Sunday, October 6, 2013

VtM 30 Day Challenge: Day Six – Favorite Path of Enlightenment

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I don’t have a lot of experience with the Paths of Enlightenment.  Most of the characters that I have played have used the standard Path of Humanity.  And other than a few players that have played Assamites on the Path of Blood, not many players that I know have followed the alternate Paths.  Although I don’t have personal experience with these other Paths, I don’t want to just pick Humanity because it’s too easy and obvious.  So, I took some time to re-read the Paths of Enlightenment in the Vampire the Masquerade 20th Anniversary Edition, and I picked a Path that I would want to play in the future. 
But first, I want to be clear in my approach to Paths of Enlightenment both as a Player and as a Storyteller.  I don’t believe that a character should start with a Path of Enlightenment.  The average neonate, even a shovelhead or an Assamite apprentice, isn’t going to have heard of a strange philosophy like the Path of Lilith or the Path of the Night except in whispers and maybe old books.  Assamites aren’t initiated into the Path of Blood until they’ve proven themselves as capable members of the clan.  A neonate is typically going to cling to his or her Humanity rather than immediately change over to a completely alien set of beliefs right after the Embrace.  Rather, I prefer characters use a Path of Enlightenment as a means to further develop a character.  The first step should be learning of the Path and then seeking out a teacher or mentor who will instruct the character in the tenants of the Path.  Of course the player character must prove his/her worth to the mentor, which of course gives the Storyteller a hook for a new story.  Next, the player must shed their Humanity, lower their Humanity score to 3 and at the same time reduce certain virtues to zero and then buy the alternate virtue.  The player must role-play this fall and the alienation from not only mortals but those Kindred who still follow the Path of Humanity.  Players and Storytellers should note that all vampires on a Path of Enlightenment other than Humanity are considered to have a Humanity Score of 3 in terms of their appearance and ability to blend in with mortals.  Then, the player slowly raises his/her character’s rating in the Path as the character understands more and more about the Paths tenants.  However, this process is often skipped over by players who just want the advantages of playing a character that doesn’t have to worry about killing.
            Because I have always liked the Assamite Clan, I initially wanted to choose the Path of Blood as my favorite Path of Enlightenment, but because I have seen too many players abuse the tenants of that Path to explain their power-gaming, I just have too many negative experiences with that Path.  Others don’t appeal to me.  The Path of Metamorphosis is too alien, and I’m not generally interested in playing a Tzimisce.  The Path of the Night puts too much of an emphasis on being evil and spreading evil.  I’ve never been able to role play an evil character very well so these paths never appealed to me.  On the other hand, the Path of Honorable Accord is too much like the Code of Bushido, and I don’t want to play a samurai in a modern day game.  I’ll save that for when I’m playing Legend of the Five Rings.  So amongst these options, I prefer the Path of Lilith. 
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The Path of Lilith’s Hierarchy of Sins reinforces themes that I think are important in Vampire the Masquerade.  The Lilins or Bahari, as followers of this Path are called, seek knowledge, abhor killing, and believe that pain and thus experience are the best teachers.  The Path of Lilith teaches the importance of Lilith, the apocryphal first wife of Adam, in the story of Caine after his banishment.  Lilith is believed to be the person who taught Caine to use his Disciplines.  She is also the creator of true Magick, used by Mages, and is important in the origins of the shape changers because she may have been the mother of Ennoia, the mother of werewolves and the Gangrel antediluvian.  Not to mention that Lilith may have had an affair with Lucifer and birthed many demons.  Much of this history conflicts with other information on the vampire myth in the World of Darkness. 
The Lilins see themselves as teachers, like Lilith.  They want to teach others of the truth about Lilith and her importance to Cainite legend, but they also want to force other Kindred to understand their own natures.  Their motives and their methods are alien and unforgiving.  Although a Lilin dislikes killing, because a dead thing cannot learn, she/he wants the student to suffer for the knowledge.  Pain is considered to be the best teacher.  While acting as mentors, the Lilins are not hermits.  They gather together frequently to share knowledge and to take part in rituals.  Their primary goal is to explore the World of Darkness and seek out lost knowledge and forgotten lore that will further support their claim on the importance of Lilith over Caine.  They also deprive themselves to better understand the deprivations of Lilith after her expulsion from the Garden, and their highest tenant is “do not feed immediately when hungry” because “Deprivation and hunger taught Lilith to survive” according to the V20 rulebook. 
The Path of Lilith also offers plenty of role play opportunities.  The character must share knowledge with others on the Path which forces the player to seek out other followers.  From these meeting a Storyteller can seed plot hooks that further the Chronicle.  The character also must teach other Kindred about Lilith and while not necessarily trying to convert them at least diminish Caine’s standing in Kindred mythology.  To the Lilin, Caine was a fool and a traitor, and this heretical view clashes with many of the other Paths of Enlightenment and especially with the teachings of the Sabbat.  These points of conflict between individual characters and their views are great opportunities for role play and for characters to build animosity or seek compromise or just a grudging respect for rivals with rival belief systems. 
The focus of the Path of Lilith is personal enlightenment which drives the player character to try and expand his/her knowledge and Disciplines, but the Lilins are not a cloistered order, they go out and explore and experience the World of Darkness.  All of these are essential elements for any character that adventures.  Learning Thaumaturgy or meeting a Mage or tracking a werewolf are all hooks that would delight a follower of the Path of Lilith.  The Lilins also cultivate gardens, much like Lilith did according to legends.  Because a garden must be maintained, the Lilin has a nightly routine other than just feeding.  Following the Path of Lilith opens a wide variety of potential experiences and role play opportunities for the player. Finally, White Wolf published Revelations of the Dark Mother which is a chronicle Lilith’s journey from the Garden of Eden and her encounter with Caine and how she taught Caine how to effectively use his vampire powers.  The book, itself, would be a great prop for a Storyteller to hand to a player whose character was exploring this Path. 

Although I will almost always play characters who try to maintain their Humanity, the Path of Lilith is tempting because it highlights many of my own personality traits.  I am curious about the world and the hidden and forbidden knowledge that could be being withheld from us.  I like the focus on exploration and knowledge.  While I don’t necessarily enjoy the Path of Lilith’s emphasis on teaching through pain, I look at it as an opportunity to improve my skill as a role player. 
Do you have a favorite Path of Enlightenment?  If so please leave a comment below explaining why you think it’s the best. 


  1. I see your interest.
    I am not any sure about my Favourite Path (on Masquerade V20 setting at last). But i am with you on Lillith points and about the problems with many others.
    But i like Honorauble Accord, i like to my NPCs and (being i very friendly to Path on new) PCs, and just like You said, the Samurai like thing is quick and easy to explain, grant Storytelling and at same time i think taht help to understand the artificiality for all paths, just like tools to fight or to tame the Beast.

  2. The Path of Honorable Accord is a good path, but I think it's just too easy for players to adjust to. It's very similar to a variety of philosophies such as Bushido and isn't as alien as the other Paths.

  3. My favorite path is Humanity. Okay, that's kind of a cop-out, but the inevitable degeneration is what truly makes the game horrific.

    1. I 100% agree with you. I think too many players want to start with a completed character rather than explore the changes as they occur. Moving from Humanity to another Path is a grand story that should be played not just something that can relegated to two sentences in a back story!