Thursday, November 16, 2017

Domen Venalina: the Sin Eaters

Domen Venalina: The Sin-Eaters, the Cult of the Bound Princess

Fitres Venalina, rei harfu imanathurem
Fitres Venalina, forgive my sins
--Prayer to
Fitres Venalina

Many Ranathim believe that something is fundamentally wrong with them. Their culture encourages them to sate their passions and feed their hunger, by trickery or by force, at the expense of others. And yet, the damage they inflict lasts far longer than the sensation of satiation. Guilt gnaws at them, and when it becomes too much for them to bear, they turn to Fitres Venalina, the pure lady. In her grace, even the most abhorrent Ranathim can find forgiveness, love, and release from his hungers.

When the Ranathim Empire encountered True Communion, they recognized the power as similar to their own Dark Communion, but they had no ability to access it. And many saw that True Communion contained within it the power to heal, soothe and comfort, while Dark Communion only had the power to steal and corrupt, but the Ranathim had no capacity to access True Communion. Their very nature denied them access to the sense of community that True Communion offered, and to some Ranathim, they could only come to one conclusion: the Ranathim were fundamentally monstrous and corrupt.

According to the lore of Domen Venelina, one of the members of the race that founded True Communion, Fitres Venalina, took pity upon the wretched Ranathim and taught them how to escape the confines of Dark Communion and to join her in True Communion. For this, the fallen and sinful Ranathim rewarded her with death, but even as they placed her upon the execution block, she whispered her forgiveness to the executioner. Those she taught, and the executioner himself, forsook their sinful ways and began to follow the path of Fitres Venalina.

Regardless of lore, Domen Venalina is among the “newer” cults, though still thousands of years old, and arose shortly after the Ranathim encountered the philosophy of True Communion. Annifem Lithe did what it always does, and folded the concept of True Communion. The paths of the Righteous Crusader, the Bound Princess and the Exiled Master became yet more Lithaja, Gods, albeit ones much harder for the Ranathim themselves to worship. This didn’t stop them from trying!

Domen Venalina arose as one such cult dedicated to a True Communion “God,” in this case Fitres Venalina, or the Bound Princess. They see her as the path from their inherent sinfulness, thuremka, and into a state of grace, or Venaka. To do this, the Chiva Thurulina must bring grace to the rest of her race. Like Fitres Venalina, they sacrifice themselves on the behalf of their race and community, and they do this by consuming the sinful thoughts and deeds of others, giving them a chance to live life as the other races do, free of their wicked passions. In this service to others, they find a way to connect with the rest of their race, and with True Communion.

Domen Venalina is an odd faith. Some mistakenly call it an off-shoot of True Communion. It certainly is not. Rather, it’s an imitation of True Communion, as seen through the lens of Annifem Lithe. The Ranathim who practice it don’t truly understand the harmony it seeks, but instead see the same pattern of oath and divine wrath that steeps the rest of the Anala system. Through submission to and channeling of Fitres Venalina, they seek a reward, in this case, redemption from their vampiric nature. At the same time, Domen Venalina stands at odds with the rest of the Anala system in that it inherently rejects the core values of Ranathim culture, such as hedonism and pleasure. Chiva Thurulena instead embrace a form of masochistic asceticism in explicit rejection of Ranathim culture.

Chiva Thurulena, or just Thurulina (for women) or Thurule (for men), can be found on the corners of streets, offering their services or begging for food. Their temples often act as monasteries, places where one can isolate herself from the world and from temptations of the flesh, and they act as sanctuaries for anyone who wishes to escape the perils of society or their own sinful ways.

Chiva Thurulena offer their services to others, taking the burdens of unwanted passions onto themselves, or healing the wounded and weak as best as they can. They also offer permanent relief from their sins by embracing Fitres Venalina, which they claim has purged them of their passions and even their endless hunger for psionic energy. They’ve replaced it with self-flagellation and wailing songs to the grace of Fitres Venalina and bemoaning the fallen state of their people.



