Thaumaturgy

Thaumaturgy encompasses blood magic and other sorcerous arts available to Kindred. The Tremere Clan is best known for their possession (and jealous hoarding) of this Discipline. The Tremere created Thaumaturgy by combining mortal wizardry with the power of vampiric vitae, and as a result it is a versatile and powerful Discipline.

Thaumaturgy does not have the same linear progression that other Disciplines do. Instead, the discipline comprises many powers that are organized into Thaumaturgical paths, which are applications of the vampire’s knowledge of blood magic, allowing her to create effects on a whim. The discipline also grants access to rituals, which are learned independently of powers and take time to prepare. Because so many different paths and rituals are available to the arcane Tremere, one never knows what to expect when confronted with a practitioner of this Discipline.

When a character first learns Thaumaturgy, he begins on the Path of Blood. This path is considered the character’s primary path, and she automatically receives one dot in it, as well as one Level One ritual. Thereafter, whenever the character increases her level in Thaumaturgy, her rating in the primary path increases by one as well. Secondary paths and additional rituals are learned separately, as part of a story; characters must seek out tutors to each them rituals.

Many Kindred fear crossing the practitioners of Thaumaturgy. It is a very potent and mutable Discipline, and almost anything the Kindred wishes may be accomplished through its magic.

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Thaumaturgical Paths

Paths define the types of magic a vampire can perform at-will. Tremere neonates typically learn their paths from their sires, though it is not unknown for some vampires to study under many different tutors within the pyramid.
 
Raising a primary Path costs (new dots x 7) experience points. The character can learn other Paths if they find willing tutor or learn the ritual from a scroll, tome, or other archive. These secondary Paths can never exceed the primary Path’s rating. Secondary Paths cost (new dots x 6) to raise.

All Thaumaturgical powers are cast in the following manner.

Cost

1 Vitae

Dice Pool

Resolve + Occult + Thaumaturgy (rating in primary Path) – level of power being attempted

Action

Instant

Usage

  • Dramatic Failure: The character loses a dot of Willpower as the magic takes a toll on her mind.
  • Failure: The effect does not happen, and the Vitae point is still spent.
  • Success: The effect happens as described.
  • Exceptional Success: Extra successes are usually their own reward. In some cases, an exceptional success indicates an increased duration or effect; these cases are noted in the powers' descriptions.

Path of Blood

Almost every Tremere studies the Path of Blood as her primary path. It encompasses some of the most fundamental principles of Thaumaturgy, based as it is on the manipulation of Kindred vitae.

• A Taste of Blood

This power was developed as a means of testing a foe’s might — an extremely important ability in the tumultuous early nights of Clan Tremere. By merely touching the blood of his subject, the caster may determine how much vitae remains in the subject and, if the subject is a vampire, how recently he has fed, his approximate Blood Potency and, with an Exceptional Success, whether he has ever committed diablerie.

With a taste of the subject’s blood, the vampire learns the following information: Whether the subject is vampire, what clan he belongs to (within the thaumaturge’s experience — if he’s never encountered the clan before, the information he gains is “new clan”), the subject’s Blood Potency, and whether the subject has committed diablerie in the last month.

•• Blood Rage

This power allows a vampire to force another Kindred to expend blood against his will. The caster must touch her subject for this power to work, though only the lightest contact is necessary. A vampire affected
by this power might feel a physical rush as the thaumaturge heightens his Physical Attributes, might find himself suddenly looking more human, or may even find himself on the brink of frenzy as his stores of vitae are mystically depleted.

The thaumaturge must touch the target (this action is considered reflexive; see Touching an Opponent on p. 157 of the World of Darkness Rulebook) before using this power. The character can force the character to expend one point of Vitae per success, and may exceed the usual limits imposed by Blood Potency. The thaumaturge can force the target to spend Vitae on anything he could normally spend it on, including Physical Augmentation and counterfeiting life. Each success also imposes a –1 penalty on the target’s roll to resist frenzy for the rest of the scene.

••• Blood of Potency

The thaumaturge gains such control over his own blood that he may effectively “concentrate” it, making it more powerful for a short time.

