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Euthanatos

It's hard to accept the fact that, one day, consciousness as every human knows it will end. Death, to most people, is a terrifying unknown that must be avoided at all costs. It's little wonder, then, that people look into the eyes of a Euthanatos and suddenly grow cold. The Euthanatos know death, and they know that it must and will come. Sometimes, these mages bring death with them. More often, though, they bring the potential for rebirth, for the seeds of creation in the remnants of the past.

Background

Proto-Euthanatoic roots heralded from the earliest cities in and near what would later be called India. The philosopher-priests of the ancient years tracked the cycles of reincarnation and led people through their many lives in the turning of the eternal Wheel. These early mages sensed the greater cycle of life and death, and they guided entire civilizations through their rise, fall and rebirth in new forms. Eventually, their philosophies settled in the Hindu religion and similar god-forms of the area. Dispersed throughout many cities, the roots of the Euthanatos maintained similar methods and beliefs, but in small, isolated groups of healers, priest sand sages.

The Euthanatos Tradition has been accused throughout history of killing in cold blood, killing for the joy of killing and killing to serve its own ends and increase its own power base. One of the greatest conflicts in Euthanatos history is the 300-year battle against the Akashic Brotherhood. Both groups, in the end, were fighting for the same thing — the preservation of life and reincarnation — but the Akashics could not accept the Euthanatos' methods. The Wheel must turn, and the Euthanatos believe that it is sometimes wiser to end an unproductive or suffering cycle and send a soul back to be reincarnated than it is to allow a stagnant energy to linger and hold back the turning of the ages. From this pragmatism came the need to judge and shepherd the living in times of starvation or plague, but the Akashic Brotherhood did not agree with such methods. The Himalayan Wars between the two groups brought forth a terrible series of killings, not just of individual mages, but of whole reincarnated lineages. Eventually, the surviving sects united as the front of Akashic opposition forced them in contact, and the small groups finally came under a single banner of Chakravnnti.

The establishment of Buddhism changed the Chakravanti, bringing to them a new awareness of compassion and a new understanding of suffering. Where the various groups had worked before as fearful mages with the power to heal or destroy, they now learned to understand that very fear in their charges. From these roots the Chakravanti drew up the beginnings of their own moral code. Later, during the formation of the Traditions, that code served as a basis for the Euthanatos as a whole. Greeks, Celts, Indians and others who served the Great Cycle and believed in the need for strong souls to ease the suffering of others all came together as a whole. The Euthanatos Tradition was born in an incarnation that the other Traditions might label "killers with consciences."

The truth is that the Euthanatos must kill, but they do not kill for joy or power. The Tradition is based in thanatoic — death-focused — sects of Indian, Greek and Arabic culture. In India, with its frequent plagues and poor living conditions even before the modern era, death was often the best and kindest answer for ill, suffering people. In Greece and the Middle East, death allowed scholars and surgeons to expand their knowledge and help the people who still lived. Even today, Euthanatos plunge into ancient memories and reincarnated souls to find enlightenment. They cross to the Underworld to experience death, and they uphold a stern code. To the Euthanatos, theirs is a sacred duty, one that must be carried out, but is so strenuous and terrible that only the most strong-willed can perform it. It's not so much that they take on a right, as they take on a burden: responsibility for pain, for release and for renewal.

Organization

This Tradition is fairly well organized, if somewhat loosely so, with a set system of apprenticeship, mastery and leadership. There are established Marabouts (Chantry houses) all over the world, and the center of the Tradition on Earth lies in Calcutta. The Paramaguru (leaders) often serve as Acarya (mentors) to new arrivals in the Tradition, spotting them through the auspices of Fate while the Initiates hover on the cusp of awareness. From there, training can proceed in many forms. Some Euthanatos groups are notoriously strict in their discipline, while others have a very relaxed and egalitarian attitude. In any case, the Acarya is formally responsible for the Initiate once the agama sojourn is complete, up until the Initiate is recognized as a full mage. Once inside the Tradition, there are really only three ranks: apprentice, member and leader. Recognition comes with wisdom and magical skill, and leaders stand only as long as their followers support them.

In order to truly understand the power of death, the Euthanatos believe that a mage must have touched it. All Euthanatos must undergo the agama, or little death, when they are initiated into the Tradition. This sojourn is a brief trip into the Underworld itself, overseen by a mentor and used as a guide. Often, the Initiate is drawn to the Tradition because her Awakening involved some sort of near-death experience or the death of someone close to her. Therefore, Initiates tend to be people familiar with endings and sacrifice in some form or another.

