Setite Sorcery

Overview

Setite Sorcery, known to its practitioners as Akhu, is the ancient magical tradition of the Followers of Set. In Egypt's heyday, before its conversion to Christianity at the hands of the Roman Empire, magic was common place, practiced by mortal and vampire alike. Egyptians had several words for magic; the Setites used Heka (literally "magic") to refer to mortal magic, and Ahku ("spells") for their blood sorcery.

Practitioners of Akhu are known as lector-priests, and they believe their magical power is drawn from Set himself. Their practices are near-identical to those of mortal Egyptian sorcerers, involving images, effigies, stories, names and words. Their most important tool, however, is the blasphemy-shrine, a ritual chamber in which the lector-preist defiles the bodies and belongings of the dead in an emulation of Set's blasphemous dismemberment of his murdered brother Osiris. This perversion of traditional Egyptian burial customs unleashes power which fuels the lector-priest's spells, allowing them to perform sorcery without the expenditure of Vitae. The magic need not be performed at the shrine, but one must still be maintained for the magic to work.

The sacred book of Set's lore, The Book of Going Forth by Night, contains only a few key instructions for performing Akhu. Most importantly, it details how to construct a blasphemy-shrine, and some of the rituals that can be performed on the dead and their grave goods there. It also contains rituals for creating consecrated copies of itself, for brewing sacramental blood beer, and to "open the gate", or draw directly on the power of the dead to grant energy to the lector-preist, rather than power spells. All other knowledge of Akhu is drawn from the magical lore of Egypt, preserved by the Setites.

Followers of Set require no lengthy history lesson or abstruse discourse on theory to understand where their magic comes from. It comes from their god, Set. They use magic to do as Set demands, addicting, seducing and degrading the world. Set made the rites for the use of his followers. What more needs to be asked? Despite their professed disinterest in the origins and mechanics of their magic, Setites do derive from their deity a magical practice with a long and interesting history. In practice, it seems like rudimentary Necromancy or rough Thaumaturgy, yet it is not quite either. Setite sorcery is distinct. The knowledge required to make use of Akhu is vast: not only must a lector-preist understand the Egyptian lore of death, but also know the names of hundreds of gods, seek out the proper knowledge of the ancient Egyptian language, and must honor Set at least once a month in their properly constructed blasphemy-shrine.

"Setite Sorcery" is a term usually used in ignorance; Setite spells are closely guarded secrets and few outside the clan know of them in any detail. The term is never used within the clan. Most Kindred who have experience of Setite magic will have encountered Akhu.

Setite sorcery is unlike normal Thaumaturgy, in that its paths don't necessarily require inherent vitae expenditure or Willpower rolls. The power for these paths usually comes from the Western Lands, not from the sorcerer herself. In fact, these paths are more like closed-ended Disciplines than more Traditional thaumaturgical paths, though they are finite and depend on the larger theory of Setite sorcery.

Requirements

Your Ahku path ratings cannot be equal to or higher than your Serpentis rating. You can only learn rituals up to your Serpentis rating.

Most Akhu path powers do not require expending vitae. The lector-priest draws upon her blasphemy-shrine's power instead. Vitae expenditures within Setite Sorcery often take the form of sacrifices to Set or another god.

A lector-priest character needs at list one dot of Occult and one dot of Linguistics to know the requisite mysteries of Egyptian myth, magic and language. Alchemial rituals demand that the magician possess at least one dot of Medicine or Science. If a character lacks at least one dot of Crafts, the difficulty of all rituals that involve written spells, engraved amulets or other inscriptions increases by one.

Storytellers may impose other difficulty penalties of bonuses upon a player's roll, depending on how thoroughly the character adheres to the full pomp of Egyptian priestly tradition. For instance, rituals that involve writing assume that the character employs an authentic reed pen, ink and papyrus. She could also draw her inscription on a moist clay tablet and bake it hard. Chiseling the spell into a stone stelae and painting the hieroglyphs would merit reducing the difficulty by -1. Conversely, scribbling spells with a ballpoint pen on a three-by-five note card would increase the sending's difficulty by +1. Other factors that could reduce difficulties include the use of genuine Nile water, ancient ritual tools or congregation of fellow Set cultists (such as a personal blood cult). Negative factors include wearing synthetic or animal-derived fabrics (Egyptian priests wore linen), or improvised ritual tools. We recommend that Storytellers not adjust difficulties up or down by more than two.

