The Circle of Vecatra
The story of this place does not begin with humanity. We are not the inheritors of this land, with its ancient stones and soaring trunks. It begins with Vecatra, as all things do. We are merely a moment, an animal as any other in Her service. Before the people of the lion God came to this place, the only name it bore was one we could not speak. Our tongues, heavy and clumsy, are not made for the language of the Spirits. The only nobility was the Court of Trees, the Standing People who still offer us their guidance today.
The people of the lion God, with their haughty scholars and surety that all things are exactly as they claim them will tell you that this place was founded when the vile Witchking Chiropoler came to defile this place. They are, of course, wrong. At one time, we could see as far back as our founding. We know from the whispers of elders in the depths of our beings, from the tales we are told by the hearth and in our cradles, that we have been here since well before that horrid cancer of a Witchking descended upon our home and corrupted it from the inside.
Our stories are few now. What once was put to paper made of leaf and grass pulp is now murmured around fires, recited from elders to children and children to elders. And though we have lost much, we know that not everything rests in the hands of humans. The spirits know our stories better than any book. The details are what matter most.
It is folly to think that we could ever be the masters of this place. Our people, the people of Vecatra, know this before all other things.
Vecatra found Herself to be life. She loved life so dearly and found Herself so wonderful that She wanted to thrive. To grow life so that others might also love life.
She began with creatures. Creatures with leaves and stripes. Creatures with wings and legs and fins. Creatures of stone and wood. Vecatra enjoyed Her creatures, but they quickly began to suffer in Her hands.
Worried for their safety, She began to swallow them, hoping to contain them within Her life. Here they were safe, however they ran into each other and floated aimlessly about. To give them something sturdy to live upon and thus to thrive, Vecatra made Her bones into land and gifted this to Her creatures. Many of Her creatures began to thrive and live safely within Her.
She then realized land didn’t suit all creatures as the ones with fins and gills still suffered. To save them this suffering, Vecatra made Her blood into water. She gifted them this water to swim in. But that did not suit them all for the creatures with wings were still suffering, and so She breathed deep, gifting them with sky.
Vecatra looked inside Herself, seeking to find anything else She had missed for She did not want Her creatures to suffer. She saw that though Her skin stretched as tight as it could, the land, the water, and the sky could not hold all the life She desired to create. And so She gifted them time as well. In this way, the land, the water, and the sky could go on forever and all of Her creatures could live there, if only for a small while. Neighbors to their past and their future.
The Vecatrans of Luisant believe that death is merely one having explored their time to its completion. After this is finished, they pass through the Thicket, leaving behind all that separates you from Vecatra. In doing this, you join Vecatra in Her thriving. If the Thicket must take too much of you, those parts return as monsters.
Somewhere in all of this, was an acorn. In the belly of Vecatra fueled by Her love of life, the acorn began to thrive. The acorn settled in rich, wet soil and sprouted, growing and growing until its roots slipped past the Thicket and reached the Heart of Vecatra. When Oak first rose, he beheld the growing forest around him and loved it. With careful hands, he gathered seeds from the other trees, one each. These he planted at his base and guided their roots through the Thicket to the Heart. One by one, they rose and beheld the forest around them and loved it. Ash, Apple, Aspen, Gorse, and Willow. Later, Ash would use this same method to sprout Cypress, but that would not be for some far away time.
Creatures found their way to the forest, and loved it as well. Among them were the first human creatures to settle under the Court of Trees.
For many passages of time, the Vecatrans of Lorassaint lived in harmony.
The Age of Hunger
As soon as the cancer came, we knew. How could we not? The forest is carefully attuned to itself, each being an indicator of the health of the others. When the mushrooms came in dripping blood and the deer shrivelled to skin stretched over bones on lush meadow, we knew. And then the Beasts of the Forest, the ones most sensitive to disruption, had their secrets ripped from their bodies causing them to warp into horrific shapes.
Beasts of the Forest
The woods were once full of more than just squirrels and deer. Unicorns, trolls, and all manner of other sacred creatures previously roamed the land as any other animal. During the Age of Heros, many of the creatures were hunted to the brink of existence by those seeking to make a name for themselves. The ones who were left disappeared into the depths of forests, oceans, and deserts, desperately trying to survive. Many old rites and potions required whispers of the secrets contained within these creatures given freely by the creatures themselves. Due to the scarcity or complete extinction of such creatures, substitutions must now be made.
Aspects of Vecatra
These Aspects represent the roles that followers of Vecatra may take on in service to her. All begin as Maidens; some are called to become Mothers; and the very few forsake their humanity entirely to take on the mantle of Crone. Others, such as Rangers, do the lonely work of hunting and destroying Malefic and other monsters.
The Maiden lies beneath the boughs of the great tree, her mind untroubled by the secrets hidden within their twisted branches. She knows the dangers of the forest and the town alike, and navigates them with an ease the Mothers cannot, burdened as a Mother is with the knowledge and loyalties that both empower and tie her. The Maiden’s primary domain of concern is the welfare and needs of her Mothers, her brethren in the Circle, and the daily mundane duties she must perform to provide for her Circle and herself. A Maiden is most well suited to covertly move among those who are not of the Circle or Vecatra, as she runs the least risk if discovered. All initiates of Vecatra who have not attained Motherhood are known as Maidens; and for many, they remain Maidens all their lives, content with their lot and looking to the Mothers for guidance.