Factions

Euthanatos sects are about as fluid as those of the Dreamspeakers or Cult of Ecstasy (both of whom the Euthanatos carry strong ties to). That is to say, Euthanatos have a great variety of sects and beliefs, and they have a largely open attitude toward philosophical differences within their own society. Tantrism and Indian culture form the basis of the militant Natatapas, who confine themselves to the heart of India and keep the oldest rites of the Euthanatos. All Initiates of the Natatapas come formally through the agama sojourn to join this conservative sect, and they learn historical Hinduism and Buddhism. Naturally, their withdrawn world-view makes them suspicious of other Traditions, but the Natatapas make up a reasonable, if conservative, group.

From the complex rites of Africa come the Madzimbabwe. These Euthanatos study their own cultural ties to spirituality and healing. Theirs is a heritage of ghost -calling, soothing and compassion from the old cities of Africa, when it had a civilization before European invasion. Although they differ from other Euthanatos in religion, the Madzimbabwe remain members of the Tradition due to their shared compassion and duty to help others.

Greek heritage manifests in the Pomegranate Deme, who study the mysteries of Persephone and the Greek Underworld. Literal worshippers of the Greek mythos, these mages are now few and far between, and their religion falters. Within a few generations they will probably be a memory as new Initiates join less theological sects.

The last ancient faction is the Aided, which stems from death-mages of Celtic heritage. Their order nearly collapsed under the persecutions from Christianity during the Dark and Middle Ages, but allegiance with other Euthanatos allowed them to shelter some of their members and ideals. Today, they uphold the bloody Celtic rites and sacrifices necessary for the proper culling of the herd (be it human or animal). Like the other cultural factions, the Aided do accept members without a direct tie to their base, as long as those Initiates have some sort of stylistic or inculcated elements that tie with the faction's methods.

Modern chance and probability occupy the Lhaksmists. These luck-followers rely on total randomness in just about everything — magic, living, important decisions, whatever. However, they gladly throw themselves into the trappings of modern electronics, feeling a kinship with probability theory and quantum uncertainty. These Euthanatos, who are the ones closest to the Digital Web, watch over the growing webs of chaos spread by the Internet's haphazard expansion.

The exclusive Golden Chalice serves as a political assassination group, specifically one that stalks and destroys dangerous individuals in positions of leadership and influence. Their roots stretch back to the Byzantine empire, and they include elements of various cultures from that era. In the modern age, though, they are more than willing to use high -tech tools as a means to defeat high -tech enemies, and so they mix various poisons and gadgets along with their more traditional magic. Membership comes by invitation only. Recently, the sect has come under scrutiny — if membership is by invitation only, what are they hiding? More to the point, how could they allow the atrocities of leaders like Pol Pot, yet feel justified in moving against lesser statesmen?

One of the more popular sects in the Euthanatos is the Knights of Radamanthys. These warriors hire out as mercenaries to the other Traditions, leveraging their command of entropy and their fearsome fighting skills, but only for causes that they feel are just. In this fashion, they advance the Council as a whole, work on Euthanatos cases and still earn the Tradition its keep. Sensible and farsighted, this faction trains in modern combat, ethics and a multitude of espionage skills. Internally, though, most Euthanatos consider it a simple training ground from which veterans can graduate to the true philosophical levels of inquiry, instead of just being "hired gunfighters."

The Albireo may be the most important intra-Tradition group, as far as the Euthanatos are concerned. Although any Euthanatos may join, full membership comes only with probationary work. These diplomats carry the face of the Euthanatos to the rest of the Traditions, explain the Thanatoic code, work to uphold the Tradition ideals and police the Euthanatos for internal corruption. Of course, with their privileged stance as ambassadors within the other Traditions, they may well sniff out corruption in those ranks, too.

Philosophy

Death is not the end; death is an end. There isn't much good in an existence that will serve no purpose, and there is less good in an existence that brings pain or trouble to everything it touches. It's better to end that thread and let a new one take its place than allow it to take up space. Like flowers that grow from a burned forest bed, these threads will be rewoven into the Tapestry. The Tapestry weaves into a great picture, but suffering and sorrow mar that picture. Every man must take up his burden, surpass it and accept the responsibility to deal with this inevitability. That responsibility becomes a keystone for the support of the world, for the willingness to support and shelter others — and to perform the duties necessary to release those who only bring or know suffering.

