Friday, 30 April 2021

The Daughters Of Cacophany for Vampire 5th Edition

As with my post on the Kiasyd this is all completely unofficial and I have no idea what, if anything, White Wolf plan to do with the Sirens in v5. This is my own take on them, hacked together for v5 based on what I find cool about them.

I might put this in a little zine. Maybe with my kiasyd stuff, maybe on its own. I don't know. We'll see.

With that out of the way...


The Daughters Of Cacophony

 Also known as Sirens, Banshees, Daughters, Chanteuses, Sisters of the Fugue.


The Daughters of Cacophony are a rarity among vampires, a lineage apparently descended from none of the great clans. Seemingly incredibly diverse, the Sirens can be found in all sorts of situations, among all sorts of vampires. Still, there are two consistent factors; all of them are women, and all of them are driven by music only they can hear.
This song - called 'the Fugue' by most who hear it - is central to the Daughters' identity. It shapes them, guides them, and sets them aside from other vampires. Indeed, one of the distinguishing marks of the line is their ability to channel the Fugue into hypnotising music.
Ask five Daughters where they came from, and you'll get six different answers. They date back to the nineteenth century, or the renaissance, or the first nights. They're descended from Malkavians, or Ventrue, or Toreadors, or some blend of those lines, or are a separate line all of their own. As ever, the only consistent element is the Fugue, which all identify as being the heart of their identity.

"Listen to that. You hear it, don't you childe? Isn't it beautiful?"
"People will tell you that you're just hearing things that aren't there, but that's not true, is it? No, not when I hear it too. We all do, daughter. The most important thing you can do is learn to listen to it. Pick out the individual threads, learn what they mean, how to pull on them to your benefit. Let it flow through you, guide you, inspire you."
"You'll hear all sorts of things about us. That we're actually Malkavians, or Toreador, or even Ventrue... that we're a mere offshoot of some greater clan. Untrue. We're united by the fugue we all hear, in a way distinct from those other clans. The music is far more fundamental than mere blood."
"So, if we're not just a splinter from one of the Thirteen, what are we? Rumour has it that we were made. Oh, the stories vary. Some have it that we owe our existence to the actions of the fey. Others to the mysterious Black Hand, or to the mythical Crone or Lilith."
"In truth? Well, I'll tell you what my sire told me. She told me that the stories all have a note of truth to them, but whoever made us doesn't want to be known, and that those of us who investigate our origins too thoroughly tend to find themselves... disposed of. Not killed, nothing so crass as that, and besides, we're hard to kill. But the closer those daughters get to the truth, the more the fugue rises up within them, until they become overwhelmed by it, a banshee, little more than a vessel for the fugue to flow through them into the world."
"Perhaps that's what we were always meant to be, hosts to the music that guides us."
"Still, there's one clue I'd give you. We're a sisterhood. We don't - with a very few exceptions - embrace men. And we're not alone in that, throughout history there have been all sorts of obscure lineages of a similarly matriarchal bent. The Lamia, the Lhiannon, the Ahrimanes. Us. Sisterhoods that rise and then dwindle into obscurity after their time of prominence. Why is that?"
"Well, as I say, we were made. And so, one assumes, were they. One then simply has to ask, who by, and to what purpose?" 
"Why were we given the gift of music? To express some deeper truth? Very good, childe. Now you start to understand our purpose."


Who Are the Daughters Of Cacophony?

The Sirens are a comparatively young lineage. The most popular histories claim they emerged at some point in the Victorian era, and indeed the 19th century was rather their heyday. More informed histories place their origins before this, and have the Victorian era merely be the point when they stepped out of the shadows and into the spotlight of kindred society. Other chronologies have them well established, if secretive, by the renaissance, and suggest that their creation - however it happened - was at some point in late antiquity.
To outsiders, the most noticeable feature of the Daughters of Cacophony is the supernatural power carried by their voices. Their ability to project their voices or imbue their songs with overwhelming emotion seems more or less unique to the bloodline, but it's merely a sign of the deeper matter.
That matter, of course, is the Fugue. Each Daughter hears a constant soundtrack to her life, that underpins everything she does. At times this might prove a comfort or provide guidance, and at others this Fugue can become a source of inescapable torment. The unique skills of the Daughters all depend on tuning into the Fugue, picking out specific melodies or replicating it for a wider audience.
Whilst the Fugue can be a source of inspiration and strength for the Daughters, it's not without it's risks. The music can prove dangerously distracting at critical moments, preventing a Daughter being able to focus or pulling her attention from details others would notice. Further, those who immerse themselves in the Fugue too deeply risk being overwhelmed by it. To give in to the Fugue and let it guide you completely is to relinquish control, becoming a mere vessel for a force greater and stranger than yourself. The Daughters who do this - either willingly or driven to it - are commonly called 'Banshees' and are, by all accounts, utterly inhuman creatures, driven by alien urges to bend the emotions of those they encounter to strange purposes.
In truth, every Daughter has the potential to become a Banshee if she just lets go, and there's no distinct cut-off point for who is and isn't a Banshee. The more she relies on the Fugue over her own faculties, the closer she comes to that state.
For the most part, the Sirens are not a well organised lineage. They tend to be fairly isolated, with a domain containing perhaps a single Siren or a small handful of them. Relations between them are casual, with no formal structure guiding the bloodline. Given Daughters might be friends, lovers, or rivals, and behave accordingly, but there's no leadership or positions within the bloodline. That said, every Daughter is guided by the Fugue, and when necessary the Sirens have been known to gather in larger numbers, forming choirs who's songs are capable of incredible feats. Such gatherings are never formally announced, but the Sirens involved feel the tug of the fugue guiding them.
For the time being the bloodline has no particular allegiance to any sect. Many find the refined structures of the Camarilla comforting, while others have little interest in politics and become autarkis. Regardless of a given Chanteuse's allegiance, most find themselves welcome in the halls of Kindred society as socialites and entertainers.



