White Wolf Latin

Here follows a (not all-inclusive) list of Latin or Latin-ish words in White Wolf games and game supplements I feel the need to discuss, mock, or correct for your edification and my own procrastinatory amusement.

(Once I observed at a bookstore in Cambridge the existence of a book that pointed out the logical problems and continuity errors in every single X-Files episode. "Dear god! What kind of geek would waste time writing a book like that?", I thought to myself.)

(Note: Many of the words, phrases, and concepts on this page are © 1990-2011 White Wolf Publishing, Inc. All rights reserved.)


  • ductus (alleged pl. "ducti"): The title of a Sabbat pack leader, unfortunately. ductus, however, means "a leading, conducting, or drawing," for instance, "of water," like in "aqueduct" (Lat. aquae ductus, "conducting of water"). Another possible meaning is "leadership" -- but not the person who is the "leader." dux, ducis (m.), "leader" (and from which the word "duke" arises) would have been better, I think. As an extra bit of folly, even though ductus has that -us ending, it's not a second-declension noun, but a fourth-declension one. Suffice it to say that absolutely no form of the Latin word ductus is spelled ducti. Now, as the Mad Latinist had to remind me (I really should have picked up on it myself), there IS a word ductus, -i, from the perfect passive participle of ducere ("to lead"), meaning "someone who is led," "a follower" -- and so NOT a good word for "leader"! -- A certain Angry Game Developer (not angry at me, necessarily; he's just Angry) informed me in the course of a discussion on a White Wolf forum a few years ago that there is an "in-game" reason for this mistake, that young punk vampires don't know Latin any better than game-supplement-writers. Whatever.

  • lextalionis: That vampire "blood hunt" thing where the Prince of the City grants Slurpee rights to whoever bumps you off first. This is unobjectionable Latin: lex talionis, "law of punishment," from lex, legis (f.), "law," and talio, talionis (f.), "punishment in kind." Here's a handy little phrase: "I declare a blood hunt on Marius" = "Legem talionis exerceo in Marium" (lit. "I exercise/enforce the law of punishment against Marius") or, more impersonally, in the passive voice, "Lex talionis exerceatur in Marium" ("Let the law of punishment be enforced against Marius"). (Note here, and file away mentally, the fact that lex is nominative in the second version: it is the subject of a passive verb.) Either way, Marium is accusative after the preposition in. It may be harder to put the name of Philly Phlash the Brujah Anarch into the accusative case; you may therefore invoke the precedent of Saint Jerome, who translated the Bible into Latin, and generally did not bother to decline foreign names. It's up to you to decide whether or not "Phillium Phlashum" sounds more dignified.

  • via: "Road" or "Path" of morality, like the Via Humanitatis, the "Path of Humanity." These are often fine as they are, although I haven't seen the newer edition of the Dark Ages vampire book. The word is first declension: via, viae (f.), "road, path, way." The second word should be in the genitive case. -- Problem viae: 1. Via Sanguinius: the Path of Blood (not to be confused with Tremere Thaumaturgy, below). Now why can't Vampire: the Masquerade get the word "blood" right? If one drops that "u" at the end, all becomes well: Via Sanguinis. There is also the adjective sanguineus, -a, -um, "bloody," but (a) it's -eus, not -ius and (b) via is feminine. So you could observe the moral code of the "bloody path," Via Sanguinea, and that would be all right, too, at least grammatically. -- 2. Via Ossis, the Path of Bone. Well, actually, this says "the path of THE bone, or A bone" (os, ossis [n.], "bone"); one is likely better off saying "...of bones" (Via Ossium) or using the adjective "bony" (Via Ossea).

