Maledictum (HHII version)
Thin-Blood Alchemy •••••
Skilled alchemists can curse those who (they believe) have wronged them, with rituals for this ranging from new age witchcraft to ancient and simple sacrifices.
- Cost: One to Five Rouse Checks & Superficial Willpower Damage
- Dice Pool: Resolve + Alchemy vs Non-aggravated Willpower (+ half Auspex, potentially)
- System: Ingredients:
The alchemist’s blood, the blood of a freshly slain animal, powdered glass, vinegar, mould or something otherwise rotten/unsuitable for normal consumption and an object or substance related to the victim which is crushed, burnt or otherwise mixed in (fresh blood being the most potent).
The alchemist decides how much punishment they wish to inflict on a scale of One to Five. They then spend that many turns focusing their hatred against the person or persons they wish to curse, using a point of Willpower (and therefore incurring Superficial or Aggravated Willpower damage) and causing a Rouse Check for each turn that they focus.
If the process of cursing inflicts any Aggravated Willpower damage, the power still works, but the alchemist is unable to use Maledictum again until they have been restored to full/undamaged Willpower. If the alchemist exhausts all of their Willpower levels in this way with aggravated damage, once the curse is enacted they immediately go into torpor until their Willpower levels are restored, or a length of time determined by their Humanity, whichever is greater. They do, however, receive an additional success on their roll.
If the alchemist fails a Hunger check whilst at Hunger 5 in the process of this, they immediately go into a Fury Frenzy, potentially destroying their laboratory, library or other paraphernalia, and all effort and resources expended so far are wasted.
At the end of the focusing, the alchemist rolls Resolve + Alchemy and then splits their successes between Severity and Duration (see below) to determine the curse levied, but can choose to put no more successes into each than they originally spent rounds focusing. e.g. if they spent 3 turns focusing and achieved 7 successes on their roll, they can still only spend a maximum total of 6; 3 in Severity and 3 in Duration.
They need not spend all of their successes if they wish to inflict minor curses than their successes would allow for. Note that due to at least one point being required in each of Severity and Duration, a minimum of two successes (after any others are used on overcoming distance/wards, see below) is necessary to have any effect. At some point and in some means, as chosen by the Storyteller, the curse takes effect on the intended victim(s).
Inflicting curses may cause stains for the character, particularly if it violates Convictions, Tenets or they inflict them often.
The intended victim must be known to the alchemist - at least having been personally acquainted and met them or having been affected by them - e.g. they could be a sibling or a distant landlord whom they have never met, but has evicted them. They cannot simply, for instance, be given a name on a piece of paper of someone they have never heard of and be asked to curse them. The target may theoretically be any distance from the alchemist at the time of the curse, but the more physically or socially distant they are to the alchemist (including the less they know and/or dislike their target), the greater quantities or intensities/significance of material/objects will be required from the intended victim.
Failure & Difficulties
The Storyteller may rule that the ingredients are insufficient, which may either cause the curse to have no effect, not take effect until they come in range of the cursing location or burn some successes just to have the effect take place (if this is the case, remove them from the alchemist’s success pool before they distribute points into Severity and Duration).
If the intended victim is warded or within a warded location at the time of cursing, this will increase the difficulty in a similar manner as distance might - e.g. a Haven with Wards 3 would burn 3 successes off a Maledictum roll before they can be distributed to Severity or Duration.
For instance, an alchemist attempting to curse their sibling, especially one they know well and is relatively close by, may require no ingredients. Meanwhile if that sibling was on the other side of the world, or if the target is the aforementioned distant landlord whom they have never met, they may require a personal memento, blood, the crushed bones of a dead parent, etc.
Curses may not break the laws of nature, but subtly nudge things or people in motion towards the alchemist’s intent.
