The Coil of the Heart

Created by Thomas Wyncham, the Coil of the Heart is a work in progress. Only two tiers of the Coil have thus far been developed, and the second was only recently perfected.

Basic Premise

The Beast is a creature of utter stagnation. Left to itself, it would pursue its cycle – hunt, kill, feed, sleep, repeat – for all eternity, completely unchanged. Human emotion fuels change. People learn and grow because their emotions drive them to do so, whether this involves becoming better at sport because of the physical pleasure they gain from it, or seeking out knowledge that has no possible benefit to them out of sheer curiosity and love of learning.

Wyncham theorized that Kindred emotions seem weak and muted compared to those of humans because the Beast infects the Kindred mind with its own stagnation, hampering its ability to form new emotional responses and limiting it to an echo of those passions recalled from the Kindred’s breathing days. Deprived of emotion, the fuel of change, the mind finds it much more difficult to grow and evolve. The Coil of the Heart is intended to wrench the Kindred’s mind free of the stagnant grip of the Beast and restore its lost emotional capacity.

According to Wyncham’s theory, human emotional responses can be broadly classified under three heads. The first, which he called the Animal Soul, deals with those emotions – lust, anger, pleasure in physical exertion – which are common to humans and animals. The second, which he termed the Human Soul, includes feelings that he believed animals to be incapable of, such as loyalty to abstract ideals like “patriotism” or “justice”. Under the third head, the Divine Soul, he placed those qualities which allow humans not just to respond to the world as it is, but to change it – imagination, inspiration, creativity, spirituality.

First tier: Awaken the Animal Soul

Wyncham’s theory: Why is it that the same quantity of vitae is needed to animate a Kindred for a single night, whether the Kindred spends that night sitting in front of a computer screen or running a marathon? And why must additional vitae must be spent to coax the Kindred’s body to simulate the physical signs of life? Clearly, the vitae which a Kindred expends to rise for the night can support any amount of physical exertion – why not the exertion of warming the skin or causing the heart to beat?

The answer, he believed, is that Kindred don’t feel alive, and so when the mind guides the body to animate itself, it leaves out some of the essential qualities of life. By re-awakening the Kindred’s basic emotional response to stimuli, the mind can “trick” the body into acting alive.

System: By spending a point of Willpower to re-awaken his Animal Soul, the Kindred can activate the Blush of Life for an entire night without needing to expend an additional point of vitae. Since this power works by restoring basic physical emotions like anger and sexual desire, a Kindred whose Vice is Lust or Wrath may find it more difficult to resist indulging them while this power is in effect.

Second tier: Awaken the Human Soul

Wyncham’s theory: Any relationship between two thinking beings requires that they react to each other, respond to each other, allow themselves to be changed by each other. A relationship is a dynamic of controlled mutual change. That is why Kindred find it almost impossible to form true alliances of friendships. Their stagnant Beasts refuse to allow them to change each other enough to permit it. This hampers them in many ways, including intellectual collaboration to further the Great Work, for did not Isaac Newton himself say that he had seen further than others only by standing on the shoulders of giants?

Animal instincts, Wyncham believed, were enough to allow any creature to form co-operative packs – wolves are very good at it – but really, “co-operative pack” is about the level that Kindred “society” exists at. To transcend that, the vampire needs to re-awaken the emotional responses which allow humans to feel loyalty to “higher” ideals – justice, patriotism, honour, the search for truth.

System: The Kindred spends a Willpower point. For one scene, his aura appears as bright as a mortal’s, and he no longer causes or experiences the Predator’s Taint, as the reinvigorated emotions of the Man temporarily drown out the howling of the Beast.

Optional rule: From the Kindred’s perspective, she briefly feels a full range of emotion at normal, human intensity again. If she uses this power regularly, she can suffer a -1 or -2 modifier to degeneration rolls, as she feels the full horror of what she has done, without the emotional numbing effects of undeath

Third Tier: Awaken the Divine Soul

Wyncham only completed the development of the second tier of the Coil in 2006, and is at the very start of his research into the third. His early work suggests that the third tier may briefly expand the mind’s capacity with a heady surge of inspiration and creativity, granting bonuses to Mental rolls at the cost of a Willpower point, but he has yet to more beyond theoretical work on this tier.