This is part of my struggle to awaken Vampire from it's long torpor, specifically in the form of a new version of the card game V:TES. I plan on elaborating more on this in the future.
This page is concerning the Families - vampires who share certain physical characteristics and behaviours with each other - most often how they 'feed' (that is, how they kill). These are modified versions of the clans and bloodlines found in previous editions of the WoD. I've simplified and combined what I could into recognizable 'monster archetypes'.
Basically, I'm being very loose with the word 'vampire' as I think the classic 'sucks blood from the neck' vampire is a bit outdated, and that the real gem with the series and the idea of Vampire is 'immortal evil'. It's very interesting to me that virtually all cultures throughout the world had a 'blood drinker' / 'man eater' / 'youth stealer' monster that appeared (mostly) human. So I wanted to capitalize on this, and have each family really look and feel different from the others.
The majority are women, and they frequently form cults, cliques, and covens, being the most numerous of all vampires. In these nights they're particularly prominent in Central America, with a moderate presence in the Western and Southern United States and throughout Europe, with others of their kind in other corners of the world. Uniquely, their powers are increased through congregation, letting them become exponentially more powerful than others in the right circumstances.
They are known by the method through which they derive their immortality - through human sacrifice and cannibalism in all its myriad forms. Some are said to rip the still-beating hearts out of their victims while others might cook and eat children. They can be heard shrieking and cackling in the still corners of the night, as they dance and chant in fevered frenzy.
Key Powers: Auspex, Animalism, Thaumaturgy
Visual Cues: Tattoos; jewelry, trinkets, accessories (for spellcrafting); wands, knives, or staves (also for spellcrafting)
Inspiration: The Brujah are a mix of the Brujah and Tremere from CWoD but also all sorts of evil witches and wizards throughout popular culture (as the Spanish word 'bruja' means 'witch'.)
The most human of all vampires in appearance (maybe even too human), these creatures are beautiful to behold, being as close to creatures of the light as vampires can be. They inspire loyalty and infatuation in others, having a personal magnetism about them that defies comprehension. They can blend seamlessly into human society and some are said be so powerful they have even witnessed sunset or sunrise.
A daeva will often seduce individuals only to kill them during coitus. Another might induce a victim to kill his or her lover, or lure a person to engage in self-destructive orgies and perversions. They enthrall their victims, ravage their bodies, and destroy the mind through lust and wanton pleasure. Some can even find nourishment just from the proximity of their devotees, especially when those individuals are willing to - and do - die for them.
Key Powers: Auspex, Celerity, Lamentation, Presence, Seduction
Visual Cues: Auras, halos, glowing; unearthly grace and beauty
Humanoid in form, but many will have bestial features and urges that belie their true nature - in particular manifesting in such a way that the more powerful gangrel can appear wholly animal to human senses, so as to lure in prey. The gangrel are among the most savage, bloodthirsty killers, often leaving behind a trail of carnage, mangled bodies, and ransacked homes. They are renewed by the thrill of the hunt and the subsequent kill, which often results in these kindred devouring their prey, in whole or in part.
The gangrel tend to be rather nomadic, frequently moving to a new area, settling in for a while, before attacking a rural homestead and moving again. Some gangrel have a particular fondness for water, often residing near lakes and swamps, among the other parts of the wildnerness. Due to the extent with which their animalistic features present themselves, the gangrel may have difficulty mingling with the kine.
Key Powers: Animalism, Ferocity, Protean, Tenacity
Visual Cues: Matted fur or spines; animal eyes; hooves, tusks, talons, horns, etc.
The malkavians are a relatively unassuming class of vampires. Like the daeva, the malkavians can mix with the kine without much difficulty, often letting them assume normal professions. A malkavian may seem normal, many do, in fact, but they almost always have a tale-tell sign, some quirk or habit, that may clue keen observers in. Rarely are any two malkavians alike, but they all suffer from some severe mental disease of one form or another. One malkavian may be hellbent on collecting a specific body part of his target in a desire to add it to his grisly collection, another my feel compelled to arson, perhaps another hears whispers that prompt him to kill his family and neighbors before disappearing, adopting a new identity, and repeating it over and over again.
