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Vampire: The Masquerade — Redemption  

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Жанр: Action/RPG | Платформы: PC

Разработчик: Nihilistic Software | Издатель: Activision

Дата выхода: 7 июня 2000

До своего падения вы возглавляли крестовый поход против нечисти. Теперь вы сами стали вампиром – тем злом, с которым сражались. В мире Тьмы вам придется столкнуться со своим заклятым врагом – могущественным вампиром Вукодлаком.
Ваше злобное противостояние начнется в средневековой Европе и не утихнет до наших дней. Цель преследования и вечной схватки – уничтожить бездушного врага. Это единственная надежда отомстить за мучительное бессмертие.

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Vampire: The Masquerade — Bloodlines 

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Жанр: Role-Playing-Game | Платформы: [PC]
Разработчик: Troika Games| Издатель: Activision
Дата выхода: 17 ноября 2004


Vampire: The Masquerade — Bloodlines — ролевая игра, разработанная компанией Troika Games и выпущенная компанией Activision в 2004 году. Основана на сеттинге Мира Тьмы — Vampire: The Masquerade. Примечательно, что Bloodlines была одной из первых игр, выпущенных на движке Source от Valve Software, одновременно с Half-Life 2. Третья и последняя игра Troika Games.


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Vampire: The Masquerade — Bloodlines 2


Vampire: The Masquerade - Coteries of New York    
 

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Жанр: текстовая рпг | Платформы: PC, Nintendo Switch

Разработчик: Draw Distance | Издатель: Draw Distance

Дата выхода: 4 декабря 2019

Главный герой Coteries of New York — юный вампир, который оказывается в Нью-Йорке во время противостояния двух объединений, Камарилья и Анархов. Игрок сможет вступить в один из нескольких кланов, от чего будут зависеть способности его персонажа и варианты ответов в диалогах, а также элементы сюжета.

 
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Vampire: The Masquerade - Swansong    

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Разработчик: Big Bad Wolf | Издатель: Bigben Interactive

Дата выхода: 2021

Под управлением игрока окажутся три вампира из разных кланов Камарильи.  Сталкиваясь с убийствами, заговорами и борьбой за власть, им предстоит защищать интересы своего клана и всех Сородичей, а также обеспечить соблюдение Маскарада — свода правил, обязывающих вампиров сохранять свое существование в тайне.

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Все-таки не в совсем различных мирах живут сверхъестественные существа WOD, обычно это на усмотрение Рассказчика. Внутри вселенной друг о друге они вполне в курсе. Феи, в частности, думают, что вампиры - потомки феи Лилит, обезумевшей от жажды крови, а демоны уверены, что вампиры - это потомки ангелов (кажется, нефилимов, если не путаю). И все такое прочее. С логикой даже в рамках одной линейки зачастую полный швах. 

Самой бредовой линейкой в старом МТ всегда считала Мумий, а вот самые классные - Вампиры, Демоны, Феи и Призраки.

Про демонов именно путаешь, там демоны прекрасно осведомлены кто такой Каин, да и вообще все восстание началось из за того, что некоторые ангелы почувствовали, что произойдет что-то страшное (первое убийство) и решили открыться людям для их зашиты. Да и важную битву они выиграли из за того что ключевые военачальники Небесного воинства по заданию бога отправились уговаривать, ну или проклясть Каина.      

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Линии крови входящие в линейку Bloodlines the Chosen. Линии крови созданы фанатами, одобрены разработчиками и введены в канон.

 

Даэва.

Дюшейн

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In tales, vampires are often depicted as rapacious creatures of unmatched appetite. They appear from the shadows, turning the lives of hapless mortals into waking nightmares of blood and sorrow. Often, stories of decadent aristocracy parallel these portrayals of the undead. Bored nobility charm some naive peasant, inviting him into the world of the languid halls of power, only to turn the poor worker's life into a game. In the languorous Duchagne bloodline, the two images have merged, spawning a creature driven as much by a never-ending hunger as by a deep-seated need for new sensations. Among the bourgeoisie of 1765 France, few could hold the fickle attention of indolent aristocracy such as the Vicomte and Vicomtesse du Chagne. Though not landowners, the du Chagne were competent merchants and excellent manipulators. Their lavish parties consistently pushed the boundaries between risqué and obscene, delighting the court of King Louis XV and his successor. The Vicomte, Albaric, and his wife, Eglatina, had voracious appetites that would have put even Caligula to shame. The parties they held were always scandalous affairs: They often brought in prostitutes from nearby cities, each paid handsomely for her service and silence. There, they suffered the sadistic vices of the Vicomte, Vicomtesse and their guests. When not playing hosts to debauchery, the du Chagnes toyed with the affections of naïve youths in the Court, tempting them with deviant pleasures and empty promises of power and wealth. For husband and wife, the hunt was the only interest; the outcome unimportant. A Daeva, attracted to their folly, found most of these games less than innovative in comparison to those of the Kindred. But the depraved couple themselves were fascinating to him, and he believed they had great potential. He decided he would sculpt the two into social predators worthy of Kindred society. In the midst of an arranged party for his friends, the Daeva took the pair and introduced them to their Requiems. The two reveled in the Danse Macabre, diving into the courtly intrigues as though born to it. Their sire instructed them in the les arts licencieux, showing them how to use the Vitae to alter the emotions of their victims. The trio was inseparable, holding grand masques for mortal and Kindred guests alike. As the pair's newfound abilities grew, the parties became lavish spectacles, often escalating into chaotic orgies of blood and pain. This unmitigated lust for sensation, however, led to their downfall. The three were so consumed in their own games of manipulation and self-gratification that they lost track of the troubles brewing around them. The three remained blissfully ignorant for several decades as problems plagued the social structure of France. As insurgents assaulted the Tuileries, the Vicomte and his wife held a masque. When the Assembly suspended the monarchy with the support of the Jacobins, the three dallied with a family of the nouveaux riches. Then, as the sun was low in the Parisian sky, the revolution came with violence and voices raised in anger. Weakened from the sleep of the day, the vampires were no match for the mob. The Vicomte and his sire met Final Death, while only Eglatina survived, though barely. Wounded and in shock as her lavish world crumbled into ash, the Vicomtesse retreated into the numbing grasp of torpor. Several decades later, she emerged from the death-like sleep and sought relief from the nightmares of torpor that plagued her. She took in several mortal retainers, hoping to use them to satisfy her debased appetites and to salve her grief. Strangely, the old methods failed to elicit any joy in her dead heart. Even more bizarrely, the loss of the Vicomte and her sire twisted her ministrations, forcing the protégées (as she preferred to call her subjects) to share her sadness and regret, feeling it as their own. Most broke under the mixture of physical and psychological torment, but a small handful flourished. No matter what she levied against their flesh and minds, these servants begged for more. Impressed, she eventually Embraced them, traning them in the ways of the Vitae as she had been trained. These proteges took on the title of Les Éleves du Chagne, or more simply, the Duchagne. Or so goes the story as told by Eglatina. Many of her descendants, however, suspect that either purposeful deception or torpor-twisted memories have altered the truth. In the carefully manicured salons of the Duchagne, broodmates exchange whispered speculation. Some believe that the unnamed sire was the true origin of the bloodline's prized ability to manipulate the senses of others. They claim that Eglatina killed her own sire and husband out of a selfish desire to be in total control. Others believe that Albaric was actually killed prior to the Vicomtesse's Embrace, and that her own desire twisted her mind in torpor, creating false memories of a fantasy life. The bloodline's ability to twist perception, they say, is a direct extension of Eglatina's wishful desire to change the truth. And what of the mysterious Daeva who sired her? Why has she never spoken his name? Has she forgotten, or does she merely choose not to remember? Over the last couple of centuries, members of the bloodline have changed little from the sybaritic lifestyle of the du Chagne, even if they are a bit more adapted to modern lifestyles. It is also worth noting that the majority have taken a far more active role in Kindred society, adding their unique talents as marketable skills to their covenant of choice. Because of the power wielded by members of this bloodline, outsiders are often leery of interaction. Rumors abound about just what the Bacchantes are capable of doing, and few wish to find out from personal experience. Indeed, the grand balls held by the bloodline on special occasions are often more than most care to see. These gatherings are used by members to parade their latest proteges, or to display particularly clever uses of the bloodline's ability to manipulate the senses. These parties can be as formal as the standard high school prom or as surreal as the most twisted carnival. However, in spite of their shared induction experiences, there is little that truly unifies members of the bloodline any more. Often it is only their rapid loss of empathy for others that connects two Duchagne. Sensations are quick to please, and discarded even more quickly. Within a few short years, a Duchagne vampire finds that it takes more and more depraved acts to stir any sense of pleasure in her existence, until only the most base and cruel indulgence manages to bring a weary smile to her pallid face. The reason for this desensitizing is as much grist for the rumor mill of the bloodline as their origin.
 
 
Developer’s Comments: This entry stood out for us right from the very start of the contest. It was one of a relative few — the Duchagne weren’t an extremely popular choice for writers, it seems — but they were handled with a persuasive sense of tragedy that brought it to the fore of entries across the board. The notion of the Daeva’s uncontrollable vice, exploded to a grand level by supernaturally imposed ennui, was too compelling to ignore. In edits, the evolution of the line over time really took shape, laying in a believable foundation for its members and confi rming the entry’s place among our fi nalists. The Discipline of Licencieux went through a number of mechanical changes, presenting a challenge because we wanted to convey a sense of the Duchagne’s manipulations without taking them entirely out of the realm of the real — we didn’t want them to just be illusionists. I believe the result is a truly excellent expression of Daeva tragedy: a line with the power to move any heart, but expressing it only to keep their accelerated sense of boredom at bay.
 
 
Parent Clan: Daeva
 
Nickname: Bacchantes
 
 
Covenant: Most Duchagne find a place in the hallowed halls of the First Estate. The Duchagne's manipulative gifts allow them to excel at negotiation and interrogation in equal measures, as well as general interaction with kine and Kindred. Duchagne vampires make excellent Advocates, Speakers and Interpreters. Some use their power to rocket up through the ranks of the Invictus, applying it viciously to their competition. Many Kindred fear the subversive talents of the Duchagne, but few give voice to those fears, knowing full well that they risk becoming targets of the Bacchantes' attention. The Circle of the Crone holds the second largest number of this bloodline. The concept of growth through pain and tribulation appeals to the Bacchantes' nature, and the bloody rites of Crúac hold a certain (some would say unhealthy) amount of fascination. A Duchagne Acolyte is likely to build a cult of personality around herself, using her ability to alter the senses of her followers to convince them of her own divinity. Often these mortal cults enthusiastically deify the vampire, bringing willing, and not so willing, prey to sate her bloodlust. Many of the Bacchantes who take this route burn out quickly though, often buying into their own rhetoric and pushing themselves to wilder and wilder excess in the name of misbegotten self-worship. Other, less self-serving Duchagne see the Crone's faith in growth through tribulation as a natural path to enlightenment, and consider their own initiation into undeath part of the process. To these ends, they begin to revere pain and torment. The members of these bloody factions are scar-covered, callous thugs who attempt to spread their own pain into the lives of all around them, believing that the anguish will ease their souls toward enlightenment. Those few Duchagne who join the ranks of the Lancea Sanctum often disapprove of the decadence and self-indulgence their brothers and sisters wallow in. To these Sanctified, les arts licencieux are better put to the use of hounding the heretical and tormenting the wicked. Moreover, members of this covenant eschew many of the hedonistic indulgences of their brethren, choosing to indulge few pleasures of their own outside of the completion of their duty. The Carthian Movement holds little appeal for the Duchagne. Eglatina has commented often to her childer and grandchilder of the Movement's similarities to the revolution that took her sire and husband from her, and these teachings have filtered down the ranks of the bloodline, tainting members' attitudes toward the covenant. There are, to date, no members of the Duchagne within the ranks of the Ordo Dracul. Though certain ideals espoused by the Dragons pique the occasional interest of a lone Bacchante, the Duchagne's inability to stay interested in repetitious work tends to diminish her ability to take the covenant's philosophies seriously.
 
 
Appearance: Though Albaric and Eglatina were noble in title alone, the two still maintained the appearance of those born to the aristocracy. And while proteges are taken from generally all areas and cultures of life, there is a certain standard to which members are held when it comes to appearances. Two members of the same brood may be as differing in tastes as night and day, but whatever it is they choose to wear, one can be assured it is the finest, and most fashionable and most expensive. Yet, there is always a certain antiseptic look and scent about members of the Duchagne, like someone who has been working in a hospital or with chemical cleaners. Everything is too carefully arranged, too perfect. One would almost believe that their clothes are worn once, and never again.
 
 
Havens: The members of the bloodline are all about keeping up appearances, and few other places allow for such an intimate look at the soul as the hearth and home. The havens of the Duchagne are palettes and tools with which the vampires use to create their masterpieces upon the blank canvases of their protégées. As such, functionality is as important as style. Where one might maintain a spartan dwelling filled with easily cleaned faux leather furniture, another exists in a lavish home in a cocoon of rich textures and color. Both, havens, however, would be set up for quick rearranging and cleaning. The two would also have 'accommodations' secreted away for future protégées. The maintaining of these hidden (and sometimes not-so-hidden) rooms often leaves behind a strong scent of antiseptic solutions, which clings to the bodies and clothing of residents. It is perhaps this scent that others commonly associate with the bloodline.
 
Background: The predominant number of Duchagne originated from the ranks of proteges with which the members surround themselves. Prospects are often watched for months before being taken. A few never even enter their possible sire's haven, but are tested from a distance, their every action judged. There is no true measure to gauge a protégée's worth as a member save that which the vampire decides. Those who survive their patron's perverse affections and manage to show an enthusiasm for said treatment are desirable candidates for the Embrace. Those who fail remain the target of the Duchagne's attentions. That is, until the vampire tires of them, and tire the Duchagne quickly do. Duchagne rarely use the Blood Oath, certainly not on a protege. The student's mind must be clear of foreign influences. Never does a protégée come from the blood addicted. Induction of Daeva into the bloodline has rarely occurred. Indeed, the majority of this bloodline has never known anything other than the intimate relationship between sire and childe, and few even realize that they are anything but Duchagne. If a Bacchante found a Daeva with great promise, that Daeva might be taken into the bloodline, but the Daeva would have to be willing to undergo the same treatment that mortal proteges do.
 
Character Creation: Proteges are chosen from a wide variety of mortals, but those who excel in social or mental practice tend to be Embraced more often then those who are more physically inclined. Manipulation, Composure and Resolve are highly favored Attributes, although, after the physical trauma many proteges endure prior to the Embrace, a high Stamina is quite justified. Social and Mental Skills are coveted by the members of this bloodline. Crafts, Intimidation and Subterfuge are all useful, as are Medicine and Socialize. Herd and Haven are highly prized Merits, as well as connections to mortal police and criminal organizations.
 
Bloodline Disciplines: Celerity, Licencieux, Majesty, Vigor
 
 
Weakness: Members of this bloodline tend to grow weary of simple pleasures quicker than most vampires. That which thrilled the vampire one day is discarded as passé the next. Within a few years, only the most deviant acts manage to stir any emotion in the Bacchantes. To many outsiders, the Duchagne seem to be fickle with their affections. In actuality, the Kindred of this bloodline simply lose their ability to empathize with their lost humanity, and are desperate to feel anything at all. All Duchagne vampires suffer from a die penalty to rolls for repeated actions. After they've done something once, they just get bored with it; they have trouble focusing their full attention and get sloppy. Any time a Duchagne does something the same way she's done it before, this penalty applies. On extended actions, the penalty accumulates on each roll following the first. For example, if a Duchagne character were to paint a portrait, the Storyteller may declare it an Extended Dexterity + Crafts action. The first roll is unmodified. A -1 die penalty would be applied to the second roll, a -2 dice penalty to the third, a -3 dice penalty to the fourth and so on.
 
 
Organization: The sire/childe connection continues to be the primary source of order within the Duchagne, with Eglatina sitting as the Matriarch above all. Typically, the sire, termed the esclavagiste, inducts a mortal possessing qualities the sire finds favorable. This mortal is referred to as the protege, and remains such until released into Kindred society. Protégées possess little-to-no rights, save those their esclavagiste grant them, and are little more than slaves. Duchagne rarely trade protégées, but it might happen in instances of truly stubborn inductees. Upon release into Kindred society, the protege is referred to as being sans entrave, or unchained. Typically, a grand ball is held in the Duchagne's honor. Such parties are not restricted by covenant politics, or even blood ties. Indeed, grand balls tend to be showcases of the bloodline's collective talents.
 
 
Concepts: Lothario, Prince's interrogator, drug lord, bondage freak, con artist, power behind the throne, bored aristocrat, purveyor of the flesh, vengeful zealot.
 
 
History: When Eglatina first awoke from torpor, she found herself mired in the grief of her loss. Torpid dreams had left her confused and angry, while fate had stranded her without a purpose in existence. Knowing little else to do, she attempted to pick up where the trio had left off. The home of the Vicomte and Vicomtesse in Bordeaux was empty and lifeless, seemingly echoing her own inner state. Masquerading as one of the nouveaux riches, she hosted intimate parties where she attempted to recreate the past. Yet, she could not bring herself to enjoy the deviant entertainments. About this time, France’s Restoration began to falter. Unrest once again began to rear its head among the masses as the economy continued to tumble. Fearing the worst, Eglatina was quick to act this time. She made arrangements for travel to the British Isles, eventually making a place for herself in the antiquated Kindred Court of London. Here the Vicomtesse encountered a minor lord named William Dorchester. In this stately landowner, she found the force of personality that she had longed for in a companion. Though he appeared cultured and well spoken in public, in private Lord Dorchester needed little prompting to engage in his vices. Eglatina took the lusty noble under her wing; slowly, she introduced him to the world she had existed in for almost a half-century. She subtly pushed Dorchester to greater depths of depravity, using her abilities to alter his perceptions of their acts. Pleased with his progress, she pledged to make the man into her new Vicomte. With the instatement of Louis-Philippe as king of France and the apparent return of stability, Eglatina invited Lord Dorchester back to her Bordeaux home. She introduced him to Kindred society during a lavish fete thrown for her return home. The party quickly descended into a bacchanal of prodigious violence and indulgence. Influenced by the Vicomtesse, Lord Dorchester eagerly joined the revelry. On that night, Eglatina Embraced William. Though new to the Blood, William proved to be a shrewd member of Kindred society, manipulating the tensions between his fellow vampires to gain favors for himself and his ‘wife.’ His grasp of Licencieux also flowered quickly, as did his innovation in its use. Yet little seemed to hold his interest for long. Rapidly, more and more vicious or exotic jaunts were needed to stir his interest. Tensions mounted between the two, and they both sought solace in Embracing new childer. The vitriol displayed by the new Vicomte and Vicomtesse manifested mostly in biting criticisms and backhanded compliments. It was not long before the Vicomtesse and her new Vicomte realized what was soon to follow. On a cold December evening in 1852, the two left their Parisian home for a night of hunting, though they went followed separate routes. By the time the cold winter sun began to lighten the horizon, only Eglatina had returned. The Vicomte never returned, and his childer likewise disappeared. By the late 1860s, unrest grew across Europe. War between France and Prussia brought more anguish to a population already suffering from economic hardships and numerous government changes. The Duchagne had already intertwined themselves throughout many Kindred strongholds within the mid continent, and Eglatina no longer cared much for the changes in the brief lives of the kine or their political problems. Resolutely, she maintained her residence even through the hellish siege of Paris. Yet, her stagnation was engendering a dissatisfaction among her own descendants. The loudest voice within the salons of the Duchagne was that of Anastasia Halstead, a neonate recently made sans entrave. She argued to her broodmates that the bloodline needed to cease wasting their nights as petty entertainers for archaic feudal lords. With their powers, they could change the very society of the Kindred, and create a new order. Many considered her statements to be youthful folly, though a few seemed intrigued, if only as a means of diversion. Eglatina, however, took notice of Anastasia’s words. The Vicomtesse had heard these same cries from the disgruntled mortals every time unrest swept through the world. Indeed, there were already cells of Kindred threatening the same change across Europe. The Vicomtesse had little doubt that these so-called Carthians were in some way influencing her great-grandchilde. The bitterness of the loss of her sire and beloved Albaric spurred her into action. The matriarch declared Anastasia a dissident threat to the Duchagne, and slew her. Most of the family was cruelly entertained by the neonate’s destruction, but, among many of the newly Embraced protégées and sans entrave, hushed criticism arose. Eglatina actually encouraged the rebellion she sought to stave off. From 1867 to 1875, the Duchagne waged war upon themselves. None of the Duchagne on either side joined the Carthian Movement, but many of the elder members of the line accused their childer and grandchilder of sympathizing with the “insurrectionists.” Battles raged between Duchagne kin, and many were petulantly destroyed. The members of the line who survived refer to these battles collectively as “The Nights of Sorrow ,” remembering them with sad embarrassment. The violent rages of the bloodline quelled almost as quickly as they had been stoked, and by the dawn of the 20th century, the Duchagne had returned to their seemingly jaded complacency. Even as two wars enveloped the world, the Bacchantes continued unaffected, although the brutal constructs of the mortal world certainly held their attention. By the early 1930s, the technology for international flight allowed the bloodline to spread itself across the world, most willing to brave the terrible risk just to find themselves in a new place. The exotic locales and sights enthralled the chilled hearts of the Duchagne and only seemed to push them faster than ever toward the depths of depravity. Like children in a candy store, members threw themselves into a world of foreign delights, seemingly wanting to drown themselves in sensation. On the night of the new millennium, December 31, 1999, Eglatina threw a great fete for herself and all her kin in Paris. Those who attended said that she seemed uncharacteristically tired throughout, and impatient for the ringing of the New Year. Then, as the bells finally tolled, she simply rose from her seat, strode to the doors and left without a word. That very night, several of her childer came calling at her lavish, palatial abode. Inside, they discovered the home in a mess. Furniture had been smashed across the marble floors, and the bloody corpses of her protégées had already begun the putrefaction of death. The only living thing in the house was one of the Vicomtesse’s nearly starved ghouls, who was chained in her sleeping chambers, weeping piteously. The bloodline was left floundering without their matriarch. Neither word nor sight of the Vicomtesse has risen since, though rumors come up now and again. Bereft of their founder, most members of the bloodline continue on as they always have. Though the mystery of her disappearance spurs many nights of discourse in salons, younger Duchagne rarely seem concerned with the Vicomtesse’s absence. They busy themselves with affairs of local politics and furthering their own power. Elder Duchagne, on the other hand, do ponder this mystery, for some fear that Eglatina’s decline and disappearance can’t possibly be as simple as they seem.
 
 
Society and Culture: The most basic tie within the Duchagne is the one between esclavagiste and protégée, mentor and student. This relationship is not always known to the future protégée. Indeed, months or years may go by before the student encounters her mentor in person. Many Duchagne choose to become esclavagiste soon after being declared sans entrave — some out of a desire to prove their worth to their sire, others from a deep-seated desire to do unto others as was done to them. The choice to become a mentor, and possible future sire, is as important to the Duchagne as it is to most Kindred, and not taken lightly. This is no attempt at a cheap thrill, or search for a subject to unleash petty cruelty upon. The vampire’s choice of protégée must be someone worthy of being an addition to the family. Thus, the esclavagiste may spend years searching for the protégée who exhibits the traits the esclavagiste desires. She may even go through several such candidates before settling upon one. Elder Duchagne weary of crude and visceral ordeals fairly quickly, and seek a more complex and subtle approach. Working from a distance, they manipulate the lives of their protégées. Caresses by unseen hands, moments of sensory loss or even more tangible effects of job loss or diminished resources all become the tools of the esclavagiste’s handiwork. A few cunning Bacchantes go after those around the protégée, driving them to the verge of madness. With judicious use of Disciplines, the vampire may even ensure that the protégée gradually grows to anticipate the challenges placed before him. Once the protégée has shown a satisfactory degree of progress toward the goal of the esclavagiste, a fete is planned in the kine’s honor. Close members of the bloodline are invited to this lavish affair where the protégée is introduced to his prospective family. For many potentials, this is the first time they ever come face-to-face with the orchestrator of their ordeals. This bloody party is the final test for the protégée. Should he give into the bacchanal around him, the esclavagiste draws him into the Requiem. After the Embrace, the dynamics of the relationship change dramatically. The protégée is no longer subjected to trial after trial, but becomes a companion to his sire. For a brief while, the sire lives vicariously through her childe, seeing once again the pleasures in existence that she has forgotten. The protégée still remains under the watchful eye of his esclavagiste during this time, as she trains him not only in the ways of Kindred society but also in the powers within his Blood. As soon as the fledgling is able to master the basics of Licencieux, he is declared sans entrave, or unchained, and is considered a fully independent member of the bloodline. The Duchagne are often known in Kindred society for the profligate parties they host. These bacchanals push the boundaries of even the most liberal vampire’s bloodlust, and toe the line of decency many elders pretend to uphold. Yet, not all gatherings are equal in their extent or purpose. A majority of social meetings held are salons in which one or two Duchagne invite a select group of Kindred for a private assemblage. These are often filled with political discussion or negotiations for favors advancing the Duchagne’s influence. Generally, a small demonstration is incorporated into the evening as amusement for the guests. This entertainment is also given as a subtle indication of the Bacchante’s mentality, displaying openly what depths she is willing to go to get what she wants, and in what ways she is able to get them. Embraced protégées are allowed to attend these salons, though the motto “be seen, but not heard” is often followed. Although answering questions posed by guests is acceptable, the protégée is there merely to learn, not participate. Fetes are those gatherings meant mostly for the bloodline’s own members. On rare occasions, close allies of the family are invited as well. These are lavish parties held for special occasions, such as the “Déclaration,” when a protégée is released from his esclavagiste’s care, or the “Adieu” for those Duchagne who have decided to fall into the grip of torpor, escaping the tedium of existence. Most Kindred, however, only hold witness to the spectacles of the Duchagne Grand Masques. These are the resplendent parties that have given the bloodline their fame. These gatherings are open to all, not just the bloodline, and are often held to celebrate some event of the local Court. They are infamous affairs designed specifically to shock their guests and push them to more libidinous behaviors. Fetes and Grand Masques present opportunities for the Duchagne to flaunt their abilities before their peers and gain recognition for them. The more brazen and enthralling the soirée is, the more respect given. Because of this, these grand events lead to an escalation of extremes as members attempt to outdo one another. Due in part to the devotion of energies to these festivities, as well as their own fickle attentions, few Duchagne manage to gain significant positions within the city hierarchy. Those who do take on positions of high rank quickly find their excitement of newfound power dampened by the sheer tediousness of the job’s duties.
 
 
Licencieux: To some, Licencieux is the greatest achievement of Eglatina du Chagne’s focused grief; to others, Licencieux is the stolen secret of les arts licencieux shared by the Vicomtesse’s unnamed sire. No matter where its true origins lay, Licencieux is the Duchagne’s most prized possession. With it, the vampire warps the senses of her prey, manipulating others toward her own perverse goals. Those who have endured its touch are rarely left the same, for the power works upon the very senses of the target, turning sound, touch and even sight against the subject.

 

Калифорния Сяо

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Kindred emotions are but a pallid, hollow echo of living passions. Genuine feelings flowing through a warm, beating heart are lost to the undead. Most Kindred envy the living their emotions. The Xiao crave them. Unable to sustain their existence through Vitae alone, these Daeva offshoots drain their victims of emotions just as they feast on their blood. Those who have been recently rejected or suffered some other misfortune. The Xiao find such mortals, shower them with love and attention, present them a false faÁade of friendship and sincere concern, and then induct them into their blood cult to strip their victims of their very minds and souls. Records of the bloodline founder's vampiric existence date back to the second half of the 19th century. Allegedly, Xiao Jun Jie was already a vampire when he moved to California from the Asian southeast. What is known for certain is that within a couple of decades the prolific Daeva had at least two childer and a sizable human herd. At first, Xiao's followers were organized into an avant-garde polyamorous ring, but mystical elements crept into their philosophy. Xiao fancied himself a "holy man" -- despite not being a "man" anymore -- and went to reside with his followers and many lovers in a reclusive commune. He started a disturbing cult, mixing elements of primitive Buddhism with Catholic paraphernalia and the sharing of Vitae. His teachings revolved around escaping the cycle of reincarnation though ascetic practices, involving fasting, sleep deprivation, intercourse with the master himself and, ultimately, drinking the master's blood. Suffering more than the average Daeva from the sterility of emotions that plagues all Kindred, Xiao devised a Discipline that allowed him to siphon passions away from his living herd. He gorged himself on his followers' passions, rekindling his own while destroying any interest they could have for anything but him. Slowly but surely his following grew in both numbers and dedication -- most of his faithful now regarded him as a lover, a father, a god and more. In the early years of the 20th century, some of his descendants managed to snap out of Xiao's spiritual iron grip. They were able to tear the veil of lies the cult had spun around them and flee. Known as Apostates, these rogue Xiao dwell in fear of reprisal. Xiao cannot stand being rejected by his own blood; deranged by decades of worship, he simply can't stand the thought of someone who knows him but doesn't love him. The elder vampire spends a great deal of resources trying to track down his stray childer, working to bring them back to the fold or destroy them. This night, while most bloodline members still owe loyalty to the founder, a few rogue Xiao cults are scattered across Europe and Asia, far from their old master's interference. Other Apostates have turned their back on the Xiao lifestyle altogether and are striving to start their Requiems afresh, to find a place within vampiric society despite a troubled past and the enduring threat of the Sect.
 
Parent Clan: Daeva
 
Nickname: The Sect (members of the bloodline in good standing) or Apostates (rogue Xiao)
 
Covenant: By and large, most Xiao cultists are unaligned. The Sect's demand for absolute devotion and relentless dedication leaves little time for other pursuits. Besides, most covenants -- indeed, most Kindred in their right state of mind -- want nothing to do with the Xiao. To those rare outsiders who know the Xiao, the bloodline's practices are universally considered a potential breach of the Traditions, and especially a severe threat to the Masquerade. For this reason, the covenants will usually turn down any application from a known Xiao. Apostates, on the other hand, often join a covenant to give a new meaning to their unlives or simply out of a need for protection. The accepting Carthian Movement is the prime choice for disaffected Xiao who have fully rejected the way of their bloodline. The modern, secular outlook of this covenant feels comfortably distant from the mystical Sect. It also helps that the Movement stresses individualism within a structured framework, helping rogue Xiao cope with their newfound freedom. In turn, Xiao tend to do well within the Movement -- as uniformly charismatic leaders, Apostates can quickly rise to positions of great responsibility despite suffering some social stigmata because of their past. The Lancea Sanctum is far less tolerant, but is still home to a small number of Xiao who have managed to turn their back on the Sect without losing their devotion. Sanctified Apostates bring their typical fiery Daeva passion into matters of religion, leaning toward the more mystical side of Longinus's teachings. They're more likely to meditate than to sermonize, and are generally more concerned with their own spiritual growth than with a covenant's agenda. The Lancea Sanctum is prone to consider attachment to an individual Priest a liability rather than an asset. Consequently, Sanctified Apostates rarely reach any position of authority, despite their ability to effortlessly draw sizable followings. So far, no Xiao is known to have joined the Ordo Dracul, the Circle of the Crone or the Invictus.
 
Developer’s Comments: In judging, there were a number of Xiao bloodlines that were good, but two very different entries stood clearly out above the rest. This one cast the Xiao as Kindred devoid of normal emotion, forced to provoke
unnatural devotion among their mortal victims, draining them of sensation as well as blood in order to survive. There was another, equally promising one that cast the Xiao in nearly opposite terms: as overly emotional vampires who needed to diffuse their passions, using the surrounding mortals as a “sponge” to absorb the overfl ow. This one evoked a literal expression of the original one-line summary of the bloodline: its vampires feed directly on the emotions of their victims. The other involved a metaphorical expression of the same term. We debated the merits of both entries for quite some time, trying to fi gure out which would best suit the World of Darkness setting. In the end, we decided that both were too good to eliminate, and that they should both be fi nalists. If Storytellers wish, they can choose one or the other as the “canon” Xiao in their games — but as work continued, I began to really enjoy the idea of both Xiao lines co-existing in the same world. Both have rather self-involved founders, so there’s no reason they wouldn’t both name their lines after themselves in ignorance of the other. The co-existence of two completely different bloodlines with the same name also went a long way toward highlighting the mystery of lines in the World of Darkness: it’s always diffi cult to know that you’re dealing with the line you think you are, and even careful investigation to separate fact from rumor could end up pointing you in the wrong direction. Something so mundane as a shared name can lead to all sorts of misdirection and misattribution — fertile ground for stories in the intrigue-laden
Danse Macabre. Mr. Bompani’s Xiao present a challenge of their own to characters in-game, further complicating matters, because they are in the process of a serious schism drawn along ethical lines. Edits on the original entry mostly went toward highlighting that schism and working to create a bloodline that would serve well both as antagonists and as a source for player characters in a story. I believe that the California Xiao as they are presented here would make one of the best choices for a single-bloodline game.
 
 
Appearance: Older bloodline members from Xiao Jun Jie's community are uniformly attractive, chosen to suit his tastes. This is also true of most, but not all, younger Sect members. All Xiao Embraced in the 19th century, and many American Xiao Embraced later on, are of Asian descent. No Xiao could be described as plain-looking. Bloodline members need to be able to attract attention to use their signature Discipline, so even those few who are not gifted with good looks soon learn how to dress for the part. As fashion-conscious as any Daeva, Xiao strive first and foremost to win trust and confidence. They prefer to sport casual elegance and usually shy away from extravagant looks. When conducting rites or meditation, Sectarian Xiao wear ornate ceremonial robes devised by the line founder. These are reminiscent of a Chinese Buddhist monk's robe, usually in lively warm olors, and are sewn with an eclectic assortment of mystical symbols, lifted from Christian, Buddhist and Taoist imagery. There is some variation in ceremonial robes among different communes, but every robe marks its wearer's status within the bloodline.
 
 
Havens: Sect Xiao are often to be found dwelling in commune-like compounds with their large human herds, usually sharing them with one or more other members of the bloodline. The vampires' quarters are always impeccably furnished -- just as most Daeva, Xiao prefer to spend their Requiems in the lap of luxury. Chambers reserved for the cult masters are also well guarded and generally inaccessible to lowly cultists. The human followers' quarters, on the other hand, tend to be spartan at best and squalid at worst. If at all possible, the compound will be found in a remote, secluded location comfortably far from prying eyes. Apostates tend to be more practical-minded in regard to their havens, favoring places that are both hard to find and easy to defend. Religious Apostates favor quiet, secluded, spacious havens. Their spiritual pursuits are readily apparent to any visitor: Holy texts and images line the walls, and the smell of incense wafts through the air. Secular Apostates, on the other hand, fall back to the ways of other Succubi, favoring cozy, well-kept quarters in lively urban areas, even at the loss of some safety.
 
Background: Faithful Xiao Embrace from within their cult herds exclusively. Indeed, it might be argued that the whole cult's purpose is to select the best prospective bloodline members. "Best," in Xiao Jun Jie's eyes, meaning of course "most beautiful and slavishly loyal." Over several years, cult members are accurately screened and tested for unswerving faith and unthinking devotion. Eventually, a handful of the most promising cultists are required to undergo one last trial, breaching the veil between life and death and ascending to a deathless state beyond the circle of reincarnation. To the cultists, this looks like a suicide ritual, and it's the ultimate test of loyalty. Those who refuse are slain on the spot. The cult leader then Embraces the rest, or tries to. There are known instances of some manic Xiao trying to lead up to 12 cultists at a time into unlife, accidentally slaying all but one or two. Siring many childer seems to confer a measure of status within the Sect, but few Xiao have been able to perform mass Embraces more than once in their Requiem. This practice of mass Embrace does nothing to endear the bloodline to the rest of Kindred society. Most vampires see it as an offense to the Second Tradition and an unreasonable drain on the blood supply. Many simply see it as an abhorrent, downright despicable practice. Most Xiao are of American nationality, and a plurality are of Asian descent. Members are chosen for their ability to successfully found and lead a cult cell of their own. Good looks, a strong personality, burning ambition and a way with words are all highly sought after. Usually, cultists are drawn to the Xiao because the mortals find themselves at odds with society, or are unable to cope with some change they are going through. Apostates are an even more diverse lot. Most are ex-cult members who escaped the bloodline's clutches. They share most of the traits normally associated with Sect Xiao, except blind devotion to the bloodline. A tiny minority of Xiao have never been cultists themselves, being instead the childer of fugitive Apostates.
 
 
Character Creation: As with all Daeva, Xiao favor Social Attributes and Skills. Furthermore, they all excel at Intimidation and Persuasion and receive at least some training in Academics and Occult. The Striking Looks Merit is a given for any Xiao, and Sect members should invest some dots in Herd and a communal Haven.
 
 
Bloodline Disciplines: Celerity, Kingjan, Majesty, Vigor
 
 
Weakness: All of the Xiao suffer the weakness of the Daeva, their parent clan. In addition, Xiao Jun Jie's psychosis has twisted the blood of his line. All members of the Xiao are sociopaths, and do not experience the normal range of human emotion. They suffer a -2 dice penalty on all rolls involving Empathy, Expression and Socialize. Any time the Xiao is involved in circumstances that demand a display of compassion or remorse, he becomes irritable instead. If the circumstance persists, he may have to test for a frustration rage frenzy (requiring three successes on a Resolve + Composure roll to resist).
 
 
Organization: The Sectarian Xiao act much like a tight-knit charismatic cult, centered upon the bloodline founder, Xiao Jun Jie. As he created more childer, the founder sent them to other cities to spread the cult. Only a few were successful, though. Princes usually resent such intrusion on their domains and stomp out Sect cells with cold efficiency. No Xiao cell is known to exist in the American Midwest or on the East Coast. Most Sectarian Xiao still reside on the West Coast, and all members in a given city share a haven and form a coterie. The single largest Xiao cell is located in California, where the bloodline founder resides. Some other West Coast states also boast a Xiao cell, usually consisting of one Kindred cell leader, two to four other coterie members, either vampires or ghouls, and at least 10 or 20 human followers. These independent cells often have something in common with the main Californian cult, but they also reflect their local leaders' personalities to some degree. A few work like secretive, paranoid militias; others have closer ties with organized crime and run extensive drug and prostitution rings under the religious facade. Regardless, all cult members are expected to show absolute loyalty to their cell leader. Rogue Xiao don't usually keep any ties with members of their bloodline. A few crusading Apostates, though, have taken upon themselves the duty to help others escape the Sect. Over time, informal rings of Apostates have sprung up in a few cities. These loose affiliations provide each other with counsel and mutual protection, but have little in the way of formal organization, and most are rarely willing to trust any member of the line they don't already know.
 
 
Concepts: Doomsday preacher, spoiled socialite, angst-ridden runaway teen, frustrated writer, ex-cult member, paranoid militiaman, commune leader, conspiracy theorist, jaded polygamist, abusive office boss.
 
 
History: The tales that spread across Chinese ports and cities in 1848 told of Gum San, “Gold Mountain,” a place far across the Pacific Ocean where precious metal could be dug in vast amounts. A backwater, dangerous place that the rest of the world called California. Lured by promises of easy riches or simply driven by desperation, at first only a handful of youths braved the sea, but that trickle would soon become a flood as thousands upon thousands of Cantonese immigrants moved to California in the following years. They fled civil unrest and crop failure and sailed toward disease, hard toil and discrimination. And yet a greater menace was traveling with them. Hidden on a Chinese ship headed for the American West Coast, a Cantonese Daeva named Xiao Jun Jie moved with the hopeful mortals. The sailors who had met him at the dock didn’t realize he was an undead. After all, he shared no trait with the vampires of folklore, except maybe for the ravenous sexual appetite that the Chinese attributed to the P’o, or lower soul. Jun Jie had been a monk and a slave trader, and he had walked down the path to both enlightenment and depravity, the latter with far more enthusiasm than the former. Unfortunately, the reckless Succubus had made one too many enemies in his native country and had no choice left but to start anew in an unknown, savage land. The move turned out far better than expected for the fugitive Daeva. His destination proved to be a chaotic, nearly lawless place where competition was scarce and prey
abundant. It was far easier for a vampire to have his fill of Vitae than for a man to have his fill of gold. California back then was sorely lacking in the subtler pleasures of unlife, but it provided Xiao with all the crude ones he could handle. The state was changing at an astonishing pace, though, even more so in the eyes of the stagnant Kindred. He could clearly see that it would be a matter of mere decades before California became a hub of civilization. He needed but bide his time and wait for the squalid wooden shacks to be replaced by proper houses, palaces and cities. Xiao bade his time, and started a business. He had taken half a dozen of his favorite lovers with him from Canton, and it didn’t take him long to realize that lust was no less a powerful tool on this side of the sea than in the rest of the world. The immigrants were mostly young men, and women were rare and highly sought after. Xiao still had a few friends in Canton who could persuade a lady with words or actions, and he became adept at smuggling women, willing or not, into California. The most beautiful ones joined his personal menagerie. The ones he deemed unworthy or grew bored of were given to his most loyal followers as a reward, forced into prostitution or sold. Soon Xiao had carved a niche for himself. He knew what people feared and what they craved, and he was able to give them both. He gained a reputation as a powerful and wise person, and gained many loyal followers among Chinese immigrants, who sought his advice, his protection and his favor. Racial segregation worked in Xiao’s favor, shielding his domain from the European and American competition that was slowly settling California. However, he knew he couldn’t survive protracted conflict. Experimenting with his blood, he devised a new Discipline that would
help control the kine, and gave birth to his own bloodline, believing that the newly arrived Kindred would be cowed by his unfamiliar capabilities. Finally, the Daeva “elevated” his two most beautiful and loyal lovers by Embracing them. The Chinese Exclusion Acts of 1882 to 1902 singled out ethnic Chinese and reversed the existing policy that actively encouraged immigration. Xiao realized that “his” community would never grow as fast as he wanted it to. He had successfully started cells of his cult across both the West Coast and East Coast, but he wanted more. He began to consider expanding his cult outside the Chinatowns. Taking an active interest in the occult revival that was gaining steam across the world, he was especially intrigued by the blending of Western and Eastern traditions in the theosophical movements of mortal men. Xiao had first been introduced to Catholicism by Jesuit missionaries when he was still in Canton, but his interest in Christianity was superficial at best. He cared more for the rituals and the pomp than for the underlying principles, but he realized that he could make his cult more palatable by applying a ritualism drawn from its symbols and language. With that goal in mind, he begun structuring his Sect. The rites and prayers became an eclectic hodge-podge of disparate elements designed to appeal to the broadest possible demographic and launched an aggressive campaign of recruitment outside the Chinatown districts. Within three decades, the Xiao Sect managed to gain a substantial number of converts, with cells led by one of Xiao’s childer quickly expanding out into nearby domains. Jun Jie wanted more, he craved more and he was sure he could make his line grow faster. But his feeding habits had become onerous. In 1914, as his lengthy Requiem weighted heavily on him, Xiao went into torpor, content that his bloodline was well entrenched and would watch over his slumber with unwavering zeal. But his very first childer grew restless without a strong hand to guide them. They suspected, quite correctly, that their sire’s interest in exploring new spiritual avenues was insincere, and that he had strayed from the path. Some rejected his teachings, abandoning the Sect and seeking their fortunes elsewhere. Thus were the first Xiao Apostates created. Advocating for a return to the elder ways but still nominally Xiao faithful, the rest of the Sect argued and debated and waited for their sire to wake up. The Sect founder slept away the decades leading up to and following World War II, tormented by vague nightmares of treachery and deceit. One unseasonably cold night in 1946, one of his adherents with potent enough blood managed to wake Xiao, although the adherent sacrificed himself in the process. Xiao woke up hungrier and more deranged than he had ever been, destroying his loyal servant in a frenzy of sudden violence. When Xiao came to his senses, the others present bowed low and told him what had come to pass. When he found out that some of the inheritors of his blood had questioned his wisdom, he swore cold vengeance. The purge that followed was brief and brutal. By the 1970s, most of his rebellious descendants had been sent to Final Death. In the fires of conflict, all Xiao cells had been wiped off the eastern United States. The surviving Apostates have successfully gone into hiding, and their numbers have grown as Xiao Jun Jie continues to reveal his insane tyranny. 
 
 
Society and Culture: More than most Kindred, the Xiao depend on their herds. A multi-tiered religious group provides the bloodline a steady flow of new recruits. While roughly half of its mortal followers are laypeople living relatively normal lives, the Sect encourages a monastic lifestyle. Kindred or ghoul “Masters” provide nighttime empowerment classes to anybody who’s willing to pay, but further advancement (and “true enlightement”) requires forsaking one’s family and joining the local commune as a monk. Practitioners may be invited to special private meditation lessons with their teachers. During these sessions, the Masters feed on their pupils and subject them to Vinculums and other forms of abuse. Promising monks who show good looks, extraordinary charisma, unswerving loyalty and the ability to please their Masters may be allowed to join the bloodline. When the leaders of a commune feel that overcrowding is reaching dangerous levels, they order their most gifted childer to found a new commune in some other town. In addition to over-indulging in one’s vices, this recruiting, screening and training process constitutes the bulk of a sectarian Xiao’s night-to-night activities. Sustaining and expanding the bloodline is of paramount importance to these Kindred. The Sect rarely establishes itself in large cities or well-established domains, thus avoiding interference from other vampires. Friction between Xiao and Kindred covenants often reaches critical levels when they do presume to make their home near other vampires, as the Sect serves no Tradition but that imposed by Xiao Jun Jie. Advancement within the bloodline works much like a pyramid scheme, with status being awarded according to the number of childer successfully Embraced, as long as these childer prove themselves worthy of the bloodline. By the same token, a failed Embrace or a child who goes Apostate is a source of powerful shame for any Xiao. The bloodline is tightly knit and extremely hierarchical — lower-ranking neonates are expected to blindly follow any order from a superior, no matter how debased. In turn, they expect their followers to degrade themselves just as readily. Most Xiao have been Embraced directly into the bloodline, and are wary of outsider Daeva seeking an Avus. Such rare applicants must prove their worth to the Sect beyond any doubt, usually with a lengthy probation period or by performing some outstanding deed. Each individual Sect of the Xiao maintains a number of ritualized “cleansing” and “abasement” practices designed to strengthen ties to the leader of the cult and eliminate ones with outside influences. Self-imposed starvation, heavy regimens of prayer and meditation, directed asceticism and compulsory schedules help to enforce the isolation of cult members, while emotional
“sharing sessions,” ceremonial sexual congress and frequent reassurances are designed to draw individual members into a web of dependence and associated security. Kindred of the Sect are subject to these practices as well as ritual feedings upon the leader, and are no less vulnerable to their emotional effects. The Sects impose a complicated calendar of practice and ritual observance, ensuring that most members don’t get much time to develop doubts or even think for themselves. Most (including the Sect of Xiao Jun Jie) actually discard the Gregorian calendar, replacing it with one of their own. Kindred of the Sect do engage in one ritual that mortals never see. If the presence of an Apostate is suspected, the loyal Xiao are expected to partake in a fanatic, prayer-fueled hunt designed to capture and destroy the traitor. Even the leader of a local Sect will take part, chasing his hated foe through the streets and harrying her until the very edge of dawn if necessary, stopping at nothing to destroy her. The destruction of an Apostate is one of the highest priorities of Sectarian Xiao, and one who personally achieves that goal is likely to be given control of his own cult (or further enforce the adoration of his existing membership). Apostate Xiao, rejecting the culture of the Sect, tend to distance themselves from the practices of their founder as much as possible. Many actually retreat into monastic observance of one type or another, hiding from their families and seeking to repair the damage done to their souls all at once. Some actively combat the vengeanceseekers among their own kind, fighting to destroy them and hoping that they might one night put an end to Xiao Jun Jie’s mad cult.
 
 
Kingjan: The Xiao signature Discipline, which derives its name from a distorted transcription of Xiao Jun Jie’s teachings, allows the undead to drain or destroy others’ emotions to the vampire’s benefit. The target of this Discipline will usually feel listless and depressed after being subjected to it, and will tend to lose interest in anything but his
vampire tormentor. Except for Kiss of Oblivion, the Xiao usually needs do nothing more than talk to the victim to activate the Discipline. Kingjan is often used in conjunction with Majesty since it tends to sap defenses the victim’s defenses. The Discipline doesn’t exert any control on the victim the way Majesty and Dominate do, but does make the victim much more susceptible to manipulation.

 

Тианпан Сяо
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Уникальный случай, когда в конкурсе победило две родослвные одной номинации
 
Among the Kindred, the passion of the Daeva is legendary. The lurid tales of the Harpies often include warnings about the dangers of allowing one's Vices to take control, using the Daeva as an object lesson. Young neonates content themselves with the thought that such loss of control could never happen to them. They have never met the Xiao. This Daeva bloodline draws in those around them into excesses of emotion, setting a standard for self-indulgent behavior that few can match. Those who try soon fall prey to the Xiao's own manipulations. Xiao Tianpàn was a Daeva Embraced during the height of the Qing dynasty, as corruption and greed began to spread through the nation. In life, he was a bureaucrat of the nation, employed as a ghoul by an elder Daeva of the Ordo Dracul for the purpose of increasing influence within the structured court of the Emperor. Serving as a long-term ghoul to a vice-ridden vampire, Tianpàn was well acquainted with the difficulty that the Daeva had holding on to their emotions, and when his sire chose to Embrace him, Tianpàn felt equally gifted and cursed. While Tianpàn appreciated the immortality that the Embrace granted, he had no wish to become a slave to his passions, and spent the early years of his Requiem trying to restrain his urges and desires. Despite his best efforts, he found that his pride led him to rash actions that he would never have taken in life. As the 19th century dawned, and the dynasty waned, amidst the increasingly rampant corruption and violence of the land, Tianpàn took action. Taking the legendary passion of the Daeva and twisting it, he remade himself, hoping to escape his curse. By Tianpàn's standards, the attempt was a terrible failure. He discovered that he had forged a newfound connection to the passions of others instead of his own; as a result, his emotions ran rampant, and restraining them became thoroughly impossible. Bitter and vengeful, he began to use his newfound capabilities to manipulate the others, using their passions to bring them down to his level. In the process, he discovered that he took real pleasure in toying with his victims -- almost as much as feeding from them, and the endgame, the complete self-destruction of a person as a result of his maneuvering, was a difficult and intriguing achievement that drew Tianpàn into further study. With each exploration of his newfound power, with each mortal who was ruined or destroyed, Tianpàn pushed his own failures further to the side. Eventually, he could almost pretend that he had always meant for this to happen. Years passed, temptation grew and Tianpàn sired three childer, drawing them from the ranks of those whom he had preyed upon. Each of the three had been a person ruined by passion in life, whose ill-considered actions had brought failure upon his head. All chose to follow him down the path of the Blood that he had created, and his bloodline began in earnest. They took Tianpàn's family name as their own in tribute to him, enshrining his failure for all eternity. Each sired in turn, and within a century, there was a small but thriving population of Xiao throughout China. Xiao Shan, one of Tianpàn's childer, undertook the dangerous journey across the Pacific to the United States in the late 1800s, his curiosity at this young land overcoming his familial loyalty. There, he slowly began to spread the curse of the Xiao as well, working through the corrupt politicians of the day. Now, the Xiao range throughout China and the United States, encouraging their prey to destroy themselves through their own selfish desires. Xiao Tianpàn himself fell into torpor early in the 20th century, and has not yet emerged. Without him, the Xiao have fractured and scattered. Those who are most traditional follow in the footsteps of their clan founder, hoping to awaken him and aid him in his quest. Others simply enjoy manipulative play, working to unleash their hidden desires and watch the disastrous outcome. Most of the Xiao who bother to rationalize their behavior perversely consider themselves agents of justice. After all, they argue, a true innocent would face no danger from his or her own passion, and, therefore, any harm that comes to the Xiao's prey is entirely his or her own fault. A few of the Xiao, especially those in North America, combine this misplaced sense of judgment with a desire for justification; by seeing how passions bring others down, the Xiao hope that they can somehow prove that they are no worse than their victims. While the power of the Xiao is rarely overtly supernatural, their presence seems to sow chaos and uncertainty in the domains that host them. As they rarely bother to concern themselves with the long-term impact of their actions, they can easily upend social orders and sunder alliances simply by encouraging the wrong emotions at the wrong times. Indeed, some Xiao have been known to cause the fall of Princes without taking any overt actions, and a cautious ruler does not suffer the Xiao's presence gladly.
 
 
Developer’s Comments: This is the second version of the Xiao we chose as a fi nalist. We really liked this take on the bloodline — a great family of tumultuous Daeva, locked in a bitter, endless internal confl ict. Most intriguing to us was the notion that these Kindred “fed on emotion” in a metaphorical sense, not a literal one. They suffer a surfeit of passion, and they maintain their confi dence and rationale by lowering others to their level and claiming that they are “no worse” than anyone else. The seed of this idea was too fascinating to pass up, and in the end we decided that it deserved a fi nal spot alongside the other. In edits, I worked with Mr. Handman to highlight this attractive aspect of the Tianpаnn Xiao and differentiate
them further from the California Xiao (as we have taken to calling the two lines) by highlighting the Tianpаnn Xiao’s urge to perform before an audience of Kindred and share their feelings with strangers. We did retain one similarity, though. By coincidence, Mr. Handman had his Xiao moving through some of the same geographic locations as their California counterparts (most notably when Xiao Shan traveled through San Francisco), and we thought it would be interesting to allow that overlap, introducing the possibility of confusion between the lines in the Kindred world. Considering that it might be likely, if both bloodlines existed in the same world, that a vampire seeking to join the Tianpаnn Xiao in America could mistakenly approach the California Xiao (or vice versa), we realized that there was a great potential for story involved. While we feel that the co-existence of the two Xiao bloodlines is quite compelling, we have been careful to refrain from mentioning encounters in both entries so that Storytellers are free to choose only one as the “true” Xiao in their stories, and need not worry about references to the other in the body of the write-up.
 
 
Parent Clan: Daeva
 
 
Nickname: Sirens
 
 
Covenant: Xiao in Asia find themselves frequently drawn to the Ordo Dracul, whose emphasis on research and understanding appeals to those who think as their founder did. In the Ordo Dracul, the Xiao can continue to explore their condition, further mastering their natures in an effort to overcome their weaknesses -- because of this, the Order remains the most popular of the covenants to join. Xiao within the Ordo Dracul often lend their passion to driving discovery forwards, and their mastery of passion lends itself to greater understanding of the connection between passion and the Beast. However, Xiao rarely rise high in the Ordo Dracul, as their uncontrolled emotions make it difficult to have the clinical restraint that many members of the covenant respect most. A number of Xiao (most famously Shan, childe of Tianpàn) have been ejected from the Ordo Dracul because of inappropriate behavior. It is traditional for Xiao Dragons to undertake the quest to join the Sworn of the Dying Light and pledge themselves to the relentless study of the emotional weaknesses of Kindred -- specifically, the tendency to vice and frenzy. Many pursue the Coil of the Beast in their studies, hoping that by mastering the understanding of its unconscious power, they can learn to direct their own passionate outbursts. Other Xiao, however, gravitate to the Circle of the Crone, intrigued by its forbidden rites, ancient mysteries, blood magics and practice of unleashing the primal Beast. By joining the Circle, those Xiao who have chosen it seek to free themselves from restraint, often becoming more depraved and more violent than most of their kin. These vampires feel that they are holding more true to the spirit of their founder with their abandon, but they are, in fact, abiding instead by the warped rationale of his later waking years. Xiao Acolytes are extremely dangerous, blithely justifying their indulgences as they carry out the meticulous destruction of mortal hopes and aspirations. Many fall into a rapid decline of Humanity, becoming indefensibly cruel in their manipulative play. Acolytes of the Circle often believe that Xiao are talented channelers of discord and primal rage, affording them a measure of respect as a result. The other covenants do not hold much in the way of attraction for the Xiao, and often do not make an effort to tolerate them. The passionate Carthian Movement and the fervent Kindred of the line have some commonalities on the surface, but the Sirens are uninterested in social change on a grand scale; they tend to work on the understanding that if someone powerful falls, that person will simply be replaced by an equivalent influence. This lack of belief in the fundamental tenets of the Movement means that while the Xiao may occasionally work with the covenant, they rarely belong to it. A similar problem holds the Xiao away from the Invictus, who are not, as a whole, amused by the concept of wild cards running about and mucking things up for more proper, upstanding and respectable vampires -- the Xiao, in turn, almost always refuse to consider the Invictus and their pawns as off-limits, further straining the likelihood of joining that covenant. As a result, the Xiao seem incapable of hewing to the oaths of the Invictus, and the bloodline's capricious nature is made most unwelcome. Finally, while their roles as monsters might find some traction with the concept of the Damned of the Lancea Sanctum, few of the Xiao have the patience for the dogmatic ritualism of the covenant, much less its messages of holiness and restraint. One or two disrupted masses are all most Priests need to ban the Xiao from their gatherings, and more than one incident has led to a violent purge. Though most in the bloodline hold no particular disdain for the Lancea Sanctum, the Xiao generally make an effort (driven mostly by a sense of self-preservation) to avoid the covenant.
 
 
Appearance: Members of the bloodline tend to take meticulous care of themselves, making sure their hair is perfectly brushed and their clothing immaculately cleaned every night, presenting a tightly controlled faÁade as a counterpoint to their raging emotions. Extravagant hairstyles that take excessive effort to maintain are not uncommon, and elaborate, intricately detailed and layered costumes are almost a requirement. While the Xiao are not always beautiful, they work diligently to make sure that they are always striking. In contrast to the perfection that most aspire to in dress, the auras of the Xiao are whirling maelstroms of color, and a skilled aura-reader who has encountered them before will instantly recognize the mark of the line, although some mistake the reading for full-blown psychosis. While the elders of the Xiao are exclusively Chinese, younger vampires of other races are now joining the line with greater and greater frequency, especially in North America.
 
Havens: Most of the Xiao prefer well-placed havens to secure ones; proximity to potential targets and comfort for personal living are the main issues that the Xiao usually consider. Common choices are simple, but (if they can afford it) luxurious, lofts, or even large houses near major areas. Havens in areas frequented by current victims of the Xiao's manipulations are given precedence over the local nightlife, and those members of the line who have enough money frequently set up a number of well-appointed havens around a city to ensure that they can always be close to interesting subjects. The havens of the modernist Xiao often give insight into their natures, if only obliquely. Just as everything else that the bloodline's members keep, their havens are carefully focused affairs, designed to draw the eye of those few who visit them. Each room often has its own motif, and some Xiao go so far as to have one for each mood, carefully designed to support and foster a specific ambience. Others simply allow their entire haven to become a paean to excess, with the most expensive furnishings and art decorating a lavish abode. Traditionalist Xiao, especially elders of the line, almost always go the opposite route, and their havens are all but empty of furnishings, conveying the feeling that their haven is not so much a place to live as it is a place to sleep away the days.
 
 
Background: Xiao have a strong tendency to recruit from those whose lives have been ruined by their passions, regardless of their social positions and histories -- especially if the Xiao themselves were responsible for that ruination. They also prefer those who take pride in themselves, finding them more interesting comrades. Some of the newer groups that the Xiao are beginning to target more frequently are those who begin life humbly but rise to greatness. Actors, musicians, businessmen who were born into the working classes and the like are becoming increasingly common prey. The Xiao may even create such icons, before tearing them down again, exposing their faults and then offering the Embrace as a second chance. The Xiao remain a relatively small bloodline. Xiao Tianpàn had only three childer, and they themselves have not Embraced frequently, or have most of their childer in turn. The eldest of the bloodline have seen less than two centuries, and there are not more than a few dozen members of the line scattered around the world.
 
 
Character Creation: Much as the Daeva in general, Social Attributes and Skills are favored by the Xiao, especially those related to Presence. Composure tends to either be very low or very high, depending on whether the Xiao in question is trying to suppress or embrace her curse. Social Merits based on mortal connections are uncommon, as the Xiao frequently destroy those mortals with whom the bloodline members interact.
 
 
Bloodline Disciplines: Celerity, Majesty, Vigor, Xinyao
 
 
Weakness: The Xiao suffer the weakness common to all Daeva. In addition, members of the line are subject to an ongoing whirlwind of emotion, weakening them in the face of provocation. They flicker uncontrollably from one passion to the next, barely able to contain themselves at any given moment. Tianpànn Xiao often burst out laughing or break down into a fit of weeping at the slightest provocation, to the bemusement and aggravation of onlookers. When making reflexive resistance rolls with their Composure, Xiao do not benefit from the 10 again rule, and any 1s that are rolled subtracted from their successes. Xiao who degenerate are especially vulnerable to Manic Depression, Phobia and Hysteria because of the emotional nature of these derangements.
 
 
Organization: Once, Xiao Tianpàn kept a firm hold on his childer through a mixture of iron resolve and exceptional manipulative technique. In his absence, however, the bloodline has quickly fragmented, losing its sense of singular purpose. Overall, many of the Xiao tend toward similar goals, but they do not do so with a single, coherent plan. Instead, individual Xiao naturally gravitate toward areas that they find interesting, immersing themselves in the social world of the domain they happen to have settled in. Neonates, once they have been properly trained and introduced to the Danse Macabre, are often encouraged to go and find a domain a decent distance from their sire, taking the difficult step of cutting themselves off from their former lives to prevent them from becoming complacent as well as working to prevent the inevitable emotional clashes with their sires. There is no need for this severing to be complete, but maintaining closeness is often considered too risky to be allowed. Part of the reason for this loose organization is that the Xiao are far from immune to each others' abilities. When two Xiao of sufficient power come together, their passions feed off one another, leading to a spiral of dark indulgence that can easily end with the death of one or both of the vampires involved. When more Xiao come together, the effect becomes increasingly pronounced. Because of this, most meetings between members of this bloodline, unless focused on a specific goal, are short and bittersweet. There are a few Xiao currently attempting to impose some sort of order on the line, leading the charge to reunite the membership and reawaken the founder. Their efforts are relatively recent, though, and have not produced significant results. Those who do gather to them are suffering from one another's inevitable provocations, and most are beginning to believe (secretly or otherwise) that the effort is doomed to collapse.
 
 
Concepts: Serpent in the garden, backroom whisperer, untrustworthy drug dealer, deadly muse, corrupt politician, frenetic political activist, manipulative groupie, energetic road manager, sinful priest, fervent pop psychologist.
 
 
History
The Multitude of Errors:
Tianpàn began the line with three childer. He chose each one for very different reasons, as part of his continued studies of the bloodline. First was Xiao Hong Li, who was most like Tianpàn himself in his eyes — a government aide who had gambled away his fortune and ruined his career, and who was now considering
suicide rather than revealing his shame. After studying him, Tianpàn Embraced the man, laid out his teachings and sought to gain an aide for his research. However, Tianpàn soon found that prolonged contact with his pupil led to violent fights and dangerous feuds, and the two decided that further research would best be done at a distance. Tianpàn was intrigued by the ways that he had related to his pupil, and begin to seek to expand his bloodline further. Searching for a proper apprentice, Tianpàn found Min, a poor street urchin who stood up for herself in the wrong place at the wrong time, and was beaten halfway to death. Then, he found a middle-class baker named Shan, who had converted to Christianity and lost the support of his family, and who turned to thievery rather than reconcile with them. Tianpàn spirited both away just before they would have died. He trained both as he had trained Hong Li, and noted that the raw emotions of his bloodline caused the same reactions when they gathered. Soon, he sent them away as well, darkly promising that he would be checking up on them, but allowing them to forge their own paths. In doing so, he set the stage for their own relationships with their childer to come.Tianpàn’s hands-off approach, however, ultimately led to problems for his line. Without rule or instruction, the three childer made the same mistake he did — Embracing Kindred who quickly became intolerable to them, and then cutting them loose. These neonates, though, did not take to rejection as easily as Tianpàn’s own childer had. The grandchilder turned on their sires, attacking their bases of power and seeking to destroy them. Conflict flared, and blood was spilled. When Tianpàn discovered what was happening, he was livid. His grandchilder, he felt, should not be directing their efforts at their elders or one another. He issued a proclamation, requiring all Xiao who remained within the domain of Shanghai to attend a central meeting at his home. At this meeting, he laid down simple rules: no Xiao would do battle with another, and none would enter another’s territory without permission. His power was great enough that no childer felt confidant enough to override him, although some of his line were too incensed to obey for long. The bloodline was still small, and emotional ties among all the members were too strong to be ignored. Soon enough, the edicts were broken. Xiao turned upon one another again, simply unable to restrain their ire and unable to resist provoking their blood relations. Two Kindred died early in the battles, causing an outward growing spiral of anger and retribution that Tianpàn could not bring to a halt. Dogged by recriminations and violence, Tianpàn’s three childer left the domain of Shanghai, each hoping to find a new home elsewhere, away from the sickening behavior of their kin. Hong Li is assumed to have perished on the road somewhere to the west of Shanghai. Shan found his way to Hong Kong, then moved on to San Francisco, and finally settled in Chicago. Min, heading away from her brothers, moved north, to Beijing. All who remained in or near Tianpàn’s domain became sullen neighbors, carefully avoiding contact in an attempt to ensure a lasting peace. This state of affairs continued until the mid-1930s, when Tianpàn finally sank into disappointed torpor. Min established a home and swore to forsake the Embrace. She slipped quietly into torpor herself, sometime in the 1960s, and none have seen her since.
 
 
 
The Revival of the Xiao: Xiao Shan, alone in America, was not as restrained as his sister or as heartbroken as his sire. He Embraced two mortals and left them behind in Hong Kong, sired a childe in San Francisco who accompanied him to Chicago and then Embraced one more after settling down. Working to establish rules of engagement early on, Shan made sure to focus the capricious attentions of his childer on mortals instead of one another. He encouraged them to develop their power, schooling them and paying careful attention to its growth — something that Tianpàn never did. In the early 1940s, the Ordo Dracul Academy in Chicago suffered a sudden and unexplained insurrection, resulting in the destruction of several valuable tomes and the Final Deaths of two prominent members (one of whom had gone irrefutably insane). Shan and his childer were unceremoniously ejected from the covenant soon after, although both claimed innocence and still maintain that they were scapegoats sacrificed so that none of the younger members of the Academy would lose faith in their superiors. Shan himself was slain by a nervous Prince after publicly decrying the practices of the Ordo Dracul in Elysium, and his two childer quietly threw their lot in with the Circle of the Crone. Meanwhile, his childer in Hong Kong, left to their own devices because of a dispute with Shan, embarked on a quest to locate their grandsire and revive his dream of conquering the Daeva curse. They introduced themselves to the Kindred of Shanghai and were accepted into the Elysium Court, searching all the while for evidence of their lost kin. Eventually, they sired childer of their own as well, and, following a trail that led back out of the city, those neonates were sent outwards to try and locate their founder’s final resting place.
 
 
 
The Great Search: In modern nights, the Tianpànn Xiao are an aimless, fractured line. Individual Kindred still hope to find the founder himself and reunite him with his surviving kin so that he can finish his work and release them all from their maddening curse. Others, believing that all hope is lost or distracted by personal passions, integrate themselves into Kindred society and pass the Blood on to selected childer, teaching their power without bothering to explain it or offer up direction. Some Tianpànn Xiao continue to move further and further from their kin, spreading the line slowly throughout North America and East Asia. In recent nights, peculiar outbursts in the Kindred Courts of Mumbai, India, and Yangon, Myanmar, suggest that one or more of the Xiao have been active in each country for at least a few years. Whether Hong Li actually survived his trek and made it to one of these cities (and, presumably, Embraced) or Min awoke and migrated west with one of her childer is unknown. It’s entirely possible that both theories are true — or neither. If these events are the cause of Xiao machinations, they would mark the furthest west the bloodline is known to have traveled on the continent.
 