Failings

There's another reason behind the careful attention these mages pay to emotion: Jhor. All mages gather Resonance from their activities, but this Tradition gathers more of this type of Resonance because its mages deal with the energies of Entropy. Jhor is the physical reflection of decayrelated magic. It is common for Euthanatos mages to have sunken eyes, hollow cheeks or pasty skin. As they channel Entropy, even to divine what the fall of a die will be, it comes to rest in their bodies. The accumulation of Jhor isn't always related to the mage's intent when she uses her magic, but a Euthanatos who seems too corpselike bears watching. Entropy is not a force to be used lightly or too often. This Jhor can accumulate and cause Quiet, too, leading the Euthanatos to morbidity and an obsession with death. While any mage can suffer this sort of affliction, Euthanatos are notoriously prone to it. Euthanatos mages watch one another for signs of too much Jhor. A mage who's fallen into a Jhor-Quiet becomes an emotionless killing machine, and he must be put down. Most Euthanatos are acutely aware of the irony that they're about two steps from being killed by their own fellows.

Theories and Practices

Euthanatos mages have a variety of approaches to the actual execution of their magic. Most use some kind of device to analyze the balance of a life or a situation, divining the probable outcome of a course of action. This device can take the form of a coin flip — if it's heads, the person can be changed; if it's tails, it's curtains — or a pair of glasses that the mage looks through to see what a soul holds. So many things depend on what Sleepers would call random chance, and the Euthanatos uses that perception to her advantage. However, just shrugging an Effect off by wondering what the odds were of that happening is clumsy and unsubtle. A clever Euthanatos begins a series of perfectly believable events that trigger her desired result (a man in a bar takes one drink too many, decides not to drive home and calls a cab — the Euthanatos has effectively gotten herself a ride to wherever she wishes to go). Not all Euthanatos magic involves killing, either — a situation can be changed for the better without anyone losing any blood.

The Euthanatos must look at the gains achieved by giving someone the Good Death, but they cannot ignore their sorrow, either. Healing is accomplished through excising the diseased material from the healthy, allowing the subject to feel the pain of the knife and then to produce new, clean tissue to replace what was removed. Only through experiencing every phase of the healing cycle — pain included — can the Euthanatos make a positive difference.

The Euthanatos dedication to furthering the progress of the Wheel doesn't only apply to individual souls. The world itself is constantly changing and moving, and it too becomes diseased. Euthanatos mages find these diseased areas of society and, by addressing individual components of the problem, attempt to end them. Doing so becomes harder and harder, however, as the world degenerates further. There are too many people involved in too many problems, and the Good Death cannot be given to every one of them. More and more often, Euthanatos find themselves performing delicate adjustments to people and situations instead of simply ending the cycle and letting the Wheel spin itself out.

Like the Dreamspeakers, Euthanatos have an acute sense of duty. Instead of feeling the consequences of actions in the spirit world, however, Euthanatos are intimately familiar with the human ramification of any thing they do. Each time a death-mage takes a life, she must be certain that it is the right thing to do. The choice is final, and the people left behind must live the rest of their lives with the loss of the victim — that's not an easy thing for a mage to deal with. Therefore, the Euthanatos must be able to understand the consequences in order to weigh them against the benefits of the Good Death and make the right choice. However the mage finds the Tradition, she must understand that the Wheel turns. She must understand that although she can affect some cycles for a short time, she will no longer be in control in the end. Games of chance are common illustrations for new Euthanatos — the mages practice predicting how the dice will fall or where the ball will land, and they inevitably make a wrong choice. Euthanatos must accept the inevitability of their own deaths — they must understand the fear in their victims — before giving the Good Death to anything.

Specialty Sphere: Entropy
Common Foci:
Weapons, dice, scales, ashes, mantras, mathematics
Concepts:
Assassin, gambler, medic, police officer, priest, social worker, surgeon

Quote: New life, new chances — these are beautiful and miraculous. But there can be nothing new if the old is not let go. There is no life without death; that is the greatest secret: the secret of change.


Stereotypes

Akashic Brotherhood: In their fury, they brought suffering to many. These wounds still have not healed.

Celestial Chorus: Their vision is narrow; they try to limit others with their religions, but they refuse to take responsibility for themselves.

Cult of Ecstasy: If they look deep enough, they will understand that joy is as transitory as sorrow. Compassion comes in removing that sorrow from others, not in bringing indulgence to themselves.

Dreamspeakers: Unable to move past their history, they are trapped by their great Dream.

Order of Hermes: Pride has brought their fall. Once trimmed, though, the tree grows to greater splendor.

Sons of Ether: Just as we destroy that which no longer has a place, they give rebirth to the remnants.

Verbena: We see the same cycle of life and death, but they place duty to that cycle over duty to people.

Virtual Adepts: Even a thought knows the decay of time. Nothing created by humans can outrun human suffering.

Hollow Ones: Their simplistic embrace of morbidity is just another escape from true acceptance of death.

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