The Laws of Fitres Venalina

Like most Domena, Domen Venalina has vows that the Chiva can take to gain access to Learned Prayers. Those who take a Communion Oath perk generally take the Destiny (Haunted by Sin; Mitigator, stay true to the Laws of Fitres Venalina -65%) disadvantage as their “divine wrath” disadvantage. This tends to manifest as constant come-uppance for whatever sin they indulge in.

  • Vow (Accept no praise for your deeds) [-5]
  • Vow (Partake of no worldly pleasures) [-10]
  • Vow (Never Refuse a Request for Aid) [-15]
  • Pacifism (Any) [Varies]

The Superstitions of Fitres Venalina

  • Many followers of Fitres Venalina teach that failing to follow her commands leave one vulnerable to the depredations of the world, that dressing provocatively leads to being abused, or that violence leads to violence, and so on. Those who believe this have Delusion (Sinful acts lead to inevitable, karmic punishment) [-5], or worse depending on how severely they reject sinful behavior, and how obnoxiously they berate others for their sinful acts (“You had it coming”).
  • Some believers take the opposite tack, and believe that any “sin” eaten by the Sin-Eaters doesn’t count. They see their actions as devouring “karma,” and that the grace of Fitres Venalina will save them from inevitable consequences. Those who follow this belief tend, after committing a crime, to immediately seek out a Sin-Eater to confess their crimes to, and have Delusion (Crimes confessed to Sin-Eaters will have no consequences) [-10] or worse, depending on how bad a crime they think they can get away with. A lesser manifestation of this, as a quirk, is habitual confession to Sin-Eaters.
  • The core conceit of the Domen Venalina is that the Ranathim are inherently monstrous. While not an especially popular belief by the Ranathim themselves, aliens who follow the Divine Masks, especially those who have suffered at the hands of the Ranathim, heartily agree. In all cases, followers of the cult may believe that Ranathim are inherently “unclean” and will refuse them access to sacred spaces or allow their children to associate with them or, if Ranathim, will spend an inordinate amount of time seeking spiritual cleansing and avoiding one’s own kind. Those who have this have Delusion (Ranathim are spiritually unclean) [-5], effectively Intolerance (Ranathim).

The Mask of Fitres Venalina

The idol of Fitres Venalina portrays a lithe and beautiful alien woman with her face and hair covered in the veil of death. She is always crafted of the whitest ivory, marble or plastic. While Domen Venalina is as likely as any cult to have a great an imposing statue of her at the center of their temples and monasteries, most nachiva have small, personal idols, which represent their personal relationship with her. The scent of Fitres Venalina is the scent of temple incense and her voice is the bells of a temple or a solitary flute on the wind.

Most nachiva do not wear masks, but face paint. They wear simple white garments, and if they wear jewelry, they always wear silver, especially a silver collar around their throat emblazoned with the four Lithian characters for Fitres. Thurulina often wear start white make-up over their face, with deep purple highlights on their eyes and lips, while Thurule either forgo make-up, or simply go with a deep white on their face. Only the chivaga, the high preistess (it must be a woman) wears the mask of Fitres Venalina, and it’s a simple, featureless mask of white.

The Star of Fitres Venalina

When Fitres Venalina died, according to the Domen, a new star was born: Lithavaika, the white star. While clearly visible from the dark arm of the Galaxy, no hyperspace route has yet been found that reaches it. It seems to lie just outside the galaxy, above (or below) the galactic plane, positioned at its center. When a planet is positioned so that Lithavaika is at its highest point at midnight, then Domen Venalina celebrate Shienga.

Ceremonies of Fitres Venalina

Shienga, the Great Mourning

According to Domen Venalina, the sacrifice of Fitres Venalina gave them access to True Communion, but they stood by and did nothing when she died (according to lore, her executioner himself repented, joined the Domen as one of its greatest leaders). The Domen mourns her death when her star, Lithevaika stands at its highest point in the night sky. The “festivities” take place over a week, wherein the cultists, if allowed, will parade down streets bearing effigies of Fitres Venalina, wailing out songs in her name, playing flutes and bells, swinging thuribles of incense and flagellating themselves for their failure to save her, their race, and for their sins. The parades end at the local temple or monastery, if such exists.

