The Oaths Edit
he Invictus is a firmly hierarchical society based on the feudal relationship of lord and vassal. As such, Oaths are what give definition and structure to these relationships. Any kindred can tell you that the Invictus enforce their oaths with firm determination. To break one\'s word of honor in the Invictus is political suicide, and more often than not, it can lead to a swift execution as well.
In addition to the four main types of oath, that is The Oath of Service, Oath of Fealty, Oath of Defense, and the Oath of the Villein, the Invictus have recourse to a subset of supernatural oaths, the Blood Oaths, which use the mystic powers of the blood to enforce the oath, even some going so far as to aid the sworn kindred in fulfilling his duty.
Regardless of whether the oath is reinforced by a blood oath, the oaths are always written in the swearing kindred's vitae.
Oath of Service Edit
An Oath of Service is the least demanding of the Invictus Oaths. The vassal, or a coterie of vassals, swears to dedicate some of it\'s nightly energies to pursuing the Lord\'s agenda. They might be called upon to do various small tasks, but are not expected to entirely forego their personal agendas to look after the Lord\'s business. Although this oath does imply a definite hierarchy and places the Lord above the vassal(s), it is not generally used when there is an overly wide gap in the relative power and status of the two parties swearing the oath. It is much more likely that an Elder would have a coterie of well respected Ancillae swear this oath.
Breaking an Oath of Service is at the barest minimum considered rude, and in poor judgment, but it is not the most solemn of oaths, and it is unlikely to be punished by anything more than a severe tarnishing of a reputation, and a loss of esteem within the covenant. Being killed over a broken Oath of Service is a rare occurence.
Oath of Defense Edit
The Oath of Defense, unlike the Oath of Service, is an extremely serious oath. To break the Oath of Defense is always grounds for destruction. In Invictus cities, in particular, the foolish kindred or coterie who breaks this oath is liable to find himself bloodhunted for his dishonorable action.
That said, under normal circumstances, the Oath of Defense does not normally actually require the sworn kindred to do anything. The oath only requires that the vassal or coterie which has sworn it return to their elder's side and defend him if he is in danger, and that if they learn of any machination against him they immediately inform the Lord and move to defend him. Naturally this precludes the vassal from working against the elder himself. Because of the nature of this oath a kindred can never swear the Oath of Defense to more than one kindred at a time, and it is often sworn in secret, without the elaborate ceremony ascribed to the other major Oaths.
An Oath of Defense remains in standing until the Lord chooses to let it lapse, or forms a viniculum to any member of the vassal coterie. In addition, any superior to the Lord may take the oath from him, and the vassals would then be sworn to protect their Lord's superior, rather than their Lord directly.
Oath of Fealty Edit
This is by far the most taxing of all Invictus oaths, and it takes precedence over all other Oaths. The vassal in the Oath of Fealty is presumed to be bound by both the Oath of Service and the Oath of Defense to it\'s lord, and may not then swear any lesser oaths to any other kindred.
The Oath of Fealty demands that the vassal actively and constantly work in his Lord's best interest. They must do anything their Lord asks of them to the best of their ability, and seek to improve upon their Lord's holdings and power.
Such a demanding oath is not lightly sworn, tradition dictates that the coterie or kindred wishing to swear to an elder must come before him and humbly request to become vassals. It is not completely unheard of that a Lord would approach those he sought to make his vassal, but this is only likely in the direst of circumstances.
The Oath of Fealty, for all its severity, is the only oath that readily expires. After a set period, usually a decade, the oath lapses, and must be resworn if both parties wish. The terms may be renegotiated (as the vassal has likely grown more shrewd and more powerful after a decade of such service), and the Lord may dismiss the coterie or vassal entirely. http://
The Oath of the Villein Edit
The Oath of the Villein is the only oath not written in vitae, for the simple reason that it isn\'t sworn by kindred. Invictus Retainers will swear this oath which demands loyalty to the covenant as a whole, and in particular to their domitor, until the death of the retainer (and possible subsequent embrace).
This Oath, being for a retainer, is considered relatively minor, and it is not likely that the luminaries of the covenant will turn out to witness it's swearing. The oath is always backed by the viniculum, and it's not hard to imagine the fate of a treacherous retainer in the Invictus.
