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I've finally dug up the book that I'm basing this group around and wrote it down. And yes, this tradition and magical group should be treated with the same 11 foot pole that you or I would treat cannibals. They're not evil, they just hold a different set of moral values that "normal people" consider upsetting, and perform acts that even Blood Mages would consider wrong.

The Nistri (Magical Tradition)

The Nistri gain their power by binding sacrifice victims' souls to objects and calling upon that well of energy at a later time. The more sacrifices (and ones of magical talent) the stronger the mage becomes. This path may only be practiced by members of the Nistri magical group; the two are intertwined inseparably. Only those with magical talent wishing to learn magic, but with no formal training, may join. Treat this as a 5 point positive quality at chargen. Benefit: Rank 1 Initiate (+10), Group contact 1/1 (+5)*, Impaired Attribute [Charisma] (-5), Distinctive Style [Purple Skin] (-5).

*This may be improved either during or after to a maximum of 4 connection (+10 from Group Modifiers, see below) and 5 loyalty, but as a new member the group holds little loyalty and only some access to the group's resources.

Combat: Fire
Detection: Man
Health: Water
Illusion: Air
Manipulation: Earth
Drain: Willpower + Intuition

The Nistri are not Blood Mages although they do utilize some of the same general techniques. Nistri may not summon blood spirits.

The Nistri (Magical Group)

Purpose: The Goal of the Nistri is to perform rituals of soul binding such that the group's members grow stronger.
Members: 20
Strictures: Fraternity, Obedience, Exclusive Membership, Limited Membership (practitioners of Nistri), Oath, Ordeal (Sacrifice--see below)
Resources and Dues: High. Dues are on a "what can you afford" deal. While the group will not turn down helping other members, the greater one contributes towards upkeep of the group's expenses, the better received members are for when asking for help or materials. Average donation is around 1000 nuyen per month. Group Connection Modifiers: +2 Size, +2 Area of Influence, +6 Magical Resources
Patron: Nistor (aka The Cannibal Dragon).

Ordeal: Immediately upon joining the group, the new member undergoes an ordeal whereby the rest of the group uses ritual sorcery to alter the character's skin to be a han or royal purple (), forever marking them as one of the group. No other magical group will ever deal with members of Nistri due to the perceptions outsiders have of the group. Treat this ordeal as a permanent -1 to Charisma.

Description and customs: The Nistri idea dates back millenia, to even before the 4th world. As the story goes, some of the first dragons were so possessive with the magic which brought them life, sought its power even after death: they became canibals, consuming their brethren in an effort to recycle the magic they had left behind. Nistor, the leader for whom the group is named and the group's patron, ritualized the practice and made it their faith. Each time the moon grew fat, a young, male dragon was butchered on the yellow stone at the heart of the Towers of Nistor. His still warm body was devoured by his fellows. The choicest delicacies were reserved for Nistor himself; most revered were the eyes. Each sacrifice victim went willingly to the altar, giving his life, and his magic, such that his brethren would fourish. Each sacrificial victim knew that he would live on after death, revered and adored by the clan, his magic and lifeforce empowering their magic. And so the tradition lives on the same now as it did thousands of years prior, although the clan's creation is as much a myth as the creation of the world, none know whether Nistor existed or not.

The modern Nistri only perform a Ritual of Sacrifice once a year, on the winter solstice. Per tradition, a willing member steps forward to be immortalized in death. The Nistri use a ritual version of the Sacrifice metamagic (although one might argue that their version came first) whereby the victim is slowly and brutally murdered. The ritual preserves the victim's memories, essence, and magic inside a large crystal which is then used to enhance the group's magical power. The crystals retain all mental stats, mental active skills, knowledge skills, spells, and magic rating that the victim had in life.

Mechanically these crystals may be used as Power Foci with a Force equal to the magic rating of the sacrificed individual, however any mage bonding with it will become addicted (immediate mental addiction test at threshold 3, plus again once a month) as the crystals are borderline sentient. Any magician may can attempt to call upon the skills and spells the crystal "knows" by making an opposed Composure check. Each net hit allows the magician to call upon one skill or spell known by the crystal (similar to spirit services). A glitch requires the character to make an addiction test (if the magician does not already have the crystal as a bonded focus, they must take it as one immediately).

Typically however these crystals are used to enhance the group's Magical Lodge, either by increasing its force--each crystal allowing the lodge to be increased by 1 point--or by providing an anchor for permanent enchantments. Spells quickened in this manner require no karma to be expended by the casting mage and provide additional dice against being dispelled equal to twice the crystal's Force. If the spell is disrupted the crystal will immediately attempt to recast the spell (at the same force) itself with a dicepool of twice its Force resisting drain as normal (the crystal only retains a single condition monitor for drain, and if filled the crystal permanently loses a point of Magic and falls dormant until the track empties. The crystal makes a Willpower + Magic test once a month each hit restoring one box of damage), if it fails it tries again once a month or until the crystal is repurposed. Crystals may also be physically destroyed, a crystal is treated as an Average Barrier (4 armor, 5 structure).
Eh. Pretty wacky. Certainly it's very D&D, so that could be fun for specific campaigns.
It's based on a (long dead) magical group in the book Dragonflame. The first paragraph of group description is 90% copy-paste from a section of text, albeit shortened and revised to meet my goals here.

The "power foci" crystals I more or less had to invent, as magic (cough, charm, cough) works differently in the books than in ShadowRun,* but I wanted to retain the feel for why the Nistri practiced their rituals (that is, individuals were sacrificed to recycle the magic within the group, and there is reference to the victims "minds" being preserved as a kind of wellspring of magical energy**). I'm not too happy with the mechanics (feels very...over the top) but it accomplishes the goal. I wanted the ritual to create an item of intense magical power, but at the same time be on artifact level, and just have the group treat them as trinkets, not as something sentient.

But yea, they're supposed to be bat shit insane from our perspective.

*Similar to 4 Element Theory, dragons used Fire Charm although the Nistri stole the shapechange magic (Earth Charm) from the salt giants. Faeries were powered by Air Charm. I don't recall Water Charm offhand. Charm was pretty much pure elemental force, channeled from an elemental plane (prime villain actually carried a portal to the plane of fire around on his back with two extra "arms" he gave himself for the explicit purpose of creating said portal).

**There's actually a description of one of the sacrifices. It was the one that basically was the downfall of the group, as the victim wasn't willing, but the ritual was pretty standard. I think he lived on the alter for two days while his fellows ate his flesh before finally bleeding out.
I'm rather curious to read the book now, could you tell me the author? I've found several books by that name, but amazon is a bit sketchy on details.
QUOTE (Kesendeja @ Jan 5 2011, 01:25 AM) *
I'm rather curious to read the book now, could you tell me the author? I've found several books by that name, but amazon is a bit sketchy on details.

Graham Edwards. You'll want to start with Dragoncharm. Dragonflame is the third book (with Dragonstorm in the middle). They're a titch hard to find, but do crop up once pretty often at reasonable prices (keep an eye on and as well if you can't find them immediately).

Just a word of warning: the books are pretty brutal. I ended up keeping a list of named characters, crossing them off as they died.
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