Bloodline is a term used to describe a group of vampires who share a common lineage. While the term can be used to refer to vampires who share a sire, grandsire, or so on, it usually refers to those lineages that have some inherent distinction from the thirteen traditional clans of Caine, be it in their weaknesses, Disciplines, or both. Many of these bloodlines are, in effect, a clan within a clan.
The childe of a vampire who belongs to a bloodline will always belong to the same bloodline as her sire, and there's no traditional method to change one's lineage. Therefore, bloodlines are generally the product of unique supernatural events, and are functionally just smaller clans. Bloodlines aren't necessarily tied to specific clans, however, and they are created in a variety of ways:
- Mystical methods - Some bloodlines are created through mystic rituals that transform their founders, such as with the Gargoyles and Kiasyd, albeit not necessarily deliberately.
- Flawed Embrace - Sometimes, for whatever reason, a childe doesn't inherit their sire's clan, instead becoming something different, as seen with the Maeghar, the Caitiff, and even potentially with the Baali founders.
- Divergent evolution - A bloodline splits off from the clan when they are geographically isolated from the parent clan and develop their own customs, such as with the Anda.
- Diablerie of Antediluvian - All clans have their own Antediluvians; on more than one occasion, that Antediluvian has been replaced, resulting in the original clan being "demoted" to bloodline status. The Harbingers of Skulls, Salubri, and True Brujah bloodlines can all claim this distinction. Note that it's not simply sufficient for an Antediluvian to die; many Antediluvian founders have been slain by the modern nights (notably [Ravnos], [Tzimisce], and [Lasombra]), but are still considered clans.
- Independent origin - Some bloodlines claim no connection with the clans, having arisen independently through encounters with gods, spirits, and eldritch entities, such as the Bonsam, Impundulu, and Ramanga.
Additionally, some variants of the Blood don't necessarily qualify for full bloodline status, and might be described as mere variations of the clans. For the most part, these are offshoots of the main clans that differ only in outlook or culture, but are generally considered by Cainite society to still belong to their parent clan — Salubri antitribu are still Salubri, and the Assamite Vizier caste are still Assamites. In other cases, some of these minor bloodlines can display different weaknesses or clan disciplines, showing signs of divergent evolution. These subtle differences might not be visible to outside observers, but they are part of what makes vampiric society so diverse and confusing. Here are some causes for the minor variations of the Blood:
- Caste system - some clans are separated into caste systems, with certain castes possessing different disciplines and weaknesses from the parent clan. Certain clans (the Assamites, Ravnos, Salubri, Setites, and Tzimisce in particular) have internal variants with different attributes and embraces, but which are still socially part of the parent clan.
- Differing beliefs - In some cases, Clan Variants arise in the case of cultural and /or geographical splits from the main Clan without diverging into a full fledged bloodline. Examples are the Old Clan Tzimisce, the Telyavelic Tremere and the Daitya.
- Antitribu - also known as anti-clan, are groups that have diverged from their parent clan in order to join a different sect. Largely a social division, the antitribu frequently begin to demonstrate slightly different weaknesses, and then different disciplines altogether. This is largely an early example of divergent evolution as described above.
This distinction was more explicitly laid out in the Bloodlines chapter of V20, which gave the "full" bloodlines a two-page spread but only gave the lesser "variations of the blood" a few paragraphs each. The distinction between bloodlines and clan variants is largely semantic, and mainly derives from the fact that the "full" bloodlines have more mechanical and social distinctions from their parent clan, necessitating a larger word count to describe their complexity.
It is worth mentioning that many revenant families have their own distinct Discipline affinities and weaknesses, and revenants who receive the embrace often retain some form of these characteristics in undeath. Thus, there are distinct branches of the Giovanni and Tzimisce (among others) that are not bloodlines by Kindred descent but rather bloodlines by mortal birth.
