Assamite Sorcery

The Sorcerer Caste

Their existence has long been known to the Tremere, but the rest of the modern Cainite world considered the notion of Assamite blood magicians unthinkable until recent nights. The sorcerers greet this notion with no small degree of ironic amusement, as their own records state that they are the eldest organized blood magicians of any clan.

The Assamite sorcerers originated in the Second City, shortly after Haqim created his second brood to act as the city's judges. The first of their number were mortal wizards enlisted in various conflicts with the promise of temporal power and eventual immortality. They worked alongside the judges as interrogators, seekers of the truth and hunters of demons, and consorted with the scholars in pursuit of knowledge for knowledge's sake. After the Second City's fall, their role expanded to include such tasks as magical communication to keep the clan unified, weather sorcery to nurture the crops of the mortal herds that the Children of Haqim kept and combat threats from both Cainites and other supernatural creatures. During the long Night, the sorcerers were often at the forefront of Assamite incursions into Europe, particularly in Andalus. Near the end of the Anarch Revolt, they became the clan's first line of defense against the Tremere.

After the Warlocks levied the curse, the sorcerers' first duty to the clan became the breaking of that same curse. However, that same period of time brought a shift in the sorcerers' dedication to the idea of a homogenous Assamite clan. They had been a moderate unifying force throughout much of the Long Night, but the curse seemed to affect them to a lesser extent. Many became dispossessed and vanished, reappearing a century or more later if at all. No few others fell victim to attacks by marauding Tremere eager to learn the secrets of the Saracens. Those who remained attentive to the Alamut's agendas seemed sullen and listless, as if the curse - or the desperate need to break it - was sapping their will.

Only in the past decade have the sorcerers rallied, returning to their former prominence as an equal and integral part of the Children of Haqim. Their artificers and alchemists supplied the warriors with a myriad of creations, many of them byproducts of research into the curse and the nature of Tremere Thaumaturgy. The seers swamped the warrior caste's militants with reams of information on enemies and allies alike. Those few who still followed their forebears' tradition of demon hunting swung into furious action, cleansing their territories of servants of the Tremere and anything else unfortunate enough to cross their paths. A furious exchange of information crackled across the global telecommunications network and arced through the ether, uniting brethren unseen in centuries in a resumption of purpose: find the roots of Tremere power and shatter the curse.

Then ur-Shulgi arose. With a week's preparation and a single night of action, it accomplished what hundreds of lesser sorcerers had vainly attempted for five hundred years. The shock waves of its feat, both magical and social, rolled through the caste. All but a tiny handful of sorcerers felt the fluctuation of energy when the Methuselah called upon the blood that flowed in their veins. The caste collectively held its figurative breath, waiting to see what ur-Shulgi would do next.

The resulting conflict between the new Eldest and its childe, the Amr, rocked the sorcerer caste to its roots. All but the eldest sorcerers knew the Amr as the greatest magician in the world, and few remembered ur-Shulgi as more than a name from a legend. The caste's faith in its leader was nearly unshakable - but the appearance of a godling from the clan's dim past was enough to shatter the faith of many. Though al-Ashrad was the Amr, and thus the leader of the sorcerers, ur-Shulgi was the new Eldest and thus the leader of the Children of Haqim. The question became one of loyalty to the Amr over loyalty to the clan.

Tonight, equal portions of the caste support ur-Shulgi's bloody vision for the Children of Haqim and al-Ashrad's calm words of moderation, while no few sorcerers walk the path of the dispossessed in the hopes that the conlfict will pass them by and they can return to their private studies. The recent upheaval has left many sorcerers out of contact with their former comrades, Alamut, and the Amr, and many are now operating under their own "best judgment," free from the shackles of duty and the light but ever-present yoke of the caste's hierarchy.

Nickname: Magi (singular "Magus"); sometimes called "viziers" by outsiders.

Sect: The sorcerers are split evenly between al-Ashrad's schismatics and Alamut's loyalists. The only magi who might have joined the Sabbat at its inception are assumed to have died at some forgotten, chthonic city in Mesopotamia centuries ago, and only a few have declared such allegiance since the Schism. Many sorcerers have become dispossessed at some point in their unlives due to some argument, real or imagined, with the caste's organizational structure or an individual elder's practices. However, a significant majority of these return to the fold sooner or later, either out of a thirst for further instruction or to escape the attention of the Tremere or others who hunt the blood magicians.