 
Society and Culture: There are fewer than 50 of the Tianpànn Xiao active in modern nights, and most have never met more than one or two of their kin. Those who still consider themselves part of the original family are fiercely traditional in their teachings. They hold on to the limited guidance of Tianpàn, repeating his plea for co-operation and tolerance, seeking to overcome their passions. These Kindred look upon their childer with parental concern, believing that the sire is responsible for teaching the childe the dangers and joy of overwhelming passion, and this is a debt that can never be fully repaid. A new sire must teach her childe not just the ways of the Masquerade but the ways of the Requiem as a whole, showing the childe how to diminish his dangerous passions by sharing them. Any Xiao who grants the Embrace without carefully choosing and grooming her new ward is considered to be a disgrace to the line, and any childe who does not show his master the respect that she deserves is considered to be nothing; this tradition, alone, is sacrosanct. These traditional Xiao engage in a number of ritualistic observances meant to tamp down their emotional energies and prevent outburst. Complex, structured dances and martial arts are taught and practiced, astrological charts are learned and frequently consulted, music is mastered and performed and each month is marked by an elaborate ceremony of dress and display. Those domains that host the Xiao know well their powerful, emotional pageantry, and many Kindred are known to seek permission to witness the Xiao’s practice at Elysium. The Xiao are often eager to engage in these displays, taking the opportunity to make use of their signature Discipline among masses of the vampire elite and interweave its power with their performance. In fact, the gathering of a stimulated audience necessary for most of the Xiao’s Discipline-fuelled attempts at self-control create the illusion that these Kindred are great lovers of performance. While many are happy to play to spectators (and benefit from their manipulation), at least the same number would prefer to take part in the viewing of entertainments instead of their execution. A fair number of Xiao have discarded the structured teachings of the line and abandoned their Kindred families. Even as their traditional brethren struggle to reunite the line and awaken its founder, these self-declared exiles work to distance themselves from the bloodline’s origins and its obsession with conquering passion. Instead, they revel in the power granted by the Blood, and make no effort to take responsibility for the actions of their childer. If they encounter their traditionalist brethren, these Xiao often work to undermine and humiliate them — a practice that inevitably leads to outright conflict. This philosophical split creates problems for vampires who choose to join the bloodline. An unfortunate inductee may discover that his Avus is not the type he’d heard about, and may find himself subject to traditions and imperatives that he wasn’t counting on (or, conversely, may find a defiance of the tradition he was hoping for).
 
 
Xinyao: Xinyao (literally, “to bite the heart”) is the Discipline of emotional manipulation that Xiao Tianpàn created in his botched attempt to escape the curse of the Daeva. His hope was to create a power that would allow him to displace his emotions onto others, thereby nullifying them and leaving himself in complete control. The reality is tragically different. Emotions are not like water; they cannot simply be poured from one person into another. Instead, they proved to be more like flame, and the vampire’s emotions flared with proximity to the recipient. Certain powers allowed the Xiao to calm their hearts, but only by creating situations that were bound to stimulate them again. Defeated and despairing, Xiao Tianpàn nonetheless continued working to refine his Discipline, eventually giving into the temptation it offered. It remains the treasured weapon of his bloodline to this night.

Гангрел.

Таифа - (С суахили переводится как Национальный)

О боги какой клан *_*

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Culture, art, beauty, civilization. These are the things that attract and fascinate the Taifa, a lineage of refined and sophisticated Gangrel hailing from the Islamic lands of North Africa. Far from the stereotypical Savages, other Kindred of the region acknowledge the Moors as the protectors of civilization. From the shadows, they seek to guide and manipulate culture to better suit their tastes. Indeed, the bloodline claims to have some of the world's most talented politicians, artists and scholars amongst their ranks. Of course, the fact that they are static, dead things does these claims little good. Their origins lie in the glorious nights of al-Andalus, centuries ago, when the Moors invaded Spain and established some of the most advanced and sophisticated societies in the world. While the rest of Europe struggled through the Dark Ages, the Moorish kingdoms led the Islamic world into a golden age of art, culture and science. In the cities of Córdoba, Granada and Seville, Muslims lived side by side with their Christian and Jewish neighbors, making great advances in the fields of architecture, medicine, astronomy and philosophy. All Taifa can trace their ancestry back to Hassan al-Maghrebi, a former Berber warrior and scholar who followed the armies of the Islamic general Tariq ibn Ziyad as they arrived on the Iberian peninsula. Al-Maghrebi watched as what had once been the outposts of Muslim Arab and Berber armies grew into rich and powerful cities, and he became enamored with the achievements of Moorish civilization. When Abd al-Rahman II fled to CÛrdoba and established a new Umayyad court there, al-Maghrebi infiltrated it and Embraced or made ghouls of a number of the courtiers. Proud, inspired by the majesty of the cities of Al-Andalus and empowered by the timely concentration of his Vitae, al-Maghrebi decided to create a line of his own -- one that carried on a tradition of nobility and patriotism that he would impart to them. He made a vow that all who inherited his Blood would take up the cause he so loved: to protect and bear witness to the great achievements of the conquerors of Iberia. Very quickly, his line spread across the Iberian Peninsula, drawing in a proportion of the wisest and most talented scholars, artisans and politicos they could find. Flirting with violation of the Masquerade on occasion, their efforts aided the disparate Muslim states to flower and retain their hold in Spain despite continued war with the Christian enemy. Indeed, it is from these very states and petty kingdoms, or Taifa in Arabic, that the bloodline gained their name. Legends of fierce, inhumanly tough Moorish warriors arose during one of many failed sieges laid by the Spanish Kingdom of Aragon, striking fear into many Spanish soldiers and attracting the attention (and ire) of observant European Kindred. Battles were fought in the Elysium courts of Spain in those nights, too, battles that brought both respect and destruction to the Taifa. Many who did not suffer Final Death in the mortal fields of war were forced to defend themselves against incensed Kindred foes, proving themselves in brutal political conflict as well as physical. Unfortunately, the gilded splendor of Moorish Spain was not to last. Gradually, the Christian-led Reconquista was able to chip away at the Taifa states, while back-stabbing, political intrigues and more conservative Muslim states in North Africa undermined the states from within. In the year 1492 on the Christian calendar, the Christian kingdoms of Castile and Aragon united and finally overtook Granada, the last of the great Muslim cities in Iberia. The Taifa were devastated by this loss. Worse still, the Spanish armies brought members of the European Invictus and Lancea Sanctum (and even a few Basque Acolytes) with them, intent on reclaiming the Moorish domains and driving out sympathetic vampires. The Taifa were forced into a corner, and many fled to North Africa and parts of the Middle East to find sanctuary. Only a small handful chose to remain in Spain, seeking to tend the glories of the bloodline's past. Despite shared language, culture and religion, the Taifa initially faced difficulty assimilating into the Kindred society of the Middle East and North Africa. Other vampires already held many of the positions of power and authority in the region, and did not appreciate having naive foreign upstarts trying to move into their territory. Only through adept social maneuvering and well-placed alliances was the bloodline able to survive through those dark and perilous nights. Eventually, the bloodline managed to establish a presence in many of the major cities of the Islamic world, and slowly they began to spread out once again. In Cairo, Damascus, Baghdad and Istanbul, the Taifa once again became famous as socially astute political manipulators, patrons of the arts and insightful scholars and translators. To this night, many Arab elders maintain a soft spot in their cold, dead hearts for the Taifa and their cultural achievements. Unfortunately, the Taifa's homelands have become a hotbed for political tensions and religious conservatism in the years following the collapse of the Ottoman Empire in the First World War. Because of this, many Taifa have once again found themselves forced to flee. Even though many Kindred still remember the glorious nights of Islamic art and scholarship, even the most powerful vampires are little match for a mob of angry mortals with torches. Hence, some Taifa have been forced to go underground, while others seek their fortunes in the West. Those Taifa who flee (or perhaps return) to Europe, ironically, follow the migrations of mortals from northern Africa and the Middle East. While members of the bloodline have yet to make their presence felt in North America, many Taifa can be found in Europe. They are particularly strong in France, where the Taifa lurk amongst "les Beurs," second- and third-generation immigrants of Algerian, Moroccan and Tunisian descent. For their part, French Kindred have been less than welcoming, sharing many of their mortal countrymen's prejudices. Other Western Kindred (and mortals) harass Middle Eastern immigrants out of fears they harbor terrorists (which is, of course, little more than a racist stereotype). The future of the Taifa, especially in the West, remains to be seen. Nonetheless, the bloodline is quite politically astute and has many old and powerful allies. Perhaps they will make themselves an integral part of social life in their new homes, or perhaps they will wither and die. Only time shall tell.
 
 
Developer’s Comments: For a bloodline that didn’t seem especially popular, garnering only a few entries and falling right in the middle of the anticipatory poll, the Taifa inspired some of the most well-written submissions. Almost all
of them were similar in theme and subject, but Mr. Tyler’s stood out among the rest by virtue of the attractive playability of his version of the line and the clear indication of his historical research. The jury was unanimous in choosing it as a fi nalist. Edits on the entry involved encouragement to expand on details mentioned in the original entry, giving the history and culture of the Taifa more room for illustration. The traditional wanderings and tale-telling of the line were extrapolated from original allusions, rounding out the night-to-night activities of these social Gangrel. The Taifa present a wonderful distillation of the central theme of the Gangrel. Social and pack-oriented, they demonstrate that even the most animalistic Kindred can fi nd a way to thrive in the world of mortal men — so long as they manage to fi nd a strong-enough support system.
 
 
Parent Clan: Gangrel
 
 
Nickname: Moors, though the Taifa themselves (and many other Muslim Kindred) prefer "The Civilized"
 
 
Covenant: The Taifa prefer the Invictus (or al-Harij, as it is sometimes known in Arabic), given the covenant's love of pomp and ceremony, and the value the covenant places on personal achievements. Naturally, in the Taifa's homelands of North Africa and the Middle East, the lcovenant takes on far more Arab culture. For instance, members of the bloodline prefer the term Sultan instead of a 'mere' Prince, and Arabic phrases are often used to show learning, culture and respect. Nonetheless, beyond such culture differences, the covenant is still the ruthless meritocracy that it is in the West, and that suits the Taifa perfectly. Even under the many layers of tradition and formality, the Moors are predators, and they know it. That the Invictus allow them to claim their rightful place through their own efforts appeals to the bloodline, and for that reason, the majority of the Taifa can be found within the First Estate. Of course, far more Taifa are Harpies or Sheriffs than actual Princes, but that matters little. The Lancea Sanctum ranks a distant second, though in the Middle East the covenant adopts more Islamic imagery instead of the familiar Roman Catholic trappings of the West. Sanctified Taifa tend to be the more scholarly members of their bloodline, researching the history and sorcery of the covenant, though they are also popular missionaries due to their charisma and influence. Some Taifa are drawn in by the fiery rhetoric of the Carthian Movement, but most consider the covenant to be boorish and crude. Few Taifa have any interest in the Circle of the Crone, but the Acolytes do count a small number of Moors amongst them who are interested in the pagan faiths of Mesopotamia, Persia and pre-Islamic Arabia who venerate al-Uzza and other pagan goddesses. The Ordo Dracul is a fairly recent arrival in Islamic lands, and the Moors have had little contact with the covenant, but many instinctively dislike it. Theories as to why range from Dracula's atrocities against the Turks to some ancient lore they are trying to hide from the Dragons. The truth, however, is much more direct. The Taifa don't like the Ordo Dracul because they see the covenant as pointless. Study and self-awareness are all well and good, but it must have some sort of purpose. Vampires are not static, but rather meant to enjoy, even indulge in, all the things that the world has to offer. As far as most Taifa are concerned, the Dragons shut themselves off to the primal truths of being a vampire, and the Taifa avoid the covenant accordingly.
 
 
Appearance: While the majority of Moors still bear the physical features common to the Middle East and North Africa, the bloodline has become quite cosmopolitan in modern nights. Regardless of race or ethnicity, members of the bloodline tend to carry themselves with confidence, dignity and elegance. Most are quite swarthy, and their skin sometimes even darkens with age. Some particularly old Taifa call to mind legendary Arab heroes such as Abu Zayid al-Hilali and 'Antara ibn Shaddad. Many Taifa are quite attractive by local standards, and know how to use this to their advantage. They also know the value of appearances, and tailor themselves to suit the occasion. Most Taifa are just as comfortable in a Western-style three-piece suit as they are in the traditional thobe, bisht and kaffiyeh of a Bedouin tribesmen.
 
 
 
Havens: Given the nature of their weakness, members of the Taifa bloodline almost always prefer communal havens, though powerful elders are more likely to simply surround themselves with broods of their childer and grandchilder (or vampiric thralls unrelated to them). The Moors almost always keep large, expensive havens, whether these are private estates or upscale apartments in larger cities. Such havens are almost always large enough to host social events, and usually are lavishly decorated with traditional and modern art. Arabic calligraphy is especially popular with the bloodline, and indeed has been for several centuries now. The most powerful and influential members of the bloodline often hold court in their private havens, complete with talented musicians, poets and entertainers to amuse their vampiric guests. One particularly common practice within the bloodline is the abuse of waqf, or properties held in trust to the government. Traditionally, wealthy families bequeathed such property to the state, and allowed their mortal descendants to stay on as caretakers. Many Taifa took advantage of this practice during the Almohad and Almoravid empires, making their havens in waqfs held by family members (or ghouls). However, the practice has mostly died out in modern, secularized states, so the Taifa can no longer use this method.
 
 
Background: Political acumen and social skills are perhaps the most important traits to the Taifa. Beyond that, the bloodline has no particular criteria, though individual tastes do play a role. Some Taifa prefer to Embrace only mortals from certain family lineages, meticulously tracking down descendants through the years before choosing a worthy candidate. Others give the gift of eternity to preserve particularly talented artists, musicians or scholars throughout the ages. And some Moors simply Embrace out of passion, choosing whichever reasonably attractive mortals catch their eye that night. Hence, there is a great deal of variety within the bloodline. Because of their origins in Moorish Spain, the vast majority of modern Taifa hail from North Africa or the Middle East. Arabs, Berbers and Sephardic Jews dominate the bloodline, though other ethnicities are represented as well. The bulk of the bloodline is Muslim, at least in name, though again this has more to do with their history and geographic background. Christian, Jewish and even atheist Taifa all exist as well. Gangrel not of the bloodline are usually seen as backwards cousins, treated with respect perhaps, but not as equals. Only when they can prove themselves to be more than violent savages will they win respect within the bloodline. Nonetheless, those who do impress their Avus are adopted into the Taifa following traditional Arab custom and are considered full members of the lineage.
 
 
Character Creation: Social Attributes and Skills are almost always primary for the Taifa, though they also respect intellectual prowess as well so Mental Attributes and Skills are also appropriate. The Taifa prefer to be well-rounded, after all, and it's good to have a broad base of knowledge when striking up conversations. Skills such as Academics, Empathy, Expression, Persuasion, Politics, Socialize, Subterfuge and even Streetwise are all useful for the bloodline. Of course, it would be a mistake to assume all Taifa are fops, and those who make that mistake quickly learn to regret it if they survive. Many Moors appreciate the value of Merits, and Social Merits of all kinds are especially common within the bloodline. Striking Looks is not uncommon, and a fair number have Encyclopedic Knowledge as well, these are hardly required. Merits such as Allies, Contacts, Resources, Status and such are far more useful.
 
 
Bloodline Disciplines: Animalism, Majesty, Protean, Resilience
 
 
Weakness: There is a good reason that the Taifa choose to associate so frequently with other vampires. Much like wolves or lions, the Taifa are pack hunters and feel most comfortable amongst their own kind. When not in the presence of other vampires, a Taifa suffers a -2 dice penalty to all dice pools due to the unease of operating without a pack. The Moors do not necessarily need to be in the presence of other Taifa, or even other Gangrel. Any other vampires suffice. Ironically, this weakness helps to foster the personality and skills needed in the Taifa's role as consummate social predators. In addition, all Taifa suffer the weakness of their parent clan, the Gangrel.
 
 
Organization: Despite being a very social group, the Taifa have little true organization of their own. They are numerous across North Africa and the Mediterranean, but the bloodline is plagued with numerous factions, broods and social intrigues. The most powerful, or well-connected, Taifa in a particular domain often bears the title of Sheikh (or Sheikha in the case of women), and holds private court somewhere in the city. Although the Sheikh is respected, he wields little actual authority in the bloodline. Often, he will form a small clique, competing with other Moors for status and influence. Once a month, the Sheikh will often hold an open court somewhere in the city, featuring art, music and decadence that harkens back to the courts of al-Andalus. Of course, other Taifa will often try to put on even more lavish displays to upstage the Sheikh. Beyond that, the Taifa are largely concerned with their covenant above all else. In the West, the Taifa are often more tightly knit, if only for protection and because of the bloodline's unique weakness. The Taifa often form small, insular broods, especially in such cities as Paris, London or New York, where there are large immigrant communities they can blend in with. Sometimes, the Moors will play up their exotic appeal to win favor with the Prince or his court. At other times, the Moors look down upon their Western cousins. Some Sheikhs have been known to even claim the much more glorious title of Emir (or prince) for themselves, believing that Western Kindred won't speak Arabic. More often than not, these Taifa are right, but every once in a while they have been horribly wrong, much to their dismay. Although they share little formal structure, the bloodline does share numerous traditions from their homeland. For instance, the Moors continue to preserve Arab naming conventions amongst themselves. If a vampire named Khalid was Embraced by a vampire named Ibrahim, he would be allowed to call himself Khalid ibn Ibrahim. If the vampire were Fatima, she would take the name Fatima bint Ibrahim. And Ibrahim could call himself Abu Khalid. The Taifa take great pride in their lineage, and spend a great deal of time tracking down their ancestors.
 
 
Concepts: Bedouin prince, collector of fine art, diplomat between covenants, foreign news correspondent, Islamic legal scholar, manipulative advisor, modern warrior-poet, seductive predator, social scientist, translator, oil tycoon, wealthy merchant.
 
 
History
The Taifa record more than 1,000 years of history, but for many members of the bloodline, the magnificent gilded city-states of al-Andalus, were their greatest achievements. Of course, the precursors of the bloodline held far less influence over the mortals who founded and ruled these cities than the Taifa would like to believe, and what little influence they did hold was wasted on parties, petty squabbles and other diversions. Indeed, it is likely that their extravagances may have wound up causing more problems for the Muslim states than anything else toward the end. Nonetheless, the dream of their lost homelands has been a recurring theme throughout the bloodline’s long and glorious history. The bloodline’s official founder, Hassan al-Maghrebi, was a former Berber soldier in the armies of the famed general Tariq ibn Ziyad, embraced into the Gangrel clan shortly after the force arrived in Iberia. The strongest member of his rural tribe, al-Maghrebi was a recent convert to Islam, and eager to travel the world. Although he never knew his sire, al-Maghrebi believes that his dedication and reputation as a brave fighter is what earned him the Embrace. However, he found little interest in bloodshed. What interested him were things such as learning, poetry, women and other comforts of civilization. Hassan quickly adapted to the Requiem, flitting from one social group to the next, watching vampires and mortals. During these years, it is believed he journeyed far and wide across the Iberian peninsula, trading in skillfully told tales of his adventures and enjoying the company of both Kindred and mortal folk. For a time, he became a fixture at the Umayyad court in CÛrdoba, where the Taifa lineage is believed to have originated. However, the bloodline soon spread throughout Muslim Spain, growing as al-Maghrebi traveled. It is known that al-Maghrebi spent some time in the city of Zaragoza somewhere around the middle of the 11th century, regaling the Elysium court with his tales and contributing to the ruling dynamic there. It is believed that he threw in with the Invictus during his stay there, and sired a number of childer who went on to distinguish themselves in service to the domain. The city of Tulaytulah (modern-day Toledo) also appears to have played host to him at some time — references in records of the Lancea Sanctum mention the traveling Gangrel and his personable retinue of Kindred, painting him in respectful tones while also suggesting that he was eventually ejected from the domain for “excessively fervent loyalty to transient mortal institution unbecoming of Kindred of Quality.” Several modern-day Taifa trace their lineage to Kindred from DÈnia and Granada as well, suggesting that al- Maghrebi or his childer must have visited those domains at some time. If the legends are to be believed, and there is really little reason to doubt them, Hassan and his childer traversed the whole of the Iberian Peninsula at least once in their travels, becoming truly ubiquitous during the height of Moorish civilization.
 
 
The Reconquista: The last years of the 11th century saw the end of the relatively peaceful, proud existence of the Taifa. With the coming of the Spanish Reconquista and the retaliatory invasion of the Almoravid armies, war broke out in all of the Moorish territories of Iberia and the travels of the Taifa were severely curtailed. Many journeyed to sites of battle, hoping to defend the glory of al-Andalus from the enemy, while others retreated to their favorite cities, working to preserve and protect their splendor. A fair number fell in battle, and the stories of the Taifa boldly proclaim their bravery even in modern nights. Those who remained were hardened by the experience and forced to confront the fact that their power and fervor alone were not enough to stem the waves of equally dedicated invaders from without. In the cities of al-Andalus, the rest of the bloodline watched in horror as war brought economic crises, rampant panic and prejudice and eventual collapse. There was little they could do — the course of mortal history seemed set, with or without their opposition. Following the collapse of mortal Moorish civilization, many sympathetic Kindred of other lineages and clans vacated the domains or entered into long slumber, leaving them virtually undefended from encroaching European vampires.
 
 
Exile and Eclipse: Despite propaganda to the contrary, the Taifa have never been an entirely Muslim lineage. Since their early nights in al-Andalus, Christians and Jews have had a place in the bloodline. Muslims certainly make up the majority, but even tonight there is a vocal minority made up of Sephardic Jews. Nonetheless, all Moors and their “sympathizers” found themselves targets of the Reconquista and, later, the Inquisition. Many of the Taifa met their doom at the hands of mortals, or rivals who took advantage of prevailing sentiment. Although a few particularly old Taifa remained in the newly formed nation of Spain, the majority of those who survived the Inquisition’s assault emigrated into the Almohad and Ottoman Empires, believing them to be safer. In part, this was true, since the Taifa were able to blend in fairly well due to shared culture and religion. However, their mass exodus also brought them into conflict with many other vampires and covenants who were already well established in the region. Whereas once they had been the dominant bloodlines, the Sultans and Sheikhs of the night, now they were virtual outcasts. Slowly, the Taifa tried to establish themselves in the larger cities of the region. Large broods in Cairo, Beirut, Baghdad, Istanbul and Marrakech are legacies of those nights. In order to survive as a bloodline, the Taifa had to prove themselves useful, and many chose to attach themselves to courts of the Invictus, the dominant covenant in the area. Although seldom achieving the status of Sultan, the Moors were able to take prominent positions in the courts as viziers, diplomats, scholars and even enforcers. Others found themselves espousing the Iblic creed of the Lancea Sanctum, or even throwing in with the Circle of the Crone. Unfortunately, despite their influence, the Moors were but a shadow of their former selves. The glories of al-Andalus were lost, and the bloodline was forced to adapt to a rapidly changing world. While the elders of
the bloodline remained lost in nostalgic reminiscence, the younger Taifa were shocked to see other Kindred lineages pass them by. It quickly became clear that the Moors needed to adapt or die out. Gathering together in secret, a group of young Moors decided that the only way to save their bloodline was to establish themselves in one city, using it as a stronghold from which they could then expand. They chose Cairo. Led by a powerful elder named Zuhra Hussein, they fell upon the city’s Sultan in 1463, killing him and proclaiming that Cairo would be thenceforth be a city of the Taifa. Their error was critical. Instead of claiming the territory for the whole of the Invictus, they stated, time and again, that it was their own — as if to say that their line represented a superior force within the covenant, one that was more deserving than others. A schism formed in the Invictus of Cairo, and decades of intrigue, subversion and betrayal followed. By the middle of the 16th century, the city’s Kindred were in a virtual state of civil war, and the Taifa Emir was forced into a series of honorable battles that eventually led to his Final Death.
 
 
The Civilized Response: Shamed and humiliated, the surviving childer of Zuhra Hussein left Cairo, carrying a message of tragedy to the others of the line. Some called for vengeance, hoping to reawaken the dream of a Taifa stronghold by evoking images of the splendor of al-Andalus, but their calls fell on deaf ears. To many of the Taifa, who had carefully established themselves in their varied domains, the visio of conquest was a fool’s reverie. It is said by many Taifa that the fall of Zuhra was the pivotal event in the development of the line. The whole of the bloodline faced a decision in those nights: to pick up the sword and seek to revive long-forgotten glories or to settle into the Requiem with humble and honorable acceptance. Had they chosen the former, it is likely that the whole of the line would have been wiped out before the end of the 16th century. Instead, many of the Taifa flourished in relative peace, growing more influential and more powerful with patient, small steps. Some achieved offices of great status within the Invictus and the Lancea Sanctum, and many Embraced small broods of their own, contributing to the growth of the line and its establishment as a dignified, powerful lineage.
 
 
Diaspora: For centuries, the majority of the Taifa remained within the domains of North Africa and the Middle East. But increasing social pressures, political instability and growing religious conservatism in recent years has made this area less appealing for vampires, especially those as extravagant and wealthy as the Moors. Many younger members of the bloodline have begun to look toward the West in search of opportunities, and a growing number have followed their mortal counterparts into the cities of the Europe, seeking to make their fortunes. Unfortunately, few Taifa find what they were hoping for when they arrive. Their very weakness drives them to seek out interaction with other Kindred. Yet racism and mortal prejudices can be just as strong amongst the Kindred as they are amongst mortals, and older vampires rarely appreciate having to deal with foreign upstarts intruding upon their territory. Furthermore, with the increased fear of terrorism, new arrivals from the Middle East who engage in strange behavior (in mortal terms, at least) run a very real risk of drawing attention from the wrong kind of government agencies. Another problem facing Taifa in the West is that they are largely cut off from many of the bloodline’s traditions. Although the bloodline has established a good reputation and built up a large network of allies in their homelands, this does little good for Moors living in the West. Their customs and practices seem strange, alienating them from local Kindred at times, and some Taifa are shocked to find that the Western versions of the covenants they are familiar with use different titles. For instance, many Moors are baffled by the Lancea Sanctum’s use of Catholic rather than Islamic imagery in Western lands. Still, there are plenty of opportunities in the West for Taifa who are clever and adaptable enough to manage. Most larger cities host immigrant communities from Lebanon, Egypt, Palestine, Algeria, Iran and other Middle Eastern countries, where a traditional Moor can rule over ethnic enclaves in near total isolation. Other, more adventurous members of the bloodline, however, have decided to make a name for themselves in the courts of the Western Invictus, boldly claiming their place in the domains of Europe, and sometimes playing up their exotic origins.
 
 
Society and Culture: As an ancient and distinguished bloodline, the Taifa take no small amount of pride in the many customs they have developed over the years. Social interaction is especially important amongst the Moors, who find themselves driven to seek out others of their kind. For this reason, they have developed a rich heritage that draws upon many elements of Moorish and Arab court culture. Ironically, Taifa in the West are especially driven to cling to such things when possible, because of the tangible connection to their bloodline’s identity that it gives them.
 
 
Music, Art and Song: To the ancient Arabs, poetry was a form of magic or soothsaying inspired by the djinn. Indeed, even the Prophet Muhammad is recorded as saying, “Verily, eloquence is sorcery.” This may be so, for it certainly holds a powerful fascination over the Taifa bloodline. Indeed, no small number of Moors are (or claim to be) brilliant artists. However, most members of the bloodline are more content to study, enjoy and patronize the arts from afar. Classical Arab music and poetry is held in high regard, though the romances and ballads of the Sephardic Jews are also very popular. During celebrations such as Eid al-Fitr, musicians are in high demand amongst the elders of the bloodline. Some of the oldest and most decadent members of the bloodline go even further, making ghouls of their favorite poets and musicians. Such ghouls, known as qiyan after the professional female musicians of Moorish courts, are often beautiful women who are trained in classical Arabic and Persian literature, poetry and musical theory. No small number are also talented instrumentalists, particularly on the ‘oud. Since the nights of al-Andalus, it has been a popular way of showing friendship within the bloodline to trade qiyan, and some generous sires have been known to pass qiyan to their childer as well. Much to the shock and horror of the elders in the bloodline, who lament the loss of their glorious past, younger Taifa have increasingly become interested in modern music as such Rai and Al-Jeel, which has become popular in North Africa today. While their elders prefer the styles of Abdel Halim Hafez, Fairouz and Farid al Atrache, younger Moors are drawn to, say, Khaled, Natacha Atlas and Amr Diab.
 
 
 
The Requiem of the Taifa: The Moors share the same wants, desires, beliefs and failings of their mortal days, but their weakness drives them to participate in social interactions. Similar to wolves or lions, the Taifa are goaded by the Beast into forming packs with other vampires. Although they do not necessarily need to be around members of their own brood, many Taifa prefer to associate with their own kind, in no small part because they share the same weakness. For this reason, numerous broods of Moors have risen and fallen over the centuries. For many Taifa, particularly younger members of the bloodline, being part of a brood is little more than a symbol of status or ancestry. Yet many older Moors treat the bonds of Blood as a sacred chain, akin to the tribal structure of the Bedouin. This is ironic since the majority of Taifa come from urban, educated backgrounds, but nonetheless, the bonds of kinship are very important for such social beasts. Many broods are characterized, by common interest or personality traits. For instance, the Banu Ibrahim of Tunis are mostly legal scholars who trace their ancestry to an 11th-century philosopher named Ibrahim ibn Mustafa. Rumors paint them as quiet, but manipulative. Another lineage, the Tariqa al-Nasir of Mosul, are more akin to a secretive Sufi mystical order, and are primarily of Kurdish descent. The Banaat al-Wadd, an all-female brood in southern Arabia, are rumored to be affiliated with the Circle of the Crone and study pagan witchcraft. And the venerable Bay’t al-Hawa of Cairo is made up of some of the bloodline’s most cunning and elitist politicians. Not all broods are necessarily distinguished, or even well established. Indeed, younger Taifa in the West often form their own broods overnight, though these are not necessarily recognized as such by the elders. Nonetheless, broods such as the Sanctified Ansara al-Sayf of Paris, made up of Moors of Algerian and Moroccan background, and the Maronite Banu Kinda of Detroit represent a new, dynamic face of the bloodline. A fair number of the broods intermingle as well, owing to the tendency of Taifa to travel. Hardy and eager to share stories and see the world, many of the line take up the nomadic Requiem at least once, moving from place to place and gathering experiences, waiting to find a home they find sufficiently inspiring (or sufficiently civilized) to settle in. On their travels, those members of the line who encounter their brothers and sisters are happy to join up with one another, enjoying the company of likeminded Gangrel.
 
 
The Toreador Rivalry: Saddened by the decline of his beloved city-state of
Ishbiliyya (modern Seville) in the 13th century, a Moor named Abdullah Muhammad ibn Ahmad went into a voluntary torpor. When he awoke in the 17th century, he found a greatly changed world and a strange new lineage of Daeva vampires competing for power and attention. While at first amused by these so-called Toreros, his patience with them soon wore thin. The final straw came when ibn Ahmad and a Torero named Miguel de Santos fought over the right to Embrace a beautiful Andalucian woman who captivated both of them. Although it’s difficult to distill truth from the legends, it is known that the girl was poisoned and slain during the conflict, and that both Kindred blamed the other for her death. De Santos and ibn Ahmad swore bloody vengeance, clashing again and again over the following years until 1884, when the Taifa finally slew his enemy. By then, the lines of both Kindred were trapped in a complicated web of mutual hatred, violence and insult that none could unravel. Several Taifa have traveled from Seville, telling their side of the story and spreading the rivalry outwards. On occasion, hapless Toreador who have never heard of de Santos or ibn Ahmad are drawn into conflict by a Taifa far away, sparking a new vendetta and spilling blood anew.
 
 
The Telling of Tales: As roving wanderers and inveterate seekers of Kindred company, many of the Taifa have developed the art of telling tales meant to inform and entertain their brethren. Assembling oral histories of the line and often inserting their own adventures into the mix, they happily spin hours-long stories of their travels to any vampire willing to listen. Many will trade tales back and forth, building their own mental store while sharing an entertaining accumulation of jokes, warnings and descriptive narratives in return. Some Taifa are prone to judge their brethren according to the quality and range of stories they are willing and able to tell, and may accord greater respect to those who can inform them or put them at ease with a good yarn. Others seek endlessly to build their own repertoire, seeking out Kindred they have not already met in hopes of hearing something new so that they may work to memorize it and add it to their store of knowledge. As a result, many find themselves keenly prepared to socialize, drawing upon their accumulated tales as a means to add appropriate chatter to any gathering. Outsider Kindred consider many Taifa overly garrulous, but none can deny that the practice is charming.
 
 
Oaths of the Taifa: Taifa of the Invictus have invented a number of Blood
Oaths over the centuries. While these oaths were originally sworn and traded only within the line, many have propagated outwards into the covenant proper, finding common use in domains visited by the Taifa.

Мекхет.

Агонисты

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Hidden in the shadows of every great university town in the Western world, a group of Kindred wage war against ignorance, their own nature and the ever-hungry maw of time itself. As the Greeks once used the agon, contests of physical strength and endurance, to test the mettle of a person, so do the Agonistes, a bloodline wholly composed of historians, philosophers, psychologists and scientists, test themselves nightly in intellectual struggle against the forces of the world that would keep Kindred forever in the dark. Unfortunately, those forces are legion, and even the very Kindred the Agonistes claim to help often thank the Polemicists' efforts with violence, hatred and mistrust. Most importantly, the Agonistes form a rare solid cornerstone within the often muddled Kindred historical tradition. They are the world's foremost experts on the Kindred condition known as torpor, an expertise highly valued by the oldest (and often, by extension, most influential) members of every clan and covenant. The Agonistes are also, however, fervent proponents of education, insistent that only by understanding the past can Kindred rise above the ignorance in which many domains seem content to wallow. The line's erstwhile beneficiaries find this philosophy, combined with the intellect and erudition these Kindred bring to their arguments, condescending at best and heretical at worst. Most Agonistes live furtive, hidden unlives, anonymously publishing long philosophical tracts while working to avoid ruffling the wrong feathers, gathering in small enclaves with the only other Kindred who truly appreciate their work: Other members of the bloodline. While few Kindred can actually claim to have ever met one of these reclusive scholars, most knowledgeable Mekhet have heard of the Agonistes. Many elders make locating a member of this line a primary imperative, even after centuries of putting the lineage's libraries to the torch. The Agonistes insist that no greater foolishness exists than to allow knowledge to slip from the world. To combat the erosive effects of the Fog of Ages and simple attrition over time, the Agonistes tirelessly seek out and collect rare lore and hidden histories, copying their discoveries, debating the ramifications and publishing philosophies to be disseminated among the greater Kindred public without priority given to any geography, faith, gender or age. The Agonistes line was founded on this precept, and many Mekhet over the centuries have flocked to the Agonistes' banner. Their great struggle is not waged simply against the Fog of Eternity and the slow trudge of history, however; Agonistes battle mortals, mages and even other Kindred who would hide great truths from the rest of the world. Despite the number of attacks their libraries have endured, this millennia-old bloodline boasts a detailed and rich history leading back to its inception. Widely circulated legends indicate that the line was founded during the height of the Camarilla. A group of Mekhet elders from Egypt, Athens, Carthage and Rome banded together in an unknown location in Greece to share the knowledge they had garnered in their studies, seeking a method to avoid the Second Death or mitigate its attendant madness. Over the course of years of nightly discussions, the Shadows came to a consensus: To understand torpor they must embrace it. Together, they conceived a telepathic rite that would, theoretically, allow one of them to remain lucid during torpor and remember the experience afterwards. One of these elders, a philosopher from Anatolia, agreed to make the first attempt, and slipped into their ritually prepared torpor, exploring the Lethean Fog of Eternity for decades. He was forever changed by the experience. Upon awakening, the philosopher found that his Vitae itself had been distorted, but he could not understand exactly how or why. He immediately took up what he termed his agon, teaching his fellow philosophers the lessons he had learned in dreams, altering their blood as well, and leading them through their own exegeses of torpor. The ancient Agonistes were soon delving into the unconscious fog with regularity, learning how to manipulate it and successfully assisting influential elders cope with its worst side effects, soon gaining significant prestige. While their power has waned, waxed and waned again over the two millennia of their existence, each Polemicist enjoys some small part of that initial esteem to this night. Many members of the line have made their unlives by guiding a single desperate but powerful elder through the sleep of ages. Yet the altruism of the Agonistes remains a pleasant fairytale elders tell themselves when they feel the first cravings for Kindred blood. The Agonistes of the modern nights are no more selfless than the desperate Mekhet scholars in Greece a millennia ago who sought to stave off their own torpor. The service of an Agoniste never comes cheap, as he demands his elder customers describe every facet of that elder's unlife and history if she is to benefit from his preservative powers. Savvy Polemicists often use this as a baseline, offering to perform rituals with even greater benefits in exchange for mentorship in esoteric sorceries or Disciplines, a price many desperate elders are quick to pay. As the credulous patient rattles off centuries of secrets and conspiracies in the belief that it will protect her, the Agoniste records the knowledge to add to the bloodline's massive library. Perhaps more frightening, the Agonistes consider their torpor-fighting psychological exercises far from complete, and many elders unknowingly become experiments themselves as the Polemicists fine-tune their technique without worry that anyone will notice a problem for centuries, perhaps longer. Finally, the Agonistes recognize fully the power that their patients willingly if not eagerly provide them with. While extremely dangerous, the practice of sabotaging a malevolent elder's torpor is always tempting, and has brought more than one member of the line to ruin. In modern nights, many of the Agonistes are bound by obligation, waiting for slumbering elders to rise so that they may fulfill their promise of revival. They continue to broker their deals, assembling histories from the testimony of Kindred frantic to stay whole even as the sleep of ages calls. Many delve again and again into the sleep themselves, honing their ritual skills and working to ensure that the whole of their assembled knowledge is well protected.
 
Developer’s Comments: This entry for the Agonistes fi rst appealed to us largely because of the ritualism and the idea of the great struggle of the line — an ultimately impossible quest, especially for a bloodline that is bound to face persecution in some domains. Mr. Scokel provided them with an evocative purpose, and we believed that the night-to-night operation of the line, as described, would lead to a number of interesting story hooks in any game. Individual Agonistes were free to behave as they wished with their power, despite the semibenevolent declared policy of the line, contributing to their compelling, realistic feel. As the entry went through edits, the line took on a more oppressed tone — a history of denial and destruction worked its way through the story of the Agonistes, opening up great possibilities for dispute within the ranks of the line. The quest to preserve knowledge was complicated by the inevitable response of Kindred who have reason to obscure the past, and by the doubts that response would arouse in the Agonistes themselves. A very interesting take on the bloodline emerged, and we knew we had a winner on our hands.
 
 
Parent Clan: Mekhet
 
 
Nickname: Polemicists
 
 
Covenant: Members of the Agoniste line tend toward the intellectual and occult-minded. They seek out ancient secrets and hidden lore with unparalleled zeal. Therefore, it is no surprise that most tend to fall into the Ordo Dracul, the Sanctified or the Circle of the Crone. The Order seems most fond of the Polemicists, as these knowledgeable Kindred possess some of the most extensive stores of Kindred history and philosophy, and few Dragons doubt the uncontested expertise of the Agonistes in the subject of Kindred psychology. The Agonistes often find the Ordo Dracul more receptive to their ideas than the other covenants, and the Coils exhibit an acute allure to Agonistes actively involved in the great struggle of the line. Elder Polemicists, however, often find that they must take great care to ensure their pupils do not forsake their mission for the Great Work, or worse, confuse the two. Agonistes with less interest in Kindred physiology and Hermetic pseudo-science are often drawn to the Circle of the Crone. The Circle, they say, draws those Agonistes with an interest in doing rather than thinking. Acolyte Polemicists take to the mission of the bloodline with a visceral zeal, sifting through the covenant's endless oral histories and divining the psychological underpinnings of the rituals of Crúac, taking comfort in the historicity of being a member of the world's most ancient covenant. Jungian Polemicists bring a peculiar form of faith to the Circle of the Crone, paying homage to the collective unconscious and offering sacrifices to favored archetypes. The relationship of the Sanctified and the Agonistes has long been rife with distrust. While many hand-copied tomes resting in the line's libraries lend credence to the covenant's history and philosophy, many more undermine it. Texts dating from the time of Longinus and before often clearly contradict the Sanctified's teachings. Historically, the Lancea Sanctum has burned more of the Agonistes' libraries and treatises than the other major covenants combined. Yet Agonistes anxious to plumb the hidden depths of the Church (or sometimes even hungry for a sense of meaning to their unlives beyond the endless Struggle) continue to enter the covenant, and the Lancea Sanctum continues to accept them, recognizing the line's incredible ability to help elders cope with torpor. In addition, more than a few Theban Rituals over the centuries have been unearthed thanks to the tireless investigations of the Agonistes, and many Sanctified Kindred believe that these findings are miraculous indications of divine favor. The Invictus and the Carthian Movement, despite their best efforts, claim relatively few Polemicists; the Agonistes, generally speaking, simply don't get along with many of the Invictus or the Carthians very well. Kindred of the Invictus tend to dislike histories that contradict their own traditional tales, and are willing to destroy anyone who espouses them, even if the Invictus Kindred know that the offending tales are true. Furthermore, the Dynastic Houses of the Invictus make reliance upon the rituals of the Agonistes unnecessary -- and the inheritors of a house are more fully trusted than any Mekhet outsider could be. The Carthian Movement, on the other hand, demands activity from the Agonistes that many are unwilling to engage in, since it distracts from their studies. The political agitations of the covenant have nothing to do with the great struggle of the bloodline, and few will choose to deny it just to satisfy the Carthians. In addition, many Kindred of the Movement find the tendency of Agonistes to spend much of their time in study of distant history to be insufferably academic, in real-world political terms.
 
Appearance: Most Agonistes prefer utilitarian fashions that combine comfort with respectability, adopting uniforms typical of the academic institutions they embed themselves in. Glasses are unusually common, though with the Agonistes' penchant for heightened senses, glasses are surely an affectation. Younger Agonistes may dress in prep-school chic: a blazer and tie with khaki slacks for men, a sweater vest or cardigan with a collared shirt and skirt for women. The bloodline originally spawned along the Mediterranean coast, and most elder Polemicists bear distinctly Mediterranean features. In the constant hunger for brave, intelligent new blood, however, the line has spread widely in the millennia since its inception; tonight, Agonistes hail from across the Western world, though most remain of European descent.
 
Havens: Libraries and museums are by far the most cherished havens for Agonistes. Since there are only so many libraries in the world suitable for hosting an undead predator during the daylight hours, most Agonistes happily resort to keeping a large, well-stocked personal store of tomes. Agoniste havens vary greatly based on a number of factors, most especially location and age. The Polemicists keep havens culturally appropriate to whatever area of the world they happen to be in, and elder Agonistes often have well-furnished, if understated, homes, paid for through the wealth and favors of the Kindred they have eased into torpor. Surprisingly few members of the line currently reside in Greece, the traditional homeland of the line, though the catacombs of Italy and France, as well as the underground cities of Anatolia have all historically served as havens for the Polemicists, and elders of the line remain entombed in them to this night.
 
Background: Agonistes overwhelmingly come from academic backgrounds. Whether psychologists, graduate students or tenured professors at the time of the Embrace, the Kindred of this line are universally familiar with the intricacies of research and scholarship. They are not all dusty librarians, however; field archeologists and explorers populate the ranks with hardy Kindred while former lecturers and priests add a socially competent force to the line. Most Agonistes hail from the middle or upper class, and many have at least some training, either academic or practical, in psychology before the Embrace. The Agonistes line attracts many Mekhet elders, especially of the Ordo Dracul, who seek an Avus to train them in the ways of avoiding torpor. The bloodline may welcome these elders, though only after they have proven themselves through rigorous examination. A desire to diminish the effects of the sleep of ages isn't qualification enough to become a member, and many of these Kindred are simply offered ritual service instead.
 
Character Creation: Mental Attributes and Skills are universally prized among the Polemicists, and any vampire Embraced directly into the line likely has devoted her primary points to these groups. Social Attributes are common, as well, especially among vampires who experienced firsthand the competitive world of academe. Common skills for the Agonistes include Academics, Medicine, Occult, Science and Survival. Psychologist Polemicists often possess Empathy and Persuasion, while surprisingly savvy academicians possess Politics, Socialize and even Streetwise. The Mental Merits Encyclopedic Knowledge, Eidetic Memory and Meditative Mind are all appropriate for members of this bloodline. Because of the tight-knit structure of the line's enclaves, rare is the Agoniste without a Mentor or some Contacts among the lineage. Among the Kindred who can purchase it, the Library Merit is a must. Most Agonistes possess the Language Merit, with Greek and Latin being the most commonly understood languages among the line, followed by English, French and German.
 
 
Bloodline Disciplines: Auspex, Celerity, Dominate, Obfuscate
 
 
Weakness: All Agonistes suffer the weakness of the Mekhet clan. In addition, though they are loathe to admit it, the first ritual torpor of the bloodline creates a subconscious yearning for the Second Death. Agonistes are addicted to the quiet oblivion and surreal dreamscapes of vampiric torpor, and most will remain in the sleep longer than they need. When determining the length of torpor for an Agoniste, treat the character's Humanity as one dot lower than it actually is. The rare and unfortunate Humanity 1 Agoniste remains in torpor for two centuries multiplied by her Blood Potency. Agonistes tend to enter voluntary torpor more frequently than other Kindred, and are susceptible to its strange allure in their waking nights. Every time an Agoniste suffers tragic or extremely emotional circumstances that lead to a degeneration or derangement check (regardless of the result), a Resolve + Composure roll is required to avoid returning to a safe place and entering ritually prepared torpor.
 
Organization: The Polemicists maintain libraries around the world, nestled hidden in the shadows of Western intellectual institutions, training their childer in historical record-keeping, archival management and academic research. Many Agonistes spend years learning to become the bloodline's representatives, combining the line's propensity for Dominate with a thorough knowledge of the inner workings of the Kindred mind. The Agonistes bloodline suffers from the unfortunate irony that they desire solitude and companionship in equal doses. Solitude and silence are necessary for serious academic work, yet most Polemicists demand nearby Kindred on par with their intellect to bounce theories and theses off as well as elder Kindred to act as clients. Thus, Agonistes tend to found small, secretive colonies called conservatories in cities with multiple major universities. These enclaves tend to be large communal havens filled with small personal living spaces for the Polemicists in residence or simple buildings where the Polemicists of the city gather to discuss their work. The Agonistes are surprisingly structured for academicians, and, similar to university professors, are constantly expected to produce new works on Kindred history, psychology, theology, physiology or mythology. The bloodline is divided into colleges by area of study (the colleges of mythology and theology are the least respected of the colleges, while the colleges devoted to torpor and kindred psychology are exceptionally exclusive), each presided over by a Dean, whose chief duty lies in directing failing Agonistes into new areas of scholarship. The Polemicists deem the head of each enclave "Professor," and an Agoniste responsible for one of the lineage's vast repositories of information is known as an Archivist. Officially, loans between archives must pass through the Master Archivist, a unique title in the bloodline, but that requirement is ignored with increasing regularity in the modern nights, a development that the current Master Archivist is threatening to curb through her prodigious knowledge of sorcery. From the outside, as a line, the Agonistes seem strikingly loyal. While as much backbiting and snobbery occurs among the Agonistes as in mortal academe, members of the bloodline know more than enough of their line's history to understand that as frequently as they are sought out for their torpor rituals, the Agonistes are as often persecuted for their knowledge and the openness with which they share it. When faced with an outside threat, individual quibbles vanish, and conservatories display a united face to their enemies. As a result of this loyalty and the line's willingness to share information other Kindred consider proprietary, the major p covenants have an uncomfortable and suspicious relationship with the uncannily useful Polemicists. Perhaps unfortunately, the suspicions of the covenants often prove to be true, and few Agonistes are truly devoted to their covenant over the Great Struggle. Indeed, the current Master Archivist of the line, a Londoner and noted Theban Sorcerer named Bianca Tilley, was recently expelled from her position in the Sanctified when she began displaying a knowledge of Crúac.
 
Concepts: Excitable archivist, single-minded museum librarian, stubborn art historian, immoral psychologist, jaded hipster, beleaguered corporate Polemicist, Jungian film junky, furtive grave robber, heroin-addict-turned-torpor-addict.
 
 
History: The libraries of the Agonistes boast the most complete record of Kindred history in the world, though, based as they are on the testimony of vampires, many of the historical texts are contradictory and unreliable. While difficulty in the transport of information between domains and the tendency of other Kindred to secrecy combine to make sure not even the eldest Agonistes have the whole story, rare is even the neonate Agoniste who does not know the accepted history of her lineage. The Agonistes are a scholarly community, however, and numerous papers have been circulated among the line questioning the verity of the tale of the gathering of that first Mekhet enclave centuries ago. One recently published thesis, for example, claims that the fact that no two early histories of the line share the same name for the founder indicates a possible conspiracy of falsehood in the line’s early nights. The most famous alternate interpretation of the Agonistes’ founding is alleged by the Mnemonic Institute, which insists that the line’s quest for knowledge was inspired (or, among particularly radical Polemicists, founded) by the pseudo-mythical Agonista, an Athenian Kindred supposedly mentioned in Platonic-era documents. Most Polemicists dismiss this tale as fancy, despite the respect the Mnemonic Institute has garnered in its exploration of the depths of torpor. Another controversial dissertation indicates that the founders of the bloodline were themselves the victims of torpor-induced mental damage, and that the original purpose of the bloodline (and the inevitable outcome of its practices, still to fully manifest) is utterly unknowable. The destruction of many early documents of the bloodline over the centuries has almost ensured that no Polemicist will unearth a definitive answer to these questions, and members of the bloodline wage venomous wars of words over questions of Agoniste history. In the first centuries after the bloodline’s inception, the Agonistes Embraced almost exclusively from the scholars and scribes of humanity, and most Polemicists kept an additional scribe as a ghoul. The goal of the Great Struggle, to prevent the loss of history and the Kindred cultural memory, was accomplished primarily through the espousal of detailed journals and notes taken by Agonistes spread across the Kindred Courts of the Mediterranean coast and Near East. Most Princes kept an Agonistes as an advisor and witness to her greater glory. While personal journals and Court histories were kept with the elder who had them scribed, the Polemicists carefully penned and painstakingly illuminated copies to be sent to the Master Archivist, a Kindred who resided in a massive library in Rome. After the collapse of the Camarilla, the Agonistes carefully moved what texts they could retrieve from the archives to Constantinople, the Queen of Cities, filling a massive palace with the collected tomes of their history. The line spread eastwards, not only to Constantinople, but also to Eastern Europe and the Hungarian Kingdom, the Levant, and into Egypt and northern Africa. Building on the precepts of the founder’s Exegesis ritual, the Agonistes line developed many of the earliest known defenses against torpor in the West during this time. The Crusades strained and finally broke the power of the Agonistes, and the fire that preceded the sacking of Constantinople in 1204 saw the utter destruction of the archives, the Final Death of the Master Archivist and the end of more than half a millennium of Agoniste power among the Courts and scholars of the Queen of Cities. A secondary result of the Crusades is known throughout the bloodline as the Silencing of the Middle East. Before the Crusades, the Agonistes existed in large numbers in the Levant, but the tenuous lines of communication between the Eastern Polemicists and their Western brethren were cut by centuries of war. Attempts to reclaim a foothold in the region failed time and again, and have yet to succeed. The Kindred of modern Istanbul are strangely distrustful of the Polemicists, and almost always refuse them entrance to the domain. This remains a constant thorn in the bloodline’s side, as many would dearly love to explore the labyrinths, catacombs and libraries of the former Queen of Cities. The loss of the archives forever altered the path of the bloodline. No longer content to hoard their hoary knowledge, the Polemicists began their vigorous campaign to educate the society of the night. The great struggle of the line, they reasoned, could never be won by amassing knowledge in a single, central location. As they spread into the universities of Central and Western Europe, the Agonistes devoted themselves and their resources to copying rare texts of Kindred origin and spreading them to as many disparate libraries as possible, hoping to combat the entropic nature of fire, war, superstition and neglect by ensuring that the loss of a copy of a work
did not mean the loss of the work itself. Furthermore, the
Agonistes used the printing press, invented in the 15th century, to spread their amassed knowledge among the domains of Europe. This sudden spread of previously forgotten history was met with intense distrust, leading to acrimonious conflict and, in some domains, outright violence. Inspired by Kindred of various factions, the Agonistes became a favored scapegoat in certain domains, accused of blasphemies great and small. Eventually, many members of the line went underground, distributing their hard-won knowledge from the shadows. The Second World War, which forever changed the face of Europe for Kindred and kine, resulted in the destruction of a dozen Agonistes conservatories and archives and the loss of centuries of work. While the bloodline still struggles to make up for the lost efforts of ages, the damage may never be completely repaired. Detractors of the line claim that while the Agonistes have always presented a threat to the Masquerade, their efforts to find, copy and trade in Kindred history makes them ever more dangerous. The Agonistes, for their part, ignore the naysayers; the struggle must continue. Even still, throughout the troubled history of the line, rumors of the Agonistes’ talents attract the attention of worried elders, and they are approached time and again for the ritual protection they can provide. Every time the line seems to find itself on the cusp of shame and destruction, an elder somewhere lends a member the power she needs to survive and rebuild, in exchange for the guarantee of a safe and whole return from torpor.
 
 
Society and Culture: When a prospective student of the Agonistes is ushered into their ranks, her Avus or sire carefully prepares her. She feels the thick touch of olive oil dabbed across her brow, the subtle contractions of the damp bandages she has been wrapped in and the cold, unyielding table against her back. As the presiding Agoniste places his hand on her forehead and begins to speak to her in a low, monotone voice, she slips away, only then realizing that she is about to enter torpor. The secrets she learns from the experience that follows banish any residual resentment. The Agonistes combine the trappings of ancient Greek culture with the structures and titles of university life. Members fuse the primal respect of the active mind and body (and thereby reject torpor, the very essence of the inactive mind and body) with the cut-throat backbiting of academic politics. Ideally, status in the bloodline is based on intellect and ability, as illustrated through the quality of work ‘published’; in reality, most Agonistes realize that its not the quality of work published but the quantity and breadth of distribution that gains acknowledgement within the line. Thus often a hard-working ancilla who publishes a well-researched and well-reasoned polemic once every decade is ignored in favor of the neonate whose scribbled writings of barely factual historical notes gleaned from his mentor’s teachings inspires excited conversation among the Kindred at Elysium. In short, it is more important to get other Kindred interested and involved in the struggle than it is to do quality work, if only barely. Of course, if that same neonate’s writings are easily dismissed and contradicted by established fact, she is spreading disinformation, one of the line’s cardinal sins. Young, hotshot Agonistes under pressure from their mentors to perform often carefully toe the line between the sensationally true and the fantastically false. The mentor-pupil relationship forms the core of interactions between members of the line, though it is not unusual for a Polemicist to take on several pupils at once, or the eldest member of an Agoniste conservatory to be deferred to as mentor to the conservatory as a whole (sometimes an Agoniste even performs this function). Bloodline gatherings begin as reserved affairs, as members exchange information about their current projects or philosophical conundrums, but after business is out of the way, an Agoniste gathering builds an odd self celebratory manic energy. The Polemicists are known to prefer only the finest libations filtered through the blood of their hyper-literate guests. During the Middle Ages, the Agonistes spent many of their nights in silent scribbling, delicately copying thousands of pages of ancient text by hand. Centuries later, the Polemicists bent over presses, carefully setting type and distributing treatises among the nascent Carthians and receptive Acolytes. Advances in technology have provided members of the lineage far more freedom and time in the modern nights, but most Agonistes spend each night furthering their own agendas in the Great Struggle. Though Agonistes remain stubbornly proud of their erudition and effort, most pamphlets distributed outside the bloodline are done so anonymously to prevent one member from taking too much heat. There are few bloodline-wide rites or observances, but two of the most conventional are known as Matriculation and Encaenia. Matriculation celebrates the return of the fledgling Agoniste from her first dip into the tenebrous realm of lucid torpor. Often not entirely recovered from the experience, the fledgling, draped in scarlet gowns, accompanied by her sire or Avus, enters an assembly (called the Congregation for this ceremony) of her new conservatory gathered for the occasion and similarly dressed, representing entrance into the fraternity. In an elaborate ceremony, the mentor presents the fledgling with a sash of blue and white, setting it carefully across the kneeling Kindred’s shoulders. Then the fledgling presents a paper on an academic subject to the Congregation, after which the gathered Polemicists take a simple vote of acceptance. In modern nights, this has become a formality, and rarely are the results anything but unanimous. On the unlikely occasion the Congregation refuses entrance to the fledgling, the mentor is expected to immediately rend the supplicant torpid and strip her of her gowns. After an appropriate length of time in torpor (called a Suspension), the fledgling is awakened and allowed to begin the process anew. The bloodline expects each Polemicist to engage in Encaenia once per quarter century. This rite, created after the fall of the Archives in Constantinople, requires the Kindred to rediscover a piece of information once lost to the line. Initially, this referred to tracking down a journal or tome captured by the rampaging Crusaders and reclaiming it for the bloodline. Since the mid-20th century, Polemicists traditionally seek to find information lost to the world wars. The Agoniste does not necessarily seek actual documents lost during the war; locating a lost torpid elder and reviving her, tracking an obscure reference in a charred text or interviewing a Kindred of Dresden who escaped Final Death are all possibilities. Perhaps owing to their thorough understanding of the effects of the Fog of Ages and the potential of the Dominate discipline, the Polemicists are notoriously distrustful of a single Kindred’s memory. Agonistes consider information that cannot be verified by more than a single source almost useless, and the information they have verified they disseminate to as many Kindred readers as possible, hoping to birth a mnemonic
hydra (even if one Kindred with a particular piece of knowledge dies, or if one library burns, the knowledge remains elsewhere). In the past century, the Agonistes’ suspicion has spread from the mind to the very linguistic structures that make up human (and Kindred) thought. Rumors currently circulate among the line of Polemicists so disconcerted by the questions raised by Deconstructionism that they have embraced torpor rather than face the implications it presents. Most Agonistes, however, are pragmatic enough to explore such dark philosophies from a distance. While the Agonistes line draws intellectual Kindred from a wide variety of intellectual (and occasionally outdated) models, two philosophies have made great headway in the last century among those Agonistes more interested in the question of torpor than Kindred history. Ancillae of the line have found Jungian philosophy, particularly the focus on the universal archetypes, the collective unconscious and the shadow, an incredibly useful framework within which to discuss the torpid experience. They insist that torpor represents a necessary reconnection with the cultural mythologies that inform the man within the Kindred, and that a Kindred properly prepared by an Agoniste can experience through torpor a genuine and healthy interaction between the Man (the Animus) and the Beast (the Shadow). A contradictory philosophy currently gaining ground within older members of the lineage is the practice of Entelechy, a belief that purports a Kindred, provided a source of sufficiently potent blood, can stave off the ennui of ages through constant active and conscious thought and action. Neither philosophy has had ample time within the bloodline to be fully explored or tested, but numerous Polemicists are devoted to both factions.
 
Bloodline Devotions: The Agonistes have developed a range of devotions, widely called “rituals” or “exercises” among the Polemicists, based on their knowledge of torpor. Although Kindred find the Polemicists entirely candid about their process, going so far as to circulate “How To” pamphlets, the inability of other Kindred to replicate the Polemicists’ results leads most outside the bloodline to believe the powers of the Agonistes to be a bloodline Discipline or type of ritual blood magic. In reality, the Devotions bear a closer resemblance to a pseudoscience, as the bloodline members use their deep understanding of Kindred psychology and torpor to fortify their subjects against the Fog of Eternity. Most Devotions involve the use of Auspex and Dominate to place subtle mental blocks or suggestions in the Kindred mind, which are used to maintain sanity and memory in a torpid Kindred. Although the Polemicists have been historically forthcoming with the particulars of their rituals, the powers cannot be used outside of the line, as they hinge on the intertwining of the energies of torpor with the Vitae that the Agonistes experience. The secrets gleaned from their first Exegesis and emergence are so fundamental to the use of Agonistes’ Devotions, that learning any of the exercises requires the Polemicist to be placed in controlled torpor through the use of Exegesis. The Devotions of the Agonistes rely heavily on mental tricks, and none of them create any lasting physical alterations. After a Kindred has benefited from most of these powers (i.e., after she has awoken from torpor), the power becomes inactive and must be used again if the elder wants to gain the benefits for a second length of torpor. No Agoniste has ever developed a power that allows a vampire to maintain Attributes, Abilities or Disciplines in levels in excess of 5 after the elder’s Blood Potency has dropped, though the search for such powers occupies the bloodline nightly. Agoniste Devotions affect only vampires.

Санджованни

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The Sangiovanni bloodline is seen by many Mekhet as an embarrassment, an uncomfortable confirmation of certain unwholesome rumors surrounding the clan and its dealings. Based in Venice, the Sangiovanni family both acknowledges and disregards the contempt in which other Mekhet hold the bloodline. Members of the family, living, dead and undead, maintain degenerate traditions honed through centuries of incest and black magic. Among the Venetian elite, during the waning years of the Renaissance, Lodovico Sangiovanni was a prominent, wealthy and talented citizen. An architect, Sangiovanni specialized in building churches, organizing the swift and masterful construction of many beautiful houses of God. The faithful who filed obediently into Lodovico's churches could never have guessed that the walls and foundation had been constructed almost entirely by the animated corpses of the dead. How convenient it was for Lodovico that new churches were often built on the sites of old churches, and that the sites of old churches nearly always harbored old, forgotten graveyards. Dead workers never tire, require no payment and never complain. His patrons never guessed at the truth behind his methods, and it's doubtful the clergy would have appreciated the irony of their churches being constructed with the aid of the black arts. Nearly all of the ancient lineages that converged into the prestigious and wealthy Sangiovanni family as it existed in Lodovico's time had produced a number of sorcerers, seers and witches. Lodovico learned at an early age to worship things his mother claimed were older than the Christian God -- shadowy things lurking behind the facade of the material world. It was she who taught him to grasp at the curtain between worlds, to conjure spirits and raise the dead, binding them to his will. It was she who arranged his education as an architect as well, securing his place of esteem in the mundane world. He repaid her with a dagger in the heart, and an innocent slave was executed for her murder. An alcoholic and a womanizer, Lodovico spent as much time drinking and whoring as he did working in construction. Occasionally, his tastes ran to darker pursuits, and much of his family's gold was spent acquiring artifacts of a distinctly unnatural nature. At the height of his career, Lodovico's name was gasped in Italy's filthiest brothels, even as it was whispered in the Vatican. Whether the fact that Lodovico was never made to face the consequences of his less savory activities is a testament to his cleverness or to some dark pact, no one will ever know. It is known, however, that he endured the rigors of life at that time for a great many years, reaching quite an advanced age and siring a number of bastard children along the way, some of whom he even formally acknowledged. In any event, Lodovico's understanding of the world beyond lent itself to an almost insane fear of death in his later years, and the aging Sangiovanni threw himself into more and more desperate means of staving off his own inevitable demise. It was the midnight sacrifice of his youngest daughter that attracted the notice of a being with the power to grant Lodovico the immortality he craved. A creature described in Lodovico's journals as having "fangs like a bat, a face like a skull" appeared to him, "arising... from the darkness... where no man had been but a moment before." The creature offered no conversation at first, but seized a shrieking Lodovico and swiftly drained his blood, transforming him into one of the undead. Its voice, Lodovico wrote, was like the crackling of a fresh fire in dry leaves, and it spoke to him, mostly nonsense, or so Lodovico thought at the time, about "men walking, men sleeping, men kneeling before God." Lodovico could feel the creature's thoughts pierce into his mind, and in an instant he was made to understand. The creature dissolved into blackness, leaving an acrid smell and dark visions of the dead rising to outnumber the living. Lodovico rose, but stood motionless for the rest of the night. Those of his acolytes who had looked on in mute horror as their guiding magus had been slain and resurrected later wrote that the freshly undead Lodovico roared with mad laughter until the sun forced him to sleep. Lodovico Sangiovanni never saw his sire again, and his journals tell of the nightly discoveries he made in the first years of his Requiem. Those who would read his writings in the centuries to come would note the steady pace with which the Sangiovanni elder's grasp on sanity slackened. Lodovico wrote that he had been entrusted with a duty to raise up all the dead of the world, as had been foretold in the Book of Revelation. Initially, however, it seemed he had lost his former powers of sorcery upon becoming immortal, and his surviving writings from those early nights clearly reflect his rage. His sons aged and died before he mastered the arts of necromancy once again. Lodovico Embraced a daughter and a son, each of whom was forced to Embrace a brother and a sister. Lodovico was clever, never allowing the number of vampires in the family to endanger its ability to produce a new generation of living offspring. Nevertheless, he ruled over the family as a twisted tyrant for many generations, slaying out of hand those who incurred his displeasure. Not all of his childer and descendants shared his strange vision for the family or his crazed devotion to his dead mother's wicked gods. Eventually, Lodovico's insanity would prove immensely detrimental to him. In the early 1800s, his 'beloved' family at last decided that they'd had enough of the despot, and the old patriarch was staked and left out to greet the sun. After a tremendous restructuring, one of Lodovico's surviving grandchildren, Santino Sangiovanni, took over the mantle of leadership, and the family became less a den of degenerates bent solely on the preservation and empowerment of their founder and more a lodge for scholarly pursuits. The Kindred, however, are known for being set in their ways, and slow to change their minds, and even today the Sangiovanni family is seen as a blight on the history of the Mekhet clan. More than once after Lodovico's death, the Sangiovanni family found itself the target of Invictus attempts to eradicate them, and advances by the Circle of the Crone seeking to force mass membership upon the bloodline. Each such expedition met with hideous failure, as the Sangiovanni Necromancers' occult prowess would seem strangely bolstered in the face of such concerted aggression. One such skirmish, eclipsed in the annals of Kindred history by the travails of those undead caught up in the American Civil War, saw the presence of both the Invictus and the Circle undermined so thoroughly in parts of Venice that even to this day neither covenant dares intrude upon Sangiovanni lands. As to how a remote bloodline of scholars managed to so soundly defeat two covenants, many theories exist, but the Sangiovanni themselves have remained unsettlingly silent on the matter. What is known is that, afterward, startlingly large sums of money were transferred anonymously to the coffers of an occult lodge in Florence. The Sangiovanni family and bloodline exist now as an embarrassing secret, hushed up by both Clan Mekhet and an order of mortal sorcerers. Breeding and inbreeding for centuries within polite Italian society, the Sangiovanni are considered little better than a nest of cockroaches by those who know them. Those who understand the Sangiovanni's secrets, however, often wish they could forget. Santino's efforts in recent decades to establish ties with the Lancea Sanctum, calling upon the family's old association with the Catholic Church, have yielded pleasing results. Diplomatically couching the family's occult activities in terms that evoke images of biblical resurrection, Santino has secured the covenant's protection, if not its respect. As for old Lodovico himself, many unanswered questions remain. Records are unclear as to the exact nature of his necromantic power before his Embrace, and less educated Kindred are quick to label him a mage. Mages, though poorly understood by Kindred society at large, are nonetheless known to seldom, if ever, survive the Embrace. The possibility that Lodovico was somehow the exception to this rule has kept many scholars, vampire and wizard alike, up through many long nights of wondering. What can be discovered, by those dedicated or suicidal enough to pry, is that the Sangiovanni bloodline's survival unto the modern day is ultimately attributable to the subtle intervention of a subsect of mages -- debauched, soul-stealing immortals, if the rumors are to be believed. Those few in the know seem to by turns inexplicably vanish, or choose to ignore their more disturbing findings on the matter. Today, more Sangiovanni are leaving Venice than ever before. Modern Kindred have more on their minds than stories of nests of twisted vampires in the Old Country, and thus, the Sangiovanni are finding with increasing frequency that Kindred beyond Italy do not know who or what the Sangiovanni are. Borrowing from the family's coffers or drawing on their substantial web of European business contacts, young Sangiovanni have been striking out into Western Europe, and even to the Americas, offering their services in the fields of business and accounting, as well as their family's unique and eldritch specialty. Covens of Sangiovanni Necromancers have appeared in New York City, Paris and even smaller towns and cities as the reach of the bloodline races to expand to match the new communications capabilities of today. For every Prince disgusted by the prospect of necromancy in his domain, at least one instead chooses to see potential in a Sangiovanni's black magic, and many American Sangiovanni find that they can claim domains of their own in hospitals and funeral homes in return for providing their Princes with data both occult and scientific. Of course, whether times are truly changing for the Necromancers, or whether they have merely set themselves up for a new, modern witch hunt, remains to be seen.
 