  • vitae: The old-school Kindred word for "blood," presumably inspired by that famous line, "The blood is the life" (vita, vitae [f.], "life"). We can pretend to explain its form by assuming that it's the shortened version of a phrase like "source/stuff/whatever of life" or, more easily, the nominative plural ("lives"), used poetically for the singular, which happened, in poetry at least. In that case it would be declined like the feminine plural of a first-declension noun (like the feminine of an -us, -a, -um adjective, you'll recall). This would make the primary Tremere thaumaturgical path not Rego vitae but "Rego vitas": rego simply means "I rule," and would need an accusative direct object. -- Or one could defy convention (dangerous among the Tremere, to be sure) and rename the Thaumaturgical Path Rego sanguinem ("I rule blood") or, better, perhaps, Regere sanguinem ("to rule..."). -- Or, again, harkening back to the Tremere's Order-of-Hermes roots, one could invoke the word "art" (ars), and call it the Ars sanguinis regendi, "the art of ruling blood" (lit. "of blood being ruled"). For Latin, you see, is a language of many possibilities; it's just that Rego vitae isn't one of them.

  • On the topic of Thaumaturgy paths (as seen in Vampire: the Dark Ages, House of Tremere, The Vampire Players Guide, The Dark Ages Companion, and, in a couple of instances, just online, where some poor deluded fan has tried to do a translation of some Paths not otherwise translated), there are several where the scholarly Tremere should really know better, and a few that are fine:

  • Creo Ignem: This one is just dandy: "I create fire." Yay you!

  • Perdo Magica: Possibly okay by (presumed) accident, if we pretend that magica is neuter plural of the adjective, used as a noun: "I destroy the things pertaining to magic." Otherwise this will need to be Perdo Magiam, as magica by itself is not the noun "magic."

  • Rego Alchemas: Apparently "I rule alchemy! Yo!" But if you really ruled alchemy, you'd more intelligibly say rego alchemiam, as the noun in question is alchemia, -ae, or, possibly, before the Arabs added that "al-," just chemia. (Unless the spelling "alchemas" is not so much an error as a mystical clue for the initiated.)

  • Rego Aquam: "I rule the water." This is fine. Except the Brits called dibs on the waves.

  • Rego Astrae: No doubt intended to be "I rule the stars!" Except you don't. This is a translation I found online for the "Path of the Higher Spirit." astrum, -i (f.) = "star," meaning that you can have forms spelled astrum, astri, astro, astra, astrorum, or astris, but on no account can you have astrae. Which one do you need here? That's right, the accusative plural! Which is astra. -- Now, it's not in my classical Latin dictionary, but were one to employ an adjective astralis, -e, a random Roman dude would get that you were saying "having to do with stars," and (without bothering to check) it is likely that somewhere someone has gone on about the astral plane in Latin and employed this very adjective. I suggest therefore a better name for this path, Rego Astralia, "I rule the astral thingies," although there is the danger that people will mishear you, thinking you have power over, e.g., kangaroos and Foster's.

  • Rego Dolor: The Dark Thaumaturgical "Path of Pain" (dolor, doloris, m.). How freakin' sinister. I myself am pained to see no accusative here: Dolorem.

  • Rego Levinbolt: This one, fortunately, is not for real; it's some fan's attempt at a translation that I found online. Quite apart from the "come on, guys, you're not even trying" aspect, I've always thought "levinbolt" was an silly word anyway, sounding like the name of a flashy lawyer. ("Have you been injured? Call the law offices of Levinbolt and Obeah!") -- Let's just say "Rego Fulmen or Fulmina" (< fulmen, fulminis [n.], "lightning-bolt").

  • Rego Magica: See above under Perdo Magica.

  • Rego Manes: The Dark Thaumaturgical "Path of Spirit." This is described as demon-summoning, boys and girls, not ghosts or other spirits; instead of the poor Manes let's talk Daemones or perhaps Infernos. -- I am confused by the note (Dark Ages Companion p. 107) that the pagan ancestor of this path was called "Rego Mentem" and allowed for the calling of nature-spirits; mens (gen. mentis; f.) means "mind." Apparently the writer here had a copy of Ars Magica at hand, in which game some spirit-affecting powers do appear to fall under the category of Rego Mentem spells, because, presumably, the spirits in question have intelligent minds; but most of the spells there involve, you know, mind control.