The Blood Oaths Edit
The Invictus holds these oaths sacred, indeed, but it\'s elders certainly aren\'t so trusting as to think no kindred will ever break his word. Especially, then, when they force Non-Invictus kindred to swear to various actions (or against actions). Therefore, it is important for the Invictus to have a powerful enforcement mechanism, and for this they turn to the blood oaths.
Oaths of Avoidance Edit
The Oaths of Avoidance are the only blood oaths likely to be used outside the Invictus, and are the most straightforward of the blood oaths. The swearing kindred writes in his own vitae that he will perform some nightly activity (or that he will not perform some activity) and an Invictus Notary seals the oath will supernatural power of varying degrees, depending on the severity of the oath.
Any of these oaths may be "cancelled" if the Lord to whom they are sworn wipes out the oath with one vitae of his own.
The Blood Tell Oath Edit
The Blood Tell Oath is almost exactly what it sounds like. The Notary infuses the swearing kindred\'s vitae with the supernatural power of the oath, and the vitae will stay fresh on the page for as long as the oath is unbroken.
Cost: 1 vitae from the kindred swearing the oath, and 1 willpower from the kindred enacting the ability.
The Oath of Blood Knives Edit
The Oath of Blood Knives is used in situations where the mere fact of certain detection of a broken oath is not believed to be sufficient to dissuade the vassal, or simply when the Lord to whom the oath is sworn desires to have some immediate retribution if the swearing kindred\'s oath is broken. There is ostensibly no difference between the physical act of swearing an Oath of Blood Knives from a Blood Tell Oath. At least, that is, until the oath is broken. Breaking an Oath of Blood Knives causes significant harm and loss of vitae to the offending Kindred as a portion of his blood literally turns to miniscule knives and cuts its way from his body in spectacular fashion.
Notably, a kindred can not be forced to swear an oath with supernatural powers. While there may be coercion involved, a kindred cannot for instance, be issued a Dominate to swear to this oath, or the power will simply not take effect. He must willingly swear.
Cost: 1 vitae from the kindred swearing the oath Roll: Presence + Intimidation + Invictus Status - Subject's Resolve Effect: At such a time as the oath is broken the offending kindred suffers lethal damage equal to the successes on the roll and loses and equal number of vitae. If he has insufficient vitae he still takes full damage. If no successes are rolled, this functions as a Blood Tell Oath.
The Oath Unsworn Edit
The Oath Unsworn appears very dissimilar from the Oath of Blood Knives. The Lord to whom this oath is sworn writes the oath in his own vitae, and reads it to the swearing kindred, who is, if this power is invoked against him, almost certainly unwilling. As long as he can understand the oath, and it is not something impossible or suicidal, the oath will take affect, and it will be as though he had sworn the Oath of Blood Knives.
Cost: 1 vitae and 1 willpower point from the kindred to whom the oath is sworn, (or the Notary) Roll: Presence + Intimidation + Invictus Status versus Composure + Blood Potency Effect: As the Oath of Blood Knives, only taking the number of successes in excess of the resist. If the Oath fails however, the blood dries over the course of the next hour.
The Oath of Burning Blood Edit
By far the most dire of the Oaths of Avoidance, the Oath of Burning Blood actively prevents the sworn kindred from breaking his oath. It strenghtens the sworn kindred against those who would compel him to break his oath, and even subverts his own will if he tries to consciously break the oath. It\'s just as well, as breaking an Oath of Burning Blood is liable to be excrutiating, if not deadly, as the kindred\'s own vitae combusts in his veins and burns its way out of him in a very visible and terrifying manner.
Cost: 1 vitae from the kindred swearing the oath, 1 permanent willpower dot from the kindred enacting the power. Roll: Presence + Intimidation + Invictus Status - Subject's Resolve Effect: As the Oath of Blood Knives, but the damage is aggravated, and the fire very visible and capable of causing Rotschrek.
Mutual Oaths Edit
Mutual Oaths is somewhat of a misnomer for this category of Blood Oath, as it implies some sort of parity between the swearing kindred and the elder to whom he swears. Rather, they are called Mutual Oaths because each party has something required of him. In general, the Elder invests some part of his power in the vassal in exchange for some service. http://
Oath of Blood Alliance Edit
This Oath is the weakest of the three Mutual Oaths. The Kindred Lord mystically grants some amount of his force of will to the party swearing to perform the service, who may use them however he likes. The immediate repercussions for breaking or failing such an oath generally entail some minor brusing as the offended Lord\'s willpower lashes out against the dishonorable kindred, but little else occurs. This Oath only lasts a single night.