Developer’s Comments: The Sangiovanni presented an extremely diffi cult choice. This bloodline was far and away the most popular among fans, both in terms of the number of submissions we received (which outdistanced every other bloodline offered by no small margin) and in our online poll asking which line readers were most eager to see. There were a lot of preconceived notions with regards to
the Sangiovanni, and many writers submitting entries to the contest tried to incorporate them too comprehensively or disregarded too many. In the end, we felt that Mr. Smith’s entry, while hewing to some of the expectations expressed by eager readers, managed to diverge in a couple of surprising and interesting ways, raising it above the competition.
We were fi rst struck by this vision of the Sangiovanni as a line of deviant reanimators, subjecting the dead (and their living relatives) to a mystic slavery that seemed to refl ect the Kindred habit of overpowering and perverting living things to their own ends. Subsequent edits brought some of the most compelling ideas of the line to the fore, and I encouraged Mr. Smith to deviate further from expectation. We arrived at the fi nal version you see here: something I believe is a powerfully thematic line, perfect for adding that touch of diseased, degenerate atmosphere to any vampire game.
 
 
Parent Clan: Mekhet
 
 
Nickname: Necromancers (among themselves) or Necrophiles (to everyone else)
 
 
Covenant: The Sangiovanni family more or less enjoys the protection of the Lancea Sanctum. Those willing to pay lip service to the Lancea Sanctum's religious leanings will find the covenant willing to tolerate the practice of necromancy to a surprising degree. However, this tie to the Lancea Sanctum is built more on old debts and favors than on any real loyalty, and Sanctified Sangiovanni seen to be flouting the ethics of the sect, or, worse, showing too great an interest in Lodovico's heretical writings, can expect their punishment to be swift and uncompromising. Though hardly the majority, more than a few Sangiovanni have sided with the Circle of the Crone -- particularly those who adhere to Lodovico's views concerning 'old gods.' Sangiovanni Acolytes almost universally found or join death cults centered around entities such as Charon or Cama Sotz.
 
 
 
Appearance: The elder Sangiovanni dress in fashions popular during the Renaissance, modern sensibilities be damned, whereas a startling number of younger family members seem to favor respectable business dress, typically in dark colors. A Sangiovanni of any ethnicity but Italian is a rare thing indeed, but not unheard of, as a number of foreigners have married into the family. Sadly, rather a lot of Sangiovanni are even more pallid than the average vampire, with weird, deep-set eyes, weak chins, eyebrows grown together, severe under- or over-bites and other defects that betray the family's penchant for inbreeding. Many make an effort to look gaunt or corpse-like in an attempt to make themselves attractive to the elders of the line -- a bizarre practice that most onlookers never fully understand. Only a few can be said to look 'normal.'
 
 
Background: Sangiovanni often have little experience with the modern world, having been raised in a sheltered and twisted environment from the start. These unfortunates, inbred and often slightly insane, have been aware of the existence of vampires since before they could talk. Luckily, not all Sangiovanni are so twisted. Those independent Sangiovanni, unfettered by the family at large, are often scholarly Kindred whose studies take a darker turn, causing them to seek out properties of the blood that are perhaps best left alone.
 
 
Character Creation: In spite of occasional handicaps levied by inbreeding, Sangiovanni are typically clever and knowledgeable. Mental Attributes and Skills are common, and members of the family are encouraged to develop these aptitudes from an early age. After all, occult studies comprise the bulk of their lives and, for the lucky and clever ones, their Requiems as well. The family's vast stores of knowledge, in the form of both occult tomes and father-figure mentors who may have existed for centuries, make Encyclopedic Knowledge a common Merit, and it's a rare Sangiovanni indeed who lacks any Resources, thanks to the family's coffers, bloated with the sins of centuries. Of course, a second dot of Blood Potency is a good investment as well, if one wishes to begin play as a member of the bloodline. Finally, Allies and Contacts are extremely common, especially at high levels, due to the family's many business partners, occult acolytes and organized crime contacts.
 
 
Bloodline Disciplines: Auspex, Cattiveria, Celerity, Obfuscate
 
 
Weakness: All Sangiovanni share the weakness of the Mekhet clan. In addition, the Sangiovanni carry a deep spiritual taint that comes of their close contact with the energies of death. While they may still appear pristine, even beautiful, there is an undeniable touch of the grave in everything they say and do. While they do not diverge physically from other Kindred, the Sangiovanni all appear somewhat unnatural in some intangible sense, repelling living onlookers. Dice pools for social interactions with mortals are capped at two lower than the vampire's Humanity rating, and observing Kindred likewise tend to misinterpret the Sangiovanni's closeness to the Beast. Sangiovanni who degenerate are especially vulnerable to a peculiar type of Obsessive Compulsive behavior with regards to corpses. They begin to believe that the dead are somehow "more beautiful" than the living, and many develop necrophiliac urges, choosing to conduct amorous, one-sided affairs with preserved bodies. These Sangiovanni fawn over the objects of their affection, dressing them, speaking to them and otherwise lavishing attentions that would be better paid elsewhere. Though not necessarily sexual, these affairs are considered extremely distasteful (to say the least) to outsiders who discover them. To the Sangiovanni, this madness is understood to be a common feature of the family and, while embarrassing, is generally politely ignored.
 
Organization: The Sangiovanni, as noted above, are primarily organized into a close-knit family originating in Venice. Santino is the oldest surviving member of the family, being the founder's childe and grandson, and he continues to run things to this day. Family members willing to undertake the journey to Venice are encouraged to schedule an appointment to meet with Santino, should they require advice or formal aid, as Santino has made it well-known throughout the family that the survival and well-being of the bloodline is his foremost concern. The family's resources are widespread, but are not casually available for the taking by anyone who hasn't spent generations cultivating pull with the higher-ups in the family. Nevertheless, being on good terms with the family has its advantages, as their various branches have fingers in numerous pies, including the obligatory ties to medical, religious and criminal establishments. Family members are expected to do their part to further the goals of the family, pulling their weight in financial and occult arenas alike, but also to ensure the bloodline's long-term survival, which means keeping other Kindred in the dark as to their broader nightly activities. The family's vaults are choked with corpses, and on nights of occult significance, the droning voices of chanting Sangiovanni witches can be heard on the wind for some distance around the mausoleum. Most of those Sangiovanni with ties to the Circle of the Crone make at least a token effort to attend the occasional gathering at the Venetian mausoleum. Most such Sangiovanni Acolytes hope that if some trace of Lodovico remains -- even if only in the form of a lingering specter, or a tainted smear of ash -- it will be one of them who finds it, and perhaps uncovers some hint to the bloodline founder's true intentions. Even those loyal to the Lancea Sanctum are expected to participate in family rites and ceremonies, mostly practices codified by Lodovico and later revised by Santino himself. What even other Venetian Kindred need not know is that the Sangiovanni as a whole are as corrupt as ever, exploiting the dead for their own selfish ends -- often for mere temporal wealth. For his part, Santino is not so foolish as to have overlooked the obvious benefits of possessing magics unavailable to any other Kindred lineage. A perpetually renewable army of corpses has its uses, and even the great covenants could scarcely contend with shambling forces that effortlessly replenish themselves. Nevertheless, even Santino realizes that the time is not yet right, so he plots and waits. As long as Kindred society at large believes the Sangiovanni are simple, deluded degenerates lurking in the dark, tending to their own selfish, insignificant matters, the Kindred are playing into Santino's hands, and he remains free to plan for a secret war that may never come. Members of the bloodline who have rejected Santino's leadership, and thus his protection, are seldom welcome at the mausoleum, though even Santino is more likely to simply turn them away than to destroy them. In the case of wayward members of the Sangiovanni family, it is hoped that they will someday return to the fold. The mausoleum has room enough for anyone of the blood with a passion for exploring the mysteries of death.
 
 
Concepts: Unsavory mortician, half-crazed librarian, charismatic cult leader, dread dark magus, laconic gravedigger, degenerate jetsetter, established haven designer, wild-eyed Catholic priest, simpering pervert.
 
 
History
Violence and murder punctuate the history of the Sangiovanni, drawing a line of blood from their brutal origin on into the uncertain future. It seems only natural that a family of Necromancers has left a trail of corpses in its wake, but some Kindred wonder when karma will catch up to the Necromancers at last. When Lodovico murdered his mother in cold blood, he must have felt he had learned from her all that he could. Scholars of the family’s history return to this pivotal moment time and time again, always failing to answer this most basic question: why Lodovico felt the need to kill his mother. Santino was not yet born when the murder took place, but no being exists tonight who had as much contact with Lodovico as Santino did. He claims that the killing was nothing more than the act of a sick mind, an arrogant young wizard indulging in an act of symbolic cruelty — for once his mother had imparted to him the secrets of holding power over death, Lodovico executed her, probably smirking at the irony all the while. Those few degenerates in the family who value and preserve Lodovico’s words and views make a different claim — that
her sacrifice was necessary, even willing, and that her death ensured Lodovico’s immortality. As the bloodline grew, its practices (and, particularly, the rumored perversions of its eldest members) attracted the attention of less-than-tolerant Kindred among the Venetian Invictus. Throughout the middle of the 19th century, the Sangiovanni were forced to fight a quiet battle to defend themselves against an Invictus purge.
Strangely, the family seemed to possess arcane might beyond that a single small bloodline of Kindred should have been able to muster. It is well-known that large sums of money changed hands, and vampires with contacts among the mages point to rumors of a mortal Sangiovanni who supposedly lives in Florence to this very night, tending to the affairs of a sheltered den of occult scholars there. Did the Sangiovanni trade an apprentice to a cabal of mages in exchange for protection from the Invictus? Though it seems far-fetched, at least one Acolyte of the Circle of the Crone has angrily wondered aloud how one small family of vampires on one estate in Venice can possibly have consistently defended their holdings from two covenants for so long. On this one matter, Santino has remained more suspiciously silent than on any other. Regardless, the battle claimed several Kindred on both sides, and provoked a reimagining of Sangiovanni policy. First, Santino took it upon himself to broker a deal with the Lancea Sanctum, pledging his family’s service, en masse, to the covenant and putting an end to the purge by earning its protection. Second, he began to encourage individual members to strike out and travel to distant domains with their living relatives, hoping that their dispersal would help to guarantee the viability of the family. Kindred historians note the distressing ease of the
Sangiovanni’s transition into the Lancea Sanctum. Accounts gloss over it, merely stating that the Sangiovanni patriarch had been in talks with the Lancea Sanctum for some years, and that the covenant finally agreed to admit the bulk of the family. It is relatively common knowledge that the general flavor of the family’s occultism shifted gradually until it was more in line with the Lancea Sanctum’s religious leanings, while seeming to lose not even a fraction of its potency. It can scarcely be argued that the old-fashioned Sangiovanni family, steeped in the traditions of its founder’s day, likely found the transition into a Christian covenant a relatively painless one. The marvel, it is said, is that the Lancea Sanctum was so willing to permit Necromancers within its ranks. The Lancea Sanctum could not have been swayed with money or even Santino’s famous glibness,
but rather must have been offered something far less tangible. Whatever debt, if any, the Sangiovanni owe to the Lancea Sanctum, a recent tension growing between the family and their covenant seems to suggest that it may soon be coming due. The outward expansion of the Sangiovanni has been relatively rapid, in Kindred terms, because of the willing assistance of the large mortal family that supports it. Members of the line are protected by at least a few living relatives when they move to a new domain, and
need not worry about finding trustworthy help to defend them on the road, locating or securing a new haven or establishing influence. The Prince of Paris famously welcomed the Sangiovanni to his Court at the close of the 19th century, even encouraging them to display their strange power in his Elysium, for the “entertainment” of his subjects. In modern nights, more and more cities are playing host to the bloodline, and while some refuse entry or work to eject the Sangiovanni once they arrive, many are all too willing to allow them to move in. Some Kindred are just ignorant of the Sangiovanni’s ways, while others believe (mistakenly or not) that the depredations of the Sangiovanni are no worse than those of other Kindred.
 
 
 
Society and Culture: Within the family, individual Sangiovanni are subject to a number of expectations. First and foremost is the assumption that the bloodline comes first. No outsider is to be favored over a family member, no bloodline is to be accorded more respect than the Sangiovanni, no clan is to be held in higher regard than Clan Mekhet, no covenant is to be more revered than the Lancea Sanctum. Santino knows best — he is old, he is powerful and he genuinely cares for every member of his extended family, so disrespect to him is disrespect to the family, and vice versa. Every family member knows that Santino has made countless sacrifices for them, defending the bloodline in its youth and securing the protection of the Lancea Sanctum, and most have the good sense to appreciate all that he’s done. Disrespect is usually first met with harsh words from one’s peers, then several hours of stern lecturing from the eldest local member of the line and finally censure and ostracism by family members, or revocation of one’s access to the family’s resources, based on the severity and frequency of one’s offenses. The Sangiovanni take respect and family very seriously, and can expect to be treated like family as long as they act like family. Betrayal is as serious a crime among the Sangiovanni as it is among any other group of Kindred. Though Santino typically allows the Lancea Sanctum to deal with those of his blood who betray the covenant, traitors within the family itself are handled by Santino and his agents alone. Sangiovanni who sell out, murder one another, share secrets — including living Sangiovanni necromancers — with outsiders or lead enemies back to family holdings are almost never slain, but rather staked and stored in a family vault. Only a handful of such traitors exist today, many very old indeed, but Santino refuses to ever have the blood of family on his hands. Whether some greater plan exists for dealing with these black sheep at a later date is known only to Santino. Only a few Sangiovanni would ever consider turning their backs on their family, but for those who might, thanks to their unique understanding of death and what comes after, the threat of an endless sleep in a cold tomb, forever denied the release of death, is more than enough to keep them in line. For those who uphold the values of the family, eternity can be an almost pleasant prospect. Encouraged to study what interests them, to experiment and to prepare presentations on their findings for older family members to appraise, the practice of necromancy becomes almost a hobby — at least for the young. The family’s elders take note of more promising individuals, subtly encouraging them to delve deeper into the black arts. The Black Ring, a small college of the family’s most accomplished necromancers, is always on the lookout for fresh blood for its ranks, and approaches those who take their studies seriously and possess an obvious natural talent for their craft. These elder Necromancers tattoo a slender black ring around the thumb on their right hand, but otherwise do nothing that might reveal their existence to the Lancea Sanctum. Preserving Lodovico’s methods, if not his ideals, the Black Ring encourages necromancy as more of a scholarly pursuit than an arcane one, with Santino’s blessing. Those who prove worthy can aspire to join, finding in the Ring a supportive structure not unlike a study group. Of course, devoting oneself to necromancy is hardly required of every member of the family. Almost as valued are those who dedicate themselves to managing the family’s finances, trading stocks and making wise investments to keep the coffers full. Santino himself has proven far more adept in the world of business than with spirits, and tutors clever Sangiovanni businessmen in the wisdom of Medici and Machiavelli. Sangiovanni who come to own businesses of their own are afforded great respect within the family, as are those who land jobs managing finances for large corporations or wealthy individuals. More than a few lawyers come from the family’s ranks, and these are valued as well. Though the bloodline’s disfiguring weakness often makes maintaining public ties with mortals a taxing exercise, most Sangiovanni who are serious about their work make liberal use of makeup, choose their hours very carefully and keep their complaints to themselves. The Sangiovanni family knows all too well the price that is often paid for living in the past, and is more than willing to live as fully in the modern age as unaging beings can.
 
 
Cattiveria: Cattiveria is an Italian word meaning, quite simply, “wickedness.” Its development took generations of blood and sacrifice, such that it lives up to its name in both practice and spirit. Cattiveria, also called necromancy in some circles, is nothing less than the practice of manipulating the tainted essence of death toward such ends as raising seeping cadavers and enslaving specters and ghosts. When Lodovico became a vampire, he found himself robbed of the sorcery that had allowed him to command corpses and spirits when he was alive. Infuriated by what seemed to be a calculated punishment, the fledgling Kindred threw himself once again into studying the texts and stories he had inherited from his mother, striving in a haze of madness to discover what manner of block had been imposed on his talents. He traveled to Florence hearing of a gathering there of others of his kind, and there he encountered the Lancea Sanctum, at one of whose midnight masses Lodovico was at last stricken with the revelation he had sought. Lodovico’s epiphany related to the nature of the very force that traps a vampire in his undying state. Much as a vampire is able to impart power to a ghoul through his Blood, so, too, can that animating force be shared with a corpse, granting it a jerky, unwholesome animation. Its kinship with a substance spiritualists in a later age would call ‘Ectoplasm’ likewise makes it particularly useful for drawing ghostly manifestations into the world. In practice, Cattiveria is almost more of a scholarly pursuit than an occult discipline, its practitioners more like engineers than occultists, even though its workings universally demand the trappings of black magic — if only to cement in the Necromancer’s mind the grim reality of what he has set out to do. Almost no application of this discipline can be enacted on the fly, instead typically requiring candles to be lit and blood to be shed in addition to whatever bizarre trappings please the Necromancer’s
sense of drama.

 

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From the frozen shores of Northern Europe to the warm beaches of the Caribbean, tales exist of terrifying invaders from the sea. Attacking without warning and without mercy, the Sea Kings claimed domain over the entire ocean. No coastal community was ever safe. The Sea Kings appeared at night. Ghost ships, emerging from the mists, without any apparent crew. If the townsfolk were lucky, the Sea Kings would be gone before sunrise, leaving a handful dead and a few missing. If the townsfolk were unlucky, the assault could last for weeks.
 
The Rötgrafen bloodline was founded nearly 1,000 years ago by Sigrún Ericsdottir, a woman who claimed to be the illegitimate daughter of Eric the Red. Through a series of lies, manipulations and outright killings, she was responsible for the deaths of more than two dozen people during an expedition to what is now L'Anse aux Meadows on the Canadian Atlantic coast. Two groups of explorers left Greenland together, determined to settle a rumored paradise discovered by wayward sailors. One group, led by Sigrún and her husband, returned a year later. The second group was never seen again.
 
Sigrún's manipulations started innocently enough; she lied just enough to ensure that her crew ended up with the prime location for a settlement. She was, after all, just looking out for those who sailed with her. Her desire for power slowly grew, and as it did, her thoughts darkened. She began to view the second group of settlers not as comrades united in purpose but as rivals, leeching away that which should be hers. Hatred boiled in her chest, much of it focused on the brothers, Sindri and Tryggvi, who were leading the other explorers. And so it was that she set forth one night, alone and unseen, to deliver an ultimatum to the brothers: Leave now or die. Sindri and Tryggvi did not react the way Sigrún had envisioned: They scoffed at her and suggested that she cut down on her drinking. Enraged, she stormed back to her own settlement, setting in motion the events that would lead to her eventual damnation. She told her husband that she had gone to visit Sindri and Tryggvi to arrange a feast, but she had overheard them plotting to kill her and all those who followed her. Sigrún demanded vengeance, and she led her sailors as they stormed the other settlement, killing all the men while they were still in bed. However, the sailors' code of honor prevented them from attacking unarmed Viking women. Completely caught up in a blood fury, Sigrún grabbed an axe and killed the women herself while they huddled together, screaming for mercy.
 
Sigrún and her followers were eventually forced to flee North America, after her plot to poison indigenous people failed to kill as many of them as she anticipated. During the return voyage, she threatened to kill anyone who mentioned what had happened to Sindri and Tryggvi's crew. However, some of the men felt ashamed of what they had done, and upon returning to Greenland, confessed their deeds. Sigrún was banished from the island, but it would seem that her reign of carnage was only just beginning.
 
Sigrún wound up in Norway, where the tales of her crimes preceded her. Her ruthlessness caught the attention of a local Ventrue, and she was Embraced within days of arriving. Unfortunately, her sire did not wait to obtain the local Sanctified Prince's permission beforehand, and Sigrún found herself banished again, this time lashed to a ship with her sire and cast adrift to meet the morning sun.
 
A few years later, reports of midnight raids against Sanctified domains started surfacing all over the coast of the Baltic and North Seas./ Eyewitness accounts all mentioned the arrival of a seemingly empty longship, shrouded in mist, floating off the shoreline shortly before the attacks commenced. The raids were well-organized, well-planned, and extremely violent. Kindred were left destroyed, their havens ransacked and their kine hauled away.
 
These 'ghost ship' sightings increased, soon becoming two ships. Then three. Merchant vessels in the area began going missing. And then Sigrún, Ghost Queen of the Baltic, revealed herself. She had amassed what amounted to a small army of followers according to vampire standards, an army that had managed to essentially carve a domain of their own on the open sea. And if the Sanctified didn't have reason enough to want to hunt her down before, after her tale was told they most certainly did.
 
Sigrún claimed that as the dawn of her execution approached, she was visited by the god Loki.
 
He told her that her actions in life amused him, and he was interested in seeing what she could do in unlife.
 
He said that he would help her survive to see another night if she would offer her service, and the service of all she created, to fight in his army of the unholy dead at Ragnarok, the great battle at the end of the world. He offered her the blood of his own children to seal the pact. Sigrún agreed. The blood of Fenrisulfr, he explained, would enhance her natural ferocity and gift her with the power to shift her form. The blood of J'rmungandr would help rejuvenate her corpse and grant her the power to withstand any assault. The blood of his daughter Hel would grant her rightful rule over a great army of the undead. Sigrún drank his offerings willingly and with great relish, and he fed her sire to his children to repay them for their contribution.
 
Of course, many scholars of modern nights debunk this tale as mere fantasy, suggesting that Sigrún most likely diablerized her sire. They don't bother trying to explain how she survived in an exposed boat on the open sea, claiming that the winds must have blown her back to shore or somehow managed to get her somewhere protected. Regardless, what is known is that her bloodline, under her direct command, ruled the northern seas for nearly 300 years.
 
As her fleet grew in size Sigrún realized that she needed direct control over ports to keep the ships seaworthy. Using the gifts of her Ventrue blood, she warped the minds of human leaders and worked to set up her childer as jarls in various Scandinavian coastal communities, posing as direct representatives of the king. The domains of Iceland were visited again and again by her line during the 13th century, and were used as a safe haven whenever the kine organized serious resistance. By the year 1300, the Rútgrafen were terrorizing seafarers all over the coastline of Northern Europe. Sigrún had sired nearly a dozen childer personally, and it appeared that she was on the verge of establishing an impenetrable, lasting power base, ruled exclusively by her bloodline. Then everything fell apart.
 
Sigrún fell into torpor shortly after the dawning of the 14th century. Her Ventrue blood warred with that of the dark gods of old, and her childer and grandchilder fought amongst themselves to fill the void in the bloodline's power structure created by her absence. Many ships were lost as the Sanctified took advantage of the infighting to claim revenge. Control of the seas slipped away as her childer pulled back to their individual coastal domains to protect what power they had. The dream of a great conquering army of Kindred vanished completely as individual Rútgrafen, no longer capable of surviving alone, looked to the Invictus and the Circle of the Crone for protection. Sigrún emerged from torpor more than 200 years later, but the troubled sleep of centuries had changed her. Feeling her blood thinned considerably and confronting a political landscape completely alien to her, she decided it was in her best interests to abandon Europe completely. She told no one where she was headed, but as rumors of ghost ships and vicious, impossibly strong pirates surfaced in the Caribbean, it was obvious where she had gone. The Ghost Queen of the Baltic was in the Americas. Her activities in the Caribbean followed a pattern similar to her European conquests. She started with ocean-based raiding before expanding to the conquest of port domains. Her style of governance had changed, however, as her impatience for Ragnarok grew. Enamored by the passionate rhetoric of rebellious Kindred around her, she adopted a more democratic system of control, and while she maintained the final word, a significant amount of real power lay in the hands of those who followed her. She fell back into torpor some time in the 19th century, and much of the framework she established still remains. Rötgrafen elements in the Caribbean were amongst the first open supporters of the Carthian Movement, and many remain in modern nights. Rumor has it that the Ghost Queen of the Baltic is out of torpor once more, and that once more she has moved to a different part of the world. Some reports claim she is operating in Indonesia, but more reliable sources point to evidence of activity in the American Pacific Northwest. Of course, these reports could just be the result of an increase in activity of the bloodline itself and not necessarily actions directed by Sigrún herself.
 
 
Developer’s Comments: The Rotgrafen presented another diffi cult decision for us. There were a number of interesting entries submitted about them, and a few made it quite far before fi nal elimination. In the end, we chose this entry because it was a bit more restrained than most, which tended to go a bit overboard on the Norse imagery — making them interesting historical lines, but casting them as complete anachronisms in the modern setting. Mr. Bjarnason’s entry evolved the line from ancient roots, putting them in a modern context that was both logical and playable, and securing its position as a fi nalist. Their Discipline spread and culture were reworked in edits to help keep them more “Ventrue,” and to highlight the subtlety of the line — even when engaging in open confl ict on the seas, the whole of the bloodline is likely to escape the notice of most landlocked, city-bound vampires. They now make a perfect addition to any nomadic chronicle, and can add some real fl avor to a coastal domain in any game.
 
 
Parent Clan: Ventrue
 
 
Nickname: Sea Kings
 
 
Covenant: Sea Kings generally fall into one of two camps, depending on their location. The vast majority of Rötgrafen in the "New World" are staunch supporters of the Carthian Movement, and have been since the covenant's inception. Those who are not Carthians are often unaligned, with many operating as ocean-going nomads, sailing between islands and coastal communities. In Europe, things are somewhat different. When the bloodline began to fragment shortly after Sigrún's first descent into torpor, the Rötgrafen were left without their spiritual leader, who provided most of their internal organization. As the Sea Kings pulled back to individual cities, the unity of the bloodline was replaced by the protection of the covenants. A few Sea Kings were absorbed into the Invictus, but most fully believed (and still believe) Sigrún's account of her encounter with Loki and found the Circle of the Crone to be a more comfortable fit. With dreams of a united empire under Sigrún's control still fresh in their minds, early Rötgrafen Acolytes adopted a more militant ideology than is usually seen within the Circle. Most European Sea Kings believe it is their duty to be prepared for the end of the world, when they will be called on to fight during Ragnarok, and much of their night-to-night existence is focused on ensuring that they are ready. In modern nights, Rötgrafen nomads occasionally make the harrowing journey across the Atlantic, and the ideological beliefs of the two Sea King factions are slowly leaking into one another. Areas that have been visited by a nomad fleet will often have individual Sea Kings who are spiritually Acolyte and politically Carthian. No Sea King has ever joined the Lancea Sanctum, thanks to centuries of mutual hatred and conflict stretching back to the early Middle Ages, when many of the Sanctified bishops decried the Rötgrafen as a heretic cult.
 
 
Appearance: With the exception of Rötgrafen Acolytes, who tend to look as if they have stepped out of a Viking documentary, most Sea Kings favor the elegant appearance of the Ventrue, tempered by their covenant affiliation. Their clothing almost always has a nautical flavor, however, so an Invictus may look as if he just came back from the yacht club while a Carthian could look like more like a longshoreman or a surfer. A very significant number of Sea Kings also have tattoos, regardless of the fit with the rest of their appearance. The tradition of tattooing has been passed down along the line, originating with its founders. The Vikings and Rus' who made up much of the early Sea King membership were often tattooed. Acolytes who are strict Votaries of Hel often have extensive black ink tattoos on the right side of their body. The left side is always kept clear. The Sea Kings may be one of the few bloodlines that boasts 200-year-old elders more likely to bear tattoos than the neonates Embraced in the last few years. Due to the history of the bloodline, most Rötgrafen are of Northern European descent, primarily hailing from the Nordic countries but with ample representation from the Baltic states and Germany. Rötgrafen in the Caribbean tend to be of Dutch or British descent, but there was no particular ethnic preference for siring, and the 17th century saw a wide broadening in the cultural and racial base of the line.
 
 
Havens: Sea King havens tend to be large, lavishly decorated and very secure. They also tend to be located on the sea, such as an ocean-front mansion, a private yacht club or a refurnished warehouse down by the docks. The majority of Rötgrafen actually have their havens right on the water with large yachts the prime choice in modern nights. Houseboats, sailboats and even cargo ships have also seen use. There are those among the line who maintain, either due to tradition or romantic nostalgia, that a wooden ship is still the most comfortable haven, and contrive means to inhabit one. Some still ply the seas in carefully maintained vessels that are centuries old in design -- a strange sight, indeed, but no less dangerous under the command of a ruthless vampire than their modern steel counterparts.
 
 
Background: While the bloodline's beginnings were rooted in Viking raiding, the bloodline has diversified considerably over the last 1,000 years. There is a very heavy, nearly exclusive preference for individuals with some connection to the sea, be it physical location, vocational aptitude or an intangible emotional resonance.
 
 
Character Creation: Due to centuries of raiding and midnight combat, the Rötgrafen have long had a preference for Physical Attributes and Skills. Weaponry and Stealth are particularly common. This has traditionally been followed by the Social Attributes and the attendant Skills to maintain political control over the ports they needed. As the massive changes in society have made roving bands of warriors much less viable in the last century, younger Sea Kings often place a much lower emphasis on Physical Attributes, particularly amongst the Acolytes of the bloodline. Nearly all Rötgrafen who operate a ship of any decent size put points into Herd and/or Retainer to represent additional crew members.
 
 
Bloodline Disciplines: Animalism, Dominate, Protean, Resilience
 
 
Weakness: All Rötgrafen suffer the weakness of their parent clan, the Ventrue. In addition, every member of the line is more vulnerable to fire, the weapon of Loki, than any other member of the clan. Bound to the god's service, they are especially weak in the face of his greatest power. Whenever a Sea King suffers damage from fire, she takes one additional point of aggravated damage from the source per turn. In addition, the 10 again rule does not apply to rolls to resist Rötschreck caused by fire, and any 1s that come up on such a roll are subtracted from successes. These penalties apply only to fire, not to damage from, or fear of, the sun, as the sun was the domain of Freyr.
 
 
Organization: The bloodline hasn't had any dominant internal organization in Europe since Sigrún first went into torpor in the early 1300s. In the seven centuries that followed, most Rötgrafen have simply been absorbed into the overarching institutions of their respective covenants. The Sea Kings operating in the Caribbean allied themselves with buccaneer democracies for the most part, although Sigrún and her Kindred usually worked to maintain a 'first amongst equals' position. These manipulations proved to be more robust than the feudal model she adhered to in the Baltic, and many Caribbean-based Rötgrafen who are not officially Carthian tend to espouse ideas of loose Kindred equality while maneuvering themselves into positions of control. Few are true believers in democratic right, preferring to judge one another (and outsider Kindred) on a system of merit earned largely in travel and battle. Sigrún's piracy required ship crews and raiding parties, so she was never a close adherent of the Tradition outlawing Embrace. If you find one Sea King in a domain, you most likely will find a handful. European Rötgrafen are usually able to recite their lineage back to Sigrún herself, and try to keep abreast of developments in their extended 'family tree.' Ventrue who have joined the bloodline through an Avus trace their lineage as if their Avus were their sire. The application of this lineage recital varies between covenants, but is generally little more than a matter of pride, with no tangible power or status attached. Status within the bloodline itself is often moot; two Sea Kings who meet will almost always treat one another as brothers in arms. Those who engage in battle together tend to defer to the one with the most experience, but this deference is considered a necessity of competent warfare, not one born of etiquette.
 
 
Concepts: Undead pirate, violent longshoreman, Hel-worshipping death cultist, manipulative cruise ship magnate, axe-wielding aristocrat, empowered Navy SEAL, shipbuilding tycoon, seafaring nomad, reclusive lighthouse keeper, midnight beachcomber.
 
 
History: The history of the Rötgrafen is chaotic and, because of the itinerant nature of the majority of its members, relatively incoherent. Sigrún’s leadership kept the membership together in its early years, lending her own purpose to the whole of the line, but her defeat and decline led to a general dispersion that has never really been reversed. Many Sea Kings believe that three distinct ages mark the progress and eventual fate of their line, and that they are on the cusp of the third now, the one that will lead them to the unending winter of legend — the final war of Ragnarok and the realization of their founder’s pact.
 
 
The Rule of Sigrun:The early history of the bloodline revolved around its slow expansion. As the watery territories plied by Rötgrafen ships widened, so their numbers grew, and assaults on both seafaring and settled mortals became more frequent. Early incursions into coastal territories brought the line into conflict with the Kindred of the Lancea Sanctum, whom Sigrún specifically targeted and took pleasure in destroying. For centuries, the Rötgrafen sailed the northern seas and engaged in their glorious battles, clashing with any force that crossed their path. They escaped the notice of most Kindred, though, sailing well away from the largest cities and managing to stay well fed without pushing too far inland. Shipping routes around Northern Europe provided them with all the bounty they needed, and the complete destruction of the occasional ship, with all hands, did not raise undue suspicion — especially if it happened to coincide with a storm. Under Sigrún’s leadership, the bloodline was a merciless force, a raging, blood-fueled fleet bent on honing and proving their strength in preparation for the imminent Ragnarok. One attack, launched under her direction late in the 13th century, demonstrated their vicious capacity and ended their anonymity forever. Targeting a small coastal settlement named Honfleur because of its Sanctified presence, Sigrún initiated an unprovoked assault one winter night. Whipping her Kindred into a frenzied bloodlust, she declared that the whole of the town was an affront to her and the gods, and that it should be razed to the ground, end to end. So it was — and hundreds of mortals, together with the four Sanctified monks who moved among them, went with it. One Mekhet priest, an evangelist vampire of German origin, survived the assault and managed to make his way to the domain of Caen, where he described the atrocity and the mad Kindred who committed it. Recognizing the line as Ventrue and commenting on their bloodstained
coats, he named them the “red dukes” or “Rötgrafen.” Responding to the massacre of Honfleur, nomadic Sanctified crusaders were tasked with the mission to find and punish those responsible. Three decades of pursuit and conflict followed, culminating in one terrible battle on turbulent summer seas. All of the crusaders were destroyed, taking many of the Rötgrafen with them and forcing Sigrún herself into torpor under the waves.
 
 
The Emergence of the Votaries of Hel:  The bloodline splintered following Sigrún’s descent into torpor, and many of the surviving members strayed from her vision, abandoning the battles of the north and finding refuge in the coastal territories that did not yet know them. Many threw their lot in with the Circle of the Crone, finding common ground with those who paid worship to the gods of Norse folk. A number of Rötgrafen Acolytes pledged themselves to veneration of Hel, the goddess destined to command the legions of undead at Ragnarok. Empowered by the blood of one god and sworn to another, these Rötgrafen prayed with fervency and devotion unmatched. Those who did not seek the Circle turned to the Votaries for guidance. With Sigrún’s fall, many Rötgrafen found themselves doubting their purpose. Her promises of Ragnarok and glory had failed to manifest, and she was now gone, possibly never to return. The Votaries of Hel declared that Sigrún’s defeat represented the end of the First Age of the Rötgrafen — one of three. They were now moving into the Second Age, one of confusion and dispersion, and must fight to survive, to see the dusk of the Third Age some centuries hence, when they would finally arise to take their part in the great and final war. Taking the words of the Votaries to heart, most of the line settled in for the long haul. Finding places for themselves in the domains of the Circle and the Invictus, the Rötgrafen sought to stay strong and faithful, waiting out the age.
 
 
The Return of the Queen:Sigrún emerged from torpor in the 16th century, rising to find her line scattered and maddeningly stationary. Gathering those few who still fought and wandered on the open seas, she left Europe behind, making for the Caribbean islands in pursuit of a mortal shipping fleet. Overtaking and demolishing the fleet, Sigrún established a new force and repopulated her loyal line. Operating much as they had before, they stalked the Caribbean seas, visiting their violence on the burgeoning domains there and warring upon Kindred, both European and native. Eventually, Sigrún realized that she was bound to invoke the rage of all and repeat the events of Honfleur — something she was not eager to do. Encouraging the members of her line to forge alliances with some of the local Kindred, she brokered tense treaties between the Rötgrafen nomads and a number of vampires, eventually leading to long standing agreements with the early proponents of the Carthian Movement. Hundreds of victorious battles followed for the Sea Kings, and the provision of safe haven in the Carthian domains of the 17th and 18th centuries ensured their long-term security. Vieux Fort, at the Southern edge of St. Lucia, is one domain that pays particular honor to the Rötgrafen for its members’ efforts throughout the 18th century. In 1768, a small proto-Carthian government established the first modern Kindred Court in the domain, and was almost immediately assaulted by a contingent of Invictus Knights. A marauding Rötgrafen crew destroyed the Knights, and created a schedule of patrol, defending the domain from incursion in exchange for permission to port and repair their vessel. Many of the modern Carthians of St. Lucia credit the bloodline with creating the atmosphere of security that allowed them to develop their government in relative peace, and elevate the Kindred of the line to an honored position in their Elysium parliament. Sigrún’s next slide into torpor was more peaceful than the first. The fatigue of age claimed her in the middle of the 19th century and she chose to sleep, entrusting herself to her two most loyal lieutenants.
 
 
The Coming of the Third Age: On December 2, 1974, those two Kindred disappeared somewhere in the vicinity of CuraÁao. Nobody knows what happened to them, but both left the bulk of their possessions behind, and their ghouls died soon after, taking the secret of their masters’ last nights to the grave. Rumor has it that Sigrún, the great and terrible Ghost Queen of the Baltic, has arisen again, and now leads a new fleet with her two lieutenants elsewhere in the world. Some believe that a spate of vicious pirate activity in the South Asian seas may well mark her passage, while others note that a number of uncredited assaults on Sanctified Kindred up and down the West Coast of the Americas match her habit. Stranger still, a number of Rötgrafen Acolytes throughout Europe seem to be rousing from their rest, returning to the seas and taking command of vessels once again. Perhaps they believe that the Third Age is truly arrived, and are taking up arms. Some may be responding to the call of their awakened founder, showing their faith and returning to the old ways. Whatever the reason, the Rötgrafen are returning to the waters all around the world, and reviving their warring habits. Evidence gathered by some members of the line suggests that none of this activity is attributable — at least not directly — to the founder, and that there is nothing to suggest that the increased activity of the line isn’t simply the result of speculation and over-eager response. Any experienced member of the Rötgrafen could lead the sort of fleet assaults that are attracting notice in modern nights, and would know that the Rötgrafen’s sudden appearance in the news would electrify the remaining members of the line.
 
 
Society and Culture:While the Rötgrafen are a splintered, nomadic line without an official organized society per se, certain cultural developments have arisen over the course of the bloodline’s existence. The evolution of the line, from nomadic raiders to settled Kindred and itinerant pirates to Carthian warriors has imbued the line with a number of common beliefs and practices that remain to this night. The first and most significant conviction of the Rötgrafen involves the three mythic ages, as conceived by the Acolytes of the line. It is generally believed that the First Age of the line began with Sigrún’s pact and ended with her defeat at the hands of Sanctified crusaders, drawing an arc of empowerment and legendary fierceness through to her prideful collapse. The Second Age is said to mark the expansion of the line into Caribbean territories, dispersing the influence of the Sea Kings. Some argue that the Second Age is one of trial, and that those who moved west and continued to engage in battle are the only ones proving their loyalty to the founder and the pact, while others believe that the test of the age is one of survival, and that the activities of the line throughout the world just make it more likely that some Rötgrafen will endure, lasting until the nights of the final war. The Third Age is said to embody the time that will see the Rötgrafen called to battle, fulfilling Sigrún’s pledge and taking part in the great and final war of the gods. Interpretation and translation of the signs of the Third Age are a constant occupation for some of the Sea Kings, and certain Acolyte Circles are constructed entirely around the symbolism of Ragnarok and Loki’s pact. Many of the Rötgrafen have taken to identifying themselves as “First Age” or “Second Age” Kindred, indicating their age, a reflection of their ideal or simply their geographic origin. A culture of terminology so complex and varied has sprung up about this expression alone that few Rötgrafen can actually agree on its meaning, even between themselves. Further complicating the matter, a number of neonate Rötgrafen are now identifying themselves as “Third Age” Sea Kings, making allusions to the final myth of the line as a means of declaring their hardiness and warmongering intent. Most of the Sea Kings, even those sired recently, buy into the idea that the sole purpose of their Requiem is the preparation for Ragnarok. They emphasize martial prowess, and if their home domain is one of relative peace among the Kindred, many Sea Kings will take to the seas and hunt, keeping their skills sharp. Arguments on both sides of any debate are often peppered with references to Ragnarok and the continuing strength of the line; peaceful coexistence with outside Kindred is necessary for survival, but constant warfare is required to hone the necessary skills. Widespread Embrace will expand the bloodline and ensure that it serves as a strong standing force when the call to battle is issued, but overpopulation will draw the attention of outside Kindred and risk early war. The rationalization of myth into the reason of the line is constant and complete. There is no questioning the myth, and there is no appreciation for logic in the face of faith.
All of the Rötgrafen, young and old, engage in frequent ventures out on the sea. Many are nomads at least once during their Requiems, and a good number never really settle down in a domain, playing out the whole of their existence in constant voyage. Most have a wide territorial range marked out, and revisit the same locales over and over throughout the decades, memorizing their shores and navigating them with unparalleled expertise. Many keep connection to the rest of the line by crossing paths with their Kindred at roughly scheduled intervals, trading information and tales across the hulls of their ships on the open sea. Almost every member of the Rötgrafen makes an effort to own and maintain some kind of seafaring vessel, even if that ship has become largely ornamental. Most of the Kindred of the line treat their ships as their single most important material possession: a weapon, a haven and an expression of themselves. Many literally
meld with some part of the ship itself, using Protean •• to sink into the wooden structure during the day. A great number spend almost all of their free time tending to the ship, crafting and repairing its many systems, endlessly improving and streamlining it even as it plies the seas. Every member of the line will treat an invitation to board another’s ship as a great honor, and will regard the vessel itself with respect (often observing its characteristics as carefully as they would a vampire’s own). Despite rumors to the contrary, most Rötgrafen do not abide by a pirate’s code or any democratic system of order on their ships. The Sea Kings rule without question, dictating orders to their crews in a militaristic fashion. Some may allow the mortals to believe they are running things via open vote, but careful application of Dominate and more mundane techniques of control always swing votes according to the vampire’s whim. Mortal crews are always rewarded generously for their service, though, and all who are steadfastly loyal enjoy the supernatural protection of the vampire captain and his ghouls. Female Rötgrafen run their ships as fiercely as the males, and the line as a whole honors no ban on women in the fleets. There are no rules whatsoever governing conduct during war. Some Rötgrafen behave honorably, while others choose to engage in stealth and ambush tactics. Victory justifies any strategy, and the least humane of the bloodline are willing to carry this justification to its horrifying limits. These vampires consider themselves an unholy army in training for apocalypse, not a genteel force of noble captains, and they are quick to demonstrate this fact to anyone facing them on the open waters of the night. As Kindred with a long nomadic tradition, the Rötgrafen understand the way of travel and the dangers of the road quite well — in fact, they often embody those dangers. None are willing to dismiss any journey as safe, and all engage in a ritual cleansing and purification before embarking on a voyage, essentially preparing to die on the way — and praying that they see their destination safely. Outsiders who witness these dirge-like preparations are often shaken by them, and the image of the Rötgrafen as suicidal marauders is enforced by the misinterpretation of the solemn proceedings. Knowing full well that theirreputation inspires fear, most Sea Kings make no effort to correct the rumors.Those Rötgrafen who settle in a domain are often regarded with suspicion by their nomadic counterparts. At best, settled Rötgrafen are considered lazy and warned not to forget their purpose, and not to become complacent as the nights of Ragnarok approach. At worst, they are named traitors to the line and must endure the frequent attacks of fanatic Sea Kings designed to provoke settled Sea Kings into a return to their old ways or destroy them outright. While some are able to fend off their brethren and others manage to escape their attentions completely, most are eventually driven back to wandering the seas. Few manage to participate in Kindred government for long, and their appearances at Elysium are relatively rare. Still, there are exceptions to the rule. One domain on the west coast of Finland was settled by three Rötgrafen in the last years of the 19th century, and endured undisturbed for quite some time. The three imposed the rule of the Circle of the Crone in the domain, Embracing a number of childer (some of whom never completely joined the bloodline) and persisting in peace. That domain remains tonight, exclusively populated by Ventrue and Rötgrafen, and almost completely isolated from the rest of the world.
 
 
Devotions: Over the centuries, Rötgrafen nomads have developed a number of Devotions designed to enhance sea travel and improve their prowess in battle. Here are some of the more popular examples of their developed powers.

 

Носферату.

Баддацелли

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Condemned to eternal darkness, the sightless line of horrors known as the Baddacelli burrows through the network of catacombs that grow inevitably in the underground of all human cities. Whether lurking in collapsed sewer branches, abandoned subway stations, condemned basements or midnight labyrinths of their own construction, they hide -- and hunt -- in the dark places away from the sight of men and Kindred alike. In these places, the Baddacelli dwell, shrouded in the darkness that is both their shield and their curse. Denied sight, they develop their remaining senses to preternatural levels and cultivate uncanny, horrifyingly effective abilities to aid in survival. Everyone knows that sound can play tricks on you underground, but few suspect what a weapon sound becomes when touched by the unholy power of the Blood. When the Baddacelli infest the underground of a city, bereft mothers disappear into subway tunnels following the plaintive voices of lost children. Sewer workers separated from their crews hear their coworkers call from an unexpected direction and follow those voices -- never to be seen again. Children hear the whimpering of lost pets coming from storm drains, and never realize until too late that a blind and hungry monster lurks in the darkness behind the wretched sounds. Enticing sounds that beg investigation, haunting echoes that confuse all sense of direction, chilling screeches that demand the listener flee ever deeper into the subterranean catacombs -- all these and more drive unsuspecting victims to the waiting clutches of the Baddacelli. The Kindred of this line are monsters and deceivers by nature. They have to be, in order to survive. Therefore, they approach the world through the lens of that to which they are accustomed -- cloaking themselves in secrecy and warding off trouble with misdirection. This is not to say that they just hide in their tunnels and ignore the world above; in fact, they are curious about the surface world, and drawn to it as only beings accursed to be forever separated from it can be. It is simply that they choose to touch the world the same way they hunt their prey: By bringing it to them unawares, and in manageable amounts. In the early centuries after the fall of the Camarilla, infighting among the Kindred of the Roman Empire was at its peak. In one of these cities (Baddacelli legends differ as to which, though almost all agree it was within the bounds of modern-day Italy), one Nosferatu grew to prominence and took advantage of the chaos to Embrace in great numbers. He had been an exceedingly large Kindred, a fact that had earned him the appellation by which he was known to the vampires of his city: Botticello, or "The Barrel." As his progeny grew to become a de facto faction of their own within city politics, they were in turn collectively referred to as the Botticelli, a diminutive form of their sire's own name meaning "The Little Barrels." The mutation of this name has accrued to the bloodline descendants of these Kindred, and predates the assumed provenance by several centuries. Naturally, Botticello's ascendancy made him many enemies -- he was particularly known for humiliating rivals with uncanny impersonations of their personal foibles. Himself an unabashed pagan who still clung to the old Roman gods, he was particularly fervent in undermining and attacking the vampires of the Lancea Sanctum. It was perhaps only a matter of time before the conflict being played out in the city's Elysium spilled over into outright violence. Over the next several years, the struggle took on the savage character of religious warfare fueled by strong personal hatreds on both sides. In the end, Botticello was defeated, and the majority of his brood slain or scattered. He was captured by his rivals, who set about torturing him until Final Death. His remaining childer managed to rescue him, but not before his body was broken and both eyes burned from his skull. Botticello and his loyal childer fled deep into the sewers and catacombs beneath the city. Initially, it is said, they planned to allow the elder to recover from his injuries and flee the domain. In time, however, it became clear that the injuries to his eyes were not healing. It was unthinkable for a blind vampire to attempt to traverse the wilderness between cities in those nights, and so Botticello stayed hidden away in the underbelly of the city he had once sought to rule. A few of his most loyal progeny chose to remain with him. However, as the years passed, the Baddacelli began, one by one, to lose their own sight, and rumors spread within the brood that the sorcerers of the Lancea Sanctum had placed a curse upon their line. Some of the brood fled to distant cities in the hopes that by separation they could avoid a similar fate. It was not to be. In the years that followed, most of the surviving vampires of the line lost the world of light and color forever. In lands distant from their city of origin, they, too, fled into the underground of their new homes. There in the endless darkness they hid, slowly learning mastery of the special talents and rarefied senses that could bring them the prey they needed. Sometimes, a recently Embraced vampire would attempt to flee the curse of the Blood by desperately seeking out a new city to call home. But the Baddacelli curse would inevitably have its due, and a new brood of blind horrors would begin beneath a new city. Tonight, members of the Baddacelli bloodline can be found scattered throughout Europe, the Americas and the Middle East. Several major cities play unwitting host to a brood of these blind nightmares. Even where other Kindred are aware of the Baddacelli's presence, these secretive Kindred keep their true numbers and the details of their existence to themselves. The Baddacelli survive, and they hunt in their lightless demesnes, and few indeed are the Kindred who would be willing to follow the Baddacelli into their catacombs to learn more of them than that.
 
 
Developer’s Comments: Originally, the Baddacelli was one of the bloodlines that we didn’t think were going to make it into thefi nal book. They were crippled and weird, and the initial description seemed fairly restrictive. However, they scored high on the popularity poll we ran online, and we received a surprising number of entries for them (only the Xiao, Rцtgrafen, and Sangiovanni had more), some of which were outstanding. Of those that grabbed our attention, Mr. Gibson’s was strongest, balancing the monstrous necessities of survival with a piteous reality: his Baddacelli were doubly accursed creatures in the world of Kindred, a group that could inspire both fear and sympathy. Edits brought this dichotomy into sharp focus, detailing the frightening capabilities of the bloodline and fl eshing out the society they built for themselves — without sight, but with access to any sound in the world. I think they make for a fantastic expression of one aspect of the Nosferatu clan: the outward appearance of freakish monstrosity despite all attempts to exist gracefully.
 
 
Parent Clan: Nosferatu
 
 
Nickname: Morlocks
 
 
Covenant: Generally, an entire brood of Baddacelli within a city will claim membership in a single covenant. The nightly struggle for existence means that the broods rarely have the luxury of being able to bicker over politics. As a result, pressure to conform can be intense within a Baddacelli family. Baddacelli crave stability, as unexpected shifts in footing tend to throw them off. Thus, they are very sympathetic to the philosophy of the Invictus, though the Baddacelli rarely rise to prominence within that organization. Baddacelli are most likely to be found doing the bidding of Invictus Princes and Sheriffs, acting as spies and enforcers among street-level (or lower-than-street level) Kindred. This is not to say that the Baddacelli are necessarily unsophisticated in the machinations of the covenant, or that they are particularly subservient by nature. Indeed, more than one Baddacelli has amassed significant behind-the-scenes power in Invictus domains. It is simply that they prefer to stay out of the spotlight as much as possible while seeking to maintain the stability that Invictus rule tends to bring to a given city. On very rare occasions, a Baddacelli will take a bolder position by operating openly in the Elysium Courts and salons of the First Estate. In these circumstances, a clever member of the line can make quite a name for himself as a Player. The powers of the bloodline grant the Baddacelli particular skill in skewering opponents with scathing impersonations, dissecting them down to the last vocal nuance. Others use their developed hearing to serve as unparalleled Librettists and Interpreters, applying their discerning judgment to the many sounds of the Court. The Circle of the Crone is also a strong draw for the vampires of the Baddacelli line. Subterranean imagery and tales of descent and imprisonment in the underworld abound in the stew of pagan religions that makes up the Acolytes' faith. And it can hardly be argued that the Baddacelli do not suffer trials, or that they fail to find knowledge and strength in the midst of those tribulations. As a result, members of the Circle make up probably the second highest proportion of the bloodline after those in the Invictus. Among the Crones, Baddacelli are respected for their adaptability in the face of great hardship. But even more, their companions in the Circle prize the Baddacelli's vocal talents. A vampire of this bloodline who chooses to turn his talents to song can be a haunting performer, and a chorus of Baddacelli raising a hymn to the varied manifestations of the Crone is an experience that no witness can ever forget. Those Baddacelli who fight the Curse, on the other hand, find succor in the Ordo Dracul, where they are prized for their ability to find and occupy Wyrm's Nests that form below ground. At the same time, they pursue transcendence with a fervor unmatched by vampires who do not bear the bloodline's burdens. The promise of overcoming the disadvantages of their state is motive enough for some Baddacelli to join the Ordo Dracul. Those few Baddacelli who embrace their cursed state may join the Lancea Sanctum. Those Baddacelli who do are exceedingly zealous, more so than many of their compatriots. Morlock Spears see themselves as ideally designed to serve as God's Damned Hunters within the subterranean realms they claim. Perhaps ironically, Baddacelli Priests often become popular confessors despite the unease they engender in others. Since Sanctified Priests traditionally take confession face-to-face, giving confession to a blind vampire who prefers lightless environments provides many Kindred with an illusion of anonymity that helps to set them at ease. When Baddacelli join the Carthian Movement, it is often because they are intrigued by the Movement's claims of an egalitarianism that the Kindred of this bloodline have learned not to expect from other covenants. Still, the Baddacelli are latecomers to the Carthian fold. Only as they have seen the relative stability of certain mortal governments that conforms to Carthian principles have the Baddacelli developed any faith that the Movement can achieve a lasting degree of change. Even so, only the most experimental of the lineage have gravitated to the Carthian Movement, and at present, they remain the smallest proportion of the Baddacelli population.
 
 
Appearance: Baddacelli prefer functional, utilitarian coverings able to withstand the rigors of their subterranean existence. Their clothes are often worn and mismatched, owing at least in part to their owners' inability to see what they are putting on. Those Baddacelli who interact with the surface with any regularity prefer hoods or concealing headgear to hide the bloodline's signature deformities. The eyes of the Baddacelli are useless, and often deformed in some way that makes this obvious to onlookers. Whether the Baddacelli's visual organs are shriveled to mere vestiges, swollen and clouded or even absent altogether, anyone who can clearly see their faces can tell that these vampires are denied sight.
 
 
Havens: Baddacelli havens are frequently communal in nature, and almost always underground. It is simply too dangerous for the sightless Morlocks to dwell above ground, where an unseen crack in a wall or gap in the curtains could spell their doom with the rising sun.
Baddacelli take advantage of natural caverns and abandoned human constructions such as forgotten sewer chambers or decommissioned subway stations whenever possible, but will excavate their own tunnels when such convenient lairs are unavailable. Their havens are usually entirely lightless, or nearly so, and meticulously arranged with "landmarks" -- objects placed so that the Morlocks who dwell there can easily memorize them and know their location within the unseen chamber, but guaranteed to impede the progress of strangers accustomed to relying on their eyes. It is not unusual for Baddacelli broods to keep human herds caged in some portion of their communal haven. Since hunting can be a challenge, they are loath to waste a potential food source once it is caught.
 
 
Background: Almost all Baddacelli are themselves the childer of other Morlocks -- few indeed are the vampires, even among the Haunts, who would willingly choose their blind, subterranean existence. Given the rigors of their state, the Baddacelli seek potential childer who are emotionally resilient and already dwelling on the fringes of society. Fortunately for the bloodline, the sort of person who would enter and/or work in their domain in the first place frequently fit this description already. Often, the mortals they select for the Embrace are already blind, since many Baddacelli hope that their childer will not resent them for stealing their sight. In recent nights, some Baddacelli have been seeking potential childer proficient with modern communications and technology to bring into the fold. As voice recognition and other compensatory technologies improve, many Morlock broods see greater possibilities opening up to improve their access to the surface world (or at least its wealth of information) without placing themselves entirely at the mercy of sighted Kindred.
 
 
Character Creation: Baddacelli tend toward high Mental and Physical Attributes, with one of these usually being Primary and the other Secondary. Social Attributes are almost universally lowest in priority. Skills are usually distributed similarly, with perhaps a stronger emphasis on Physical rather than Mental abilities. Survival is highly valued, as are Stealth, Brawl, Crafts and Investigation. The Baddacelli often acquire Specialties that will help compensate for their blindness in areas of focus (such as "grapples" or "blind fighting" for Brawl or "working by touch" for Crafts). Social Skills tend to focus on Intimidation, Subterfuge and Expression, the better to facilitate survival and misdirection on the societal fringe the Baddacelli call home. Only a rare Baddacelli who acquires any significant amount of Resources. The often communal living arrangements of Baddacelli broods lend themselves well to the acquisition of Mentors within the bloodline, as well as shared Haven (Location) and Haven (Security) Merits. Baddacelli who have taken to imprisoning captured mortals to ensure a steady supply of Vitae may represent this with Herd. Finally, a substantial number of these Kindred will also maintain a one- or two-dot Retainer, who serves the role of seeing-eye dog and errand-runner in the surface world.
 
 
Bloodline Disciplines: Mimetismo, Nightmare, Obfuscate, Vigor
 
Weakness: All Baddacelli are blind. Thus, they automatically fail any action that requires vision to accomplish, and are at a significant disadvantage (-3 penalty at least) in most actions in which vision plays a significant role. Although advancement in Mimetismo can eventually compensate to a certain degree, the Baddacelli can never fully enjoy the advantages of sighted individuals. In combat, Baddacelli use the Fighting Blind rules.
 
 
BUT HE DOESN’T HAVE EYES!: Several vampiric Disciplines require eye contact in order to be effective. The Baddacelli are not prohibited from learning these powers, but what happens when a vampire who cannot see — who might not even possess eyes at all — attempts to actually use them? Probably the simplest solution is to assume that someone looking into the Baddacelli’s eyes (or, in some cases, where the eyes should be) may be affected by the power in question as normal. Storytellers may wish to impose a dice penalty on the activation roll, however, owing to the diffi culty in timing the use properly when you can’t actually see the eye contact. Other Storytellers may require the Baddacelli to develop particular Devotions in order to compensate (Auspex • + the Discipline in question would be appropriate).
 
 
Organization: The Baddacelli tend to gather in familial broods, usually dominated by the eldest member present in the city (who is often, but not always, the Morlock from whom the others descend). Contact between broods of different cities is rare, as few Baddacelli are willing to risk the rigors of travel after the Blood's manifestation robs them of their sight. Customarily, brood members are expected to contribute to the maintenance of the communal haven, and to assist each other in hunting -- especially the younger members for whom even acquiring enough Vitae to get by can be quite a challenge. Broods that have taken to keeping a captive herd often find it efficient to delegate responsibility for care and maintenance to a single Baddacelli. This individual usually holds quite a bit of sway within the brood, due to his ability to withhold access to the herd "to ensure the continuation of a healthy supply." Beyond these duties, individual Baddacelli are usually left to their own devices. The pecking order is otherwise pretty informal, with preference going to age (after all, few Baddacelli achieve a long unlife without some degree of wisdom) and ability to provide information on the surface world (provided security is maintained). A young Baddacelli with reliable surface contacts can make a comfortable place for himself within the brood. The lowest status in a brood usually belongs to childer in whom the Blood has not yet manifested the Baddacelli's specific curse. These young and sighted Kindred spend much of their time running errands for their elder, sightless broodmates.
 
 
Concepts: The thing under the tracks, pied piper, curious spelunker, mother of the lost, reclusive geologist, cryptozoologist, Braille teacher, underground musician, resentful engineer, has-been impressionist comic.
 
 
History: Botticello’s brood believed the theft of their sight was the product of some Theban Sorcery curse placed upon the line by the Lancea Sanctum. Botticello himself certainly espoused this belief. The truth is, however, that it is entirely the product of the line founder’s terrible injuries and fear of abandonment. In the years that followed the Baddacelli’s defeat at the hands of the Sanctified, the vanquished brood hid in the catacombs beneath the city. As time passed and Botticello realized that the injuries to his eyes were not going to heal, he came to fear that his childer would abandon him rather than remain hidden with their blind patriarch. In secret, he began to place his closest childer under Vinculums, bonding them to him with the unnatural affection of the Blood. About this time, he was also beginning to realize the uncanny proficiency with sound that he was developing as the Blood, unable to heal his wounds, responded to his will by adapting to compensate for his new limitations. Thus it was that the alterations taking place in his Vitae were transmitted to the childer of his brood even as they took root in his own undead body. In seeking to bond his childer to him, Botticelli unconsciously acted as Avus to his fledgling bloodline. Fear spread through the brood even faster than the affliction. As one after the other of Botticello’s closest childer lost their vision, those who remained unaffected looked on with horror. It wasn’t long before the exodus began; vampires who had not yet succumbed to the Vinculum stole away in hopes of escaping the terrible curse on their line. For many this was a vain hope, as even partial Vinculums to their potent elder were sufficient to transfer his influence over their blood. This established the pattern that would account for the bulk of the bloodline’s geographical expansion in the coming centuries. As a Baddacelli brood grows, sometimes a childe will flee — either to escape harsh treatment at the hands of elder broodmates or in hopes of evading the expression of the bloodline’s unique traits. In many such cases, the bloodline’s curse will defeat their hopes and manifest when their blood reaches the requisite potency. It goes almost without saying that not every vampire of this line who attempted to transplant himself in this fashion was been successful. Particularly in the early nights of the bloodline when travel was far more difficult than it is today, many young Kindred met Final Death in the wilds between far-flung cities. In some cases, Kindred were rendered all but helpless when the bloodline’s curse manifested on the road. In other cases, they reached their destination, only to fail to survive the transition to the sightless condition when it came upon them in their new homes. As a result, the Baddacelli’s spread has been sporadic, and the cities that host these nightmares seem to bear no discernible geographical pattern. Great gaps exist between the homes of the Baddacelli in modern nights. Invictus and Lancea Sanctum records indicate encounters with strange, pagan vampires in the Viking port of Horsens as early as AD 1000. As described, these blind Kindred dwelt in natural caves formed in the walls of the fjord, where a small cult brought them offerings of blood. These creatures claimed to be avatars of the Norse God of Night, Hödr. They maintained that Hödr, himself portrayed in myth as blind and able to summon visions of far-off lands, had bestowed blindness upon them to mark them out to his faithful, and granted them otherworldly senses that they might aid in protecting his mortal servants. As small and secretive as this cult was, the First and Second Estates declared it a violation of the First Tradition, and spent much blood in the effort to stamp it out. To this night, though the few remaining descendants of the Horsen brood now give nominal allegiance to the Invictus, it is not entirely clear that they have abandoned their pagan ways. At least one brood of these Kindred is known to have made a home in the vast subway, service tunnel and sewer systems that existed beneath New York City some time around the middle of the 20th century. The leader of the brood then was a Morlock by the name of Hendrik, who first arrived in the city as a Haunt when it was still called New Amsterdam. He lost his sight only a few years before the English conquered the city, and as an influx of new Kindred asserted control, it was easy enough for him to go overlooked. So it was that he was able to accommodate himself to the rigors of his new existence with relatively little interference. Hendrik had already established for himself a small brood before his presence was discovered. He reacted by immediately committing himself and his childer in service to the ruling Invictus, who elected to hold their noses and accept the advantages offered by fresh numbers in a segment of the city few other covenants would be in a position to contest. This move proved beneficial to the Baddacelli as well as their First Estate allies over the years, at the cost of making the bloodline more visible than they would normally prefer to be. Hendrik fell into torpor in the late 1980s, and the Baddacelli of his brood withdrew from the vampire Court en masse shortly thereafter. Rumor abounds that they remain politically active, but few Kindred can either confirm or refute this assumption directly; these Baddacelli are rarely seen.
 
 
Society and Culture: Baddacelli are rarely found alone. Lone Morlocks are often relatively young vampires who fled their former broods and have only recently undergone the transition into the bloodline. These lonely vampires quickly learn the necessity of sighted retainers to aid them in their difficult nights. Haunts of Baddacelli lineage are well advised to keep ghouls, if for no other reason than as insurance against the night when the curse finally descends. These blood slaves are often the first childer in a fledgling brood as well, simply because it would be potentially unwise to create another vampire who has such a significant advantage as sight without some means of ensuring his loyalty. As a result, it is relatively common for the brood leader in a domain to hold Vinculums over his eldest childe or two. It is unusual, however, for a Baddacelli brood to grow beyond half a dozen members. For while it is true that few Kindred are interested in descending into their midnight lairs to try and control their population, wise Baddacelli do not press their luck by overburdening their hunting grounds. Unlife within the Baddacelli brood is rarely easy. Although there are few formal demands upon an individual Baddacelli’s time, the informal burdens of favor and loyalty can be quite demanding. The desire for acceptance and approval within their small families can be a strong motivator, and many Baddacelli fill their nights with works designed to please their broodmates and sires. Even while forcibly separated from surface life, many Baddacelli share an intense curiosity about the surface world. They have learned from painful experience that changes in mortal and Kindred society can affect the bloodline in unexpected and unpleasant ways. Morlock broods value news of surface world developments, and members of the line who can reliably satisfy their curiosity are accorded significant respect. Baddacelli, particularly younger ones, can often be found lurking in the shadows near subway stations, in the basements of government buildings or under sewer grates outside locations of cultural import to mortals and Kindred alike — anywhere that the Baddacelli’s sensitive ears can bring them important snippets to bring home to their brothers and sisters. These fishing expeditions are not limited solely to information gathering, however. Baddacelli are forever collecting new sounds to add to their repertoire, and not merely to aid in hunting. Inevitably, members of a line who can mimic practically any voice they hear pick up a good deal of facility at singing. Elder members of the line can even reproduce the tones of any of a vast array of musical instruments, and the endless variety of musical styles and variations among the kine are a source of immense fascination. As an outgrowth of their fascination with sound and music, a common Baddacelli pastime is a kind sonic one-upmanship. When blood supplies are good, entire nights can be devoted to vocal competitions, and even in lean times most broods will find a few minutes to devote to them. Rarely formal events, they will often start with a single Baddacelli uttering some unique, complex or newly acquired sound so that it echoes through the pitch-black lair of the brood. As the echoes die away, he will be answered by another of the brood, who will be answered by yet another in turn. The vocal stylings typically progress in complexity as each participant tries to outdo the one who came before. Hauntingly beautiful melodies of original composition may give way to stylized reproductions of popular music, only to be followed in turn by an eerie reproduction of the sounds of a traffic accident or subway station at rush hour. These sounds and a near infinite variety of others float through the lightless catacombs inhabited by the Baddacelli. As impressive as this spectacle may be, it is altogether different in character from what the Baddacelli can produce when they choose to sing in concert with each other. These occurrences are more rare than the competitive events, and usually more formally arranged. These are almost always staged for the brood alone, but the rare few occasions they have been displayed to any surface dwelling Kindred have endeared the bloodline to the Circle of the Crone. In either case, whether competitive posturing or cooperative singing, the experience is especially moving and disturbing to those mortals held as a captive herd to these Kindred. Trapped in an a world of absolute darkness, subjected to the hungers of monstrous beings, the mortals cannot help but respond to the haunting sounds that assault them from the far corners of their lightless prisons. Many are moved to tears by the spectacle — though whether tears of longing or of despair even they may not know for sure.
 
 
Mimetismo: Humans rely primarily on vision to observe their world. But in the universe inhabited by the Baddacelli, that sense is all but useless. So humans and Kindred in this environment fall back to the distant second of their preferred senses: hearing. When the Baddacelli are on the hunt, this is the worst mistake a victim can make. Baddacelli, surviving as they have for centuries in a world without vision, have turned sound into their shield and their weapon. They are mimics of supernatural skill, able to produce auditory tricks that put modern sound studios to shame.

 

Ноктуку.