Standing beneath the boughs of the great tree, her hands tangled in the bounty of its sprouting leaves, the Mother serves as the intermediary between the Circle and the Spirits of the Forest. In a Circle there can be many Mothers or one, and when there are many it is usual that they form an Inner Circle, a nexus that provides collective guidance and wisdom to the Maidens of the Circle. Priests and Druids of Vecatra, it is their duty to care for the Circle, to root out that which would harm it and see that it has all that it needs. The Mother intercedes with spirits and the Crone on behalf of the Circle, and it is to the Mother, similarly, that the Crone and the spirits of the forest bring their whims, complaints, demands, and occasionally, warnings of danger. These inhuman messages are often brought to the Circle by the Mother.
The Crone stands apart. The Crone has turned her face to become her shadow and left her former self behind. Sworn to serve Vecatra, Crones possess great power and great wisdom, but must be treated with great caution; they are as alien to humanity as any spirit. They care for the good of their Circle, but they have little compunction about the welfare of individual humans beyond their usefulness to the Crone. They speak most often and readily with Mothers of their Circle, but it is not unknown for foolhardy or foolish Maidens to seek a bargain from a Crone.
The Rangers walk alone, doomed men who hunt the evils of the Night.
From the Night Malefic the Rangers learn many gifts. The gifts to protect themselves in conflict. The gift to harm even those protected by timelessness. Perhaps even how to become timeless themselves. But, the wise among us see that what they learn is no strength – but suffering. With each step into their fruitless battle against the existence of pain they inflict deeper wounds upon themselves. Their bodies and minds warp, growing cold and distant. They learn the secrets of devouring the Malefic they hunt and Malefica itself to empower themselves and draw on unnatural abilities, allowing them to slay monsters even as they are twisted into inhuman monstrosities themselves.
The act of becoming a Ranger is said to begin a slow unraveling of the natural rhythms and seasons of Vecatra within themselves. Nobody understands what marks the progression of their seasons once they’ve left Vecatra’s path, besides perhaps the Rangers themselves. But, something Other governs their progression from Spring to Winter, each cycle twisting them into something more tragic, until finally Vecatra’s gifts are lost entirely to the Ranger and the other Ranges must hunt and slay them as they become the monsters they have hunted for so long.
The Other is the part of Vecatra that is least comprehensible to Humanity. The Other can be found in the starving howls of winter wolves and the shining claws of Malefic, in the monstrous beings that rise in response to the wrongs done by humanity. In her wisdom, Vecatra gives physical form to these horrors so that they might be dealt with by her worshippers, in whatever way is necessary. Some can be resolved peacefully; some must be hunted and killed so that they do not harm others, and in this way followers of Vecatra may empower themselves with the ichor and flesh of these Malefic creatures.
Abominations from the Outside sometimes enter our world through the Thicket to hunt and devour humanity. These are not of the Other, or Vecatra; they are monstrous fragments rejected by Vecatra Herself, deemed unworthy to join her and find rest. They must be hunted and destroyed without mercy.
For a price, a Crone is often willing to perform a rite known colloquially as ‘Spirit Riding.’ Though little is known about the rite and how it is performed, we do know a precious few details. The Crone allows a Spirit to slide into the body of the Vecatran seeking atonement. The Spirit is allowed to run itself wild beneath the light of the moon, healing itself or perhaps just having its fun. The Vecatran themself transforms into an approximation of a Beast of the Forest, part spirit and part human. The Vecatrans of Lorassaint refer to such a creature as a Loupgarou, though the Lion People have their own name: Werewolf. The recipient rarely if ever remembers what occurs that night, but wakes the next morning with their sin erased from their soul, new in the eyes of Vecatra for their service to the spirits.
The Standing People
The old truths say that every tree in the Lorassaint is connected, their roots intertwined intimately, holding Vecatra’s bones steadfast together, just as they hold our society together. If you followed the roots back to the thickest oldest among them you’d find the mother tree, a reclusive being, and flanking her on all sides are the standing people, who comprise the Court of Trees. Despite their distance they reach us through these root systems, hold our Circle safe and guide us when we have need.
The first tree of our home we know to have touched the heart of Vecatra. Through enduring growth, his roots reached deep like lightning cut down through Vecatra’s ribs and rest at the beating exterior of Her heart. As a leader he shared this gift among those who could reach through the soil, and his wisdom in the form of laws for the other creatures of the Lorassaint.
It is for Grandfather Oak that we continue to persevere and grow stronger, season in and season out, so when we witness him throw white lightning into the skies we can take courage from the sight instead of pale in fear.
We know her as Mother Greyhood, who once touching the heart of Vecatra she grew her bow and branches to intertwine with Grandfather Oak in exemplary appreciation.