  • Rego Motus: I actually have no problem with this one, although it might be accidental. Motus ("movement") is a fourth-declension noun (like spiritus and ductus above), and it happens that the accusative plural ("movements") is also spelled motus, although there's a slight difference of pronunciation, but as I haven't told you how to pronounce anything at all yet you'll just have to nod and smile. -- Now, uncharitably, perhaps, but based on analogy with others here, I'm assuming that someone wanted to say "I rule movement" and looked up the word and plugged it in without thinking about declension and just got lucky. -- It's also just as well that they didn't try to translate the more familiar name for this telekinetic power, "Movement of the Mind," into Latin, as they might have ended up with something like motus animi which actually means "emotion." So we've dodged a bullet there.

  • Rego Tempestas: One meaning of tempestas, tempestatis (f.) is "storm, stormy weather" (think "tempest"). This is the sort of thing I was on about under "Rego Motus" above: someone has looked up the word "weather" or "storm" and typed it in unaltered. (I'm trying to think of some kind of clever weather metaphor to show how the poor word has been tossed about recklessly, but -- I got nothin'.) I think you'll want the accusative here, tempestatem or perhaps tempestates.

  • Rego Umbrae : This is the "Path of the Middle Spirit," which I assume lets you get into those parts of the Umbra where your warlock vampire can be torn apart by wandering packs of Red Talons. You'll recall that in Latin umbra is simply "shade" or "shadow." You will need to rule it in the accusative, of course: Umbram. Best to stick to the singular here, because the plural might suggest either some sort of "Obtenebration"-like ability or else power over ghosts. -- Since it's the "Middle Umbra," in World of Darkness cosmology anyway, you could say more precisely "Rego Mediam Umbram." A native Latin-speaker, were he to exist, might wonder what the hell the "middle shade" is ("I think he said he's master of the central part of the area underneath that portico"), but then the Tremere guard their secrets closely, and shouldn't be understandable to just anyone. -- Now, it may be that this is in fact their attempt at translating "Spirit Thaumaturgy," power over spirits of the Middle Umbra, and not a power of transportation. (I could look it up, but all my game books are downstairs.) For that we can say "I rule the spirits" (Rego Spiritus) and move on.

  • Rego Securitas : This is meant to be the Path of Warding. By now you will not be surprised to hear that they've got the case wrong; securitas is a third-declension noun, and so the accusative is securitatem. Now, the primary meaning of securitas, -tatis (f.) is "freedom from anxiety" and thus even "carelessness," so a better word here might be custodia, -ae (f.), "watch, guard, care" (the quality rather than individual guards): Rego Custodiam. -- Were we free to break away from the chains of "Rego..." formulation, I would prefer to call this the Ars Arcendi, the "Art of Warding," from arcere, "to avert, ward off, keep away."

  • Rego Venalis: The Dark Thaumaturgical "Path of Corruption," this could only mean something like "I rule the people for sale" [< venalis, -e, "for sale" or "open to bribes"] with an older or poetic -is instead of -es in the masculine accusative plural). Fair enough, I suppose, but I think we're talking about more than bribery here. This is about poisoning hearts and unleashing the dark soul! -- I suspect that someone thinks "Rego" means "Path," and picked out an adjective that seemed to imply corruption. Let us call this Rego Corruptelam or ...Corruptionem (or the same words in the plural), corruptela, -ae and corruptio, -onis (both f.) being rough synonyms for "corruption, seduction, bribery," even (in the case of the latter) "breaking apart," or, perhaps, the Ars Corrumpendi (art of corrupting).

  • Transitus Velociter: This means "Quickly Passage." If you want quick passage, use the adjective velox.

  • [Pleasantly, the writers of the 4th edition of Mage's ancestor game, Ars Magica, with its similarly named spells, have managed to get that whole "verb + direct object" formula just right, and even put in accent marks to aid in pronunciation. There's a little Latin glossary at the end that (with the cautionary note that words like "ignem" and "mentem" are given only in the accusative because they show up in the game only as direct objects) should be required reading for Tremere or Order of Hermes players. The proper pronunciation of certamen! The correct plural of consors (consortes)! Go Atlas Games!]

