- Kindred: A term coined after the Great Anarch Revolt, to refer to the race of vampires as a whole.
In Vampire: The Masquerade, Kindred is the most common euphemism for a vampire. The term is most commonly used by vampires who strive to maintain their Humanity. Sabbat vampires prefer to simply call themselves vampires or Cainites in order to show that they aren't falling into some petty game of denial by pretending they're still human. Kindred use the term Kindred and Kine to refer to all of humanity.
Vampire Physiology And Weaknesses Edit
Vampires are created through the Embrace; during the Embrace, a vampire drains a candidate of all their blood and replaces it with a small amount (generally a single drop) of their own. This causes the corpse to rise as a (very hungry) vampire, usually instantly (though those of the highest generations may appear to lie dead for some time before they awaken). The vampire who initiates the Embrace is the Sire; the new vampire is the Sire's Childe.
When a vampire is Embraced, their internal organs wither away, and almost all their body fluids are replaced by blood. Vampires use blood (also called Vitae) for a variety of purposes; blood replaces most bodily fluids, so vampires will cry blood and sweat blood under certain circumstances. Blood is also used to get up and move; every night, vampires expend a certain amount of blood to rise. In addition, vampires can use blood to enhance their physical attributes and use supernatural powers called Disciplines. Blood is used to Embrace, as noted above, and also to create Ghouls. Finally, vampires can use blood to heal damage.
Blood is generally replaced by sucking it out of humans. While vampires can feed on animals, they do not enjoy the taste of it and older vampires will acquire no sustenance from it. The process of taking blood is euphemistically called the Kiss or feeding. Vampires do not have to completely drain a victim, although frenzying vampires are likely to do so. Vampires can hide the puncture marks of feeding by licking the wounds, making the process fairly subtle.
The Feeding process is highly pleasurable (arguably the only pleasure) for vampires, and is also extremely pleasurable for victims. Vessels who are drained regularly can become addicted to the Kiss.
Vampires change considerably after the Embrace. Physically, they are incapable of eating food, vomiting it up almost instantly, they have no need or interest in sex (although they can imitate the physical reactions if needed). As a result of these processes, the vampire is paler and generally thinner than they were before the Embrace. Certain clans have more extreme physical changes, discussed below.
Once Embraced, vampires are locked into a form of stasis. Apart from wounds (healed with blood), vampires are restored to their condition at the time of Embrace every time they rise up for the night. This physical condition eventually extends to their mindsets - old vampires find it very hard to learn new things.
In addition to the physical changes, vampires experience extreme intellectual and emotional changes. The vampire is now a predator, and has a raging id called the Beast. The Beast reacts to a variety of stimuli, notably hunger, anger, fear. The Beast continuously assaults the character, and if the Beast's demands exceed the character's own capacity to control it, will react in a Frenzy or Rötschreck. Vampires can permanently lose control to the Beast, entering Wassail, a state of permanent Frenzy. In this condition, all humanity is lost and the vampire becomes a mindless killing machine.
Vampires from every bloodline have superhuman attributes but in certain clans one of each may be superior to other clans or even have magic such as tremere.
Vampires are highly vulnerable to a some physical threats, most importantly sunlight and fire. Vampires burn easily, and will burn up almost instantly in sunlight. However, outside of these, vampires are very hard to kill - bullets do not cause much damage, and their superior strength and speed make them hard to hit, let alone damage in combat.
When wounded, vampires can pass into a deathlike stasis called Torpor, which allows them to heal more extreme damage. Torpor can last for centuries depending on the circumstances, and as a vampire gets older, Torpor becomes a more attractive option. Some vampires have been in Torpor for millennia.
Every vampire has a Generation, numbered from 1 (Caine) to 15 in the Canonical games. A vampire is always one generation higher than his Sire, thus farther removed from Caine. Generation has a variety of effects - mental powers do not work on vampires of lower generation, and the lower a generation the more potent a vampire can become. Vampires cannot lower their generation except through diablerie, a form of vampiric cannibalism in which the diablerist consumes the soul of her victim.