Character Creation: Most sorcerers follow Humanity, though many are rather distracted from its higher aspirations by the end of their first decades of unlife. The caste boasts a moderate number of Path of Blood adherents, mainly among the loyalists. Those who have recently joined or had dealings with the Sabbat find the Path of Caine and the Path of Power and the Inner Voice particularly enticing, and a few Iberian sorcerers are rumored to pursue the Path of Night.

Caste Disciplines: Assamite Sorcery (Dur-an-Ki), Obfuscate, Quietus

Organization: Prior to the Schism, the sorcerers maintained a loose meritocracy based on a combination of skill and academic descent. Status came from a sorcerer's own abilities and the credentials of his teachers. The clan's separation has torn this structure asunder, and both halves of the caste are currently re-establishing their own social orders. Both loyalists and schismatics follow the pre-Schism tradition of appointing the Amr, the head of the caste, through ritual divination every year. Al-Ashrad heads the schismatics, to no one's surprise. The loyalist sorcerers have not yet made a formal appointment (or even performed the ritual since the Schism), but they generally acknowledge al-Ashrad's childe and protege, Amaravati, as their Amr.

Bloodlines: No known variations exist among the modern sorcerers. Historical records show that the caste was once predisposed to Auspex rather than Obfuscate, but the shift to the current set of proficiencies took place between the 12th and 15th centuries.

Dur-an-Ki Paths:

Although combat mastery is hardly the sorcerer caste's primary goal, they have a long tradition of standing ready to defend themselves and, if need be, assisting the warrior caste on the battlefield (though they have not joined any large-scale struggle since the Long Night). Awakening of the Steel is one legacy of this preparedness, a path that some say began with teh alchemists who studied in the forges of Toledo and Damascus. This set of techniques focuses on the symbolism of the sword as the ultimate extension of a trained warrior's body, drawing on the mythos that various warrior traditions attached to their swords and daggers: European Crusaders and their blessed blades, the kris of Indonesian Pentjak-Silat practitioners, and Indian Ghurka and the kukri knives, among others. The practitioner of Awakening of the Steel focuses on this symbolism as he uses the power of his blood to enhance his weapon and his skill.

A student of Awakening of the Steel finds that a keen understanding of both the form and the function of a blade is necessary for full mastery of this path. A character must have a level of either Melee or Crafts Ability equal to his level in Awakening of the Steel. Those who practice this path also find that its lessons are tightly focused, perhaps to the point of overspecialization. The path is at its most effective with swords and knives, and the wielder can only extend its effects to other edged weapons. Any attempt to use a technique of this path on another edged weapon is at +1 difficulty.

Confer with the Blade
Although few Assamites claim to have actually spoken to a weapon's soul, blacksmiths and warriors alike have ascribed spiritual qualities to hand-forged blades for centuries. Practitioners of Auspex are familiar with the manner in which inanimate objects can bear impressions of their own history. Confer with the Blade allows a weapon's wielder to delve into the events that have occurred around his weapon. Some practitioners of this power claim this makes the weapon feel more "comfortable" in their hands, while others speak of the sense of history that an ancient blade bears. The actual impressions only take an instant to gain, though many prefer to spend much longer in contemplation if time permits.

System: The number of successes determine the amount of information the sorcerer gains regarding the blade's history and its present state, as well as all information yielded by a lesser number of successes. With three or more successes, the sorcerer may lower the difficulty on his next attempt to apply a blood magic ritual to the weapon by one.

1 Success: Physical information only; precise length and weight (to the micrometer and milligram), chemical composition (assuming the character understands metallurgy), number of damage dice and type of damage (lethal or aggravated).
2 Successes: Historical overview; when and where the blade was forged, the name and face of its smith, brief glimpses of significant events in existence.
3 Successes: Sorcerous understanding; the type and relative level of power of any enchantments or supernatural enhancements that the blade possesses as well as the name and face of the individual who laid them.
4 Successes: Subliminal synthesis; comprehensive knowledge of the sword's history. For the next seven nights, the character recognizes the taste of any blood that has ever stained the blade if she tastes it herself.
5 Successes: Total communion; The sword and wielder become linked at a level deeper than the physical and more enduring than the immediate.

The Storyteller determines what information the sword holds for the character, but it may include any event in the blade's history or any aspect of its present existence and condition.