    I'm not going to go into Discipline names here, which are often based loosely on Greek and Latin words, except to say that some of them are damn silly, as if the power to grow really tall were called "Magnaliciosity" or "Bigtasticate." And that's true for powers in some other WW games, too.


  • Ars Animae: The Life Sphere. Anima, -ae (f.) does mean "principle of life"; it's the soul or spirit you give up when you die. But vita means life, pure and simple, and is to be preferred here, as in the new Order of Hermes book.

  • Ars Conjunctionis: This Hermetic name for the Correspondence Sphere is okayish, but conjunctio means more "agreement" than "conjunction." The "new" name in the revised "Order of Hermes" book is Ars Conligationis, the art of "binding together." This is more fabulous.

  • Ars Cupiditae: Supposedly the "Art of Desire," an overall quality of being graceful and swashbuckle-rific. I'm not sure that "desire" is the best way to express this, but if you're going to use it, the word is either cupiditas, -tatis (f.) or cupido, cupidinis (m.), neither of which have a cupiditae. Cupiditatis is the closest fix; Cupidinis works as well.

  • Ars Essentiae: The Forces Sphere. Essentia can mean "element" or "essence" (as in quinta essentia), but "Art of the Element" doesn't work for me here. "Force" in Latin is vis, gen. pl. virium, and Ars Virium is a much sexier name for this Sphere.

  • Ars Hermeticae: Despite the good work done in the revised "Order of Hermes" book towards correcting Latin problems, this can only mean "Art of the Hermetic Female" or some such. Either ars hermetica or artes hermeticae.

  • Ars Manes: Spirit. Manes again! We just had that last night! By now you will know that the Manes are spirits of the dead, but not any of the other kinds of spirits this Sphere effects. The new OoH book gives Ars Spirituum, which works.

  • Ars Vis: Prime, given the old Ars Magica word for magic fuel, vis, in the world of Mage, Quintessence. Now, the problem is that the genitive singular of vis, "force, strength, or power" is not attested -- it never shows up in Latin. But a bigger problem is that vis is better used under "Forces." The "new" Hermetic formulation is Ars Potentiae, the Art of Power. Strangely enough, Ars Essentiae might work here as well in an okay-ish sort of way; it's as though Forces and Prime got all mixed up somewhere. Make of that what you will.

  • Certamen (gen. certaminis [n.]). I sometimes have trouble taking this word for a wizards' duel seriously because it's what high-school Latin-club geeks all over America know as "Classical Studies Trivia Quiz Bowl," but the medieval Order of Hermes could not possibly foresee that -- or could they? Properly pronounced "kair-TAH-men," the Latin word means simply "contest, match, rivalry; combat," and so is otherwise appropriate here.

  • De Angelis Libris, from the Forged by Dragon's Fire supplement: correct to Liber. -- In the same book, one sees discussion of "principiae" -- but principia is already a plural (< principium, -i [n.], principle, element, beginning). Clearly the writer was familiar with, e.g., Principia Discordia ("discordant principles") and thought "principia" meant something like "guide-book": it doesn't.

  • Spoliatio Posterus Ad Pensio Nam Nunc: The name of this Hermetic rote found in the Laws of Ascension Companion (and possibly elsewhere), which squeezes more Quintessence out of a Node for the present but temporarily diminishes its future production, may have been what tipped me over the edge into deciding to do this website. Clearly meant to be something like"Robbing Later to Pay for Now," what we in fact have is a list of grammatically unrelated words found in a dictionary: "A robbing, plunder, burglary. Later (adjective). To or toward. A paying, payment. For (explanatory: = 'because'). Now." When one looks down at one's book and sees "to pay for" rendered mindlessly word-for-word as "towards paying because," one feels one must act. -- "Okay, Mr. Latin Guy, you're so smart, what would you say here?" Well, if I were forced to come up with something it might be "Spoliare Posterum In Praesens," "To rob the future for the present" (which might make a good motto for Pentex or its real-world counterparts) or perhaps "... Ad Usum Praesentem" ("... for present use").

