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Vampire: The Masquerade V20: Rites of the Blood

Rites of the Blood

Just as their unlife derive from it, so does vampire sorcery have its basis in blood. Quite messily at times, as the opening piece of fiction describes (all in the best possible taste, I'm glad to say, your imagination is left to fill in the less pleasant bits!). Many vampires wonder just how blood does what it does for them, the more curious ask what else it can do. Out of this inquiry comes more exotic knowledge. Raw power shaped and controlled by ritual... magic. This book, then, looks at what effect blood rituals (and indeed blood sorcery as a whole) has on vampire society, as well as the price an individual vampire pays to develop his arts.

Ultimately, it's all about power. Raw power. Some clans codify their knowledge and pass it on, master to apprentice, sire to childe... but others reach deep into themselves to tap into powers they might have learned to control but do not really understand. The theme here is the cost of power, the mood is the strange and often scary wierdness of it all. Even vampires themselves see it as unnatural, which coming from unnatural beings is strange indeed! Ancient secrets and recent discoveries, quite apart from the disciplines practiced by all vampires, blood magic involves individuals wielding almost limitless power that can as easily overwhelm as it can serve. Treat with caution...

Chapter 1: The Ivory Tower starts a survey of blood magic as practised by various vampire groups by looking at the Tremere and thaumaturgy. The very history of the clan is bound up in their practice of thaumaturgy and it makes interesting reading to see how they used it to claw their way from untrusted outsiders to valued members of the vampire community (even if viewed somewhat warily)... and then the Camarilla was formed, and they established their position. There's more on their current status and the way in which they work, then follow detailed descriptions of commonly used rituals, including the rule mechanics for using them.

Then Chapter 2: The Sword of Caine continues in similar vein, explaining how blood magic is used by vampires of the Sabbat. Various kinds of magic are practiced and these are explained at length. The recurrent theme is that whatever magic is studied depends on the clan affiliation of the vampire studying it: although there are a few exceptions when particularly curious individuals somehow manage to learn a different style. The Sabbat also practice a variant form of magic called the ritae, which involve not just blood but faith as well. Detail is immense, reflecting the way in which spell-casters pore over their books and scrolls, amassing vast amounts of knowledge, a constanct feature of this entire book.

And so it continues with chapters exploring the blood magic practices of other groups - Chapter 3: The Movement looks at what Anarchs do including wierd and wonderful 'Hacktivist Thaumaturgy' that mixes computer technology, blood and magic and Chapter 4: The Independents explores the exploits of Assemites, Setites, Giovanni (who are in to necromancy big style). Then Chapter 5: The Unusal covers the Inconnu, the Tal'Mahe'Ra and even looks at the magical creation of creatures such as gargoyles. Not that that is supposed to happen any more, the Tremere had to give up their gargoyle habit when they joined the Camarilla but... well, the appropriate rituals are laid out here. Chapter 6: The Damned looks at demons, with a note explaining that these demons are not the ones of Demon: The Fallen, but rather demons as vampire view them. This chapter is steeped in the history of vampiric dealings with demons and inclues a section on the Sabbat Inquisition. Don't mess with them...

Finally, Chapter 7: Secrets of the Blood attempts, as far as is possible, a systematic analysis of blood magic from its fundamental principles. Whilst this mainly concentrates on the game mechanics necessary, there is enough background for a studious player to make his vampire character sound like he knows what he is talking about!

If magic is to play a leading role in your chronicle, or your character wants to study it, this work will provide ample resources. It is perhaps a bit of a niche interest, but reading through these chapters gives an insight into quite a lot more than just ritual spellcasting vampire-style... it provides added depth to the activities of sects and clans and so gives further insight to the shadowed world of vampires.

Return to Rites of the Blood page.

Reviewed: 24 June 2016