Oath of Blood Service Edit
The Oath of Blood Service is the most common long term Mutual Oath that the Invictus has at it\'s disposal, and most respectable Notaries are familiar with at least some version. The swearing kindred agrees to perform some nightly task, and in exchange is granted mystical access to some of his Lord\'s abilities and disciplines. Each increment of granted skill however, subverts the sworn kindred\'s will and weakens his overall drive and focus. The vassal can, then, choose to sacrifice some of the skill his Lord has granted him to regain his temporarily lost spirit.
This oath has relatively complex mechanics, go read the book, slacker.
Oath of Blood Loyalty Edit
There are very few verifiable instances of this oath being sworn in the whole of the long and storied history of the Invictus. It is also far and away the most powerful and binding of the Mutual Oaths. There can be no viniculum between the parties to this oath, and no compulsions or coercions via Dominate or Majesty or any comparable power. Though each kindred drinks a mixture of both parties blood, no viniculum is formed between them at this moment either, through the power of the Oath. Its affects are numerous, and the most significant and notable are firstly, that the Lord may peer through his vassal\'s senses at any given time, and issue commands to him. The vassal for his part can call upon the full breadth of any of his Lord\'s disciplines. An exertion of will is required to actually use these abilities granted but there is no further resistance or obstacle to them. The most interesting, and binding facet, though, of this oath, is that any and all physical damage inflicted on one party is felt by both, and indeed, injures both. The Final Death of either party, is again utterly devestating to the other, assuming he has even survived.
This oath has relatively complex mechanics, go read the book, slacker.
Oaths of Performance Edit
And Oath of Performance is a pledge to complete some task. The Oaths grant a power to aid the sworn kindred in fulfilling his word, but amidst serious drawbacks. As such, the oaths are never taken lightly, though, when they are taken, the sworn kindred are often seen to exert feats of ability far beyond what anyone could imagine them to have been capable of.
Oath of Running Blood Edit
The least dire of the Oaths of Performance, and the most long term. It has no real drawback, but neither does it actually aid the kindred using it. He simply bleeds into some suitable vessel, most likely a glass jar, and enacts the ability, turning his blood to glass. From then on, the closer the kindred believes himself to completion of the oath, the more liquidified the blood will become, until the kindred believes his oath fulfilled, and the vitae becomes completely liquid again. If the kindred dies, the blood turns to glass and immediately shatters.
Cost: 1 willpower and 1 vitae
Oath of the Bloody Hand Edit
This Oath can allow even relatively thin blooded ancillae to tap into the vitae metabolizing abilities of powerful elders. The mechanism through which this occurs, is the kindred\'s own severed hand, which is removed in ritualistic fashion, leaving a grievous wound to the stumpy end of one arm. The kindred then invests as much vitae as he\'d like into the hand, up to the maximum his whole body can store. For any physical action in pursuit of this oath he may then call upon the power of any or all of the vitae in the hand irregardless of his maximum rate of vitae expenditure for his blood potency, and in addition to any of his own vitae he spends. This oath however, has very serious ramifications for failure. Failing to achieve the oath for even a single night severely bruises the kindred whose sworn the oath, relative to the amount of vitae invested in the hand. Failing to even work towards the oath causes a much more severe damage, and abandoning the oath entirely is liable to destroy all but the heartiest kindred on the spot.
Cost: 1 aggravated damage to the hand, 1 or more vitae This oath has relatively complex mechanics, go read the book, slacker.
Oath of Blood Focus Edit
The Oath of Blood Focus allows a kindred to utterly devote himself to some short term goal, which he can hopefully achieve in a few nights. His will becomes wholly focused towards the single end of achieving his sworn objective, and is reinforced by the mystical compact of the blood. He needn\'t sleep during the day and is not likely to tire at any point during the night. His blood becomes thicker and any action that is not relevant to fulfilling the oath becomes extraordinarily taxing, if not impossible to perform. After the oath expires, in a few nights, the kindred is utterly exhausted and depleted. The great exertion of the previous nights finally catches up to him, and he will be utterly lethargic and exhausted.
This oath has relatively complex mechanics, go read the book, slacker.