We have Matthew Dawkins here, line developer for VAMPIRE: THE MASQUERADE at Onyx Path Publishing, and prolific game writer for multiple series. He is also author of new game series THEY CAME FROM BENEATH THE SEA, which is a humorous tabletop roleplaying game line about adapting cheesy 1950s sci-fi ocean monster stories and Red Scare-era fiction.
Today we're here to talk about CULTS OF THE BLOOD GODS, which is a product presently on Kickstarter for the aforementioned Vampire: The Masquerade. After the successful funding of a 5th Edition of Chicago By Night last year, this is a supplement that deals with the cults and weird religions of vampire society. Perfect for Christmas if you're a aging Goth like me. I've already backed for multiple copies to distribute to my friends.
1. What is Cults of the Blood Gods?
Cults of the Blood Gods is the first ever religious compendium for Vampire: The Masquerade. It breaks down the biographies, centers of powers, Disciplines, rituals, and all kinds of fun content for a multitude of Kindred faiths. It also acts as the introduction to Clan Hecata, the Clan of Death once known as the Giovanni and previous to that, known as the Cappadocians.
2. Why did you feel that Kindred religion was something to tackle so early in the V5 product line?
It’s one of the building blocks of any society, especially one that’s lasted for millennia and still containing millennia-old members. Theology has always been a source of fascination for me, and as a big fan of Deities & Demigods and Faiths & Avatars for D&D, I felt it high time Vampire: The Masquerade received a similar book.
3. The Giovanni clan and several death related bloodlines are being merged into something called the Hecata. Why is this?
Because times change, and as independence from the Camarill and the Anarchs becomes increasingly fraught with peril, the various clans and bloodlines of death flock together for safety and to achieve a higher purpose. One could even surmise that the Clan of Death were known as the Hecata before they were the Cappadocians.
4. What sort of religions and cults will we find in this book?
So many! Big profiles on the Church of Set, the Church of Caine, the Mithraists, the Bahari, Ashfinders, Nephilim, and Cult of Shalim, and smaller bios for cults such as the Meneleans, the Eyes of Malakai, Gorgo’s Nest, and more! There’s also big sections on mortal cults (and how mortals might follow and worship Kindred, and how those vampires can treat their worshipers), and lots of sample religious with less broad impact on the World of Darkness.
5. Will there be any crunch to be found for our rules-hungry friends?
Definitely. You’ll see new powers for the Mithraists, the Church of Set, the Church of Caine, Bahari, Cult of Shalim, the Hecata of course, and more besides. There’s also new coterie types, predator types, and a way to start using bloodlines in V5.
6. Do you have a favorite religion among the various Cainite faiths?
Probably the Hecata, because I love the ancestor worship, the incestuous nature of the cult, and the structure as a highly functioning yet incredibly dysfunctional family. It’s a cult within a cult. I love the many faces of death and how they interact with each other.
7. Will there be any information for fans of the Ministry (Followers of Set)?
This book presents the Church of Set, which is very much the orthodox arm of the Ministry. Ministers can follow any religion in service of their clan’s goals, but only the Church of Set establishes doctrine and holds any kind of formal rank within the clan. Notably, vampires of other clans can become members of the Church of Set.
8. How about the fans of the Sabbat?
They’ll probably enjoy the Church of Caine, who aren’t Noddists (followers of the Path of Caine from previous editions), but are Gnostics. They’re a different strain of Christianity and Caine worship, in many ways, like real world Gnostics to Catholics, or Protestants to Catholics at the time of the Reformation. You can gain some insight into how faith works in the Sabbat by examining them, though they hate the Sabbat and specifically the Lasombra for what the Keepers did to the Cainite Heresy many years ago.
9. Banu Haqim?
Cults of the Blood Gods doesn’t contain any Banu Haqim exclusive cults, but don’t worry if you’re a fan of the clan: something is bound to show up in one of the upcoming stretch goals that we’ve already hit.
10. Will this be useful for any fans who want to keep using or bring back Roads and Paths of Enlightenment in their games?
Very much so. Paths of Enlightenment are easily constructed using Convictions and Chronicle Tenets in V5, and each major cult in this book has a long list of Convictions provided.
11. Any news on fan favorite NPCs in this book like Isabel Giovanni or the sinister Doctor Mortius (Da Dum!)?
Isabel gets a mention, but she may be going by a different name these nights. Mortius is the silent partner behind the Ashfinder cult, happily letting thin-bloods dabble in undead narcotics while he analyzes the results.
12. One of the stretch goals (already reached) was a supplement called Trail of Bone and Ashes. Can you tell us what that will be for fans backing the Kickstarter?