The character raises his effective Blood Potency. Additional successes can be used to raise Blood Potency or to increase the duration by one hour: two successes on the roll can raise the character’s Blood Potency by one for two hours or by two for one hour (the first success in each category is “free,” provided the Thaumaturgy roll succeeds). Increasing Blood Potency increases the vampire’s Vitae pool and adds to resistance rolls for certain powers. It may also increase the amount of Vitae the character can expend in a turn. When the power wears off, any Vitae in addition to the character’s normal pool is lost.

•••• Theft of Vitae

A thaumaturge using this power siphons vitae from her subject.

Subtract the target’s Defense from the roll in addition to the usual –4 penalty for this power's level. Each success drains one point of Vitae from any visible target within 50 feet of the vampire. The blood erupts from the target’s mouth and nose and flies toward the vampire, who absorbs it into his hand or mouth. Used on a vampire, this can create a blood bond.

••••• Cauldron of Blood

A thaumaturge using this power boils her subject’s blood in his veins like water on a stove. The Kindred must touch her subject, and it is this contact that simmers the subject’s blood. This power is always fatal to mortals, and causes great damage to even the mightiest vampires.

This power requires that the vampire touch the target (see p. 157 of the World of Darkness Rulebook). The touch is a reflexive action. Subtract the target’s Stamina from the spell, in addition to the usual –5 penalty. The character then boils one point of blood per success on the roll. Any success kills a mortal immediately; vampires suffer successes as aggravated damage.

Lure of Flames

This path grants the thaumaturge the ability to conjure forth mystical flames — small fires at first, but skilled magicians may create great conflagrations. Fire created by this path is not “natural.” In fact, many vampires believe the flames to be conjured from Hell itself. The Lure of Flames is greatly feared, as fire is one of the surest ways to bring Final Death upon a vampire.

Fire conjured by The Lure of Flames must be released for it to have any effect. Thus, a “palm of flame” does not burn the vampire’s hand and cause an aggravated wound (nor does it cause the caster to frenzy) — it merely produces light. Once the flame has been released, however, it burns normally and the character has no control over it. Each success when invoking a Lure of Flames power translates into one turn that the fire remains magically sustained. However, if something highly flammable is targeted, it may continue to burn on its own after the fire is not longer being magically sustained.

The vampire creates fire anywhere in his line of sight. However, when powers from this discipline are used as attacks, the targets Defense is subtracted from the dice pool along with the normal penalty for the power’s level unless the target is in close combat range.

There are no discrete powers for this path, but the levels are defined by the amount of fire the vampire wishes to project.

  • • Candle: 1 point of damage per turn of exposure.
  • •• Palm of Flame: 2 point of damage per turn of exposure.
  • ••• Campfire: 3 point of damage per turn of exposure.
  • •••• Bonfire: 4 point of damage per turn of exposure. An exceptional success when invoking this power will cause anyone engaged in close combat with the target to take damage as well.
  • ••••• Inferno: 5 point of damage per turn of exposure. Anyone engaged in close combat with the target to take damage as well.

Movement of the Mind

This path gives the thaumaturge the ability to move objects telekinetically through the mystic power of blood. At higher levels, even flight is possible (but be careful who sees you…). Objects under the character’s control may be manipulated as if she held them — they may be lifted, spun, juggled, or even “thrown,” though creating enough force to inflict actual damage requires mastery of at least the fourth level of this path. Some casters skilled in this path even use it to guard their havens, animating swords, axes, and firearms to ward off intruders. This path may frighten and disconcert onlookers.

The number of successes rolled determines the length of time in turns that the power remains active. The power level is determined by the weight of the object the player wishes to target. When the usage's duration is up, the player can make another control roll to maintain the spell, which does not require the expenditure of Vitae.

There are no discrete powers for this path, but the levels are defined by the weight of the object the user wishes to manipulate.

  • • One pound/one-half kilogram
  • •• 20 pounds/10 kilograms
  • ••• 200 pounds/100 kilograms: the character can levitate and fly at her normal Speed
  • •••• 500 pounds/250 kilograms: the character may throw objects at targets. The invokation roll for this power replaces the typical Dexterity + Athletics roll requires.
  • ••••• 1000 pounds/500 kilograms

Weather Control

Command over the weather has long been a staple power of wizards both mortal and immortal, and this path is said to predate the Tremere by millennia. Lower levels of this path allow subtle manipulations, while higher stages of mastery allow a vampire to call up raging storms. The area affected by this power is usually rather small, no more than three or four miles (five to six kilometers) in diameter, and the changes the power wreaks are not always immediate.