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In every culture and region in the world there are stories of cannibalism. Horror stories of survival on the edge of starvation and monsters that hunt and eat the flesh of men. The Kindred have cannibal tales of their own: Whispered rumors of the dread Noctuku, Nosferatu who take pleasure in hunting their Kindred cousins and eating the dead flesh that hangs from their bones. These stories are passed along with the same excitement and fear as an urban legend or a ghost story -- tales told of Noctuku dwelling on the edges of a city, waiting for Kindred to stray too far from the shelter of the Prince's law. Kindred in larger domains scoff at mentions of the Noctuku, taking them to be rumors fueled by fearful neonates or worse, a competitor's attempts to hide her crimes behind an old ghost story. Those who reside closer to the hidden haven of a Noctuku live in fear of the dark, for the Noctuku are very real. Myth and rumor surround the Noctuku. It is believed that they may have existed long before the advent of the covenants, and that they may not be a bloodline at all; tales are told of Nosferatu who have spontaneously exhibited the hunger of the Noctuku following the diablerie of another. What is known is that many Nosferatu fear that they, too, will feel the pull of the Noctuku within their veins. Whether there is truth in these words, or merely more fairy tales told to scare young Nosferatu away from violating the Third Tradition is unknown. However, there have never been any reliable records of the founder of this bloodline, and the stories of the Noctuku are remembered by elders who have existed for centuries. Indeed, Kindred on many continents share tales of the cannibalistic Noctuku bogeymen who stalk the night; however, no single domain claims that they hold the origins of this strange and barbaric bloodline. Any vampire who identifies herself as Noctuku is sure to face severe difficulties in Kindred society. The act of consuming the flesh of vampires is seen as tantamount to that of diablerie -- the temptation to consume the soul along with the body too great a risk. Cannibalism is just as much a taboo among vampires as in mortal society, and predators do not like the feeling of being hunted any more than mortals do. Most Kindred react violently when presented with the reality of the Noctuku. The Noctuku themselves are perfectly comfortable with violent response. In their eyes, they are the apex predator -- the elite among a killing race, capable of hunting and destroying hapless mortals and experienced vampires alike. In fact, the more powerful their Kindred opponent, the more likely that Noctuku will engage in the hunt with enthusiasm, savoring the challenge of the kill. Some encroach upon established vampire domains, knowing full well that doing so will draw conflict from their own kind. They chew a hole through reputable Kindred Courts, clashing with the agents of Princes with gleeful abandon. Younger Noctuku -- those who have yet to lose themselves to the cannibalistic hunger of the line -- argue that all Kindred hunt their own when they consume the blood of mortals. The Noctuku believe that the Noctuku represent the pinnacle of all predators, feeding from Kindred just as ordinary Kindred hunt mortals -- for survival, for power and for sport.
 
Parent Clan: Nosferatu
 
 
Nickname: Bogeymen
 
Covenant: The Noctuku find roles within the covenants that allow them to practice their taboo discipline and feed without the threat of a death sentence. The Circle of the Crone seems to appeal to the Noctuku the most; with its arcane practices, rituals and belief that it is are above mortal taboos, the covenant is in many ways the only one that will accept the bloodline for everything that it is. In isolated domains, the Circle of the Crone has come to venerate the Noctuku for their unique ability to survive in even the harshest terrain, an example of their true communion with nature and their role as the top predators. Those few Noctuku who join or remain in the Invictus following their bloody admission into this bloodline find their perverse hunger a liability that they must hide from their more delicate cousins. Concealing their cannibalistic tendencies behind a veneer of civility eventually grates on them, especially when surrounded by so many sources of Vitae-infused flesh on a nightly basis. Only the strict rigid structure of etiquette gives any of the Invictus Noctuku hope of maintaining humanity, giving them a crutch to lean on when the hunger calls. While the promise of transcending the vampire condition appeals to a few Noctuku, the scholarly approach of the Ordo Dracul is foreign to the majority of Bogeymen. Most members of the covenant will not tolerate these violent and predatory Kindred, and few Noctuku manage to retain membership for long. Furthermore, the records of the Ordo Dracul in several cities warn against fraternizing with members of this line, alluding to incidences of uncontrollable violence and diablerie within the walls of academies foolish enough or hopeful enough to admit these monsters. The Lancea Sanctum faces a unique dichotomy when the truth of a Noctuku is revealed -- while the Sanctified praise the role of the ultimate predator, they decry the evils of diablerie and believe that the practices of the Noctuku will lead to greater sin. Thus, few members of the line openly join the Lancea Sanctum for fear of becoming a lightning rod for the pulpits of all manner of Kindred gospel. Noctuku are also rare among the Carthians, as the Noctuku's perverse diet tends to alienate the very bonds that the Carthians seek to foster with other Kindred. The Carthians may simply express their pity for the Noctuku's plight and move on into the night or, worse, attempt to destroy any they encounter to satisfy their sense of justice.
 
 
Developer’s Comments: Apex predators, hunting and tormenting Kindred for sport? Rumors that induction in the line happens spontaneously to diablierist Nosferatu? How could we resist? This entry was far and away the most monstrous and disturbing of all we received, for any of the bloodlines offered across the board. Great story hooks were scattered throughout, painting the Noctuku as an ideal line for non player antagonists, and an interesting choice for advanced players hoping to up the stakes on exploration of Man versus Beast themes in a game. If each bloodline is meant to distill some appealing part of a clan’s thematic focus, then the Noctuku are clearly an exploration of the horrendous inhumanity of the hunter who has no appreciation for the
suffering of his prey. They stand, not only as a fearsome threat to other Kindred, but also as a warning: stay virtuous, or you may well end up just like them. The line went through a couple of revisions, fl eshing out their history and culture (and offering up an
example of the Noctuku society that can result under the right conditions) while streamlining their signature Discipline so that it conveyed the concept of the apex predator bloodline most faithfully. I think the result is incredibly compelling.
 
 
Appearance: Noctuku dress in comfortable clothing, usually only a few months or years off the standard fashion for the mortals in their domains. Many Noctuku differ little physically from their Nosferatu cousins, which allows for an easier hunt. Only with time does the difference begin to display itself: Noctuku often appear slightly more gaunt and pale than other Nosferatu, and as the Noctuku age, they make little effort to appear lifelike, taking on the pallor of a walking corpse.
 
 
Havens: Residing in domains worldwide, from the edges of great cities to the rural wastes beset by competing horrors, the Noctuku are a hardy line, finding purchase in any nook that can protect them from the sun and allow them to stalk their prey. Lone Noctuku take up functional havens in out-of-the-way locations that will not raise suspicion, yet still allow them to be close enough to the mortal and Kindred populations to hunt with ease. Places such as animal slaughterhouses and butcher shops tend to mask the special diet that the Noctuku indulge in. Many of the havens of the Noctuku are eventually piled with the flesh and bones of their victims. Some are ghoulishly decorated with these remains, arranged with perverse tableaux of torn limbs and skeletal fragments. Those Noctuku who remain part of Kindred society tend to live in small havens with only the basic amenities. Not the types to crave lavish surroundings, most Noctuku seek out the most basic aspects of what they need to survive their Requiems, focusing on safety and mobility over comfort. When Noctuku form family coteries called "clutches," they build functional havens similar to their more solitary brothers and sisters, with separate sleeping areas for their acolytes that commonly feature reinforced doors and locks on the outside so that the eldest among them can then secure them to prevent any accidental attacks against other Noctuku.
 
 
Background: Most Noctuku are made of converts from their parent clan, those Nosferatu who are either drawn by the promise of secrets best left unrevealed or by necessity when they are driven from the luxury of the city. Due to the hunger that consumes them, many Noctuku who do Embrace from mortal stock choose those who can stomach the mental and spiritual stresses that the Kindred of the line must endure nightly. Living on the edge of Kindred and mortal society, Noctuku choose only those who are used to surviving under the roughest of conditions. In some of the more remote regions of the world, where there is also a mortal history of the Noctuku's practices, they tend to Embrace from the strongest and fittest, creating warriors who then safeguard their mortal cousins from outsiders. A Nosferatu rarely petitions a Noctuku to join the line; rather, a Noctuku Avus will select a Nosferatu whom the Noctuku feel has the mental and spiritual fortitude to survive the hunger and then go about slowly destroying any ties and connections that the Nosferatu enjoys. Newly adoptive Noctuku choose solitary Requiems out of a sense of necessity, usually because they have yet to truly accept their darker natures and embrace the true Beast within them. When Noctuku choose to live solitary lifestyles, they tend to either take to the road as nomads or push themselves to the very edge of civilization. Any place that harbors mortal souls could harbor Noctuku who lie in wait for the next unsuspecting victim to fall to their noire appetite.
 
 
Character Creation: With their need to survive in some of the most inhospitable terrain for Kindred around the world, the Noctuku tend to favor Physical Attributes over all else. Noctuku find little need for Social Attributes beyond simple Intimidation, and the most successful practitioners of Phagia have respectable levels of Strength and Stamina along with a strong background in Survival, Larceny and Medicine. Individual Noctuku vary in their skill and knowledge base, with some even reveling in their roles as Bogeymen and specializing in Nightmare as well as Phagia. Noctuku will sometimes keep a Retainer, usually a member of society so debased or corrupted that he willingly feeds the Noctuku's perverse hunger. The Noctuku rarely have Allies or Contacts, and almost never keep up communication with mortals at all. A clutch of Noctuku tends to pool its resources to benefit all, which usually means that the eldest benefits from the younger members' hard work. Shared havens are common and even recommended with clutches, so that the bloodline elders can watch over their adoptive childer like wardens.
 
 
Bloodline Disciplines: Nightmare, Obfuscate, Phagia, Vigor
 
 
Weakness: In addition to the normal Nosferatu weakness, the Noctuku develop a dark hunger for the flesh of their prey. Nosferatu who join the Noctuku bloodline soon find that the taste of blood alone does not sate their hunger, that until they consume the raw flesh of their prey, the Beast inside them does not subside. If they do not indulge the hunger for the raw, unspoiled flesh of their victims at least once a week, they are -1 on all Mental and Social dice rolls and require an additional success on hunger frenzies. For each week that passes thereafter without satisfying this hunger, these penalties increase by 1. If they fall to hunger frenzy while suffering this effect, they will attack and consume the flesh of the nearest victim, preferring Kindred to mortal flesh and human flesh to that of animals. Note that Noctuku are no more capable of digesting meat than any other vampire. When they eat flesh, they will regurgitate it almost immediately. It is the simple act of consumption that satisfies their ghastly urge.
 
 
Organization: Most Noctuku eventually become solitary monsters, keeping to themselves out of necessity. When they do gather in any numbers larger than sire and childe or Avus and Acolyte, they tend to bow to the eldest and most powerful among them, generally adopting subservient mannerisms to prevent unwanted attacks. In the small clutches of Noctuku that share the hunt, the organization is similar: graduating respect paid to those with more power and experience. The clutches tend to keep a tightly knit community, and many Noctuku who feel the need for social ties without having to hide their depravity flock to them. In most domains, the gatherings of Noctuku are subject to the simple philosophies of competitive survival and domination through strength. When a new Nosferatu is brought into a clutch, she endures weeks or months of physical trial, either proving herself worthy of the Blood or falling to the gnashing teeth of her compatriots.
 
 
Concepts: Hungry drifter, corrupt mortician, Embraced bushman, rural parish priest, freak show monster, serial killer, creepy cab driver, underground doctor, pathetic loner, blood-crusted trucker, and depraved cult leader.
 
 
History Ancient Origins: The Noctuku’s true origins are lost to the sands of time. Mortal archeologists have confirmed signs of cannibalistic attacks on the dead in Neolithic caves in Europe, and some Kindred believe these attacks bear the mark of the Noctuku. Myths of the Noctuku — or something similar to them — abound, and seem to date back throughout both Kindred and mortal history. Many scholars debate the attribution of these legends, though, pointing out that every tale of Kindred cannibalism seems to be linked to the Noctuku, whether there is evidence of their involvement or not. Others, however, point to a more frightening legend: that Nosferatu who engage in the eating of Kindred flesh are said to spontaneously become Noctuku; habitual cannibalism may, in fact, be all that it takes for a Haunt to become one.
 
 
Rome and the Dark Ages: The stories that have survived from the Roman times, left ragged by the passage of time, have long been folded into the myths of the Noctuku. It is whispered that the line may have truly originated in Rome, but the stories are confused, and may be conflated with those of the flesheating Macellarius. It is believed that several clutches of Noctuku existed on the fringe of Roman society, vicious predators hunting at the edge of the Kindred territories and picking off vampires exiled by the Princes of Rome. The bloodline is said to have thrived in the nights following the collapse of the Camarilla, running rampant among the confused Kindred, sowing chaos and feeding with wild abandon. Historical evidence seems to suggest that the Noctuku gleefully dogged a number of fleeing groups of Kindred, following them to the edges of Europe and devouring those who lagged behind or were otherwise vulnerable. The infamous clutches of Scandinavia were founded in those nights, ultimately destroying the Roman Kindred who hoped to find a new home there and claiming the territories for themselves in bloody triumph. Legends of the Noctuku grew during the nights of the Dark Ages, even as their activity seems to have diminished. Many established domains began to force out members of the line as they were discovered, suffering terrible losses in the process. Their fierceness and malicious power inspired panicked edicts against the consumption of flesh — some of which remain in European domains to this night. In some places, though, their strength and murderous will earned the respect of warlike Kindred who chose to employ them, engaging in subtle machinations that would place them along key roads into and out of a domain so that they could protect the cities and satisfy their hunger by feeding upon nomad invaders. The first records of Noctuku in service to the Invictus arise from this practice in several domains in and around modern-day Romania and the Ukraine.
 
 
The Age of Enlightenment: The Age of Enlightenment began as a period of great success for the Noctuku. As the mortals and Kindred of Europe were driven to exploration and discovery, the predatory vampires of the line followed suit, freely
feeding upon expeditionary forces and then settling into new domains, waiting for the investigations that would surely follow. They spread throughout the known world in this way, establishing clutches in the New World, Africa and East Asia. Thriving in the wars of colonization and enriching themselves on the blood and souls of relatively weak Kindred fleeing old domains, many Noctuku became uncommonly powerful, establishing themselves as a horrible force in their outposts. Indeed, anecdotal evidence suggests that Noctuku clutches may have been responsible for delaying or destroying Kindred settlement in some domains. Sanctified pilgrims traveling through the Dutch South African colony at the Cape of Good Hope in the early 17th century noted the general absence of Kindred at the port station, but did find a small hollow filled with bones and ash near the settlement. One Mekhet priest identified the detritus as Kindred remains, and later came to believe that he had unwittingly stumbled into the lair of a slumbering Noctuku. Ordo Dracul records indicate that the first Kindred to establish a domain in Providence, Rhode Island, were dogged by a Noctuku hunter. Stalked throughout the first half of the 18th century, the creature was captured and ultimately destroyed by the civilized vampires of Providence in one well-documented confrontation that sent the first Prince of the domain to his Final Death. However, with the expansive victories of the line came an unforeseen crisis. Cut loose from the restrictions of old Kindred society, many of the line drove themselves into a mad frenzy of diablerie, falling forever to the temptations of the Beast. Many Noctuku Draugr arose during the nights of the 18th and 19th centuries, and many were destroyed by their own kin in self-defense. The numbers of the bloodline dwindled as constant battles were fought between members. Many who were not felled by their own kin went on to face outsider Kindred who redoubled their efforts to establish themselves in the new mortal domains, and few survived.
 
 
Modern Nights: Modern nights find the Noctuku relegated to urban legend in most domains, which is exactly what the surviving members of the line prefer. Now, as the majority of Kindred relate stories of the bloodline in abstract terms, believing they are simple myths meant to discourage diablerie, the vampires of the Noctuku hunt and feed, vicious and skillful as ever. It is known that the Prince of one Russian city employs a clutch of Noctuku as a brutally effective border patrol, allowing them to feed upon the nomad coteries that stray too close to his domain (as well as the occasional exiled criminal). The disgust and indignation that the Noctuku’s activities provoke are balanced by a wary fear, and they operate undisturbed. A number of Ordo Dracul Academies have noticed increased Noctuku activity throughout eastern North America in recent years. Some researchers believe that the increased sprawl of cities and the tendency among some Princes to relegate suburban feeding grounds to younger and less established Kindred are combining to create ideal circumstances for the fringe-dwelling Noctuku.
 
Society and Culture: Solitary Noctuku who still cling to the shreds of Humanity left to them hide their true blood lineage within clutches of Nosferatu or other Kindred who face dangerous hardships. Some exist as nomads, covering their dark hunger and pretending to a semblance of civility while enjoying the company of others; these Noctuku attempt to push back the ever-present hunger for the flesh of their compatriots, tamping down the temptations with the thrill and challenge of the open road. But sooner or later, every Noctuku is forced to come face-to-face with his perverse urges and risks turning upon his friends and allies. Thus, the nightly existence of the solitary Noctuku is one of lies and deceit or rabid hunting and fighting to fulfill the hunger that gnaws at him. While lone Noctuku cannot be said to participate in any traditions or practices of the bloodline per se, they do often follow a pattern of behavior that has been well marked by those who observe them. Once they establish a haven that is well defended, they begin to hunt and feed in a growing outward spiral, festooning their home with trophies and the remains of their victims. When they encounter other members of the line, they often veer away, leaving one another to their own territory. Some will attack their brethren, but only if they are starved for a challenge, or, as is occasionally the case with young Noctuku, overcome with a sense of revulsion. Conflict with other Kindred is inevitable, though — sooner or later, the Noctuku is bound to violate the feeding grounds of a vampire, and the response is likely to be immediate. Knowing full well that the hunt will be joined soon enough, most members of the line see no need to engage their own kind. Sometimes the only salve to the madness of this existence is to gather with other Noctuku in clutches, working together to hunt and feed and prepare for the unavoidable clash with other Kindred. Small clutches often maintain status within one of the covenants as a defense against prosecution, working as enforcers or guardians within a domain. A few rare clutches have grown into organized forces of their own, actually playing significant roles in domain politics. The Noctuku of certain Scandinavian domains have developed a whole set of evolving rules and strictures of their own, established through centuries of existence. These clutches are rigidly controlled by the eldest and most powerful Noctuku among them, called a Majikan. The Majikan is the supreme leader of his Kindred — acting as a parental figure, religious advisor or judge, jury and executioner in service to the Invictus, overseeing the whole of his clutch and inheriting the practice of delegating titles and tasks to his inferiors from the covenant as a whole. The Majikan defines the rules of etiquette for his clutch, such as forbidding the Noctuku from feeding on each other but actively promoting the consumption of mortals or Kindred. The Majikan is not always the most skilled in the understanding of Phagia, leaving that role to the Corazo, or heart of the clutch. The Domus, or home guard, is placed in charge of haven security and maintaining the secrecy of the clutch. In a sense, these members of the clutch are its own secret police, as well as a sort of butler or caretaker of the communal haven. The Servus is a role often given to several Noctuku, charging them with finding sources of food. They excel in tracking potential prey, mortal and Kindred, and gathering them without alerting the locals to the presence of the Noctuku. Whether or not this complicated set of duties and titles seems natural for the Noctuku, the long-term survival of the Scandinavian clutches is undeniably evident, and may one night set the standard for the bloodline. For now, it remains rare to see a clutch so organized. When a Nosferatu is chosen to become a member of the Noctuku — for only the most debased petition a Noctuku elder to join the bloodline — her Avus slowly drives her toward darker and more perverse feeding practices by corrupting her connections to the mortal and Kindred worlds. Sometimes, the Avus drives other Kindred to attack the Nosferatu, forcing a physical confrontation that all too often leads to frenzy, Vitae addiction or, worse, diablerie. The Avus is careful to not show herself too early and to not reveal any information connecting her to the Noctuku as too many proto-Noctuku turn upon their new brethren in a frustrated release of hunger. The Noctuku Avus waits until he believes the Nosferatu is ready to survive the rigors of the hunger and then confronts her with the reality of her potential, if only they allow her to truly feel the hunger of the Beast that claws within her. If the Nosferatu refuses, then the Noctuku merely cuts his losses and attempts to consume the failed inductee. The nightly routine of the Noctuku is as varied as the organization of the bloodline itself. Those who throw in with the Circle of the Crone are very active within the covenant, participating in rituals with unparalleled enthusiasm. Noctuku Acolytes usually serve as a sort of secret weapon for the Crone, literally consuming any competition in service to the covenant. Entire clutches of Noctuku ritualize the hunt, turning the consumption of Kindred and mortal flesh into a twisted means of worship. Young Noctuku never want to become what they really know they are — monsters that stalk their own kind. However, they are almost always lured by other Noctuku into experiencing the ecstatic pleasures derived from the consumption of human and Kindred flesh and are lost to chasing the high, just as so many other addicts, ignoring their own growing monstrosity and reveling in the thrill of power. Is the cost ever enough to compare to the gain? A Noctuku would be hard-pressed to tell. With this denial heaped onto the raw hunger for mortal and Kindred flesh, elders of the line can be surprisingly strict when it comes to the Traditions and frown on a flagrant disregard of their wisdom, usually because it usually encourages other vampires to rise up and destroy the bloodline. Most discover that it is better to remain just shy of breaking the laws of Kindred, using the veneer of lawful obedience to protect them from wholesale persecution. . . so long as they can manage it. These Noctuku observe a kind of double Masquerade with their Kindred cousins for the very same reasons the Kindred do with mortals: it is better to hunt an unsuspecting prey than one who knows the truth.
 
Phagia: The greatest secret that the Noctuku harbor with their semi-solitary requiem is that of Phagia, a unique discipline that the Noctuku have developed, expressing their true nature as apex predators in the world of Kindred. Noctuku scholars believe that Phagia was born of the dark hunger that all of the bloodline struggle with on a nightly basis, while others hypothesize that Phagia was simply born of necessity great power attending the hunger of the bloodline, strengthening the Bogeymen even as it encourages them to greater and greater depravity. Phagia is a dark art that is drawn from deep within the Noctuku’s predatory souls, empowering and entrapping them for all time.

 

Ягнатия

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All social creatures have a pecking order -- from a pride of lions to a flock of chickens, from which the phrase is derived. Vampires are no different. Beginning with clan and ending with coterie, every vampire has his place, or so they are taught to accept by their elders. This being said, Clan Ventrue are arguably (and sometimes obviously) the equivalent of vampiric royalty -- the top of the undead social ladder, as it were. By the same token, very few would dismiss the notion of the Nosferatu being on the bottom of that very same ladder, if they were even allowed on the rungs at all. Very few except the Nosferatu themselves, of course. So when a bloodline such as the Yagnatia steps out of the darkness of Eastern Europe and throws Nosferatu stereotypes on its ear, many elders become curious and suspicious. Proud, terrifying and iron-fisted and possessed of a keen understanding of politics and social graces, the Yagnatia have emerged to take their place as kings of the night, not peasants. In the late 10th century, Russia became officially Christianized with the conversion of Vladimir I, Prince of Kiev. With this mortal shift in religion, vampires of the Lancea Sanctum took it upon themselves to spread their doctrine to the Kindred of the Baltic region. The Lancea Sanctum met stiff, and usually violent, resistance from the pagan goddess-cults whose many followers were often Chorus members of the Circle of the Crone. The Acolytes had held power over the peoples of Latvia, Lithuania, Russia and Ukraine for generations, but the Acolytes were unable to stop the inexorable advance of Christianity. Many of the Circle's adherents met Final Death in great pyres when entire cults were exterminated or else were forced to flee their ancestral territories for more tolerant locales. Leading this crusade into the Baltic lands was a Sanctified Ventrue by the name of Pasko Grechkovik. He had had a religious epiphany after claiming to see visions of Christ on the cross floating over the city of Kiev around the time of that city's conversion. Grechkovik took this to mean that he was to be the instrument of God's will in bringing His Word to the heathen masses of Russia. To this end, Grechkovik was able to appropriate a large amount of the covenant's manpower and resources to accomplish his vision of a Christianized Russia. This included siring several childer from among the newly converted Princedoms to aid him. The Circle of the Crone, naturally, resisted this intrusion and brought to bear their own resources, mortal and otherwise, in their efforts to retain control over their ancestral holdings. For almost 200 years, the Acolytes waged a war of attrition against the Sanctified. For every village the Circle managed to retain, two more were burned to the ground, their inhabitants slaughtered if they refused to kneel before Christ and His chosen messengers. With these tactics, it was no surprise that the mortal populace began converting by the thousands, and as paganism waned, so, too, did the Circle’s power. By the 12th century, the majority of Russia and Eastern Europe had been forcibly Christianized, and the Acolytes’ power had diminished considerably. A large number of Nosferatu Acolytes in particular had been harshly persecuted, driven from their domains or dispatched to Final Death by Grechkovik’s fanatical followers, although Pasko himself had entered torpor several decades before. The last stronghold of Acolyte power left in Russia was the state of Vladimir-Suzdal, a nation that succeeded Kievan Rus as the most powerful Eastern Slavic state, in the late 12th century. The Lancea Sanctum, specifically the Ventrue members of Grechkovik’s line, backed a Christian ruler by the name of Yuri II, who took the throne of Vladimir-Suzdal in 1212 from his ailing father. However, a short four years later, in 1216, at the Battle of Lipitsa, Konstantin I soundly defeated his younger brother, and seized the throne for himself to become the 5th Grand Prince of Vladimir. This upset Grechkovik’s Sanctified Ventrue greatly, largely due to Konstantin’s stubborn refusal to accept Christianity, and they blamed the Nosferatu and the Acolytes, though neither had anything to do with the usurpation. Pasko Grechkovik was awakened from torpor by his fellow Sanctified and brought up to date on all that his followers has accomplished while he lay in the grip of the Little Death. Grechkovik was furious at what he perceived to be the meddling of the Acolytes with his holy vision. Konstantin’s actions were entirely his own, the result of his bitterness at having been disowned on his father’s deathbed in favor of his younger brother; no vampiric manipulation lay behind his grab for power. However, Konstantin’s actions did not go unnoticed among certain vampires of the time, namely a Nosferatu elder and Acolyte named Zapruda, who saw an opportunity to strike back at the Lancea Sanctum (and Grechkovik in particular) for their prior pogrom against the Haunts. During those intervening two years of Konstantin’s reign, Zapruda made her move to diminish the control Grechkovik’s Sanctified Ventrue held over Vladimir-Suzdal. Some time during the winter of 1216, Konstantin received reports of a coven of witches conducting blasphemous rites on the outskirts of a small village. The church took harsh reprisal against those who continued to follow the Old Ways, since Russia was supposed to be thoroughly Christianized by this time. Despite his own pagan convictions, seeing Christianity as simply a retelling of much older myths and placing no real faith in its supposed savior, Konstantin did as he was required. He was forced to keep up the faÁade of a true, God-fearing lord in the eyes of the Church and his own subjects to cement his hold over his newly conquered lands. If he could use these followers of the Old Faith to further his goals, so be it, but if they all had to be burned at the stake, he wasn’t above that Christian duty, either. Finding the coven easily, he and his men rode into the clearing, interrupting their ritual. Declaring himself, Konstantin asked what manner of worship was taking place. The high priestess, calling herself Afanasiia (meaning “immortal”), the Daughter of Baba Yaga, told him of their intention to welcome the spring back to the land and honor the goddess to give them new life and fertility. (Popular belief is that the coven was composed of a mortal Chorus of the Circle of the Crone, but if so, none of the Acolytes has come forward with a definitive answer. This rumor is also cited as the reason why many women of the Yagnatia elect to become Acolytes, however.) Konstantin snickered to his men, claiming he was more than fertile enough already, having sired several children in his original domains of Rostov and Yaroslav. Growling that though he was not himself a Christian, he much desired to see if the old gods still possessed any real power now that the Christ had come to the lands of the Rus, power that he, as the land’s new ruler, was free to exploit. He then asked the witch to read his future, that he might discover what Yuri was plotting, since he had escaped during Konstantin’s coup. After gathering her cloak about her, Afanasiia stared into Konstantin’s eyes and consulted the lines in his palms, then pronounced her prophecy: Konstantin would only rule until the seasons turned twice more, then Yuri would reclaim his throne. Enraged at this news, Konstantin drew his sword and struck Afanasiia’s head from her shoulders. So swift and clean was the cut that the priestess’ body remained standing. He ordered his men to kill the entire coven, but suddenly the right hand of the corpse rose, pointed at its murderer, and the severed head began to speak, pronouncing a curse upon Konstantin: that he should never sire another heir for as long as he should walk the Earth unless blessed by a follower of her goddess. His men, crossing themselves, weeping and screaming of the devil, fled, leaving a shaken Grand Prince to straggle back to his palace. As was foretold, Yuri II reclaimed the throne of Vladimir-Suzdal in 1218, secretly backed by Grechkovik and the Lancea Sanctum. Pasko declared his “holy vision” had been realized; pagan power had been supplanted by Christianity, and the Lancea Sanctum had supplanted the Circle of the Crone as the dominant covenant in Russia. Here, mortal and Kindred history diverge. It was the night of February 2, 1218, that Konstantin was approached by Zapruda, the Nosferatu elder. She admired his pagan convictions and vowed to show him that faith in the Old Ways, while currently diminished, still held great power. She explained that her clan, the Nosferatu, had long desired a way to directly challenge the Ventrue on their home ground. She also related the tale of the persecution of her clan at the hands of Grechkovik and his Sanctified cronies and that she intended Konstantin to be the instrument by which she and the Circle would exact their revenge. The elder Haunt had first taken an interest in him when he usurped his brother’s throne, and offered Konstantin a proposition — in exchange for his assistance in thwarting Grechkovik and the Lancea Sanctum who
controlled Yuri behind the scenes and, by extension, the nation, he would become her childe, one of the living dead. He agreed, and human history records that Konstantin Vsevolodovich I died in his sleep at the age of 32. Kindred know that Konstantin became the childe of Zapruda, beginning his Requiem as a member of Clan Nosferatu that night. When Zapruda Embraced Konstantin, she could not have foreseen how Afanasiia’s curse would affect him. The mystical interaction between her Vitae and the curse caused Konstantin to become Nosferatu, but different. The insidious effects of the curse revealed themselves years later, when Konstantin himself attempted to Embrace a childe of his own. The poor unfortunate merely died after being drained of blood. Konstantin made several more attempts before realizing that the witch’s curse was, in fact, real and fully in force. Seeking out the coven he had accosted those years before, he beseeched them for a blessing. After spending most of the night in ritual prayer and fasting, the new high priestess, Raina, came forward and declared that she would bless Konstantin with fertility, but only if he would then make her his childe, extracting an oath from him. He readily agreed; having tasted the true power of the Old Faith once already, he had no desire to cross its followers again, and the bloodline of the Yagnatia was born. Until the time of the Bolshevik Revolution, the bloodline Embraced exclusively from several noble families (most notably Konstantin’s mortal descendents), as well as the pagan covens of Eastern Europe and Russia. The Yagnatia made a name for themselves in those same territories by driving out, or at least holding their own against, Grechkovik’s childer and his allies within the Lancea Sanctum. After the rise of communism, the bloodline was forced to adapt to a changing environment. Many family lines of nobility still existed, but they did not hold the power and prestige they had once commanded. This loss of prestige did not prevent the Yagnatia (or the Ventrue, for that matter) from Embracing from those
families, however. Unfortunately, Konstantin himself met Final Death at the claws of a pack of vengeful Lupines in 1621. The werewolves were given information by Grechkovik’s ghouls on Konstantin’s whereabouts and made to believe he was the vampire responsible for the destruction of one of their sacred sites. Grechkovik’s followers had hoped that the loss of the founder would cripple the bloodline as a whole, but it only caused Raina, Konstantin’s first childe, to bring to bear the Boyar’s own resources and oust several of the Lords from their warm winter estates, cementing the Yagnatia’s rule across several Russian cities. The Industrial Revolution and the overthrow of the Russian czars by the Bolshevik party during the early 19th century brought major changes to more than just the mortal populace. The Yagnatia, mostly young ancillae but also a few elders, saw a time of change and were determined to capitalize on it. They determined to expand their bloodline’s horizons and took to exploring the world outside their ancestral homelands. To this end, small groups of Yagnatia, composed of at least two men and one woman, embarked on journeys that would find them founding outposts in London, Madrid, New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, Bogot, Buenos Aires and even Tokyo. These groups petitioned the Princes of those cities for acceptance and territory to establish themselves. Where a cult of the Circle of the Crone already existed, the Yagnatia requested, and usually gained, admittance, adding their numbers to the Circle in exchange for secure havens and feeding rights. These goals were much easier to achieve in cities with Princes belonging to any covenant other than the Lancea Sanctum. Indeed, where the Yagnatia encountered a Prince of that covenant, the bloodline’s members politely moved on. Sometimes, they were hounded out of the city by Sanctified zealots when the Yagnatia’s own covenant affiliations were discovered, but most often they were allowed to pass through in relative peace. Where the Yagnatia encountered a strong Invictus presence, they were often able to negotiate certain concessions, offering their services as Acolytes in exchange. Despite their physical differences, this Nosferatu branch does not disdain their disfigured cousins; they honor their ancestry and take great pleasure in the reactions they receive when revealing their clan affiliation to others. In the modern nights, the Yagnatia continue to slowly spread across the rest of the world, focusing their attentions on large, industrialized cities and emerging economies. This places several Yagnatia in the burgeoning cities of Asia that are just now starting to take their place among the movers-and-shakers of the world economy. These young Boyars are determined to make themselves and their bloodline a powerful force and with them, the Circle of the Crone stands to retake much of its lost glory, something the Sanctified shudder to imagine.
 
 
Developer’s Comments: This entry struck us because of its rich, detailed history and the well-placed story hooks throughout. The suggestion that the entire bloodline may have been created by Kindred within the Circle of the Crone as part of some plan or conspiracy was an interesting idea, and one we encouraged Mr. Hubbard to expand on in the edits. We also thought that the Yagnatia, as presented here, served as an intriguing counterpoint to the Baddacelli and the Noctuku — the two other Nosferatu lines in the book, both of which are exceedingly monstrous. Here, the fearsomeness of the Nosferatu is highlighted in a completely different way, describing it as a necessary force for maintaining order and standing against opponents in the social arena of Kindred.
In edits, the story of the Yagnatia was elaborated on, and a rival line of Ventrue was added to provide dramatic hooks for players and Storytellers. We didn’t want to add too much in the way of fl ash to the bloodline — it has a few rituals of its own, but we thought it was more important to focus on the Yagnatia’s evolution into their current state: a line of noble Nosferatu who have every reason to be proud of their heritage.
 
Parent Clan: Nosferatu
 
 
Nickname: Boyars
 
 
Covenant: Having played a major role in the creation of the bloodline, it's no surprise that the Circle of the Crone contains the most number of Yagnatia. Almost all female members join the Acolytes in honor of their ancestress, Afanasiia and her successor, Raina. Only the members of this covenant are taught the blessing ritual and elevated to the title of Holy Mothers. Many of the pagan cults of the Baltic region were mortal Choruses of the Circle, and it is rumored that the creation of the Yagnatia was by design rather than happenstance. Second only to the Acolytes, the tradition-bound Invictus with their iron-fisted rule and political acumen draws some of the Yagnatia like flies to carrion. Those elders who pine for the days of the czars enthusiastically embrace the philosophy of the First Estate and all it represents. Solitary male Yagnatia tend to find themselves attached to this covenant, though when they decide to sire a childe of their own, they must abide by all the protocols and customs of the bloodline. For this reason, they maintain close ties with their pagan cousins, despite differences in ideology, something almost unheard of among other covenants. For those few Yagnatia seeking a means of escaping or transcending their cursed existence, the Ordo Dracul is a viable option. Unconcerned with lineages, the Dragons present the Yagnatia with a means of exploring their own limitations without the burden of larger politics, should they choose. As with their First Estate brethren, the members of the Ordo Dracul who wish to sire childer must follow the proper customs and so keep cordial relations with the Holy Mothers among the Acolytes. Neither the Carthian Movement nor the Lancea Sanctum attracts any members of this bloodline. The former because the Yagnatia's noble ancestry does not provoke respect among the Carthians and the latter because their pagan roots invite outright persecution from the Sanctified.
 
 
Appearance: Those Yagnatia Embraced from the members of Konstantin's mortal family are fair-haired and pale skinned, with blue or green eyes. Unlike the majority of their parent clan, these Nosferatu tend to be attractive and very regal in their bearing. The Nosferatu curse manifests in the aura of predatory dread that surrounds them at all times, despite their genteel seeming. They embody the epitome of the Machiavellian ideal: A ruler who prefers to be feared rather than loved. Regardless of mortal heritage, all Boyars have the carriage of true nobility. They are arrogant, imperious and regal. Even without the powers of Majesty at their command, Yagnatia demand attention by virtue of their forceful presence. Elders sometimes retain the style of dress favored during their breathing days, somewhat antiquated but every bit as impeccable and intimidating as younger vampires' Armani suits and Gucci shoes.
 
 
Havens: Almost without exception, the Boyars prefer to keep havens that display wealth and clout within their respective regions. Since the majority of the bloodline dwells in the ancestral home of Russia and surrounding Slavic nations, their havens' art and architecture reflect their mortal days. Many still hold court in ancient castles or walled estates surrounded by acres of woodland that have been passed down through the mortal generations of families from which they Embrace. For those Yagnatia making there homes in the bustling metropolises of North and South America and the Pacific Rim nations, the desire to impress all visitors with their wealth and power remains just as strong as that of their Slavic cousins. Whether it be the prominent display of rare and priceless artwork, legions of servants at their beck and call, or vast compounds, estates or penthouses in traditional samurai, drug lord or stockbroker fashion, all are designed to flaunt the power of the Yagnatia in one way or another. Whether the Yagnatia share a haven or not, there is always a communal structure in every city where they reside that allows the bloodline members to come together to discuss personal business. These shared havens always have enough secure quarters in case individuals wish to spend the day sleeping here as well as a central location reserved for gatherings, allowing individuals to mingle and share gossip and general social niceties. Politics are often discussed, but surprisingly, everyone tends to keep a cool head. Even when members of different covenants share a haven, there is an unspoken rule that covenant differences are set aside when meeting in the common areas. The level of cooperation between members of this bloodline is exceedingly high, considering the inherent nature of the vampiric condition and inter-covenant conflict. The fact that the majority of Yagnatia belong to either the Circle of the Crone or the Invictus and that these vampires still maintain a close cooperative relationship has lead to rumors of some unholy alliance between the Acolyte Boyars and those of the First Estate.
 
 
Background: All Yagnatia must bring prospective childer before a tribunal of elders who determine if the candidate is acceptable to be inducted into the "family." A lengthy interrogation follows the presentation of prospective candidates to determine their mortal lineage, specific talents or skills and any mystical affiliation (such as having been a local midwife who was also a member of a goddess cult). If the prospective neonate is deemed worthy, the soon-to-be sire then goes before his local high priestess to receive the blessing, allowing him to Embrace the childe. In nights prior, only those mortal members from among the noble houses or pagan cults of Eastern Europe and Russia were chosen for the Embrace -- those sons who would have been targets of assassination by elder brothers or those daughters destined for the convent or the witch's pyre. The elders of the bloodline retain this practice and have yet to show a more progressive attitude to the changing social conditions of the world. In fact, the mortal descendents of Konstantin continued to rule the towns of Rostov and Yaroslav until the late 15th century. Numerous princely families of Russia issue from this Prince, and consequently, so do many elder members of the bloodline. In the modern nights, where money has replaced a noble title as a path to respect and prestige, younger members of the bloodline have begun petitioning the elder tribunals to allow them to include rich and influential families in Western Europe, North and South America and even Japan. They argue that families with ties to industries as varied as steel, cocaine, computers, pharmaceuticals and biotechnology would all be of great benefit to the bloodline as a whole. Denied formal approval to do so, these younger Boyars have nonetheless Embraced several new members from these backgrounds, producing several lines. The Lackenbys of England's steel industry and the Shoups, investors in some of the United States' largest pharmaceutical manufacturers add connections to Europe and the U.S. The Cardenas Lizardi brings a noted Colombian drug cartel into the fold, and the Murakami are up-and-comers in the field of Japanese biotech. Other individuals have also been inducted into the Boyars, being Embraced from Wall Street, Hollywood and even Dallas. All of these neonates share the ambition and outright ruthlessness the Yagnatia prize. Competition with the Ventrue in their ancestral domains, who have no qualms about Embracing outside of nobility, will force the elder Yagnatia to do likewise or fall by the wayside. Nosferatu from outside the bloodline can petition a tribunal for acceptance into the Yagnatia, though the requirements are stringent. To begin, they must not bear any outward physical deformity whatsoever. Passing that hurdle, the prospective Boyar must show a high degree of acumen in an area of interest to the bloodline, specifically business, politics, assassination and related talents. If the prospective Boyar proves successful, the Nosferatu is inducted into the bloodline, whereupon he assumes the strengths and weaknesses of the Yagnatia.
 
 
Character Creation: It's difficult to pin down a specific category of Attributes for any single Boyar. Most tend to favor power Attributes (Presence, Intelligence and Strength) over others, especially the first two. The average Boyar has higher scores in Mental Attributes rather than the Physical or Social, but only just so. Excellence in the social arena, quick wits and an intimidating demeanor, physical or otherwise, are all aspirations of the Yagnatia, despite the weakness of the Nosferatu. Favored Skills always include Intimidation and Politics as well as Academics, Persuasion and Socialize. Some familiarity with the Occult is relatively common, especially for those vampires wishing to become Holy Mothers. Social Merits with a high level of Contacts and Allies, although difficult for the Boyars to maintain, are almost universally prized, as well as certain Mental Merits such as Eidetic Memory.
 
 
Bloodline Disciplines: Dominate, Nightmare, Obfuscate, Vigor
 
 
Weakness
 
All Yagnatia suffer the weakness of Clan Nosferatu.
 
In addition, because of Afanasiia's curse on Konstantin centuries ago, no member of the Yagnatia may create childer on a whim. Their Vitae is completely infertile in regard to the ability to create progeny. Creating and maintaining ghouls remains unaffected, however. Should a Nosferatu from outside of the bloodline become a member, his Vitae immediately becomes sterile as well.
 
In order for a member of the Yagnatia to successfully Embrace a mortal, the Yagnatia must receive a blessing from the local high priestess of the bloodline. This takes the form of a mystic pagan ritual, refined by the blood magic of Crúac, wherein the prospective sire is anointed with special oils and the Blood of the priestess herself and prayers are offered to the mother goddess figure (venerated in one form or another depending on location). The vampire so "blessed" then has a full 24 hours to Embrace his prospective childe. Once the Yagnatia has performed the Embrace or the time has lapsed, the individual's Blood returns to the normal infertile state.
 
The inability to sire childer without this special blessing is the most closely guarded secret of the Yagnatia; if their rivals learned of this, they could easily wipe out the bloodline by destroying all female members. It is also the reason that women of the bloodline are held in such high esteem; they are literally the "mothers" of the Yagnatia.
 
 
Organization: The Yagnatia appear, to those outside the bloodline, to be dominated by the male Boyars, while the women seem relatively unconcerned with vampiric politics and power plays. In reality, this branch of the Nosferatu is ruled by its female members, the aptly named "Holy Mothers." The reason for this deception is due to the bloodline's unique weakness. Women are a precious commodity to the Yagnatia, and they go to incredible lengths to protect them, and with them, the secret of their sterile Vitae. Part of this protection is keeping up the facade of the men running the bloodline's night-to-night activities and policies. At the same time, women are seen as devoted Acolytes in service to the Crone, unconcerned with anything other than their worship and the recruitment of new cultists. Continuing this deception isn't as difficult as it sounds. The men truly believe their women to be holy, able to bestow a sacred blessing upon those of their choosing, and thus continuing the Yagnatia line. All Boyars, even those who belong to the Invictus or other covenants, maintain close ties to each other, and it is not unusual for these Boyars to attend Acolyte rituals. The Holy Mothers bind them to one another, regardless of covenant; without their blessing, there will be no more Yagnatia. Should the loyalty of any member of the bloodline be called into serious question, he is forcibly blood bound to the high priestess herself in a special ritual that not only strips the unfortunate of his status within the bloodline but brands him as a potential traitor to other Yagnatia. Should the marked vampire commit an act that again calls his loyalty into question, he can expect the remainder of his Requiem to be short indeed: he becomes the immediate target of exsanguination by any of his fellow Boyars he encounters. Candidates for the Embrace, as well as disputes between Boyars, are brought before a tribunal in a specific city or region. The tribunals are formed of the three oldest vampires in the area not in torpor, and they serve for a century before having the opportunity to appoint a successor or continue their post. Should a Yagnatia meet Final Death or enter torpor before choosing a successor, the remaining tribunal members will select a replacement. Regions are defined geographically based on mortal cities and their surrounding areas, population density and distance. In some places, the bloodline has actually secured positions of prominence among the Courts of the Damned, and many large Eastern European cities have Yagnatia Prisci if not Primogen.
 
 
Concepts: Power behind the throne, follower of the Old Faith, separatist warlord, political advisor, Mafia boss, orphanage director, shrewd businessman, social worker, Old World aristocrat, patron of the arts, ex-KGB agent-for-hire.
 
 
History: Perhaps the single most influential moment in the history of the Yagnatia as a whole came in the mid-12th century, not long after their inception as a distinct bloodline. Prior to this, the Boyars maintained communal havens that were divided by gender. That is, several men might share a single residence while several women did the same, always in separate locations. At the time, it was customary for the women, many of whom could cast the blessing ritual that allowed the Embrace, to live apart from the men. Often times their havens were located away from city centers, hidden among the few pagan enclaves still in existence. It had only been 20 years since the bloodline’s founding, and despite occasional conflict with the Lancea Sanctum, there had been no serious threat to the Yagnatia’s existence. The coming of Batu Khan and the Golden Horde would change all that. In the winter of 1238, Mongol warlord Batu Khan led 150,000 cavalry across the frozen Volga River to sack the Bulgar city of Ryazan, then moved on to Moscow. Once that city had fallen, Batu turned his attention to Vladimir- Suzdal and Grand Prince Yuri II. Yuri scrambled to present a secure defense, but only succeeded in slightly slowing the Mongol juggernaut. By February, the city had fallen to the invaders, though Yuri managed to escape the destruction until a month later, when his pitiful resistance was finally crushed by Batu’s superior forces. The Kindred of the region were slightly more well informed than their mortal counterparts, and most already knew of the impending horde and what would result after their passing. Wise vampires fled the region before Batu Khan arrived, or else laid very low until the devastation had passed, secure in deep crypts and sealed vaults. Konstantin, however, chose to observe these powerful warriors, and selected four for the Embrace, his own childe, Raina, bestowing upon him the blessing ritual with which to do so. Strengthening his bloodline with the addition of several powerful and ambitious Mongols proved to be Konstantin’s biggest mistake, however. When the Asian vampires learned that they could not pass on the Embrace and thereby increase their numbers and personal power, they were furious. Not only had they been abducted from their own people and sentenced to a cursed existence, but they were then thwarted from easily amassing personal power in a foreign land. When Raina refused to give them the secrets of the blessing ritual, the four returned to Batu’s army and told him of demons lairing outside the city and the fabulous treasures they guarded. With the use of Dominate on several of the soldiers, it was an easy matter for the disgruntled Mongols to send a large force against the Acolyte women of the Yagnatia and massacre them to the last. The bloodline could have ended there, only decades after its founding, but Raina had been wise enough not to be present at the witches’ haven when the Mongols returned. After sending all four of his childer to Final Death for their crime, Konstantin then set about calling all the surviving Boyars, a mere 10 members, to a secret emergency meeting in Kiev, where the system of the tribunal was established to safeguard against Embracing inadequate neonates into the bloodline. He also set down the edict that the bloodline was always to travel in threes, two men and one woman, whenever they went to establish a new domain in a foreign city. This was to help ensure adequate protection of each other and the Holy Mother who would be directly responsible for Embracing new members. These three would form the first tribunal of a given city once they arrived and became established. This conclave also saw a meeting between powerful leaders of the Invictus and the Circle of the Crone, brokered by Konstantin. The exact details of that meeting were kept highly secret, and whatever concessions Konstantin offered or gained are known only to those in attendance. However, the amount of cooperation between Acolytes and the First Estate in regards to the Yagnatia cannot be overlooked as mere coincidence. When Kiev was overrun by the Golden Horde two years later, every member of the Yagnatia had already fled further south and west, escaping the devastation. The Mongol Horde was forced to return to its homeland due to internal strife in 1240, making it a relatively easy matter for the Yagnatia to reclaim a portion of the power vacuum that resulted from the Horde’s sudden departure. Offering up resources both monetary and otherwise, several Boyars assumed prominent roles among the Kindred Princes of Moscow, Kiev, Novgorod and other cities as the rebuilding took place. Of course, this did nothing to endear the Boyars to their rivals in the Lancea Sanctum, but by this time the Yagnatia had enough backing from both the Circle of the Crone and the Invictus that open hostility was not a feasible option for the Sanctified. The Yagnatia continued to build their power and spread slowly from their original holdings in Russia into the rest of Europe over the next several centuries. Though the Italian Renaissance didn’t extend as far into Eastern Europe as it did into the west and north of the continent, the Yagnatia saw their own golden opportunity to expand their holdings as well as their learning during the 15th century. Several members of the bloodline traveled extensively, under the guise of artists, merchants, scholars and even pilgrims, establishing treaties and trade agreements in foreign ports and learning much of the world beyond their traditional Russian borders. Their regal bearing and imperious personalities allowed them to make headway against the Sanctified where other Nosferatu had failed. This period saw the slow spread of the Yagnatia, backed by both the Circle of the Crone and the Invictus, into southern Europe and the Mediterranean. Where the Acolytes held power, the Yagnatia established a foothold through their common practice of goddess worship and their aggressive recruiting tactics; where the Invictus held sway, the Boyars established enclaves of merchant-princes and caravanserais along the bustling overland and seafaring trade routes to and from the Holy Land. These actions secured more territory and members for the bloodline, and its steady rise in numbers continued for the next several hundred years.
 
 
Society and Culture: In the current nights, the Boyars have taken up the role given them by the Circle of the Crone with a fervor: that of fighting to reclaim the covenant’s lost glory, and they do so through political and economic means. No longer content to simply accept the discrimination and persecution heaped upon them by the Lancea Sanctum, the Yagnatia have taken the fight to their enemies. To this end, the bloodline has seized the reins and is making a name for itself as an undead leader in local and global economies. They have a special hatred reserved for the members of Grechkovik’s line of Ventrue, though that tends to manifest itself mostly in their ancestral holdings in Russia. Some particularly rabid members of the bloodline let this hatred spill over onto any Ventrue who proves an obstacle to their goals, but these zealots are few and far between. The Yagnatia’s political savvy allows them to compete toe-to-toe with the likes of the Ventrue and Daeva, normally the unofficial masters of that arena. Even when Boyars aren’t members of the Invictus, wherever that covenant holds sway they manage to pull many more strings than would normally seem possible, at least it seems so in the eyes of their rivals. While the Boyars certainly don’t get along with the Lancea Sanctum, they can respect their convictions. Opponents who demonstrate good oratory skills, political acumen and dedication to their beliefs win admiration among the Yagnatia as worthy adversaries. The Boyars delight in rhetorical debates on policy, religion and other topics that help to pass the long nights of their Requiems. The Yagnatia maintain their own internal hierarchy within the bloodline. While not a separate Merit, status within the bloodline can vary from that of Clan or Covenant Status. Women are automatically accorded a higher status than men, and Holy Mothers (those who have learned the blessing ritual) are held in the highest regard by all Boyars. Conversely, those Nosferatu who petition a tribunal for entry into the bloodline, called neizvestni or Unknown, rather than being Embraced directly, are accorded a slightly lower status. These variations are subtle and virtually undetectable to a vampire not of the bloodline, but they play an important role among the Boyars. It is possible to raise one’s status among the bloodline, even for the Unknown. Playing to one’s individual strengths during the course of accomplishing a goal for bloodline or covenant is a sure way to increase status among the Yagnatia. Unlike some bloodlines, the traditions established early on by Konstantin and Raina have held fast and only strengthened in the intervening centuries. This accounts for the higher level of cooperation among bloodline members, regardless of covenant affiliation. It is also the source of much rumor and speculation by those outside the bloodline, which helps to preserve the Yagnatia’s secrets well. Not that there aren’t occasional squabbles between neonates or friction between the dictates of elders and their childer, but by and large, the members of this Nosferatu bloodline maintain a cooperative veneer that some vampires find enviable and others frightening.
 
New Cruac Rituals: Through their long association (some would say origin) with the Circle of the Crone, the Yagnatia have developed several unique rituals. The first is that which allows the Boyars to Embrace neonates into the bloodline and is the most closely guarded secret of the Yagnatia. The remainder are available to other Acolytes and are often traded for information or other favors between cult members.
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Даэва.

Гангрел.

Мекхет.

Вентру.

Носферату.

Баддацелли

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Condemned to eternal darkness, the sightless line of horrors known as the Baddacelli burrows through the network of catacombs that grow inevitably in the underground of all human cities. Whether lurking in collapsed sewer branches, abandoned subway stations, condemned basements or midnight labyrinths of their own construction, they hide -- and hunt -- in the dark places away from the sight of men and Kindred alike. In these places, the Baddacelli dwell, shrouded in the darkness that is both their shield and their curse. Denied sight, they develop their remaining senses to preternatural levels and cultivate uncanny, horrifyingly effective abilities to aid in survival. Everyone knows that sound can play tricks on you underground, but few suspect what a weapon sound becomes when touched by the unholy power of the Blood. When the Baddacelli infest the underground of a city, bereft mothers disappear into subway tunnels following the plaintive voices of lost children. Sewer workers separated from their crews hear their coworkers call from an unexpected direction and follow those voices -- never to be seen again. Children hear the whimpering of lost pets coming from storm drains, and never realize until too late that a blind and hungry monster lurks in the darkness behind the wretched sounds. Enticing sounds that beg investigation, haunting echoes that confuse all sense of direction, chilling screeches that demand the listener flee ever deeper into the subterranean catacombs -- all these and more drive unsuspecting victims to the waiting clutches of the Baddacelli. The Kindred of this line are monsters and deceivers by nature. They have to be, in order to survive. Therefore, they approach the world through the lens of that to which they are accustomed -- cloaking themselves in secrecy and warding off trouble with misdirection. This is not to say that they just hide in their tunnels and ignore the world above; in fact, they are curious about the surface world, and drawn to it as only beings accursed to be forever separated from it can be. It is simply that they choose to touch the world the same way they hunt their prey: By bringing it to them unawares, and in manageable amounts. In the early centuries after the fall of the Camarilla, infighting among the Kindred of the Roman Empire was at its peak. In one of these cities (Baddacelli legends differ as to which, though almost all agree it was within the bounds of modern-day Italy), one Nosferatu grew to prominence and took advantage of the chaos to Embrace in great numbers. He had been an exceedingly large Kindred, a fact that had earned him the appellation by which he was known to the vampires of his city: Botticello, or "The Barrel." As his progeny grew to become a de facto faction of their own within city politics, they were in turn collectively referred to as the Botticelli, a diminutive form of their sire's own name meaning "The Little Barrels." The mutation of this name has accrued to the bloodline descendants of these Kindred, and predates the assumed provenance by several centuries. Naturally, Botticello's ascendancy made him many enemies -- he was particularly known for humiliating rivals with uncanny impersonations of their personal foibles. Himself an unabashed pagan who still clung to the old Roman gods, he was particularly fervent in undermining and attacking the vampires of the Lancea Sanctum. It was perhaps only a matter of time before the conflict being played out in the city's Elysium spilled over into outright violence. Over the next several years, the struggle took on the savage character of religious warfare fueled by strong personal hatreds on both sides. In the end, Botticello was defeated, and the majority of his brood slain or scattered. He was captured by his rivals, who set about torturing him until Final Death. His remaining childer managed to rescue him, but not before his body was broken and both eyes burned from his skull. Botticello and his loyal childer fled deep into the sewers and catacombs beneath the city. Initially, it is said, they planned to allow the elder to recover from his injuries and flee the domain. In time, however, it became clear that the injuries to his eyes were not healing. It was unthinkable for a blind vampire to attempt to traverse the wilderness between cities in those nights, and so Botticello stayed hidden away in the underbelly of the city he had once sought to rule. A few of his most loyal progeny chose to remain with him. However, as the years passed, the Baddacelli began, one by one, to lose their own sight, and rumors spread within the brood that the sorcerers of the Lancea Sanctum had placed a curse upon their line. Some of the brood fled to distant cities in the hopes that by separation they could avoid a similar fate. It was not to be. In the years that followed, most of the surviving vampires of the line lost the world of light and color forever. In lands distant from their city of origin, they, too, fled into the underground of their new homes. There in the endless darkness they hid, slowly learning mastery of the special talents and rarefied senses that could bring them the prey they needed. Sometimes, a recently Embraced vampire would attempt to flee the curse of the Blood by desperately seeking out a new city to call home. But the Baddacelli curse would inevitably have its due, and a new brood of blind horrors would begin beneath a new city. Tonight, members of the Baddacelli bloodline can be found scattered throughout Europe, the Americas and the Middle East. Several major cities play unwitting host to a brood of these blind nightmares. Even where other Kindred are aware of the Baddacelli's presence, these secretive Kindred keep their true numbers and the details of their existence to themselves. The Baddacelli survive, and they hunt in their lightless demesnes, and few indeed are the Kindred who would be willing to follow the Baddacelli into their catacombs to learn more of them than that.
 
 
Developer’s Comments: Originally, the Baddacelli was one of the bloodlines that we didn’t think were going to make it into thefi nal book. They were crippled and weird, and the initial description seemed fairly restrictive. However, they scored high on the popularity poll we ran online, and we received a surprising number of entries for them (only the Xiao, Rцtgrafen, and Sangiovanni had more), some of which were outstanding. Of those that grabbed our attention, Mr. Gibson’s was strongest, balancing the monstrous necessities of survival with a piteous reality: his Baddacelli were doubly accursed creatures in the world of Kindred, a group that could inspire both fear and sympathy. Edits brought this dichotomy into sharp focus, detailing the frightening capabilities of the bloodline and fl eshing out the society they built for themselves — without sight, but with access to any sound in the world. I think they make for a fantastic expression of one aspect of the Nosferatu clan: the outward appearance of freakish monstrosity despite all attempts to exist gracefully.
 
 
Parent Clan: Nosferatu
 
 
Nickname: Morlocks
 
 
Covenant: Generally, an entire brood of Baddacelli within a city will claim membership in a single covenant. The nightly struggle for existence means that the broods rarely have the luxury of being able to bicker over politics. As a result, pressure to conform can be intense within a Baddacelli family. Baddacelli crave stability, as unexpected shifts in footing tend to throw them off. Thus, they are very sympathetic to the philosophy of the Invictus, though the Baddacelli rarely rise to prominence within that organization. Baddacelli are most likely to be found doing the bidding of Invictus Princes and Sheriffs, acting as spies and enforcers among street-level (or lower-than-street level) Kindred. This is not to say that the Baddacelli are necessarily unsophisticated in the machinations of the covenant, or that they are particularly subservient by nature. Indeed, more than one Baddacelli has amassed significant behind-the-scenes power in Invictus domains. It is simply that they prefer to stay out of the spotlight as much as possible while seeking to maintain the stability that Invictus rule tends to bring to a given city. On very rare occasions, a Baddacelli will take a bolder position by operating openly in the Elysium Courts and salons of the First Estate. In these circumstances, a clever member of the line can make quite a name for himself as a Player. The powers of the bloodline grant the Baddacelli particular skill in skewering opponents with scathing impersonations, dissecting them down to the last vocal nuance. Others use their developed hearing to serve as unparalleled Librettists and Interpreters, applying their discerning judgment to the many sounds of the Court. The Circle of the Crone is also a strong draw for the vampires of the Baddacelli line. Subterranean imagery and tales of descent and imprisonment in the underworld abound in the stew of pagan religions that makes up the Acolytes' faith. And it can hardly be argued that the Baddacelli do not suffer trials, or that they fail to find knowledge and strength in the midst of those tribulations. As a result, members of the Circle make up probably the second highest proportion of the bloodline after those in the Invictus. Among the Crones, Baddacelli are respected for their adaptability in the face of great hardship. But even more, their companions in the Circle prize the Baddacelli's vocal talents. A vampire of this bloodline who chooses to turn his talents to song can be a haunting performer, and a chorus of Baddacelli raising a hymn to the varied manifestations of the Crone is an experience that no witness can ever forget. Those Baddacelli who fight the Curse, on the other hand, find succor in the Ordo Dracul, where they are prized for their ability to find and occupy Wyrm's Nests that form below ground. At the same time, they pursue transcendence with a fervor unmatched by vampires who do not bear the bloodline's burdens. The promise of overcoming the disadvantages of their state is motive enough for some Baddacelli to join the Ordo Dracul. Those few Baddacelli who embrace their cursed state may join the Lancea Sanctum. Those Baddacelli who do are exceedingly zealous, more so than many of their compatriots. Morlock Spears see themselves as ideally designed to serve as God's Damned Hunters within the subterranean realms they claim. Perhaps ironically, Baddacelli Priests often become popular confessors despite the unease they engender in others. Since Sanctified Priests traditionally take confession face-to-face, giving confession to a blind vampire who prefers lightless environments provides many Kindred with an illusion of anonymity that helps to set them at ease. When Baddacelli join the Carthian Movement, it is often because they are intrigued by the Movement's claims of an egalitarianism that the Kindred of this bloodline have learned not to expect from other covenants. Still, the Baddacelli are latecomers to the Carthian fold. Only as they have seen the relative stability of certain mortal governments that conforms to Carthian principles have the Baddacelli developed any faith that the Movement can achieve a lasting degree of change. Even so, only the most experimental of the lineage have gravitated to the Carthian Movement, and at present, they remain the smallest proportion of the Baddacelli population.
 
 
Appearance: Baddacelli prefer functional, utilitarian coverings able to withstand the rigors of their subterranean existence. Their clothes are often worn and mismatched, owing at least in part to their owners' inability to see what they are putting on. Those Baddacelli who interact with the surface with any regularity prefer hoods or concealing headgear to hide the bloodline's signature deformities. The eyes of the Baddacelli are useless, and often deformed in some way that makes this obvious to onlookers. Whether the Baddacelli's visual organs are shriveled to mere vestiges, swollen and clouded or even absent altogether, anyone who can clearly see their faces can tell that these vampires are denied sight.
 
 
Havens: Baddacelli havens are frequently communal in nature, and almost always underground. It is simply too dangerous for the sightless Morlocks to dwell above ground, where an unseen crack in a wall or gap in the curtains could spell their doom with the rising sun.
Baddacelli take advantage of natural caverns and abandoned human constructions such as forgotten sewer chambers or decommissioned subway stations whenever possible, but will excavate their own tunnels when such convenient lairs are unavailable. Their havens are usually entirely lightless, or nearly so, and meticulously arranged with "landmarks" -- objects placed so that the Morlocks who dwell there can easily memorize them and know their location within the unseen chamber, but guaranteed to impede the progress of strangers accustomed to relying on their eyes. It is not unusual for Baddacelli broods to keep human herds caged in some portion of their communal haven. Since hunting can be a challenge, they are loath to waste a potential food source once it is caught.
 
 
Background: Almost all Baddacelli are themselves the childer of other Morlocks -- few indeed are the vampires, even among the Haunts, who would willingly choose their blind, subterranean existence. Given the rigors of their state, the Baddacelli seek potential childer who are emotionally resilient and already dwelling on the fringes of society. Fortunately for the bloodline, the sort of person who would enter and/or work in their domain in the first place frequently fit this description already. Often, the mortals they select for the Embrace are already blind, since many Baddacelli hope that their childer will not resent them for stealing their sight. In recent nights, some Baddacelli have been seeking potential childer proficient with modern communications and technology to bring into the fold. As voice recognition and other compensatory technologies improve, many Morlock broods see greater possibilities opening up to improve their access to the surface world (or at least its wealth of information) without placing themselves entirely at the mercy of sighted Kindred.
 
 
Character Creation: Baddacelli tend toward high Mental and Physical Attributes, with one of these usually being Primary and the other Secondary. Social Attributes are almost universally lowest in priority. Skills are usually distributed similarly, with perhaps a stronger emphasis on Physical rather than Mental abilities. Survival is highly valued, as are Stealth, Brawl, Crafts and Investigation. The Baddacelli often acquire Specialties that will help compensate for their blindness in areas of focus (such as "grapples" or "blind fighting" for Brawl or "working by touch" for Crafts). Social Skills tend to focus on Intimidation, Subterfuge and Expression, the better to facilitate survival and misdirection on the societal fringe the Baddacelli call home. Only a rare Baddacelli who acquires any significant amount of Resources. The often communal living arrangements of Baddacelli broods lend themselves well to the acquisition of Mentors within the bloodline, as well as shared Haven (Location) and Haven (Security) Merits. Baddacelli who have taken to imprisoning captured mortals to ensure a steady supply of Vitae may represent this with Herd. Finally, a substantial number of these Kindred will also maintain a one- or two-dot Retainer, who serves the role of seeing-eye dog and errand-runner in the surface world.
 
 
Bloodline Disciplines: Mimetismo, Nightmare, Obfuscate, Vigor
 
Weakness: All Baddacelli are blind. Thus, they automatically fail any action that requires vision to accomplish, and are at a significant disadvantage (-3 penalty at least) in most actions in which vision plays a significant role. Although advancement in Mimetismo can eventually compensate to a certain degree, the Baddacelli can never fully enjoy the advantages of sighted individuals. In combat, Baddacelli use the Fighting Blind rules.
 
 
BUT HE DOESN’T HAVE EYES!: Several vampiric Disciplines require eye contact in order to be effective. The Baddacelli are not prohibited from learning these powers, but what happens when a vampire who cannot see — who might not even possess eyes at all — attempts to actually use them? Probably the simplest solution is to assume that someone looking into the Baddacelli’s eyes (or, in some cases, where the eyes should be) may be affected by the power in question as normal. Storytellers may wish to impose a dice penalty on the activation roll, however, owing to the diffi culty in timing the use properly when you can’t actually see the eye contact. Other Storytellers may require the Baddacelli to develop particular Devotions in order to compensate (Auspex • + the Discipline in question would be appropriate).
 
 
Organization: The Baddacelli tend to gather in familial broods, usually dominated by the eldest member present in the city (who is often, but not always, the Morlock from whom the others descend). Contact between broods of different cities is rare, as few Baddacelli are willing to risk the rigors of travel after the Blood's manifestation robs them of their sight. Customarily, brood members are expected to contribute to the maintenance of the communal haven, and to assist each other in hunting -- especially the younger members for whom even acquiring enough Vitae to get by can be quite a challenge. Broods that have taken to keeping a captive herd often find it efficient to delegate responsibility for care and maintenance to a single Baddacelli. This individual usually holds quite a bit of sway within the brood, due to his ability to withhold access to the herd "to ensure the continuation of a healthy supply." Beyond these duties, individual Baddacelli are usually left to their own devices. The pecking order is otherwise pretty informal, with preference going to age (after all, few Baddacelli achieve a long unlife without some degree of wisdom) and ability to provide information on the surface world (provided security is maintained). A young Baddacelli with reliable surface contacts can make a comfortable place for himself within the brood. The lowest status in a brood usually belongs to childer in whom the Blood has not yet manifested the Baddacelli's specific curse. These young and sighted Kindred spend much of their time running errands for their elder, sightless broodmates.
 
 
Concepts: The thing under the tracks, pied piper, curious spelunker, mother of the lost, reclusive geologist, cryptozoologist, Braille teacher, underground musician, resentful engineer, has-been impressionist comic.
 