Her wide arching branches shield those that approach Grandfather Oak for guidance, softening his hands and heart with her gentle wisdom. She is reprieve, kindness, and sanctuary to all those who have damaged their relationship with Vecatra, for she still remembers the feeling of drowning before she touched Vecatra’s heart herself. Now she breathes underwater readily, holding her head high, and arms wide. She remembers to pity those who cannot yet feel Her pulse under their fingers, and have to live in guessing. To these, the Vecatran who have sinned, she teaches to hold their heads high over the water, and breathe in Vecatra’s breath. Sinners, oath breakers, and those with grief too great to bear cry to Mother Greyhood and it is said that she hears them, offering the solace of true rest and respite beneath her draping branches.
Willow’s Domains: Autumn, Healing, Femininity, Mysticism, Suffering, Eternity, Grief, Mercy
Rituals of Willow
These rituals may be performed by any Mother who has secured the patronage of Willow.
Mending Tea Ceremony
The druid leads a wounded person in a meditative tea ceremony with tea made from Willow bark (Any drug with the Anesthetic Trait), which beseeching Willow for respite from pain and thanking her for her gifts. For the following Scene the beneficiary does not suffer the skill penalties from Battered.
Willow encourages those who suffer to endure and embrace it, so that they may process and be free of their suffering. However, she recognizes that sometimes life’s demands do not stop for heartbreak. The druid may ask Willow for respite for themselves or another in a small ceremony often involving incense or tea (Any drug with the Apathetic Trait) and meditation. The target may ignore the effects of any Despair they are suffering from in exchange for Misery, as all of their emotions are deadened both good and ill. Any Despair gained beyond the fifth is still automatically turned into an Insanity, as per usual. This ritual may not be used alongside the Gift of Pain, as that is its antithesis.
The Gift of Pain
Willow also allows those who are ready to confront their old wounds to face them without the shields and defenses of the sickened mind. The experience is not an easy one. The druid must talk the target through the Insanity they wish to face, beseeching Willow’s aid in unmaking it, while partaking in a tincture made with an Irritant Herb. The target may fully suppress any single Insanity by taking Despair equal to the level of the Insanity. It is suppressed for so long as the character has that much Despair. Once per Event after removing all of the Despair given by this rite, the formerly suppressed Insanity is permanently lowered by one rank, removing Mild Insanities completely. This ritual may not be used alongside the Repress Sorrow, as that is its antithesis.
A healing branch still bearing green may be used to anoint one suffering from Disease with tinctures of herbal oil (Any herb with either the Restorative or Antidote trait) on the areas of the body most affected by the Disease, while burning Incense.
Using the branch prevents the Disease from spreading to the Druid, assuming they never touch their patient with their bare skin.
After a Scene, the patient‘s symptoms are reduced by a Level, and if the Disease is Minor, the symptoms are suppressed completely. The disease will still progress and the patient is still infectious, but this may allow them to function and survive an otherwise debilitating disease.
Perhaps not the first child of the forest, but the first among the children of the forest, Avalon Apple carries the ever regenerating spirit of the sacred ones (children) within themself. He lives closely to us whenever we remember to bring new life into their time, so that she may teach them joy and wonder.
Mercurial and rich with the bounties of blessing they are a common patron to the sacred ones and parents alike.
Domains of Apple: Spring, Innocence, Youth, Playfulness, Teeth
Rituals of Apple
These rituals may be performed by any Mother who has secured the patronage of Apple.
The witch obtains a bag for the purpose of holding her offerings to Apple, promising each tooth entered into the bag as an offering to Apple, to be used in her rites alone. Whenever the witch acquires a new tooth and offers it to Apple and the Toothsome Bag, the witch becomes Inspired. Teeth may be removed from the bag as needed to perform rituals.
Loose Tooth Harvest
Once per Event per child Ward, the witch may feed the child an apple, causing one of their loose teeth to be stuck in the Apple and come out. Followers of Apple have many uses for the lost teeth of children.
The witch takes a consecrated tooth and smashes it beneath her heel, grinding it into a powder with her foot. She then takes the powder and blows it across any legs that she wishes to be able to dance.
For the next scene, the target may ignore any existing Leg Wounds or Maims that would normally prevent motion such as running or dancing. The target also gains a Mild Compulsion to Dance for the duration of the scene.
New Injuries or Maims acquired in the scene are not prevented and affect the target normally.
The witch presses a child’s baby tooth into a fresh apple and gives it to a character, who must take it willingly, but not necessarily aware of its significance.
With but a single bite of the apple, the eater is affected by any of the following drug traits the witch chooses: Soporific, Excitant, Irritant, Apathetic, Addictive, Pleasant, Hallucinogen, Anesthetic, Intoxicant, Restorative, Foul, Purger.
In a strange act of oddity, Apple allows the witch to toy with the emotions of others, preferably for pranking reasons. The witch may take a number of teeth and put them into a drink. The witch may then focus their trick on the next person to drink from that cup, changing one of their existing Bonds to be about the witch instead. This may either be a Bond that the Witch knows about or else a Bond of the target’s choice. This is phrased as “Spiritual Obey: (Bond) is now about me” . This call may be empowered by adding more teeth to the wine, gaining Power on the Obey call for each additional ritual tooth used.
Apple’s favored one should encourage those around them to grow in new ways, even prodding them should they prove obstinate. By performing educational pranks on those around her, the witch spreads Apple’s wisdom and earns their favor.
After performing a prank on someone which both caused them public embarrassment or confusion, but left them smiling, the witch may whisper the story to an apple and bury it in their garden. Soon a new herb will grow there, gifted by Apple.