A total failure inflicts an additional point of superficial Willpower damage to the alchemist and prevents the alchemist from attempting to curse their target again for the remainder of the story and until they have recovered their Willpower in full. A bestial failure results in an effect afflicting the alchemist rather than any targets, as determined by the Storyteller, and typically sends the alchemist into a fury frenzy. In both cases, latent effects may also curse the nearby area, causing bad luck in the vicinity of the cursing for some time.
Even successful curses may lead to negative effects coming back to the alchemist (at the Storyteller’s discretion), particularly if they are socially or physically close to the target(s) of Maledictum.
Supernatural creatures, such as other Kindred, can be cursed, but if they are aware of it they can resist it with a roll of Resolve + Composure. If the target has Premonition, Clairvoyance or a similar power providing great knowledge or prescience, they may substitute one Attribute for Auspex (or equivalent power rating) at the Storyteller’s discretion.
The target need not roll to resist as soon as they become aware of the curse, but can only roll to resist the curse once. Once the resistance roll has failed, they cannot roll to resist again. The difficulty of resisting the curse is the original number of successes rolled.
A cursed creature may also wait until they are in a Warded haven which is either theirs or in which they typically reside in to resist the curse, in which case they may add half of the rating in the local Wards (rounded down) to their resist roll, although it is always better to have been cursed whilst in a warded Haven than whilst trying to resist it at a later date.
Resisting a curse takes considerable effort, typically requiring an hour of uninterrupted concentration or meditation per dot of severity afflicting them.
A character must become aware of the curse in order to resist it, which may be difficult in the case of mild curses, but over a long period of time they may notice the problems and consult spirits, have their aura read by someone else with Scry the Soul, use Premonition or Clairvoyance or use some other relevant power (e.g. from a Mage or Garou) in order to attempt to identify if anything is happening to them. Powers such as Premonition or Clairvoyance may likewise aid the victim in identifying the culprit.
- ● The victim suffers brief inconveniences, such as dropping an object, saying something foolish, or having a motorcycle run over her foot. Mechanically, this is represented by the Storyteller adding a +1 difficulty to dice pools appropriate to the specified situation for the duration of the curse. For example, the injured foot might increase Athletics difficulties by 1, while saying something foolish might cause Etiquette difficulties to increase thus.
- ●● The victim suffers from a string of errors and bad luck that result in lasting injury or embarrassment, such as stepping on a nail, breaking an heirloom, or catching a minor disease. Mechanically, this is represented by the Storyteller increasing the difficulty of rolls appropriate to the curse by 2 for the duration of the curse.
- ●●● The victim suffers severe accidents and misfortune. Typical effects might be broken bones, loss of income, or grievous illness. Mechanically, this is represented by the Storyteller increasing the difficulty of rolls appropriate to the curse by 3 for the duration of the curse.
- ●●●● The victim suffers from major catastrophes and chronic illnesses. Mechanically, this is represented by the Storyteller increasing the difficulty of rolls appropriate to the curse by 3 for the duration of the curse. In addition, the victim subtracts one from associated dice pools during appropriate moments in the story. Invoking a curse of this magnitude almost always inflicts Stains, but may be mitigated by the curse serving a Conviction.
- ●●●●● Curses inflicted at this level are nigh upon Biblical in scope. Nothing goes right for the victim for the duration of the curse. Her life is an exercise in misery, and may well be accompanied by plagues of locusts, being stricken barren, or causing despair in those she meets. Mechanically, this is represented by the Storyteller increasing the difficulty of rolls appropriate to the curse by 4 for the duration of the curse. In addition, the victim subtracts two from associated dice pools during appropriate moments in the story. Invoking a curse of this magnitude always inflicts Stains.
- ● One scene
- ●● One day
- ●●● One week
- ●●●● One month
- ●●●●● One year
- Duration: From one scene to one year, depending on the number of successes the Alchemist puts into the curse.
Other Credits: Heavily based on the Path of Cursing from World of Darkness - Sorcerer (Revised), pp.93-95 and the Path of Curses from Hunters Hunted II (20th Anniversary Edition), pp. 72 - 73