 
History: Botticello’s brood believed the theft of their sight was the product of some Theban Sorcery curse placed upon the line by the Lancea Sanctum. Botticello himself certainly espoused this belief. The truth is, however, that it is entirely the product of the line founder’s terrible injuries and fear of abandonment. In the years that followed the Baddacelli’s defeat at the hands of the Sanctified, the vanquished brood hid in the catacombs beneath the city. As time passed and Botticello realized that the injuries to his eyes were not going to heal, he came to fear that his childer would abandon him rather than remain hidden with their blind patriarch. In secret, he began to place his closest childer under Vinculums, bonding them to him with the unnatural affection of the Blood. About this time, he was also beginning to realize the uncanny proficiency with sound that he was developing as the Blood, unable to heal his wounds, responded to his will by adapting to compensate for his new limitations. Thus it was that the alterations taking place in his Vitae were transmitted to the childer of his brood even as they took root in his own undead body. In seeking to bond his childer to him, Botticelli unconsciously acted as Avus to his fledgling bloodline. Fear spread through the brood even faster than the affliction. As one after the other of Botticello’s closest childer lost their vision, those who remained unaffected looked on with horror. It wasn’t long before the exodus began; vampires who had not yet succumbed to the Vinculum stole away in hopes of escaping the terrible curse on their line. For many this was a vain hope, as even partial Vinculums to their potent elder were sufficient to transfer his influence over their blood. This established the pattern that would account for the bulk of the bloodline’s geographical expansion in the coming centuries. As a Baddacelli brood grows, sometimes a childe will flee — either to escape harsh treatment at the hands of elder broodmates or in hopes of evading the expression of the bloodline’s unique traits. In many such cases, the bloodline’s curse will defeat their hopes and manifest when their blood reaches the requisite potency. It goes almost without saying that not every vampire of this line who attempted to transplant himself in this fashion was been successful. Particularly in the early nights of the bloodline when travel was far more difficult than it is today, many young Kindred met Final Death in the wilds between far-flung cities. In some cases, Kindred were rendered all but helpless when the bloodline’s curse manifested on the road. In other cases, they reached their destination, only to fail to survive the transition to the sightless condition when it came upon them in their new homes. As a result, the Baddacelli’s spread has been sporadic, and the cities that host these nightmares seem to bear no discernible geographical pattern. Great gaps exist between the homes of the Baddacelli in modern nights. Invictus and Lancea Sanctum records indicate encounters with strange, pagan vampires in the Viking port of Horsens as early as AD 1000. As described, these blind Kindred dwelt in natural caves formed in the walls of the fjord, where a small cult brought them offerings of blood. These creatures claimed to be avatars of the Norse God of Night, Hödr. They maintained that Hödr, himself portrayed in myth as blind and able to summon visions of far-off lands, had bestowed blindness upon them to mark them out to his faithful, and granted them otherworldly senses that they might aid in protecting his mortal servants. As small and secretive as this cult was, the First and Second Estates declared it a violation of the First Tradition, and spent much blood in the effort to stamp it out. To this night, though the few remaining descendants of the Horsen brood now give nominal allegiance to the Invictus, it is not entirely clear that they have abandoned their pagan ways. At least one brood of these Kindred is known to have made a home in the vast subway, service tunnel and sewer systems that existed beneath New York City some time around the middle of the 20th century. The leader of the brood then was a Morlock by the name of Hendrik, who first arrived in the city as a Haunt when it was still called New Amsterdam. He lost his sight only a few years before the English conquered the city, and as an influx of new Kindred asserted control, it was easy enough for him to go overlooked. So it was that he was able to accommodate himself to the rigors of his new existence with relatively little interference. Hendrik had already established for himself a small brood before his presence was discovered. He reacted by immediately committing himself and his childer in service to the ruling Invictus, who elected to hold their noses and accept the advantages offered by fresh numbers in a segment of the city few other covenants would be in a position to contest. This move proved beneficial to the Baddacelli as well as their First Estate allies over the years, at the cost of making the bloodline more visible than they would normally prefer to be. Hendrik fell into torpor in the late 1980s, and the Baddacelli of his brood withdrew from the vampire Court en masse shortly thereafter. Rumor abounds that they remain politically active, but few Kindred can either confirm or refute this assumption directly; these Baddacelli are rarely seen.
 
 
Society and Culture: Baddacelli are rarely found alone. Lone Morlocks are often relatively young vampires who fled their former broods and have only recently undergone the transition into the bloodline. These lonely vampires quickly learn the necessity of sighted retainers to aid them in their difficult nights. Haunts of Baddacelli lineage are well advised to keep ghouls, if for no other reason than as insurance against the night when the curse finally descends. These blood slaves are often the first childer in a fledgling brood as well, simply because it would be potentially unwise to create another vampire who has such a significant advantage as sight without some means of ensuring his loyalty. As a result, it is relatively common for the brood leader in a domain to hold Vinculums over his eldest childe or two. It is unusual, however, for a Baddacelli brood to grow beyond half a dozen members. For while it is true that few Kindred are interested in descending into their midnight lairs to try and control their population, wise Baddacelli do not press their luck by overburdening their hunting grounds. Unlife within the Baddacelli brood is rarely easy. Although there are few formal demands upon an individual Baddacelli’s time, the informal burdens of favor and loyalty can be quite demanding. The desire for acceptance and approval within their small families can be a strong motivator, and many Baddacelli fill their nights with works designed to please their broodmates and sires. Even while forcibly separated from surface life, many Baddacelli share an intense curiosity about the surface world. They have learned from painful experience that changes in mortal and Kindred society can affect the bloodline in unexpected and unpleasant ways. Morlock broods value news of surface world developments, and members of the line who can reliably satisfy their curiosity are accorded significant respect. Baddacelli, particularly younger ones, can often be found lurking in the shadows near subway stations, in the basements of government buildings or under sewer grates outside locations of cultural import to mortals and Kindred alike — anywhere that the Baddacelli’s sensitive ears can bring them important snippets to bring home to their brothers and sisters. These fishing expeditions are not limited solely to information gathering, however. Baddacelli are forever collecting new sounds to add to their repertoire, and not merely to aid in hunting. Inevitably, members of a line who can mimic practically any voice they hear pick up a good deal of facility at singing. Elder members of the line can even reproduce the tones of any of a vast array of musical instruments, and the endless variety of musical styles and variations among the kine are a source of immense fascination. As an outgrowth of their fascination with sound and music, a common Baddacelli pastime is a kind sonic one-upmanship. When blood supplies are good, entire nights can be devoted to vocal competitions, and even in lean times most broods will find a few minutes to devote to them. Rarely formal events, they will often start with a single Baddacelli uttering some unique, complex or newly acquired sound so that it echoes through the pitch-black lair of the brood. As the echoes die away, he will be answered by another of the brood, who will be answered by yet another in turn. The vocal stylings typically progress in complexity as each participant tries to outdo the one who came before. Hauntingly beautiful melodies of original composition may give way to stylized reproductions of popular music, only to be followed in turn by an eerie reproduction of the sounds of a traffic accident or subway station at rush hour. These sounds and a near infinite variety of others float through the lightless catacombs inhabited by the Baddacelli. As impressive as this spectacle may be, it is altogether different in character from what the Baddacelli can produce when they choose to sing in concert with each other. These occurrences are more rare than the competitive events, and usually more formally arranged. These are almost always staged for the brood alone, but the rare few occasions they have been displayed to any surface dwelling Kindred have endeared the bloodline to the Circle of the Crone. In either case, whether competitive posturing or cooperative singing, the experience is especially moving and disturbing to those mortals held as a captive herd to these Kindred. Trapped in an a world of absolute darkness, subjected to the hungers of monstrous beings, the mortals cannot help but respond to the haunting sounds that assault them from the far corners of their lightless prisons. Many are moved to tears by the spectacle — though whether tears of longing or of despair even they may not know for sure.
 
 
Mimetismo: Humans rely primarily on vision to observe their world. But in the universe inhabited by the Baddacelli, that sense is all but useless. So humans and Kindred in this environment fall back to the distant second of their preferred senses: hearing. When the Baddacelli are on the hunt, this is the worst mistake a victim can make. Baddacelli, surviving as they have for centuries in a world without vision, have turned sound into their shield and their weapon. They are mimics of supernatural skill, able to produce auditory tricks that put modern sound studios to shame.

 

Гибридные.

у меня нет глючит или спойлеры пустые все ? 

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у меня нет глючит или спойлеры пустые все ?

Кнайт 2 XD

 

Кэп мод on. Я только начал делать и лег спать.

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AgeEternity, большое спасибо за твой труд. Очень интересно читать про Новый Мир тьмы.

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AgeEternity, большое спасибо за твой труд. Очень интересно читать про Новый Мир тьмы.

Спасибо. Правда я ожидал такие комменты - "Ну че ты, блин, как рукожоп, половину даешь переведенную, половину нет! Нахрен ты вообще это делаешь если не переводишь?!111"

На счет Нового мира тьмы, как оказалось, его хаят старички Старого мира тьмы, которые даже Реквием до конца не дочитали. Что вообще мозг вынесло. То есть из ветеранов его читали практически единицы и он им в основном нравился. Также Новый мир подходит тем, кому надоел около апокалиптический сеттинг, где нужно выживать пока мир не крякнется и просто хотят жить жизнью сверхов.

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Линии крови входящие в линейку Bloodlines the Hidden.

 

Даэва.
Анвари
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The Anvari claim to be one of the oldest bloodlines walking tonight. According to their legends, their founder was Sepehr Anvari, an opium-dealer in the last years of the Persian Empire. Like their Daeva parents, the Anvari are very sensual in nature, but unlike the Succubi, they do not compensate for their lost passions by manipulating others. Rather, the Anvari have turned to the use of opium and other narcotics to try to recapture their dead emotions. Over the centuries, the Anvari have come to view narcotics not only as a way to ease the torments of unlife, but as a way to ascend to a higher state. The bloodline also relies on the addictive effects of narcotics to tie others to its members. Building herds of pliant kine is not only acceptable to the Anvari, but necessary. The line is so intertwined with drugs that a "Pusher" has difficulty feeding from a vessel who isn't coursing with opiates. Such drugs tend to quickly addict their users and ironically lead them to rely on the very beings that feed on them. It's a double-edged sword, though. The Anvari themselves are incapable of enjoying the euphoria of narcotics except through the blood of drugged vessels, leaving them tied in turn to their herds. Other Kindred tend to view the Anvari with distaste at best, and as a constant threat to exposure among mortals at worst. The rest of the Daeva view Pushers as substandard members of the clan who are incapable of seducing prey through beauty and talent alone. That Anvari are not above feeding on addicts in slums and alleyways only reinforces Succubus opinion. Other vampires tend to consider Anvari use of addictive drugs to coerce kine as little more than a poor Kindred's Vinculum, and indicative of lazy or inept hunting. Some Kindred fear that the Anvari risk exposing undead society as a whole. After all, heroin addicts are always heroin addicts. Who knows what one might say to get a hit, or what a vice cop might uncover during a raid? So, to participate in the Danse Macabre as equals, most Anvari keep their heritage hidden from their undead peers.
 
Parent Clan: Daeva
 
Nickname: Pushers
 
Covenant: More Anvari are drawn to the Circle of the Crone than any other covenant. The myths of Sumeria and Persia both have a strong female presence, leading many of the bloodline -- particularly its elders -- to be comfortable with the Acolytes' general philosophy. Furthermore, as some rituals of the old ways employ psychotropic substances, the Anvari are able to barter influence readily among the cultists. The Carthians are probably the most common choice for young Anvari, if for no other reason than members are slightly less hidebound in their viewpoints than more staid covenants. The Invictus enjoys its share of Pushers as well, whether they are established elders with a secure power base or up-and-coming dealers building fortunes in the drug trade. The Ordo Dracul may interest the occasional Anvari who seeks to escape the Curse or addiction through covenant strictures, but by and large its rites and practices require more self-discipline than most Pushers are willing to devote. It is the rare Anvari indeed who heeds the call of the Lancea Sanctum, as the very nature of the bloodline's relationship with narcotics is offensive to many orthodox followers of that group.
 
Appearance: While the lineage is originally of Middle Eastern descent, one can now find examples of nearly every ethnicity and race among its members, thanks largely to the global reach of narcotics. The Anvari aren't as bound by physical appearance as are members of their parent clan. Nonetheless, few (if any) of the bloodline could be described as unattractive. The Anvari are also as in touch with the most recent trends and fashions as the Daeva, but are more likely to dress according to their surroundings, whether it's an upscale social gathering or an inner-city crack house.
 
Havens: Anvari refuges are generally comfortable in their furnishings and insulated from the rest of the world in some manner, whether by location, construction or design. Most are also well-appointed, thanks in no small part to the fact that the majority of Pushers see sizeable profits from the drug trade. Many Anvari havens are well protected by security measures, ranging from hired guards to closed-circuit cameras to advanced intrusion-detection devices. As a result of drug seizure laws in the U.S., most Anvari there are careful to keep their havens far removed from any serious drug trafficking.
 
Background: The Anvari Embrace from all levels of society, but tend to favor those of upper-middle-class or higher financial status. Part of this predilection is due to the lingering influences of the Daeva, but it's largely because the Anvari actually seldom have direct contact with poor segments of society. (Their agents and "employees" do the selling.) Among the Anvari who actually deal, many build sizeable herds among the lower social strata, where drug use provides an escape from the drudgery of existence. These street dealers are usually looked down upon by their "high-class" brethren. Contrary to what one may assume given the bloodline's close association with drugs, the Anvari rarely (if ever) Embrace an addict or even a frequent user. Experience has shown that addicts are ill suited to the bloodline's weaknesses, quickly succumbing completely to the lure of opiates. Few Anvari suffer the Vice of Gluttony. A Kindred addict is a tremendous liability, risking not only business ventures, but also exposure to mortals. Pushers therefore tend to seek individuals with exposure to narcotics who've proven resistant to the lure.
 
Character Creation: Pushers call upon all aspects of their identity to perpetuate their existence and trade. Social Attributes and Skills are most useful for influencing the spread of opiate use, and can be used for such base activities as dealing drugs directly. Mental traits are only slightly less important in observing modern mortal society and perceiving ways to ensnare more and more users, and to then prey upon them. Wits is particularly useful for reacting to situations quickly, whether it's recognizing that a city councilman could be lured into obedience through addiction, or to anticipate police presence before it makes itself known. Physical Attributes and Skills are pursued last but still important for self-defense and holding one's own amongst competitors or drug-crazed vessels. The Haven Merit is invaluable, specifically in terms of Security but also for Location in terms of access to drug users without immersion in them. Contacts, Allies and Retainer Merits are equally useful to Anvari as they are to mortal purveyors of illicit substances, be it to have favors done, to anticipate challengers or to win protection. Whether a Daeva revels in her Anvari blood soon after the Embrace or well into her Requiem means little to the lineage. What she brings to the collective table is most important to fellow Pushers.
 
Bloodline Disciplines: Celerity, Majesty, Nepenthe, Vigor
 
Weakness: Not surprising given their choice to pursue a replacement for their long-lost passion, the Anvari have the same difficulty as their parent clan in restraining their hedonistic urges. Any time a Pusher has an opportunity to indulge her Vice but does not, she loses two points of Willpower (as opposed to gaining one by partaking in its pleasures). The Anvari fascination with the effects of narcotics has also resulted in an odd effect on line physiology. When feeding from any mortal not currently under the effects of an opium-based drug (heroin, morphine, codeine, opium) or a designer drug based on opium (China white, oxycodone,), a vampire gains only half the normal Vitae. In other words, for every two points of lethal damage she inflicts or for every two turns that she feeds, she gains only a single Vitae. If she feeds from a mortal under the effects of such a drug, she gains Vitae at a normal rate. Of course, if she does so, she also suffers the effects of the drug that currently afflicts her victim.
 
Organization: The closest the Anvari come to any formal organization is when two or more work together in a drug distribution scheme. Such deals are handled largely as in any criminal enterprise, although an elder member of the bloodline is granted respect regardless of his position in the arrangement. Otherwise, relationships among Anvari are largely limited to vampires with blood ties to each other. The very nature of their activity makes line members a paranoid lot on many levels, and most fear that any concentration of their number just begs to be exposed (if not as Kindred, then as drug dealers). Still, among elders -- and a few young, traditional members -- a simple ceremony of greeting is practiced when one member enters another's domain. The host presents the guest with a single poppy, which the two then ritually cut into 12 separate pieces. The strongest Anvari presence is currently in the United States. While the U.S. has only four percent of the world's population, it consumes over 60 percent of its illegal drugs. Western Europe, particularly the Netherlands and Italy, are also home to several Anvari. There are more than a few members in the Golden Triangle region of Southeast Asia. Few remain in Middle East countries, as the current climate there isn't as favorable to their pursuits as in ages past. There are also reports of isolated members in Mexico, Colombia, Pakistan, and Afghanistan.
 
 
Concepts: Drug dealer, pharmacist, pimp, cartel kingpin, corrupt vice cop, substance-abuse councilor, musician, porn producer, burned-out veteran, research chemist.
 
History: According to Anvari histories, the bloodline was founded sometime in the 4th or 5th century A.D. by an opium merchant named Sepehr Anvari in Ctesiphon, now a suburb of Baghdad. Anvari’s sire was an unnamed Daeva whose attraction to the man was apparently due in no small part to the fact that the vampire had become addicted to opium through feeding on drug-tainted vessels. Anvari’s Embrace may well have been an effort to establish control over the relationship between the two. Regardless, legend has it that the Daeva collapsed under her addiction and came to Final Death by falling into a drug-induced daze on a Babylonian rooftop before sunrise. Anvari himself also indulged heavily in opium. He found it provided some relief from the loneliness of unlife. His customers also provided him with a readily available herd from which to feed. Anvari soon discovered he had no need to hunt or even use charm to seduce victims. More vessels than he could desire came to his lair every night to partake of his drug. By feeding from them while they languished, he introduced the drug into his system virtually every night. It’s unclear even to elders of the bloodline if Anvari Embraced any childer prior to founding the lineage. It is believed by most that he became gluttonous in the years between his Embrace and the foundation, slipping into torpor numerous times. Even the duration of this period is a subject of debate, as no elder active in the western world claims to have been Embraced prior to the 16th century, although many assert they’ve met Anvari from the East who are far older. The truth of the bloodline’s origins will likely remain a mystery as Anvari himself has not been heard from in nearly 500 years. What’s known is that his constant exposure to opium changed his Vitae in some fashion. He fed so frequently from vessels under the effects of narcotics that his addiction achieved supernatural magnitude. He ceased to be able to effectively draw nourishment
from blood that lacked opiates. He could still feed, but it required much larger quantities of blood to sustain him. In addition to an actual physical preference for opiate- laden blood, he was able to use his affinity for the substance to grant him a unique ability to induce narcotic effects in others — both mortal and Kindred. At that point, Anvari diverged from the Daeva. By the 14th century, opium use reached Europe and suitable vessels were plentiful. Anvari had Embraced more than a few childer, who had followed the opium trade west, hoping to find a climate more hospitable to them than that of their now primarily Muslim-controlled homeland. Their parent clan soon came to regard the line with disdain and not a little fear. More than one vampire fell victim to the same trap that had caught Sepehr Anvari’s sire. The Anvari might not control the flow of opium, but they did hold sway over more than a few influential mortals who did — and they were willing to exploit any Kindred who fell under the drug’s power. Naturally, elders didn’t cherish the thought of some Anvari upstart achieving leverage over them.
 
 
The Inquisition: The coming of the Inquisition nearly dealt Final Death to the bloodline in Europe. Not only did Kindred themselves have to fear the Church’s Inquisitors, but opium itself became taboo. To the eyes of Inquisitors, anything from the East was tainted by the Devil’s hand. Thus, once-plentiful herds of opium users dwindled to a scattering of wary addicts. It didn’t take long for more paranoid members of the Ventrue and Daeva clans to decide that the Anvari needed to be brought firmly under control. It was for the good of all. Indeed, the bloodline’s weakness provided a powerful tool to do just that. There was no need to risk exposing the Kindred as a whole. Culling the Anvari’s herd of vessels would serve just as well. A few years — and quiet accusations to Inquisitors by Ventrue and Daeva servants — later and the Anvari found themselves largely bereft of suitable victims in Europe. The clans then moved secretly against any of the bloodline that still persisted. In the end, the line effectively ceased to exist on the Continent. Only a handful in the Middle East and a rare, isolated member or two in the Far East remained.
 
 
Rebuilding: During the height of the Enlightenment, opium was reintroduced into Europe through a number of means. The medical community began widespread use of it as a painkiller. Laudanum, a mixture of opium and alcohol, became a popular remedy for a variety of complaints. Finally, the New World introduced Europeans and later easterners to the pipe, a Native American invention that made smoking opium — a practice discovered by Portuguese sailors — far easier. At the same time, recreational use of opium became popular in Persia and India. The Dutch exported the drug — along with the pipe in which to smoke it — to China. British shipping spread the drug from India across southeast Asia. While conspiracy minded Kindred sometimes lay this explosion at the feet of the Anvari as a power grab, the truth is the bloodline had nothing to do with it. Certainly, they benefited from it, but at the time it’s unlikely they numbered more than a dozen or so due to the lingering effects of the Inquisition and the rapid spread of Islam. The truth is that mortals longed for euphoria as strongly as any Kindred, and opium could supply it on demand. Regardless of the reason, the Anvari profited substantially from the expansion of the opium trade. Yet survivors of the Inquisition remembered all too well the dangers of their fellow Kindred. While they remained tied closely to the drug trade, they were careful to keep their involvement at arm’s length to defend against any return to harsh times. When they interacted with other vampires they presented themselves as Daeva. Only rarely did they coerce other Kindred through addiction. As the bloodline extended tendrils this time, members were careful to remain behind the scenes. Over the centuries, opium use waxed and waned, but always remained a part of mortal culture. Indeed, kine proved innovative in finding new ways to use the poppy flower. Laudanum gave way to morphine and morphine to heroin — each more addictive than the last. Society was woefully slow to recognize the dangers of narcotic addiction. Heroin was marketed by Bayer as a cough medicine as late as the end of the 19th century, and opium dens were so prevalent at the same time that San Francisco alone had over 300. By the time mortal governments realized the dangers posed by narcotics, the demand was too widespread to stop. Laws and active enforcement served only to drive up prices and increase the power of the criminal element. In the end, the attempt to stem the tide of opium created a thriving black market that in turn financed powerful drug cartels. This period also marked the greatest growth in the bloodline’s numbers, with the Anvari swelling to over a hundred throughout the world.
 
 
OBSESSION: Although the word “narcotic” is often used tonight to mean any illegal drug, it actually refers specifically to opiates and opioids. When used in reference to the Anvari, it always means opiates and opioids. 
 
 
Tonight: In spite of increased legal powers and more sophisticated
technology to combat illegal drugs, the percentage of the population addicted to narcotics in the western world is nearly identical to what it was over a century ago. To the Anvari, who’ve resisted the temptation to swell the bloodline in response, suitable vessels are more plentiful than ever. While Pushers as individuals seldom seek to rise in the ranks of a drug cartel, fringe involvement in the narcotics trade has benefited them enormously. Nonetheless, they have not forgotten the lesson learned during the Inquisition. Though they must take care to not draw mortal attention, perhaps their most dangerous foes remain other Kindred who fear their pervasive influence.
 
 
Society and Culture:The fulcrum on which all Anvari actions rest is opium. They need it to feed satisfactorily, they use it to bind their herds to them, and most use it to provide for at least some of their financial strength. It’s possible for an Anvari to exist without narcotics, but why? For most members of the line, opiates are more than merely drugs. They represent a way to recapture a portion of what was lost through the Embrace. Throughout much of mortal history, opium has held an almost religious awe for mortal society. Every culture introduced to it has proven willing to use all of the drug available. The Anvari believe that this craving is due to more than simple chemical craving. Most view partaking of opium as an almost sacred ritual, made all the more poignant by the fact they can no longer enjoy its effects directly. Even the most jaded and cynical Pushers regard it as more than just a drug. Bloodline elders teach that Sepehr Anvari eventually achieved a state of sublime bliss through his communion with opium, becoming something more than Kindred or mortal. Some lineage members of both the Ordo Dracul and the Circle of the Crone believe their founder may have discovered a “backdoor” to Golconda. No proof is offered of either claim, but the Anvari maintain that they know at least the first step down the path to true enlightenment.
 
 
Doing Business: Narcotics tonight are plentiful. Heroin has overtaken cocaine in many areas as drug of choice. Oxycontin and other synthetic narcotics flood the market from legal sources, from family doctors to dentists to internet pharmacies. In many ways, it is now easier to get narcotics on the street than alcohol. Despite a variety of options, the drug of choice for both Anvari and their kine is heroin. The supply is plentiful, it’s often mixed with other street drugs, and it can (contrary to movies and TV) be taken through a variety of means, not just by needle. New heroin users tend to shy away from injections for a variety of reasons, such as fear of contracting AIDS or hepatitis, a desire to avoid telltale track marks, or the fact that they simply don’t like needles. The purity of the drug from many suppliers has risen to the point that users can simply snort it. As a result, it appeals to a more affluent clientele, especially since upwardly mobile professionals have discovered that after the initial euphoric sensation they can function in the workplace and home without the telltale signs of other drugs. The Anvari don’t have to work too hard to find addicts. Nearly one out of every 200 U.S. citizens is addicted to opiates in one form or another. Since few show signs identifying themselves as illegal drug users, the trick is finding them — and even that isn’t too hard. There are numerous mundane methods: criminal contacts, frequenting clubs or areas known for drug crime, prostitutes and even the internet. One of the first abilities Anvari develop is a sense for opiates, even in another’s blood, allowing them to locate suitable prey quickly. While finding existing addicts is far from an insurmountable challenge, many of the bloodline prefer to “grow” their own herds from non-addicts. These vampires claim that turning a non-user into a user gives them a greater hold over the victim. Someone who’s avoided hard drugs is likely to hide his new problem from family and friends. This secrecy creates a deep psychological bond in the vessel, particularly when the vampire occasionally and subtly reinforces any feelings of guilt in the subject’s mind. Mortal dealers employ a wide range of tactics for drawing in new blood. The Anvari know all of those tricks and then some. The highly addictive nature of narcotics makes their work easy. Peer pressure or free samples are often enough to get someone started, particularly a young teenager, down that slippery slope. Spiking other less dangerous drugs to build addictive chemistry is another method. A more aggressive approach is to get victims to take a single dose and then, while they’re reasoning is clouded, keep refreshing the dose over a period of nights until, by the time the dealer allows the effect to wear off, users are addicted. The innate Anvari ability to manipulate blood chemistry also gives line members a powerful tool for establishing a pool of vessels.
 
 
Dealing: It’s almost unheard of for an Anvari to rise very high in a drug cartel. Drug lords draw too much attention to themselves and their organizations. Colombian cartels are frequently the target of Colombian, British and U.S. military action. The entire opium industry in Afghanistan has been attacked by the former Soviet Union, the Pakistanis, the Taliban and most recently the U.S. Southeast Asian cartels contend with government troops, guerillas and bandits all at the same time. None of this attention stops the industry, but only a reckless Kindred would thrust himself into the middle of that intensity. At the other end of the scale, few Anvari stoop to directly dealing drugs on the street. It’s not from any ethical code, but rather a survival instinct. So many law-enforcement agencies line their pockets with drug and property seizures that dealing is a high-risk venture. Cops look for chances to grab a nice car, boat or house. Most U.S. states allow an agency to keep half the profits of any sale of seized material. With that sort of reinforcement, it’s no surprise that most departments keep a careful eye on traffic. Not that it works that well to stem the sale of drugs, but it is a lottery ticket few Kindred want to play. Those who do deal directly do so on a small scale, say at an exclusive party or members-only club. Not only does this limit their exposure to law enforcement, it helps keep their herds manageable. A small clientele base allows an Anvari to keep track of who’s a habitual user and who uses only on occasion. “Social” users are usually cut off soon after the vampire identifies them. They’re unreliable as vessels and also less reliant on the Anvari as a supplier. While the bloodline needs narcotic-laced blood to survive, those Anvari who deal often diversify their offerings. They may find that a new buyer hesitates to shoot up, but is willing to sample ecstasy. Or maybe just a dime bag of marijuana to start off. As time goes by, with a little sales talk and misplaced trust, the Pusher creates a heroine addict and vessel. Anvari dealers frequently keep costs to their herds below street value. Doing so makes it more likely that a vessel keeps coming to the vampire for her supply. The Anvari also hopes that by keeping the product cheap, the user buys — and uses — more. And a low cost makes it less likely that an addict has to resort to crime to fund her habit. This last reason doesn’t arise out of any concern for society’s laws or even the wellbeing of the addict, but from the fact that if the user gets busted, there’s a good chance she might turn her supplier in to cut a deal with the cops. Ultimately, even at a reduced cost, the profit on narcotics is considerable. Most line members deal through third parties. The Anvari may provide a location suitable for transactions, such as a club or hotel, but otherwise keeps his hands clean of any connection. That approach keeps suitable kine handy without the risky legal entanglements. The drawback is that the vampire doesn’t have as much direct control over addicts, but for many the safety factor outweighs the convenience. Others remain as removed as possible from the narcotics trade. They keep only a small supply on hand and distribute it to only a few close and trusted vessels. Although U.S. drug laws don’t differentiate on the amount of heroin or other narcotic in one’s possession, most law-enforcement agencies are so focused on numbers and statistics that a low-key operator can usually fly under the radar.
 
 
TALKING THE TALK: Very few people associated with drugs on a regular basis refer to them by their formal or chemical names. The street names for drugs change faster than virtually any other slang, often in an attempt to stay one verbal step ahead of the authorities. Using the wrong name for a drug is a dead-giveaway that one is either a poser or a narc.
Amphetamine: Amies, bennies, black beauties,
bumblebees, speed
Cocaine (powder): Blow, booger, candy, coke,
dust, flake, girl, snow
Crack or free-base cocaine: Apple jacks, bad,
ball, bazooka, bones, breakfast of champions,
bullion, caviar, pasta
Hashish and opium: Black hash, black
Russian, soles
Heroin: AIP (from Afghanistan, Iran and
Pakistan), antifreeze, brown sugar, China White,
garbage, junk, Persian, smack
Heroin (Mexican tar): Black pearl, chocolate,
Mexican mud, tootsie roll
Heroin and cocaine: Belushi, speedball
Heroin and free-base cocaine: Chasing and
basing
Heroin and PCP: Alien sex fiend
LSD: Acid, Alice, Bart Simpsons, battery acid,
blue heavens, Chinese dragons, windowpane
Marijuana: Acupulco Gold, African bush,
airplane, baby, Barbara Jean, blanket, blunt,
chronic, ganja, grass, herb, joint, pot, weed, 420
Marijuana and heroin: Atom bomb
Methamphetamine: Crank, crystal, meth, yaba
Meth and crack: Ice
Opium: Auntie, black, hop, laudanum, op,
Paragoric, poppy
PCP: Angel, animal tranquilizer, blue star,
Cadillac, cyclones, dust, fresh, hog, jet fuel, peace,
shermies, surfer, tranks, zombie dust
 
 
Feeding: One of the biggest dangers to Anvari Kindred is that they develop a personal addiction to narcotics. It’s inevitable given their need to frequently consume narcotic blood. While some show no trepidation for this fate and a few actively seek it, some take steps to avoid it. After all, they’re well aware of the power opium offers over their vessels. Few are willing to allow another to have that hold over them. When feeding from a vessel under the influence of a narcotic, an Anvari suffers the full effects of the drug, just as if she had taken it herself. A common practice among the Anvari is to feed from a clean vessel every two to three nights. Since a Pusher has to take more blood than normal means she usually has to have more than one clean vessel from which to feed, or she needs to allow one time to recover before returning to him. Some solve the problem by maintaining a few non-user members in a herd, while others simply take to the streets and hunt like most Kindred. Another way in which Anvari avoid addiction is to feed heavily one night and then fast for a night or two. The drawback is that a vampire may find her Vitae reserves short on one of the fasting nights should she have to fuel Disciplines or perform other supernatural feats. Regardless of how a vampire chooses to deal with addiction, an Anvari walks a fine line. The source of the bloodline’s unique power constantly threatens to cut members as deeply as it does their vessels. Many Anvari are consumed with loathing for brethren who succumb to deep addiction, perceiving them as weak or traitorous to their “higher calling.” It’s not unheard of for Anvari to occasionally embark on unsanctioned hunts to eliminate a badly addicted member of their kind.
 
 
WITHDRAWAL: Any character addicted to narcotics who avoids taking a drug for more than one or two nights suffers withdrawal. The character experiences nausea and vomiting (of blood), cramping, tremors and anxiety. All dice pools and Resistance traits such as Defense suffer a –2 penalty. Furthermore, a Willpower point must be spent each night that the vampire wishes to take any actions other than stay in her haven, fighting symptoms. Assuming the character continues to avoid taking the drug, withdrawal effects last for seven nights and then subside. Psychological addiction to drugs may last years, however. 
 
 
Nepenthe: The name of this Discipline refers to an opium-andalcohol mixture given to Helen of Troy by an Egyptian queen. The drink was said to lull all pain and anger, and bring forgetfulness of every sorrow. Although Anvari use of this Discipline may predate the time of Helen, the bloodline could have used this name for over a millennium. The Discipline arises from the bloodline’s familiarity and close association with opium and other narcotics. Through it, an Anvari can manipulate the very nature of a subject’s blood, inducing euphoria, desire and even debilitating pain — despite the connotations of the Discipline’s name. A common use of Nepenthe is to set mortals on the path to narcotics addiction, providing a Pusher with both a suitable vessel and a contact she can blackmail or coerce. Not surprisingly, Nepenthe is more effective against mortals than Kindred. Perhaps this is due to the subtle differences in Kindred and mortal blood, or because vampires have more control over their own bodies in many ways, or because one is still alive and the other is dead. Regardless of the reason, nearly all of the Discipline’s effects are contested, allowing a vampire’s Blood Potency to provide him with an often-decisive advantage. A mortal can resist the effects of certain Nepenthe powers for a turn with the expenditure of a Willpower point and a successful Stamina roll (the Willpower point does not add three dice to this roll). The roll is reflexive. If it fails, the Willpower point is spent and the mortal remains under the effects of the power. If it is successful, the victim can act normally for one turn with no modifiers to traits or dice pools. A vampire with a higher Blood Potency than the Anvari using Nepenthe can resist a specific power for the remainder of the scene with a Willpower point and a successful roll.
 
Нелапси.
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Spawned in Czechoslovakia, the Nelapsi are an odd breed. Their appetites are legendary, as are their tendencies toward obsessive and quirkish personalities. Indeed, given their extreme thirst, it's probably fortunate that few have spread beyond the Zemplin region, where they first emerged. Even other Kindred consider the Nelapsi something of a plague. This impression, and their moniker, relates to line members' monstrous hunger, which is sufficient to depopulate a small community in short order. Despite their proclivity for charming personality and political savvy -- no doubt due to their Daeva lineage -- "Gluttons" often find themselves accused of endangering the delicate blood supply for all undead. And matters aren't helped by rumors of the Nelapsi taking pleasure in "haunting" areas that they frequent, primarily by inspiring feelings of dread in the mortals whom they stalk. Records of the Gluttons stretch back to folktales of the Dark Ages, many of which may be the result of just a few of the brood who hunted and thrived in and around eastern Europe. According to the stories, the Nelapsi mixed their tremendous appetites with cunning and charm. Superstitious locals ascribed all manner of hauntings to the vampires, and it's sure that at least some of those assertions are true. Unlike certain other Kindred (such as the early Invictus) who sometimes took up a mantle of authority among humans, the Nelapsi often indulged in curiously anarchic behavior. Many a tale relates how one decided to prey on a particular village, but instead of exercising authority through the powers of undeath, he let strange sightings and ghostly sounds work the villagers into a pall of fear. By influencing the minds of the herd with nightmares and hallucinations, the Nelapsi sowed confusion, distrust and misdirection, thereby hiding his own part in the chaos. A Nelapsi who does the same in modern nights could seem like an unflagging, stoic individual in the midst of widespread terror, drawing mortals to himself through his stability and apparent dauntlessness. Tonight's Nelapsi have spread somewhat from their ancestral home. Still, they're uncommon in the Americas, and this situation is unlikely to change. Thus far their predation has not drawn the full wrath of other Kindred upon them, but the Gluttons do make convenient scapegoats when feeding problems or conflicts over herds arise. Nelapsi are not widespread as a result, and groups of them are particularly unusual. While in earlier nights, line members would have inhabited towns with a reasonably large populace, the better to slake their tremendous thirst, there's too much danger of running into another Kindred in tonight's major cities. Many Nelapsi take residence in outlying towns and villages where they can be sure to avoid running afoul of competition. Old World line members take some pleasure in cowing mortals into submission through use of indirect fear, triggered through their special Devotions. Modern Nelapsi usually avoid confrontation altogether if possible, but still keep a territorial watch over their own small fiefdoms. The presence of even one other vampire in an area can be a serious problem, since the Gluttons have enough trouble dealing with the difficulties of their own feeding. A few young members establish residence in suburban areas and occasionally drive into larger cities, but they don't receive a warm reception from resident Kindred and rarely make their way into the society of the undead. Modern Nelapsi often exhibit skittish behavior around other vampires, which isn't surprising given their inherent tendency to threaten the Masquerade. Choices of childer (when the Embrace is granted at all) reinforce this manner. While siring is a dangerous proposition for straining an already stretched blood supply, Nelapsi can sire for any of the reasons that motivate other Kindred: Jealousy, loneliness, anger, remorse. As a Daeva bloodline, they sometimes pick childer who resonate with a sire's own vices. Old Gluttons often exert a powerful influence over their neonates, repeatedly hammering home the necessity of caution in dealing with other Kindred. Those rare vampires who align themselves to the bloodline out of personal predilection soon discover that other Nelapsi are quick to watch and slow to trust newcomers. All of these conditions combine to make new Nelapsi uncommon. The lineage has little more than suspicion to offer outsiders who join, and no compelling reason for a young Daeva to seek the blood out. A few would-be Nelapsi childer resist their sires' influence and go their own way or even join a different bloodline, but such rebellious youth are scorned by their progenitors and former cousins.
 
Parent Clan: Daeva
 
Nickname: Gluttons
 
 
Covenant: Nelapsi relations with covenants tend to be extreme, based primarily on how a vampire society views Gluttons' insatiable hunger. Most Nelapsi gravitate toward the Invictus, whose feudal model appeals to the old European sensibilities of the line's origins (which are also passed from sire to childe). While Nelapsi don't seek out positions of authority in the First Estate (it draws too much attention), they usually have the social graces, appreciation of authority, and sense of decorum that helps them to integrate well into that stratified group. Elder Nelapsi who make their peace with other Kindred (uncommon though such a thing may be) also gravitate toward the Invictus. They find a certain comfort in Invictus attitudes toward hierarchical control, which mirrors the Nelapsi tendency to exist as secretive monsters presiding over whole villages through a combination of terror and awe. The Carthian Movement, by contrast, is a subject of bitter divide for the bloodline. Old Nelapsi consider the Carthians little more than peasant rabble, not worthy of their own Vitae. Age, cunning and strength, elders proclaim, should be the basis of rulership. Some young line members aren't so sure. Since gathering a herd poses special difficulties for Gluttons, modern converts assert that blending in with mortal institutions and adopting their policies is the best way to avoid drawing unwanted attention. More importantly, quite a few young Nelapsi chafe at the bonds imposed by their sires. Constant communication and over-the-shoulder interference by distant masters causes more than a few neonates to seek a more egalitarian society. The Ordo Dracul and the Nelapsi have ties stemming from mutual geography, but the transmutative practices of the covenant have a limited benefit to the bloodline. Nelapsi have a cordial relationship with the Order, but rarely work their way up its ranks or delve into its affairs. There's just not enough reward for the Gluttons, compared to the gains that other Kindred make. Young Nelapsi can try often give up in frustration when the Coils of the Dragon cannot slake their thirst. The Circle of the Crone doesn't overtly recruit Nelapsi, who for their part usually consider the covenant archaic and absorbed in ridiculous pagan idolatry. Nelapsi with memories of the pre-Christian days of eastern Europe are the most likely to deal with Acolytes, but even they consider the covenant needlessly brutal and steeped in self-mortification. The Circle's magic, for all that it works with blood, does little good for the Nelapsi, whose hunger costs them too much Vitae to waste any. Some members of the Circle believe that the lineage's feeding problem has metaphysical significance, but are split on its meaning. Some say the Nelapsi should consider it another challenge of vampirism to overcome and thus treat it as a valuable lesson. Others argue that the line's hunger simply wastes precious blood, and is evidence that the Nelapsi are little more than sieves who should be destroyed for the sake of preserving the herd. The Lancea Sanctum often views the Nelapsi as frivolous tricksters and troublemakers, but does not overtly turn them away. After all, God's righteous judgment afflicts all Kindred, and all should bow to His grace. Nelapsi who lived during the religious Middle Ages and early Renaissance tend to gravitate toward the Spear, finding the message of penance and holy retribution appealing in light of their curse. Sanctified Gluttons consider their condition a double curse. One erudite Nelapsi claims that every member of the bloodline houses a demonic soul as well as a former human one, and that the lineage's thirst is a burden handed down by God to scourge the demonic soul for its pride in coming to Earth. Young Nelapsi tend to scoff at these fables, but the unusual Devotions common to the line lend at some credence to such claims.
 
 
Appearance: Like the Daeva stock from which they come, the Nelapsi often have a refined, genteel bearing. To better avoid notice among their prey, Gluttons tend to suffuse themselves with Vitae in order to maintain the appearance of mortality. After all, since they have to acquire large amounts of blood to survive, a little bit more won't hurt when it helps them blend in. Eastern European styles of apparel are most common, with old members wearing finery reminiscent of ancient nobility. More recent arrivals appear in anything from tailcoats to the faded jeans that sell so well in former Soviet Bloc countries. Jewelry, especially silver, is a staple of Nelapsi wardrobe. Abstract or pattern designs predominate, and sires are quick to dictate appropriate choices to childer who seek to style themselves in garish or "low-class" garb.
 
 
Havens: Many Nelapsi relish their immortality and surround themselves with art, fine furnishings and sumptuous apparel. Security is always a concern, of course, but so is comfort. Perhaps because they're used to being feared by mortals, Nelapsi tend to feel that they deserve a fine existence. Line members have a tendency to adapt the places where they lived as mortals, turning them into acceptable havens. This trend stems from their old habit of remaining cloistered away in a familiar area where they can hunt with relative safety, away from other Kindred. Poor neighborhoods rank low on their list of possible haven locales, despite the presence of humans who won't be missed, because Gluttons tend to have an aversion to "slumming." To avoid running into other Kindred, Nelapsi pick an odd assortment of havens. Some find comfort in isolated communities, especially areas where residents are suspicious of outsiders. With their Majesty powers, Gluttons can easily make themselves fit the "accepted though eccentric neighbor" stereotype. These parasites slowly sink their influence into local families through a stick-and-carrot combination of Majesty and Nightmare, causing people to fear change and the outside world while simultaneously making themselves out to be a comforting, familiar (if cold) presence. A few Nelapsi, as befits the quirky nature of the lineage, take up residence in abandoned places where their Nightmare powers can make full use of the surroundings. That includes haunted manors, decaying amusement parks and old, worn-down or abandoned strip malls. They cause outsiders to shun such places as haunted (or at least unwholesome), while they cruise nearby neighborhoods for prey, sometimes even setting up local groups of ghouls who reside in these same decrepit pits to intensify to the unwholesome decor. Nelapsi familiar with modern business are extremely likely to finance or otherwise have a hand in any local Rack, both for personal use and to watch for potential competitors.
 
 
Background: Nelapsi take care to Embrace individuals who show enough raw ingenuity in life to turn that innovation to the problem of excessive feeding. Even then, the Embrace is rare. Too many gluttonous vampires around is simply too dangerous for all. Those chosen therefore possess high social acumen and similarly high intelligence. All the better to be creative and to be able to match wits with belligerent vampires. Or so it goes in theory. In practice, the challenges that Nelapsi sires face are passed down to their progeny. The oldest tend toward various obsessive neuroses, and pick would-be childer with similar quirks. The tight bond of training between sire and childe means that many elders pass on their peculiarities, habits, mannerisms and prejudices. This inheritance puts pressure on new Nelapsi to conform to the line's long-held curiosities. Indeed, some Gluttons don't even realize that their fears of "magic herbs" or their terror of being nailed into their coffins are purely psychological, not mystical. Old Nelapsi come almost exclusively from Slavic stock. The lineage branched out only in the 19th century, so non-Europeans are rare.
 
 
Character Creation: As a Daeva bloodline, Nelapsi usually have high Social Attributes and Skills. Some cling to attachments with mortals they knew in life in order to find shelter from the abuses they inflict. Others rely on sophistication to convince mortals that they couldn't possibly be the root of local troubles and fears. Wits is prized by the breed, while Resolve tends to lag, if only because line members don't bother fighting their bloodlust after a few years. Physical Attributes and Skills aren't very important to most Gluttons, who rely on their powers of misdirection and preternatural speed and might to carry them through. Members tend manifest supernatural oddities, even for Kindred. Legends tell of a vulnerability to blessed herbs or an inability to cross a line of poppy seeds. Such foibles of the psyche are not isolated; Nelapsi sires tend to reinforce their own psychoses in their childer. (A derangement could be taken as a Mental Flaw at character creation, or mental ailments acquired in play could reinforce existing peculiarities.) Merits usually focus on Resources, a secure Haven with a good location, and a large Herd. Recently Embraced members tend toward influence and meddling in mortal affairs, so Contacts, Allies and Retainers are helpful. Status is less important to Nelapsi than it is to other Kindred, although they certainly scrutinize members of their own narrow lineage.
 
 
Bloodline Disciplines: Celerity, Majesty, Nightmare, Vigor
 
 
Weakness: The thirst for blood that plagues all Kindred is especially strong in the Nelapsi. The more potent a Glutton's Vitae, the greater his thirst. Any Nelapsi of age invariably becomes a severe strain on the local supply of mortals, and any elder rightly fears a Nelapsi who becomes so potent as to require Kindred sustenance. When a Nelapsi rises for the evening, an amount of Vitae equal to his Blood Potency must be expended, instead of the usual one.
Spending this Vitae to awaken is subject to the usual limits on points spent per turn, which can make it difficult for a Nelapsi of high Blood Potency to awaken quickly. If a character lacks sufficient Vitae to rise, he falls into torpor as usual. Due to the tremendous Nelapsi hunger, line members are unwelcome in many domains. After all, one can never be sure if a Glutton is a Vitae-addict who watches hungrily for another vampire to satisfy his cravings. Some Princes who are aware of the bloodline make a standing declaration that they will not suffer its presence in their domains. Even Nelapsi who study the Coils of the Dragon have difficulty moderating their blood intake. If a character would normally lower his consumption of blood to every few nights, Vitae equal to his Blood Potency must be expended over the increased span of time. The character may do so in any combination of Vitae spent per night that results in the appropriate amount by the end of the period. Say, two Vitae one night, and a single point the next for a total of three Vitae spent (Blood Potency 3) across two nights (2 Resolve). As a Daeva bloodline, the Nelapsi still suffer from the usual tendency to indulge their Vices, and lose two Willpower points whenever they fail to do so.
 
 
Organization: For a bloodline that strains feeding capacity and relies on tricks and illusions, the Nelapsi have a curiously rigorous hierarchy. That may stem from the fact that creation of new members is rare. Any Glutton potent enough to create others is unlikely to want competition for blood, so he seeks standing by presiding over his lessers rather than actually creating them. As a result, the Nelapsi didn't expand from Czechoslovakia until the 19th century, when the introduction of railroads and ironclads made long-range travel feasible. Even with such transportation, though, rumors of Gluttons rarely surface outside of eastern Europe. While it's possible that Nelapsi have gone anywhere in the modern world, it seems unlikely. There's little incentive to travel outside one's domain and risk insufficient blood, insufficient security and insufficient space to avoid other Kindred. The founder of the line presumably still resides in the Zemplin region. His brood has spread, but they typically remain in contact through letters or occasional telephone conversations, sharing information about their travels. Nelapsi sires realize that they will be blamed if a line member imposes too much strain on an area's blood supply, so they take pains to ensure that lessers are cautious and astute. That means frequent checkups in twisted parent-child relationships, with all the turmoil that one would expect from an archaic parent trying to control an undying child who's already left home and grown up. Yet, frequent contact does help the Nelapsi avoid some trouble. They address their own before other vampires do, and Gluttons use their information network to alert kin to tyrannical Princes, trouble spots or blood hunts that could be problematic for all.
 
 
Concepts: Club owner, charlatan, corporate financier, eccentric millionaire, Old World noble, prestidigitator, socialite.
 
 
History: Oral reports of the Nelapsi date back to the 12th century, and if the bloodline stretches back past that, any prior activities are unknown. The reclusive founder, likely responsible for many early legends of his brood (also called upir) in Czechoslovakia, is presumed to be in torpor. The last reliable reports of contact between he and his childer ended in the 17th century. Before the advent of modern transportation, the Nelapsi were little more than a curiosity. Less than a dozen existed, and all confined to eastern Europe. The line has not increased much in number even with the advent of rail and air travel. Sightings and stories pop up every few decades in distant cities, but it’s hard for members to see the benefit of leaving behind their caches of blood, useful contacts and well-established herds. Since the Nelapsi spend a great deal of time in torpor as well, they are generally less mobile and less accustomed to changing technology than even other Kindred. Although the Nelapsi scrupulously keep track of their own kind, reports of the bloodline’s malcontents and rising stars are plagued by the fact that any Glutton of reasonable Blood Potency is at high risk of disappearing into torpor. The threat of excessive thirst drives some into self-imposed slumber, if only to escape the possibility of Vitae addiction. Others struggle on and simply cannot remain active from night to night. Such trends make Nelapsi hauntings cyclical. A Glutton rises from torpor, preys upon an area and a disproportionately large number of victim, returns to torpor and the whole matter is pushed aside until it happens again.
 
Society and Culture: The Nelapsi have a fairly rigid structure of sire mentorship and childe responsibility. Every one recognizes that an untutored line member could have disastrous feeding habits, so customs of indoctrination are strongly ingrained. Nelapsi use the term predek (“predecessor” or “ancestor”) to refer to sires, and the young are called operit (“fledges”) until they demonstrate capability with the Nightmare Discipline (until they gain three dots in it). Since Gluttons face dire problems if their hunting grounds overlap, they consider the Second Tradition the most important of the three. Nelapsi almost never Embrace out of spur-of-the-moment passion. If they do, they often destroy the hapless childer. Each Glutton holds to a sort of “extended accounting” by which she considers the actions of any childe or grandchilde to reflect upon her. Since it’s presumed that no sire would be so rash as to leave an uneducated operit and thereby risk the reputation of the line, any mistake by a childe invariably reflects ill upon his creator(s). Failure to blend into society and to follow the Traditions haunts a Nelapsi forever, but also leaves a permanent stain on the reputation of his progenitors. For this reason, Clan Status is extremely important to Nelapsi. Gluttons pay close attention to troublemakers, and spread rumors of poor behavior through their correspondence network. Daeva outsiders who for some inexplicable reason attune themselves to Nelapsi blood have a difficult time finding acceptance. The responsibilities of a cautious predator, old Nelapsi proclaim, are far too important for an untutored Daeva to risk the whole bloodline with his clumsy flailing. A Nelapsi ope´rit who runs into another Glutton of no apparent traceable lineage is almost certain to send a message about the individual back to his sire. Similarly, a Nelapsi elder is likely to confront an unknown line member to make sure the stranger understands the risks inherent to his “condition.” Such a confrontation is unlikely to be physical. The elder probably sends agents or possibly even an operit to intervene and set the matter straight. A Daeva Kindred who aligns himself to the lineage for some unfathomable personal reason had best be prepared to face a host of suspicious investigations, feints from ghouls testing defenses, and runins with “natural born” Nelapsi who make certain that the newcomer won’t bring ruin upon them all.
 
Devotions: The Nelapsi lineage does not have a signature Discipline of its own, but does manifest several unusual Devotions. These powers accentuate rumors of line members’ haunting capabilities, and offer several tricks that help to overcome the brood’s inherent challenges. Gluttons do not teach these Devotions to outsiders. It’s more rewarding to demonstrate a few powers here and there and let others speculate about the range of strange capabilities at a line member’s disposal.
 
 
Гангрел.
Бохаганда
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Kindred folklore is replete with tales of unusual bloodlines and the loathsome powers that are theirs to command, but few lineages are surrounded by as much exaggeration, misinformation, skepticism and trepidation as the Bohagande (or simply the "Jonahs"). According to stories, these Kindred are jinxes. Wherever they go, bad luck is sure to follow as certain as the sun will rise. Each telling relates different tragedies, from havens catching fire and their occupants burning to ash, to an ancilla's entire financial portfolio crashing overnight, to the trespass of a Lupine in the halls of Elysium. Many dismiss these stories as the product of overactive imaginations. These "Jonahs" are dismissed nothing more than shadowy bogeymen meant to worry neonates. Others wonder if there might not be such a brood after all, especially when they're confronted by an extraordinary confluence of tragedies. A rare few claim to have actually met one of these mythical Kindred. Although they cannot agree on specifics such as parent clan or where the bloodline originated, witnesses agree that the Bohagande are cursed, and that anyone who crosses their path is at great risk. They also claim there is more to the Jonahs than stories suggest, something even more inimical than the line's telltale curse, further compounding the mystery that surrounds the lineage. The Bohagande themselves tell progeny that they are the descendants of a Gangrel wanderer whose fateful encounter with a medicine man in the American West led to their creation. According to the most common account, the medicine man was cursed for a terrible crime against his people. Wherever he went, an ill wind blew and those around him suffered. Forced into exile, he sought revenge upon those who had cursed him, and he called upon the ancient spirits of the land to help him. One came to his aid, teaching him how to turn his curse to an advantage by taking the luck lost by others. When the medicine man met the Gangrel, the mortal mistook the vampire for the spirit that had once helped him. Seeking to impress his former mentor, the native demonstrated all he had learned and offered his blood as payment for his debt, thereby passing on his curse and his magic. Due to their notoriety, the Bohagande rarely announce their presence, preferring to pass themselves off as ordinary Gangrel. It's not usually long after arriving in some new domain, however, before use of their special Discipline draws unwelcome attention, forcing them to choose between denying their birthright or fleeing. Those who waffle are usually forced to accept the latter if only to avoid a blood hunt. Aside from their habit of moving from place to place and their shared origin, little else defines members of this bloodline. Jonahs may come from anywhere and have nearly any personality, although some become thrill-seekers as a side effect of their Discipline. With time and fortune on Jonahs' side, even the most improbable feats are within their reach and few things give a Bohagande as much of a rush as succeeding at the seemingly impossible. And yet, such accomplishments made public make line members' intolerable to other Kindred. Few Prisci want to entertain a vampire who is prone to dangerous risks that might bring the Masquerade crashing down.
 
Parent Clan: Gangrel
 
 
Nickname: Jonahs
 
 
Covenant: Given their tendency toward anonymity and the response they can expect from many Kindred, Bohagande tend to avoid involvement with covenants. When they are drawn to the supportive and philosophical benefits that a society offers, it's usually to those that recognize the value of these dangerous undead. The Circle of the Crone may boast the most Jonahs, but even then that number might be counted on one hand. Some Acolyte stories are reminiscent of bloodline origins, and curious Jonahs may explore a connection between their own Discipline and Crúac. The Ordo Dracul can be alluring to Bohagande who hope to shed their line's reputation through self-denial, or to transcend their curse. The Carthians may harbor a couple of these pariahs, but rare is the Jonah who's so driven by politics to risk all by joining these blatant free-thinkers. Even so, a Bohagande in Carthian ranks could be a powerful weapon if directed properly, giving the covenant an edge over its competitors. If the Invictus or Lancea Sanctum harbor a Bohagande, it's unlikely that they're aware of it. A Jonah's membership depends on how well she can keep her true nature hidden. Neither of these groups would welcome a jinx in its midst. The First Estate would see it as a threat to stability, and the Sanctified would view her as an abomination, cursed by God and perhaps even an agent of the Devil himself. By and large, the Bohagande prefer to remain unaligned, the better to maintain their cover and to pick-up and leave easily should the need arise. It almost always does.
 
 
 
Appearance: A typical Jonah appears no different from any other Gangrel who's Embraced in the United States. Despite some connection to Native Americans in line origins, there is little evidence to suggest that the Bohagande especially prize those people as childer. In fact, the opposite may actually be the case, given the role the Shoshone played in first casting the hex that the line still bears. Still, a few Bohagande have adopted the practice of tattooing themselves -- even beyond the grave -- with Native American iconography as a way to at least forge some identify with their semi-mythical past, with the image of a crow figuring prominently in the decoration.
 
 
Havens: Knowing that in most cities their stay may be brief, Jonahs tend to seek out the most practical and least complicated havens possible. Abandoned homes and structures are typical choices, although due to their extraordinary luck, some members may be flush with cash and decide to live it up for a time in a penthouse apartment. No matter where they choose to stay, these undead invariably go to great lengths to ensure that they always have at least one means of escape in case the local Sheriff or Hound comes calling. Some choose a location that might pose serious risk to interlopers, like a dilapidated high-rise or a place undergoing construction. The kind of place where an unlucky trespasser may find himself in a very uncomfortable position. In suburban or rural environments, the vampires take what they can get, those who are able to simply slipping into the earth to avoid the sun's rays.
 
 
 
Background: The majority of Bohagande are individuals who value privacy, who cherish their freedom and who are drawn to risk. People who have nothing to lose and who have no problem packing up and moving on at a moment's notice are typically chosen. Daredevil types are not uncommon, and those who find a thrill in putting it all on the line are similarly favored. Drifters, gamblers, killers, grifters, extreme athletes and fugitives make up the bulk of the bloodline, but it's not unheard of for a Jonah to choose, say, a simple roadhouse waitress who's down on her luck.
 
 
 
Character Creation: Mental traits are perhaps admired most in prospective line members. While Social traits are definitely helpful in getting into and out of trouble, plying them makes for mundane means of interaction and survival. Anyone can have a silver tongue, so where's the challenge? Mental Attributes and Skills are respected more for the opportunities and angles that can be perceived; plots and schemes to pull from which the lineage's trademark can be used to escape. Physical traits are a close rival to Mental, simply for the backup they provide in getting out of a scrape. Merits that lend themselves to solitary survival are also prized. Those include Direction Sense, Danger Sense, Unseen Sense and Fleet of Foot. Social Merits don't usually qualify among such traits. If a Gangrel Embraced to the line seeks to explore the potential of his blood early on, an extra dot of Blood Potency initiates him.
 
 
Bloodline Disciplines: Animalism, Protean, Resilience, Sunnikuse
 
 
Weakness: Jonahs are subject to the weakness of their parent clan. The more they feel the call of the Beast, the more bestial they become, and the more their minds become those of less principled animals. With regard to dice pools based on Intelligence and Wits Attributes, the 10 Again rule does not apply. Additionally, any 1's that come up on a roll are subtracted from successes. (The latter part of this weakness does not affect dramatic-failure rules.) This weakness does not apply to dice pools involving perception or reaction to surprise, or to the Resolve Attribute. In addition, Bohagande are permanently marked by their accursed legacy. Their auras appear not unlike black holes, seeming to soak up the colorful auras of others in a unsettling manner. Those able to perceive auras do not need to be familiar with the Bohagande to recognize this as the radiance of someone best avoided. Jonah image might suggest some kind of rampant diablerie, which it is after a fashion.
 
 
Organization: It's rare for more than one Bohagande to be found in a single domain. There are hardly enough line members as a whole to constitute anything that could resemble a formal gathering. Their proclivities and concerns preclude all but the most informal and temporary organization, with the sire-childe bond the only one that's commonly observed. One Jonah in a given city can cause enough trouble. The presence of two or more could result in catastrophes that even the luckiest Bohagande might be unable to escape. The bloodline holds that whenever members encounter one another, the eldest may claim the right of residency. The younger must leave immediately, unless she wishes to challenge the elder. If that happens, the eldest chooses a single test of luck in which each competes. The winner may stay and the loser is bound to depart. Those who go unbeaten long enough are accorded special status among the bloodline. The Bohagande who has gone the longest without being bested is given the title Storm Crow. There's some disagreement as to the identity of this figure at any given time, and some claim the position is more rumor than reality. The founder of the line is also recognized as particularly deserving of respect. Lucas Harwood does not wield any authority over his brood, but his voice carries special weight. Because few claim to know where he is or even if he still exists (and fewer still can honestly say they have actually met him), respect is usually shown through reverence to the words ascribed to him. A body of stories about Harwood's travels, his personal experiences and his advice to his progeny exists and is passed from Bohagande to Bohagande, albeit in no fixed form. More fable than dogma, these tales are important to the bloodline and are perhaps its strongest connection to its origin. Jonahs are found most frequently in North America and generally outside large cities, where they avoid persecution. The line's numbers are few, since there's no significant advantage to siring given the conflicts that arise with one's own childe. Members found elsewhere are true rarities, but they have a distinct advantage. Few Kindred outside North America have heard stories of the Bohagande and the curse that follows them. Jonahs who travel to a distant land may find it easier to hide their true nature and may even fit into vampiric society by adopting less nomadic and paranoid ways. Yet there is still the challenge of avoiding the wrath of undead who suffer chronic bad luck.
 
 
Concepts: Drifter, card sharp, small-time grifter, traveling carnival act (The Luckiest Lady in the World!), thrill-seeking biker, wandering preacher, carefree rock guitarist, eerie fortune teller, professional art thief, stock market "day" trader, street vigilante, freelance photographer.
 
 
 
History: Few Bohagande are terribly concerned about their origins. Even though they tell similar (or different stories), rare is the Jonah who actually considers them anything more than entertaining folktales. One story is as good as any, providing just enough history to answer the most nagging of questions. Even those who claim to be familiar with the bloodline’s founder exhibit skepticism about the details of their origin, admitting that he may be guilty of more than a little fabrication. The Bohagande are who they are. Given their more pressing concerns, such as avoiding blood hunts, the specifics of their creation pale by comparison. Still, a similar story is passed on to new members if for no other reason than to provide some sense of shared identity.
In 1848, somewhere on the edge of the hellish expanse known today as Death Valley, a Gangrel named Lucas Harwood met a man who changed the Savage forever. Harwood had spent the bulk of his unlife prowling the burgeoning cities of the East, preying on the increasingly urbanized masses, or on their cousins in the small towns that had arisen between the Atlantic and the Mississippi. And yet, Harwood was most tempted by those he perceived as his mortal counterparts: Native Americans. Their primitive ways, ancient roots, fearsome medicine and savagery in battle struck a chord and drew him to their rich blood. The Shawnee, Chickahominy, Rappahanocks, Lenape, Cherokee, Saponi, Chicora and other tribes became his favored vessels, but their numbers dwindled and many tribes were only a shadow of what they had once been. Harwood longed to drink from a well undiluted by the taint of European civility, and so in the early 1830s he turned his back on his former hunting grounds and set off for the unsettled West to quench his desire. He traveled with a single retainer, a rugged scout of French extraction who claimed to have heard from Meriwether Lewis’ own lips of lands and people that stretched to the distant shore. Trusting his guide to keep him from harm, Harwood joined the flood of wide-eyed settlers, prospectors, charlatans, prostitutes, soldiers, entrepreneurs and fugitives seeking fortune, adventure and sanctuary in the nation’s western reaches. The journey showed the vampire things he could not have dreamed, and dangers that nearly sounded the last note of his Requiem. Harwood was enslaved by the experience. He roved across the land, led by the Beast that he had
caged for so long. For a decade, Harwood stalked natives for the challenge they posed. The fearsome kine were not easily caught off guard, and because they suffered under no Masquerade, they did not hesitate to accept the existence of the creature that harried them. Skilled hunters, some braves tracked the Gangrel by day and discovered his haven, brutally murdering his retainer. Only the Disciplines of his parent clan saved him from a similar fate. The myriad dangers that Harwood then faced did not deter him, however. He thrilled to solitary existence and honed his predatory abilities to new heights. Eventually he even learned to take the form of a coyote and crow, the better to go where he pleased. It was in bird form that he came upon a lone mortal one night, high upon a rock overlooking Shoshone land. The individual was a gifted medicine man — a bohagande in his own language. Once named Seeing Star for his knowledge of the heavens, the man was now an outcast. He had slain an innocent child in order to work a great rite, which had been forbidden by his elders. Seeing Star was brought before a tribal gathering, judged guilty and sentenced to exile from his people. To ensure that the medicine man would never again haunt them, the three wisest of the tribe laid a curse upon him so that bad luck would come to any who took him in, a curse that turned his hair white. Finally, the name Seeing Star was stripped from him, robbing the man of his identity and thereby denying him the power he once commanded. From that point forward, he was no longer Shoshone and was forced into the wastelands to meet whatever fate the Great Spirit held for him. Word of the curse and its nameless bearer spread across Sogobia, the tribal homeland. Everywhere he went, disaster was at his side. Left to places deemed desolate, he struggled to survive and railed against the heavens themselves, swearing revenge. When the man was at wits end and with nowhere else to turn, Crow
agreed to aid him. Laughing, the spirit told his petitioner that he did not possess the power to remove so great a curse. Angered, the medicine man tried to grab the bird, but Crow had luck on his side and escaped. The spirit told the wretched Shoshone that he was not laughing at the man’s misfortune, but because the outcast was too blind to see the powerful gift he had been given. “There is no such thing as bad luck,” Crow said. “What some call bad luck is only luck’s absence. Wherever you go, men around you are the cursed ones, not you. Your gift steals the luck they all carry with them, leaving them empty. If you knew how, you could take their luck and have it for yourself. Instead, you let it fall through your fingers like sand. That is why I laugh at you. You shake the fruit from the tree, but you leave it on the ground to rot.” The medicine man realized the truth in Crow’s words. The suffering of others could be his strength. He threw himself before the wise spirit and begged Crow to show him how to master his curse, offering everything he had as payment. Crow accepted, saying that the price would be to one day teach the spirit something that the man had learned. The deal struck, Crow showed his pupil a new path. He also gave the man a new name — White Star, inspired by his hair — to restore the power he had lost. Then Crow took flight, leaving the medicine man no longer eager for death’s comforting welcome. White Star quickly mastered what he had learned and went among men again, exacting his revenge. Each of those who had cursed him died in a terrible accident. The elders that had condemned him met their end, and any other who crossed his path found catastrophe to be her new companion. When Harwood alighted on a bluff near White Star, still in the form of a crow, he first thought the man was quite old because of his hair. Perhaps this mortal had come out here, far from his people, to seek a vision, a desire with which Harwood was familiar. Although wary of some hidden danger, Harwood approached, his unquenchable hunger overriding caution. Before he could shift form and pounce, the man turned and proved himself to be younger and more capable than Harwood guessed. The native was grim and exuded a power that belied his calm demeanor. Fearful that the man might be a Lupine or worse, Harwood maintained his feathered seeming and prepared to escape. He had spent enough time around the tribes to understand native tongues, and was surprised when the man spoke to him as if he was an old friend. “Many seasons have passed since we last spoke, Crow,” the man said. “Your medicine is strong and with it I have had my revenge. I know why you have come back now. It is time for me to repay you as I agreed. Tell me what you wish to learn and I shall teach it.” Startled by the mortal’s manner, Harwood didn’t know what to do. He was intrigued by the prospect of a gift, but the Beast had other plans. The vampire shed his winged guise before the man’s eyes and leapt for his throat. To the Gangrel’s chagrin, his foot caught on a stone and his wicked claws barely grazed his intended victim, drawing only a trickle of blood that the attacker licked clean. Now White Star was ready, and when the Savage lunged again, his blow went wild. His Beast enraged, Harwood snarled his determination and made what would surely be a killing blow. But the medicine man was favored by fate once again and the assailant was almost sent over a precipice. Misfortune plagued the vampire’s every move. What should have been the simplest thing was a harsh lesson in futility. When the first rays of sunlight shone across the flat land, Harwood, so focused on his intended prey, was taken by surprise. Howling his frustration, he sank into the cold earth, still desperate for nourishment. When the Gangrel crept from the ground the next sunset, he was amazed to find the white-haired man still there, clearly awaiting his return. Unwilling to repeat the same mistakes of the night before, Harwood pushed his hunger as far down as he could and sat across from the Shoshone, respectful of the man’s evident power. White Star still believed that Harwood was Crow, regardless of the form the spirit took, and wanted to know why Crow had tried to kill him. “I had promised to teach you as you had taught me. Our bargain was not for my life.” Harwood was confused, but caution kept his tongue. The outcast bohagande awaited an answer, but when none came, he offered his own interpretation. “Ah, you have forgotten who you are, Crow. So it is when you wear the skin of another for too long. Because you have forgotten, I shall repay
you by teaching you what you have lost.” As the stars wheeled in the heavens and Bat chased Moth across the valley, White Star showed Harwood how to use spirit medicine as Crow had once taught him. Again the sun rose and once more Harwood slept beneath the desert. When he awoke this time, however, he was alone. The curse of the bohagande and the medicine of Crow were now his.
 