•• Grasp of the Mountain
The best scimitar in all creation does its owner no good if it's lying five yards away from him. Grasp of the Mountain strengthens the spiritual bond between the sword and swordsman in order to reinforce the wielder's physical grip on his weapon. A blade that is under the effect of this art never leaves its master's hand unless he so wills it.

System: For the rest of the scene, the character has a number of automatic successes to resist all attempts to disarm him equal to the number of successes rolled. He cannot accidentally drop the blade (which means his botches are likely to result in self-mutilation instead of an empty hand). If the character is somehow disarmed in spite of Grasp of the Mountain, he may call the blade back to his hand by successfully invoking this power again, assuming he has a clear line of sight to the weapon.

••• Pierce Steel's Skin
At this level of understanding, the sorcerer can command his blade with such precision as to strike at an opponent's physical protection rather than his body. The sword transfers its full fury to the intended target, shredding even the toughest chain or plate. This strips away the victim's defenses, leaving him vulnerable to the next attack. While this power is of limited utility in modern nights, as full plate has fallen by the wayside, it remains in the path's progression of lessons due to its utility in destroying other obstacles.

System: For a number of turns equal to the number of successes rolled, each successful attack the character makes inflicts damage on the target's body armor rather than injuring him directly. Armor injured by this power must be the metal variety. When the character makes a successful attack against an armored target, the player does not roll damage. Instead, he rolls a number of dice equal to the sword's damage bonus (the number of dice that it adds to his Strength) against a difficulty of 7. Each success reduces the armor's soak bonus by one die. Armor that is reduced to zero soak dice in this manner is completely destroyed and unsalvageable.

While Pierce Steel's Skin is in effect, an attack against an unarmored target inflicts half damage (rounded down). Additional successes beyond those needed to destroy a piece of armor have no effect. At the Storyteller's discretion, Pierce Steel's Skin may destroy other inanimate objects (walls, doors, cars, dramatically appropriate obstacles) without significant damage to the sword. For the purposes of this power, Fortitude counts as part of the target's Stamina, not external armor.

•••• Razor's Shield
Many swordsmen hold that the duel is the ultimate test of the warrior because it places all opponents on an equal footing: Death is only three feet of steel away, and only the skill of the combatants determines who walks away. However, observers who are more pragmatic than romantic note that an enemy with a ranged weapon, be it bow, sling or gun, has the advantage of striking from much farther away than arm's length. While Awakening of the Steel cannot completely counteract this advantage, this power allows the skilled sorcerer some measure of defense as the sword interposes itself between its master and attacks from afar.

System: For a number of turns equal to the number of successes rolled, the character may attempt to parry projectiles. This requires one action for each projectile that the player wishes to block, and the character must be able to see the shot coming (Heightened Senses allows a visual tracking of bullets). Each parrying attempt requires a Dexterity + Melee roll, with a difficulty determined by the speed of the projectile. Thrown objects have a difficulty of 6, arrows and crossbow bolts a difficulty of 7 and bullets a difficulty of 9. Each success subtracts one of the attacker's successes on his attack roll.

Razor's Shield does not allow the character to parry ranged attacks that do not incorporate solid projectiles, such as flame, lightning or spat blood.

••••• Strike at the True Flesh
Although pacifists may find other uses for blades, turning their swords to plowshares, a warrior knows that swords were created for one purpose: to carve an enemy's flesh into bloody ruin. Strike at the True Flesh invokes the very essence of the sorcerer's weapon, reducing it to the embodiment of its very definition (or, as the more classically minded would put it, invoking the Platonic form) while simplifying its target to a similarly basic level. The results of such an invocation are usually devastating on both a philosophical and practical level as weapon and victim momentarily lose all supernatural attributes.

System: The effects of Strike at the True Flesh last for a number of turns equal to the number of successes rolled, and they end with the first successful attack that the character makes within this time period. The sword inflicts only the base amount of lethal damage that a weapon of its size and type would normally cause, disregarding all enhancements that it may have received (though augmentations to the wielder's strength or speed, such as Potence and Celerity, still have their normal effects, as do extra successes on the attack roll).

However, all the target's supernatural defenses (including Fortitude) are likewise negated - he soaks the attack only with his base Stamina. If the negation of his powers and defenses renders the target unable to soak lethal damage, he cannot soak the attack at all. Body armor does protect against this attack, as it is a mundane form of defense.