The Cenotaph Path

Practitioners of the Cenotaph Path are primarily concerned with discovering or forging links between the living world and the Shadowlands. It functions on the principle that a Kindred, already a corpse, is an unnatural bridge between the living and the dead, and the necromancer can use this to find other, similar linkages. The basic rudiments of the Cenotaph Path function easily enough once the Kindred learns to attune himself to these connections. Advanced mastery of the path usually entails some brief ritual to forge artificial connections, either through focusing unsavory passions or commanding this world and the Shadowlands together.

IMPORTANT: This is a rare path mainly practiced by the African Ghiberti family, meaning they are the only likely Kindred to know this path.

• A Touch of Death

Just as a necromancer may exert mastery over the Shadowlands, so too can some ghosts exert themselves in the mortal world. Whereas obvious displays of ghostly power such as bleeding walls or disembodied moans certainly won’t be mistaken, some ghostly abilities exert subtle effects that aren’t easily recognized. A necromancer sensitized to the residue of the dead, though, can feel whether an object has been touched by a ghost or sense the recent passage of a wraith.


The necromancer simply touches a person or object that he suspects is a victim of ghostly influence. The player rolls Perception + Awareness (difficulty 6). If successful, the necromancer can determine whether a ghost has exerted any sort of power on the subject, or even crossed nearby, to the duration detailed below.

1 success — Last turn; detect use of ghostly powers
2 successes — Last three turns; detect use of ghostly powers
3 successes — Last hour; detect ghost’s touch and use of ghostly powers
4 successes — Last day; detect ghost’s touch and use of ghostly powers
5 successes — Last week; detect nearby passage of ghost, ghost’s touch, and use of ghostly powers

On a failure, the necromancer receives no impressions. A botch reveals a misleading answer (an object may seem tinged with ghostly power when it’s not, or vice versa). Should the necromancer succeed in detection while touching an object or person that a ghost is possessing, he immediately becomes aware that the ghost is still inside. The impression gained in such a case is sufficient to count as an image of the spirit for purposes of the Sepulchre Path’s powers, so the Kindred may be able to (for example) immediately command a ghost to exit a person whom it possesses.

•• Reveal the Catene

Necromantic compulsions function much more effectively when the caster uses an object of significance to the ghost in question. Such fetters tie the dead to the living lands through their remembered importance — a favored recliner for relaxing, a reviled piece of art foisted off by hated relatives, or some object of similarly intense emotion. Many necromancers can detect such catene through the use of rituals (see Ritual of the Unearthed Fetter, p. 181). With this power, though, the necromancer can determine a fetter with just a few moments of handling. The Kindred simply runs his hands over the object and concentrates on it. He quickly receives an impression of the item’s (or person’s) importance to wraiths, if any; should the wraith be one known to the necromancer, he immediately recognizes the object as a fetter to that (or those) ghost(s). Successful identification of a connected ghost is not exclusive; that is, if the vampire determines that the object is important to a given wraith, he can also determine if there are other ghosts tied to the item, though he must use the power again to gain their identities.

Many necromancers use this power on objects already identified with A Touch of Death, in order to determine whether the ghost is trying to attune a given fetter or simply toying with the world of the living.


The necromancer holds and examines the object for at least three turns — if it’s an item, this means turning it over in his hands, running his fingers along it, or otherwise giving it a critical eye; with a person, this may require a more… invasive… examination. The player then spends a blood point and rolls Perception + Occult (difficulty 7). If successful, the Kindred determines whether the object holds any significance to any ghost and, with three or more successes, the identity of at least one such ghost (which allows the Kindred to use the Sepulchre Path on that wraith, if desired). If the necromancer already knows any of the ghosts involved, their ties are revealed with their identity — so, if the necromancer already knows a wraith well enough to summon and compel it with other powers, successful identification of a fetter tells whether the object is tied to that ghost, in addition to any other impressions gained.

If a botch is scored, the necromancer can never successfully use this power on the item being examined.

••• Tread Upon the Grave

The extended awareness granted with the Cenotaph Path allows the necromancer to find locations where the Shadowlands and the living world come close. Often, the necromancer experiences a chill or shiver when stepping into an area where the Underworld lies near the living one. With practice, the vampire can tell exactly where such locations are.

