue to be ruled by the Great Curse for a number of hours equal to their highest rated Virtue, often engaging in bizarre or self- destructive behavior during this time. It is also the Great Curse which ensures the spread of the contagion of the Blood-dragons. While under the Great Curse the Exalt must succeed at a Temperance roll to avoid attempting to transform any victim they drain into another Blood-dragon.
Not everyone who the Blood-dragons attempt to turn with the Black Embrace will Exalt as a one of them. Most of those have blood to thin with common mortal strains to receive the blessing of perpetual death. Those who do not turn become the cursed Ghouls.
A Ghoul is formed when the blood magic fails to bind the higher soul to the body of a potential Blood-dragon, preventing the Exalted spark from manifesting. However the magic does permanently bind the lower soul to the body of the victim, allowing it to rise at the next sunset as a Ghoul. Ghouls can be likened in many ways to Hungry Ghosts and in fact tend to act like them in most respects. They lack many of the weaknesses of the more common Hungry Ghosts.
First off, a Ghoul is material, existing as a form of walking dead. They remain material all day and night, and need not rest for any period of time. Since they are constantly trapped in their decaying corpse, they need not fear being destroyed by the light of the sun. However they still instinctively fear sunset and unless compelled to by magic or threats, will flee to the darkest place they can find at midnight. The ghoul has access to a greater degree of intelligence than an average Hungry Ghost, but this is balanced out by their insatiable thirst for human blood. They can and often do cross lines of salt and germinated grain. Ghouls are also slightly easier to control than hungry ghosts. A created ghoul is loyal to its creator on an instinctive animal level. As long as it is kept well fed and not treated overly crudely it will serve loyally in any number of manners. Magic that effects Hungry Ghosts (specifically the ARcanoi directed to do so) has no effect on Ghouls.
Many ghouls are equipped with weapons and armor for combat, and they can be trained in the use of modern warfare tactics.
Typical Fighting Ghoul Attributes: Strength 4, Dexterity 3, Stamina 4, Charisma 1, Manipulation 1, Appearance 0, Perception 3, Intelligence 1, Wits 4\\ Virtues: Compassion 1, Conviction 2, Temperance 2, Valor 3\\ Abilities: Athletics 3, Awareness 2, Brawl 4, Dodge 1, Larceny 2, Melee 3 Survival 3\\ Powers: Aura-Reading Technique, Delicious Essence Scent, Essence Devouring Ghost Touch, Ravening Life-Force Hunger, Blood-Drinking Thirst\\ Base Initiative: 7\\ Attack:\\ Claw: Speed 7, Accuracy 7, Damage 4L, Defense 7\\ Bite: Speed 5, Accuracy 5, Damage 7L, Defense 5\\ Sword: Speed 7, Accuracy 7, Damage 6L, Defense 7\\ Dodge Pool: 4 Soak: 6L/6B (Flesh + Breastplate)\\ Willpower: 5 Health Levels: -0/-1/-1/-2/-2/-4/incap\\ Essence: 2 Essence Pool: 51\\ Other Notes: Often an Extra.
SOCIETY AMONG THE BLOOD-DRAGONS
At the moment, there is no functional society for the Blood-dragons. The Unrighteous Pharaoh Who Dwells In Silence has created only a handful, and allowed them to spread their curse onto only a few dozens more. Basically Blood- dragons retain whatever societal ties they had before their undeath. The usually go by their old names, care about the same things, enjoy the same pastimes (such as they can experience them) and so on. Their new hunger for human blood may strain their previous relationships, but it doesn't relieve them of their basic humanity... yet.
The fifty Blood-dragons in the Pharaoh's nameless black manse have all been enchanted in a variety of ways to make them all loyal to the Pharaoh and her plans. She hopes to double or treble that number in the next few months, also creating a small army of Ghouls from the cast-offs to home the Black Embrace does not take. When she unleashes them on the world, they will set about killing and converting as many as they can, starting with the city of Gem. If her plans are successful the entire city will fall in a day and night of bloodshed, converting the thirty percent of the population to Blood-dragons and the rest into Ghouls under her command. Then she will raise her temple in the resulting Shadowland, declare herself their new Pharaoh and lord and use her new power base to slowly spread her children up through the southern direction. She also plans on using the new recruits to "seed" Shadowlands in the other three directions with Blood-dragons dedicated to spreading their contagion. Her ultimate goal is to spread the infection to the Blessed Isle itself, and overthrown the current Realm and replace it with a dark Empire under her command. She currently is unaware of the Sidereals part in her own downfall, or their secret mastery of the Realm, and thus has no contingency for their appearance. If she should learn of their involvement in her downfall, she might secret herself away again for a few more centuries while she devises some appropriate punishment for their treachery as well.
The Pharaoh is capable of bringing her creations down to the Malfeans and allowing them to sacrifice their names and destinies to the Void so they can receive the necessary blessing to gain Celestial level martial arts. She has not yet, partially because she is unsure if the Neverborn will reward her for her invention or destroy her for her audacity (the reality is they are likely not to care enough to do either). If such beings are created in the near future (she plans on doing so with at bleats a few once she has successful destroyed Gem) they will likely adopt new names that resemble the titles of the Abyssal Exalts, but in many ways less (examples include Forlorn Hope, Cruel Innocence, Unquiet Sin and so on). Such beings that are convinced (or forced) to sacrifice themselves to the Malfeans will be much more likely to revel in their new nature rather than fight against it. This too is part of the Pharaoh's plan. She knows she can not ensure the loyalty of any Plasmatics created beyond those she creates herself or allows to be created. Those who are brought before the Malfeans will be her trusted servants, capable of martial arts beyond their brethren and loyal to her dark religion built in deliberate parody of the Realm's Immaculate Order. This religion will venerate the Blood-dragons and death and revere their new existence as an unholy sacrament, and allow her to hopefully control her creations much the same way the Immaculate Order controls the Terrestrials.
But that is all for the future. Now, the Unrighteous Pharaoh Who Dwells in Silence quietly gathers new conscripts to her growing army, bides her time and schemes. In the future, who knows what will happen?
I like this. Like, a lot. A whole lot. A very great deal. Charm me! *yank* :) DS
These are great! Really well done! Kudos and consider them yoinked B-) nikink
Very nice... very nice, something that I can see a Deathlord whose all obssessed doing. Hmm, this DOES leave her near the First and Forsaken's territory. And in the path of the Autochtonians if they occur in your setting. - Haku