They are some of the weakest vampires, generally lacking many of the supernatural powers of the other kindred, yet two important abilities manifest themselves strongest in the malkavians: the power of auspex, which lets malkavian's glimpse the future, and the power of dementation, which inflicts on others part of the malkavian's madness.
Key Powers: Auspex, Dementation, Obfuscate
Visual Cues: Creepy smiles, unsettling looks, disheveled hair, eccentric clothing
Inspiration: The malkavians are inspired by real-world 'crazies' like Jack the Ripper, Jeffrey Dahmer, Albert Fish, Ed Gein, Ted Bundy, John Wayne Gacy, and even the fictional Sweeney Todd and Dexter Morgan.
Disfigured, diseased, disgraced, these wretched creatures exist on the fringes of vampire and human society, often dwelling in slums, sewers, junkyards, docks, anywhere a missing person once a month won't draw too much attention. They are among the most reclusive of kindred, and interestingly, rather protective of their afflicted brothers and sisters. This does not mean that they are pleasant - indeed,
Their saving grace is that they are relatively stealthy predators, eager to avoid conflict unless they are sure to win, and capable of existing amongst humans, while being ignored by them. They traffic in secrets and espionage, having eyes and ears on the kine in ways the other kindred lack. However, due to their affliction, they cannot interact with the kine without exceptional effort on their part, and are often at odds with other kindred, who mistrust them purely out of principle.
Key Powers: Contagion, Mortify, Obfuscate, Tenacity
Visual Cues: Misshapen heads; snaggle-toothed; lanky and sinewy; visible rashes, boils, or necrotic flesh
Spectral and wraith-like, these vampires often reside in crypts, tombs, dungeons, castles, mansions, etc. They're almost always tied to a particular location, but their reach is effectively limitless under the cover of darkness. The ventrue are not many, but are so powerful as to have infiltrated the highest institutions in the lands, possessing and manipulating the kine over decades and centuries in order to engineer wars. This is due to their particular form of feeding - they draw nourishment from any and all deaths that occur within a certain radius of them. In recent times, they've taken to promoting more subtle forms of slaughter - gang violence, acts of terrorism, and abortions.
They occupy all industrialized, modern nations, often residing in the capitals, and the financial and business districts, of the countries within their domain. Collectively, the ventrue have more wealth and assets than all other kindred combined. The ventrue family is divided, however, with most being aligned with the Camarilla, while others support the Mossad. They have power over shadows, mortifying the flesh, dominating the wills of others, reanimating others to do their bidding, and more.
Key Powers: Dominate, Mortify, Obtenebration, Presence
Visual Cues: Strong shadows, hard-edged light; translucent, semi-transparent
Inspiration: The ventrue are inspired by shades, ghosts, liches, and other assorted 'dark lords'.
These creatures are the most alien of all kindred, the most overtly demonic, as their forms are a nightmarish visage of bone, sinew, and flesh. Some Tzimisci appear chitinous, while others have skin slick with ichor and bile. Some opt for subtlety, having only a third eye in the center of her forehead, or a perfectly symmetrical body, or a prehensile tail.
They feed, not by killing their victims outright, but by assimilating them into their own form, or that of their dwelling (which is often an extension of themselves). Fortunately, they're the smallest family of vampires. Unfortunately, they're some of the most powerful individually, and a few have even been known to have lairs in the heart of metropolitan areas.
They possess a whole host of powers, but their specialty is vicissitude, letting them flay and mould their victims, rearranging organs and limbs, rendering a once human frame into a twisted abomination.
Key Powers: Protean, Vicissitude
Visual Cues: Protruding bone, extra arms, mask-like faces
Inspiration: The Xzimisci are inspired by Tzneetch, The Thing, the Hellraiser Cenobites, and the Phyrexians (especially ones like Elesh Norn) and Eldrazi from Magic: The Gathering. The new game Scorn also has an amazing aesthetic that evokes the Xzimisci.