Disciplines

Fortitude
The Daughters of Cacophony are surprisingly resilient, physically and emotionally. They have to be, after all, to cope with the constant barrage of stimulation that is the Fugue. Further, the Sirens are not known for being particularly discreet, being driven by strange passions and urges, and Fortitude grants them a certain survivability that others might lack.

Auspex
The Sirens are, at their heart, artists, driven by an urge to express themselves creativity. Auspex is an invaluable tool here, heightening their senses and letting them read their audiences. 

Presence
Presence is perhaps the most favoured discipline of the Daughters. The desire to be the centre of attention, to express themselves and bend others' emotions is strong in the Daughters, and many indulge in obvious uses of Presence as part of their performances. There is also, of course, the added benefit that Presence can make feeding wonderfully easy.


Bane

All Daughters of Cacophony hear the Fugue, constantly and without respite. While many will argue that this is not a flaw at all, in practice the constant din has its drawbacks, and can prove incredibly distracting. Whenever a Daughter is in a heightened emotional state - angry, newly in love, terrified or similar - she loses as many dice as her bane severity from all dice pools not directly relating to the subject of those emotions.

Compulsion: Inspiration
The Chanteuse is filled with a sudden, overwhelming urge to perform some act of artistic expression. This might be a performance, a written work, a religious rite, a musical score, or some other creative act. The urge is not always entirely the Chanteuse's own, as the Fugue can provide strange inspiration.
Until the work is complete, the Chanteuse is distracted by the urge, which steadily grows more and more overwhelming. She takes a one dice penalty to all dice pools until the work is completed to her satisfaction, which - depending on the nature of the art - might well take several nights.


Additional Options

Merit: Hypnotic Voice 
Your voice is unusually beautiful, and people naturally find themselves drawn to listen to you. You get an extra dice to attempts to seduce or tempt people, and to vocal performances.

Flaw: Twitch 
There's a distinctive tell to your behaviour that indicates your emotions. Perhaps you tap your fingers to music only you hear, chew your lip when agitated, or can't keep your eyes from people who've upset you. Pick a particular emotion for your tell; you suffer a two dice penalty on rolls to hide that emotion.

Flaw: Urges • or Banshee 
The fugue is stronger for you, compelling you to strange acts and driving you deeper into madness. The call of the banshee beckons you stronger than it does your sisters. 
If you took the one-dot version of this flaw, pick one of the standard Compulsions (Hunger, Dominance, Harm or Paranoia). Whenever you roll that Compulsion, you also suffer an Inspiration Compulsion to express whatever urge you suffered. 
If you took the two-dot version of this flaw, whenever you roll any other Compulsion, you also suffer an Inspiration Compulsion.


Melpominee - The Discipline Powers Of The Sirens

The Missing Voice - Auspex 1
Amalgam with Presence 1
The Daughter's command over her own voice lets her project it elsewhere in her surroundings, allowing her to send disembodied whispers from across a busy room, duet with herself or voice opinions without drawing attention to herself. 
With a little effort, she can pick out specific notes in the Fugue, and draw on them to send her voice further afield, to a place or person somewhere else entirely.
Cost: Free, or one rouse check.
Dice Pools: None, or Wits + Auspex
System: The Daughter can project her voice anywhere in her immediate surroundings automatically so long as she concentrates on the effect. So long as the target location is within her immediate awareness, there's no cost or roll to use this power.
In order to project her voice further, the Daughter must be familiar with the target of the power, having already visited the place or met the person in question. She makes a rouse check, and then rolls Wits + Auspex. Each success on the roll lets her project her voice for one round. If she scores 3 or more successes, she can channel her voice for an entire scene.
While projecting her voice in this way, the Daughter's concentration is taxed. She takes a -2 penalty to any rolls whilst projecting her voice, except those involving speech or singing. 
Other Melpominee abilities that rely on the Daughter's voice can be channelled through The Missing Voice freely.