After performing an acceptable prank, you may submit a Task describing it to receive an Herb in exchange.
Hanging a chain of human teeth, at least one of which belongs to the one who is hanging the Tooth-Curse, above someone’s door promises their teeth to Apple. The curse will cause those living in the house to lose their teeth, preventing the use of any ability that calls on or affects another person’s Bonds. The curse can be lifted by either the forgiveness of the one who placed it, or by beseeching Apple herself.
Props: Tooth chain, black tooth wax
Giving a child to Apple, through sacrifice, may return youth and vigor, extending a mortal’s lifespan. The child must be happy and playful up until the moment of sacrifice, which must be quick and painless to please Apple. This dark ritual may cure any Maim by giving a child Ward to Apple as an eternal playmate.
The greatest of warmths is that fostered between embraced bodies. Brother Gorse reminds us that all thriving comes from this principle. Togetherness. We experience ecstaticism with them. He elevates our lives by blessings of union, holding us in the elation of love in life and gifting our deaths meaning with the sweet sting of longing in those who still honour oaths to us.
There is value in Truth, but none in Truth as a weapon. Aspen upholds thoughtful Truth, wise Truth, and Truth as a way to keep a community whole and together. They have adorned themself in the jaws and tongues of animals that live their most authentic truth. Those that cannot protect their Circle without lying do not interest her, and those who use the Truth vindictively earn his ire.
Ashkelde understands us. Not only that which Vecatra made us to be, but also the sin and stranger that we possess within ourselves. They are a witch of the Standing People, older than all human creatures, and possessing knowledge that would likely rattle our minds apart. And, perhaps, it has rattled theirs apart as well. But, we trust, for they touch Vecatra’s heart, as much as any of the Court.
Unlike the others, however, human’s susceptibility to sin has poisoned us in Ashkelde’s eyes. Ashkelde knows true hatred for all the evils we invite into Vecatra, often fostering and claiming to define us. We are foolish, and Ashkelde knows so. Ashkelde knows not forgiveness, and does not love us as Vecatra does.
The only among us who frequent Ashkelde as a patron are the foresters, that understand if they misstep it will be Ashkelde who punishes them. A fearful but perhaps wise relationship.
Domains of Ash: Winter, Death, Elderly, Crones, Endings, Malefic Lore
Meeting the Stranger
It is said that sometimes those walking on cold nights will meet a cloaked stranger with a hoarse, tired voice, telling stories of their long travel and the many deaths they have seen. Listen and do not speak to the Ash when he takes this form. Gifting tears shed for one of the dead that Ash speaks of may cause Ash to lead you to a place important to the dead, either in resolving their spirit or meeting their ghost personally.
Known as the Orphan Tree by storytellers, Cypress was brought into Vecatra through the oath of a bereaved mother with Ashkelde. Her reward was death, and so are all of the gifts Cypress now offers. He stands with the Court of Trees and yet apart in subtle ways, and so Scum Orphans Converts and Outcasts, even those still lost in the tragedy of Benalianism find a likeness in him.
If every tree in the Lorassaint is connected, then so too are we to the trees themselves. It is therefore not unusual that one might grow to be particularly fond of or dedicated to a particular member of the Standing People. When this occurs, the Vecatran may petition the tree for patronage. In rare cases, a tree may extend patronage to a Vecatran they have taken a particularly strong liking to. This comes with many bounties, as well as many challenges. The tree may offer gifts such as branches from their own trunks or specialized oaths meant only for those who have sworn themselves to that tree. In turn, the tree may ask the sworn to attend to tasks for them specifically in addition to the service the Vecatran already provides to the Court as a whole.
The grove is an intersection between the world of spirits, humans, and the Wild.
Within the grove we find guidance from the great spirits. At least twice a year we convene under the law of the Court of Trees. One in joyous revelry, celebrating the thriving nature of Vecatra. The other, a sometimes stern review of our oath’s shared, both honored, and failed. During these times all outsiders are welcomed to us, in peace as long as the great spirits desire so. Other circles, foreign spirits and fey, as well as stranger things sometimes come to seek relation to us in these times. Recourse for broken oaths, and swearing of new ones are common during these gatherings.
Shaping the Grove
We are taught by the spirits that a Grove should be shaped with connection to Vecatra in mind. Its shape should draw you in and invite those who recognize Vecatra to rest for a time.
The Grove is shaped with the comfort of the spirits primarily, the comfort of the animals secondarily. We create spaces for spirits and animals alike to find shelter and rest, structures of various sizes woven from fallen branches and roofed with leaves. Flowers and herbs are often planted and grown here both to please the eye and to keep a supply of herbs on hand.
The rest of the year our circle frequents the grove, particularly in times of celebration, leaving offerings for the other creatures, and enjoying the bounty offered in return. The health of our relationships is evident in the bounty of the grove.
Refreshing the Grove
Should the bounty of Vecatra be over-gathered, it is our duty as Her people to return thriving to the area in the way demanded by the Court of Trees. To them, a human life must be brought forth and spilled upon the ground of our Grove. The body is then parted into primary cuts, left hung from the trees to provide shelter and food to creatures who live in the forest. Their organs are ground into paste and buried at the base of each of the Court, who in turn distribute the nutrient-rich food through the forest with their roots. In doing this, we restore the bounty and uphold our Oath.