The number of success rolled when invoking this power determines how long it takes the weather magic to take effect. One success indicates an entire day must pass before the weather changes to the thaumaturge's liking, while a roll with five successes brings an almost instant effect.

This power incurs penalties if the weather the user wishes to effect is drastically different from the current weather or climate. For example, trying to effect a completely clear sky during a raging storm or trying to make it rain in the Sahara would incur penalties.

Weather Control is not the sort of power that lends itself well to indoor application. While certain of the path’s uses (changes of temperature, high winds, and possibly even fog) do make a certain amount of sense in interior settings, others (precipitation of any sort, lightning) don’t. The penalty for all rolls to use Weather Control indoors is -2, and the Storyteller reserves the right to disallow any proposed uses that don’t make sense.

There are no discrete powers for this path, but the levels are defined by the types weather phenomenon the user can summon.

• Fog, Light Breeze, or Minor Temperature Change

Fog: Vision is slightly impaired and sounds are muffled; a -1 penalty is imposed on all Perception rolls that involve sight and hearing, and -1 penalty is imposed on all ranged attack rolls that are not made from point blank range.

Light breeze: A -1 penalty is imposed on all Perception rolls that involve smell.

Minor temperature change: It is possible to raise or lower the local temperature by up to 10 degrees Fahrenheit or 5 degrees Celsius.

•• Rain or Snow

Rain or snow: As Fog, but Perception rolls are impaired to a much greater extent; the penalty imposed becomes -2, and -2 penalty is imposed on all ranged attack rolls that are not made from point blank range. In addition, a -2 penalty is imposed on all Drive rolls.

••• High Winds or Moderate Temperature Change

High Winds: The wind speed rises to around 30 miles per hour or 50 kilometers per hour, with gusts of up to twice that. Ranged attacks are much more difficult: -3 to firearm attacks and -4 to thrown weapons and archery. When gale-force winds are in effect, papers go flying, objects get picked up by the winds and hurled with abandon, and other suitably cinematic effects are likely.

Moderate temperature change: The local temperature can be raised or lowered by up to 20 degrees Fahrenheit or 10 degrees Celsius.

•••• Storm

Storm: This has the effects of both Rain/Snow and High Winds.

••••• Lightning Strike

Lightning Strike: Successes when invoking this roll are applied as damage to the target. Objects and mortals take lethal damage. Vampires take aggravated.

Thaumaturgical Rituals

Rituals are Thaumaturgical formulas, meticulously researched and prepared, that create powerful magical effects. Rituals are less versatile than paths, as their effects are singular and straightforward, but they are better suited to specific ends.

All thaumaturges have the ability to use rituals, though each individual ritual must be learned separately. By acquainting herself with the arcane practice of blood magic, the caster gains the capacity to manipulate these focused effects.

Thaumaturgical rituals are rated from 1 to 5, each level corresponding to both the level of mastery of Thaumaturgy the would-be caster must possess and the relative power of the ritual itself. Unless stated otherwise, a ritual requires five minutes per level to cast.

Rituals sometimes require special ingredients or reagents to work — these are noted in each ritual’s description. Common components include herbs, animal bones, ceremonial items, feathers, eye of newt, tongue of toad, etc. Acquiring magical components for a powerful ritual may form the basis for an entire story. At the first level of Thaumaturgy, the vampire automatically gains a single Level One ritual.

To learn further rituals, the thaumaturge must find someone to teach him, or learn the ritual from a scroll, tome, or other archive. Learning a new ritual can take anywhere from a few nights (Level One ritual) to months or years (Level Five ritual). Some mystics have studied individual rituals for decades, or even centuries. In this way, characters may learn rituals up to the level equal to their overall rating in Thaumaturgy, but must have the XP on hand to purchase them.

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All Thaumaturgical Rituals are cast in the following manner.