Vampiric Society Edit
Nominally, every vampire is Embraced into a Clan, which is a line of vampires tracing their ancestry back to a common Antediluvian. Each Clan has specific strengths and weaknesses, as well as their own distinct history. A vampire without a Clan is Caitiff, generally a second-class citizen in vampiric society.
Vampires belong to one of two major Sects: The Camarilla and The Sabbat. The Camarilla consists of those clans who are dedicated to preserving the Masquerade and (generally) their Humanity. The Sabbat are dedicated to the coming Gehenna and the superiority of the vampire species over humanity. It should be noted that the distinction is not between Good Vampires and Bad Vampires as much as between Bad Vampires and Worse Vampires (which is which depends largely on who you ask). The Camarilla and Sabbat are violent enemies.
In addition to these two Sects, several lesser divisions exist. Vampires who reject both Sects in favor of more indepedence are grouped into a loose community called Anarch. Several Clans are loyal primarily to their Clans, and are independent of the major Sects. In addition, there is a group of mysterious elder vampires, the Inconnu, who eschew all politics in favor of their own projects.
There are thirteen major clans of Caine, although two of them have risen in recent memory.
- Brujah: Originally warrior-philosophers, the Brujah are now rebels and political activists. The Brujah are powerful combatants and charismatic speakers, but are more prone to succumbing to Frenzy.
- Gangrel: The Gangrel are nomadic vampires, and the only ones who regularly travel outside of cities. The Gangrel are also shapeshifters, which has left them with a tendecy to acquire animal features as they frenzy.
- Malkavian: The Malkavians are all insane; this doesn't mean that they aren't also insightful and highly intelligent, but they are controlled by madness from the moment of their embrace (if not before).
- Nosferatu: Nosferatu are hideously deformed by their embrace, every Nosferatu is horrifyingly ugly. Eschewing other Vampires, they live in sewers and generally keep to themselves. Nosferatu are information brokers par excellence.
- Toreador: The Toreador are obsessed with art and beauty, and are the clan that spends the most time around humanity. Toreador tend to get lost in art, becoming enraptured by beautiful things.
- Tremere: The Tremere are a Hermetic order (originally from Ars Magica) who turned themselves into vampires to preserve their magic. It didn't quite work out as planned. Since the 11th century, the Tremere have risen from outcasts to one of the pillars of Camarilla society. Tremere are the most powerful practitioners of Thaumaturgy, but are also tightly bound to their highly organized and incredibly paranoid clan.
- Ventrue: The Clan Of Kings. The Ventrue are the leaders of the Camarilla, and are businessmen, aristocrats, monarchs, captains of industry, crime leaders, and any other profession where control and power are required. They are the clan from whom the majority of Princes come. Ventrue are choosy who they embrace and who they feed from: every Ventrue feeds from a specific type of Vessel, and only from that type of vessel.
- Lasombra: The leaders of the Sabbat, the Lasombra slew their own Antediluvian during the Anarch Revolt and then led the Sabbat against the nascent Camarilla. The Lasombra are elegant, powerful, cruel and predatory espousers of a social darwinist approach towards control and leadership. The Lasombra are also masters of shadow, able to manipulate darkness in bizarre fashions; this power has a cost however, Lasombra cast no reflection.
- Tzimisce: The Tzimisce hail from Eastern Europe, and are the former absolute masters of their nightmare domains. The Tzimisce are the least human vampires in VtM, casually cruel and more than a little mad, and possessing the most potent shapeshifting powers of any Vampire. Tzimisce can shift not only their shape, but mold flesh and bone like it was clay. The Tzimisce crave stability - they cannot find peace at night without some of their grave earth.
- Assamites: The Children of Haqim are a cult of assassins located in the mountain fortress of Alamut in the middle east. Descended from Caine's judge, the Assamites accept assassination contracts against vampires while fulfilling their clans own (more obscure) goals. The Assamites are practically a sect unto themselves, with three castes, each of which has its own weakness.
