The Path of the Bones
The body is a shell; the mind a cell. The soul is chaff. Death is the purpose: inevitable death. - Alessandre Giovanni, Thanatopsis IV
Basic Beliefs: The Path of the Bones, it is believed, grew out of a warped code upheld by the morbid vampires who sired the Giovanni. Human, Kindred or otherwise, every being sooner or later ends up in death's arms. The most ardent followers of this Path espouse "giving oneself over to the comprehension of life's inevitable end. " Vampires who follow this Path seek the knowledge of precisely what death is: Is it simply the end of life? The transition of the soul to what lies after life? Is it the end of the soul's desire to be? These questions haunt the followers of the Path of the Bones each night.
Many vampires believe that the Path of the Bones is a degenerate Path that encourages followers to participate in all manner of murder and deviance. Those who uphold the Path and those who are familiar with it, however, know that it involves itself with a pursuit of life's and unlife's meaning. Followers of the Path seek to understand death's nature and purpose, and thus the roles individuals play in the greater scheme of the world. Mortality is inevitable, except for vampires, who have somehow managed to cheat the cycle.
Kindred nature, however, is generally outside the avenues this Path explores. It is truly a scholar's code, as the Kindred who follow it forsake even their own comfort to advance their understanding of mortality's mysteries. These Kindred are not necessarily cruel - they merely value comprehension more than human life.
At its simplest, the Path of the Bones seeks to define not only what death is, but also its meaning to those who have escaped it. It is a Path of knowledge and power, and many who support it learn to wield great influence over the living and dead alike. Many among the Path become quite erudite in the ways of ghosts, but even these odd beings fail to answer many of the Gravediggers' questions - what, for example, happens to a ghost that resolves its psychic struggle or discorporates into the void?
The Ethics of the Path
- Study death in all its permutations.
- Determine when death occurs; define it.
- Search for a purpose for death and the life that prefaces it.
- Quantify the differences of death by various causes.
- Achieve a comfort with death and unlife - distinguish between damnation and salvation.
- Hasten death's arrival, should it seem to be unnaturally delayed.
Path of the Bones Hierarchy of Sins
10 - Showing a fear of death
9 - Failing to study an occurrence of death
8 - Accidental killing
7 - Postponing feeding when hungry
6 - Succumbing to frenzy
5 - Refusing to kill when an opportunity presents itself
4 - Making a decision based on emotion rather than logic
3 - Inconveniencing oneself for another's benefit
2 - Needlessly preventing a death
1 - Actively preventing a death
Fear inhibits learning.
Refusal to learn indicates refusal to understand.
There is no opportunity to gain insight.
Denial of the self serves no greater purpose.
The Beast is irrational and emotion serves little to advance Understanding.
Experimentation proves theory, and without proof, there is no conclusion.
Vampires are dead; so, too, are their emotions.
Death is inevitable; what meaning does easing another's doomed discomfort have?
One must not prevent the cycle, but should learn from it.
Such emotional ties befit humans, not Kindred.
Vampires on the Path of the Bones observe the virtues of Conviction and Self-Control.
This Path grew out of a moral code upheld by the vampires whom the Giovanni destroyed in their bid for greater power. A select few Giovanni saw more than a means to an end in their practice of Necromancy, and upheld the rituals and studies of their forebears. Although the Path is not widely practiced among the clan, followers of its precepts pioneered most of the Giovanni's advances in Necromancy.
Elder members of Clan Giovanni follow this Path, as do those with a sincere interest in improving their necromantic knowledge for a purpose other than temporal power. Giovanni who uphold the Path of the Bones rarely deal with mortals, as their grim inquisitiveness often proves fatal for mortals with whom they come in contact.
Description of Followers
Vampires on this Path are genuinely curious, wishing to learn exactly what purpose individuals serve. Thanatology is more a science than a philosophy to Kindred on the Path of the Bones. This Path is quite introspective, and greedy Giovanni rarely follow it, preferring the more materially comfortable outlook of Humanity. Gravediggers support the Giovanni family primarily through the knowledge they bring it, rather than through advancing the political aims of the clan.
Following the Path
Vampires who subscribe to the tenets of the Path of the Bones should be detached yet inquisitive. Although they are not cavalier about death, Gravediggers seldom aid one about to slough off the mortal coil, preferring to watch and learn. Less fatalistic vampires may take issue with this, and the Kindred on this Path will not act against them should they seek to aid the dying individual. Obviously, their time has not yet come, though were their benefactor absent...
Common Abilities: Kindred on this Path naturally specialize in those proficiencies that advance their macabre research. Knowledges are favored, particularly in the realms of Medicine, Occult and Science.
Preferred Disciplines: Followers of this Path obviously favor Necromancy, and also refine their aptitude with Auspex. As well, certain elders of the Path are rumored to have developed unique mystic arts related to the study of death.