Cost

1 Willpower

Dice Pool

Intelligence + Occult + Thaumaturgy

Action

Extended. The number of successes required to activate a ritual is equal to the level of the ritual (so a level-three ritual requires three successes to enact). Each roll represents one turn of ritual casting. Note also that each point of damage suffered in a turn is a penalty to the next casting roll made for the character. If a character fails to complete the ritual in time (such as by being sent into torpor before accumulating enough successes) or decides to cancel the ritual before garnering enough successes to activate, the effect simply fails.

Usage

  • Dramatic Failure: The ritual fails in some spectacular fashion. A ritual intended to damage a subject inflicts its damage upon the caster, for example, while a ritual designed to store Vitae in an object depletes the caster of some amount of his own.
  • Failure: No successes are added to the total.
  • Success: The ritual takes place as described.
  • Exceptional Success: The ritual takes place as described. In many cases, extra successes are their own reward, causing additional damage or conferring extra duration or capacity.

Level One Rituals

Defense of the Sacred Haven

This ritual prevents sunlight from entering an area within 20 feet (six meters) of this ritual’s casting. A mystical darkness blankets the area, keeping the baleful light at bay. Sunlight reflects off windows or magically fails to pass through doors or other portals. To invoke this ritual’s protection, the caster draws sigils in her own blood on all the affected windows and doors. The ritual lasts as long as the thaumaturge stays within the 20-foot (6-meter) radius.

This ritual requires 1 Vitae in addition to the Willpower point.

Wake with Evening’s Freshness

This ritual allows a vampire to awaken at any sign of danger, especially during the day. If any potentially harmful circumstances arise, the caster immediately rises, ready to face the problem. This ritual must be performed immediately before user sleeps requires the ashes of burned feathers to be spread over the area in which the user wishes to sleep.

The thaumaturgist wakes automatically at the first sign of trouble during the day, and can ignore the Humanity roll to stay active for two turns. The player must still spend one Vitae for the character to awaken.

Communicate with Kindred Sire

By enacting this ritual, the caster may join minds with her sire, speaking telepathically with him over any distance. The communication may continue until the ritual expires or until either party ends the conversation. The caster must possess an item once owned by her sire for the ritual to work.

The caster must meditate for 30 minutes to create the connection. Conversation may be maintained for 10 minutes per success on the activation roll.

Deflection of Wooden Doom

This ritual protects the caster from being staked, whether she is resting or active. While this ritual is in effect, the first stake that would pierce the vampire’s heart disintegrates in the attacker’s hand. A stake merely held near the caster is unaffected; for this ritual to work, the stake must actively be used in an attempt to impale the vampire.

The caster must surround herself with a circle of wood for a full hour. Any wood will work: furniture, sawdust, raw timber, 2’ x 4’s, whatever. The circle must remain unbroken, however. At the end of the hour, the vampire places a wooden splinter under her tongue. If this splinter is removed, the ritual is nullified. This ritual lasts until the following dawn or dusk

Devil’s Touch

Thaumaturges use this ritual to place curses upon mortals who earn their ire. Using this ritual marks an individual invisibly, causing all those who come in contact with him to receive him poorly. The mortal is treated as the most loathsome individual conceivable, and all who deal with him do everything in their power to make him miserable. Even bums spit at an afflicted individual, and children taunt him and barrage him with vulgarities.

The effects of this ritual last one night, disappearing as the sun rises. The mortal (it doesn’t work on vampires) must be present when the ritual is invoked, and a penny must be placed somewhere on his person (in a pocket, shoe, etc.). The victim of this ritual must be carrying the enchanted coin on his person somewhere, which might require the vampire’s player to succeed on a Dexterity + Larceny roll to plant it on him. In any case, once afflicted with the curse, the victim suffers a –4 penalty to all Social rolls for the remainder of the night. This also applies to any attempt to use the Status Merit.

Level Two Rituals

Ward vs. Ghouls

Wary Tremere created this ritual to protect themselves from the minions of vengeful rivals. By invoking this ritual, the caster creates a glyph that causes great pain to any ghouls who come in contact with it. The Kindred pours a point’s worth of blood over the object he wishes to ward (a piece of parchment, a coin, a doorknob, etc.), and recites the incantation, which takes 10 minutes. In 10 hours, the magical ward is complete, and will inflict excruciating pain on any ghoul unfortunate enough to touch the warded object

Once cast, this spell inflicts three points of lethal damage on any ghoul that touches the object. A ward can be placed on a bullet or other missile, but the vampire must ward each bullet separately. If the bullet hits, add three successes to the roll. If the bullet misses, the effort is wasted.

