There are a variety of Paths associated with the study and practice of Thaumaturgy, though most practitioners (at least among the Tremere) learn the Path of Blood first. Each Path has its own effects and variances, everything from telekinesis to conjuring items to controlling the weather. Paths define the types of magic a vampire can perform. A vampire typically learns his primary path through his sire, though it is not unknown for some vampires to study under many different tutors and learn all their secrets. The first path a character learns is considered her primary path and increases automatically as the character advances in the Discipline. Secondary paths may be learned but please discuss with the appropriate App Wiz on learning secondary paths for your character. A character's rating in her primary path must be at least one dot higher than any of her secondary paths until she has mastered her primary path. Once the character has achieved mastery of the fifth level of her primary path, secondary paths may be increased to that level.
Each time a character invokes one of the powers of a Thaumaturgical path, the thaumaturge must spend a blood point and make a Willpower roll against a difficulty of the power's level+3. Only one success is required to invoke a path's effect--path levels, not successes, govern the power of blood magic. Failure on this roll indicates that the blood magic fails, while a botch signifies that the character loses a permanent Willpower point. Obviously, Thaumaturgy is not an art in which one merely "dabbles".
A listing of all the various (and there's quite a few) paths can be found here.
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 toward 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 thaumaturge 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. For example, Andreas the Tremere wishes to cast Ward Versus Ghouls, a Level Two Ritual. Invoking this ritual requires 10 minutes, and Andreas must know Thaumaturgy at 2 or greater.
Casting rituals requires a successful Intelligence + Occult roll, for which the difficulty equals 3 + the level of the ritual (maximum 9). Only one success is required for a ritual to work, though certain spells may require more successes or have variable effects based on how well the caster's roll goes. This uncertainty of effect is a recent development; Tremere rituals formerly worked infallibly, so long as the caster executed them successfully. Many thaumaturges fear that the movements of awakening Antediluvians have caused imbalance in the flow of magic, making the success of rituals more precarious than in previous nights. Should a roll to activate a ritual fail, the Storyteller is encouraged to create strange occurrences or side effects, or even make it appear that the ritual was successful, only to reveal its failure at a later time. A botched ritual roll may even indicate a catastrophic failure or summon an ill-tempered demon...
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 dread Warlocks have studied individual rituals for decades, even centuries. Precisely what these rituals do is unknown, but their effects are surely grave.
Some examples are listed below.
Level 1 Edit
- Defense of the Sacred Haven
- This ritual prevents sunlight from entering an area within 20 feet of this ritual's casting. A mystical darkness blankets the area, keeping the baneful light at bay. Sunlight reflects off windows or magically fails to pass through doors or other portals. The caster draws sigils in her own blood on all the affected windows and doors, and the ritual lasts as long as the Tremere stays within the 20-foot radius.
- This ritual requires one hour to perform, during which the thaumaturge recites incantations and inscribes glyphs. One blood point is required for this ritual to work.
- Wake with Evening's Freshness
- This ritual allows a Tremere to awaken at any sign of danger, especially during the day. If any potentially harmful circumstances arise, the Tremere immediately rises, ready to face the problem. This ritual requires the ashes of burned feathers to be spread over the area in which the Kindred wishes to sleep.
- This ritual must be performed immediately before the Tremere settles down to slumber for the day. Any interruption to the ceremonial casting renders the ritual ineffective. If danger arises, the Tremere awakens and may ignore the Humanity dice pool limit rule for the first two turns of consciousness. Thereafter, the penalty takes effect, but the Tremere will have already risen and will be able to address problematic situations.
- Communicate with Kindred Sire
- By enacting this ritual, a Tremere 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 Tremere from being staked, whether or not she is resting or active. While this ritual is in effect, the first stake that would pierce the Tremere's heart disintegrates in the attacker's hand. A stake merely held near the Tremere is unaffected; for this ritual to work, the stake must actively be used in an attempt to impale the vampire.
- The thaumaturge 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
- The Tremere 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 anything 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.).
Level 2 Edit
- Ward Versus Ghouls
- Wary Tremere created this ritual to protect themselves from the minions of vengeful rivals. By invoking this ritual, the Tremere 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.
- Ghouls who touch warded objects suffer three dice of lethal damage. This damage occurs again if the ghoul touches the object further; indeed, a ghoul who consciously wishes to touch a warded object must spend a point of Willpower to do so.
- This ritual wards only one object - if inscribed on the side of a car, the ward affects only that door or fender, not the whole car. Wards may be placed on weapons, even bullets, though this usually works best on small-caliber weapons. Bullets often warp upon firing, however, and for a ward to remain intact on a fired round, the player needs five successes on the Firearms roll.
- Principal Focus of Vitae Infusion
- This ritual imbues a quantity of blood within the object upon which the ritual is cast. The object must be small enough for the vampire to carry in both hands, and 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 thaumaturge 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 Tremere wear enchanted baubles to ensure they have emergency supplies of vitae.
- 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 (and 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.
Level 3 Edit
- 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 as she moves insubstantially.
- This ritual lasts a number of hours equal to the number of successes scored on a Wits + Survival roll (difficulty 6). The thaumaturge may prematurely end the ritual (and, thus, her incorporeality) by turning the mirror shard away so that it no longer reflects her image.
- Pavis of Foul Presence
- The Tremere joke privately that this is their "ritual for the Ventrue." Kindred who invoke the Presence 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 utter fear in a Kindred under the influence of this ritual feels the fear herself. 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 silk, which must be worn around the neck of the person protected by the magic.
- This ritual lasts until the sunrise after it is enacted. Note that the Presence Discipline power must actually succeed before being reversed by the ritual.
Level 4 Edit
- 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 Tremere 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.
- The bone imbued with this magical power must be at least 200 years old and 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 magic ceases to work any longer.
Level 5 Edit
- 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. One blood point is consumed in the creation of the document, and an additional blood point is consumed by those who sign it.