|Founders:||Nergal (Shaitan), Moloch, and an unknown third|
|Disciplines:||Obfuscate, Presence, Daimoinon|
The Baali are a bloodline of vampires who are associated with demon worship. Some versions present the true purpose of the Baali as keeping demons sleeping by feeding them with carnage and destruction. Most presentations show them as infernalists, using demon worship to gain additional power. They have a somewhat complex heritage, appearing at times as a bloodline and at times as a clan. There is some indication that they may be a bloodline of the Salubri, Cappadocians, or Lasombra, although one earlier source suggested they may instead be descendants or even predecessors of the Gangrel line. They also recruit vampires from other clans to become Baali via a dark thaumaturgic initiation, further confusing the issue.
Historically, the Assamites, Followers of Set, and Salubri have fought wars against the Baali. The Salubri and Assamites in particular have a deep seated hatred for the Baali. The Assamite warriors current blood addiction can be traced to a curse leveled by the Baali.
Clan weakness: Affected by religious symbols. Double damage from faith.
The Baali were prominent in the Islamic world at this time. Although their numbers were diminished by the Al-Amin, and many kindred were strengthened by Islam and the Ashirra, they managed to keep a corrupt hold in the area.
All Baali have at least two identities, if not more. Among their own kind, they organize into small, tightly-knit groups called covens, usually in three or six. These covens meet only rarely, gathering only to perform some dark ritual or discuss matters of dire consequence. They prefer to meet under the new moon, though lunar eclipses hold great meaning for them and major rituals are performed at that time. Covens meet in secret places where their activities will not be disturbed, yet still within the city they wish to prepare. They frequently ally with Black Spiral Dancers and make use of their tainted caerns. A grand ritual involving both Baali and Black Spirals usually portends some great and awful occurrence.
These meetings are few and far between, however. In the interim, Baali usually pose as upstanding members of either the Camarilla, Sabbat, or both, depending on who controls the city. Contrary to popular belief, they do not pose as Caitiff -- Caitiff are distrusted enough on general principle alone. Instead, they are far more devious, hiding behind a mask of blood passed down through millennia: they pose as Tremere.
The blood of Saulot runs through Tremere's veins since his diablerie close to a thousand years ago. Now, almost all Tremere are descended from their founder, and therefore from Saulot himself. Only those with a high proficiency in Thaumaturgy can detect even a slight difference (Thau 5+, diff 9) and even then it is usually dismissed as a minor change in blood chemistry -- perhaps the vampire's sire was of House Bonisagus or Flambeaux. Reports of corruption deep within the Tremere hierarchy are scoffed at. Surely the Tremere, the masters of deception and manipulation, would know of a conspiracy within their ranks! But this conventional wisdom is wrong. With the immense occult resources of the Tremere, the Baali are gaining strength like never before. They have access to supplies, knowledge, and potential recruits. They have even started two secret orders within the clan: the Order of the Wyrm and the Illuminated Brotherhood.
The Order of the Wyrm is the more mainstream of the two, the conservative front for the more radical Brotherhood. Through the Order, the Baali hope to attract Tremere who share some of their beliefs, who have the potential to be recruited, corrupted, or both. Once an applicant has progressed high enough in the Order, they are inducted into the Illuminated Brotherhood. Only after their corruption is complete, their turn to evil assured, do the Tremere meet their Baali masters -- and their masters' Masters.
Sabbat Baali have an easier task in some ways, harder in others. While the vampires of the Sabbat have forsaken their Humanity, the Inquisition within the sect limits their activities. Whatever sect they belong to, however, the Baali are united in their cause. Their eventual goal is to turn both the Camarilla and the Sabbat to their infernal masters -- and if that doesn't work, to destroy them. Indeed, many Sabbat-Camarilla conflicts can be attributed to the machinations of Baali on both sides, destroying those who oppose them while garnering greater influence and power. After all, power is the name of the game.
The Baali only embrace those who are intelligent and driven. Most who are embraced will even had interest in the occult during their mortal lives.
The embracing ritual of the Baali is one of their most disturbing rituals. A Baali will capture his prey and bring him to a site he has prepared. There will be a large pit, filled with dozens of decomposing bodies. The Baali drains it’s victim to near death, and tosses them into the pit. In just one of the corpses they hid their blood inside a heart. If the prey manages to find the heart before they die and drink the blood, they are considered worthy of becoming Baali. Ironically, this makes the Baali the only clan that regularly gives their victim the choice of becoming a vampire or choosing to die.
The Baali recruit vampires from other clans into their ranks; such a successfully recruited vampire is called an Apostate. The Baali even have a dark thaumaturgic ritual commonly called the Rite of Apostasy which proves the recruit's loyalty to the Baali and grants the recruit the demonic Discipline of Daimoinon in place of one of their former Clan Disciplines. Effectively, there is a unique Baali bloodline for every Clan or bloodline who has had a former member undergo the Rite of Apostasy. This dark thaumaturgic ritual grants the Baali bloodline a "viral" property to laterally grow their ranks that no other Clan or bloodline is known to possess. The most populous bloodline of Apostates are the Lasombra Apostates known as the Angellis Ater.
|Obfuscate, Obtenebration, and one of Daimoinon or Presence; Daimoinon, Dominate, and one of Potence, Presence, or Obtenebration.|
The Azaneali (also sometimes referred to, perhaps confusingly, as the Black Angels) are a bloodline that has branched off of the Baali bloodline. Descended from the Baali Methuselah Azaneal, the Azaneali are dead-hearted, spiritually compromised diabolists even by the standards of the Baali. The Azaneali serve powers of shadow, and often work with the Angellis Ater ("Black Angels") of the Lasombra in pursuit of their goals.