  • Werewolf

  • Bestia Bello: Almost "Beast-of-War," the violent face of the Wyrm. But of course the genitive of bellum is belli. Now, perhaps you will tell me that, after all, the centurion in Chronicle of the Black Labyrinth is of Germanic descent and thus prone to grammatical error in this (to him) foreign language. If it helps you sleep at night, fine; but if I were serving as a centurion in the Roman army I think I'd at least learn how to say "war" properly.

  • Magnis Vermis: Also perpetrated in Chronicle of the Black Labyrinth, the only thing this could be in Latin is a poetic spelling of the dative or ablative plural magnis vermibus ("to/for or from/by/with large worms"), but really, I think that's improbable and, if that's what it is, then why? More likely, what we have here is an example of that classic first-year-Latin-student mistake, namely, trying to make an adjective agree by giving it exactly the same ending as the noun. I assume from context this is meant to be "the Great Wyrm," but apparently once you've been corrupted by Bane-spirits you forget that the masculine nominative singular of magnus is magnus, so that your Great Wyrm is Magnus Vermis or, if plural, Magni Vermes.

  • The Chronicle... has, in fact, several examples of wretched Latin, much of which is, admittedly, referred to by the fictional editor as "bastardized" or what have you. Passing over the title "Ex disputandem re supernibus ab probati Quaestori Adversarique," which is, roughly, "Out of must be discussioned in thing aboveses by of approved for treasury official and of the adversary," I will limit myself to correcting the Laird of Demborough's Latin in the figure of the spiral seen throughout the book (for example, p. 73): for Circulus Duos read duo (if we're using the cardinal numbers here and not, as seems more likely, words meaning "first," "second," etc.); this circle should be the Saltatio Furoris (not furore); the fourth circle should be Calliditatis (not calliditate); the seventh Fidei (not fidetis -- what is up with that?). Am I a geek or what?


    In Nobles: The Shining Host I vaguely recall a mention of "dream rape," which they chose to give the name "Morpheus Sabinus" or something like that. I don't know where they get this stuff. True, Morpheus is the dude who is all about dreams, and in one Roman legend the first Romans, all men, stole women from their neighbors the Sabines. But the phrase Morpheus Sabinus could only mean "the Sabine Morpheus," perhaps indicating some variation of his legend or cult found exclusively among that people. If you had to call it something at all in Latin you might choose "stuprum in somnio" ("sex crime in a dream," from stuprum, stupri [n.], "immorality, rape, disgrace etc.", and somnium, somnii [n.], "dream"), but probably you wouldn't because, unless you're in one of those weird gaming groups I have fortunately only ever heard of where all female PCs end up getting raped by orcs or Dagon or malicious brownies or whatever, this is something only vaguely addressed in an out-of-print book that never gets mentioned again, and anyway, really, for many things, a simple English phrase suffices.


  • Dictum Mortuum: the so-called "law of the dead" that prevents contact with the living. In fact it means more "dead command/decree" (from dictum, dicti [n.], "saying, order, command," and mortuus, -a, -um, "dead"), and that might imply that the command is no longer valid. Which, I suppose, is the case, since (a) no player characters have ever paid attention to it anyway and (b) they don't make the game anymore. But I would be more pleased to see the genitive plural here: dictum mortuorum, "decree of the dead (ones)." And so should you be.

  • Necropoli: meant to be the plural of necropolis, a Greek word meaning "city of the dead." In Greek, the plural is in fact necropoleis; in Latin, this becomes necropoles (necropolis, necropolis [f.], gen. pl. -polium); necropoli could only be the dative or, given the "rules" for declining loan-words from Greek that have "I-stems," possibly ablative singular.

  • World of Darkness

  • numina: k3wl p0w3rz for mortals. One often sees the plural numinae, as if numina were a first-declension noun in the nominative singular. As, I say, if. In fact the Latin word is, you'll recall, numen, numinis (n.), "godhead, (divine) power," a third-declension neuter noun, which makes numina the nominative (or possibly accusative) plural. "Numinae" is kinda like saying "powerses." (Never mind that numina are entities, "powers" as used in "powers-that-be" rather than "non-player-character-crushing abilities I have five dots in.")

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