The Court of Trees each has their own association with a particular organ of the body.
Oak to the brain.
Willow to the liver.
Ashkelde to the eyes.
Aspen to the tongue.
Gorse to the heart.
Apple to the teeth.
Cypress to the stomach.
Circles are families, found and born. We uphold the duty to strengthen each other member of our circle, as well as ourselves. We share a common vow to never inhibit others unless their actions directly threaten our ways, Vecatra. To grow strong, is to be allowed to become dangerous. Fear has no place in love. Comfort, no role in survival.
Intimately we learn the strengths, weaknesses, and roles of our circle. Loyalty to this is sacred. As such we recognize other circles as outsiders, as much as we consider the Benalians to be. We cannot know the ways and the beliefs of others, and even if we did, we cannot know their hearts as they show them to their own circles. Just as they cannot see the truth of what we show our own. Circles are territory, shelter, and obligation all given a shared song.
As the rings of a tree’s trunk encase endless unbroken circles, so do we create bonds within our own Circle. Our widest circle encompasses each of the faithful we remain loyal to, such as Vecatra and the great spirits. But under these we have our practicing circle, those we gather in times of reverie.
Vecatra is always the largest ring of the tree, the first growth of every circle. Oldest and wisest.
The great spirits are always the second ring, touching and knowing the widest better than any other.
Third ring is singularly composed by the leaders of our circle, the Mothers and above them the Crones. Of all the human creatures, to them alone do we ever submit. We elevate them so they may know Vecatra’s will, and for this we offer respect. They are not always right in their choices, but they sometimes can see when we are blind.
The rings within we can only hope grow more intimate and plentiful with each passing year. Welcomed, as long as the wider circles are never betrayed.
We do recognize kinship to our Benalian cousins. They are spiritually sick, wolves misled by their own sheep’s clothing. They are our sick wolves, though. Just, don’t get too close to the fangs.
In their own fear they don’t always know their strength. So, we do not hide our strengths from them, but we do protect our circle through lies and omission as situations demand. We speak in veiled words, carefully consider our audiences at any time. We learn the tongue of the sheep, and speak of our legends in saints in ways palatable to them. There is no more shame in deception as there is in a hunter camouflaging themself until ready to strike, or a grove tender planting flowers that deter harmful creatures.
Sins Against Vecatra
The invasive Lions do pose a threat that we must be careful not to allow to weaken us. When dealing with them we must constantly remember not to compromise our own growth.
When others struggle we do not confuse our own carefully cultivated strength for obligation to assist. We assist Vecatra, and those that serve her as we do. Our circle. To allow ourselves to stray from this path to help the diseased puts our energies and love to waste. This has always, and always will, lead to weakness.
- Lesser: Advocating for either side in a dispute that does not directly affect your circle.
- Classic: Taking actions to support either side in a dispute that does not directly affect your circle.
- Heinous: Swearing allegiance to any entity or cause not in explicit service to Vecatra.
In witnessing their fear turned to hatred for Vecatra’s gifts we must not mirror their misunderstanding. We do not fear the gift of the Night Malefic. We heal them. We do not let our selfishness lead us to breaking Oaths as they do, for we are not one but a circle of many, with an obligation greater than human creatures. We respect our power to promise. And, we remember that their God, and every other than our generous Vecatra is a path away from thriving.
- Lesser: Failing to defend against a Night Malefics’ “Fear” call.
- Classic: Failing to uphold an Oath, knowing or unknown.
- Heinous: Directly aiding the holy people of other gods.
We hold pride in ourselves, and know to keep pride in our discipline. We do not pull metal from Vecatra’s bones, and force her to pay our debts. We pay our own, with our own Gifts. We do not reach beyond the land Vecatra’s has borne to us, because we understand how this poisons other lands, leaving Vecatra’s bone to weather away in the wake of stripped resources. We do not allow ourselves the foolishness of pride in exploiting Vecatra’s bounty.
- Lesser: Utilizing imported goods.
- Classic: Buying or selling with currency.
- Heinous: Displaying and flaunting signs of wealth and non-vecatran status; allowing gross disruption of the natural world.
We understand our path to be no wider or longer than our ancestors. We speak their words, step in their footsteps, and accept the same gifts from Vecatra that they did. We do not choose the easy path, because our lives were not grown to be easy. We are not small gods, we are creatures as any other, who command not ignoble means of destruction, even in the name of creation. Only Vecatra and her great spirits possess the wisdom of how and when to change our ways. Only through Oaths with the wise should we seek to step wide of our ancestors, so that we do not trample our goddess in the process.
More horrifying than even the innovation of the Throne is the so-called magic wielded by mages. Magic done by human hand does not come honestly. This power, the power of the spirits and Vecatra which She has so very carefully placed in its exact location to serve its exact purpose, is not meant to be touched by human hands let alone wielded for human gain. To engage in the arcane is to rip away carefully accounted for and balanced power from the spirits and Vecatra, depleting Her energy and ripping massive holes into Her body and heart.