Principal Focus of Vitae Infusion

This ritual imbues a quantity of blood within an object small enough for the vampire to carry in both hands. (The object may not be any larger than this, though it may be as small as a dime.) After the ritual is conducted, the object takes on a reddish hue and becomes slick to the touch. At a mental command, the caster may release the object from its enchantment, causing it to break down into a pool of blood. This blood may serve whatever purpose the vampire desires; many thaumaturges wear enchanted baubles to ensure they have emergency supplies of vitae. System: An object may store only one blood point of vitae. If a Kindred wishes to make an infused focus for an ally, she may do so, but the blood contained within must be her own. (If the ally then drinks the blood, he is one step closer to the blood bond). The ally must be present at the creation of the focus.

Burning Blade

Developed during Clan Tremere’s troubled inception, Burning Blade allows a caster to temporarily enchant a melee weapon to inflict unhealable wounds on supernatural creatures. While this ritual is in effect, the weapon flickers with an unholy greenish flame.

This ritual can only be cast on melee weapons. The caster must cut the palm of her weapon hand during the ritual — with the weapon if it is edged, otherwise with a sharp stone. This inflicts a single health level of lethal damage, which cannot be healed normally for the rest of the night. The player spends three blood points, which are absorbed by the weapon. Once the ritual is cast, the weapon inflicts aggravated damage on all supernatural creatures for the next few successful attacks, one per success rolled. Multiple castings of Burning Blade cannot be “stacked” for longer durations. Furthermore, the wielder of the weapon cannot choose to do normal damage and “save up” aggravated strikes — each successful attack uses one aggravated strike until there are none left, at which point the weapon reverts to inflicting normal damage.

This ritual requires 3 Vitae instead of the normal 1 Vitae for rituals.

Level Three Rituals

Incorporeal Passage

Use of this ritual allows the thaumaturge to make herself insubstantial. The caster becomes completely immaterial and thus is able to walk through walls, pass through closed doors, escape manacles, etc. The caster also becomes invulnerable to physical attacks for the duration of the ritual. The caster must follow a straight path through any physical objects, and may not draw back. Thus, a Kindred may walk through a solid wall, but may not walk down through the earth (as it would be impossible to reach the other side before the ritual lapsed). This ritual requires that the caster carry a shard from a shattered mirror to hold her image.

This ritual lasts a number of hours equal to the number of successes. The caster may prematurely end the ritual (and, thus, her incorporeality) by turning the mirror shard away so that it no longer reflects her image.

Mirror of Second Sight

This object is an oval mirror no less than four inches (10 cm) wide and no more than 18 inches (45 cm) in length. It looks like a normal mirror, but once created, the vampire can use it to see the supernatural: It reflects the true form of Lupines and faeries, and enables the owner to see ghosts as they move though the Underworld.

The caster creates the mirror by bathing an ordinary mirror in a quantity of her own blood while reciting a ritual incantation. Thereafter, the mirror reflects images of other supernatural creatures’ true forms — werewolves appear in their hulking man-wolf shapes, magi glow in a scintillating nimbus, ghosts become visible (in the mirror), and so on.

Pavis of Foul Presence

The Tremere joke privately that this is their “ritual for the Ventrue.” Kindred who invoke the Majesty Discipline on the subject of this ritual find the effects of their Discipline reversed, as if they had used the power on themselves. For example, a vampire using Presence to instill fear in a Kindred under the influence of this ritual feels the fear herself; a vampire summoning the caster is instead drawn to the thaumaturge’s location. This ritual is an unbroken secret among the Tremere, and the Warlocks maintain that its use is unknown outside their Clan. The magical component for this ritual is a length of blue silken cord, which must be worn around the caster’s neck.

This ritual lasts against a number of effects equal to the successes rolled, or until the sunrise after it is enacted. Note that the Majesty Discipline power must actually succeed before being reversed by the ritual. As such, only powers that specifically target the caster (and thus, require a roll to succeed) can be reversed.

