One of the antagonists in Vampire: The Requiem, Belial's Brood are a loose confederation of reckless and raucous vampiric Satanists, demon-worshippers, and overt miscreants, who exalt in the spread of misery and pain. The Brood claims and preaches that the Damned originate from Hell itself and are demons made flesh who should follow the whims of the Beast. They are one of the two "enemy only" covenants in the core rulebook, the other being VII.
They are intended to be more straightforward enemies than other antagonists that might be fought against in Requiem, as their goals (spreading wanton misery and violence, heedless of whether or not they expose the existence of vampires) are antithetical to nearly any character.
The origin of the Forsworn is unknown. Several rumors, however, circulate among Kindred scholars, who are eager to dismiss the others in favour of their own theory.
The Yvgeny Kovitch, for example, claims that the Brood originates in the mythical city Dis, where the demon Belial chose the vampiric race as his own and a Gangrel by the name of Enkhatur received the first Investments, only for him to curse the Kindred with the voice of the Beast after they believed that the powers they had received from him were outgrowths of their own progress, destroying Dis and spreading the undead across the world.
The scholar Paul Pratt-Alvigsonne instead believes that Belial was the offspring of Satan and a mortal woman, the first anti-Christ to walk the earth, and who preached a doctrine of self-reliance that was revolutionary for an age where gods were worshipped for every aspect of the world. A vampire named Enhidir sought to learn from him and Belial opened his mind for him, leaving the vampire behind as a raving lunatic. His second follower was referred to as the First Apostle and he became his greatest disciple. However, when Belial eventually reached old age, another vampiric disciple begged to Embrace him to preserve him. Belial refused, but in his sleep, his blood was drained and he was Embraced by the frightened follower. The wrath of the First Apostle knew no bounds after the body of Belial vanished a short time afterwards. The followers of Belial dispersed, awaiting the time when the Son of Darkness will walk the Earth again.
A vampire only known as the Jackal says that Belial lived in Mesopotamia and was a cannibal who worshipped a specific deity without a name. Soon, the tribes around him reviled him as a monster and Belial came to believe the stories told about him, amassing people around him that feared and worshipped him. When he turned old, he sought the flesh of the young to keep him young, which sparked a war between his loyal followers and the aggressors who wanted to drive him out at last. They wounded him grievously and threw him on the idol of his god to die after setting his camp on fire. There, Belial drank his own spilt blood from the altar, and was transformed into a vampire. Slowly, he hunted those who had betrayed and attacked him, but they found his weakness to fire and drove him away. Eventually, Belial reached the city Sayhad in Babylon, where he Embraced his first childe, a ghoul named Enkahas, and built an army of loyal vampires to conquer Sayhad. Enkahas, however, betrayed his sire and organized a revolution against him. Eventually, the human inhabitants of the city turned against their parasites, driving them off. Belial's fate was not recorded, but his most loyal adherents chose to preserve his legacy throughout the ages.
Vampires from all walks of life join the Brood. It is an instinctive phenomenon referred to as the Call by the Brood, which is similarly difficult to describe as the Pursuit. Following the Call, the vampire seeks a Resonance to the Adversary, places and objects that are saturated with evil, likely near a Wound or similar tainted place. During the search, he often finds other Brood members who will guide him through the Cathexis, the mysterious initiation ritual of the brood. Afterwards, the pull of the Beast is slightly different, as the drive that first manifested as the Call has now transformed, guiding the vampire in his new unlife. This drive will pull him towards other Forsworn, although some are known to eschew this connection, instead choosing to dwell as hermits.
Brood-members that have found each other gather in coveys, small groups linked by the Vaulderie, a ritual which involves several Vinculi and eventually forms a much stronger bond referred to as the Crux. The Crux connects the Brood-members at the very base of their Beasts, allowing them to understand each other much more efficiently and act in unison. The bond of the Crux can never be overwritten by another Vinculum.
As the center of the Forsworn, regardless of their sect, is the Pursuit; the arduous road of spiritual self-discovery to dissolve everything that once made them human and to accept the Beast in all its primordial glory. The entire experience of being Forsworn, however, is quintessentially instinctual rather than intellectual, and trying to articulate or explain even the most basic revelations of one’s Pursuit becomes a frustrating and bothersome prospect. At the peak of the Pursuit, the vampire vanishes and the Crux breaks. The rest of the Brood believes them gone, but the sudden vanishing could lead credence to the theory that the Strix are involved in the Beast.
The Brood further believes in the Trinity of various primordial forces: The Sarx, which rules the base flesh and the instincts that rule it; the Soma, the essential form, through which a being exerts its will over its environment and spurs change in that which is otherwise static; and the Pneuma, the force that drives them along the Pursuit, as well as their passions and desires.
Belial's Brood often communicates in their own language, called the Tongue of the Beast, an anti-intellectualized form of languages that reveals itself along the Pursuit. This form of language can only be understood by other Forsworn, as it contains a primal Beast-to-Beast link that contradicts the trappings of the Man.
The central rites of the Brood are referred to as Archontes, and are practiced in every covey across the world. One is the aforementioned Vaulderie, which generates the Crux and involves several Vinculi. Others involve the creation of a Therion, a bloodline spawned from the Crux.
Lesser rites include the Trials of Provocation, during which a Brood member willingly Frenzies with every fiber of her being, or the Rites of Communion that involve finding and consecrating places that resonate with the Beast.
Lesser rites are called Dynamei and vary from covey to covey. They usually involve sacrifices and the spilling of blood.
The Hexad is composed of the six most prominent factions in Belial’s Brood, and they represent the six “default” beliefs and perspectives on Belial and the Pursuit.
- Factions aspected to Pneuma
- The Nameless: The Nameless is perhaps the quintessential embodiment of the pneuma cult, focusing as the faction does on the hegemony of the spirit over the flesh, the triumph of the will over the body. For the Nameless, everything is possible, and thus prioritized, under will. They believe in Belial's return and his corruption and destruction of mankind.
- The Mercy Seat: The Mercy Seat seeks to corrupt the souls of man to keep them in the world the Demiurge formed as a prison. This way, they reason, they fulfill the purpose the Adversary gave them and ensure that only the worthy can enter Heaven.
- Factions aspected to Soma
- The Throne of Smokeless Fire: The Djinn, as they call themselves, embody the competitive spirit of the Beast. The body is the instrument of power in the world. Whether physical combat, emotional resilience, or intellectual rigor, the Throne of Smokeless Fire seeks to actualize its members into perfect predators, feared and respected by all as the chosen agents of the Adversary on Earth.
- The Roaring Serpent: The Archons believe that they have to become the anti-Man in order to fulfill their potential. The fleshly vessel is the instrument by which the vampire exerts dominance over both the body politic and the material spirit. Archons also believe in Belial's Second Coming and seek to hasten it.
- Factions aspected to Sarx
- The Pandaemonium: The Antinomians focus primarily on flesh and blood. Whether mortifying their own flesh through ritual branding, scarification, or elaborate tattoos or meticulously ritually mutilating sacrificial victims, most Antinomians understand the flesh as the throne and cathedral of the Dark Lord himself. They are one of the most ancient and open factions of the Brood and their rites are especially violent.
- The Scarlet Rite: Seeking exaltation in the desires of the flesh, the Hyletics are one of the fastest growing factions. Whether through sex, drugs, or more obscure pleasures, the satisfaction of desire is all that matters, and all laws, spiritual tenets, and lofty aims of apocalypse fall silent at the feet of supernal lust.
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