In this way, there is no possible manipulation of magic that does not cause heinous and painful suffering to Vecatra. To accept the use of magic onto one’s self is to turn one’s back to Vecatra and all that She has gifted us.
- Lesser: Failing to participate in a traditional celebration of your community.
- Classic: Utilizing new technology or sorcery (e.g. Mechanics, Firearms, or Mage Services).
- Heinous: Refusing to take part in a Rite of Vecatra
To be Vecatran is to fight, and run. To survive. The natural link of consumption has taught us that thriving means submission only to Vecatra’s chosen. Only the wider rings of our circle stand close enough to Vecatra’s side not to need to prove themselves.
Through our exemplified leaders, and great spirits grace in guiding us we learn respect for those weaker than ourselves. We only hunt prey that can fight for survival. For those that submit we lay aside our anger, hunger and fear – for those who submit to us are worthy only of pity. To surrender one’s right to survival is to lose sight of Vecatra, and become corrupt. To kill prey who has submitted, is to follow them off the path of Vecatra in the process.
- Lesser: Submitting to anyone other than the leader of your Circle and the great spirits.
- Classic: Failing to answer an insult in kind.
- Heinous: Refusing the submission or surrender of another.
A tree cannot stand without each ring within supporting the others. Human creatures have many urges and emotions, some might drive us in selfishness and anger to harm or betray our circle. We mustn’t, however, betray any member for any reasons, or our Circle will break and we will have harmed Vecatra.
- Lesser: Refusing requests for help from a member of your Circle.
- Classic: Betraying a member of your Circle, or abandoning them in a time of need.
- Heinous: Failing to stop a member of your Circle when their actions harm Vecatra.
Our loyalty helps us thrive, but to survive we must find strength within ourselves, and understand that Vecatra has gifted us everything we need to survive the time we’re created to. To burden any other with your indolence weakens the Circle, and disrespects Vecatra’s gift of time. The gift that we share time with other human creatures to come, and to have passed before us. In time we all must die, and any pain left will be resolved by the next humans or the ones after, as the right time comes. To survive on the time of another is theft of Vecatra’s gifts. Their life was never meant to be spent extending your own. Remain respectful of others’ time, and save yourself.
- Lesser: Suffering a major personal failure, being Downed or helpless amongst enemies or outsiders.
- Classic: Begging assistance from anyone outside your Circle other than Crones and Spirits.
- Heinous: Allowing Vecatrans to suffer as a result of your own weakness.
Rituals of Vecatra
Any Mother may perform these rituals.
A follower of Vecatra calls the attention of the spirits (Staff) to a ritual that they plan on performing later. The follower should entice the Spirits to their ritual by describing its wonders and what they will be offering to the Spirit to bear witness. The completion of this ritual may be signified by submitting a Task to the logistics desk.
The Druid may transplant Herbs found in the World to the Grove, where if left undisturbed for long enough will gather Essence associated with the plant. Staff may search the Grove throughout the Game for well presented planted Herbs and may place a Malefica Bezoar within the Herb.
The Circle gathers all who are present together in the Grove to reaffirm their bond to one another and to the World. In sight of the Spirits, should they be pleased with the Circle’s dance, music, or other ritual, each member of the Circle loses 1 Depravity. Any member of the Circle may forgo their own Atonement to extend that extra atonement to a member of the Circle who venerates the Maiden.
Should the majority of the Circle decide that one of their members is a danger to the Circle, the Druid may banish that person from the Circle. This severance causes a Personal Failure for every member of the Circle and the banished one is no longer considered part of the Circle.
The Druid gathers all of the Malefic Bezoars required for Malefica Potion they wish to prepare in a cauldron. The Druid may include extra ingredients to impress the spirits and should rhyme their incantation about the ingredients or purpose of potion. Should Vecatra find the spell pleasing, the Malefica Potion will successfully be made, without necessitating the Druid having any Malefica Technique.
The witch takes a prepared Drug and either brews it in their cauldron or casts it into a central fire along with an additional Herb with the Intoxicating Trait. Every Spiritual person who chooses to inhale or partake along with the witch becomes Intoxicated along with the usual effects of the Drug used. This allows a single dose of a Drug to be shared much more widely among the Circle.
The Druid marks themselves or another with face paint, woad, or ritual scarification so that the Spirit may know them as their own. In exchange for this declaration the Druid may sense the awareness of spirits and of Vecatra. The Druid may know In Character whether or not Staff is present in a scene Out of Character.
The Druid may attempt to enter a trance, either through ecstatic dance, drumming, or other ritual, which may include the rest of their Circle, and if the Spirits are willing they may provide otherworldly insight into a question that the Druid has presented.
Windchimes made from bones are often used to indicate dangerous spirits in an area. Sometimes they will draw the spirits to them, and cause a feeling of dread once the spirit has imbued them. This dread will follow the chimes for a time after, even if they are moved.
Spirits who see the chimes may attach a red glow stick indicating a Fear effect. This Fear effect is connected to the chimes until the glow stick fades. While in sight of the Bone Chimes, any Witch or Druid of the Circle may Exert to call Spiritual Fear against a target by cursing them in the name of the spirits.