- Giovanni: The Giovanni are a clan of Venetian businessmen and necromancers who entered the scene in the 15th century; originally an offset of the more sedate Cappadocians, Augustus Giovanni diablerized his sire and purged the clan of all Cappadocians. Since that time, the Giovanni have become a very rich, powerful and incestuously twisted family with tentacles throughout the world. The Giovanni do not feed lightly - Feeding is a nightmare for their Vessels, causing excess damage and intense pain.
- Ravnos: The Ravnos are Vampires from the Indian subcontinent, where they are engaged in a genocidal war with India's Cathayans. The first Ravnos seen in the west were Gypsies and were generally assumed to be charlatans and rogues (which isn't that far off, since many Ravnos are charlatans and rogues), however the Ravnos adhere to a complex philosophy of enlightenment through destroying Maya. Each Ravnos has a vice, from gambling to plagiarism.
- Setites: Descendants of the Egyptian God Set, the Setites are a Gnostic cult dedicated to overthrowing the rule of the tyrant gods who oppress all creatures. This makes them inconceivably evil to almost every other life form in the universe, as the Setites seek liberation through vice and by confronting the darkest corners of the soul. The Setites are creatures of Darkness, light does even more damage to them.
- Salubri: The Clan of Saulot, discoverer of Golconda. The Salubri were a clan of healers and demon-fighters. After the Tremere became vampires, the Founder Tremere sought out Saulot and diablerized him, they then launched a campaign against the clan, branding them as demon-worshippers and soul-stealers. There are pathetically few Salubri today.
- Cappadocians: The original Clan of Death, the Cappadocians were a monastic order of vampires who studied death, the soul and the Embrace. They were destroyed by Augustus Giovanni in a coup d'etat. The Cappadocians were noted for their corpselike appearance, even more so than most Vampires.
Bloodlines And AntitribuEdit
In addition to the thirteen clans, there are a variety of bloodlines, who are offshoots or mutations of existing clans. These bloodlines are generally small and normally politically impotent. Examples include the Daughters of Cacophony, Kiasyd and Samedi.
The Sabbat has two major clans, but in addition, members of the Camarilla clans have joined the Sabbat since there was a Sabbat (actually, technically before there was a Sabbat). These clans are called antitribu and usually differ slightly from their parent clans, either in terms of disciplines or weaknesses.
In the World of Darkness, there is an increasing number of "clanless"—vampires who were abandoned by their sires immediately following the Embrace and who are ignorant of their clan status; a vampire cannot choose to become clanless. They are called Caitiff by the Camarilla, and regarded as a sign of the Masquerade spiralling out of control, therefore gaining little respect from their elders. The Sabbat, on the other hand, gladly embraces the clanless (which they call Panders) into the sect. The more superstitious see the growing numbers of these vampires as an omen of the coming Gehenna, the Final Nights of prophecy when all childer of Caine will be destroyed.
Cities And SectsEdit
While VtM vampires are more globalized than those of Vampire: The Requiem (see Differences Between VtM and VtR), the majority of politics are still city-based. In VtM, vampires are generally confined to one city, which is ruled in a Feudal fashion. At the apex of the power structure is the Prince, who is generally served by a council of Primogen, the prince controls access to feeding grounds which he allocates as fiefs. There are additional city offices, notably the Harpies and Sheriff; later editions of VtM introduce the Scourge, as well as other, more specialized minor offices.
Sabbat cities use a slightly different structure. Cities are generally ruled by a Archbishop, who is supported by a number of Bishops. Below this level are the various packs who make up the bulk of Sabbat society; these packs are led by Ducti.
In addition to these offices, however, the Sects impose their own additional offices. Princes report to the Camarilla, whose most visible officers are the Archons, roving agents of the Justicars, who are the highest public Camarilla official. Each clan provides one Justicar, who controls his own stable of Archons. Justicars are roving troubleshooters, each one generally focusing on one major project at a time - such as conducting a war to take over a city.