Four full playable stories with a lot of depth, touching different themes central to Vampire and Cults of the Blood Gods. Just as Let the Streets Run Red covered humanity, the herd, hierarchy, and politics, the Trail of Bone and Ashes will contain stories encompassing faith, perversion, deception, and all sorts of fun stuff.
A second supplement called Forbidden Faiths has also been reached too as I understand it. Let's hope you hit at least as much as Chicago by Night's Kickstarter.
Earlier this year, I was granted a great privilege by my friend Brian D. Anderson. I was given an unfinished draft of his soon-to-be published novel, THE BARD'S BLADE. I fell in love with it from the very first page, and halfway through I knew that this was Brian's chance to break through and become a household name as he deserves. But don't just take my word for it. Here's what others had to say:
“Damn entertaining and engrossing . . . The alluring song that Anderson orchestrated with his words enchanted me, and I absolutely loved every second of reading The Bard's Blade.”―Novel Notions
“Magic, music, assassinations, and betrayal . . . a successful mix of some of the finest elements of James Islington's The Shadow of What Was Lost, Patrick Rothfuss's The Name of the Wind, and Anderson's own Behind the Vale . . . everything fans of epic fantasy will be looking for on their next big adventure. Highly recommended.”―Grimdark Magazine
“Ambitious, enjoyable . . . surprising twists [and] plenty to be explored in further installments.”―Publishers Weekly
“Filled with twists and turns, likable characters, and rich worldbuilding. Natural pacing provides an equal mix of colorful descriptions, character development, and exciting action scenes.”―Library Journal
It seems like Petrik, James and myself are not the only ones who believe in Brian's potential though, because Brian's publisher surprised me with a rather peculiar request. They asked BookNest to host a cover reveal for Brian's... second book in the series! It's not everyday that a publisher orders an illustration for the sequel of a book that isn't even out yet, but that's nothing more than a testimony on how much they believe in Brian's work, and its imminent success. And so here we are today, with the cover reveal of A CHORUS OF FIRE, book #2 in The Sorcerer's Song series! But first, let's see what Brian himself had to say:
Writing The Sorcerer’s Song series has been an experience of a lifetime. After a nine-year career as an independent author, it is my first foray into the world of traditional publishing. You’d think it would be a jarring experience. And I suppose at times it was. But the people at Tor Books have made the transition far easier than I could have anticipated. Lindsey Hall, my editor, who you may know from her work with Nicholas Eames (King’s of the Wylde) has helped me grow exponentially in both my craft and my story telling.For this, I owe her a debt of gratitude. But as important as she is, I would be remiss if I didn’t also mention the Tor team as a whole. They have been receptive to my input, sensitive to my indie origins, and encouraging when I was feeling unsure of myself. Being part of the Tor legacy is an honor and a privilege. Regardless what happens next, my name will be associated with a publisher responsible for producing some of the finest books, written by the greatest authors in the history of the genre. I can’t adequately express how that makes me feel. Saving the best for last, I want to thank Felix Ortiz. Looking at his covers for The Sorcerer’s Song, I can’t imagine another artist having done them. The Bard’s Blade (slated for a Jan 28th release) was incredible. But when I saw A Chorus of Fire, my jaw hit the floor. What’s more, like me, this is his first time working with a major publisher. In a way, I feel like we are kindred spirits, realizing our dreams together. I can only hope that readers feel that the story within lives up to the talent it took to create the cover.
The second book in a new epic fantasy trilogy from successful self-published author, perfect for fans of the Wheel of Time and Sword of Truth. A shadow has moved across Lamoria. Whispers of the coming conflict are growing louder; the enemy becoming bolder. Belkar’s reach has extended far into the heart of Ralmarstad and war now seems inevitable. Mariyah, clinging to the hope of one day being reunited with Lem, struggles to attain the power she will need to make the world safe again. But a power like this is not easily acquired and will test the limits of her mind and body. She will need to look deep inside herself to find the strength to achieve what even the Thaumas of old could not. Lem continues his descent into darkness, serving a man he does not trust in the name of a faith which is not his own. Only Shemi keeps his heart from succumbing to despair, along with the knowledge that he has finally found Mariyah. But Lem is convinced she is being held against her will, and compelled to do the bidding of her captors. He is determined to free her, regardless the cost. Their separate roads are leading them to the same destination. And once they arrive they will have to confront more than the power of Belkar. They will have to face themselves and what Lamoria has forced them to become.