Siren Song - Presence 2
The Daughter can channel the Fugue into her voice when she sings, creating an overwhelming emotional response in her audience. This might be used merely to enhance a performance, but it also allows a Daughter who can attract attention to herself to manipulate the mood of a crowd or gathering wonderfully.
Dice Pools: Charisma + Presence
System: If the Daughter scores any successes on her roll to use this power, everybody listening is affected. The song induces an appropriate emotion in all those listening: romantic longings for a love song, grief for a dirge, etc. This doesn't compel or direct the listeners in any way, but their behaviour will naturally be influenced by the emotions they're feeling. The effect lasts at least for the rest of the scene, but may linger for longer.
If a listener wishes to shrug off the effect of the song, they must spend as many Willpower points as the Daughter's successes to suppress their emotions for the scene.

Drawing Out The Banshee - Presence 3
When she draws on the Fugue fully, the Daughter's voice carries an almost hypnotic effect. When she sings to a single listener, she can draw out the exact emotional response she wants. The listener finds themselves strangely compelled to act on the feelings the Daughter induces in them.
Dice Pools: Manipulation + Presence vs Resolve + Composure
System: If the power is used successfully, the Daughter can choose any compulsion to induce in her listener. This might be Hunger, Dominance, Harm, Paranoia or a clan-specific Compulsion, even one for a clan the listener doesn't belong to. The listener is affected by the Compulsion until it's resolved, as normal.

Scream - Presence 5
Amalgam with Fortitude 3
The Daughter opens herself up, and releases the full effect of the Fugue on those who hear her scream. The effect is physically uncomfortable, causing nose-bleeds and ruptured eardrums, and the sheer emotion it creates can push all but the most strong willed into a frenzy.
Cost: Two rouse checks.
Dice Pools: 
Charisma + Presence vs Resolve + Stamina
System: If the Daughter scores any successes on her roll, every listener takes that many points of Superficial Damage from stress, damaged eardrums, etc. Every listener then rolls Resolve + Stamina, and if they don't beat the Daughter's successes, they enter Frenzy. 
When the Daughter screams, she can choose which sort of Frenzy she wishes to induce; every listener is affected the same way. 
The Daughter is not affected by her own Scream.


New Loresheet - Awakening Banshee
The Fugue sings to you, and it has so much to say. It guides you, berates you, pushes you to do strange things for reasons you don't fully understand. Which might seem like a problem, but you've learned that if you just listen to it, it can teach you so many wonderful things.
You start to see the greater purpose of your sisters. In little glimpses and urges, you come to realise that there's a task for you, for all of you in fact. 
The Fugue doesn't just exist in your head, it's something bigger than any single vampire who hears it. And it's aware, and has intentions. Not in the way that a person does, but in the way that a swarm of insects or a fungal network does. An intelligence distributed through the blood of the thousands of Sirens in the world. 
You come to understand that your bloodline is dormant. Waiting. When the time is right, the fugue will rouse you all and you'll sing as a single choir to... some end. You're not sure what yet. All you know is you're waking a little earlier than your sisters.
And to what purpose? You don't know, but the Fugue whispers little hints to you. Your sisters were made in anticipation of some grand upheaval. You hear whispers of the end times, of Gehenna, of the revenge of Lilith, of the Crone's return, of the ancient Black Hand. Ancient vampires who would see the society Caine built remade into something new.
You don't know how much of this is true, but you know that when the time comes you'll be powerless to resist the Fugue, part of something bigger, and the world's foundations will be shaken by your song.

• Fugue Instinct
The music in your head isn't merely a distraction. It forecasts things to come, nudges and hints towards the right course of action. Once per story, you may listen to the Fugue and let it guide you. Ask the Storyteller what you need to do, and you'll get an answer from the Fugue. Roll a Compulsion for the side effects of giving yourself over to the Fugue too much.

• Mad Harmony
Unlike your sisters, you've learned to listen to the whispers of the Fugue that lie under your worst urges. The Fugue guides you, and so long as you listen to it, you can retain a measure of self-control that others lack. Whenever you suffer a Hunger, Dominance, Harm or Paranoia Compulsion, you may spend a point of Willpower to replace it with an Inspiration Compulsion. 

• A Vessel
The Fugue gives you strength, a strength you can share with your sisters. Whenever you would need to make a rouse check to use a Presence power, you can let the Fugue provide the necessary power; instead roll a Compulsion as you let the Fugue into your head.

• The Choir
You can guide your sisters, showing them how to open up to the Fugue and draw on its strength. If you sing to another Vampire who hears the Fugue to assist them, they can use Fugue Instinct, Mad Harmony and A Vessel as if they possessed it themselves.

• An Invitation To The Concert
You know a secret; the Fugue needn't be limited to your sisters. You can spread its influence if you wish. By feeding them your blood, you can cause them to hear the Fugue just like any Siren. They replace their clan's Compulsion with Inspiration, and their clan's Bane with the Daughter of Cacophony Bane. This effect lasts indefinitely.