The Cleansing

Anyone who wishes to join the Domen, or who has committed some grave act and seeks to be redeemed to restore their grace, may come to a temple of Fitres Venalina. First, they symbolically sacrifice their sin by breaking something associated with their sin (a weapon for a violent lifestyle, a shattered bottle for abandoning an addiction, etc) and place it upon the altar to Fitres Venalina. They then “fast” for a week within the temple, eating little and spending their time in contemplation of the grace of Fitres Venalina, and doing small chores around the temple to assist the Domen. At the end of the week, the nachiva invite the supplicant to a river or to a great bath where he steps in and is ritually cleaned by a chiva who represents Fitres Venalina. Once the supplicant has been toweled off and given fresh, white robes to wear, representing his newly cleaned status. He is then free to join the Domen if he wishes, though many who do not wish to join the cult nevertheless undergo the ritual when their guilt grows too strong.

Domen Thurulena as Esoteric Style 5 points

The art of Domen Thurulena focuses on understanding others, and what makes them commit sins, as well as looking deep within oneself to find what drives the Chiva to commit sins. This usually involves intense meditation, and means that most Chiva Thurulena make excellent councilors.

Practitioners take the sins of others onto themselves through Steal Emotions. They use the Targeted technique to only remove the emotions they judge as harmful, and Lasting as a way of keeping those sins at bay for as long as possible. They also follow the Path of the Bound Princess, and can manifest her talents for Empathy and Healing. True masters of the art can gain access to True Communion, despite their vampirism, and become Chiva Venalor, or sanctified cultist.

True Communion creates connection between members of a Community, and so too does Fitres Venalina. Those who form a strong bond with Fitres Venalina via a Communion Oath or who become her Archetype often uncover their own latent Telepathy. The Cult teaches members to sense and understand emotions, so they can better know what emotions to remove from a target to help him find grace.

Required Skills: Meditation, Psychology, Religious Ritual (Lithe Nifemna), Theology (Lithe Nifemna)

Additional Psionic Skills: Aura Reading, Emotion Sense, Steal Emotions

Techniques: Deep Trance (Meditation), Introspection (Meditation), Lasting Effect (Steal Emotions), Penance (Meditation), Targeted (Steal Emotions)

Secret Techniques: Vampiric Healing, Vampiric Invigoration.

Cinematic Skills: Mental Strength

Signature Miracles: Aura of Focus, Lay on Hands, Primordial Expertise (Empathy, Healer), Purity; Lesser Avatar of the Bound Princess; Greater Avatar of the Bound Princess.

Secret Miracle: Voice of God

Perks: Communion Oath, Flagellant’s Blessing, Patience of the Job (Meditation), Psionic Adaption (Aura Reading to Psychic Vampirism), Psychic Symbolism (Bound Princess, Psychic Vampirism or Telepathy), Sacred Vampire, Sanctity Compensation, Secret Miracle (Voice of God), Signature Miracle (any Domen Thurulena Signature Miracle), Style Adaption (True Communion), Symbolism Mastery (Bound Princess), Unusual Training (Mental Strength; To resist “sinful” impulses only).

Optional Traits: Will

Optional Advantages: Archetype (Bound Princess), Indomitable, High Pain Threshold, True Communion, Telepathy Talent.

Optional Disadvantages: Destiny (Haunted by Sin; Mitigator, stay true to the Laws of Fitres Venalina -65%), Disciplines of Faith (Asceticis), Guilt Complex, On the Edge, Selfless, Sense of Duty (Any), Vow (The Law of Fitres Venalina).

Removable Disadvantages: Bad Temper, Berserk, Bloodlust, Bully, Compulsive Carousing, Gluttony, Greed, Jealousy, Lecherousness, Selfish, Unnatural Appetite (Psionic Energy).