Some Akhu paths require the use of a material focus. In most cases, the path requires only a small amulet or item of jewelry. A few paths require as much time and preparation as rituals – but they are so fundamental to Akhu that players spend experience points for their characters to learn them.

Path of the Dry Nile

Unless otherwise stated, each power requires the Setite to place a faience (blue-glazed earthenware) amulet in the personal effects or dwelling of a target. The magic lasts until the individual destroys or otherwise gets rid of the amulet. However, it may do permanent harm while active. A husband who leaves his wife, under the influence of Love Dies, for example, won't necessarily be able to win her forgiveness after he discards the amulet and comes to his senses.

O Beauty Fades
The Setite causes a work of art, such as a painting, novel, film, or live performance, to be perceived as repellent, ugly, badly executed and cruelly nihilistic. The Setite must be in the presence of the work when he uses this power. If multiple copies exist, only the one in the Setite's presence will be effected. This lasts for the length of time required to experience the work, or for one scene, whichever is greater. This power doesn't require the amulet.

OO Trust Withers
The victim begins to suspect that a specified trusted ally or associate intends to betray him. The victim's delusion escalates from mild unease to wild-eyed paranoia. Requires one bloodpoint and the process takes nine weeks minus one week per successes scored. The subject may resist if he suspects something outside is influencing him.

OOO Love Dies
The Setite suppresses all feelings of love felt by the victim towards a specified secondary target. The first victim feels nothing but emptiness and confusion when he sees or thinks about the second. Love Dies counters romantic, platonic, and familial love. The Setite must be in the presence of the subject when the power is invoked and requires 2 bloodpoints. The subject's emotional attachment which must have been love in origin withers over the course of the next few nights. This does not affect blood bonds. Love Dies ends after a number of months equal to the Setite's Willpower at the time it is used.

OOOO Hope Dissolves
The Setite's victim can't shake the absolute conviction that a specified goal he meant to accomplish can under no circumstances be accomplished. He rapidly grows disheartened and indolent. The Setite must be in the presence of the subject at the time this power is invoked and spend 3 bloodpoints. The subject sinks into a deep depression over the course of one day or night, and becomes distinctly morose. Although this power is unlikely to drive the target to suicide, a character already prone towards that end may find the idea more compelling. The duration of this power depends on successes. One night, one week, one month, one year, permanent. It may be cured through therapy, drugs, etc, before the time period expires if the victim should seek help.

OOOOO Thrones Crumble
The Setite selects an individual and causes him to reexamine his loyalty to an authority figure. No matter why the target followed his leader—admiration, ideological fervor, fear, greed or simple ambivalence he now bitterly regrets his allegiance. Whether the victim actively works against the former object of his loyalty or simply drops out of the picture, remains his choice. The Setite must see his target to initiate the power and spend 3 bloodpoints. This will not always result in physical conflict; a Conformist may well play along; grudgingly with the authority figure, but he might seek the company of others who oppose the leader, whereas a Rogue may make a grand show of rebellion against the leader.

The Snake Inside

Setites love debasement of all kinds, but have developed a special taste for the self-destruction of others. Although the modern concept of addiction exists far from the ancient Egyptian worldview, tonight's Setites confidently believe that their god would approve. Even if he doesn't care for their favorite pursuit, they're not about to stop. After all, it's habit-forming.

O - First Taste

The Setite uses this power while his target is conducting some minor, repetitive action. The power makes him unconsciously associate his action with pleasure, so he'll want to do it again. And again. And again. Creative-minded Setites can addict their victims to thoroughly bizarre substances or behaviors.

System: The player rolls Manipulation + Subterfuge against a difficulty equal to the subject's Willpower. The number of successes determines the strength of the induced compulsion. Whenever the target sees another chance to repeat the triggering behavior, he must make a Willpower roll (difficulty equals the Setite's Willpower) to stop himself from doing so. The victim loses his compulsion entirely if he scores five successes while attempting to resist.

OO Cross Addiction

The Setite temporarily changes the focus of an addict or compulsive's dependency to a substance or behavior of her own choosing. For example, a cocaine addict could be made to crave the act of sex while on the rush, or a compulsive gambler may become a kleptomaniac as well.

System: While the Setite is in the victim's company, the player rolls Manipulation + Subterfuge (difficulty equals the target's Willpower.) If successful, the target switches fixations for a number of scenes equal to the Setite's successes. By spending a blood point, the vampire can extend the period for the same number of scenes.