Brian D. Anderson is the indie-bestselling fantasy author of The Godling Chronicles, Dragonvein, and Akiri (with co-author Steven Savile) series. His books have sold more than 500,000 copies worldwide and his audiobooks are perennially popular. After a fifteen year long career in music, he rediscovered his boyhood love of writing. It was soon apparent that this was what he should have been pursuing all along. Currently, he lives in the sleepy southern town of Fairhope, Alabama with his wife and son, who inspire him daily.
You can learn more at:
1. Can you tell us what Chains of Blood is about?
Chains of Blood is about a war between the already battle-torn nations of the Rhen and an enemy that is basically a hive mind society that uses mages as weapons that are chained together to amplify their power.
2. What made you decide to write a sequel to the Rhenwars Saga?
Honestly, I wasn’t going to. But I had a whole bunch of fans writing me who wanted to know what would happen to the son of one of the main characters. So I decided that since it seemed a story people wanted to know, I should probably write it.
3. What differentiates the protagonists from the previous ones?
Well, in The Rhenwars Saga, Kyel Archer is the classic “reluctant hero:” a good man who always tries to do what is right and has some sound moral limits. Darien Lauchlin is a pretty dark and impulsive character who is willing to go to any length to accomplish what he deems necessary. Kyel’s son Gil isn’t like his dad. He’s arrogant and ambitious. He doesn’t have the same personal limits, even though he tries very hard to be a hero like his father. Rylan is Darien’s son and, again, he’s nothing like his father. He is reserved, cautious, and a rather every-day kind of guy.
4. Who are the antagonists in this book?
The bad guys are the Turan Khar, who have a very interesting society. They are all telepathically linked together in a kind of hivemind collective. Their society is actually very beautiful, arguably the highest form of civilization that has ever been achieved. Every individual within it only acts for the good of the whole, never selfishly. The only problem with the Turan Khar is that, if there is a threat to the collective, that threat must be extinguished without any consideration of the consequences.
6. How has the response been to the Rhenwars Saga so far?
The Rhenwars Saga did very well and the feedback on it has been intense. I can’t believe how many people consider it one of their favorite series in all of fantasy. That was actually a little shocking to me.
7. Who is your favorite character in Chains of Blood?
I like Rylan. He’s a very nice guy in a crappy situation, and there’s a lot more to him than meets the eye. Besides, I have some serious plans for him *rubs hands together wickedly.
8. How many books can we expect in this series?
I’m going to try to keep this one to a trilogy.
9. What would you suggest the theme for this series is?
The chains weren’t enough to tip my hat? Lol. Bonds. Bonds of blood, bonds of love, bonds of duty…don’t get me started on the bonds that connect the Khar society.
10. What writing projects do you have coming up?
I have another trilogy in the works. After that, who knows?
It has been my great pleasure to once again to have been invited to serve as an SPFBO guest judge by Booknest. My job has been to review five of the thirty books in Booknest's batch, and forward one of them as a semifinalist. And so, without further ado...
The time has come.
This is the second SPFBO I've participated in, and my first as a judge. I'd like to say thanks to Mark Lawrence, Petros, and all the bloggers who make this possible; from this seat, I can better appreciate how much work it is to coordinate and execute the contest. I'd also like to congratulate everyone who entered this year. Putting a book out in the world takes courage, hard work, and grit. Most people will never enter a novel into a book competition; like running a marathon, just making it to the starting line is a personal achievement.
It has been a singular pleasure to participate in this year’s SPFBO and I’d like to thank Mark Lawrence and Petros for the opportunity. I didn’t realize how daunting the task of reading these five books would be, and I certainly don’t envy those reviewers tackling thirty. The reading was easy. It was choosing only one that was difficult.
The Gossamer Globe by Abbie Evans – A fantasy presidential election goes awry. Comedy ensues.
The Winter of Swords by Aaron Bunce – An orphan, a soldier, and a girl must become something more to survive the Winter of Swords.
Throne by Phil Tucker – Two women are chosen to represent two opposing factions of the Fae court.
The Dragonslayer of Edgewhen – Fantasy problems require fantasy solutions in this lighthearted tale of strangers searching for a mysterious Dragonslayer.
And finally, my choice for semi-finalist...
Weird Theology by Alex Raizman – An awkward loner becomes a god in this fun and zany tale of divinity, destruction, and dancing.
I would like to offer additional thanks to Aaron Bunce, Phil Tucker, Jason A. Holt, Aaron Raizman, and the writing duo known as Abbie Evans for the opportunity to read their work and for dragon ton of future success. I’d also like to congratulate Alex Raizman and wish him luck as I turn his story over to the boss.