As masters of darkness, the Azaneali use the Discipline of Obtenebration in lieu of Daimoinon or Presence. However, Azaneali have surrendered much of themselves to the shadows that they serve: many of them have effectively lost their free will to their masters' desires.
The Azaneali are extremely similar to the Angellis Ater bloodline of the Lasombra, and so the two groups are often confused for each other. (The "V20" sourcebook opted to try rectifying this by attempting to merge them into a single bloodline.)
In their first appearance, in the original Vampire Storytellers Handbook, the Baali were given no particular origin or motivation beyond demon worship. Later, the crossover chronicle The Chaos Factor introduced the Methuselah Shaitan, who had supposedly founded the Baali bloodline. According to that book, Shaitan was Embraced in the Second City sometime around 4500 BC by Ashur. The history of Shaitan presented in that book implies that all of Ashur's childer in the Second City were ultimately outcast and became the progenitors of the Baali bloodline, with Ashur's childe Gangrel being the only one who was not corrupted (implying the Gangrel "clan" was actually a bloodline that branched off of the "Ashurians", as opposed to their having a direct Antediluvian ancestor). The backstory also implies that the entirety of the Baali bloodline descends from 13 separate Methuselahs, each of whom sold their souls to the demon Ba'al. However, many elements of 'The Chaos Factor' were retconned in later editions of the game, since it was considered by fans to be an unpopular sourcebook that promoted thematically inappropriate crossovers and munchkinism, like Dirty Secrets of the Black Hand.
Subsequent Vampire: The Dark Ages books presented a more complex and ambiguous history for the Baali. In several books, "Ashur" is considered to be another name for Cappadocius, although it remains unclear if "Ashur" was in fact the original sire of the Baali. The Dark Ages Companion presents a history for the Baali in which Shaitan was the most beautiful member of the Fourth Generation, but was not Embraced as a Baali; instead, he became the first Baali when he made a pact with Ba'al out of jealousy towards Toreador. Although this tale of the origin of Shaitan is contradicted by later books (mainly Clanbook: Baali), the other parts of this account, which describe the Baali War between the Baali and the thirteen clans (particularly the Salubri), are reinforced or clarified by later sources.
Clanbook: Baali repeats the rumor of Cappadocius-called-Ashur siring the Baali, but alters the details of who the first Baali actually were. Here, "Shaitan" is the name that the Baali know their Antediluvian progenitor by. The first three Baali were the childer of "Shaitan"; they were Nergal, Moloch, and an unnamed and mysterious female, who some Baali variously believe may have been Zillah, Lilith, or the Crone, and who may have been the founder of the inhuman Path of the Hive (Via Hyron). The "Shaitan" who appears in the Baali War and in The Chaos Factor is actually Nergal, masquerading as Shaitan. Clanbook: Baali ultimately confirms that the "Ashur"/"Shaitan" who Embraced these first three Baali was in fact Saulot, the Salubri Antediluvian, although this is far from common knowledge.
As detailed in Clanbook Baali, the Baali acted to placate "The Children" (slumbering demons, who were likely Earthbound if considered in the context of Demon: The Fallen) by appeasing them with sacrifices and chaos. The Gehenna sourcebook hints that the Baali might have been guarding Antediluvians, who are hardly distinguishable from chthonic deities or demons, and Clanbook Baali describes how one of these so-called 'Children' was excavated by accident and perished from the sunlight. Clanbook: Baali also clarifies that "Baal" is not the name of any particular demon, but is a title meaning "lord" that is applied to the demons who the Baali serve, although more ignorant Baali childer sometimes fall prey to their own propaganda and actually believe that the bloodline venerates a singular demonic master named Baal.
Later Vampire: The Masquerade supplements shy away from firm details; for example, the Vampire Storytellers Handbook Revised presents an enigmatic origin involving a 'dalliance with a low-born singing slaveboy'. However, the Gehenna sourcebook treats Saulot's creation of the Baali as fact in at least one scenario, as does the Gehenna novel.
The Baali and the Lasombra both share an obsession with the Abyss and the shadowy demons therein, so the notion of the Lasombra Antediluvian being the true progenitor of the Baali bloodline requires the least amount of conceptual manipulation to make plausible. Having the Baali be a bloodline of the Lasombra also makes the Azaneali bloodline more plausible, as they could simply be a vestige of their Lasombra roots.
- ↑ 2.0 2.1 2.2 Vampire: The Masquerade 20th Anniversary Edition, p. 436
- ↑ 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 Clanbook: Baali, p. 36