Path of Death and the Soul

As spirits trapped in undying corpses, vampires are creatures caught on the cusp of the physical world and the next plane. Necronomists study the process of death and its logical antecedent — the fate of the soul. While humans are vibrant expressions of the spirit, vampires are caught between life and true death; corpses with an animate form, with supernatural powers and inhuman needs. To understand the purpose of existence, the Necronomists believe, one musts develop a comprehension of the soul and its nature, as well as the means by which the soul interacts with the body — especially the means by which the soul is freed from its mortal coil, the passage into death.

By turning their attention toward the pursuit of knowledge, Necronomists deny their unliving Beasts and instead seek enlightenment. As the only eternal constant of existence, the soul contains the key to all life and unlife. Necronomists seek to understand the journeys of the soul and its many attendant forms. Since the soul is eternal, the adherents of this Path argue it must contain the most basic elements of being. From these basic truths, the students of this Path hope to extrapolate the reasons for material existence and vampirism. Understanding the universe's mysteries is the most fundamental function of the soul, they claim; conscious awareness is the universe's way of exploring itself, and the followers of this Path therefore study the soul, from which self-awareness springs.

Necronomists espouse the view that the heart is the physical seat of the soul and that all power stems from the soul. Thus, the vampiric susceptibility to stakes through the heart stems from the mystical severance of the body and soul by wood, an element at once organic yet unyielding. Similarly, blood, which flows outward from the point of the soul, is the conduit of life and spiritual power; though their unliving bodies cannot produce blood, vampires can draw upon the inherent strength of the blood and merge it with the spiritual abilities of their trapped souls.

History

The Path of Death and the Soul is the first of the recognized Paths of the Sabbat. Formed by Tzimisce who built on the practices of ancient vampire death-scholars, the Path provided an alternate means of viewing existence, one in which conventional mortality (as it relates to this Path) was simply a construct of lesser souls. Combined with the surge of philosophical thought during the Enlightenment, the Path's tenets spread to many spiritual and rational vampires. In the modern nights, the Path has a small but dedicated following among the Sabbat and even a few other vampires.

Description Of Followers

Practicioners of the Path of Death and the Soul engage in elaborate rituals designed to bring the architecture of the soul to the fore. Games of torment and endurance are common, as the Necronomists believe that pain and anger are raw and undiluted expressions of the spirit. Necronomists seek to control themselves even in the throes of fasting or agony, exploring their limits of mental endurance. The study of death also ranks highly on the activities of this Path's followers, and elaborate sacrifices of humans and vampires alike are values for the insight they offer. Necronomists deliberately torture their victims to draw out passion and to inspire a lingering imbalance that prompts the dying victim's soul to remain, tied by its own terror and suffering. The transition from flesh to spirit is ultimately the greatest key to understanding the soul, the Necronomists reason, and they engineer experiments to carefully watch and learn from that transition.

Necronomists tend to be curious, detached, and highly intellectual. Although they do not deny their emotions, they analyze even their own reactions extensively, searching for clues to the nature of the soul. Necronomists are intensely spiritual, yet at the same time distant; emotion, reason, and faith are all simple tools in the quest for true understanding. Many possessed a morbidly spiritual streak in life, and continue their explorations even in unlife. Followers of this Path rarely form friendships or attachments, but they are staunchly loyal to their allies, with little patience for half-measures and vacillation. The Sabbat of this Path come primarily from the Harbingers of Skulls, Tzimisce, Malkavian antitribu, and the Toreador antitribu.

A Necronomist must be open to all forms of intellectual exploration. Emotion clouds proper judgment (and thus is not a means for drawing valid conclusions), but it is a part of self-awareness, and as such must be recognized. Followers of this Path are focused and determined. There is no room for diffidence or hesitation; unlocking the fundamentals of the soul requires singular dedication. Necronomists must never eschew anything that would lead to greater knowledge of the soul, including death. Advancing one's understanding of the soul is always the first priority; attachment to the material world is attachment to an ephemeral and ultimately flawed existence.

Common Abilities: Obviously, knowledge of death, the afterlife, and the fate of the soul is foremost on the minds of this Path's followers. They take great pride in their Abilities of Academics, Occult, Research, and other intellectual pursuits. Necronomists also study how the condition of the physical form affects the spirit, so they develop their Abilities in Medicine.

Preferred Disciplines: Understanding of the spirit world comes with the Disciplines that allow a vampire to sense and interact with the souls of the dead. Thus, Necronomists often study Auspex, Necromancy, and Thaumaturgy. Additionally, one's own suffering can yield tremendous insight (instead of the vicarious knowledge gained through others), and many Necronomists learn Fortitude to push the limits of their own endurance.

Virtues: Necronomists espouse the values of Conviction and Self-Control

Nickname: Necronomists

Hierarchy Of Sins
10. Attachment to the material world. The material world is untimately ephemeral and of limited use in garnering understanding.
9. Showing a fear of Final Death. All souls return to the cycle. Final Death is not a death of the soul.
8. Being guided by emotions. Emotions may be studied as expressions of the soul, but they are not useful in cultivating functional understanding.
7. Succumbing to Frenzy. The impulses of the Beast do not lead to enlightenment.
6. Failing to kill when useful. Make death a tool. Kill selectively and learn from the victims' passing.
5. Failing to pursue enlightenment. The purpose of the Path is to increase knowledge.
4. Showing an aversion to death. Death is the doorway between the material and the eternal. It must be embraced and acknowledged.
3. Showing compassion. Suffering is a step toward inevitable death.
2. Killing without studying the death afterward. Murder offers no opportunity to increase insight.
1. Needlessly preventing a death. All things must die. Do not meddle with the universe's cycle.

Ethics
Death is the process by which the soul returns to its unfettered state. Study and understand this transition.
All of material is a reflection of the patterns of spirit. Expose the underpinnings of existence by discovering the workings of the spirit.
Do not fear Final Death. The soul is immortal.
Thought and emotion reflect the hidden soul. Analyze consciousness to discover the unique design of each soul.
Everything contains a piece of the puzzle of existence. Learn of all things to assemble all the pieces.
In religion and occultism, find the key truths that are pertinent to all existence.