 
Society and Culture: Treated like lepers and hounded by their fellow Kindred, yet possessed of a power that enables them to accomplish the seemingly impossible, the Bohagandes’ Requiem is like no other. The temptation to exercise the line’s special Discipline is difficult to resist, especially knowing that the hammer of a Prince’s law may descend without warning. Being so lucky as to survive such a surprise is as practical as it is irresistible. Jonahs therefore tend to view others, Kindred and kine alike, as vessels containing not only blood, but the luck they need to survive. Indeed, many line members are addicted to the rush of stealing another’s fortune. Since use of Sunnikuse does not go entirely unnoticed, Bohagande are forced to be as careful as possible. Simply going around, stealing luck is a good way to call down persecution. A Bohagande thus finds a gimmick that fits her personality and special talents as a cover for her larceny. She might stick to something overt, like engaging victims in a game of chance, or she might use straightforward psychology as the best subterfuge, suggesting how a victim invites bad luck and then offering proof. Whatever method she uses, her modus operandus provides just enough justification for ill events. Such deceptions are certainly not necessary, but without one a victim is likely to lay blame outward rather than inward. When two Bohagande cross paths, the elder has the right to command the younger to move on. If the younger wishes to challenge, the older declares a contest, with the winner claiming the right of domain. The challenge can take nearly any form, so long as its outcome depends primarily on luck. Even if the contest requires substantial physical exertion or a particular test of skill, the ultimate criterion hinges on whether or not luck can prevail. Shortly after entering a city, a century-old Jonah may discover the presence of another of his bloodline, a neonate who has made his haven there for a dozen years. Unless the senior Bohagande simply wishes to move on, he can challenge the younger and declare the terms. There is no shame in the neonate acquiescing without a contest, but if he does accept it’s considered terribly bad form to withdraw prematurely. The challenge might be as simple as a game of Russian Roulette or as outlandish as a 100-mph race in the wrong direction on a busy highway. Most of the time, the more dangerous the contest the more respect the winner receives. Given the risks involved, it’s not uncommon for Bohagande to meet Final Death in these contests. It’s also perfectly acceptable for participants to use Sunnikuse against each other before and during a challenge. Thus, a normally fortunate Jonah may discover herself robbed at the worst possible moment. Eventually, luck does run out, even for members of this line. Besides Lucas Harwood, the only other Bohagande to claim any special recognition is the one known as the Storm Crow. This individual has supposedly never been defeated in a challenge and is deemed the luckiest Kindred walking the earth. Some stories claim that the current Storm Crow is a particularly feral Gangrel named Becky Finch, the moll of a successful Kansas City mobster before her Embrace. Some disagree, saying that she was finally bested by another, or that her claim was never legitimate. The name Cameron is bandied about as the possible identity of the Storm Crow, but few can agree on any details about this little-known figure. Ultimately, the concept of Storm Crow is more tall tale than reality to most, a character suitable for yarns and emulation. That doesn’t stop some Bohagande from actively seeking out a master of luck, however. These competitive Jonahs hope to challenge and defeat him, claiming the title for  themselves. Equally motivating, rumors ascribe strange powers of Sunnikuse to a Storm Crow. Would-be usurpers hope they can learn these tricks for themselves. Every Bohagande possesses a secret that he protects over and above all else. Upon a Gangrel’s initiation, a sire or Avus bestows a Shoshone name that makes the new Bohagande known to the spirit Crow, who’s held as the true father of the line. The name is written on the newcomer’s chest in the Avus’ blood, but is never again recorded or spoken, not even between these two Kindred. Anyone who learns this name and understands it for what it is has a powerful charm over the subject, whose use of Sunnikuse against that individual is compromised. Some Bohagande seek out the names of others of the line in order to give themselves an advantage in future confrontations, but most Avus are loath to part with such knowledge. Should a betrayal be traced back, they run the very real risk of having their own names revealed, effectively robbing from them of their own power. Other Kindred who discover a Jonah’s Shoshone name may not know the power that comes from sharing it. Few if any outside the lineage are aware of this Achilles’ heel.
 
Sunnikuse: The Bohagande regard their inheritance in much the same way that a man living on the frontier might have viewed his rifle. Used properly, it can be the difference between unlife and Final Death. To others, it’s a weapon that seems to inflict harm indiscriminately. Sunnikuse (or “medicine”) is the bloodline’s unique ability to direct the hand of Fate, as dangerous as this practice is. Gifted in the art of stealing luck from others, twisting the outcome of situations to their advantage, and even hoarding good fortune, Bohagande are as deadly and feared as any gunslinger of old. They have an uncanny ability to sense the presence or absence of luck in an individual, and use that knowledge for their own good. Every application of Sunnikuse, whether it involves a simple touch (as with Jinx) or a momentary gaze (Evil Eye), leaves a victim with a discernible sense of doom. The victim may not always know the source of the sinking feeling (most Bohagande seek to camouflage their depredations with some justifiable charade, such as a game of billiards or Three Card Monty), but she always experiences a terrible sense of unease and impending failure. The greater the potential loss, the more powerful the impression received. Successive uses of Sunnikuse against the same subject only amplify her sensation, eventually convincing any but the most obtuse victim that a Jonah is somehow responsible for her bad luck. Each time Sunnikuse is used, Wits + Occult is rolled for the subject to recognize that the Jonah is somehow behind her sense of doom. A normal success suggests that there is some vague connection between the Bohagande and the bad luck. An exceptional success fully exposes the Bohagande’s complicity. Perhaps the vampire is even caught with a hand in the proverbial cookie jar, actively doing something strange near or in regard to the intended victim. There are ways in which a potential victim can protect herself from this Discipline. Most cultures believe that certain items, expressions or practices provide a measure of defense against bad luck. The more involved or complicated the charm, the greater the protection granted. It’s important that the individual truly believes in the power of the charm, however. It is this belief that staves off disaster, not the object itself. To a Bohagande’s benefit, a host of events, items and circumstances — crossing the path of a black cat, breaking a mirror, walking under a ladder — are ascribed with the power to cause bad luck. If a subject of Sunnikuse is in the vicinity of such circumstances or performs such actions, she is easier to affect with the Discipline. Some Jonahs exploit these superstitions and try to arrange for such ill omens to be present when they use this power, both to increase its usefulness and to provide sources of blame for the ill fortune that befalls a victim. The following is a list of some factors that might make it easier for a Bohagande to use Sunnikuse, as well as examples of charms that can undermine the Discipline.
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Most vampires haunt cities, making the urban landscape their hunting grounds. Few are willing to dwell outside metropolitan areas. Not only are the dangers abroad unseen and untold, but the feeding is meager. The vampires of the Oberloch bloodline purposefully choose to stay away from cities and suburban sprawls. This choice is made partly out of ignorance (only a few Oberloch kin are even aware that other vampires exist, let alone in cities), but it's also a strategic choice. The "Brood" opts to spend the Requiem in towns far from city lights, existing only in small burgs and hamlets many miles from any highway. They're self-made rulers of these places, for such rural towns provide wide-open territory and self-contained fiefdoms. The Oberlochs began as a bloodline in the most literal of senses, as an actual mortal family. The human clan, running a successful coal-mining company in Pennsylvania, grew wealthy on the blood and suffering of immigrant laborers. The workers had their revenge in 1869, forming a mob and murdering some of the family after dragging members down into the mines. The rioters, shepherded into fury by a Gangrel vampire, unknowingly left a few Oberlochs clinging to life. The Savage decided to "test" the family's survival skills by Embracing the survivors. He didn't stay around to shepherd his childer through those first nights. Left with little understanding of the curse levied upon them, the remaining family were forced to endure. And they did. The undead clan not only grew, but its blood changed in subtle ways, deviating from that which created it. The vampiric Oberlochs continued to consider themselves a family. Indeed, they did so obsessively. They believed that the blood that sustained them, while technically dead, still carried their lineage, regardless of its bodily origin. They sired more "members of the family," gathering runaways and castoffs, and brought those chosen mortals into the unliving fold of the Brood. By selecting miscreants and outcasts with cruel, tough demeanors, the bloodline grew slowly but constantly. The family couldn't remain local, though. Wanderlust combined with growing numbers forced some from their original home and out to the dark corners of rural America. Now, the growing Oberloch family lives at the edges of civilization in small towns just far enough from big cities, watching private herds with a protective, ravenous eye.
 
Parent Clan: Gangrel
 
Nickname: Brood
 
 
Covenant: This bloodline is largely hidden and ignorant of vampire society outside its own grim, backwoods niche. Categorically speaking, the lineage is almost universally unaligned. A rare number of Oberlochs have purposefully escaped the family's clutches, fleeing to parts where they can't be found or won't be sought. Such fugitives are any covenant's game, often hiding anonymously among the ranks of whatever group seems the most capable of sheltering them.
 
 
Appearance: Family members are almost exclusively Caucasian. The Oberlochs, originally of Swiss blood, generally reject the concept that someone from another race can truly share their lineage, even through the Embrace. The family has a few members of "color," but only because those mortals seemed exceptionally suited to the clan and its ways. Oberlochs tend to dress in whatever clothes they pilfer from whatever wayward travelers mistakenly come through their small towns. The family favors modest dress, rejecting fancy clothes as a mark of self-importance and frivolity (essentially, "the city"). Their garments tend to become dirty and tattered over time.
 
 
Havens: When the family moves into a new town, spreading its influence, members start off by securing the biggest house around, whether it's a crumbling mansion, an old farmhouse or a doublewide trailer. The occupants are killed, Embraced or made the first members of the herd. Initially, all family members present dwell in this single location. As time passes, however, young Oberlochs may move out to small satellite homes in the immediate area. Should any overcrowding occur, some lesser family members may leave the sanctity of home to move on to another small town.
 
Background: The family has no interest in growing bigger than its britches, so to speak. Embracing new kin is allowed only when approved by the Grandmother or Grandfather of a given territory. Each family member is expected to Embrace at least one other at some point in his Requiem, however. Fostering new children is the only way the family remains strong. These vampires Embrace only those suitable to carry the Oberloch name. Candidacy typically requires an individual to be tough as nails, a true survivor. The Oberlochs also choose those with few connections to the wider world. In other words, so no friends, family or law enforcement comes knocking. Prospective childer are often town members (spinsters, hermits or single mothers) with few temporal connections. Yet, some of the Brood like to Embrace from those who come from outside of town, such as runaways, wayward vacationers or hitchhikers. The Oberlochs verify the aptitude of a future family member through a variety of homespun tests. Such rites are often made up on the spot, but involve survival-based challenges. (A mortal may be kidnapped and left in the middle of a forest, for example, or be set on by a pack of starving dogs.)
 
 
Character Creation: Oberlochs value family members of keen mind and strong body. Either Physical or Mental Attributes are dominant. Social Attributes fall by the wayside as the Oberlochs feel that social graces are a needless luxury that don't apply to them. As rural predators, what does it matter if you say "Please," or "Thank you," or know which goddamn spoon is the proper one for soup? What matters is a sharp eye, a hunter's instinct and a strong back. The family prides itself on choosing "kin" with prominent Physical Skills, as well (Athletics, Brawl and Survival being chief among them). A handful of other Skills are also seen as indications of "good breeding," such as Animal Ken, Intimidation, Crafts and Subterfuge. The most prized Merit among the Oberlochs is Haven. Most family units pool dots in the Merit to equate whatever large shelter is taken over and occupied.
 
Bloodline Disciplines: Animalism, Dominate, Protean, Resilience
 
Weakness: When the surviving mortal family members were Embraced and left for dead, they were forced to wander like nomads, succumbing to the same animal urges that burn in Gangrel blood. Oberlochs feature the same weakness as their parent clan, their minds slowly breaking down as feral cravings overtake them. With regard to dice pools based on Intelligence and Wits Attributes, the 10 Again rule does not apply. Additionally, any 1's that come up on a roll subtract from successes. (The latter part of the weakness does not affect dramatic-failure rules.) This weakness does not apply to dice pools involving perception or reaction to surprise , or to the Resolve Attribute. Vampires of the Oberloch "family" are also subject to physical breakdown over time. They understand their condition to a point, recognizing that they defy the laws of God and biology by existing at all. Yet, they still understand themselves as family -- specifically as a mortal one, despite all evidence to the contrary -- and this backward belief is a curse. While undead, the Oberlochs still age. Their skin becomes sallow and wrinkled, their muscles atrophy, joints fuse and ligatures tighten over time. A family member Embraced at age 50 who exists as a vampire for an additional 50 years appears more or less as a 100-year-old person. An Oberloch who has spent 200 or more years on this Earth looks exactly like a 200-year-old might look: Skin desiccated like sun-dried vellum, face pressed tightly to a withering skull, fingers curled in like the legs of a dead spider. For every 50 years that an Oberloch exists as a vampire, a single dot is removed from each of his Physical Attributes. Physical Attributes may not be reduced below 1, though. This weakness leads some of the Brood to speculate that they are not indeed vampires, or dead in any sense, but exist with prolonged lives whose inevitable march is slowed to a freakish crawl. It's for this reason that many choose to Embrace young men and women, often teenagers. (Few Oberlochs ever Embrace children. A child's body may appear young for a long time, but it also never grows past the stunted frame of early youth.)
 
 
Organization: Oberlochs organize somewhat like a mortal family. "Parents" hold authority over their childer, and their own sires hold authority over them. All members in a given territory are beholden to the rule of the single oldest predecessor (always referred to as "Grandmother" or "Grandfather"). Beyond that, the only authority figure is (according to some family members) a myth. Family legend holds that one of the original progenitors still lives in the coal-saddled hills of upstate Pennsylvania. This matriarch, the Oberloch known only as "Old Alice," is said to send her own childer out from time to time to "check up on" family members in the wide world. Her legend mainly makes for a boogey man story told to keep young kin in line, but enough evidence of family condition, structure and tradition suggests that the story could be true.
 
 
Concepts:Teen runaway, town mayor, lost traveler, unsuspecting vacationer, store owner, park ranger, hillfolk, deer hunter, miner, hermit.
 
 
 
History: In the 19th century, coal mining was a reliable — and deadly — profession for men in places like Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia. Miners (typically immigrants) were subject to constant risk while ferreting out anthracite coal deep in the earth. Mines could collapse, gases could suffocate or burn workers, and as if the chance for instantaneous death wasn’t enough, the long-term hazards of black lung made the career terminal. Thousands upon thousands died mining black-diamond veins, perishing from unmitigated dangers. And yet, conditions above ground were as bad as those below, but in this case the danger was to a man’s coffers. A miner in a given town was subject to the whims of his employer, a so-called “coal baron,” who owned and operated the company. Initially, pay for a miner was based on how much coal he was able to bring to the surface, and that compensation did little more than keep he and his family afloat. Coal barons realized, however, that their own families could gain far more if they exploited their workers even further. Barons — already the owners of coal-town markets and stores — decided on a system of economy that bypassed the federal dollar. They established markers or “chits” that served as payment to miners. These chits were good only at marketplaces owned by the barons. And while chits were valued at roughly the same as a dollar, prices in stores were elevated unreasonably. Miners were paid the same, but in limited funds, and costs skyrocketed. The Oberloch family, of Swiss-German descent, arrived in America in the early 1800s. While most immigrants who weren’t English or Welsh were relegated to gutter jobs (such as coal mining), the Oberlochs were fortunate enough to bring much of their family wealth with them. Within two decades, the family (changing its name to the more American “Overlock”) was owner of its own industry. In 1826, the A.A. Overlock & Brothers Mining Company was founded under coal baron Alfred Alexander Overlock and his wife Alice.
 
 
Blood and Black Dust: The immigrants — mostly Irish and some Polish — who worked for the Overlock family struggled to keep their own loved ones fed. The chit system destroyed their livelihoods above ground, while the hazardous conditions of the job murdered them below ground. Still, few immigrants entertained the idea of revolt. It meant a complete loss of income (and thus food and shelter). Meager earnings were better than none, and with an ever-growing population of migrants ready to replace the dead or dismissed, most miners settled into the futility of their situation. That is, until Bartholomew Ahern came along. Ahern, a Gangrel vampire, kept watch on his mortal family from the forests surrounding the Pennsylvania hills. He checked up on his mortal kin every few years, who had had come to work for the Overlock company, and their living conditions were deplorable. They were practically starving, and two brothers had died (along with 75 others) in a subterranean explosion. The Overlocks did nothing to compensate the families, and went so far as to fire the men who were only injured in the accident. Ahern recognized the greed and exploitation at work, and chose a path of brutal vengeance. Over a period of weeks, the Gangrel organized many of the émigré miners, stirring their emotions into a grim frenzy. Such agitation soon erupted and the workers revolted. They stormed the Overlock mansion — the biggest on Millionaire’s Row — and kidnapped the family members. The mob, lead by a feral Ahern, dragged the Overlocks into the mines. The family men were beaten, cut, stabbed and dragged across jagged outcroppings of black rock. The women were raped. The children were whipped with axe handles. All were left for dead. The eldest Overlock brothers, Gerard and Jacob, died from contusions to the skull. Alfred’s sister Katrina and son Theodore both died from multiple wounds. An elderly uncle, Konrad, suffered a fatal heart attack, although that didn’t stop the mob from breaking his body. There were unexpected survivors, however. Patriarch Alfred lived, as did his wife, Alice. Their 14-year-old daughter, Sophie, also managed to survive. All barely clung to life and might have passed yet if not for the further intervention of Bartholomew Ahern. The vampire, surprised that the parasites could weather such horrific treatment, decided to visit the curse of the Requiem upon them. He thus expended a great deal of his own power to extend his vengeance on a permanent level. He left the remaining Overlocks, alone and starving, to their own devices and suffering.
 
 
Princes to Paupers: The three surviving family members were not shepherded into their condition. They were given no instruction, no clue as to what had befallen them. Left to their own survival, they learned lessons the hard way. No sunlight. Blood for food. Mad, unquenchable urges. They could not return home. After the revolt, the mansions of Millionaire’s Row were burned to the ground. No one would accept or help them. Seeing no other choice, they fled under the cover of night. The next 20 years passed in a hungry blur. The three vampires — only partly cognizant that they were blautsauger at all — stayed to the edges of existence, traveling from town to town and farm to farm. They fed on livestock or any unfortunate individual who stumbled too far from the mortal herd. They stole clothing, slept in abandoned houses and kept to less-traveled roads. Few of the mortals they encountered were allowed to live. When they were, the family went by the old name Oberloch, to avoid being identified and to paint themselves as destitute immigrants.
 
 
Paupers to Predators: It was not patriarch Alfred who worried over his family’s condition. He seemed curiously content to remain at the margins of human existence, numbly feeding off pack animals and wayward victims. It was wife Alice who shook clear of her bloodthirsty fog after almost three decades. She began to see the truth of the family condition, recognizing just how far they had fallen. At that point she had some comprehension of their abilities and curse, and wondered if they could do more. Didn’t their curse afford them some benefit? They were once the royalty of a small but comfortable castle. Could become such again? Alice decided that sleeping in mud and dirt (or at best, in the husk of a burned-out barn) did not suit her clan. With that decision, she marched into the nearest town, a place called Harmony that boasted less than a 100 citizens. Now, like before, she saw the townsfolk for what they were — resources. Except now they were not beings who could be exploited for money. They were bags of fat and muscle who could be exploited for their blood, and with blood came strength. Alice found great delight in doing what she wanted, when she wanted; her family could exist like kings again. But she also saw the potential for even more freedom than before. Alice felt that her family was still human to a point, only without any need for morality or mortal law. She saw the town of Harmony as the first stop on the road to reclaiming her family’s wealth and power.
 
 
Family Legacy: After a couple decades spent in Harmony, Alice could see what was happening to her. She was growing old. The effect was barely noticeable to others, but the faint stench of entropy wafted from her flesh and bones. Her hair lost some of its luster. The skin around her eyes tightened. Alice felt revulsion at the notion. If her loved ones still aged, were they truly immortal? Or were their lives only extended, their days multiplied until an ineluctable death? The family couldn’t be allowed to suffer such a fate. Time could still destroy them, it seemed, and so she set them to breeding. Of course, “breeding” involved the Embrace and bringing chosen humans into the fold. The first adopted Oberlochs were selected for their hardiness of body and cruelty of intention. Unfortunately, extending the family came with the unanticipated consequence of the clan growing too big for its tiny town. Food supply was limited, so Alice sent her new children away to make a “life” of their own a few towns over. She gave them the latitude to choose their own paths and set them off. Since that night, the Oberlochs have carried on the family tradition, unknowingly honoring the decisions made by the Brood matriarch so many years ago. The family spreads to new towns, driven by wanderlust and that slow-burning need to procreate, and there it sets up shop. If blood runs dry or family gets bored, they move on. Over the years, some have considered going to the city where food would be more plentiful, but whispers of other creatures and a general disgust for all things urban have kept them to the backwater burgs of North America.
 
 
OLD ALICE: The family matron now known as Old Alice is still around, despite suggestions that her existence is nothing more than a fable. She still dwells in the first family haven of Harmony, Pennsylvania, contained mostly to a single room where she rants and raves about what she believes is prophecy, and what her keepers believe is mad gibbering. Her tenders (old members of the line) take her out from time to time to “visit” with other Oberlochs. Such ancillary family rarely meet Old Alice’s expectations, and end up as either food or ash.
 
 
Society and Culture: The Oberlochs are unlike most other Kindred. The unique features and attitudes of the line keep its members isolated — both physically and socially — from other vampires. The Brood maintains its own tenets and traditions, many of which are detailed below.
 
 
Ties That Bind: Oberloch vampires are obviously not family in the strict sense of the word. Vampires may not be able to breed biologically, but they do have the ability to create progeny by supernatural means. Any mortal found to be a candidate for membership is introduced to undeath. Prior to the Embrace, however, mortals are put through a grisly initiation. Qualification involves no one thing; initiation customs differ from town to town. For the most part, tests cultivate the tragic bond that can arise between battered wife and abusive husband, or hostage and hostage-taker. The family creates in the mortal a sense of “learned helplessness.” The Oberlochs strip everything from the victim: money, possessions, transportation, family, friends. The Brood assumes control of his resources or replaces them. In the case of money, the Oberlochs take it and offer to spend it sparingly on the victim’s needs (on food, for instance), provided he “stays put.” In the case of friends and family, the vampires attempt to subsume those roles. When the subject needs something, the family may indulge it — or may inflict violence. The mortal is deprogrammed through a cycle of intermittent reward and punishment. Months pass and the subject’s life becomes the property of the Brood. Provided he remains sufficiently debased, but strong enough to be worthy of the family name, he is Embraced. Establishing bonds doesn’t end there, though. Family is the cornerstone of the bloodline. Members hold no actual love for one another (attempts at manifesting the emotion result in little more than funhouse mockery of the sentiment), but they do maintain powerful bonds of loyalty and protectiveness over those “of the blood.” It’s therefore critical to ensure that the newly inducted are faithful to flesh and blood. The family inflicts several tests of loyalty over the first few years of a neonate’s existence. Such tests are meant to reveal just how far a vampire is willing to go to fulfill the family’s greater good. Will she kill a puppy? A human child? An adult? Will she risk Final Death to obtain an old Oberloch heirloom or sepia-stained photograph? Family members are encouraged to come up with new tests and challenges on the fly, all in an effort to gauge a neonate’s fidelity. (Sometimes, these tests manifest as blood bonds with one another; some Oberlochs do mistakenly associate this supernatural devotion as some kind of twisted “love.”) A neonate who fails a test is not cast aside or destroyed. After all, the family doesn’t bolster its ranks by senselessly punishing transgressions. Family is family and each member, young or old, deserves some latitude. Should enough tests (or one important one) fail, however, the transgressor is sure to be punished beyond the rational thresholds of education and pain. The same goes for any Oberloch of any age who attempts to betray the line’s heritage. Treachery against the Brood — which might be as simple as fleeing the family or cursing the Oberloch’s good name — is forgivable, provided the offender is duly punished and makes up for such duplicity. Serious betrayals (such as killing a Grandparent or calling down mortal authorities on the family) are met with a slow and arduous Final Death.
 
Small-Town Horror: The villages and hamlets of the world are largely unoccupied by Kindred. Most vampires flock to cities because they offer both anonymity and an unending supply of blood. The Oberlochs have little interest in traveling to cities. Not only are they filthy places, dens of the kind of corruption that corrodes family ties, but members see little reason to be the little fish in a big, stagnant pond. They’d far rather be the biggest — the only — predators in a given area, so they choose the small towns of America to settle down. The Brood looks for a few key characteristics when attempting to stake its territorial claim in a new place. First, a town has to be self-contained. A tiny burg of 200 or so people usually does the trick, but some members have been known to settle down in towns populated by just under a thousand. Second, a town can’t be too close to urban civilization. Not only does such modernity make old Oberlochs uncomfortable, it doesn’t lend itself to the tried and true techniques of domination that the clan has established. Thus, a chosen town must be at least 10 miles from a major highway, and at least 50 miles from a major city. Places located between cities are ideal. Such locales can attract travelers who stray from the beaten path, and they make for good, untraceable blood sources. Oberlochs also select new members from the ranks of these wayward folks. Most Brood members are completely ignorant of vampire society, so know nothing of the Traditions. And yet, the line upholds a loose version of the Masquerade. Such a rule has no name and no Oberloch is technically bound by it, but the experience of old family members makes it clear that lording too openly over humans is likely to get one beaten or destroyed. That said, the Oberlochs don’t hide, either. Mortals living in a town with these backwater monsters tend to sense that something is wrong, even if they don’t know what. The family tells of a few towns — locations hidden far from cities in states such as Alaska, Colorado and Maine — where Oberlochs live openly as vampires, ruling human herds as a rancher does cattle. Such stories may be legend, but some Brood swear they’ve been to these promised lands.
 
 
 
Generations: The bulk of the family far and wide consists of neonates and ancillae. It counts only two or three known elders, and few have ever encountered these Oberloch forebears. As mentioned, neonates are put through sporadic examinations of loyalty, but that’s not to say they’re distrusted completely. New vampires of the blood — usually called “striplings” or “saplings” — are treated as if part of something far bigger than a normal, mortal existence. While they receive nothing that could be termed love or compassion, striplings do enjoy an occasional modicum of respect. They’re treated better than other mortals who wander into town, for example. Such consideration is simply tempered with a dose of caution for new blood, as a newly Embraced member technically remains “undeclared” until her Blood Potency reaches 2. Until that time, the neonate is watched askance to make sure she doesn’t bolt for the hills. As the months and years pass, neonates are given longer leashes by their sires (or “parents”) in an effort to engender faith. (Note that the Oberloch family does not allow other vampires to become part of the Brood. While a Gangrel can enter the family at Blood Potency 4, no Grandfather allows such a violation of familial trust. Other vampires are seen as weak-willed cousins at best. At worst, they’re perceived as diabolical outsiders worthy of a “burnin’ out back of the house.”)
 
 
Duties and Traditions: The following is a brief list of potential obligations observed by many Oberlochs. This list is hardly exhaustive. Nor is it codified in any way. Any Brood in a given town may adhere to these customs as if they were handed down by God, or may ignore them altogether in favor of a different set of practices.
• The oldest Oberloch in town is called Grandmother or Grandfather. His or her will supercedes the judgment of all other local family members.
• Those vampires below Grandmother/Grandfather who have sired childer are called father or mother.
• Neonates are allowed to Embrace another when their Requiem has reached 10 years. At that point, they gain what is typically referred to as “breeding rights.” An Oberloch may sire only one childe every 10 years (and are, in fact, expected to). Excess breeding results in the destruction of a new childe… or of an old one. Sire’s choice.
• Neonates are expected to fetch food for the oldest Oberloch in town.
• Should family members choose to ghoul local mortals, such people are called “cousins.”
The only rule in place that’s considered inviolate is what the family calls “The First Law.” This obligation, taught to potential Oberlochs even before their Embrace, is simple. “Blood comes first. Never betray the Blood.” While the law is purposefully vague, it implies that any treachery against the Brood will be met with the harshest of punishments. The First Law often adorns signs posted on or around family property, sometimes scrawled in blood, paint or feces. Some rebuke such disgusting ways, instead making cross-stitched wall hangings or wooden carvings with the message front and center.
 
 
Horror Houses: When select members of the family branch out and attempt to settle down in a new town, the first thing they do is seek out an appropriate familial haven (referred to as a “homestead” or “rooming house”). This group dwelling is usually the biggest and most obvious building in town. It could be anything from an antebellum old-money mansion to a crumbling old sewing mill; from a run-down amusement park to a doublewide. The Oberlochs kill the occupants or keep them alive (for food or to become future Brood members), establishing a “safe” place from which to pursue family endeavors. In these horrid sanctuaries, the Oberlochs acquire food, raise grotesque pets, Embrace new childer and even hold violent parties and gatherings. Despite the family’s auspicious and mannered origins, havens tend to run toward disheveled and disgusting. Some actually refer to these places as “horror houses” (as a point of pride). Over time, the places can become models of chaos and fear. Pictures are torn off walls, claw-foot bathtubs are stained with blood, human and animal carcasses are buried haphazardly in the yard. Some havens don’t maintain utilities (although wise members know to steal money from travelers or townsfolk, which can be used to pay power and water bills). Some may even have animals (feral cats, possum or bats) living in otherwise unoccupied rooms. Not all the Oberlochs exist like this, though. Young members tend to preserve a greater semblance of humanity. It’s the older, stranger Brood who often reside this way, making lurid hell-houses out of once-stately manors.
 
 
Moving in: When one or several Oberlochs move into a town and establish a new home, they apply a loose-but-effective strategy in “claiming” the area. The first move involves gaining control over a few prominent townsfolk. These could be deputies, reverends, ministers, teachers or clerks. The means of influencing such people varies. Clever newcomers dig up dirt on mortals, hoping to gain some kind of blackmail leverage. Bribery or threats also work. Some Oberlochs go so far as to kidnap a loved one, using the victim as a semi-permanent bargaining chip. Beyond that, other methods include use of Disciplines (specifically Dominate) or making targets into ghouls. Only under extreme circumstances do Brood members Embrace significant townsfolk this early on. From there, the Oberlochs choose their homestead for at least the initial stages of settlement. Some make this the first step, but many recognize the need to have a few “fish on the line” first. After all, taking over a house by murdering its occupants could attract local police. It helps to have one or several officers already under thumb. A homestead provides a place to plot how to claim more of the town as a hunting ground. Is there a bus depot that brings in the occasional runaway? Does the police station have holding cells that might contain a few drunks who won’t be missed? Where do the bad kids, s m a l l - t o w n criminals or hermits live? As the months go by, the Oberlochs scheme to take control of these areas. Of course, “control” is an ambiguous term. It could mean simply putting one of the family nearby to stalk such places and bring back food, or it could involve actively Dominating or ghouling appropriate parties to claim new turf. Oberlochs may stay in a given town for six months or 60 years, depending on how secure the family’s hold is. Should the Brood feel that it’s losing control, it may move on. The family may also pack its bags for other reasons, such as if law enforcement threatens dominance, if other supernatural beings intrude, or if the accursed city encroaches upon rural existence. Any of these are reason enough to skip town. The world is full of meaningless little villages, each one practically bursting with unclaimed blood. The Brood rarely chooses territory that’s already claimed, whether by blood kin, other vampires or other creatures. The clan prefers fruit that’s free for the picking. Too many conflicts from the get-go only serve to weaken the family unit. That’s not to say, however, that members don’t accidentally settle down in someone else’s backyard. The Oberlochs aren’t omniscient.
 
 
HUMAN PERSPECTIVE: What do local townsfolk think of a cadre of Oberlochs moving in? Often, not
much. They certainly don’t assume that such backwoods oddballs and nocturnal rednecks are creatures of the night. The general assumption is that the newcomers are just goddamn weird. Most small towns have families like that. They might live up on a hill just outside of town, have a pack of barking dogs penned up by chain-link fence, or can be seen staring through the windows of shops or restaurants. The unsettling family, whether alive or dead, is the object of whispered rumors and legend. Locals recognize that such people are off-kilter or potentially dangerous, but are often content to leave it at that. Of course, that’s until their kids go missing after playing too close to “the old farmhouse.” 
 
 
Family Fugitives: Not all Oberlochs are happy to be a part of such a tight-knit, undead family. Truth is, most neonates are frightened and appalled at what they are, but are made to see the error of their ways by parents and elders. Happy or not, few Oberlochs ever escape the family’s clutches. Oh, most try. Few are able to succeed for long, though. Members who go over the fence often make it one or two towns down the road, maybe getting as far as a couple counties away. The Brood doesn’t take to such treachery, and goes through Hell and high water to bring escapees back. The clan organizes what’s commonly called a “rabbit hunt.” Most times the escapee is found, corralled and returned, whether willingly or by force. The fugitive faces whatever justice the Grandmother or Grandfather deems appropriate. Punishment is usually harsh and torturous, but rarely involves destruction unless this isn’t the first or even second attempt. Under those circumstances, getting the offender to cut himself his own switch has obviously taught him nothing, and the next “switch” is driven into his heart. A handful of the Brood has managed to escape completely. They find relative safety in cities. While a hunting party may attempt to track a “rabbit” into the urban press, hunters lose much of their power in the city. Not only are family members uncomfortable or ignorant about metropolitan areas, but their allies there are few and far between. Those rare Oberlochs who make it to the outside world of vampire society find it quite surprising. The sheer presence of a city may not be shocking (some individuals came from cities), but the existence and nature of other supernatural beings — especially other vampires — is often unforeseen. Leaving the relatively simple rules of the Brood behind means entering a realm with infinitely more complex social and political entanglements. It’s important to note that any Oberloch character who goes to the city as a fugitive is ignorant of most of vampire society, and may run afoul of the Traditions. Resident Kindred who come across such a newcomer may try to learn more about this aberrant bloodline (and may be surprised to discover that the countryside harbors more of these back-road bloodsuckers). Or they could try to put the Oberloch to Final Death should the rube breach the Traditions too often or too blatantly.
 
 
Ignorance: “No man is an island,” or so the saying goes, but the Oberlochs try very hard to make that proverb true. Family members have little interest in interacting with the outside world. Extending a hand to the unknown is an invitation to have it bitten off at the wrist. The Brood would rather remain insular and regionally powerful in the small towns it has infested. This isolation translates into a general ignorance about other supernatural beings. Publicly, the family knows enough about Lupines (see below), very little about other vampires, and nothing about the existence of witches or wizards. Such ignorance is not applicable across the board, though. While neonates almost certainly go dumb, old Oberlochs (some ancillae and the scarce few elders) know more than they’re willing to share. It’s inevitable that over a period of nearly two centuries some members have run into Kindred from other clans and covenants. While such run-ins haven’t yielded a great deal of information, providing only a piecemeal understanding of vampiric existence outside the family, some Oberlochs at least realize that they’re not alone in their condition. Obviously, the bloodline’s progenitors (Old Alice, specifically) had awareness of other vampires, but none ever anticipated the scope of Kindred existence. Some old family members have also had encounters with supposed witches. Most of these hypothetical snake charmers were just as isolated as the Oberlochs — women of the Jersey Pine Barrens capable of casting hexes, or Appalachian men who could tell the future by throwing turkey bones and reading animal droppings. It is as yet uncertain if the lineage has ever encountered “real” mages. No matter what, the Oberlochs keep the existence of other supernatural creatures hidden from most family. Elders find it useful to keep the majority in the dark, making the oldest the be all, end all of the unearthly world. This code of silence does, however, leave elders alone to speculate about the connection between them and the world’s denizens. Most are content to dismiss other Kindred as nothing more than inferior cousins, but some wonder if they themselves are the true aberrations. It’s rumored that some of the Brood have kidnapped a few “city” vampires, and keep them contained in old root cellars to learn more about the deviant relatives. Since none have ever witnessed such outsiders, it’s hard to tell if such tall stories are just that, or if victims simply have yet to escape.
 
 
Lupines: The Oberloch line has had its share of contact with werewolves. The first encounter was in 1922 in the small town of Henley, deep in the Jersey Pine Barrens. Local family members clashed with the brutish wolf-men over the course of several nights, engaging in a bloody, protracted game of cat-and-mouse. The vampires didn’t know what the hell they were dealing with. Obviously, monsters existed; the Oberlochs were proof positive of that. But these things were different: savage and unkempt, coordinating attacks with a feral intelligence. The family didn’t fare well. Only one member escaped, one-armed but with his unlife intact. That vampire, said to be a Grandfather of the Daniel clan, passed on what little he could discern to family members a few counties over. It has since been an implicit family directive to learn more about shapechangers. Specifically, how to kill the Godforsaken predators. Some family members aren’t quite experts on the subject of Lupines, but know more than most. The Brood asserts many “truths” that are actually homespun superstitions (the beasts are men who fornicated with the Devil, or that werewolves aren’t men at all, but vengeful spirits). One piece of Lupine lore that’s both superstitious and accurate is that these creatures can be harmed by silver. (Indeed, the occasional Oberloch can be found in the cellar of his haven, smelting the previous owner’s silverware down into weapons.) Curiously, many Oberlochs know more about werewolves than they do about other vampires. Despite the family’s ancillary obsession with Lupines, they don’t care enough about the beasts to get too close. The Oberlochs have little interest in a bloody territory war. If there’s proof that werewolves are in an area and could potentially threaten a power base, the vampires are likely to pack their bags and get out of town. There’s no reason to tempt fate. After fleeing, the family may return a few weeks later to test the waters again. If found secure, they probably settle down. If the Lupines continue to loom, that town becomes more or less “dead” to the clan. Only a rare few Oberlochs have attempted to defend their territory against werewolves. The family can relate even fewer success stories.
 
 
 
TEXAS SILVER: The western town of Fort Assumption is home to an old collapsed silver mine called the Babyhead Mine, named for the dried-up creek bed it parallels. The town, once booming, is now mostly devoid of a populace, being counted among the throng of ghost towns in the American West. The town does have a few temporary occupants, though: three Oberloch vampires who subsist in a broken-down RV. These undead (two men by the names of Martin and Uriah, and a recently Embraced teenage girl who goes by Dani) travel to and from the ghost town for one purpose — to collect silver meant for those “damned critters.” These three single-minded Brood members cater to no discussions or alliances with werewolves, and hope to put every last one of them six feet under.
 
 
Devotions: The Oberloch bloodline does not possess its own unique Discipline. The vampires don’t really know enough about their condition, even after a hundred or more years, to truly manifest any unique strains of power. The fact of their deviance from the Gangrel clan is as much demarcation as they are intuitively capable of. The family has, however, managed to evolve a few special tricks in the form of Devotions. These powers are largely secret and are meant for the bloodline alone. While it’s not impossible that outsiders would or could learn these powers (see “Family Fugitives,” above, for an idea on how another vampire could encounter Brood members), it’s unlikely. Besides, while these Devotions serve the family and its needs well, they may not be much good to other Kindred. The following capabilities are only a sampling of what the Oberlochs know. The family is spread far and wide, but also very thin. Some clusters may know these tricks or be altogether ignorant of them. Others may have concocted their own home-brewed powers meant to suit the specifics of their nightly existence.
 
 
Мекхет.
Алуcинор
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The rapacious, cannibalistic nature of Kindred lends them a nightmarish quality in fiction, but the Alucinor reside within those horrid dreams. This is not to say that they are nothing more than figments of imagination. Rather, the Alucinor have a powerful sensitivity to dreams and nightmares. While the potent psyche of the Beast allows some Kindred to invade the minds of mortals, the mind of a "Sandman" roams the dreams of other beings, collecting imagery and sometimes encroaching on mortal slumber with a restless, crawling sense of horror. While evidence points to the foundation of the Alucinor sometime around A.D. 450, the bloodline has always remained small in numbers. For the most part, Sandmen have remained behind the scenes, using their curious oneiromancy to advise Princes or embarrass enemies. The most prominent, recent and known Alucinor appearance focused on one Ariadne Metaxas, a Greek Cypriot Mekhet, who created a stir in 1931 when she evidenced the unusual capabilities of the line. She was alleged to have sent dream-images to several of Paris' established Kindred before she arrived at her first salon in the city, conveying a recognizable image of herself before they'd ever met. Ultimately, Metaxas proved to be little more than a social butterfly who'd attuned herself to the Blood after a series of haunting dreams. By 1935, she succumbed to increasingly traumatic nightmares. After becoming little more than a shattered husk of her former self, obsessed with the then-nascent writings of Carl Jung, she disappeared from the social scene. Sightings of Alucinor have remained uncommon since. Perhaps a dozen have made their way through American cities in the last decade. Alucinor generally fall into one of two social categories: Those whose obsession with dreams leads them into inward-focused detachment, and those who retain a keen insight into others' psyches. The former rarely interactwith other vampires, shunning contact because the fever-dreams of torporous Kindred often convey powerful, terrifying imagery. The latter tend to be hangers-on at courts, using their peculiar insights to play on the hidden fears and desires of the undead. More than one Alucinor has parlayed her visions into a useful advisory position, educating a Prince or elder about his enemies in exchange for protection and favors. Even more so than most Mekhet, the Alucinor have a bent for prophecy. Their ability to interpret stolen dreams gives members of the line an edge in fathoming the hidden motives of mortals and Kindred. Overexposure to others' dreams can cause problems, though. Alucinor suffer from occasional intrusions of dreams into their waking moments. Their own nightmares can also warp due to the influence of strong emotions from other sleepers, causing them to experience false memories. Much like Kindred who spend too much time in torpor, Alucinor can be uncertain of what memories are fact and what are imagined. Sandmen who become highly attuned to dreams are often withdrawn and cryptic, given to conclusions based less on logic than on hallucinatory insight. Most fear torpor and the inevitable nightmares that it portends. On one recent occasion, an exclamatory Alucinor demanded audience at a Kindred gathering in order to give dire predictions based on the hidden tensions of the city's political elite. His warnings proved at least partially correct. He suffered Final Death within a week when a particularly torrid nightmare gripped him and sent him sleepwalking during the day.
 
Parent Clan: Mekhet
 
 
Nickname: Sandmen
 
 
Covenant: Those Alucinor who focus on dream symbolism tend to avoid the social trappings of Kindred society and remain nominally unbound. Nevertheless, the Kindred need for social acclaim (or the pressure of politics) sometimes drives a Sandman into sporadic contact with certain others. The Ordo Dracul has the most contact with the Alucinor. The Order goes out of its way to puzzle out occult symbols in Alucinor dreams, while Sandmen appreciate the society's focus on exploring the mysteries of the vampiric condition. Members of the Ordo Dracul suspect that Alucinor attunement to dreams may reflect a higher level of consciousness, and could be a stepping stone in the process of relieving the undead condition. Some Princes of Carthian or Invictus bent seek the Alucinor out for their insights into the Kindred psyche, a role that the unscrupulous Sandman may even relish. Line members who don't eschew society often fall into one of these camps, because resultant political contacts are useful in night-to-night survival. The worldly focus of both covenants also helps to ground the Alucinor in affairs of the present. At least one line member has taken his dreams as divine messages and sought out membership in the Lancea Sanctum. The Spear as a whole has not yet decided whether the Alucinor are touched by holy insight or haunted by demons. Nevertheless, a significant faction argues that Alucinor dreams may be a sign of divine inspiration, or possibly visions of Heaven and Hell, so they merit further investigation. The Circle of the Crone sees Alucinor insight as a feminine aspect, but the bloodline itself is equally composed of males and females, and the Sandmen generally have no special interest in the philosophies of Acolytes in any case. Some Alucinor believe the Circle may have a means to control nightmares, and seek out that information, but Kindred occultism being as jealously guarded as it is, no remedies have been revealed.
 
 
Appearance: Although young line members tend to dress in a manner suited to the time of their Embrace, the toll of an existence half-dominated by fantasy and whimsy causes them to become eccentric over time. New Alucinor favor tasteful, relaxed clothes from the mortal world. Eventually, the pressures of nightmares cause these undead to develop a distracted air. They give up on following kine fashions, instead becoming stuck in the same styles they wore when they joined the bloodline. Some go so far as to eschew care for their appearance completely, becoming haggard and unkempt. Alucinor who delve deeply into Insomnium sometimes become so distanced from their physical states that they wear only tattered nightgowns, worn-out ensembles or threadbare antiques, perceiving the physical world as somehow less real than their own dreams. Sandmen who remain tied to Kindred politics favor the dark, forbidding attire more common to the Mekhet in general.
 
 
Havens: Young and old Alucinor alike prefer secure, secretive lairs where they can conduct their studies of psychology in seclusion. For Alucinor with a bent toward politics, this means a compound in the city, usually in an academic, upper-class location. A few Alucinor even take up residence as "permanent guests" with their patrons. Sandmen who eschew politics gravitate toward rural estates, where they can avoid dealing with other Kindred. Rustic Sandmen focus ever more deeply on peeling back layers of meaning from their odd visions. Alucinor are as likely as any other Kindred to have (or not have) various servants in their homes. Most line members avoid using traps or heavy security; a single hallucinatory episode might be enough to kill oneself in one's own haven.
 
 
Background: The Alucinor bloodline has no moratorium on membership; Mekhet become Sandmen by personal predilection rather than by some sort of initiation. Exact membership numbers are impossible to determine, as the Alucinor would never congregate as a whole. Rather, they tend to spring from Mekhet who have an attraction to symbolism. Those who give themselves over to fantasies, flights of fancy or twisted imaginings. Alucinor often quest for the cryptic meaning hidden in some form of art, whether by seeking the underpinnings of James Joyce's writing, by searching for connections to reality in Salvador Dali's paintings, or by whispering prayers to every Catholic saint over a reliquary saved from destruction during the Dark Ages. These perlustrations through abstraction can lead to insight or madness. A vampire, whatever his reason to attune to the bloodline, tends to become consumed with symbolism to the point of losing functionality. For most would-be Alucinor, this is simply a journey into understanding a greater aspect of their own nature and subconscious urges. When an Alucinor creates a new Kindred (a rare event), the convert is as likely as not to go his own way. Choices of progeny can range from the lures that attract normal vampires -- utility, sensuality, camaraderie -- to esoteric choices based on a moment of symbolism. Childer are not coerced into joining the lineage, although those who go out of their way to direct their blood in a different direction generally drift away from their sires. Outsider Mekhet who force themselves into alignment with the lineage may garner some degree of scorn or respect, depending on their approach. Those who don't appreciate the significance of dream interpretation are often rebuffed, on the rare occasion of a bloodline meeting.
 
 
Character Creation: Most Alucinor are startlingly insightful, although the practicality of their erudition is another matter. As questers seeking self-knowledge and understanding of symbols, line members usually have sharp, intuitive minds. Mental Attributes tend to be high, with Social Attributes well-rounded and Physical Attributes ranging from frail to average. Many Alucinor have a low Resolve, though, stemming from their inability to separate fact from fancy. The Alucinor also tend to rely on Mental and Social Skills, while Physical Skills atrophy to rudimentary levels. Alucinor who've been around for any length of time often invest a great deal of effort into supporting a proper Haven, so that they can remain closeted away in safety.
 
Bloodline Disciplines: Auspex, Celerity, Insomnium, Obfuscate
 
 
Weakness: As inheritors of Mekhet Blood, Alucinor bear the burden of their parent clan. Whenever Sandmen suffer damage from sunlight or fire, they take an additional point of aggravated damage from that source. Yet, strange dreams and nightmares also trouble an Alucinor with every day of corpse-like rest. Over time, these visions intrude on the vampire's waking hours. Sandmen sometimes have difficulty remembering whether a particular trauma was real or just a hallucination. An Alucinor never regains Willpower as a result of a day's sleep. The vampire can also have difficulty distinguishing whether she is currently awake or asleep and dreaming. One scene per chapter (game session), the Storyteller may inject a piece of delusion into the Alucinor's experiences, such as an overheard snatch of conversation that doesn't seem real, or a brief glimpse of an event that may or may not actually happen. These hallucinations rarely last more than a few seconds and usually inject only a single object or phrase into the Alucinor's mind. When they happen, however, all rolls made for the character suffer a -1 penalty for the remainder of the scene. From time to time, Alucinor also experience bits of dreams creeping into their conscious moments as a side effect of the Insomnium Discipline, which can lead to even further confusion. Not even powers such as Auspex help alleviate this problem (the subject's mind excels at tricking itself, after all).
 
 
Organization: There's no organization to the Alucinor beyond their shared connection to dreams. Of course, Sandmen in reasonably close proximity become aware of one another quickly; use of the most basic Insomnium powers can let them sense the mélange of dreams that afflict any of their own kind. The Alucinor are probably one of the few bloodlines with a motive to actively discourage interaction with others of their blood. These vampires dislike being reminded of their particular burden, and tend to be embittered when forced into the company of others who represent their own shortcomings. Even Alucinor sires and childer tend to become estranged after a short time.
 
 
Concepts: Dreamtime shaman, information broker, lunatic, political analyst, oracle, psychologist, sleep therapist, surrealist artist.
 
 
History: In spite of the Alucinor low profile until 1931, their history reaches back much further. Unreliable but recurring nightmares in the lineage suggest that the line founder was female, and she diablerized a much older vampire some time during the era of the Roman Empire. The imprint of the elder’s personality permanently twisted the psyche of the then-fledgling, leaving her sensitive to others’ strong emotions and personalities while she slept. A few Alucinor even speculate that the diablerized elder’s personality has fragmented and resides in every Alucinor, emerging during slumber to look for tiny pieces of dreams that remind it of its former self. Since the founder remains hidden away, the brood uses the name Alucinor from the Latin term for the world of dreams. No other proper name is known. Legend aside, the Alucinor definitely predate the modern era. The effects of their Insomnium Discipline may contribute to medieval stories of succubi. (Indeed, the Lancea Sanctum is quick to caution that this possible influence reinforces the possibility of demonic influence in the bloodline.) During the Renaissance, when artists called upon Muses and dreams for inspiration, the Alucinor may have had a hand in some of the disturbing (and later surreal) art that came out of the period. If there is a founder from ancient times, her actual identity remains shrouded. Ariadne Metaxas supposedly aligned herself to the lineage after several months of communion in dreams, chasing after a barely visible image of an androgynous figure. This figure, presumably the line’s progenitor, has never been met in person in the modern age — at least, as far as anyone knows. Alucinor who commit diablerie reportedly suffer intense nightmares in which a shrouded figure beckons to them, accusingly or hungrily. It is even remotely possible that the first Alucinor has herself become nothing more than a roaming nightmare, limited to communion with her line through rare glimpses into their sleeping psyches. Alucinor history in Kindred society primarily concerns the few who sell their services for political gain. This practice gives the Alucinor something of a mercenary reputation. As far as anyone knows, there has never been an Alucinor Prince, but there have been multiple Alucinor advisors to the throne.
 
Society and Culture: The Alucinor lack a coherent organization of their own. They usually retain their mortal habits and dress for a time, those behaviors falling away until only bits and pieces are left and a line member cannot even remember why they were important. Each Alucinor’s outlook on society, mores and personal morality is therefore an unconscious amalgamation of her mortal experiences, her vampiric urges, and the jarring images that lurk in her dreams. The danger of running afoul of another Alucinor in dreams means that the Sandmen tend to give one another a wide berth.
 
 
THE DREAM DANCE: Thanks to hallucinations brought on by waking dreams, Alucinor sometimes experience “events” that aren’t real, or misremember events in twisted ways. Ultimately, the burden is upon the player to portray the unique flaw of the bloodline, but players who insist on refusing to do so should certainly suffer its effects by Storyteller decree — and chronically. Alucinor can, after all, be victimized while asleep by the Insomnium powers of other Sandmen, or caused to misremember crucial facts. Since the Storyteller is the only arbiter on what any given character sees and hears, she can selectively edit a character’s experiences. Maybe a line member can puzzle out what’s true or false with enough reasoning and careful records, but who’s to say that some cherished memory isn’t anything more than a fantasy? This weakness could be handled as something like the Amnesia Flaw, but without any experience point rewards for portraying the trait
 
 
Insomnium: The signature Discipline of the Alucinor indicates not sleeplessness, but rather the tendency of dreams to intrude upon the Sandmen, even while they’re awake. The Alucinor wield a subtle power over dreams, but this subtlety also means that it is sometimes impossible to determine what effects, if any, a given manifestation of Insomnium may take. Like dreams themselves, effects of the Discipline are often transitory and ephemeral. Even an Alucinor of immense Blood Potency can rarely exert fine control. The elder’s powers have sublime influence on his consciousness, instead. Of course, the Alucinor ability to manipulate sleep and dreams has its shortcomings. Insomnium cannot change one’s own dreams; a Sandman can reach out to tug at another’s dream and give it a specific tenor, but she remains the servant of her own terrors when trapped in a personal nightmare.
 
Кхаибит (Клан анимэ вампиров -_-)
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The ancient Khaibit bloodline is dying out. This Mekhet offshoot seems to have lost its reason for existence. Traditionally, members of the lineage have served blood magicians in the Circle of the Crone. A Khaibit procures victims for his master to feed upon, manages her worldly affairs and generally frees her to concentrate on her mystical research. When necessary, a Khaibit also serves as bodyguard, thief or even assassin. A Khaibit's favored Disciplines make him an excellent guard: Auspex to notice a danger, Celerity to react quickly and Vigor to strike hard, replacing the Mekhet's usual penchant for concealment. Khaibit also carry an aptitude for a rare Discipline, generally believed to be the line's invention long, long ago. Other Kindred call the Mekhet "Shadows," but the Khaibit can develop actual power over darkness. Indeed, their power to evoke, shape and become darkness led to the bloodline's name -- the ancient Egyptian word for "shadow." Now, however, few people accept eternal service to another, living or undead. Old Khaibit seldom find childer willing to carry on the bloodline's traditional role. Young Khaibit refuse to serve and sometimes join covenants other than the Circle. Disgusted sires may refuse to initiate such "disobedient" neonates into the bloodline's power, or elect to teach childer who awaken Khaibit blood on their own. Increasing numbers of Kindred think of line members simply as "Mekhet with shadow powers." Indeed, many young Khaibit see themselves that way. Very few neonates ever learn their bloodline's true, original purpose. Then again, few elders remember it, either. The Khaibit were not always "undead butlers." The lineage's true history is hidden by time and geography. Long ago, Mekhet vampires led a secret cult dedicated to Set, the Egyptian god of war, desert, chaos and darkness. Some Mekhet also became warriors of the cult. Their symbol was the asp -- a silent, deadly killer, and one of Set's totem animals. As Christianity spread, the Cult of Set declined, even among the undead. By A.D. 1000, the Dark God's cult was nearly extinct. Tonight, some Khaibit protect the few ancient Kindred who still revere the Dark God, and tend to the cult's long-hidden subterranean temples. They also protect other ancient sites that the world has forgotten. On rare occasions, they travel in order to recover artifacts of the cult and other potent magical relics. Most of the bloodline, however, abandoned their duty with the Cult of Set's demise. Remnants of the group joined the Circle of the Crone and brought many other Khaibit with them. Over the centuries, the line became procurers and valets, leg-breakers and guards, a veritable emotional compensation for the higher duties their blood once demanded, but which were lost. The ancient Egyptians regarded Set as a dangerous, frightening and evil god... but it took a fearsome god to protect the world against yet darker powers. The Sun God could not rise every morning without Set to battle Apep, the primordial serpent-demon of darkness. Set kept the demons in the Netherworld, where they belonged. The "Asps" aided Set's work. They walked shadowy places where other Kindred feared to go, and made darkness their servant. They fought entities from beyond death and before time began, creatures that would have destroyed Creation or remade it to suit their own malignant desires. Some Khaibit still maintain their ancient duty, watching gates that must remain closed, and hunting the servants of the Eldest Powers. Few of them remain, however. So few to keep the sun rising, a sun they can never see themselves.
 
Parent Clan: Mekhet
 
Nickname: Asps (ancient role), servants (modern role)
 
Covenant: In the last thousand years, the Khaibit have served the Circle of the Crone almost exclusively. More than half the bloodline sticks by this old bond. Indeed, some Asps have become competent blood magicians in their own right, instead of merely serving them. In the last two centuries, some Asps took service among the Invictus, the Ordo Dracul or to a much lesser degree the Lancea Sanctum and Carthians. Now, Khaibit who don't know or care about tradition join whatever covenant suits their personalities or goals.
 
Appearance: As with the parent clan, there's no such thing as a typical Khaibit. Line members can be male or female, young or old (in mortal appearance, anyway), or of any race. Asps dress to blend in with the kine around them. Those who fulfill roles as Retainers often prefer their clothes either loose-fitting or carefully tailored to hide protective armor or amulets.
 
Havens: Khaibit who serve as Retainers do not possess havens of their own. They dwell with their masters. Asps who serve as Creation's unseen defenders keep their havens well hidden, and often underground. These dwellings tend to be small and bare, since a line member may need to abandon it if it's compromised. The Khaibit who protect the Cult of Set's long-hidden fanes in Egypt (see below) dwell in cabal temples. These magnificent subterranean complexes include shrines, dormitories for Asps' mortal servants and vessels, training arenas, libraries of ancient lore, and vaults full of salvaged artifacts of the Cult of Set.
 
Background: The Khaibit look for potential childer who share their ethos of respect and support. They typically Embrace mortals who already serve a master or some allied Kindred. Tradition holds that a prospective Asp should first honor his sire and his sire's master as a ghoul, learning the skills needed to serve and protect. Modern Khaibit often forego this requirement, along with the rest of the bloodline's calling, siring whomever is useful. These rogues are in for a surprise if the bloodline's past ever catches up with them: Some Khaibit ancient enemies remember the bloodline and still hold a grudge. The few Asps who carry on the ancient duty of guarding the world from ghosts, demons and worse things were often mortals who fought the supernatural, or who were victimized by it. The Khaibit do not always ask such a prospective childe's permission before Embracing him. When a neonate is simply taken, a sire spends at least seven years training and indoctrinating the childe.
 
Character Creation: The majority of line members who serve as mercenaries or agents got other vampires typically offer a forte that's most useful to a master or employer. A Kindred who seeks a bodyguard and protector typically needs an Asp with primarily Physical traits. Someone who needs an assistant or proxy makes Mental or Social traits a criteria. A character's relative strengths and weaknesses can therefore suggest the type of role he might play as an agent-for-hire. Appropriate Physical, Mental and Social Merits only further specialize a Khaibit's appointed role. Expertise in fighting styles, sense for the supernatural or relationships in mortal affairs makes a servant all the more useful in a particular regard. A Khaibit Embraced to the world's defenders ultimately seeks as much balance as possible among Attributes and Skills. While Physical Attributes might be primary at character creation, Physical Skills might be tertiary, for example. Such well-rounded capabilities are called for since no supernatural being that threatens to invade the world can be defeated in only one way. It takes all of a defender's faculties to prevail. If a character is initiated directly into the line shortly after the Embrace, an extra dot of Blood Potency is required.
 
 
Bloodline Disciplines: Auspex, Celerity, Obtenebration, Vigor
 
Weakness: The Khaibit retain the same weakness as their Mekhet forebears. Whenever Asps suffer damage from sunlight or fire, they take an additional point of aggravated damage from that source. Their affinity with darkness also renders Khaibit less able to resist an instinctive fear of sunlight, anything that burns like sunlight, or anything that could be mistaken for sunlight. As a result, a character suffers a -2 penalty on rolls to resist Rötschreck (fear frenzy) in regard to light.
 
Organization: Those Asps who still protect the relics of Set's cult and who hunt monsters form tiny, cult-like, militant coteries that protect torpid members, record their rule, and preserve their traditions through the centuries. Most Khaibit, however, never meet any other Asps other than their own subservient sires and broodmates.
 
Concepts: Bodyguard, valet, detective, assassin, modern knight, Hound, business manager, vengeful ronin, Lupine-hunter, hospice night manager, personal trainer.
 
History: For most Khaibit, their bloodline lacks any history beyond the personal. A member may learn the background of his sire and sire’s sire, but that’s all. The problem is like that of writing a history of the English monarchy’s butlers. For centuries, no one thought the people or their experiences were worth recording. When Khaibit appear in chronicles and legends of the Damned, they usually do so as the lackeys — loyal, treacherous or victimized — of more famous Circle of the Crone members.
 
 
Legendary Origins:The Khaibit emerged from the Mekhet so long ago that history has passed into legend, and few now remember even the legend. Asps who want to hear stories about their bloodline’s origins must seek the most erudite loremasters of the undead, or find one of the tiny, long-isolated Khaibit coteries that still guards a site of mystic power. What’s more, a dedicated investigator discovers multiple stories, not one. Each legend may contain bits of history, but not even the coteries that claim to preserve the ancient ways can tell which details are fact and which are fancy. Tales of the ancient Khaibit and Cult of Set drip with romance. Even vampires who know they are not the world’s only supernatural denizens cannot believe these legends of gods, ghosts, wizards, were-creatures and otherworlds.
 
The Cult of Set: Legends cannot assign a beginning to the Cult of Set. Crumbling scrolls and moldering tomes say the Egyptian god Set founded the group himself before history began, making it the first “covenant” of Kindred. These purported histories do not mention any events earlier than Hellenistic times, though, and even those stories may be fabrications. (No one has ever scientifically dated any of these manuscripts, which may be copies made later.) The most consistent myths say the cult existed to protect the world from perils far worse than vampires. The Damned had to dwell in the world and needed live humans to sustain them. Other creatures did not. The warriors of Set therefore fought evil and powerful ghosts that wanted to drag the living into the world of death. They hunted malignant cults and crazed enchanters who served gods of madness, destruction and oblivion. They battled spirits and monsters from beyond the stars and below the depths of Hell. Things so foul and alien that their very presence warped and eroded reality. The cult’s greatest strength lay in its homeland of Egypt. After Rome conquered Egypt, the cult spread throughout the Mediterranean world and the Middle East. The scrolls and inscriptions in the cult’s long-lost temples say that Set’s paladins of the night saved the world (or at least provinces) many times. Entertaining stories, if one can believe any Kindred could act so selflessly.
 
 
Dark Power: The lost myths of the Khaibit ascribe the bloodline’s genesis to contact with various spiritual or magical forces. The simplest story merely says the god Set gave the lineage’s first members their command over shadow. He supposedly gave that gift so the Khaibit could penetrate the deepest darkness, even unto the deathly realms where light could not shine, and to fight creatures that were shadows themselves. Another story ties the line’s Obtenebration power to the blood of a god. In this romantic myth, a mortal coven summoned Seker, the god who ruled the deepest region of Duat, the Egyptian underworld. Seker sought to bring all Egypt into his realm. Three cunning and mighty Mekhet warriors forced the death-god to return to Duat. They tasted the god’s spilled blood, conferring upon them a measure of dark, divine power. A variation on the same story says a Mekhet warrior fought an enchanter who served Seker. The sorcerer called on Seker’s darkness to destroy the Mekhet. As shadows curdled around the vampire, however, he seized the enchanter and sank his fangs into the mortal. When the shadows dispersed, the enchanter was gone and the Mekhet’s blood had changed. A quite different story says the Khaibit began with the efforts of a great Mekhet sorceress. This blood-witch conjured water from the River of Death that flowed through Duat. She chose the three greatest mortal warriors who served the Cult of Set and gave them the water to drink along with their Embrace. The Water of Death changed the childers’ Vitae, making them the first Asps. Other myths present minor variations on these stories. Sometimes three Mekhet become the first line members (or sometimes seven, or only one). Instead of Seker’s divine blood, supernatural identity comes from feeding on a demon, a ghost or a Nameless Thing. Instead of an undead sorcerer, a mortal mage enchants the founder and changes his blood. Instead of the power coming as Set’s gift, the nascent Khaibit steal the secret of Obtenebration from Seker or learn it from Thoth, the god of magic. After more than 2,000 years, the truth probably doesn’t matter.
 
 
Segue to Servants: Legends about the Cult of Set describe a number of conflicts with ancient covenants. The Camarilla is now the best known of these elder groups. The cult did not disappear because of war with another sect, however. The Egyptian gods simply went out of fashion. By A.D. 200, Egypt was firmly Christian. By 400, Christianity was the official faith of the Roman Empire. Never mind finding childer who still worshipped the Egyptian gods. The Cult of Set had increasing difficulty finding recruits who could treat Set as anything but a fable from pagan times. The Cult of Set was never officially destroyed. It simply withered away. Remaining members joined the Camarilla (assuming that elder covenant was not mythical itself). From the Camarilla, the cult’s mystical secrets passed to the nascent Circle of the Crone. Like the cult, its enemies seem to have declined as well. Perhaps the ghosts, demons and nameless horrors found it more difficult to invade the material world. Perhaps their depredations simply weren’t recorded in the chaos and ignorance that followed Rome’s decline and collapse. Whatever the truth of the matter, the fading sect ceased to chronicle epic battles against its otherworldly foes. The Khaibit followed other Cult of Set members into the Circle of the Crone. And yet that group bestowed its greatest honor unto blood magicians, not warriors. The Khaibit continued to fight enemies of the old cult, such as Lupines and hostile vampires, but they fought at the blood-sorcerers’ command. Gradually, the bloodline shifted from a lineage of shadow warriors to a lineage of bodyguards and minions. Khaibit seldom appear as the protagonists of Circle history or legends. As magic slipped from the world and the covenants established their new balance of power, the bloodline’s martial prowess became steadily less important. Now, even the warriors’ tradition of service is a quaint anachronism. Nobody really needs the Khaibit anymore. At least, they won’t until the gates to the Other open again, and the spectral enemies return.
 
 
Society and Culture: At least half of all Khaibit serve other Kindred. As far as other Damned are concerned, their servants are a bloodline of just that. The Khaibit receive some respect for their capabilities, especially those who are masters of Obtenebration who can take the form of a shadow. Many Kindred would be astonished to learn that the Asps once defended the world from unholy forces. Most Kindred wouldn’t care, though. What could an ancient fight against ghosts and demons matter now?
 