Finally, there is the case of the Laibon. These African vampires may be examples of divergent evolution, or they may actually be members of the standard clans, but simply known under a different name. As with many variations of the blood, the truth can be uncertain. Part of the reason for the uncertainty is the different social structure of these African Kindred, as well as their unique means of staving off the Beast in lieu of clinging to Humanity or adhering to the Paths of Enlightenment.
The following is a list of all known bloodlines, sorted by their parent clan (if applicable). For ease of reference, the various bloodlines, variations and Laibon legacies are all treated as bloodlines. Note that several bloodlines are specifically offshoots of other bloodlines, or of the clanless Caitiff.
- Note: The Assamite warrior caste are not themselves a bloodline or clan variant, but are the primary clan lineage.
- Brujah antitribu
- Osebo (Laibon)
- True Brujah (supposedly, the Brujah were originally the bloodline and the "True" Brujah were the parent clan)
- Note: After the diablerie of their Antediluvian in 1444, the surviving Cappadocians lost their clan status and came to be considered a bloodline, as the Giovanni ascended to become a full-fledged clan.
- Giovanni (until the bloodline supplanted the parent clan)
- Harbingers of Skulls
- Mla Watu (Laibon)
- Akunanse (Laibon)
- City Gangrel
- Country Gangrel
- Greek Gangrel
- Mariner Gangrel
- Angellis Ater
- Kiasyd (not to be confused with the Maeghar "bloodline")
- Lasombra antitribu
- Xi Dundu (Laibon)
- Note: After the diablerie of their Antediluvian in 1133, the surviving Salubri lost their clan status and came to be considered a bloodline, as the Tremere ascended to become a full-fledged clan.
- Note: The Tremere were a minor bloodline created by the mages of House Tremere from Tzimisce blood, however, after their founder diablerized the antediluvian Saulot in 1133, they came to be considered a full-fledged clan.
Here is a list of bloodlines that have no single parent clan, or that emerged from an unknown parent clan:
- Blood Brothers - created by, but not descended from, Tremere antitribu and Tzimisce kolduns;
- Bonsam (Laibon) - possibly a Gangrel or Nosferatu bloodline;
- Children of Osiris - as these vampires cannot embrace, their childer are converted from other clans; and while Osiris himself was embraced by Set, the rest of the bloodline share no kinship with the Setites;
- Daughters of Cacophony - possibly descended from the Malkavians or Toreador;
- Gargoyle - originally created by the Tremere through thaumaturgical means, but not actually descended from Tremere blood. Gargoyle "scouts" were produced by a mixture of Gangrel/Nosferatu blood, Gargoyle "sentinels" had a mixture of Nosferatu/Tzimisce blood, and the Gargoyle "warriors" had a mixture of Gangrel/Tzimisce blood; In modern nights, however, the Gargoyles finally developed the ability to embrace, thus becoming an actual bloodline.
- Impundulu (Laibon) - possibly a Cappadocian bloodline;
- Maeghar - they are embraced from other clans and often mistaken for or conflated with the Kiasyd;
- Nagaraja - allegedly self-created without any parent clan;
- Ramanga (Laibon) - likely but not explicitly a Lasombra bloodline.
Vampire: The Masquerade bloodlines
Ahrimanes · Anda · Baali · Blood Brothers · Caitiff · Cappadocians · Children of Osiris · Danava · Daughters of Cacophony · Gargoyles · Giovani · Harbingers of Skulls · Kiasyd · Lamia · Lhiannan · Nagaraja · Nictuku · Noiad · Salubri · Samedi · True Brujah
Assamite antitribu · Brujah antitribu · Coyotes · Country Gangrel · Malkavian antitribu · Nosferatu antitribu · Panders · Ravnos antitribu · Salubri antitribu · Serpents of the Light · Toreador antitribu · Tremere antitribu · Ventrue antitribu
Angellis Ater · Assamite sorcerers · Assamite viziers · Azaneali · Daitya · Gangrel aquarii · Gangrel Grecians · Knights of the Moon · Lasombra antitribu · Old Clan Tzimisce · Phuri Dae (Brahmin) · Telyavelic Tremere · Tlacique · Vipers · Wu Zao