Night Spirit Possession
A Crone may call upon old Pacts with wild spirits to inhabit the body of a member of the Circle who has fallen far from the path. The spirit will inhabit their body for the Night and wreak as much havoc as it pleases, seeking to kill and eat the hearts of Men. After the spirit has had its Night, should they survive, the Vecatran is atoned for all Depravity. For each human heart that the spirit consumed during its ride, the Vecatran is atone for one Wicked flaw.
The following rituals are specific to Vecatran Mothers of Luisant.
By calling on the watchful eyes of the community, the witch may banish evil spirits from their presence. By brandishing an Eyestone made during Vigiltide and Exerting, the witch may call Sacred Obey: Malefic begone! against a specific Malefic creature.
Some witches and druids make special bonds with particular trees. By making offerings and decorating the tree the druid may focus their worship of the natural world into one personal sacred place, and gain the friendship and protection of that tree.
After decorating a specific tree with a shrine and spending their Prayer dedicating the tree as a sacred place, the witch may forever after spend their Prayer to activate the protection of the tree. For the rest of the scene after the witch has spent their Prayer they may call Spiritual Grab, Spiritual Knockdown, or Spiritual Slam on any target under the canopy of the sacred tree, as their opponent finds themselves tripped, trapped, and fumbled by ill-fortuned roots and branches. The witch may make one such call per Beat for as long as they remain touching their sacred tree-friend.
La Toussaint Mask
A Vecatran who is wearing a mask made during La Toussaint that appears similar to a kind of spirit may act as that spirit acts and be accepted by those spirits as one of their own. The Vecatran may call Spiritual Obey: “I am one of you” to any spirit that looks even remotely similar to their mask.
Symbol of Patronage
To be given a branch from one of the Standing People is a great honor. Many take these branches and carve them into pendants, bracelets, or rings. Splitting and weaving them into stiff cordage is also common. Even burning the branch and mixing the ashes into makeups is a symbol of respect to the gift, and many Vecatrans maintain that using the gift to create is in and of itself honoring the gift. So it is that any way of displaying the branch you have been given is deemed honorable.
The druid displays the gift from their Patron among the Standing People such that all can see their affiliation. By calling on their Patron Tree the druid may call Spiritual Obey: “I speak for the Spirit of (Patron)” at will. Spirits will often take this very seriously, but if used frivolously the Druid’s Patron may become irritated.
The following ritual may be earned in play by making a deal with a Beaver spirit
Water’s Refuge (Oath to the Beaver Spirit)
By showing kindness and allyship with creatures of the forest, they may protect any Spiritual Vecatran that puts their faith in them. Whenever the protected Vecatran is within jumping distance of the river or other large water in Luisant, they may call Escape.
To maintain this Pact, the Vecatran must never do harm to any Beaver or other river spirit, gaining a Personal Failure if they do so, and must offer 5 Softwood or 1 Hardwood after each use of this ability. Failing either of these will cause the Vecatran to lose this ability until they have convinced the water’s spirits otherwise.
In town we work as neighbors. We want to help our community and the Lions here don’t cause us many issues. It is still wise to maintain a facade of faithfulness, to allow our neighbors and those we hold dear deniability should the worst happen. We have carefully woven ourselves through the fabric of this place, even as our friends and neighbors have buckled to the ease of life among a pride of Lions. Part of the deal we made was that we won’t expose our faith and in return the Benalians keep the bulk of the church out and allow us to continue our way of life relatively unmolested.
As one travels closer to Luisant, they begin to encounter areas of water grown thick with trees and teeming with aquatic and semi-aquatic life. The deep knees of cypress trees hide the flicker of snakes, gators, and things much more deadly from sight. Those who are most intune to the rich black soil and slow flowing waters speak of the life to be found in the most unexpected places, the blending of Vecatra’s blood and bones in a way that gives you a peek at the wholeness of Her body, the breadth of Her love and thriving. It is said that the human mother of Cypress came from the swamps, and because of this Ash chose to root her son here enmasse.
The ground can often be difficult to ascertain covered in murky water that ranges from ankle depth to enough to swallow a man whole. Stories speak of patches of thick, sinking mud, hidden underwater shafts that suck travelers down into cavern systems, and creatures that sit unseen until it is too late to run.
At one time, great lizards known as alligators or simply ‘gators’ crawled over every inch of the Lorassaint swamps. These massive creatures reached sizes that rivaled even the aurox of the Lion people, yet were often impossible to see in the dark waters. Our people utilized these creatures as a primary source of food, as one could feed an entire Circle for weeks.
Now, there are few alligators in the swamps of the Lorassaint, most killed by the Lion people. Their reasons stated the danger of passage the gators presented, but we know the truth of their deception. The gators were our primary source of food and one of our more obvious indicators of the health of the swamps. With their removal, we were forced to accept the aid of the Lions as we struggled to feed ourselves on the decimated bounty.
Firmly on Vecatra’s bones, we can hear Her heartbeat clearly through the words of the Standing People who tower all around us. Those who are most connected to the forest find the leaves whisper to us of quiet clearings and the songs of birds tell us of the joy of Her breath. When sunlight filters through the leaves and we are met with the songs of thriving all around us, we cannot help but dance and sing along, to find our own thriving. The Luisant Grove is found in the forest, shaped with fallen limbs, trailing flowering vines, and the fern fronds.