 
An Unlife of Service: Even if a Khaibit chooses not to follow his line’s tradition of service, many do. The lineage’s historic role influences who becomes a Khaibit, why, and how other Kindred treat members.
Employers
Most Khaibit work for prestigious and powerful members of the Circle of the Crone. In some cities, a Khaibit majordomo is a badge of honor for an Acolyte. In such cities, some Kindred may retain at least a subconscious awareness of the bloodline’s ancient purpose. Master magicians know that when a Crúac experiment goes wrong, it’s good to have a Khaibit on hand to deal with whatever arrives in response. A few practitioners of Theban Sorcery or other blood magic seek Asps as well. The desire to co-opt anything the competition values brings Khaibit into the Lancea Sanctum and Ordo Dracul, not to mention among the Unaligned. Some Invictus elders (and those of other covenants to a lesser degree) also seek Khaibit servants. These employers don’t care about blood magic, but they like the idea of a servant as eternal as themselves. Not many Kindred ever accept an eternal unlife of servitude; the Khaibit offer it as their raison d’être. One could always keep a few ghoul retainers, of course, but some elders prefer a servant who doesn’t crumble to dust if you forget to feed him personally and on schedule. A ghoul’s emotional dependence on his regnant also irritates some elders who prefer a cool, professional relationship with an agent. A Khaibit’s employer is not necessarily some moldering elder who tries to uphold the customs of centuries past. Some sires believe their childer deserve perpetual lackeys of their own. The vampire sires a childe, and the elder orders her Khaibit minion to sire one as well. On rare occasions, parallel lineages of Khaibit and members of another clan may be traced back for generations. Most often, a vampire simply hires a Khaibit. Once upon a time, Asps swore oaths to serve their masters. Sometimes an Asp had to accept a blood bond to seal the contract. Very few Princes enforce this tradition anymore (or even know about it). If no Khaibit look for work, a vampire might strike a deal with an Asp’s master. In return for some boon, the master orders his servant to sire and train a childe. Of course, a vampire can also approach a Khaibit and simply try to lure him away from his current master. In some cities, a Khaibit servant comes as part of an office. A leading Acolyte may receive a Khaibit servant along with his appointment as Hierophant. Primogen or Prisci may receive a Khaibit’s service as well. This happens most often among the Mekhet, but can occur for leaders of other clans, too.
Making of a Khaibit A century ago, Khaibit had no problem finding prospective childer. A sizeable portion of the kine population still lived as some kind of servant, especially in Europe. Mortals would not rebel against the notion of serving one master forever. Now, matters are very different. Even a professional butler or live-in valet thinks of himself as a contractor, not a retainer. He provides a service, not servility. Some employers and Khaibit sires accept this change in social attitude. They seek childer among mortals who possess valued talents: professional bodyguards or security guards, secretaries or business managers. Other Asps look for prospects with an emotional need to serve. Nurses, people who have spent years caring for sickly relatives, employees at non-profit and charitable organizations, and all sorts of volunteer workers attract their attention. Quite often, a would-be sire finds a childe among immigrants from the Third World. A Guatemalan au pair or Nigerian waiter may lack the talents to assist a blood magician or to defend a Primogen, but he or she is willing to serve. Knowledge can come later, and the Damned have plenty of time for training. Sometimes a sire tells a prospective childe she has a job offer with unusual opportunities. Only later does the mortal learn that her “job” requires the Embrace. Other times, a sire merely Embraces a mortal, tells her she can’t go back to her old life, and gives her a choice between service and destruction. (Such childer quite understandably show little loyalty to their sires or masters.) Some Asps prefer to blood bond a mortal and train her for several years before delivering the Embrace. When a would-be master contracts for a Khaibit childe, the master may blood bond and train the mortal instead. An Asp sire supplies the Embrace, but may have no other contact with his own childe.l
Duties
A Khaibit’s master defines the extent of his agent’s duties. Common roles include:
• Assistant: Khaibit who serve a blood magician often learn something about their master’s dark arts, so they can prepare materials and contribute to rituals. (Such an assistant is traditionally called a famulus.) Just as important, a good assistant knows when not to intrude on a mystic rite.
• Bodyguard: An Asp is often expected to protect his master from her enemies, whether they be mortal witch-hunters, marauding werewolves or rival vampires.
• Crime: In addition to defending his master, an Asp might attack his master’s enemies. Experienced Khaibit become very good at slipping into a location, administering violence and slipping out again. An agent’s master may also send him to spy on mortals or Kindred opponents, or to steal items needed for rituals (or just items the master wants). Requesting (or demanding) such tasks requires a certain degree of loyalty in a servant, of course.
• General Factotum: An elder might spend time scheming against rivals and not worry about the trivialities of her Requiem, while a blood magician might not want to take time from research to manage his household or connections to the mortal world. A Khaibit Retainer might serve as secretary, chief of staff overseeing mortal servants, or business manager, in addition to any other duties.
• Hunter: A blood magician trying to devise a new ritual doesn’t want to waste time seeking sustenance. Instead, she can send her servant to bring her a vessel. Afterward, the agent can make sure the mortal doesn’t know what happened — or if it comes to it, dispose of the body. All in all, a Khaibit servant can find his unlife as exciting and unpredictable as any other vampire’s. One night, he delivers a bribe to a city councilman. The next, he sneaks into the Primogen council as a shadowy spy. The night after that, he defends his master against an out-of-control demon. On top of this, a modern Khaibit can also find whatever personal interests and entanglements he chooses… or that choose him.
Terms of Service
Modern Khaibit expect something in return for an unlife of dedication. Many receive a straightforward salary. Like mortal cooks and housekeepers, line members often demand and receive regular nights off duty. A Khaibit (or any similar Kindred Retainer) receives a
traditional privilege to hunt in his master’s territory, or to feed from her herd. He may also dwell in his master’s haven. In fact, that’s usually part of his duties. Princes often extend a limited immunity to Khaibit or other Kindred Retainers. If a Khaibit commits an offense against other undead at his master’s behest, the master bears the responsibility. Of course, that assumes anyone can prove the master gave the order… or that the master is not too powerful or too valued an ally to make prosecution a solution. A Khaibit who becomes the fall guy for his master, and other Kindred know the truth, may suffer lighter punishment than another vampire would (at least in some cities). Such dispensation of a servant usually ends the Khaibit’s service, though, unless the master has some other hold on his Retainer, such as a Vinculum or a threat to mortal loved ones. Unfortunately, some elders don’t realize that modern servants are not willing to fall on their swords for their masters’ sake. Modern Khaibit can strike back at treacherous employers and teach other Kindred to fear the shadows.
Shadow Warriors
A fraction of the Khaibit bloodline does not serve other Kindred or operate as “Mekhet with shadow powers.” These few secretly preserve the bloodline’s ancient duty as the world’s guardians. Some of these Asps tend the last, long-hidden shrines to Set, or guard weak points in reality where Things From Beyond can break through. Most of the Cult of Set’s so-called fanes are located in Egypt, but a few secret shrines survive in Europe, the Middle East and North Africa. These temples hold the cult’s records, written on papyrus and parchment scrolls, or inscribed on the walls in classic Egyptian fashion. Anyone who finds one of these shrines learns a great deal about the Kindred of the ancient world. How much of what they learn is true is open to conjecture. Members of the Cult of Set were just as likely as any modern Kindred to misremember the past after a long torpor, and to rewrite history to serve their own interests. More importantly, fanes are treasure-troves of elder magic. The Cult of Set practiced a form of Crúac based on Egyptian ritual magic, concentrating on the use of wax or clay images, hieroglyphic inscriptions, blood offerings, and invocations to Egyptian gods. Any vampire who could retrieve such ancient lore would win great fame in the Circle of the Crone and the Ordo Dracul. (The Sanctified might seek to destroy this “pagan” sorcery, though you never know. Power is power.) The shrines also hold items that ancient cultists regarded as magical. Perhaps some of them still retain their power. Exorcistic sand from the deserts of Duat, blades enchanted to kill spirits, amulets to protect against possession, Dominate or fire — it’s anyone’s guess what wonders a fane might hide. A few other Khaibit keep watch over places where ghosts, demons and stranger things once erupted into the world, and where they might break through again. Sometimes mages in search of knowledge or power deliberately open gates to realms beyond. Khaibit guards make sure no one else foolishly dares these portals, and watch for dark things that slip through. Every century, one or two Khaibit discover their historic role and accept their duty. If they among the undead don’t protect the world, who will? Typically, a small group of Khaibit (or other vampires descended from Cult of Set members) guards each post. Some members lie in torpor while others remain active. If a member suffers Final Death, the others look for a mortal they can Embrace and train to join them. When a shrine or breach-point is far from a major city, the Khaibit might assemble a blood cult of mortals to serve as their herd and additional guards. Some of these little cults have persisted for centuries. Guardian-coteries don’t usually know about each other. Each believes its members are the last to keep the old ways. They have simply lost track of each other over the ages. At most, a coterie might know of one other guard post, thanks to sending mortal allies in search of other lost shrines or breaches. On very rare occasions, Khaibit risk their unlives in quests to retrieve mystic artifacts or to stop spiritual invasions. These Asps seek relics of the Cult of Set for practical and cultural reasons. A ceremonial rod from the old cult might bear some useful enchantment. It might also set mortal archeologists to asking dangerous questions. No Kindred wants the kine learning about ancient cults supposedly led by vampires. Rumors of curses or hauntings may also lead an Asp to seek items or places where outsiders invade the world. If a Khaibit finds such an object or place, he cleanses it or takes it back to his shrine for safekeeping. Discovering a new portal in the world may prompt an Asp to stay and sire a new brood of guards.
 
Discovering Heritage: Any vampire might serve as another Kindred’s Retainer.
The Khaibit stand out because of their secret heritage. You can play a Khaibit without ever bringing in that demon-hunting background, but that background is what makes an Asp more than just a vampire with shadow powers. Most players know a lot more about the World of Darkness than their characters do. The Khaibit just push that distinction a little further. Part of the fun of playing an Asp lies in discovering the character’s heritage as a shadow-warrior. You and the Storyteller may conspire to build a story arc around the discovery, and how your Asp responds to the knowledge that she has a rare power to fight spiritual foes. Does she accept her power and destiny? Does she try to avoid her duty? How do other Kindred — especially a Khaibit’s master — react when they learn the truth?
 
Threat Revealed: If a Storyteller wants to incorporate Khaibit heritage into her chronicle, she needs to establish a danger that Asps are uniquely qualified to fight. Perhaps Kindred come under attack by incorporeal spirits. Maybe vengeful ghosts possess a coterie that lairs in an old mausoleum. A bungled (or successful…) experiment in blood magic could release shadow-creatures that feed on vampires the way vampires feed on mortals. Workers digging the foundations for a new skyscraper could break open a long-sealed and buried portal to a nether-realm. There’s no shortage of possibilities. Next, a Khaibit needs some reason to believe he can do something about such a problem. The easiest way is to have some knowledgeable Kindred say so. Very few vampires know Khaibit ancient history. What luck that one of them dwells in the city! Or a Khaibit from a guard-post coterie might arrive and ask the character to help deal with a problem. For a less blatant approach, an Asp character might receive clues when he uses Obtenebration. He could see a spirit while using Night Sight in total darkness and realize that he can see things that other vampires can’t. Maybe those invisible, incorporeal creatures have some connection to the strange events that so frighten the Kindred community? A Khaibit who has mastered Shadow Form can even touch spirits. An Asp conducting an errand in shadow form might encounter a ghost or demon by chance, suffer an attack, and discover that he can fight an enemy whom no one else can see or strike. Or a spiritual foe might seek out a Khaibit. Kindred have forgotten the Asps’ role in expelling evil spirits from the world, but otherworldly beings have not. The Khaibit is the antagonist’s first target, which gives any “sensibly” paranoid vampire a clue that someone considers him a special threat. But why?
 
In Search of Lost Secrets: Once a Khaibit realizes Obtenebration makes her unusually qualified to deal with spirit foes, what does she do about it? She may try to avoid the situation, of course. Once other Kindred learn of her power, that probably ceases to be an option. Vampires want protection against the invisible, intangible menace, and put pressure on the Asp to defend them. Whether the character selflessly accepts or extorts every concession she can is her choice. The Khaibit quickly realizes that she needs to know more. What is the enemy? How can she fight it most effectively? Have other Khaibit done this before? Is the ancient connection between the line and the Circle of the Crone mere coincidence? Does Obtenebration offer greater powers that are perfectly suited to fighting spirits? When a character learns everything local vampires know about the lineage’s past (which is not much), she can seek information elsewhere. Local Acolytes can contact savants in other cities. The Asp can offer favors in return for information, or even ask for a letter of introduction so she can ask questions in person. A coterie may travel more safely than a lone vampire, so all characters can embark on a thrilling journey and see how the Kindred govern themselves in another city. Then again, a character might tap non-vampiric sources of information. Masters of Crúac or Theban Sorcery might be able to summon oracular spirits to answer questions. Naturally, such covenant members demand favors in return, which can hook an Asp and her coterie into further stories. Ultimately, a line member might find a long-hidden, guard-post coterie and discover her “deathright.” If players want to make Khaibit heritage a major story arc, the coterie might travel all the way to Egypt. (Perhaps with the help of a Rakshasa smuggler? See that bloodline’s description.) This would be a quest worthy of an ancient Khaibit champion.
 
Dark Heroes: A Khaibit who battles for the sake of the world receives no gratitude from mortals (they can never know a fight took place), and very little from her fellow Kindred. Some vampires surely try to exploit a spiritual threat for their own ends. Never mind the danger to the world, as long as they can use the crisis to discredit their rivals! Such Kindred might oppose a would-be shadow warrior, because they don’t want the danger to end on any terms but their own. Other vampires could simply loathe the thought of a servant gaining such power and influence. Still others try to make a Khaibit their own servant, so they can extort favors from other Kindred. In the end, saving the world from nether horrors may be easier than finding a reason to save it at all.
 
Obtenebration:The Khaibit trademark Discipline deals with darkness and shadow, the natural habitat of creatures slain by sunlight. Obtenebration enables its possessor to act more easily in darkness, alter and generate shadows, and to even become a shadow himself. The Discipline has little effect on solid objects, so it requires some ingenuity to use. Obtenebration is as old as the Khaibit themselves. Over the centuries, plenty of Kindred have had opportunity to learn it. The Discipline remains largely confined to the Khaibit, however, since most Kindred don’t see much use for Obtenebration’s basic powers. It’s easier to hire a Khaibit spy who can turn into a shadow than to spend years mastering the Discipline so you can turn into a shadow yourself.
 
 
Кедеша
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The maternal instinct needn't die with the body in a vampire's Embrace. It is not a thing driven by love. It's something altogether more biological, more innate. Many mortals cross the threshold between life and the Requiem and leave any parental inclinations behind, choosing to dwell in the darkness of unlife and adopt complete and total self-interest. Vampires of the Qedeshah bloodline, however, do not choose such selfishness. At least, not from their perspective. This lineage -- composed purely of women, for men suffer a grotesquely failed Embrace -- began just after the Judaic Babylonian exile of ancient nights, or so the story goes. Once temple whores and priestesses to a purported deity known as the Queen of Heaven, the bloodline has shifted and adapted over the ages, joining the modern Danse Macabre as very different creatures from their progenitors. The Qedeshah, also known as Hierodules, see themselves as the mothers of all the Damned. Nursemaids to the Kindred. The Embrace is a curse to be sure, but the Qedeshah prefer to see it as closing one door and opening another. The Requiem does not end their matronly duties, they say. Nor does it kill the capacity for unfettered creation. The Qedeshah understand that they can have children, and while creating offspring now involves a considerably different process than before, both acts are still wet with blood and wracked with pain. The rules of larger Kindred society deny a vampire's act of procreation without a temporal Prince's permission, but the Hierodules ask doesn't such a ban deny the freedom that God Himself granted? He obviously allows for the proliferation of the Damned through the Embrace. Isn't that permission enough?
 
Parent Clan: Mekhet
 
Nickname: Hierodules
 
 
Covenant:The Qedeshah belong to all -- and none -- of the covenants. As a bloodline, they do not hold literal allegiance to any of the factions, for none of those groups espouse precisely what members of this bloodline are taught to believe. The Hierodules mask themselves as members of all covenants, however, because they need to remain hidden (their flagrant denial of the Traditions would get them destroyed). Most tend to gravitate toward the populist Invictus or the religious Lancea Sanctum. The women would like to have more members hidden among the Ordo Dracul and Carthians, but so far such attempts have yielded little fruit. The Lancea Sanctum is a curious conundrum for the Qedeshah. In a sense, it's easy to hide among the group's ranks, in part because belief systems are at least similar enough on the surface. Both pay homage to God and agree that He is directly behind the existence of vampires. Of course, the Qedeshah have a number of "alternate" theological beliefs, too, including the existence of the lesser divinity the Queen of Heaven. Such conviction makes the Qedeshah directly heretical to the Spear. Elder Sanctified may even recall standing orders to drag these "vampire mothers" before Archbishops for persecution. Thus, Qedeshah who mask themselves as Sanctum members walk a thin line. It's easy enough to take part in some of the Sanctum's rites, but should a Qedeshah be revealed, her Requiem may be cut painfully and prematurely short. Of all of the covenants, the Hierodules have most in common with the Circle of the Crone. At least, that seems to be the case. Both groups recognize that undeath is an unnatural but powerful state, forcing a once-living thing into a lifeless existence. Both also revere a semi-mythical feminine being. The similarities end there, though. The Qedeshah do not count themselves as sorceresses or witches, and maintain that their origins are Judeo-Christian, believing in a patron goddess from Hebrew tradition. And yet, Acolytes do believe in a kind of "Kindred empowerment," which allows the Qedeshah to exist somewhat easier (though still hidden) among such vampires.
 
 
Appearance: Virtually all Qedeshah are female. Almost no male members of the bloodline exist. The Hierodules do not care about uniformity in physical characteristics. It is far easier to stay hidden when shape, age and dress are heterogeneous.
 
 
Havens: Different Qedeshah choose different styles of haven. Many see themselves as humble matrons (even martyrs), choosing simple, minimalist affairs that require only minor rent and upkeep. Other women, more interested in eternal potential, lean toward opulence and luxury. One common factor is that Qedeshah tend to choose havens near other Kindred. Not only does this allow them to act appropriately as "mothers" of other vampires, but it's far easier to remain hidden in the crowd than apart from it.
 
 
Background: The Hierodules covertly reject the Second Tradition, Embracing more often than most Kindred. God has granted them the right of creation, they believe, and the women do not reject His will lightly. The single requirement for a Qedeshah's Embrace is that the Requiem must unquestionably be better than a life of continued suffering. It is in this way that the curse becomes an endowment. The Hierodules choose women who are beaten and diminished by life, whether they have suffered at the hands of abusive husbands or fathers, or have been driven to addiction, homelessness or mental illness. It isn't necessary for a newly sired Qedeshah to have the characteristics of a "good mother." The limitless time of the Requiem can be devoted to instilling such qualities.
 
 
Character Creation: Social Attributes are favored among the Qedeshah, not only for the practical purpose of remaining hidden, but because such traits suit motherhood more than any others. Curiously, many Qedeshah also prize mortals in good bodily condition, with strong Physical Attributes. Some Hierodule understand the need to protect their "children" (whether such offspring are technically ghouls, childer or simply "adopted" Kindred depends on the vampire), and such protection sometimes requires violent contact. Like a mother lion guarding her cubs, a Qedeshah may need to rely on some manner of physical being to keep her "babies" safe. In regard to Skills, a Qedeshah may have dots in Survival (the once-mortals were survivors in some fashion or another), but probably favors Social Skills such as Expression and Socialize. Merits tend to manifest as Allies and Contacts, for a Hierodule needs these to survive and remain protected throughout the Requiem. Many also have dots in Haven that go toward a well-placed and convenient home, or that contribute to a sanctuary (see below).
 
 
Bloodline Disciplines: Auspex, Celerity, Embrocation, Obfuscate
 
 
Weakness: The Qedeshah suffer the same weakness as their parent clan, the Shadows. The women take an additional point of aggravated damage when suffering wounds from sunlight or fire. Unfortunately, Hierodules also have frailties intrinsic to their own bloodline, birthed when their supposedly divine progenitor laid the Curse upon them. When a normal vampire drinks from a mortal, that human is lulled into a lost and pleasurable state. When one of the Qedeshah drinks from a mortal, the human feels no such physical rapture, only extreme pain. The human suffers no wounds (the pain is more spiritual than tangible), but it causes him to scream or potentially thrash about. (Storytellers are encouraged to roll Wits + Composure for potential witnesses to a Hierodule's attack.) For a subject to willingly undergo the Qedeshah's ministrations costs him a Willpower point to endure the pain. A Qedeshah's bite has other consequences, as well. She may Embrace only women. Any and all attempts to Embrace males have met with disastrous results. Men spend 24 hours in extreme agony, which doesn't allow them to do anything, not even eat or sleep. After that period, the man expires in a gory display. His skin splits, his teeth fall out and he vomits gallons of blood and fluids. When the man finally expires, the Embracing Hierodule automatically suffers two points of aggravated damage as her blood burns within her desiccated arteries.
 
 
Organization: Formal meetings are difficult for a persecuted bloodline. And yet, they're encouraged whenever possible. These meetings, held in places referred to as "sanctuaries," are offered on days corresponding to most Judeo-Christian holidays (Easter, Christmas, Good Friday, Rosh Hashanah). No Qedeshah is required to attend, but most make the effort (if only to maintain Status). The only official position within the bloodline is that of the Dea Nutrix. This rank, literally translated as "nurse goddess," is granted to any member who maintains a place of sanctuary (which is usually a haven located outside a city, such as in a closed-down church or abandoned schoolhouse). The Dea Nutrix calls, holds and directs meetings. This is a position of honor within the bloodline and requires at least Clan Status 1 and Haven 3 for both the position and the location of the sanctuary.
 
 
Concepts: Prostitute, homeless woman, battered wife, teenage runaway, addict, Cancer patient, nun, nurse.
 
 
History: What the Qedeshah believe about their origins and what is true differs in many places. The history of the bloodline is marred by legend and inaccuracy. For the most part, the Hierodules believe what they believe, and hold negligible interest in the “reality” of their birth.
 
 
Whores of the Temple: This is what the Qedeshah claim as their history: Before the Babylonian exile, the temples of Judea were presided over by men. Hebrew priests and officiates were almost exclusively male. Women were not consistently allowed to venerate Yahweh in any formalized manner. As a result, many women honored both the religion of the Hebrews and the beliefs of multifarious fertility cults. They usually merged the two devotions, forming a syncretic agglomeration of faiths. Yahweh was believed to be the divine patriarch of heaven and man, but the women also accepted the existence and worship of one or several subservient goddesses. Those who believed in one goddess often maintained that this fertile matron was literally the second “half” of Yahweh, and they called her Shekhina or simply the Queen of Heaven. Others accepted that this goddess was one of many cultic mothers, such as Ishtar, Astarte, Ashareh, Anath and even the dark Sumerian queen Ereshkigal. Whatever the specifics, women were allowed to offer faith in this system unhindered. They were also allowed to be priestesses, and the class chosen to be such officiates was the temple whores, called Qedeshah or Hierodules. The holy prostitutes served many functions within the temples and towns of Judea and beyond. Aside from the core purpose of cultic sexual practice, the Hierodules were counselors, singers of lamentation, nurses and priestesses of the Queen of Heaven. They prayed to idols of the goddess (usually wooden or clay pillars called dea nutrix, indicating a goddess of nurture) and provided aid to those who suffered. The temple harlots could not marry, as such practice was forbidden by Judaic law. Women who were considered unsuitable brides for Hebrew men — specifically, women who were no longer virgins through wanton behavior or rape — were accepted as Hierodules without question, inducted into serving the holy needs of the Queen of Heaven. Temple prostitutes were allowed to serve in such capacity until the time of the Hebraic exile into Babylonia. After the exile, everything changed.
 
 
Denial of the Goddess: The time of syncretism was over. No longer would any deities other than Yahweh be observed. In an effort to wipe clean any pantheistic influences, the Hebrews delivered the Deuteronomic laws that proscribed any functionary — specifically the Hierodules — who served “immoral” purposes or who worshipped outside the accepted Lord God. The priestesses were targeted as blasphemers and given little chance to change their ways. Altars and statues were destroyed. Sacred groves dedicated to worship were burned. The homes of the Hierodules were razed, and many of the temple whores themselves were imprisoned, exiled or murdered in secret. Such slashing and burning took place over a period of years, and the house of the Lord was duly “cleansed.”
 
 
Presence of the Queen: Not far from the hills of Megiddo and the town of Nazareth sat a fallen village that was once a royal Canaanite city. This town, called Taanach, was the location of one of the few remaining goddess temples. The shrine — actually at the bottom of a large, long-forgotten cistern — was home to a handful of lingering Qedeshah, who prayed to the Queen of Heaven to save them. The women gathered around the altar made of baked earth and old blood, and waited for a savior — or an executioner. Initially, no savior came for them. Men from nearby Nazareth came to punish the blasphemous women, instead, and dragged them into the night where they would be killed under the open sky, where God could see. But then, she came. A woman, radiant of form and with bright, flashing eyes silently crossed the plain with surprising speed, murdering the men in one fell swoop. She spoke to the Qedeshah with a commanding voice, claiming to be the very being they venerated — the Shekhina, the Queen of Heaven. The goddess did not reward her disciples. She did not present words of divine gratitude or holy accolade. Instead, she spat invective at her priestesses, accusing them of laxity in worship and impurity of soul. She called them dogs, insects and a host of other names, and each slight and slur wounded the Hierodules. It was then that she gave them their new charge. The world, she said, was mired in suffering. Mankind endured much pain, but some men had become monsters, and those monsters suffered most of all. She told them they must become monsters to fulfill their purpose, which was to be mothers to all the demons of the world, helping to soothe the anguish of the Damned. The Qedeshah would be the secret matrons and nurses of Hell itself. This woman — this goddess — Embraced the temple whores, and then left them.
 
 
IDENTITY OF THE GODDESS: Who was the “goddess” who created the vampiric Qedeshah by sheer force of will? Was she really divine? And what do the Hierodules truly know of her? Young Qedeshah of little faith suggest that she was not a goddess at all. They say she was divine in no way beyond being a mad vampire caught in the throes of a tortuous Requiem. Others say it’s all just a tall tale, and even then is inconsistent, the story changing from teller to teller. The town may change (“Was it Taanach or Lachish?”), as may the creator’s name (“She was Anath, bride of Baal, daughter of Yahweh,”). And yet, regardless of perspectives and details, believers in the story never question their creator’s divinity. Those Qedeshah who are simply resigned to their reality accept that the so-called Queen of Heaven was likely a Mekhet vampire, potentially a woman who was once a temple whore herself. Was she scorned by the patriarchy of the religious order? Was she persecuted and destroyed, but saved by some other vampire? Her reasoning and story remain hidden behind that impenetrable curtain of history, and stand little chance of ever being revealed. Nobody is even sure if she is around anymore to ask. And even is she were, could her account be relied upon after all these ages?
 
 
Society and Culture: As a scattered, disparate bloodline that attempts concealment from the rest of Kindred society, it’s difficult for the Qedeshah to maintain any kind of unified society or codified laws or beliefs. Line members make every attempt, however, to teach some presumed universal truths and behaviors. Such information is passed along as a function of pseudo-spiritual philosophy and simple pragmatism.
 
 
Motherhood of the Dead: The Qedeshah teach one another that they are quite literally meant to be the mothers of Kindred. These women believe that they belong to a singular lineage, one created by the actions of God and the Queen of Heaven. They’re meant to be the matrons of vampire society. It goes beyond that, though. They believe the motherly instinct drives them, their blood literally urging them to act in accord with matronly duties. Even if a Hierodule was raised in a vacuum with no contact with others of the same blood, she would feel the same instinct. Of course, being a “mother” among Kindred is not only a difficult proposition, it isn’t concretely defined. Technically speaking, motherhood isn’t possible as a vampire. Such parentage is supernatural, not natural, and undead birth can only come from death. The Qedeshah, unlike other Kindred, see these realities not as a denial of maternity, but as a “second chance” at it. Some even see the Embrace as an advanced means of procreation, a form of reproduction that comes with choice and control, whereby parents do not perish and children do not abandon their blood relations. Regardless of the beliefs and blood-borne impulses of the Hierodules, Kindred society maintains firm disdain — if not violent reproach — for Kindred creating offspring. The Second Tradition, while clearly an oft-ignored convention, can still get Qedeshah destroyed or exiled for their flagrant disavowal. Some women find other ways to express their incontrovertible motherhood. Others are willing to take the chance.
 
 
The Embrace: The first — and in a sense the last — choice a Qedeshah comes to in regard to expressing her matronly instinct is the Embrace. Hierodules believe that the Embrace’s mere existence proves that it’s sanctioned by God. Most Qedeshah wish to create many childer, but they recognize that such brazen disregard for the Second Tradition would do them and their progeny little good. Prevailing Kindred society simply precludes such creation. Some, however, defy the Second Tradition as a violation of their rights, both biological and spiritual. Qedeshah who actively snub the Second Tradition tend to Embrace freely and without care. Such a Hierodule may drag only a single mortal into the Requiem over a 10-year period, while another may bring three or four into unlife in a single night. Of course, any Prince or Priscus who catches wind of such treachery is sure to take quick action. Qedeshah who choose to Embrace without caution are often exiled outside of their city or are destroyed outright. Some escape unharmed or are able to hide their children, but such luck doesn’t usually last long.
 
 
EUNUCHS: The Qedeshah cannot Embrace men. Any attempt to do so fails miserably, and harms the mother as well. The bloodline is still home to a rare few male members, though. How is this possible? When a Mekhet from outside the bloodline reaches Blood Potency 4 or higher, he may choose to join the ranks of the Qedeshah (provided one of the bloodline allows it). Unfortunately, such a choice has a grim consequence. Once a male vampire becomes part of the line, his Vitae is sterile and dead. His blood no longer carries the curse; he cannot Embrace or turn mortals into ghouls. His blood functions properly in all other ways, though. He can instigate or become part of Vinculums, he can exhaust blood to heal wounds or activate Disciplines, and he can drink blood and feed his own to others. But no Embrace and no ghouls. (Any pre-existing ghouls or childer remain; they do not explode or disappear in an exhalation of blood.) Under these circumstances, few men are willing to join the bloodline. The few who have joined over the last several centuries have done so because of those very consequences, hoping to destroy some small part of their awful selves, guaranteeing that they will never be able to drag another into the never-ending horror of the Requiem.
 
 
Adoption: Fortunately, many Qedeshah are willing and able to control their urges and restrain themselves from creating offspring left and right. Procreative energy is simply diverted so that a line member may still fulfill her matronly passion. One option is adoption. Ultimately similar to the human practice, it involves a Qedeshah choosing another vampire to be her “child.” Qedeshah usually choose neonates for this role (after all, the term neonate implies infant), and in most cases both vampires agree to this pseudofamilial relationship. And yet, some Qedeshah choose Kindred who may decline the opportunity — or worse, who may not even know that such an opportunity exists. Targeted neonates can be kidnapped and taken away, potentially to a Qedeshah’s haven, where the young vampire is “mothered” by whatever standard the Qedeshah upholds. The reasons for adoption vary. Some Hierodules simply find other vampires that need their aid. Cries for help go a long way toward drawing a Qedeshah’s concern. Many line members came from the lowest levels of mortal society, so are sympathetic to someone with similar needs. A member may even try to rescue a neonate from an abusive or outright sadistic sire (though what the Qedeshah perceives as “sadistic” may be very different from the neonate’s opinion). Most (though not all) adoptions are sealed with the blood bond. The resulting sense of love between the two vampires isn’t precisely genuine, but it helps a Hierodule fill the void.
 
 
Ghouls: A lesser form of expressing motherhood involves creating ghouls. Subjects are chosen from any of society’s strata, but most come from the same pool of down-and-outs from which the bloodline’s members might have originated. The poor, the destitute and the used and abused. Curiously, many Qedeshah also choose men as ghouls, if only because they cannot Embrace men into the blood. Qedeshah ghouls manifest a few subtle but noticeable quirks. Many become meek and seemingly helpless (thus allowing a Hierodule to enact her matronly instincts all the more). Some are also feminized, even men. Female ghouls seem almost exaggerated in walk, voice and demeanor, while males tend toward androgyny. Nobody is precisely sure why this is, but common sense suggests it’s because of the overtly feminine nature and population of the bloodline. Occasionally, particularly desperate Qedeshah ghoul children, emulating motherhood from life, but also to empower beaten or defeated children to oppose their parents or oppressors.
 
 
Degrees of Darkness: On the surface, the Qedeshah are ultimately compassionate beings. They certainly intend to be; motherhood is not meant to involve cruelty or brutality. Most are capable of expressing such gentleness, repressing the darkness of their Kindred souls long enough to attempt some good for other vampires. Acting as surrogate mothers allows them to help the Damned find some kind of center, even aiding all involved to hold onto their Humanity when all else seems lost. And yet, the road to Hell truly is paved with good intentions. While Hierodules may perceive their motherly intentions as best for all, the sentiment may not be reciprocated. Sometimes maternal instincts get out of hand, doing more harm than good. A Qedeshah who Embraces a handful of teenagers in a given night may overestimate her ability to handle and parent these wayward neophytes. The poor young vampires enter unlife guideless and without the firm hand of a strong mother, which may ultimately get them sent to an untimely demise. Alternately, a Qedeshah who takes a neonate away from an abusive sire may not fully grasp the consequences of her action. Rescuing him may seem right at the time, but it may call all manner of trouble down upon both their heads, even if that trouble comes from the furious sire alone. Harm done by a forceful mother could also be devastating. Some Hierodules — perhaps old vampires who have long suppressed themselves, or ones who were particularly frail mortals — just can’t handle their compulsions. Breakdowns may be temporary and last only a few nights, or could last decades. In such a period, a Hierodule takes irrational and even violent actions. A few Qedeshah have actually kidnapped other vampires (again, usually neonates) with the intent of raising them. The mother’s mental faculties are unfit to allow any kind of real care, however. She typically ends up torturing a neophyte psychologically or physically in an effort to express her “love.” One infamous Hierodule called herself Mother Mary. She didn’t kidnap just one neonate. She traveled from city to city, managing to survive long enough to abduct dozens of newly sired vampires. She finally settled in a country haven, where she conditioned her victims through grueling periods of reward and punishment, pausing long enough to line them up like dolls and dress them in outfits that shehad sewed. It took years to track Mary down. By that time her “babies” were too deranged to be fit for Kindred society. Rumor suggests that her awful children are still out there somewhere.
 
 
Remaining Hidden: Some vampires are aware of the Qedeshah. The bloodline has not been able to conceal itself completely over the ages. The few elders who remember the Qedeshah believe them to be lunatics. What vampire chooses a path of motherhood, attempting to empower the Curse? Not only are line members regarded as insane, they’re decried as heretics to Kindred society. It isn’t altogether too difficult for Hierodules to remain hidden. At least, not at first. They tend to mask themselves as Mekhet. The problem of staying hidden arises when a member wanders afield, running afoul of the Second Tradition. A solitary mother who’s determined to protect her own family might turn a blind eye to the persecution of a fellow line member. That isolation is ultimately shortsighted, though. Some elders understand that where there’s one of the line, there could be many, many others, and a purge gets underway. Thus, where one Qedeshah is endangered, solidarity tends to endanger them all. Fortunately for the bloodline, its kind are little known and therefore escape casual notice until some mother over indulges her impulses.
 
 
Worship and Veneration: The Hierodules accept that they owe their existence to divine intervention, believing that their bloodline literally spawned from the Vitae of a goddess. Having almost no written account of their beginnings, most of what the bloodline tells its childer is oral legend. This story — which may change in the telling from woman to woman — almost universally includes the goddess as Hebraic in origin and as half the Judeo-Christian God or as a being subservient to Him. Regardless of the story, the current conclusion is that the patron goddess and her offspring (i.e., the Hierodules) serve Yahweh. None are equal to the King of Heaven, and the Queen of Heaven is his second. In the past, much of this legend was the focal point of the bloodline’s very existence. While motherhood was certainly important, it was possible only because the Queen of Heaven begat the bloodline and gave it purpose. Hierodules were once very spiritual as a result. They engaged in prayer circles, offering praises and hymns to Yahweh and then to Shekhina. Such faith was not only encouraged, but expected. Over the past hundred years or so, the bloodline has lost some of its devotion, becoming predominantly secular. Most Qedeshah tonight pay lip service to the religious aspects of the line, saying the occasional prayer or using religiously loaded greetings (“May the Mother of Heaven see you safe”), but only elders offer any real piety or devotion anymore. This transition has occurred in part because modern vampire society is overcrowded. Venerating such ancient and syncretic beliefs would reveal Qedeshah for who they are. Some Qedeshah also maintain ties to the more common practices of Judaism and Christianity. Achieving some small piety in these overarching religions at least helps a Hierodule show deference to her supposed origins. By venerating Yahweh in a more common and unexceptional manner, she is still able to offer faith to God the Father, while remaining safely in the larger fold. Ultimately, the rigorous religious beliefs of elders and the diffused practices of the young majority has caused something of a schism in the bloodline. The rift has yet to cause the Qedeshah any lasting harm, but it may bring trouble given enough time and conflict.
 
 
Rituals and Beliefs: The full regimen of the bloodline’s doctrines has been lost to the ages. Elders are incapable of remembering them, and the young Qedeshah don’t care enough to practice them. A few customs are perpetuated, mostly by elders, and some modern Hierodules take the time to pick and choose from these as befits their Requiem.
• Offer prayers and libations first to Yahweh, the Lord Father
• Offer hymns and incense second to Shekhina, the Queen of Heaven
• The Embrace is holy and sanctioned by God. To not Embrace is to defy God.
• Anoint your children’s foreheads with a tincture of blood and oil
• Never kill a human in hunger. Motherhood brings life, not death.
A few Qedeshah also practice strange, more extreme rituals. Some elders cut themselves once a month, letting Vitae spill in an effort to simulate the menstrual cycle. Others may feed on only children and infants in hopes of growing more “in touch” with their maternal instincts. Some also establish small altars to the Queen of Heaven in their havens. These shrines take many forms: wooden pillars with female figures carved in them, clay fertility figures and even icons representing the biblical Mary.
 
 
Sanctuary: One practice that remains strong in the bloodline is the maintenance of “sanctuary.” A sanctuary is meant to be a safe house for condemned Kindred (usually women, though not necessarily). This vampiric “halfway house” is a communal haven established by an old Qedeshah (called Dea Nutrix, or “nurse goddess”) as a place for victimized Kindred. If a Qedeshah finds a neonate who suffers torture at the hands of his sire, she may offer him succor in the form of sanctuary. Some Hierodules don’t ask, acting on the principle that some beings simply don’t know what’s best for them. With that in mind, a Qedeshah abducts the vampire in a supposed act of “goodwill” and “motherhood.” The conditions required for a Kindred to be allowed entry into a sanctuary are subjective, given to the whims and interests of the founding Qedeshah. One may believe that an ancillae hunted by the Lancea Sanctum as a heretic deserves asylum, while another may feel that such a reckless creature warrants whatever suffering he brings down upon himself. If terms of welcome into a sanctuary are too broad, vampires crowding together could lead to blood-soaked conflict. Needless to say, doors are always opened to fellow Hierodules, especially when they and their childer are subject to a blood hunt. Some Qedeshah create sanctuaries away from cities, but near some kind of blood source, like a town. A remote sanctuary might be founded at an old hotel, a derelict schoolhouse or even in an abandoned mine. Distance from cities offers some respite for refugees, but also little avenue for escape if inhabitants are hunted down. Sanctuaries established in cities could be located anywhere: the subbasement of a tenement, deep within an old subway tunnel, or in a well-guarded mansion should a Dea Nutrix be wealthy (or cruel enough to take the place from its mortal occupants). Such urban retreats are often launch points for refugees. They can’t stay (too many vampires in one place would reveal the location), but escapes from undead authorities can be prepared and initiated from these sites. Sanctuaries aren’t strictly halfway houses, though. They serve as general meeting places for line members. Gatherings are usually held on holy days. Services were once overtly religious, but are now opportunities for Qedeshah to drop all pretense and be what they believe themselves to be — mothers. Meetings also allow them to teach other, newly sired Hierodules exactly what such a calling means, and what’s involved in offering motherhood to accursed creatures. Of course, some sanctuaries are not the places of peace and safety that they’re advertised to be. They’ve been twisted into menageries by Qedeshah mad with the urge to procreate. Such locales are less about asylum and more about trapping “pretty bugs” in a jar so that the presiding Dea Nutrix can take care of them.
 
 
Embrocation: Once, the temple harlots used the act of embrocation to salve the suffering of the wounded. The process involved concocting a balm or petroleum of various oils, herbs and animal milks, and applying it to injuries and abrasions. Other acts fell to the priestess-whores, as well. The harlots ritually washed the men and women of the temple, bathing them in sacred waters (feet, in particular, were the focus of such consecration). The women also sang lamentations for the fallen, offering whorls of burning incense to both Yahweh and the Queen of Heaven. All of these deeds were meant to call the attention of the divine pair, and focus it on the supplicants. Hebrew priests were the link between God and mankind, and the Hierodules were the link between humanity and Shekhina, the female half of Heaven. When cast into the damnation of the Embrace, Qedeshah faith and practice manifested in the Blood as a Discipline. Most of the powers involve calling up some of a Hierodule’s own blood (though it doesn’t always look like blood, depending on the nature of the capability) and applying it to another being. Some of what Embrocation entails can be masked as nothing more than odd behavior on the part of the performer; most vampires shrug it off as the strange behavior of another of their kind. Yet, a Hierodule using this Discipline in front of others runs the constant risk of being noted as something other than what she claims to be. Many Hierodules consider the risk worthwhile, but should be wary of the consequences.
 
Вентру.
Архитекторы Монолита
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Since the first temples were built, mankind has been fascinated with the meaning of buildings and the power of architecture. Standing stones erected to face the sun at the equinox, and palaces built to impress and cow the populace were combined with cosmology and sacred geometry to create complex and powerful forms and ideals for the glory of God, king and self. Nearly every culture has used these principles to one degree or another, shaping its world while shaping itself. The vampiric Architects of the Monolith emerged from this impulse as it coiled into the fevered torpor-dreams of the bloodline's megalomaniac founder. From this brew of madness and art, the "Masons" have conjured a form of undead sorcery that gives them power over cities, inspiring them to consider themselves the ultimate masters of the gilded cage. It is such vainglory that drives the vampires of the line to form a grand conspiracy that they claim spans continents and centuries, a sweeping plot for dominion that will supposedly bring the world under their sway. The same vanity has incurred the wrath of the Lancea Sanctum and other undead to the point that the Architects have nearly been scourged from existence. Remaining Masons linger not with humility, but with an understanding that they must keep their true plans and powers concealed, lest the jealousies of "lessers" be their undoing. In the modern nights, those few Damned who know of the Architects of the Monolith think of them as an eccentric brood of Ventrue. Those who have had any direct contact may know that the line clings to antiquated notions of architecture, following Napoleonic ideals of city planning and ritual to keep the kine pacified. An even smaller number know that the brood is actually a bloodline, begun in Paris in the late 18th century, closely linked to the Ordo Dracul and known for producing brilliant Guardians and Kogaion. Those who have had direct experience with the Architects speak of darker things, of madness and destruction, and the sensation of being looked upon as a god would a flea. Although all of these rumors have an element of truth, the last are most accurate. Every member of the bloodline believes she can literally control the world by channeling mystical energy through the focus of looming architecture. The line's founder even believes her lineage can make cities the focus of reality, turning both God and nature into mere trivialities banished to the shadow of her monolith. Bound by this mad and impossible vision, the bloodline works secretly and circumspectly. The result is a cult motivated by madness, backed by visions of conquest, and powered by esoteric sorcery. Though members' insane visions of dominance are only so much torpor-delusion, the harm they can cause is very real. After all, individuals sacrificed for their plans aren't any less dead, and communities wracked by their "progress" aren't any less ruined.
 
Parent Clan: Ventrue
 
 
Nickname: Masons
 
 
Covenant: Most of the few extant Architects are affiliated with the Ordo Dracul. It was from the Order that they arose as a conspiracy and bloodline, and their ties with the covenant remain. It is even said that the line founder is a leading member of the Sworn of the Mysteries. While the Dracul see the Architects as too concerned with power and not attentive enough to personal transcendence, Masons still occupy a privileged position in the society. An unusually high proportion of Architects act as Kogaion. The fact that the Order expects and even encourages its members to conduct private investigations and occult experiments makes it a perfect home for the Architects. This hardly means that all Dragons are comfortable with the Architects, as the Order suspects the depths of the line's madness, but the covenant is generally willing to give the Masons a chance to overcome their limitations -- within reason. Other Architects tend to be members of the Invictus. Though they often lack the formal occult teaching of Order members, Invictus Masons are still valuable to the bloodline for the political clout and connections they wield. Since conspiracies of power are the bread and butter of the First Estate, insightful Invictus Princes enjoy having Masons under their thumb in the urban night. A smart First Estate Prince or Priscus can even ply an Architect without causing himself too much harm, so long as he's careful to play upon the line member's madness to keep her under control. Very few Architects become Princes themselves; it's too public a position. They tend to do well in a Primogen capacity and often take Regencies over domains of construction, city hall or other areas that allow them to affect urban development. The rank and file of the Invictus are leery of Masons, uncertain of their occult dealings and put off by their overt madness. There are very few Architects in any of the other covenants. The Carthian mindset doesn't sit well with the ideals of control and mystery that dominate the bloodline. The unaligned often lack the power and connections valued by the Architects. The Circle of the Crone has no Architect members, as the phallus-centric paradigm of the Masons puts them fundamentally at odds with the Crones. And yet, the Architects would very much like to seduce knowledge of Crúac away from Acolytes in order to forward their own interests. Longstanding members of the Lancea Sanctum have a special place for the Masons in their unbeating hearts. Not just because the Architects were founded by an apostate Cardinal and carry their founder's blood-taint, but because the bloodline was once foolish enough to pit its sorcery against the Sanctified. The Masons are nearly as loving toward the Spear, as survivors remember (or have been beaten down with stories of) the nights when the Sanctified fell upon the lineage. While Masons are smart enough to avoid open hostility with the covenant, they would dearly love to strike back for their past humiliation. Of course, should the Sanctified find out that the Architects are still fully engaged in their blasphemous plans to take God's power as their own, history could repeat itself.
 
 
Appearance: Members of the bloodline are every inch Ventrue, though they tend to be modern rather than conservative in their personage and apparel. Most old members are of European derivation, with a preponderance of French members with that famous Gaelic nose. In the modern nights, there are increasing numbers of Hispanic and Japanese members, as well as Americans of mixed background. All Masons dress well, generally in business attire, sometimes with a French flair designed to remind them of their glory days in Paris. A very few elders yearn for the days of Worth gowns, swashbuckling cuffs and hussar boots, and take formal parties as an opportunity to revel in their golden age, but few are so out of touch to think such apparel suited for nightly wear.
 
 
Havens: As the would-be masters of urban civilization, nothing but the best can serve as a haven for one of the Masons. Sixtieth-story penthouse condos with secret rooms, safety vaults and full security are possible, designed to be impregnable while maintaining the image of powerful nonchalance. Sprawling villas or small mansions with perfect French gardens in the high style of Le Notre are popular, though Masons in young and populous cities have had to give them up to maintain the Masquerade. Other than quality and elegance, the common feature of all Architect havens is that they are in someway imposing, impressive or mystically significant. Be this a fine historical pedigree or an avant-garde sense of space, something about a haven makes it "mystically powerful" in a twisted interpretation of sacred construction. Many Architects keep truly eye-catching elements confined to the interior of a haven, so as to avoid notice, while others ensure their havens disappear into the cityscape, despite their haute couture.
 
 
Background: Being Ventrue, the Architects take only childer who seem the best to their skewed perceptions. The main traits considered desirable are a craving for personal power and control; extensive knowledge of architecture, urban studies, city planning or the occult; and the ability to exist independently and quietly. This combination of requirements leads to many members being from mixed corporate and academic backgrounds, with a preference for those who are both well-educated and successful in businesses, such as in real estate and urban development. Above and beyond all else, each prospective Architect must prove her ability to keep a secret. The Masons have a natural flair for secrecy and dissembling to rival that of the Mekhet. Other Ventrue who meet Architect standards can be adopted into the line. An Architect most likely approaches a prospective member, and then only after the candidate has been circumspectly but thoroughly tested on his initial sanity, ability to keep secrets and compatibility with the bloodline's goals. These tests are generally hidden in the nightly politics of the Requiem, with false alliances and information being given and fake agents sent to trick, bribe or coerce information from the potential recruit. He is deemed of merit only if he can impress his assailant-adopters. Once a subject has been found worthy, the Architects approach obliquely, carefully sounding him out and making him take fearsome oaths before bringing him into their august ranks.
 
 
Сharacter Creation: Chosen and groomed for mental acumen backed by social strength and secrecy, Architects tend toward high Mental and Social traits. Members have above average Resolve, Intelligence and Composure. It's a rare Mason who doesn't have a deep interest in and knowledge of the mysteries of sacred and mystical architecture, leading to a high level in Occult. Just after the mystical comes immersion in the theory of Academics, the practice of Crafts and the knowledge of Science as each relates to architecture, construction, gardening, demolitions and urban planning. Politics and Socialize are considered practical tools needed to impose one's vision on the world, without being a primary focus. The splendid mansions, penthouses and castles of the Architects require a high level of Haven. Connections with urban-development offices, city government, architectural firms and construction companies require dots in Allies, Contacts, Resources and Status (among mortals). Despite social connections and Ventrue blood, few line members have Status in vampiric circles, due to their low profile and the madness that makes others shun them. Any character who immediately starts down the path of an Architect rather than as a mere land-speculating Ventrue needs a second dot of Blood Potency.
 
 
Bloodline Disciplines: Auspex, Dominate, Gilded Cage, Resilience
 
 
Weakness: Architects are corrupted by their power even more so than their Ventrue cousins. They retain the clan weakness, suffering a -2 penalty to Humanity rolls to avoid acquiring derangements after failing a degeneration roll. The Architects' specific weakness is deeper seated, though no one is sure if it's a flaw in their nature or a curse passed down from their founder. All Masons are afflicted with the Narcissism derangement upon the Embrace, and gain Megalomania as their first severe derangement. (How the latter is acquired doesn't matter. It could be the result of a failed Humanity roll or the result of a traumatizing experience in the Danse Macabre.) The twist to line members' Narcissism and Megalomania is that neither focuses on the bearer alone, but extends to the line founder Ermenjart and her vision (see below) as well. That is, Architects do not just believe they are unquestionably superior, they believe their founder is as well, and that her plans for world dominion will come true. Unlike many megalomaniacs, Masons have learned to keep quiet about their certainty. The madness drives them, it just does so silently and subtly.
 
 
Organization: The Architects of the Monolith is a group of madmen and women overseen by a demoniac. From her palatial Parisian haven, Ermenjart la Charpentiere rules her childer with power, fear, oaths and blood bonds. The elder has been active and alert, avoiding torpor for the existence of the bloodline, and her grasp on it is sure. In order to maintain control of her brood and to allow her to pursue her insane goals, she has turned the bloodline into something between a cult and a corporation, parsing out control and authority through a series of grandiosely titled subalterns. Ermenjart herself is recognized as "The Carpenter" ("la Charpentiere") and does everything in her power to turn herself into a messianic figure for her childer. She promises them a new world based on their creations, a vampiric Zion in which all power will flow through urban channels to feed the Architects. Due to the weakness of the bloodline, almost every member accepts this goal wholeheartedly. Under the Carpenter is the Main de Gloire, the trio of her eldest childer who govern the line when Ermenjart is too busy "bringing about the new salvation of steel, concrete and blood." Decorated with titles and ranks, this triumvirate should have great authority, but the truth is the Main de Gloire is too divided by its own vision and madness to be effective in coordinating any united action of the line. The three are, however, extremely effective at punishing any Mason who betrays them or Ermenjart. Beneath the Main de Gloire, the organization breaks down by location. Most cities are still beyond the reach of the bloodline's limited numbers; many major cities are home to only a single Architect. Such a solo operative is known as a Lion de Zion. Lions work directly for the Main de Gloire, receiving bizarre and often contradictory orders that are supposed to further the great work. These representative tend to get very good at interpreting the Main de Gloire's orders to fit their own particular madness, and spend much of their time furthering personal goals. About a dozen of the most important cities in the world -- New York, London and Moscow among them -- have a cabal of Architects known as a Section d'Or. Each group is lead by a Clef de Voute, who answers to the Main de Gloire and who ostensibly works with other cities' Clefs de Voute. A Clef de Voute leads other Architects in a city, coordinating their individual projects toward the greater plan. Each member of the Section d'Or is theoretically responsible for her own domain, but in some cities the Clef de Voûte micromanages every aspect of Architects' operations. Of course, groups and individuals have also become very good at interpreting mad orders from above to fit their individual delusions. The Architects are most powerful in Europe and on the American East Coast. European Masons still rebuild from the carnage that the world wars inflicted, which has allowed American members in Chicago and New York to catch up. In the last 30 years, a few radical Lions have managed to gain the approval of the Main de Gloire with daring work in developing nations in South American and southeast Asia, taking credit for achievements such as the Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur (which they in fact had very little to do with). The bloodline also has aspirations of expanding into Japan, where megacity and neocity research and development promises massive rewards.
 
 
Concepts: Ruthless real-estate mogul, urban studies or geology professor, demolition expert, creepy architect, necropolis designer, urban-renewal politician, science-fiction writer/futurist (specializing in super-cities and arcologies), public-works engineer, master of traffic and transit, feng-shui mystic, ley-line tracker, urban spiritualist, landscaper/gardener, Napoleonic throwback.
 
 
History: In the late 17th century, Ermenjart la Charpentière was a heretic against the Lancea Sanctum. She was newly risen from torpor and tormented with half-understood memories of building Louis IX’s Parisian Sainte-Chapelle, and working with great mystics in Prague. Her quest for comprehension brought her to the Ordo Dracul and they taught her about ley lines and mystical correspondence. Synchronicity brought her in contact, however briefly, with André Le Norte, architect and gardener for Louis XIV, and from that meeting Ermenjart gained vision. Her newly inspired dream was of necropoli that would channel and control energy, using it to provide sustenance for the vampiric condition. For nearly a century she influenced and was influenced by mortal necrographers, resulting in mystical influence over the Pêre Lachaise cemetery in Paris. Upon the opening of the cemetery in 1804, Ermenjart realized that not only did construction of the place affect interior ley lines, it warped the flow in the surrounding city, changing the behavior of kine in surrounding neighborhoods. This realization brought Ermenjart to her full vision: the manipulation of ley lines through sacred architecture to control cities, turning them into the center of reality. It was a megalomaniacal dream of nightmarish proportions, and Ermenjart knew she could neither accomplish it alone nor trust outsiders with the plan. (It’s also possible that some deep-seated part of her knew her vision was impossible, and she would not share it for fear of being confronted with the truth.) So it was that a bloodline emerged from la Charpentière’s efforts to see her plan to fruition, yet to keep it secret among trusted childer. The early Architects used their Ventrue ties to gain influence and standing with the builders, planners, contractors and mystics of Paris. When Georges Haussmann began his renovation of Paris under Napoleon III, the bloodline was behind the scenes, learning and manipulating. Members were convinced that they had mastered the ley lines of Paris when they unlocked the secret sorcery of the Gilded Cage. That marked the golden age of the line, when the most members were Embraced and inducted, a time that elders now remember with nostalgia bordering on idolatry. To this day, the Paris of the Napoleons is upheld as an example of what the Architects can do, and of the world the Carpenter would create. Glittering, decadent, beautiful and utterly corrupt. The golden age came to a crashing end when Ermenjart and the Main de Gloire overreached themselves and used sorcery to destroy a handful of Lancea Sanctum Bishops whom they felt opposed their plans. This outrage led to a backlash that shattered the Architects in London and Vienna, and left even the Paris faction decimated. The Carpenter learned her lesson and slunk into the shadows, letting the Sanctified think they had put and end to her machinations. After years in hiding, the Masons spread slowly and quietly through many of Europe and America’s greatest cities. The dangers of travel and the still-angry Sanctified claimed several of the less cautious, but Section d’Or were soon established once more in London, New York, Chicago and Vienna. Meanwhile, young Lions established themselves in any city where they felt they could make a mark. With every new Gilded Cage ritual discovered, the bloodline was convinced it moved that much closer to world domination, and so continued plotting. The brood weathered the world wars and “great enemies” such as Daniel Burnham (who probably never knew the Architects existed), and moved into the age of skyscrapers and urban development with a grace that few other Ventrue could match. As of the 21st century, the Main de Gloire estimates that the “great work” still has 450 years left until its completion, putting it slightly ahead of its original A.D. 2600 projection. Ermenjart herself wonders if she may have been overly conservative, however. With “triumphs” such as the Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur and the possibilities they open in developing Third World nations, perhaps the plan can be accomplished sooner. In these nights, the founder dreams of a world with cities as reality itself, wilderness reduced to mist and ash, and all the power of ley lines flowing into her hands. Perhaps it can all be accomplished before the turn of the next century! From her, the force of these dreams spreads through the bloodline, urging members to further madness and power, demanding that they become masters of their cities, no matter how much blood must be used as mortar for the bricks.
 
 
Society and Culture: Ermenjart is the undisputed master of the Architects. Elders are blood bound to her, giving her a tight grip on the most powerful Clefs de Voûte. They, in turn, often blood bond their childer to make sure that the line’s mission proceeds without dissension in the ranks. A few young members see no need for such draconian measures, as they find the carrot of power, coupled with their own inherent madness, more than sufficient to keep their ambition in order. The selectivity with which new members are initiated also contributes to making the Architects a tight lineage. While it bears all of the usual rivalries of undead existence, each member knows where he stands. No matter how intense hatred from within becomes, anyone on the outside is automatically an enemy and potential inquisitor. Nightly activity is mostly occupied with the politicking and hunting that dominates vampiric existence. Members also work toward the fulfillment of their great, deluded dream, building their imagined monolith brick by brick. How exactly an individual answers this call depends on her place and roll in the line. A Clef de Voûte’s time is occupied with keeping her Section d’Or coordinated. Members of a Section d’Or focus on their individual areas of talent, attempting to interweave the mortal, mystical and vampiric through all levels of their portfolio. They also spend a great deal of their time politicking, as they are the Architects most likely to battle over esteem and territorial disputes with other vampires. Not to mention that they often have their eyes on the Clef de Voûte’s position, either in their own city or in another. Lions de Zion have to do all of the above, acting as both Clef and Section for a city, without the direct backing of others. It’s a rare Lion who can actually advance his plans, as it takes both great subtly and vast aggression. They types of projects that receive the nightly attention of Lions and members of the Section are wide and variable. Members of the Ordo Dracul focus on causing, dealing with and tracking ley-line shifts. That can include anything from studying the effects of wind dispersion from a new skyscraper to the energy created by a sewer or subway line. It also means playing shadow games with mortal mystics or Crone witches, and devising new, more complex and bloodier rituals. Members of the Invictus focus on playing power politics with other vampires, manipulating city resources and fiefs to manage both vampiric and mortal zones of influence, and keeping Mason activities beneath the notice of Prince and Primogen. In addition, there is any number of seeming illogical and random demands thrown into the mix, driven by the particular focus of any Mason’s madness. Every bloodline member is involved in architecture and city planning in some way, though it need not be a directly obvious connection. Some specialize in coercing and bribing city planners into rezoning areas for development, or to allow construction of buildings that violate zoning laws. Others focus on gaining resources and funding for such construction, or stirring up fear and paranoia in neighborhoods so as to make them easier to rezone and keep the herd’s focus off encroaching expansion. Others put on architectural fares and exhibitions, trying to pick mortal minds for new ideas, or they infiltrate college faculties to gain access to the newest and brightest as potential blood members. Others focus on less obvious endeavors, such as using origami to find more efficient building models, doing studies on how various materials channel mystical energy, or inquiring into how television shows influence the mental terrain of a city. How much respect Architects are given for such enigmatic pursuits depends on their ability to convince others of their utility. If a member can convince peers that her study of eggshells will yield great results 200 years down the line, she garners almost as much respect as the Mason who influences the construction of a 110-story skyscraper. If she can’t convince anyone of her purpose, she may quickly be reduced to obsolescence.
 
 
Gilded Cage: The grandly titled Gilded Cage is a form of ritual magic known only to the Architects of the Monolith. Born of a combination of Theban Sorcery, Ordo Dracul rituals and sacred geometry, the art form focuses on controlling aspects of architecture and urban development to gain mystical power over a city. Most of the rituals have a Victorian Masonic aspect, with implements and precise performance required for their use. To date, no non-Architect has ever learned the Gilded Cage, as it is one of the bloodline’s most closely guarded secrets. Very few vampires know of its existence as anything other than an odd power, often assuming it a path of the Coils of the Dragon. Teaching an outsider not only gives away power, it gives away secrets that could lead to the bloodline’s undoing. Nearly as importantly, elders use their knowledge of line rituals to keep younger members under their thumb. The only way to learn a new ritual is to be taught it by an elder who has mastered it, so progenitors use the careful doling out of power as a potent method of control. Cost: Using Gilded Cage always costs one Willpower point. The whole Discipline is based on the idea of imposing one’s will on the world through mystical-scientific research. Willpower spent in this manner does not add three dice to activation rolls. Also, because only one Willpower point may ever be spent in a turn, another cannot be spent to augment a Gilded Cage roll unless specified otherwise. Furthermore, Gilded Cage rituals require that specific items be used or that a caster be in a certain place in order to activate a power. Items, known as Means, are foci that align the will with the forces channeled. Places, known as Ways, are sites where a pre-existing tendency toward certain phenomena already exists. Any attempt to invoke a Gilded Cage ritual without proper Ways and Means fails automatically. Unlike other forms of vampiric sorcery, however, the Ways and Means used to activate Gilded Cage rituals are not consumed. They can be reused unless specifically noted otherwise. This fact has led some to suggest that Ways and Means are simply props to undead will and not actually mystical tools, but such conjecture defies the Carpenter’s teachings…. Like Crúac and Theban Sorcery, Gilded Cage does not have a linear progression as other Disciplines do. A character’s mastery (dots) dictates the highest level of rituals that he may learn. Rituals are bought with experience points. For example, a character with Gilded Cage 2 can know an unlimited number of one-dot and two-dot rituals (provided the experience points are paid to learn each), but he may not learn any three-dot rituals until his Gilded Cage trait increases to 3. Each time a character acquires a dot in Gilded Cage (including at character creation), he gains a ritual of that level at no additional cost.
 
 
Нахуали
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The Nahualli is a relatively recent bloodline, barely more than a century old. The lineage was founded near the end of the 19th century in Mexico, by a Ventrue of Spanish descent named Vinicio Peralta de Mosquera. Taking inspiration from certain aspects of Aztec religion, de Mosquera came to the conclusion that a Kindred was in effect a dual being, a dark soul and a light soul, sharing a single body. The Beast was one aspect of this nature, and the conscience remaining from before the Embrace was the other. Only through the acceptance of both could a Kindred attain a perfect existence. Tonight, the Nahualli have splintered into two factions, each led at least nominally by de Mosquera's two childer, Roca and Bellido. Roca's followers pursue the founder's teachings under the guise of religion, while Bellido's group takes a more studied, almost clinical approach. In keeping with de Mosquera's dictates, those of his lineage usually appear cultured, even genteel. They not only invite the Beast's urgings freely, however, they practice ritual murders that chill the Vitae of even the most jaded Kindred. The "Jekylls," as they're known in undead circles (where they're known at all), hope that such extreme, dichotomous behavior will somehow further their progression to the perfect balance of their dual natures. The Nahualli are shunned in traditional vampire society, not only because of members' grisly practices, but because they tend to be volatile and a risk to the Tradition of secrecy. Of the few Kindred aware of the line's existence, most believe the Nahualli are simply Ventrue who have a weakness for multiple-personality disorder... and serial murder.
 
Parent Clan: Ventrue
 
Nickname: Jekylls
 
 
Covenant: Nahualli who regard their condition as primarily one of philosophical choice gravitate toward the Carthians, who represent a political allegory to line members' own personal condition. Those who walk a more spiritual road are drawn to the Circle of the Crone, their theology being readily adaptable to that of the Acolytes. The Invictus draws members across the bloodline, no doubt due to the lingering effects of Ventrue parentage. Remaining Jekylls tend to go unaligned, as they prefer not to adopt a single set or communal goals. While a few join the Ordo Dracul for its dispassionate analysis of what would otherwise be regarded as horrific abuses, few members find a home in the Lancea Sanctum. Conflicting theology or a specific lack of spirituality is simply too great an impediment to being Sanctified.
 
 
Appearance: The Nahualli originally Embraced only childer of Mexican-Spanish heritage. Virtually all elders are of such origins. This tendency is more a result of geography than any racial preference, however, and the line now has representatives of most races. Like the Ventrue, Jekylls tend to dress as befits their status, although their attire is often less ostentatious than that of some in their parent clan, because many Nahualli have an academic background.
 
 
Havens: Line members, like the Ventrue, favor well-appointed retreats. A Nahualli's abode is more likely to be stocked with texts on religion or psychology, or with archaeological artifacts than with designer furniture. Elders of the lineage often favor stonework over other building materials, perhaps as a reminder of the havens of their early days. Due to the nature of their practices, most choose shelters isolated from society to lessen the likelihood of discovery. Those who don't have such a luxury usually find a separate location where they're safe to conduct their rituals. If not without fear of discovery, they can at least go without fear of compromising their havens.
 
 
Background: The Nahualli are exceedingly particular about indoctrinating new members. The very nature of their rituals would draw the attention of mortal authorities, so discretion is mandatory. The only time a would-be sire Embraces is when a new cabal of members is founded, and even then careful consideration is given to any choice. Philosophy is also central to the very being of the Nahualli and requires a certain mindset in a prospective inductee. Those of Roca's following choose childer who might be described as charismatic, but naive, with few social ties (the very sort targeted by religious cults). The more studious members descended from Bellido focus primarily on academics who've proven capable of entertaining unusual premises, or who are simply amoral in their pursuit of knowledge.
 
 
Character Creation: A character's faction in the bloodline is influential to the qualities that he's likely to possess. Roca's initiates favor Social Attributes and Skills, the better to pursue and spread the gospel of their faithful interpretation of the vampiric "twin soul." Meanwhile, Bellido's colleagues focus on Mental Traits, primary Intelligence and Skills such as Academics, Investigation, Medicine, Occult and Science. The same can be said of Merits, with the first faction putting emphasis on Social ones such as Contacts, Mentor and Resources, and the second group seeking immersion in Mental Merits like Common Sense, Eidetic Memory, Encyclopedic Knowledge and Meditative Mind. Both sides recognize the importance of Physical traits, though, and give them due attention. Highly prized across the bloodline is the Humanity of a newcomer. While the lineage's practices soon wear morality down, a strong foundation helps establish a middle ground with the Beast in an effort to balance the two parts of the soul. Someone who joins who is already a moral degenerate faces a much more challenging struggle to find balance. Indeed, a wanton killer might never find equilibrium and makes a target of himself among brethren who decide he's lost his way.
 
 
Bloodline Disciplines: Auspex, Dominate, Resilience, Tezcatl
 
 
Weakness: As a bloodline of the Ventrue, the Nahualli share the parent clan's weakness for instability. This can be particularly dangerous to the Jekylls as their practices frequently delve into the realm of barbaric and monstrous, taking performers with them. Nahualli suffer a -2 penalty to Humanity rolls to avoid acquiring derangements after failing a degeneration roll. Additionally, Nahualli have a difficult time resisting frenzy (including Rötschreck and Wassail) and riding the wave. Their focus on a dual nature handicaps them when trying to control the Beast, whether to quell or summon it. When Composure + Resolve is rolled to either resist or initiate frenzy, the 10 Again rule does not apply and any 1's that come up on the roll subtract from successes achieved. (So, if three successes are rolled but two 1's also turn up in the same roll, the result is reduced to one success.) Nahualli cannot use Willpower to augment any frenzy rolls, though they may spend a single Willpower point to control themselves for a single round when already frenzying.
 
Organization: Roca's religiously motivated group is formally structured. That isn't necessarily surprising, since the bloodline is similar to a cult in many ways, and Roca is at the top. All of her followers in a given city belong to a group referred to as a calpulli. There are nearly always three to five members in a calpulli, unless it is still formative. Fewer than three are unable to properly complete the bloodline's ritual practices. More than five are not only unnecessary, but often pose a risk of exposure. Seldom are all the members of a calpulli Kindred. One or two might be vampires and the rest ghouls bound to the eldest line member. The eldest Nahualli in a calpulli serves as a leader in rites, and is sometimes referred to as Tlamatinime (the Knower). For bloodline matters within a calpulli, the Tlamatinime's word is law. Needless to say, no Prince would smile upon such usurpation. All the more reason why Nahualli typically present themselves to Kindred society as "mere" Ventrue. For Nahualli who take Bellido's intellectual approach, no formal organization exists. Seldom more than a single Nahualli of this sort is found in a city, and little communication occurs between them. Each pursues his study on his own, sharing little for fear that his brethren will steal any "discovery" he makes and claim it for their own.
 
 
Concepts: Actor, archaeologist, cult leader, museum curator, psychologist, smuggler, surgeon, theologian.
 
 
History: The bloodline’s founder, Vinicio Peralta de Mosquera, was Embraced by an unnamed Ventrue sometime during the late 16th century in Seville, Spain. De Mosquera was an instructor in theology at the university, which attracted his sire’s attention (himself a fairly well-placed member of the Lancea Sanctum). De Mosquera joined his sire’s covenant, but also continued to follow his own studies. De Mosquera remained Sanctified for over a century, but had increasing difficulty reconciling the teachings of the covenant with his own inclinations. Why, for example, would God choose to set up as an example of wickedness a being more powerful than a righteous mortal? The mortal Church insisted that God did not tempt mankind, yet it seemed to de Mosquera that the immediate power of undeath posed exactly that to short-sighted kine. Even worse, the prospect of true damnation seemed distant to a being who could easily exist for centuries — and possibly longer. De Mosquera found it harder and harder to accept the Spear’s doctrine as the truth of the Kindred condition. While De Mosquera was inquisitive, he wasn’t foolish. He understood all too well what the fate of any outspoken critic would be. (Especially one whose arguments could cite book, chapter and verse of a long list of contradictions in Scripture.) By that time, Spanish colonies in the New World had considerable size and population. Seville, the main port of call for vessels traveling to and from the colonies, provided de Mosquera with the opportunity to escape the oppression of his covenant.
 
