By Lars Strøbæk (firstname.lastname@example.org)
The Sons are a subgroup of the Society of Leopold, the holy Inquisition whose mission it is to cleanse the earth of the minions of Satan, namely the demons, witches and vampires that lurk among humanity. The Society's standpoint is that the supernatural entities of the World of Darkness have, through their actions and nature, proven themselves to be the servants of the Antichrist and sworn enemies of humanity.
The level of orthodoxy within the Society varies greatly. Where the Sanbenito, ex-inquisitors believing in mercy rather than hatred, are one extreme, the Sons of Tertullian are the other. The common opinion among the Sons is that all that stand in the way of their holy mission must be possessed or otherwise manipulated by the Devil, and that the cause is all that matters. This zealousness have driven many Tertullians to cruel and inhuman acts, such as the use of torture on the possessed and other consorts.
Where most Inquisitors see vampires as humanity's foremost enemy, the Sons of Tertullian see the insidious and subtle spirits of the dead as being equally, if not more dangerous than their material counterparts. Although several opinions can be heard within the Society about the Restless Dead, the view of the Tertullians is the one most often referred to. They claim that the beings known as ghosts are truly the spirits of the deceased. But instead of going to Heaven or Hell, these twisted souls have been deemed vile enough by Lucifer Himself to serve Him by terrorizing and possessing innocent mortal bodies and doing the Devil's work. The Sons combat these evil spirits mainly by exorcising the possessed, and, on rare occasions, by venturing into the Underworld to pursue a particularly diabolical soul. The latter is usually the province of the elusive Sect of St. James.
Despite their expertise on exorcisms, the Sons of Tertullian have very little information about the Underworld and its inhabitants. They consider all the Restless they encounter to be "evil spirits", and make little attempt to identify the nature of the souls with whom they deal. That the dead have a society of their own is incomprehensible to most Sons. The Tertullians themselves, however, have a detailed ranking system ranging from the First to the Seventh Rank. Advancement is regulated through practical knowledge, so monitoring a certain number of exorcisms could be the requirement for a rise in rank, for instance.
The famed Swords of St. James are unique to the Sect, being potent religious artifacts without actually being relics. Each member forges his own Sword, using secret rites known only to the St. James, but he is usually assisted by a senior member of the Sect. The favored method of suicide is by one's own Sword -- after the member feels he has fulfilled his duty to the Sect and has deserved Paradise -- but hanging or exposure are considered equally appropriate methods of sacrifice. The Swords of St. James are widely feared by wraiths, as are their wielders, for they are able to do great damage to the corpora of the Restless Dead.
Unbeknownst to the Sect, their high-raving ideals have the unintentional effect of feeding Oblivion. If a member's suicide does not hurl him into Void, but turns him into a wraith instead, then his Shadow in almost all cases takes advantage of the despair he experiences from not having reached Heaven, but the twilight existence he spent his life combating instead. Even in life, members of the Sect are brimming with angst and despair, combined with an unwavering faith, and are an exceptionally grim faction of an already desperate Society.
Other sects within the Sons of Tertullian exist, but they are little known. The Sect of Mary is the small female counterpart to the Sect of St. James, while the Children of Solomon preach knowledge before action.
The question of True Faith is very relevant in the case of the Sons. On one hand, Faith in the merits of your actions is the basis of exorcism, and helps considerably during the act itself. On the other, with the widespread use of torture on victims of possession, it is nearly impossible to maintain high levels of Humanity. Basically, generalization is not applicable, and those Sons that do not practice torture are as likely to have True Faith as those that do are to have high Willpower. The St. James, however, frequently do possess Faith scores of 2 or more, as they often have very high Conscience scores and would never engage in torture.
The Sect of St. James, exclusively male, is more martially inclined than the rest of the Sons of Tertullian. They see a powerful body as a worthier sacrifice than a weak one, as well as the advantages of physical fitness when it comes to confronting the Restless on their home turf. The members of the Sect relish their role as martyrs, and their altruistic fervor often leads them to flagellation and overexertion. High Strength and especially Stamina scores are paramount for the austere Sect members.
An Inquisitor of the Sect of St. James can, if he possesses four dots in the Relic Background, choose to begin play with his own Sword of St. James. This artifact usually takes the form of a cavalry saber or similar blade, and does Strength + 3 lethal damage against physical beings. Against wraiths, spectres and other souls, however, this damage is aggravated. The sword can be used both against materialized or possessing wraiths, but will also be carried across the Shroud if its owner does.
A special type of exorcism practiced only by the Sons of Tertullian, it focuses the exorcist's anger in order to scare away the possessing spirit. The process differs little from a normal Forbiddance, but the exorcist must choose to "set aside" a number of dice from the Willpower roll. These dice are not used in the roll. Instead, if the Willpower roll is successful, the exorcised spirit takes a number of Corpus levels of damage, soakable by Stamina, equal to the number of dice set aside.
Remembering that your True Faith rating is added to all Willpower rolls, and the effects of The Healing Touch, this ritual is the reason the Sons are considered masters in the field of exorcism.
This Ritual is described in The Quick and the Dead, but is used here with the following correction: The initial roll to cut off the skin from the scalp should be Dexterity + Torture, not Manipulation + Intimidation.
This Ritual is also described, in great detail, in the Quick and the Dead.
In order to affect wraiths that are not possessing human bodies, the Sons of Tertullian have devised a Ritual that allows one of their number to temporarily cross the Shroud. About a dozen Inquisitors are normally present, chanting, but the Ritual itself must be performed by a nominated Liturgian. The subject of the Ritual, he who is to actually make the cross, has to bring himself into a trance; this requires a Willpower roll (difficulty 10 minus the character's Meditation score). Then the Liturgian recites the appropriate litanies, which takes about an hour, after which he makes a True Faith roll (difficulty 7) and dabs the subject's eyelids with Holy Water. If the roll fails, the subject falls out of the trance, and another attempt cannot be made until the next day. If the roll is a success, the subject can attempt to force himself across the Shroud with a Willpower roll, difficulty of the local Shroud. If successful he fades away from the Skinlands and into the Shadowlands, bringing with him only his Sword of St. James, provided he has one and was touching it while in the trance. The subject can stay in the Underworld for a number of hours equal to the number of successes gained on the Liturgian's final roll. If he is not in the Shadowlands when time runs out, his spirit is lost in the Tempest or wherever he is at the time. If the Willpower roll fails, his body does not make the cross but his soul does. This can be quite disturbing for the unprepared Inquisitor. His consciousness fades into the Shadowlands, leaving his comatose body behind. In this state he appears in the Shadowlands as a thin, ethereal shape, and his Manipulation score takes the place of Strength, his Wits replaces Dexterity, and his Intelligence becomes Stamina. The duration is the same as above. If the Willpower roll botches, he is rebuffed with such power that he is knocked unconscious or some similar effect, and loses a point of permanent Willpower.
This Ritual requires the same three days of praying and fasting as the Descent into Hell, and the two Rituals are usually performed simultaneously on the subject, but normally only special days when the Shroud is known to be weak. The only Inquisitors strong enough to undertake the journey across the Shroud are generally the Sect of St. James, but it is not unheard of for other Tertullians to try.