The forest now provides us with the majority of our bounty. With the decimation of the gators by the Lions, this is primarily where we find our larger game such as deer and boar as well as smaller game. Forageables such as berries, mushrooms, and greens fill the gaps between. Ore is pulled for tools, though kept simple and within our bounds as human creatures so as not to cause harm to our Goddess.
Though delicious, there are many plants the Benalians brought which pose concerns to our traditional fair. Massive bushes of blackberries grow out of control, needing tending each year in order to keep them from taking over the entire forest and draining the soil of all nutrients. Other plant creatures not native to the area include mint and lemon balm, both of which quickly grow out of control and choke out tender local greens. Other species have not taken over and instead enriched our diets, such as squashes, potatoes, and tomatoes.
Traditional Foraged Goods
Plants and fungi: Mushrooms such as chanterelle, oyster, and morel, lily pad (lotus) root, wild garlic and onions, ramps, blackberries, salmon berries. Wild nuts such as pine nuts and acorns. Edible flowers such as dandelion, blackberry flower, and wild violet. Dandelion greens and roots. Pine tips. Wood sorrel. Maple and birch sap.
Meats: Rabbit, squirrel, wild hogs, deer, freshwater fish (catfish, trout, etc), snails, and frogs, crayfish. Freshwater shellfish, duck, grouse. Alligator is a traditional delicacy that is extremely hard to come by.
Education of our sacred ones is woven into our daily culture, exemplifying our way of life when at home, and once they are old enough to safely travel to the Feasting Grounds they are educated there as well. Intentional education of more challenging topics happens in groups, when there are enough children to form a group. Cooperative learning over different ages helps teach community, perceiving the world from your circles’ varying points of view, and the recognition that every person has talent and finds ease in different areas.
The primary focus of dedicated education is in the stories that hold our traditions and history. Connected but with more or less focus depending upon the groups aptitudes are the properties of our medicines, the temperaments of spirits, the proper handling of local malefic, forest management and folkwise.
Matters of academic knowledge with relevance outside of the forest are neglected, on principle. To waste aptitude is a tragic thing, and to dedicate study to other lands wastes potential always. Not every person is a specialist, but when talent is found it is important to foster.
At a young age we ask the medicines of the forest to share their knowledge with our sacred ones. With disciplined consumption and application the plants share many truths of Vecatra with the youth by introducing them to wiser, more connected states of consciousness.
As you may have gathered by now, traditions are held close to our hearts and maintained and practiced for generations with little change or adjustment. These come from many places, but those held closest are the ones passed onto us from the spirits themselves.
When a member of the Circle passes through the thicket, it is a wonderful affair. To rejoin Vecatra in Her thriving is truly the most wonderful of the gifts She gives us and so it is of the utmost importance that we celebrate the passing of a loved one from this world.
Our most sacred of death traditions is the planting of the heart. As the body is prepared for burial, the heart is removed and placed inside a cloth. The heart is then taken to the Grove and a request to the deceased’s patron tree is made for a seed. Once the seed is granted, it is pressed deep into the center of the heart, which is then buried on the edge of the Grove.
In situations where the heart cannot be found or is not accessible, it is hoped that the deceased will return as a malefic to allow another chance at obtaining their heart for burial.
After the heart has been buried, the Circle returns to the home of the deceased. All of the doors and windows are opened to allow Vecatra and any spirits who may want to pay respects into your home to join in the celebration of the deceased’s passing onto the heart of Vecatra and their joining in Her thriving.
It is not uncommon for the deceased’s lineage to sit up with them through the night to offer support as they pass through the Thicket.
Celebration is held as one of the most important traditions in Luisant. It is celebrations that bring us together and knit our community into a stronger weave. Through holidays and folk wisdom, we bring each other back to a place from before the touch of Chirpoler poisoned this land. Then we remember our triumphs and struggles, we bind ourselves together, and make both the town and the forest around us better, stronger places. Though not all remember the true meaning behind many of these traditions, we are here to gently remind them that their roots reach not to Lethia but downward towards Vecatra’s heart.
These are a few of the other traditions practiced by the Vecatrans of the Luisant.
The Telling of the Bees: Bees are considered to be the messengers of the spirits, communicating the doings of the forest and the town to the Court of Trees. As such, it is considered good manners to inform the bees of any important happenings such as births, deaths, and bonds made between people. The bees also enjoy being kept up to date on the latest gossip, though it is unsure whether they communicate this to the Court or merely share it among themselves.
“Saint Lenore”: Lenore of Viridian is commonly referred to a priest of the Benalian faith, well known for her ability to traverse the forest and offer aid to far flung communities within it. In truth, her name was Luciole and she was a faithful of Vecatra, a Mother of notable ability and wisdom. Today the faithful of Vecatra in Luisant keep statues of her in their homes as a sign to others of their faith.
Though risky, making an Oath with a spirit can prove to be very effective. The spirits of Vecatra are able to grant us many abilities both great and small, though caution must be taken as spirits often do not have much regard for what may be useful or harmful to humans. Words must be chosen carefully as a promise to give up one’s eyes during the evening could be interpreted as an invitation to take those eyes every evening.
Malefica is valuable to spirits and is often used in such trades and Oaths.