Level Four Rituals

Bone of Lies

This ritual enchants a mortal bone so that anyone who holds it must tell the truth. The bone in question is often a skull, though any part of the skeleton will do — some casters use strings of teeth, necklaces of finger joints, or wands fashioned from ribs or arms. The bone grows blacker as it compels its holder to tell the truth, until it has turned completely ebony and has no magic left.

This ritual binds the spirit of the individual to whom the bone belonged in life; it is this spirit who wrests the truth from the potential liar. The spirit absorbs the lies intended to be told by the bone’s holder, and as it compels more truth, it becomes more and more corrupt. If summoned forth, this spirit reflects the sins it has siphoned from the defeated liar (in addition to anger over its unwilling servitude). For this reason, anonymous bones are often used in the ritual, and the bone is commonly buried after it has been used to its full extent. A specific bone may never be used twice for this ritual, though different bones from the same corpse can.

The bone imbued with this magical power must absorb 10 blood points on the night that the ritual is cast. Each lie the holder wishes to tell consumes one of these blood points, and the holder must speak the truth immediately thereafter. When all 10 blood points have been consumed, the bone’s magic ceases to work

Ward vs. Kindred

Powerful Tremere can empower the ward versus ghouls spell to affect Kindred. By invoking this ritual, the caster creates a glyph that causes great pain to any ghouls who come in contact with it. The Kindred pours a point’s worth of blood over the object he wishes to ward (a piece of parchment, a coin, a doorknob, etc.), and recites the incantation, which takes 10 minutes. In 10 hours, the magical ward is complete, and will inflict excruciating pain on any ghoul unfortunate enough to touch the warded object

Once cast, this spell inflicts three points of lethal damage on any vampire that touches the object. A ward can be placed on a bullet or other missile, but the vampire must ward each bullet separately. If the bullet hits, add three successes to the roll. If the bullet misses, the effort is wasted.

Level Five Rituals

Blood Contract

This ritual creates an unbreakable agreement between the two parties who sign it. The contract must be written in the caster’s blood and signed in the blood of whoever applies their name to the document. This ritual takes three nights to enact fully, after which both parties are compelled to fulfill the terms of the contract.

This ritual is best handled by the Storyteller, who may bring those who sign the blood contract into compliance by whatever means necessary (it is not unknown for demons to materialize and enforce adherence to certain blood contracts). The only way to terminate the ritual is to complete the terms of the contract or to burn the document itself — attempts to add a clause forbidding burning the contract have resulted in the contract spontaneously combusting upon completion of the ritual. One blood point is consumed in the creation of the document, and an additional blood point is consumed by those who sign it.

Enchant Talisman

This ritual is the first taught to most Tremere once they have attained mastery of their first path. Create Talisman allows the caster to enchant a personal magical item (the fabled wizard’s staff) to act as an amplifier for her will and thaumaturgical might. Many talismans are laden with additional rituals (such as every ward known to the caster). The physical appearance of a talisman varies, but it must be a rigid object close to a yard or a meter long. Swords and walking sticks are the most common talismans, but some innovative or eccentric thaumaturges have enchanted violins, shotguns, pool cues, and classroom pointers.

This ritual is very different from other rituals: it requires six hours per night for one complete cycle of the moon, beginning and ending on the new moon. Over this time, the vampire carefully prepares her talisman, carving it with Hermetic runes that signify her true name and the sum total of her thaumaturgical knowledge. The player spends one blood point per night and each roll of the extended action represents one weeks' effort. If a night’s work is missed or if the four rolls do not accumulate at least 20 net successes, the talisman is ruined and the process must be begun again.

A completed talisman gives the caster several advantages. When the character is holding the talisman, all magic that targets her suffers a penalty of -1. The player receives +2 dice when rolling for uses of the Thaumaturgy and a +1 bonus when rolling for the character’s ritual castings. If the talisman is used as a weapon, it gives the player a +1 bonus on the attack. If the thaumaturge is separated from her talisman, a successful Intelligence + Occult roll gives her its location.

If a talisman is in the possession of another individual, it gives that individual a +3 bonus when using any form of magic against the talisman’s owner. At the Storyteller’s discretion, rituals that target the caster and use her talisman as a physical component may have greatly increased effects.

A thaumaturge may only have one talisman at a time. Ownership of a talisman may not be transferred — each individual must create her own.

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