OOO The Jones

The Setite reinforces a victim's preexisting addiction or compulsion, so that he'll set aside all of his moral impulses and ethical beliefs to satisfy his craving.

System: While the Setite is in the presence of the target, the player rolls Manipulation + Subterfuge against a difficulty equal to the target's Willpower and spends a blood point. If successful, any qualms the victim might have about removing the barriers to the satisfaction of her cravings melt away she may not even spend Willpower points to overcome the addiction, and she'll gladly leave her office during the middle of work to score a hit. The effect lasts for one scene per blood point spent.

OOOO Fatal Compulsion

The Setite twists a victim's dependency, turning it into a literal hunger. If the subject doesn't satisfy his addiction, he starves to death.

System: The Setite mus be in the target's presence, and the player rolls Manipulation + subterfuge against a difficulty equal to the target's Willpower and spends 3 blood points. Whenever she goes for three consecutive nights without indulging her addiction or compulsion, the subject suffers one health level of unsoakable normal damage. The only way to regain health levels lost in this way is to satisfy the compulsion; the character recovers all of them immediately and the power's influence ends.

OOOOO Temperance

The final power of the Snake Inside puzzles Setites who do not fully understand their clan's seductive ways. What's the point of preventing addictions? Forcing an addict to abstain, however, can shatter many habits and force a complete lifestyle (or unlifestyle) change - not just an easily visible addiction. Temperance renders a victim unable to take pleasure from satisfying an addiction. The physical or psychological craving still exists, but the substance or behavior that once gave such pleasure now provokes pain and disgust.

System: While the character is near the target, the player rolls Manipulation + Subterfuge (difficulty of the target's Willpower) and spends a blood point. The number of successes determines the duration of the Temperance effect.

1 success 1 scene
2 successes 1 night
3 successes 1 week
4 successes 1 month
5 successes 1 year

The victim suffers one health level of normal damage from the nausea and pain of satisfying her addiction. Storytellers may impose other problems, too, based on the nature of the victim's addiction. For instance, an alcoholic forced to go cold turkey might need a successful Willpower roll to avoid vomiting when he drinks. Storytellers may also wish to impose withdrawal symptoms on those whose addictions would likely produce such a result for "coming off the junk."

The sorcerer's player must select one and only one craving for Temperance to affect. The character may use the power more than once, however, to block multiple addictions. Temperance does not work against true physiological necessities such as food (for mortals) or blood (for vampires).

SETITE RITUALS

Setite rituals usurp power from the Western Lands, or from its ruling deity, Osiris. They provide a focus the Setite sorcerer can draw upon to work the magic of his path, or to strengthen his hand in the performance of otherwise mundane tasks.

System:
The player rolls Intelligence + Occult (difficulty is three + level of the ritual, maximum 9). Success brings the result given in the description of the ritual; a failure means that nothing happens. A botch cancels all currently active ritual or path effects, as disfavor in the Western Lands cuts off a sorcerer from their effects.

LEVEL ONE RITUALS

MILK OF SET
This entry is a catch-all for a range of rituals too numerous to mention, though many Setites have their own names for concoctions created in this fashion. In each, the Setite creates a salve or unguent with magical properties. The exact details of the ritual and ingredients of the salve vary depending on the desired effect.

Each effect must be learned as a separate ritual. When he wants his character to gain a new ritual, the player specifies a desired effect; the Storyteller deter-mines its level, according to her judgment of the unguent's effectiveness as compared to other ritual effects. She should rule out any effect that too closely resembles an existing path or ritual from any tradition, unless the effect is a common one already available to a number of Disciplines. Effects must change their targets for the worse, or alter them so that they serve a new purpose. It takes one week per level to produce a single dose of salve or unguent. It stays potent for a number of weeks equal to the player's successes, and then becomes useless.

Here are some common manifestations of the Milk of Set.

LEVEL TWO RITUALS

OPENING THE GATE

This ritual prepares a corpse so that it becomes a focus for the Setite's magic. If the corpse is not already mummified according to ancient Egyptian tradition, it must undergo the procedure before the ritual begins. This process alone can take several nights, and is usually performed by a coven of Setite priests and sorcerers.

