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Oh, she's one of 'them.'

Anyone who knows me personally knows I abhor generalizations, regardless of how those are levied or celebrated. To me, being discriminated against for (or proud of) qualities on which you have no control, things like your ethnicity, sexuality, gender, age, handicaps, gifts, or any number of other genetic variables (that are almost always outside of an individual's control) is utter rubbish. You see, I'm all for personal responsibility and accountability. I refuse to buy into a paradigm that celebrates victimhood or otherwise absolves the individual of their actions - each man and woman is a product of their own genius, the sum of both their uncontrolled variables and the choices they've made in response to those variables.

Black and white illustration of a woman in business casual attire.

My dislike of generalizations extends to our sometimes invisible social hierarchy, and I bristle at the mention of abstracts like "the man," "them," or "the government," all which somehow infer a carefully crafted and executed, systematic repression of individual freedom. I suspect that's the idealist in me creeping out, the one who can't understand how greed, racism, hate, or intolerance could so readily dominate our social systems - even though it happens on a day to day basis.

But I think acknowledging our system-wide social failures and placing blame in an attempt to absolve ourselves our our personal responsibilities are two, vastly different things. The former is born of observation and is largely our reconciliation of available data. The latter, however, is often little more than a justification, an attempt to rationalize our failures, our shortcomings, or to otherwise avoid looking in the mirror.

Bloodlines & Black Magic takes a completely different angle. You see, the secret world, that one just beyond the thin veil so many of us cannot pierce, is filled with monsters, and many of those would proudly wear labels like "them" or "the man." In fact, in the setting, their are families - all of whom are very real - who are constantly acting to promote their individual agendas, some of which align with the Archons, while others do not. The Masters are one of those families.

In today's #BlackMagicMonday, I'm going to be sharing one of those families with you, penned by Matt Banach.

The Masters (infernal bloodline) This bloodline of brazen American hellspawn dominates the Secret World of the United States from coast to coast, wielding power through a diverse portfolio of occult-augmented crime syndicates. Fully funded by a bottomless well of old, dirty money multiplied by a century of predatory Wall Street profiteering, the Masters don't need to rob, embezzle, and extort: they love to, because the weak deserve to lose and blood money spends all the sweeter. In darkened alleys and smoke-filled board rooms alike the Masters are brilliant bullies, adept at the art of intimidation and sadistically gleeful to demonstrate that might makes right. While most Masters are sin-soaked tycoons and black magic mafiosi, some rebellious youngsters truck with gun-running biker gangs and unnatural underground fighting rings. Whether white-collar or no-collar, the Masters all tend to have thick red necks and bulging bloodshot eyes – which sometimes literally light on fire. Prominent family members include Darren Masters, arsonist real estate mogul, and his estranged half-brother Kingston Crowe, witch-hunting war chief of the notorious Krooked Kross motorcycle club. Shell-company strongholds for the family's illicit interests exist in most major cities, though the festering root of the bloodline traces back through to a sprawling hell-hound-patrolled plantation in God's Grief, Virginia. Ironically – or hypocritically – the Masters are obsessed with freedom, though only their own; while they seethe against the oppression of the Archons, they have no qualms with enslaving others through circumstance, coercion, or actual chains.

The Masters aren't the only family that PCs and GMs will contend with, however. In fact, players will have fourteen different families, from around the globe, to either fight or align to, families with distinct portfolios, dark agendas, and supernatural abilities.

Of course, the setting is also going to introduce a whole series of new traits (called Aspect Traits), as well as new, setting-specific Feats that compliment its unique mechanics. Some of these include:

Devil’s Mark You bare the devil’s mark and.... Prerequisite(s): Bloodline (infernal) Benefit: You gain 3 RP, which you can spend to purchase racial traits from the infernal-blooded bloodline. Normal: You're a normal human.

Sin-Soaked Master

Your bloodline infuses you with unholy insight.

Prerequisite(s): Bloodline (infernal)

Benefits: You gain a +3 profane bonus to Knowledge (occult) and Knowledge (politics) skill checks when dealing with denizens of the Infernal, including most devils and Goetic spirits.

We'll be talking more about the Infernal bloodlines, their families, and how those individuals work within the larger setting in upcoming updates.

Cheers, Jaye

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