Vampire's history begins with a homicidal farmer: Caine of the Biblical story. According to Vampiric mythology (detailed in the Book of Nod), Caine killed his brother Abel and was exiled by God to Nod, East of Eden. Outside of Nod he met Lilith, who taught him the basics of vampiric power. At this time, he was also cursed by God's Angels to be vulnerable to fire, sunlight and the treachery of his descendants.
Caine then traveled to Enoch, the First City of the human race. There he embraced its ruler and became the God-King of the city, embracing three childer as the Second Generation. These three childer in turn embraced the thirteen Antediluvians, the founders of the clans.
Some time after this, the Antediluvians rebelled against the Second Generation, after which the Great Flood covered Enoch in water. The Antediluvians survived for 40 days under water, devouring their own, until the floods receded.
Some time after the flood, the Antediluvians build the Second City, which they rule over as Gods, until Caine returns to pass judgement on them. Caine curses each of the Clans, then leaves.
The Antediluvians spread across the world at this time, travelling to various places and embracing further descendants. Eventually, they sink into Torpor. Vampires fear Gehenna, the time that the Antediluvians will rise from Torpor and devour their descendants, then Caine will return in judgement. The Camarilla claims Gehenna is a fraud, and that there are no Antediluvians. In contrast, the Sabbat is strongly Noddist and sees defeating the Antediluvians as their entire purpose.
Vampire's distinctive attributes are Generation, Blood and Humanity. Blood Pool was discussed above.
As noted above, every vampire has a generation from 1st (Caine) through 15th. In general, vampires start at 13th generation unless they buy additional dots in the background. Normally, players don't start above 8th generation, and Storytellers may restrict even that.
Generation has a variety of gameplay effects, the most important being Blood Pool. The amount of blood a character can store and spend changes radically as their generation decreases, this makes a low-generation character far more potent in combat, especially once they can spend multiple blood points at a time. Generation also affects most mental disciplines - characters generally cannot use mental disciplines on characters of a lower generation. In addition, Characters cannot raise attributes or disciplines above 5 dots unless they are 7th generation or lower. Higher dot disciplines tend to be highly idiosyncratic.
Generation can only be increased through Diablerie, which is usually a rare opportunity and a very severe crime - Diablerie is easily detectable on an aura, and the Camarilla views it as a capital crime.
Vampire espouses a virtue system which has changed in the various editions. The core of the system is three humane virtues: Conscience, Self-Control and Courage, rated from one to five. In addition to these virtues, all vampires have a Humanity score, rated from one to ten.
Humanity is ultimately a measure of how much control a vampire has over the Beast; the lower the Humanity, the more a vampire is controlled by his appetites. The default humanity for human beings is around 7.
Vampires lose humanity by committing sins; whenever a vampire does something that violates his morality, the player rolls a degeneration check. Losing the roll costs the character a point of humanity, while winning the roll maintains the morality. It should be noted that by winning, the character feels guilt - he realizes he's done something wrong. Conversely, losing means that the character is more comfortable with that sin, be it stealing a book or killing a friend. What qualifies as a sin depends on the character's morality score; as a character's humanity rises, the opportunities to degenerate become more common.
In general, humanity is inimical to being a vampire - as a blood-drinking nocturnal marauder, the character must engage in a variety of socially deviant behavior. As a result, most characters drop humanity until they reach a stable, if low, level. Low humanity has gameplay effects; a character cannot roll more dice on a social roll involving people than his humanity score. The remainder drop all the way to zero, Wassail, storyteller control and a violent death.
Humanity is not the only moral path available, the Sabbat and independent clans espouse Paths of Enlightenment, which outline alien and rigid moralities strongly divorced from the human norm. These are descended from the Dark Ages Roads, but are generally not practiced by Camarilla vampires.