Once the body is prepared, the ritualist begins the ceremony by verbally recounting the victory of Set over Osiris, and informing the corpse of Set's subsequent penetration of the Western Lands and the powerless-ness of Osiris to stop his progress. He arranges the canopic jars in reversed order, placing the jar that's supposed to be positioned to the west of the body to its east, and so on. The ritualist then saws open the corpse's chest cavity and breaks open the ribcage. He severs the corpse's spine and drills dozens of hooks into the corpse. Into the hooks he threads catgut strings, which he then attaches to a metal frame around the mummy. The sorcerer pulls the strings tight, forcing the body into a tortured position. The ritual takes 12 hours to complete.
The Storyteller assigns the corpse a rating from 0 to 5, showing the degree to which its funeral arrangements satisfied the requirements of The Egyptian Book of the Dead. Zero represents no similarity whatsoever which will most often be the case and 5 signals the greatest adherence to those rituals possible in modern times. The Storyteller keeps his value secret until the ritual's successful completion.

A successful Setite now possesses a means of siphoning energy from the Western Lands. He may at any time increase his blood or Willpower pools by a number of points equal to the rating the Storyteller assigned the mummy. After the passage of a number of hours equal to his successes on the ritual, he loses the points. He may do this once per night.
If anyone destroys the corpse or unstrings it from the frame, the Setite loses a sum of blood and Willpower points (distributed by the Storyteller) equal to twice his mummy's rating.

Effect Level
Add to gas tank of vehicle, so that it goes where Setite wants, not where driver steers it 3
Alter a lock so that it conforms to a key the Setite owns 1
Bum through steel or concrete 2
Make drug more addictive 1
Make hollow replica of object coated in salve Varies by object size
Melt flesh on contact 1 per two health levels of damage dealt
Salve slithers along the ground in sluglike manner, following trail of specified individual 1
Seek out a computer and maliciously alter contents of its hard drive. 1

LEVEL THREE RITUAL

PREPARE CANOPIC JARS

The Setite takes bodily tissues of a desired victim and places them in the four canopic jars used in ancient Egyptian funerary practice. He inverts the ritual designed to ensure speedy passage to the Western Lands, gaining advantage over the chosen victim. The jars and their associated tissue types are described fully on page 115.
Samples of other tissues can be used, though they are not so potent. The Setite can still direct a working against a target even if he lacks the requisite bits of flesh; he can use an object stolen from the victim that symbolically resonates with the desired organ. The remaining bits of a meal half-eaten by the target work as substitute contents of south or north jars. Heart pills and asthma inhalers even breath mints and syringes make acceptable substitutes for the contents of the east jar. Drugs or alcohol once in the possession of the target can represent the liver and gall bladder in a jar of the west. The ritual takes four hours to perform. Once completed, the Setite can at any time interfere with any action performed by the victim, provided he is somehow aware of the target's current activities. Examples of interference include making the victim miss a bus or plane, lose her wallet, become the subject of a random mugging, and any number of other significant yet indirect effects. The Setite may interfere with a number of actions each night equal to the number of successes scored on the ritual roll. He may do this until the jars are moved or destroyed.

LEVEL FOUR RITUAL

DISMEMBERMENT OF OSIRIS

The Setite ritually dismembers the captured leader of a group or organization, starting with the limbs and finishing with the penis. (The ritual works only on male victims.) At the conclusion of the ritual, the Setite drops the phallus into a tank full offish. It only works if the fish devour the severed organ.

The organization headed by the victim suffers a serious calamity, as determined by the Storyteller. A corporation might lose half of its stock value overnight, a military unit could fall in battle, or a religious order might experience mass defections.
The ritual takes six hours to complete.

LEVEL FIVE RITUAL

DISMEMBERING THE GOD

The Setite removes from a canopic jar a tissue sample taken from the chosen victim; the sample must have steeped in the urine of a jackal, hyena or other scavenging predator for at least 24 hours. She brews an unguent in which the tissue sample, vitae and papyrus are ingredients, then covers her genitals with this unguent. The Setite completes the ritual by coming into skin contact with the victim before the next sunrise.

The victim may resist the ritual on a Willpower roll (difficulty 9) if he accumulates more successes than the Setite had on the ritual roll. If the ritual succeeds, the victim loses both a number of Willpower points and a number of blood points equal to twice the caster's number of successes. Further, the victim can't refresh either pool for one night. Note that a significant blood loss (3 or more points) may very well kill a mortal, or at least require medical attention.