Experienced necromancers learn that certain locations are susceptible to ghostly influence; these haunted areas often become homes of a sort for ghosts. A knowledgeable vampire can thus discover places where the dead are likely to congregate, the better to snare them with other Necromancy powers.


The player simply declares intent to sense the Shroud in an area and makes a Willpower roll (difficulty 8). Success reveals whether the location is highly attuned to the Shadowlands, about average (not particularly close to the world of the dead), or far removed from the realm of death. A failing attempt at using the power has no adverse effect, though it may be attempted only once per scene (so the necromancer must either wait for a time or move to a different area before attempting Tread Upon the Grave once more).

A botch stuns the necromancer into inaction for a full turn and costs him a temporary Willpower point, as he is overcome by shivers and a sense of overwhelming despair.

With three or more successes, the necromancer can determine whether the Shroud’s strength has been artificially altered in the area.

•••• Death Knell

Not all who die go on to become ghosts — many lack the drive to hang on after death or simply have no overwhelming needs that compel them to stick around. Normally, even necromancers have no way to sort those who might become ghosts from the masses who go on to whatever rewards await. Over time, though, a necromancer can become sensitized to the pull that occurs when a soul escapes from a body only to hover in wait, enslaved by its desires. The weight of desperation becomes like a tangible tug, and some necromancers savor this emotion even as they follow the sensation to find the new ghost.

Of course, actually discovering the new ghost can be problematic. The Kindred may need some means to see through the Shroud or may have to send other wraiths to look for the new unfortunate, especially if a large accident or massacre leaves too many corpses for the necromancer to easily discern and test names.


Whenever someone dies and becomes a ghost within a half-mile or kilometer of the necromancer, she automatically senses the demise (though many choose to ignore this “always-on” power unless actively seeking someone). This power does not automatically pinpoint the location of the new ghost or identify it, but the player may spend one Willpower point and roll Perception + Occult (difficulty 7) for the necromancer to gain a vague sense of the distance and direction to the new wraith. With one success, the Kindred may sense a vague pull in a general direction; with three successes, the necromancer can sense the direction and guess distance to within a quarter-mile or half a kilometer. With five successes, the necromancer immediately senses the location of the new ghost to within one foot or 30 cm. A failure carries no penalty but a botched attempt sends the necromancer scurrying off in the wrong direction.

The Storyteller may rule that disturbances in the Underworld, intervening magic, or other similar phenomena cloud this sensation, simply to prevent overburdening a chronicle with constant ghost-hunting and dice rolling.

••••• Ephemeral Binding

The most puissant necromancers learn not only to sense the ties between living and dead, but to forge such ties themselves. The master of Ephemeral Binding turns an otherwise mundane object or person into a depository for his own necromantic energy. The undying Curse transforms the subject into a sort of linkage between the living and dead. The necromancer smears his blood on the item in question, which mystically absorbs the vitae and, in doing so, becomes a vessel to anchor a spirit.


The necromancer must coat an object with his blood (a full blood point’s worth); if the subject is a person, then that individual must ingest the vitae. The player marks off the blood point, spends a point of Willpower, and rolls Manipulation + Occult (difficulty 8). If successful, the item temporarily becomes a fetter to one wraith. If the Kindred already knows the name of the wraith or has a strong psychic impression, then the object can become a fetter at any range, even to a ghost who normally does not come near the living world (so long as the ghost still exists). Otherwise, the necromancer must be able to see or sense the ghost (with Witness of Death, Shroudsight, or other such means).

A fetter artificially created in this fashion functions for all necromantic and ghostly purposes as a normal fetter: It can be detected with other Necromancy powers, the vampire gains a bonus to Necromancy against the wraith attuned to it, and the ghost similarly finds exertion of its powers easier upon the subject (so the vampire might turn an unwitting ghoul into a consort for a wraith familiar with possession…). The ghost can sink into the fetter to heal; conversely, if the fetter is destroyed, the wraith is banished to some inaccessible region of the Underworld, perhaps never to return.

A fetter created with Ephemeral Binding lasts for one night per success scored. The expenditure of an additional point of Willpower increases this duration to a week per success, whereas spending a permanent dot of Willpower extends the duration to a year and a day

Botching with this power not only causes failure but also makes the ghost immediately aware of what the necromancer was trying to do. Most ghosts do not take kindly to meddling Kindred trying to make artificial chains for them.

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