Optional Skills: Esoteric Medicine (Communion or Annifem Lithe), Singing, Philosophy (True Communion)

New Traits

Perks

Afflicted Concentration: (Magical Styles 22); Ecstatic Psi is arguably better, but it might prove useful or appropriate for a variety of concepts.

Communion Oath: Provided the character has an appropriate disadvantage that is mitigated by following an oath, the character may purchase Learned Prayers directly, at full price, with an additional limitation based on an appropriate vow.

Inner Mastery: Characters may substitute Meditation for Will for Psionic Extra-Effort rolls.

Psionic Adaption: Pyramid #3-69 page 16.

Psionic Style Adaption: As Magical Style Adaption, Thamautalogy: Magic Styles page 27.

Psychic Symbolism: You may add the symbol bonuses and penalties from a specific Path to the skill rolls of a specific power.

Sacred Vampire: You may access Psychic Vampirism despite having the Communion trait.

Sanctity Compensation: You may ignore up to -1 in sanctity penalties when attempting to invoke a Communion Miracle. Thus, if you're attempting to use Communion in a Desecrated area, instead of rolling at -5, you roll at -4.

Signature Miracle: Gain +1 to Communion Reaction rolls when calling on one specific Specified Miracle (Leveled, to a maximum of +4)

Symbolism Mastery: You may invoke 4 symbols for +4 to reaction rolls for your path, or +2 to a miracle outside of your path.

Miracles

Voice of God

Minimum Reaction Required: Neutral

Learned Prerequisite: Divine Favor 5, Legendary Reputation +1

Learned Prayer Cost: 4

This miracle places the practitioner in a trance, during which time the divinity of her associated path communicates through her. The divinity may answer questions put to it, and is free to say what it wishes, and may even lie, but the GM can relay any information known to the divinity (or to Communion) through the vessel of the character. Most Divine Mask cults teach this prayer only to high level priests and priestesses.

Statistics: Channeling (Divine, Path -15%, Cosmic, No Die Roll Required +100%) [19]

Techniques

Deep Trance

Hard

Default: Meditation-4;

Prerequisite: Meditation; May not exceed Meditation.

The character meditates deeply for one hour and enters a trance. This trance either offers the same bonuses as Autohypnosis or +1 to all Psi skills plus an additional bonus equal to 1/3 of his margin of success, to a maximum of +5. He gains +4 for sensory deprivation, +2 for the Body Discipline perk, and may use Religious Ritual as a complementary roll.

Introspection

Average

Default: Meditation;

Prerequisite: Meditation; May not exceed Meditation.

This core skill of Meditation works as the basic book describes it: The character may roll meditation to gain moral (rather than practical) insight into what he should be doing.

Penance

Hard

Default: Meditation;

Prerequisite: Meditation; May not exceed Meditation+4.

The character may attempt to make amends for wrongs he has done. This typically requires 8 hours of meditation and upon success, the character may roll Meditation. On a success, he may either remove one point of corruption (either from Dark or Broken Communion), or attempt to regain Communion after violating one of its sins.

Vampiric Invigoration

Hard

Default: Steal Energy-9;

Prerequisite: Steal Energy; May not exceed Steal Energy.

The cultists of Domen Venalina have learned to invert their own vampiric tendencies. Rather than stripping energy from their targets, they can restore energy to their targets. The character must touch the target, succeed at a roll (unconscious targets apply a -2 to this roll), and then may spend as much fatigue as they wish to restore the target’s fatigue on a one-to-one basis. This technique does not cost additional fatigue to use!

Vampiric Healing

Hard

Default: Steal Life-7;

Prerequisite: Steal Life; May not exceed Steal Life.

The cultists of Domen Venalina who have learned to steal the life force of others can learn to invert their vampirism and restore the life of others by sacrificing their own. Upon touching a target, the cultist may roll Vampiric Healing (-2 if the target is unconscious). Success allows them to spend any number of their own HP to restore a like amount of HP in the target. They may not use this power to heal afflictions, diseases or crippled limbs. This technique does not cost additional fatigue to use!

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