New Spain: De Mosquera departed for the colony of New Spain, what roughly corresponds to modern Mexico, near the end of the 18th century. He settled in Mexico City, which by that time had a population of well over 100,000, the vast majority of whom were poor, indigenous people. Easy prey for one of the earliest Kindred in that region. For years, de Mosquera existed virtually alone, devoid of contact with other undead, and interacting with mortals only to feed. The New World had not drawn many of his kind for fear of travel and lack of vessels. De Mosquera therefore distracted himself by studying the Aztec culture still in evidence. Remnants of an older city, Tenochitlán, the capital of the fallen civilization, occupied the same site as Mexico City, and remains of it were apparent everywhere. Street vendors sold Aztec relics, pottery and jewelry. The very stones from Aztec buildings were used to erect new structures in the contemporary city. Even after decades as an inhuman predator, de Mosquera was shocked by the apparent viciousness of Aztec religious practices. Ritual sacrifice was practiced regularly in a manner that seemed almost gluttonous in its excess. He found evidence of mass killings that reached into the thousands. Beheading, flaying, the drowning of children, and the cutting out of hearts from living victims were practiced in regular cycles to appease the gods, both benign and malignant. The sheer brutality of the culture captivated the vampire. He made numerous nighttime visits to the University of Mexico where the Spanish viceroy had ordered most Aztec artifacts to be stored. The Church, and thus the viceroy, believed the relics could instigate anarchy by their very presence, and the public needed protection from them. Perhaps there was some foundation to these fears, for de Mosquera felt his blood stir just being in their presence.
 
 
The Nahualli
One of the elements de Mosquera found most intriguing about the Aztec religion was the concept of deities having multiple aspects. The chief god of the pantheon, Tezcatlipoca, was a dark and primarily evil god. He was the deity of night and deceit, famine and disease. His name meant “The Smoking Mirror,” for he represented all that was veiled in the world. De Mosquera noted, however, that Tezcatlipoca also had other aspects. To the Aztecs, another identity wasn’t merely another focus or realm of authority, it was for all purposes another entity. Tezcatlipoca, could also appear as Quetzalcóatl, the Plumed Serpent, god of knowledge and light. The concept was foreign to de Mosquera’s western philosophy, but he saw a parallel to the Kindred’s unliving yet immortal existence. The Ventrue recognized Tezcatlipoca as a more appropriate patron for the Kindred than the righteous God of the Lancea Sanctum. Tezcatlipoca was lord of the night, whereas the Christian deity was associated with the sun. Tezcatlipoca was the dark reflection of life, a smoking mirror of perception. But, like the Kindred, there remained aspects of good within his being. Where the difference came, in de Mosquera’s view, was that nowhere did he find evidence that Tezcatlipoca tried to reconcile his different aspects. In his evil aspect, Tezcatlipoca had the potential to destroy existence itself. But when in his good aspect, he represented renewal and protection. After decades of studying Aztec spirituality, de Mosquera came to the conclusion that his elders had led him down a path doomed to failure. Since he had been Embraced, he had been taught to control the Beast, similar to the way in which he had been taught as a human to avoid mortal sins. Were it necessary to protect the Tradition of secrecy, perhaps he could have understood it. Yet most Kindred spoke of the Beast as though it were an alien creature to be feared and avoided. De Mosquera recognized that the Beast was merely an aspect of a vampire’s existence, neither to be feared nor preferred over the more reasoned existence most Kindred sought to lead. Sometime about the mid-19th century, de Mosquera diverged from the Ventrue clan by the force of his new convictions, initiating his own bloodline. Or at least that’s the story the Nahualli tell. Other Kindred who know of the lineage claim that’s when de Mosquera finally succumbed to Ventrue fragility and plunged into full-blown dementia. There may be some truth to both accounts. Regardless, it was sometime around the middle of the century that de Mosquera stopped considering himself a Ventrue and took the name Nahualli, which he felt was a more appropriate descriptor for his new course.
 
THE RITUAL OF FLAYING MEN:
At the middle of March, a calpulli or solitary Nahualli captures a male victim, preferably a warrior of some type (the term “warrior” can be interpreted liberally if necessary; a fireman or police officer might apply).
The victim is skinned alive and the regional Tlamatinime or other performer wears the skin for the remainder of the night. This horrendous practice is ironically performed by line members when they’re most grounded — they’re fed and avoid possible triggers of derangements. De Mosquera began this tradition in tribute to Aztec practices, making offerings of his own to the Beast, what he came to call the Smoking Mirror. De Mosquera believed that by performing such gruesome acts while in a rational state, he honored the irrational aspect of the vampiric condition. Thus, he recognized the two sides of undeath, but distinguished them from each other. Tonight, outsiders point to the Ritual of Flaying Men and others like it as proof that the lineage founder had gone raving mad. That his childer still perform the rite might be testament to their own instability.
 
 
Early Nights: De Mosquera Embraced his first two childer at the end of the 19th century. Perhaps still influenced by his Ventrue heritage, he chose both from influential backgrounds in Mexico City. Luis Valdivia Tavares Bellido was a prominent philosophy professor at the University of Mexico who was intrigued by the radical theories of psychology developing in Europe. Beatriz Quadros Roca was the only remaining member of a family that claimed to trace descent from Moctezuma, one of the last great Aztec emperors. The fact that Roca had inherited a small fortune from her family’s silver mining concerns probably influenced the choice as well. In time, de Mosquera found his childer receptive to his teachings. Neither balked at the ritual murders to which he exposed them (but then again, prior to their Embrace, neither had to drink blood to survive, either). Given their isolation from established Kindred society, the childer had no other frame of reference from which to view their new reality. The small coterie practiced all manner of ritual murder. Victims were beheaded, skinned, burned, drowned or had their hearts removed while they still lived. De Mosquera taught these gruesome practices, he said, to allow the neonates to honor their own Smoking Mirrors. The rituals were planned to coincide loosely with Aztec festivals, initially only as a matter of form. When rites were not performed, de Mosquera required his childer to exhibit benevolence toward mortals. His requirements did not prohibit feeding, but he stressed that such should be as gentle and painless as possible. Only by so dividing the aspects of their Kindred nature could the childer realize their potential as dual beings. Although both were receptive, the two approached their sire’s lessons in drastically different ways. Bellido focused on psychological aspects, noting that the Aztecs believed the soul resided in three parts, which largely corresponded with Freud’s concepts of the id, ego and super-ego. Roca was drawn to the religious aspects of her training, perhaps due to her own claimed heritage or simply to differentiate herself from her undead sibling. This divergence between the two led to a competition between them for their sire’s approval. Bellido’s academic background allowed him to converse with de Mosquera about matters to which Roca had little if any knowledge. Meanwhile, Roca, an attractive and forceful woman, could easily hold her own in gaining de Mosquera’s attention, if by less intellectual means.
 
 
THE GREAT FEAST DAY RITE: In this ritual, a female captive is beheaded while standing. Participants push her body around until it falls, allowing the blood shed to cover as much ground as possible. 
 
 
Final Death: By the time de Mosquera founded his lineage, his blood had grown in potency to the point that only other Kindred Vitae could sustain him. The three solved this problem in a fashion that traditional Kindred society decries as both repulsive and incestuous. The coterie Embraced new childer for the sole purpose of appeasing the elder’s hunger. In order to avoid the risk of the Vinculum, de Mosquera drained newly created vampires completely. As a further safeguard, he instructed Roca and Bellido to impose Final Death on any who happened to survive his ministrations. While he informed his childer that such measures were simply meant to limit the strain that more vampires would inflict on the city’s mortals, both suspected there was another reason. Each sought to pry the answer from their sire, and both were able to piece together much of the truth from the partial answers they received and from their own observations. Roca recognized the potential to gain control of the coterie. Knowing her own weakness in resisting the Beast, it took little effort to stage feedings for de Mosquera with “half-full” vessels. If her sire succumbed to Wassail, she simply made sure that she was the first he reached. De Mosquera took no notice of his childe’s manipulation. Some modern Nahualli believe he had separated his aspects so thoroughly that the two had no knowledge of each other’s actions. His rational self was unaware that the Smoking Mirror risked Vinculum. Other more cynical Kindred are of the opinion that de Mosquera was a victim of multiple personality disorder, likely triggered by frenzy. Either way, the end result was the same. Roca’s sibling Bellido was not as blind as his sire. Some time after de Mosquera fell under Roca’s influence, one of the two childer inflicted Final Death on the sire. Two stories are told about how the founder was slain, depending on which faction tells the tale. Those of Bellido’s ancestry assert that the relationship between the men was close, and Roca feared that Bellido would alert the sire to the woman’s treachery. She therefore drove de Mosquera into torpor with a stake through the heart and had mortal underlings drag him into the daylight. Roca’s followers claim that Bellido murdered the sire because de Mosquera favored the woman more. They freely admit to Roca’s attempts to trap de Mosquera by the Vinculum, and insist that proves the truth of their account. Bellido’s only choice was to be damned to the bottom of the coterie’s pecking order or to eliminate his creator.
 
 
The Nahualli Divided: Not surprisingly, the two remaining members of the bloodline split. They had already drifted considerably in their interpretations of de Mosquera’s teachings. More and more, Bellido focused on the psychological aspects of differentiating the Beast from the more controlled portion of the vampire psyche. Roca continued down the spiritual road, adopting de Mosquera’s concept of the Smoking Mirror as not only a separate entity outside a vampire, but she elevated it to almost godlike status. For a short while, the two Nahualli continued to exist in Mexico City, but grew increasingly hostile. Both realized the need to build their own coteries, not only for protection against each other, but to assist in performing the rituals that de Mosquera had taught them. Roca was determined to remain in the city; she claimed her ancestry gave her that right. Furthermore, the nearby ruins of Teotihuacán, the City of the Gods, held tremendous importance to her beliefs. Bellido, looking on Roca as primitive and uneducated, ceded Mexico City, insisting that his enlightened view was not tied to the “geography of superstition.” Over the decades that followed, both factions grew significantly and extended from central Mexico. The surge of population in the United States drew their largest numbers, although some (primarily those of Roca’s faction) traveled to South America. By the 1940s, they had increasing contact with other members of Kindred society as more and more traveled north. Some foreign Kindred were initially confused by the Nahualli’s seeming gentle nature. Other vampires quickly saw the newcomers as dangerously unpredictable and a threat to the Traditions. Not only was the bloodline apparently susceptible to frenzy, few of its members even attempted to resist the urges of the Beast. Their ritual practices were horrifically violent, apparently for the sake of violence itself, and they left the bodies of victims in their wake. Nahualli cabals were soon considered a danger to Kindred as a whole, regardless of whether they violated secrecy or not. In some cities, Princes declared blood hunts to eliminate the bloodline. Others exiled Jekylls, hoping that others would find a way to deal with the problems the outcasts posed. Only in a few cities, usually those where the Circle of the Crone held considerable influence, did Kindred leadership tolerate the Nahualli (unless their activities posed an unmistakable threat).
 
CEASING OF WATER: By Aztec tradition, this ritual is performed in mid-February. The ritual victim is beaten until he cries. At that point, the beatings cease and participants hold the victim under water until he drowns. Staying true to Aztec practices, the Nahualli prefer to subject a child to this atrocity.
 
 
Society and Culture: Tonight, the Nahualli have learned to keep a low profile among mortals and other vampires. Nearly half a century of blood hunts and exile has taught them that the average Kindred is too bound by tradition or too narrow minded to accept a dual nature. When dealing with other undead, Jekylls usually present themselves as simple Ventrue, if the subject arises at all. They don’t see this as a deceit, but just another aspect of their faceted nature. Nahualli are generally very civil, bordering on kindness to both mortals and other vampires. Elders stress such decorum as necessary as willingness to accept the Beast. To those unaware of line members’ dual identities, Nahualli often seem to be moral exemplars (or naïve fools who look like easy victims). As a whole, Nahualli seldom become as involved in Kindred politics and infighting as their parent clan members. They find such endeavors distracting from their higher pursuit. Such dissociation is probably a survival trait as well. A Nahualli is ill prepared to take a Harpy’s barb in court without loosing the Beast. During their many of their rituals or when in frenzy, the veneer of Nahualli benevolence is torn asunder. Any acts committed during frenzy are “the province of the Smoking Mirror” and a line member professes no remorse over them. Likewise, no matter how vile a ritual turns, it is the dark side that’s served, not the light. Or so the brood claims. Simply saying it doesn’t necessarily make it so, however. Humanity usually dwindles quickly in the Nahualli soul. No one, no matter how pious or how caring they once might have been, can perform such acts of cruelty without suffering. And loosing the Beast freely just reminds it how it hates to go back into its cave. Weakwilled Nahualli can succumb to their inherited weakness for mental failings in short order. For the strong willed, it may take longer, but the ultimate outcome is rarely in doubt. In either case, the once-benevolent face of a Nahualli becomes nothing more than a mask for the madness raging beneath.
 
DAY OF THE DEAD: Traditionally, this festival is recognized by the bloodline sometime in mid- to late August. A victim is lowered into a fire pit or placed on a pyre and burned alive. Before the victim expires, she is pulled from the fire — usually with chains so the Nahualli avoid the flames — and her heart is cut out.
 
 
The Two Factions: Both Roca and Bellido’s factions exist tonight. The Nahualli, never a wide lineage, was significantly reduced by backlash from traditional Kindred society. Neither faction is represented in more than a handful of cities. Together, total membership may number a few dozen. Each group insists the other is not truly Nahualli, but a degenerate offshoot. Both continue to practice the same rites that de Mosquera taught. Each also maintains the belief that by separating the aspects of their vampiric nature, they can somehow attain a pure state of being. Roca’s faithful approach the line’s tenets with a religious reverence and have gravitated toward traditional Aztec trappings, using obsidian blades and even wearing ceremonial garb. They deify the Smoking Mirror (their Beast), and understand frenzies to be a form of divine possession. By extrapolation, bestial impulses are merely the gods’ aspects made manifest. It therefore falls to the individual to perfect the light aspect of her nature when a god is not upon her. Bellido’s students take a clinical approach, although their efforts are no less supernatural. They use modern implements to perform de Mosquera’s rituals and refer to the rites as “exercises.” They insist that the Beast is an external manifestation of the id and that repression of it is damaging to the undead psyche. Likewise, the superego — that part of the self that is often associated with a “conscience” — must be cultivated. Given the dual nature of the Kindred condition, the perfect model is a dual-natured mind. While factional differences seem vast to the Nahualli, their conflict seems semantic to an outsider. In fact, to other Kindred, the Nahualli can be an erratic and volatile menace.
 
Rituals of Damnation: The Nahualli do not murder with wanton abandon, contrary to the claims of other Kindred, and contrary to seeming evidence. Following their interpretation of de Mosquera’s teachings, the factions practice grisly but highly regimented murder. Specific acts, approximate times of year, and appropriate types of victims have long been decreed. The founder derived each from Aztec tradition, because he believed it to in some way strengthen the demarcation between light and dark aspects. Samples of those rites are scattered throughout this bloodline write-up. To the modern reader, Aztec sacrifices read like something from a horror novel. While archaeologists and historians argue about the exact nature of these practices, the fact remains that the Aztec population accepted them as a part of life, without necessarily sinking into depravity as a culture. Social and religious tenets allowed them to accept and even celebrate rites that tonight seem abhorrent to all but the most bestial. And yet, de Mosquera’s followers do not have the Aztec’s unique viewpoint on ritual sacrifice infused into them. In spite of the progenitor’s teachings and claims to the contrary, the Nahualli do risk loss of Humanity and degeneration. Thanks to the power of the bloodline’s belief, however, degeneration rolls made for acts committed in rites do receive a +1 bonus. The performers believe (to varying degrees) that a part of themselves becomes “pure” as a result of such actions. This bonus applies to only degeneration rolls called for by acts committed during a Nahualli ritual. Despite this emotional reinforcement, many of the bloodline rapidly slide into the depths of depravity. A few draugr arose early during Nahualli expansion, complicating relations with other Kindred. Tonight, the bloodline keeps a close eye on its members, quickly and quietly dispatching any who sink too far into the Beast. These fallen individuals are considered to have lost the balance of their aspects, forever indulging in the Smoking Mirror alone. The potential for a Nahualli to frenzy during a ritual is great. The presence of vast quantities of blood is often unavoidable, and some rites involve fire. While the bloodline in general does not restrain frenzies, members are aware of the potential for disaster. It’s standard practice for all participants to have fed fully before beginning a killing, at least reducing the chance of Wassail. Nahualli groups that survive more than a short while in a city have a secured location for their repugnant practices. It may be an abandoned portion of a subway or a maintenance tunnel, although the presence of Nosferatu or other undead who also lurk there makes such a choice a risky proposition. Others rely on wealth to protect their “temples,” hiding them atop penthouses or on country estates. Finding a suitable location is the first priority of any Nahualli calpulli in a new city.
 
TEZCATLIPOCA’S GIFT: Some Nahualli groups practice a year-long rite that requires them to hold a male captive the entire time. Young, male Kindred are ideal subjects. During the year, the victim is confined but granted any luxury short of freedom. At the end of the year, the group takes the victim to a designated shrine and removes his heart, preferably before administering Final Death. Needless to say, this ritual alone is likely to turn most of Kindred society against the bloodline.
 
Tezcatl: The Nahualli take the name of their unique Discipline from the Nahuatl word for “mirror.” The term ties closely to the bloodline’s belief in the aspected nature of undead existence. Each side of their being, civilized individual and raging Beast, is considered a mere reflection of the other. The Nahualli claim that Tezcatl isn’t truly a Discipline at all, but a manifestation of their ascension toward duality. The powers can seem to lend credence to that assertion, allowing users to mask certain elements of one side of their nature or the other. The line’s founder met Final Death fairly early in Nahualli history. That combined with the brood’s fairly specific focus and relatively young age limits the number of powers developed so far. A mortal can resist the effects of a Tezcatl power for a turn with the expenditure of a Willpower point and a successful Stamina roll (the Willpower point does not add three dice to the roll). This roll is reflexive. If the roll fails, the Willpower point is lost and the mortal remains under the effects of the power. If the roll is successful, the subject can act normally for a turn. A vampire who is the victim of a Tezcatl power, and who has a higher Blood Potency than the Nahualli, can resist the power for an entire scene if a Willpower point is spent and a successful Stamina roll is made.
 
 
Носферату.
Гетсемани
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The Gethsemani are an enigma that brings out the best and worst of the Kindred. Named for the place of Christ's crucifixion, the bloodline is an offshoot of the Nosferatu that possesses an uncanny ability to cause others to exhibit the wounds suffered by Jesus on the cross. More disturbing, the stigmata that appear on victims seem to be imbued with a portion of divine -- or diabolical -- power. Those who drink from them gain access to miraculous capabilities. So controversial is the source of the bloodline's unusual power that member's find themselves the objects of fanatical devotion or damnation as blasphemous servants of the infernal. In some domains, these Ecstatics may find quick acceptance, especially if the local Bishop or other authority chooses to recognize the Gethsemani as instruments of the Almighty blessed with the power to recreate the sacred works of Longinus. Even if the Sanctified don't have a significant presence, a small community of faithful may offer a Gethsemani sanctuary, keeping the ward safe from other vampires. Indeed, keepers' fanaticism can be so extreme that a Gethsemani's Requiem is little different than imprisonment. The Gethsemani is followed everywhere in case some miracle occurs on her account, and to forestall any conceivable danger to her person. Elsewhere, the Lancea Sanctum may look upon the Gethsemani as vile corrupters and seeks to run them from a city, or even destroy them outright. It's not unheard of for the hysteria around a line member to become so great that a blood hunt is called to cleanse the unholy taint ascribed to this odious spawn of Satan. Only where the Spear is particularly weak and the Kindred in power do not hold a strong opinion one way or the other do Ecstatics find a real measure of personal freedom. The bloodline has its origins in Europe of the late 16th century, when a pious Nosferatu was so taken by the religious devotion of an elderly nun (who was renowned for having demonstrated stigmata) that he Embraced her, hoping that his own curse might be lifted. Instead, the nun discovered that her saintly touch caused others to suffer ecstasies and bleed as she once had. So inspiring was her passion and the wonders she could perform, she became nothing less than a saint among local undead. Her later canonization by the mortal Church in Rome only increased her Kindred standing. She became the Archbishop of Florence and established a special monastery for her progeny beneath her old convent in nearby Prato. Choosing only other, mortal stigmatics for the Embrace, her line grew slowly. Although their numbers are assumed to still be few tonight, the Gethsemani can be found nearly anywhere. Most seem to cleave to their religious origins and accept their role as agents of the divine where they are so received. They maintain the practices taught in the Prato monastery and seek out mortal stigmatics where they can to bolster their numbers. A growing minority of Gethsemani forsakes such traditions, however. These naysayers consider the Embrace a cruel curse that robbed them of God's special favor, for which they have in turn cursed those responsible (or at the very least have sought as much distance from them as possible). Others have simply been subverted by the dark tendencies of their kind, allowing their previously strong religious convictions to be trampled under their addiction to blood, the howl of the Beast, and what they see as the necessities of the Danse Macabre. These disillusioned Kindred no longer place importance on religion or its trappings and see the Lancea Sanctum as more prison than pulpit. No longer sure of God's role in their Requiem, they cannot fully explain what it is they do, but given the nightly demands imposed on all Kindred, they don't dwell on it too much. Some of these apostates have joined the Invictus, with its similarities to the Lancea Sanctum, while others have turned to the Ordo Dracul to better understand their nature and perhaps transcend their curse. A rumor circulates that a few have thrown in with the Circle of the Crone, which is not entirely unlikely given the central role blood plays in the covenant's philosophy. Finally, some whisper that one or more Gethsemani have become members of Belial's Brood and are influential in that diabolical sect.
 
Parent Clan: Nosferatu
 
Nickname: Ecstatics
 
Covenant: The Lancea Sanctum claims the lion's share of Gethsemani, coveting them as saintly figures who must be adored, emulated, idolized and protected from harm in those domains. A Gethsemani may be granted a ridiculous degree of influence that he can easily turn to his advantage. This is the primary reason why most Ecstatics join the covenant, or at least choose to remain within its parochial reach. The downside is that Ecstatics are rarely allowed much freedom, as they are hounded from sundown till sunup by Kindred desperate to be near them, whether to receive some special blessing or out of fanatical devotion. Where the Lancea Sanctum is of lesser standing, Sanctified may be even more smothering, terrified that their unliving saint may come to some harm by non-believers. Of course, not every scion of Longinus accepts the Gethsemani as specially touched by God. In those infrequent domains where the covenant sees Ecstatics as a danger -- to its faith, its political power or both -- a Gethsemani's Requiem can be hellish. Inquisitors seize every chance to harass and perhaps torture an Ecstatic in hopes of demonstrating to all the diabolical nature of the bloodline. The Invictus typically follows the lead of the Sanctified when it comes to the Gethsemani, though the First Estate is rarely as extreme in its veneration or demonizing. If the Lancea Sanctum has a relatively insignificant presence or if it is openly at odds with the First Estate, the Invictus is likely to suffer a Gethsemani, accepting him as little more than an unusual Nosferatu. For line members not entirely convinced of the virtue of the Sanctified, or who are labeled infernal, the First Estate can offer a suitable welcome. Even so, not even the most apathetic members of the Invictus are so blind as to overlook the instability that an Ecstatic can cause. Covenant members therefore take care to watch over a Gethsemani for any sign that his presence may threaten their power. Rarely is an Ecstatic granted any true political standing, either. The Carthians are rarely of interest to members of the bloodline. The covenant's potential lack of hierarchy offers the Gethsemani little protection, and few Carthians are likely to become the kind of adoring devotees that so many Ecstatics count on for support. Only the most apolitical and irreligious of the line are typically drawn to this group. Gethsemani are creatures of deeply mystical significance, regardless of whoever or whatever else they may be. The Ordo Dracul recognizes this reality, even if the covenant might downplay religious connotations, and takes an active interest in learning more about the lineage. The covenant's relatively clinical approach to stigmata holds a strong appeal for a minority of Ecstatics. Those individuals can be themselves in such circles, rather than be what's expected of them. The Circle of the Crone has its own appeal, too. Blood is central to pagan rituals, and Ecstatics certainly encourage bloodletting. Line members might find sympathy rather than adulation within the covenant, but may also find themselves the objects of rituals rather than participants. Those Gethsemani who forsake the community and protection of any covenant are rare in the extreme. These few pariahs tend to have lonesome Requiems, pursuing personal goals far from the prying eyes of other Kindred.
 
Appearance: The Gethsemani are no different physically than other Nosferatu. They suffer the same horrible disfigurements or nauseating demeanors. Most stigmatics hail from cultures where Christianity has had some lasting influence. They're mainly of European stock or were Embraced in the Americas. Those who are particularly religious tend to dress in a way that reflects their devotion, whether that means rich vestments or the threadbare garb of a pious ascetic. The minority who have fallen from grace dress in whatever fashion best fits their personality and position in Kindred society.
 
Havens: Where a Gethsemani is treated as an unliving saint, a haven is likely to be provided by her true believers. If followers are few, the haven may be a humble dwelling. If admirers are many, the Gethsemani may enjoy a ridiculously overwrought home, possibly attended by a few zealots who dedicate their Requiems to the Ecstatic's protection. In either case, the haven is decorated with appropriate religious paraphernalia, from small icons, crucifixes and candles to full-blown biblical murals, exquisite artifacts of precious metal, and possibly even an ornate throne. Gethsemani who do not enjoy this kind of adulation or who seek some measure of privacy prefer havens that do not belie their true nature. Town homes, apartments and ordinary houses are all possible.
 
 
Background: The Gethsemani Embrace only mortals who have demonstrated stigmata at some time in their lives, even if it was only for a brief period. They go to great lengths to discern the veracity of any reports of miracles, relying on Church records of witness testimony and clerical investigation. Because a new childe cannot claim her full inheritance until the potency of her blood is demonstrated (she joins the bloodline), a sire is often unsure of whether a fledgling was a true stigmatic. Only when the postulant's potency has grown sufficiently can the truth be known. Those who were not genuine stigmatics in life (victims of the Stigmatica Discipline do not count; their stigmata are not spontaneous) are never able to join the bloodline, remaining ordinary Nosferatu. There is no chance for them to become Gethsemani (though they may seek to join another bloodline in the usual manner). In the case of a true, mortal stigmatic, her long suffering ends upon the Embrace and she never bears the mystical wounds again. The stigmata are now hers to inflict. There are no known cases of vampires displaying genuine, spontaneous stigmata, at least none that have been made common knowledge. Most childer are of European or American origin, given that most cases of stigmata are concentrated in those regions. It is traditionally accepted that only extremely pious kine can bear stigmata, but there are enough exceptions to conclude that while most Gethsemani were very religious in life, a handful were relatively agnostic and did not accept their experiences as spiritual. Similarly, some who were once paragons of Christian faith did not remain so. All were (and are) still viable as initiates to the bloodline, but the Requiem exacts a terrible toll on a Kindred and Ecstatics are no different. Some turn away from their faith after the Embrace, and a few actually turn against it, cursing God for delivering them into damnation. Regardless of their beliefs or cultural backgrounds, nearly all Gethsemani feel a heavy loss after becoming the undead. The pain they endured from the stigmata was intense. Even if not considered to be of religious origins, it was supernatural nonetheless and marked them as someone special. This fact was a profound part of their psychology and their identities were permanently tied to their suffering. The hunger that haunts them as Kindred is not quite the same as the agony of the stigmata, no matter how difficult it is to bear. Unlike the stigmata, the hunger can be quenched, even if only temporarily. The agony that came with the wounds could not be. Within a few years of becoming Gethsemani, a Kindred experiences a growing need to reclaim the suffering that once defined them. Before long, he feels emotionally satisfied only through masochistic practices. This self-abuse can be extreme, with flagellation, piercing or even more outrageous self-injury. Sadism is not far away on the spectrum of derangement. A number of Ecstatics find fulfillment in the torment of others. Miracle workers or depraved torturers, the Gethsemani can be truly terrifying.
 
Character Creation: Given the unpredictability and inexplicability of stigmata and its manifestation in mortals, would-be Gethsemani sires have little choice in whom to choose for the Embrace. No one outlook or skill set is ideal for childer. The line can't afford to be that choosy. Thus, no particular Attribute and Skill group prevails among Ecstatic characters. Individual Skills can be common, though. Any of Academics, Investigation, Medicine, Occult or Science is often possessed thanks to explorations of who and what stigmatics are. Empathy, Expression, Intimidation and Persuasion can arise from efforts to cope with manifestations and others' reactions to them. The Fame and Inspiring Merits may have arisen from days or nights spent reveling in religious conviction or influence. Haven and Retainer may be possessed by a vampire now venerated by followers. And, of course, an extra dot of Blood Potency is required at character creation for a seemingly "ordinary" Nosferatu to be eligible to join the line right away.
 
Bloodline Disciplines: Nightmare, Obfuscate, Stigmatica, Vigor
 
Weakness: As members of the Nosferatu clan, Gethsemani demonstrate their forebears' weakness. With regard to dice pools based on Presence or Manipulation Attributes in social situations, the 10 Again rule does not apply. Additionally, any 1's that come up on a roll are subtracted from successes. (This latter part of the weakness does not affect dramatic-failure rules.) This weakness does not apply to dice pools that involve the Intimidation Skill, or to the Composure Attribute. The pain of the wounds once experienced by stigmatics is also integral to a Gethsemani's psychological makeup. To recapture the missing agony, Ecstatics engage in all manner of masochism, from the mundane to the truly horrible. Upon a character's rise, a Composure + Resolve roll is made for her to avoid inflicting harm upon herself that night. If the roll fails, the character loses one Vitae to represent whatever bloody injury she inflicts. On a dramatic failure, the character loses two Vitae as she wantonly indulges her masochistic urges. Penalties to this roll could include being under great stress (-1 to -2), having recently suffered a significant loss or humiliation (-2 to -4), or being or feeling trapped by circumstances beyond her control (-3 to -5). The actual performance of self-abuse can take anywhere from minutes to hours. Many Gethsemani routinely recreate the same wounds they experienced as mortals, piercing their palms, cutting their forehead or flagellating themselves to draw blood from their backs. Players are encouraged to describe these practices during play to heighten a game's mood of personal horror. Otherwise, masochistic activity is assumed to occur between scenes, most likely in private. (Any Vitae lost are marked off your character sheet upon your Gethsemani's rise.)
 
Organization: In places where more than a single Gethsemani can be found, the bloodline usually organizes as an exclusive and secretive monastic order within the Lancea Sanctum's existing hierarchy. The eldest Ecstatic assumes the title of Passionente, essentially the head of the order, and her word is law in the community. This individual is usually one of the Anointed, but rarely assumes the responsibilities of the covenant's leadership. (There are no reports of Gethsemani Bishops or Cardinals.) The Passionente dedicates herself to inspiring other Kindred to recognize the Testament of Longinus as sacred, and to abandon agnosticism in favor of the doctrine of the Sanctified. The rest of the domain's Ecstatics perform their sanguine miracles before unbelievers, demonstrating what they claim is the divine power that God has seen fit to bestow upon them, Damned though they may be. The Passionente leads her community in private prayer and oversees opaque rites carried out within the impenetrable privacy of the Gethsemani cloister. Some communities obey strict rules of conduct that can include oaths of silence, blood fasting, a proscription on all light, and assigned labors, the last performed primarily as a show of spiritual devotion. Besides Passionente, other titles may exist, usually created based on the designated role of an Ecstatic, such as the Epistolarian or Tabernacula. In those domains where asceticism is the predominant flavor of worship, Gethsemani titles are typically eschewed. Line members who have abandoned religion stand outside these communities, left to seek their own places among Kindred however they might. To the rest of the lineage, they are seen as the worst possible traitors, for they have turned their backs on God, who in His mercy has marked them as special among the Damned. For these individuals, there can be no clemency. As mentioned, rarely do the Gethsemani claim full authority within a domain. This is in large part because the Lancea Sanctum, as much as it might venerate the Ecstatics, also fears them. Covenant leaders do what they can to keep the bloodline from gaining meaningful political authority, concerned that its secretive and tight-knit ways might threaten their own standing. This paranoia is not completely unfounded. Some Gethsemani, particularly where their numbers are significant (three or higher), do indeed seek to enforce upon their fellow Sanctified what they see as acceptable religious policy, feeling that they more than any other Kindred are close to understanding the true Will of God. More than one Passionente has studied the Danse Macabre and has used this mastery to advance her views throughout the Lancea Sanctum. Most are smart enough to do so with cautious subtlety. They're all too aware of the calamity that might befall them and their followers should their actions be perceived as a direct challenge to the established order. One fearful Priest spreading rumors of infernal rites can bring a quick and merciless end to all that the Gethsemani have accomplished. The bloodline is understandably concentrated in areas with a rich tradition in Church influence. Cities in Mediterranean Europe and France, parts of North Africa, and North America are the most likely places to find Ecstatics. The largest known population is at the Convent of San Vincenzio in Prato, Italy, where the founder continues to minister to her descendants. Some say as many as a dozen Gethsemani make that place their haven. Outside such gatherings, Ecstatics are itinerant. They're some of the most devoutly religious members of the bloodline, ready to risk their unlives to pursue God's work far from the security of their own.
 
Concepts: Kindred saint, obsequious penitent, visionary hermit, violent iconoclast, suicidal basket case, sideshow miracle-worker, deluded Christ-figure, ritualistic serial killer, inspired artist, diabolical cult leader.
 
 
History: In 1522, young Alessandra Lucrezia Romola was baptized in a chapel in Florence. For her, life would not take its usual course. God had marked her as his instrument for the duration of her mortal years, and for all those that would follow. Her father, Pier Francesco de’ Ricci, was descended from a long line of wealthy merchants and bankers, but it was her stepmother who instructed her in faith, assuming responsibilities when the girl’s birth-mother died. Fiametta da Diaccetto was fascinated by Alessandra’s habit of spending hours each day in solitary prayer, and did what she could to nourish the child’s sense of devotion. So certain of her calling, Alessandra declared her desire to join a convent at a very early age. An atmosphere of relative laxity pervaded the monastic orders of the time, however. Alessandra would settle only for a place that demanded the strictest observances, the better to serve God. She found her convent at San Vincenzio, a rigid religious enclave established in 1503 by nine sisters devoted to the teachings of the controversial prophet and reformer Girolamo Savonarola, a Dominican friar whose sermons relied heavily on Revelations and the threat of damnation. From the moment she set foot in the convent, Alessandra’s destiny was clear. First condemned by the community for the stigmata (or “Ecstasy of the Passion”) that she suffered, Alessandra’s humility and piety eventually won over all around her. She took the new name Catherine de’ Ricci and was appointed to a succession of increasingly important offices, eventually serving as prioress until her departure from the mortal realm on February 2, 1590. Her holiness was such that she was eventually beatified by Clement XII in 1732 and made a saint 14 years later by Benedict XIV. The kine of Tuscany still celebrate her feast on the 13th of February, holding a special mass at the covenant, now called Santa Caterina. Catherine de’ Ricci did pass from the realm of the living, but an unidentified Nosferatu did not allow her to depart from the world. The Haunt had traveled far to gaze upon the prioress, risking all in the hope that her blessing might transform him physically and spiritually. The Requiem was difficult for this misshapen creature. His once-staunch faith had all but fled him, bludgeoned by the demands of unlife and the sinful urges that claimed his trembling, dead flesh. Hearing of Catherine’s miracles, he found his way to the convent, desperate for some final shred of mercy from on High. His devilish talents allowed him to penetrate the inner chambers without disturbing the sisterhood, until he entered the private apartments of the Madre Sanguigna of San Vincenzio. He found her alone and bent in prayer, and such was her holy presence that his deceit failed and he stood before her unveiled, body and soul. Catherine had been waiting for his visit for more than a year, for she had already been made aware by the Holy Spirit of how she would serve next. She had been one of His most heavenly children and now she would be one of his most damned. To the dismay of Kindred theologians, no further mention of Catherine’s sire is found in scripture or oral history. As he came to her, invisible and unknown, he left her. Some apocryphal texts hint that when he saw that he had Embraced a creature already certain of her place in Hell, he retreated in horror. Unable to face what he had created, he left her and in some cases is said to have destroyed himself at sunrise. Whatever the case may be, the experience transformed Catherine in more than just the “usual” ways. The suffering that she had lived with for so long was now hers to give with but a touch. Others would come to know the Ecstasy of the Passion as she had, and would be redeemed in their agony. They would come to understand through the stigmata that to be close to God one must first suffer as God. It was her holy purpose to bring others to God, and so she set forth on this labor. She sought kine throughout Europe who were rumored to be ecstatics, testing each until she was pleased with the purity of their wounds. These she Embraced them, sharing the rapture that was already hers and instructing them in the strict monastic rules she established. Her childer stayed with her at Prato, where she oversaw the construction of a subterranean cloister to provide a haven for her new order, the Gethsemani. As in
life, she presided over the community, and only those who proved their devotion were allowed to continue her holy purpose in the world outside the walls of San Vincenzio.
 
 
Society and Culture: Gethsemani carry on the traditions and mission of Catherine de’ Ricci — respectfully referred to as the Madre Sanguigna — wherever they’re found (with the exception of those who have turned away from their religious origins, of course). The bloodline is both a family and monastic order, and is therefore unusually tight-knit. The Passionente is father and mother to his community. In places where the Lancea Sanctum is not particularly influential, the Passionente may even serve as the highest spiritual authority among the Gethsemani. Nothing is done without permission of the local elder
of the line, who dictates the precise rules for the group. All observances and proscriptions are his to decide, and in many cases can be quite harsh. Few Nosferatu not sired by an Ecstatic ask to join the bloodline; fewer still have the bona fides required. One has to have been a true stigmatic in life. Two to four Gethsemani is typical when they are found together at all. When procreation is forbidden or difficult, an Ecstatic is prone to recruit ghouls from the ranks of stigmatics, instead. Even so, the deficit of actual stigmatics in a world where faith has largely evaporated means that few congregations ever number more than a half-dozen members, Kindred or ghoul. The strict rules promulgated by the Passionente regulate nearly every aspect of a Gethsemani’s Requiem. Feeding is particularly restricted. Kine are often brought to a convent where they serve as blood dolls, providing sustenance even as they serve as subjects for repeated use of Stigmatica. Vessels are usually so overwhelmed by the repeated experience of inhuman pleasure and pain that accompanies their blood loss that they cannot be allowed to return to the day-lit world. Most survive only a few years before their bodies collapse under the tremendous physical and emotional abuse. By tradition, Gethsemani are permitted to drink their fill only at scheduled times, commonly an hour after sunset, at midnight and an hour before sunrise. These are communal feedings; an Ecstatic in a community may feed elsewhere or at other times only with special dispensation. Individuals abroad feed alone, of course, but at the prescribed hours. Clothing is also governed by rules set forth by the local Passionente. All members in a domain might be required wear a similar outfit, perhaps a simple robe or something more elaborate. Other times, rules might proscribe certain particularly offensive elements of fashion, such as wearing of anything on the head. Language may be regulated, with one convent requiring use of Italian for all conversation, while another may actually disallow any speech, perhaps providing an hour’s reprieve once each night. Gethsemani can be restricted in what they may possess, as well. In very rigid environments, ownership of even a book might be a violation. In general, the community relishes this kind of self-denial and structure. Although members are Damned, religious structure presumably brings them closer to God. This does not mean there isn’t regular disobedience, only that it is usually in the form of minor illicitness, not wholesale rebellion. The 2nd night of February is celebrated by the bloodline to venerate the Embrace of the Madre Sanguigna. In most domains, Gethsemani go to great lengths to fortify themselves for the all-night mass known as the Passion of the Damned. From dusk till dawn, they abandon all restraint and visit all manner of abusive horrors on themselves, fellow Ecstatics and on hapless kine gathered for the occasion. It’s a night of unimaginable pain and pleasure, not to mention bloodletting. The use of Stigmatica is crucial to the experience, as blood from victims’ wounds is imbued with a power that fuels even greater ecstasy. Few kine survive
the night, and it is not unknown for line members to fall into torpor during the Passion. Some have even been destroyed, so great was their suffering. Not every Ecstatic spends her waking hours in meditative prayer, menial labor or masochistic exultation. In an increasing number of cities, community rules are quite relaxed, possibly even informal and left to the discretion of each individual Gethsemani. A Passionente is still recognized and his word is still binding, but that’s because he chooses not to apply strictures to each Gethsemani’s Requiem. Ascetics, hermits and “reformed” Ecstatics are likely to apply a light hand to their communities, putting emphasis on practice and mystical understanding of Stigmatica rather than on governance. This lenience leaves a Gethsemani to do as she pleases so long as she doesn’t blatantly violate a Passionente’s general instructions. She is free to congregate with other Kindred, pursue personal affairs and even become involved in the mire that is Kindred politics. This is especially true where Gethsemani presence is minimal. Here, one can capitalize on the curiosity and fervor of other Kindred and make a place for oneself. Of course, an Ecstatic may still remain a pious devotee to the Madre Sanguigna. The individual is just outside a community of her own kind. Regardless of the Requiem of a given Gethsemani, all conduct themselves with care. Not so much to avoid falling from the path of holy purpose, but to avoid the ever-present dangers posed to figures of such religious controversy. Even where she is adored, the wise Ecstatic keeps her true nature known only to those she can trust. She may have a congregation of devotees and admirers, but outside this circle she typically presents herself as nothing other than a particularly spiritual Nosferatu. Too many Kindred eye Stigmatica and its practitioners with measured skepticism. Even if they do not see it as a blasphemy to be crushed, they might easily spread word of Gethsemani to those who would. Most Ecstatic groups are therefore advertised to other Kindred as nothing more than unusually private coteries of strong religious persuasion. Many remain entirely hidden within the hierarchy of the Lancea Sanctum, obfuscating their nature to avoid the kind of response that sometimes arises from detractors. This secrecy is even more important to lone Gethsemani who have no community to turn to for protection. A solitary member is likely to be exceptionally private, practicing Stigmatica only when he is sure to be safe from prying eyes.
 
Stigmatica: This Discipline enables the Gethsemani to cause others to suffer wounds similar to those borne by Christ at the time of the Crucifixion. With a single light touch, a Gethsemani seems to imbue a target with a sense of religious rapture that most obviously manifests as open wounds. The Gethsemani, or any other, who imbibes the blood from these wounds discovers that along with any nourishment gained, certain special abilities are passed along. In most cases, the blood augments the drinker’s Strength, Stamina or Dexterity, but the enhancement from some wounds can be less visible, though no less substantial. Gethsemani of exceptional potency are said to have developed even more miraculous uses of Stigmatica, making statues weep blood and similar wonders. Stigmatica is known to work on mortals alone, though higher levels may be able to affect Kindred and ghouls. To use the Discipline, an Ecstatic need only place his hand briefly on the target and the player spends a Willpower point. The Willpower is still lost if the activation roll for a power fails. The exertion passes a spark of divinity from the Gethsemani to the target, whose body is overwhelmed by the spiritual transference. One or more wounds spontaneously open and blood begins to flow. The experience is a traumatic one for the kine, who not only endures pain but loses a significant amount of blood. The flow provides certain benefits to vampires or ghouls who drink it, depending on the location of the wound and how much blood is consumed. Typically, the number of successes achieved on the Stigmatica roll determines how many Health points a victim loses to lethal harm. After the equivalent in Vitae has bled, the wounds begin to heal normally. If they are reopened by anything other than a subsequent use of this Discipline, any blood is considered normal and confers no special benefit. The Gethsemani using a power may not conceal the stigmata he inflicts by licking the wounds after taking his fill. The injuries remain evident and can be healed only naturally or via a supernatural curative proffered by someone or something other than one of the Damned. A victim of a Stigmatica power is not necessarily forced into acquiescence to feeding. The horror and excessive blood loss of the event can allow him to struggle to survive. For a mortal to resist this kind of Kiss, two or more successes must be achieved on a Resolve + Composure roll, instead of the normal three. Regardless of how much Health a victim loses — how many successes are rolled for the Gethsemani — the victim does not shed more than the equivalent of one Vitae per turn. If five successes are achieved on the Stigmatica roll, the victim suffers five lethal damage and bleeds for five turns. Thus, no more than one Vitae per turn can be consumed from the victim by means of this power. If blood lost is not consumed in the same turn, it loses its supernatural efficacy. After that point, it is a powerless liquid (it does not even restore spent Vitae if consumed later). The special benefits gained from drinking empowered blood last for the remainder of the evening, vanishing with sunrise. If an Ecstatic awakens during daylight hours, he does not retain any special powers gained the night before. Any vampire or ghoul — including the Gethsemani herself — who drinks the blood from a Stigmatica wound may gain its benefits. Only one blood-drinker may do so in a single turn. So, a victim could be passed from drinker to drinker from turn to turn for multiple Kindred to enjoy the
results. A mortal victim can be subject to only one Stigmatica power at a time (assuming he survives the first). No more than one of a drinker’s traits may be enhanced by the Discipline at a given time. A drinker might increase his Strength multiple, cumulative times in an evening by consumption of mystical blood. But if his Strength is currently heightened by Palms of Blood, and he consumes blood ushered by The Dolorous Nail, he loses all bonuses to his Strength and gains only the benefit of the second power (a Dexterity increase). The most recent drinking takes precedent over previous ones where different Attribute increases are concerned. No Attribute can be increased beyond the limit allowed by a character’s Blood Potency as a result of drinking stigmatic Vitae. A vampire with a Blood Potency of 3 is still limited to five Attribute dots. Despite the claims of most of its practitioners, no definitive proof of Stimatica’s divine nature has been revealed. Certainly there’s a preponderance of evidence to support such a claim, but even Gethsemani who declare no faith in God and who deny the spiritual origins of the Discipline appear to be able to use it. The religious devotion of kine subject to the power seems to make no difference, either. While the faithful find it easy to dismiss such discrepancies, others see them as evidence of something less wholesome at work. Hysterics are quick to lay the blame at the Gates of Hell and regard any application of Stigmatica as an insult and challenge to God. Others of a less fanatic bent simply see a mystery worthy of scholarly consideration. Whatever the opinion, this Discipline creates controversy wherever it’s practiced. Storytellers may wish to make Stigmatica rolls for players in some cases. For example, on a chance roll, a player is unlikely to know if the stigmata that manifests will benefit his character or if it’s tainted. The following modifiers can apply to uses of this Discipline.
 
Моротрофианы
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In the darkest moments of the night, when the halls and corridors of hospitals have fallen quiet, monsters come out. Creeping from their dark holes and hiding places, they assail the old, infirm and mentally ill. While liver-spotted hands are tangled in IV tubes and mad eyes roll like those of panicked cattle, bodies restrained by straps and masks, these victims are abused again and again, their very lives made forfeit. Worse still is when survivors babble their stories through tears and lips flecked with spittle, and their caretakers laugh at them, mock them or slap them until they fall silent. Sometimes, however, caretaker and dependant look into each other's eyes and see that the same fear haunts them both. The perpetrators of these horrid abuses are the Morotrophians, leaches who prey upon the lost, desperate and mad during victims' greatest weakness. For hundreds of years, the bloodline has focused its attention on dominating enclosed institutions where captive and voiceless populations are turned into a constant, constrained and inconsequential buffet for their wicked appetites. Even other Kindred are repulsed by the "Monks'" habits, though such revulsion is not enough to preclude them from retaining the offenders' services. The liberty to access an imprisoned vessel for weeks on end is a profane joy that few Kindred have experienced in centuries, and the Morotrophians can offer such delight on a nightly basis. Contrary to perception, not all Morotrophians haunt the sterile halls of mental institutions and retirement homes. Though such havens do make for a majority of the bloodline's domains, members' focus is wider. The Monks slip through the cracks and hide in the shadows of any enclosed, controlled facility. In medieval nights, the then "Abbots" preyed on monks or nuns trapped behind monastery or convent walls. Some still follow that tradition, though in modern nights they're more likely to lurk in the gloom of cult houses where mortal pawns use charisma and religion to bind kine with dependence and the need for acceptance. Others dip their withered fingers in the pies of orphanages and rehab clinics, and a few have even managed to infiltrate prisons (though the last are dangerous places for any Kindred, given tight government control and constant surveillance). Any place in which there is a restricted, contained and mostly voiceless population is prime territory for members of this lineage. And yet, in the modern nights, Morotrophians face a new challenge as the Malkovian bloodline spreads into one of their traditional seats of power -- the mental asylum. The few Kindred who know of both lineages think of them in much the same way (or as one!), but the truth is the two could not be more different. Where the Malkovians are mad, the lunatics running the asylum, the Morotrophians are stone-cold sane. They use the madness and dependency of others and hold Malkovians in contempt. While it may come back to haunt them, the Morotrophians are certain that it will be they, not the Lunatics, who will rule the roost.
 
Parent Clan: Nosferatu
 
Nickname: Monks or Abbots, Abbey Lubbers (insulting)
 
 
Covenant: The majority of Morotrophians are members of the Invictus, as that group's insularity and respect for rank and position suits the Monks' institutionalized mentality. The normal lack of advancement that troubles young Invictus neonates strikes the Morotrophians less severely. They expect to have to earn their place with years of work, and need the security of belonging to a group more than they need immediate opportunity for progression. The Lancea Sanctum numbers the second most Monks, as the old religious ties of the bloodline have not faded completely. Those Abbots who still fraternize with cults and secluded religious institutions often join with the Sanctified, seeing themselves as brothers in monstrosity. Not all in the Lancea Sanctum share this bond, however, as some orthodox view Morotrophians as particularly noxious abusers of faith. Some Monks have overcome this stigma by assuming the role of "invisible angel," punishing the wicked on their hunting grounds and bringing death to those in pain. These angels consider themselves to do God's work, and gain respect for it. The Morotrophians have a minor presence in the other covenants. There are a few powerful if not respected Abbots in the Ordo Dracul. These Monks bitterly resent their weaknesses and limitations, and strive to overcome them. In doing so they often attain great mystical understanding, but their reliance on human weakness offends many members of the Order, and attempts to escape the bloodline's history insults brethren. The Carthians tend to be too idealistic and egalitarian for the manipulative and cloistered Morotrophians, though a few reformers whose ideals outweigh their vested interests occasionally join up. The Circle of the Crone includes almost no Morotrophians. The wild, mercurial nature of the Crone is at odds with the conservative, siege mentality of most Abbots. Occasionally, a line member whose influence over a particular institution has brought down condemnation has decided to spend his Requiem alone and unaffiliated, to enjoy his self-proclaimed haven and hunting grounds for himself.
 
 
Appearance: Unlike some of their Nosferatu kin, Monks are rarely outright monstrous in appearance. The mark of the Blood is more subtle than that, and perhaps more damaging in the long run. Every Morotrophian has a look about her that most people instinctively associate with a doctor who does lots of unnecessary surgery. It's a look that combines certain aspects of inbreeding and dead fish -- bulging eyes, sallow skin and long, thin fingers that twitch and fidget. Thinning hair, balding pates and over-pronounced, bobbing Adam's apples are also common. Monks tend to dress according to their assumed roles, donning costumes that suit their surroundings. An Abbot in a mental hospital, for example, may dress like a nurse or staff member, in a rumpled suit and a (stolen) clip-on nametag. It's uncommon for a Morotrophian to attempt to appear to be upper management or part of an institution elite. They attempt to blend into the undifferentiated middle ranks, posing as midlevel staff, interns or guards. Some find practicality better than pride and dress the part of the lowest level of employee -- janitor, orderly or something similarly faceless that allows them to be anywhere they need to be. Very few Monks assume the roles of inmates; doing so would make them victims, not predators. Those who pose as prey are viewed with a mixture of contempt and horror by their brethren.
 
Havens: Morotrophians tend to make havens in the bowels of their pet institutions, or in nearby, accessible areas. The most common locations are mental institutions, old folks' homes, cult houses, monasteries and occasionally prisons or prison-supply houses. Elder Morotrophians often have secret chambers, hidden in the maze of halls and access corridors of a large institution, constructed during the building or renovation of the place. Some of these hidey-holes are hundreds of years old and are taken for granted as part of a building. No one has any idea that they're there, they overlook them in plain sight, or they don't consider what such places are for. Young Abbots and those who have to infiltrate a foundation do not usually have this luxury, so have to work to maintain their security. They typically chose places deep in the heart of a compound, in cellars and access corridors, where there's no chance of accidental exposure to sunlight. These areas are then guarded and warded through a mixture of ghoul servants, influence over mortal inmates, and judicious use of the Institutionalize, Nightmare and Obfuscate Disciplines. Given enough time, even a young Morotrophian can make a small area in a secluded corner into a place where no one goes and no one discusses. (This last represented by a Haven with considerable dots in Location and Security, but typically few in Size.) Most Monks are obsessively attached to their havens. The sites are difficult to set up (finding a secure resting place in the midst of a human institution is no small task) and take time to secure and control. There are tales of Morotrophians whose monasteries were closed a hundred years past, yet they still haunt the ruins, slowly starving and giving in to the Beast. Woe betide the Kindred who attempts to unseat a Morotrophian from his home.
 
Background: Elder line members were often religious heretics, monks or nuns in their mortal days. These Abbots are the source of the line's old nickname. Many still have a medieval bias to their worldview, and they influence whatever institution they haunt to be run like a monastery, with strict observance and routine that turns obsession into dogma. It's not unknown for such elders to regulate how many times a day those under their power may blink, going to extremes such as taping eyes open to control the "willfully disobedient." Young Morotrophians tend to be chosen from among psychiatrists, psychologists, health-care workers, prison guards and orderlies. Humans who have a personal understanding of institutionalization and the closet society of compounds tend to do best as Monks, and already have access to the resources they will need as members of the line. Combined with the obsessive and controlling nature of lineage elders, these backgrounds lead to young Monks being just as fanatical as their progenitors, simply with a different focus. Where elders may concentrate on isolation and flagellation, young line members use drugs and psychological torture. The results are generally the same, but neonates and ancillae have an easier time passing unnoticed in modern, secular nights. New inheritors of the line's blood are also important to elders. The more Morotrophians who are spread through institutions, the greater their collective ability to influence the mortal organizations that control such institutions. Where a single Morotrophian working alone has trouble swaying the kine in charge of an institution, especially if the outside world interferes, a group of line members can collectively blackmail, coerce and intimidate on a wider level. For example, many of the standards and praxis for mental institutions are decided by panels that dictate terms to all locations. A single Morotrophian might be able to coerce only a few mortals on such a panel, but a brood spread through several dozen major foundations may be able to intimidate and Institutionalize a majority of the board. Mortals who already have such influence over councils and administrations thus make ideal candidates for the Embrace.
 
 
Character Creation: Morotrophians who lurk within mental institutions and old folks' homes are an intelligent lot, used to getting their way by force of mind. Their focus on psychiatry and psychology (or at least on passable sounding quackeries of such) leads to a focus on Mental Attributes and Skills, with Academics, Medicine and Politics being common. Those who still infiltrate cults and cloistered religious communities tend to rely on Social Attributes and Skills, despite the fact that they do not come naturally. Empathy, Intimidation and Subterfuge are likely. Such Monks focus on understanding and exploiting the social weakness of others. Line members' own weaknesses are obvious enough, so they spend a great deal of energy making sure everyone else's are as well. Almost all Monks have some level of Contacts and/or Status to represent their ability to infiltrate and manipulate private, enclosed institutions. Herd represents their victims in those places. Abbots who live on facility grounds need sufficient Haven to cover their security, and many have dots of Retainer to represent a ghoul guard or assistant. Finally, any character who starts play as an Abbot needs a second dot of Blood Potency to be able to join the bloodline. Without it, a character is not given aid in finding her own institution. Nor is she allowed to shelter with her sire. The Morotrophians take care of their own, despising wayward children who don't shore up the foundations of the system.
 
Bloodline Disciplines: Institutionalize, Nightmare, Obfuscate, Vigor
 
 
Weakness: As with their parent clan, the Morotrophians are disturbing and difficult to be around. Very few Monks are outright monstrous. For most members of the line, the curse manifests as an aura or look that most would define as somewhere between "inbred" and "fishlike." There is simply something about their bugging, leering eyes and twitchy, secretive manner that causes others to react unfavorably. The 10 Again rule does not apply to rolls involving Presence or Manipulation in social situations. Additionally, any 1's that come up on such a roll are subtracted from successes. (This latter part of this weakness does not affect dramatic-failure rules.) This vulnerability does not apply to dice pools involving the Intimidation Skill, or to the Composure Attribute. In addition, Morotrophians have a weakness inherited from their founder, the very deficiency that drove him to feed on the dangerous grounds of monasteries, and the greatest secret shame of the bloodline. Morotrophians are as institutionalized as those on whom they prey. They need confining walls and rules to make them comfortable. Whenever a Morotrophian is in a situation where there are no strong social or physical boundaries that are recognizable as an institution, dice pools for all actions suffer a -2 penalty due to stress and fear (the dice pools of most reflexive actions aren't affected). For guidelines on what counts as an institution, see the Institutionalize Discipline.
 
Organization: Morotrophians are insular and don't deal with each other on a nightly basis. Occasionally two Monks share domain over an institution of considerable size, such as a state mental institution that deals with 20,000 cases a year, but this is the exception rather than the rule. Most Morotrophians are obsessed with being lord of the manor and have no desire to allow anyone to compete for their power (much less someone with the same powers and capabilities). When a Monk decides to create progeny, he typically does so by creating a ghoul and seeing how well his servant takes to the ways of the line. The ghoul is taught the ways of Monks, and her ability to survive and thrive under the difficult conditions of an institution are tested. Needless to say, if this indoctrination was discovered by other Kindred it could lead to a blood hunt as a Masquerade breach, but Morotrophians are quiet and careful. If a ghoul ever slips up, she's destroyed. If she proves her worth, she's Embraced and sent off to find her own institution. Most sires do a thorough job of setting up a childe, with even the stingiest calling in of favors and using Disciplines to start a neonate off right. Once the setup is complete, however, the childe must stand on her own. The exception is if the childe does not join the bloodline, in which case she is disinherited and never receives any help from the lineage unless she repents and returns to the fold. Beyond the sire-childe bond, Monks who infiltrate similar institutions maintain a network of correspondence and alliance that they use to manipulate the systems that organize and control their realms. Members who lurk in mental institutions, for example, conspire to intimidate and corrupt groups such as the National Medical Accreditation Committee and State Departments of Mental Health. This cooperation is largely ad-hoc and a matter of common sense. If mortals allegedly in control of such institutions actually bothered to work at controlling them, the Monks would be in very grave danger in very short order. Favors done outside the shared system (say, a Monk who resides at a prison arranging to have a patient transferred to another Monk's asylum) are recorded meticulously, and debts owed are one of the few really binding forms of social interaction that occurs between Morotrophians. Every Monk in an area of control knows who owes what level of favor to every other member in and out of that field (old folks' homes, for example). Anyone who bilks on a debt finds himself out in the cold. Repeat offenders may even be chastised by suffering a government-agency or news-crew investigation of their fief, possibly resulting in the Abbot having to flee his haven for a period.
 
 
Concepts: Cruel psychologist, doctor who performs unnecessary surgery, abusive orderly, prison guard, power behind a charismatic cult leader, lurker in the basement, orphanage director, trauma counselor, the thing that watches without being seen, death-row haunt.
 
 
History: In early 16th century Northern Italy, a young German monk named Ludoldus Bischoffshausen, who was helping to run the pazzarella in Rome, was Embraced by a Nosferatu. Who this mysterious sire was has never been determined, even though many Abbots have spent years researching the subject. What is known is that his childe soon discovered that he had a crippling weakness. He was unable to leave the walls of the pazzarella or his monastery without suffering crippling bouts of nausea and panic. After a breach of the Masquerade that nearly sent Ludoldus to the flames, he fled to France, where he coerced and bound an old friend into giving him refuge. Ludoldus found that the youths of his new abbey, young and cut off from the world, made a perfect source of sustenance. Shame, fear, force and isolation silenced them about his nocturnal visits. Within a year, Ludoldus had turned his old friend into a personal ghoul, and ruled the roost from behind one abbot or prioress after another. Eventually Ludoldus created childer, an act born of loneliness and despair. It quickly became obvious, however, that he could not live under the same roof with his progeny. While the feeding of one vampire could be hidden behind closed doors, the feeding of more could not. So he used the influence he had gained to allow his childer to infiltrate abbeys and monasteries of their own. Over the course of a century, perhaps a half-dozen sacred houses were so corrupted, with greater and lesser degrees of success and control. Ludoldus’ brood seemed to established a solid power base. Members of the line have different explanations for what happened next. Elders say that events were a punishment meted out by God. While Ludoldus always fed in the walls of sacred houses, he took sustenance only from those who sinned. He would watch from the shadows and come forth to punish those who partook of lust, gluttony or pride. (It was believed that for this scourging, God allowed the vampire a place in His home.) Ludoldus’ childer were not so pious, however, and took without caring about acts committed, turning innocents and sinners alike into vessels. In His anger, it is said that God swept His Inquisitorial hand to smite them and teach the brood humility. Young, secular members of the lineage say the purge was a simple matter of too many institutions with too little influence over space and occupants. It was inevitable that the unscientific methods of control used would fail, especially in an atmosphere of paranoia and hatred. Whichever interpretation of events is correct, the Inquisition recognized that something was foul in the abbeys of Aix-en-Provence and Bamberg. In the midst of witch and heretic trials, signs of “Devil’s marks” left by the Monks’ feeding blazed a trail that could not be escaped. Half the bloodline was wiped out in a decade, some surviving only by forcing ghouls and patsies to confess for them. (Some Abbots’ control of Institutionalization had grown to a point that dupes feared removal from their own prisons more so than death.) The Inquisition may have been the end of the bloodline if not for the actions of Ignace Loix, one of Ludoldus’ youngest childer. Following a witch trial in which a doctor convinced the court that the accused was innocent, that it was insanity and not possession that led to the accusations made, Loix attached himself to the doctor and followed him to the growing mental asylums of France’s Great Confinement. There, the vampire recognized thousands of vessels, often chained to beds and unable to move, all of whom were known to be mad and who thus had no voice. It was, in short, a perfect feeding ground for the bloodline, where the terrified tales of madmen would bring only silencing beatings rather than Inquisitorial torches. Over the next hundred years, the lineage spread throughout mental asylums, finding shelter and protection as confinement and punishment of the mad gained momentum. Though the Great Confinement ended, the asylum as an institution prevailed, and the insane remained victims. It was during this period that the Discipline of Institutionalization saw full flourish. Under its auspice, members of the lineage spread to other foundations: prisons, “homes” for embarrassing members of upper-class families, and the charismatic cults that grew up around the Great Awakening. By the 18th century, the Morotrophians had spread throughout Europe and achieved a strong hold in America. It was in the New World that the next evolution came, as mental institutions were increasingly used to house the elderly who could no longer take care of themselves. Monks found that the aged made nearly as ideal victims as madmen. For almost two centuries, the Morotrophians were unchallenged and comfortable, lurking in the dark places of vast asylums. The greatest blow since the Inquisition was dealt to them as late as the 1960s, when a new movement for de institutionalization of mental patients swept the United States and parts of Europe. Vast state hospitals were closed down or nearly emptied. The number of patients under state care dropped from 500,000 to 100,000 in less than a decade. Many Morotrophians elders were unable to adjust to the decline and were forced into torpor as their Vitae supplies were reduced to a trickle. Young members of the bloodline adapted quite handily, though, assuming positions that elders’ failure had opened. Morotrophians simply moved from state-controlled hospitals to privately run and funded shelters, taking their place in the cottage industry of care that arose. Many even found the new arrangement to be superior to the old. Though their havens held fewer victims, there was less governmental control and regulation at work, giving the predators greater freedom and power than ever before. The latest trend — eagerly adopted by the youngest members of the line and feared by the eldest — is Monk influence of deprogramming and rehabilitation clinics. Lax laws in many jurisdictions allow the manipulators to virtually kidnap victims off the streets and hold them long enough to feed at will. With sway over psychiatrists and lawyers, it’s fairly easy for a modern line member to arrange forced hospitalization of victims for reasons of “danger to self or society.” Some Monks have even made a nocturnal business of it, offering specific victims or types of victims to other vampires with special feeding requirements or jaded pallets. Line elders fear such open manipulation. Rising court cases and public attention reminds them of the scrutiny that preceded the Inquisition.
 
Society and Culture: After Ludoldus went into torpor in the late 1970s, there has been no current leader of the Monks. Ignace Loix is the most influential member still active, but his power is limited to line members who work with mental hospitals, and mostly only in America and France. While that covers a large portion of the lineage, members outside that group are vocal and independent. Indeed, even Abbots under Loix’s patronage consider him more a figure to be respected in a distant way than a power player to be obeyed. Tom West, the infamous
Prince of Bedlam, is the most important British Abbot and is only slightly under Loix in stature thanks to the massive number of favors his “generosity” has accrued over the past five decades. In general, Monks are not overly concerned with patronage within the bloodline. (Favors owed is their greatest commodity.) Each member is a solitary power, lurking in a cage. Except when dealing with mortal oversight groups, a Monk has little reason or
interest in working with others. Members do worry about their status with the Nosferatu overall, as their cousins can often get favors or information not available behind sheltering walls. For that reason, it is not uncommon for a Monk to have a closer (or bitter) relationship with local Nosferatu than with his own bloodline. Abbots often trade other members of the clan shelter, access to Vitae, and a place where Haunts need not feel like freaks or outcasts in exchange for information or services outside a compound. This exchange is often rewarding for both sides. Abbots can be other Nosferatu’s only source of strength and civilization, while Haunts are Abbots’ main line to the outside world. A Monk seldom steps out of her shelter to play a part in city or covenant politics. If it happens, it’s a result of another vampire intruding on the Monk’s territory, a threat that makes any Morotrophian take extreme measures. He uses all his power and connections with the Nosferatu to force the intruder to back down. The normally retiring Monks can even be driven to physical violence and murder by such invasions, so few Kindred are willing to cross them that way. A few Monks have also found that the undead society of many cities, especially Invictus cities, are incestuous and cliquish enough for the Institutionalize Discipline to function on local Kindred. In such cities, an Abbot may become a political player, parlaying reliable access to blood and the ability to make problems vanish by having mortals committed or imprisoned.
 
 
Institutionalize: Born from Morotrophians’ study, infiltration and dependence on isolation, the Institutionalize Discipline manipulates the psychology and physiology of inmates. It’s a proven phenomenon that prisoners and patients can rely so much on the rules of a foundation that they are unable to cope with life on the outside. From excons who commit crimes to get sent back to jail to psychiatric patients who go into convulsions when removed from a hospital, the reaction has been the focus of intense mortal discourse for over a century. No one has studied or understood it more than the Morotrophians. By using the potency of their undead will and blood, Monks are able to control and manipulate this reaction to a degree that mortal tyrants and wardens can only dream of. Institutionalize is a limited Discipline in some ways; it works under only specific conditions and on specific targets. No Institutionalize power can affect someone who is not part of a confined, defined and regimented social group. Thus, the Discipline cannot be used on a random mortal on the street. Exactly what makes a group vulnerable to Institutionalize is subject to Storyteller interpretation, but there are some general guidelines.
• Being bound to a specific and fairly small geographical area with a central meeting/housing location, with ongoing attendance mandated by walls, the will of a leader or by a personal fear.
• Being dependent on other group members in a cyclical love-hate relationship in which certain figures are supposed to act in fairly specific ways (each is assigned a role or duty as in a religious institution, for example).
• Being bound such that a major part of group membership does not have legal control of some major aspect of their own lives. Examples include prison inmates or the mentally ill who are fed, bathed and put to bed on a schedule over which they have no control. If the majority of these factors apply to a group, chances are good that Institutionalize works on its members. It’s worth noting that many vampiric groups are defined by these guidelines. The courts in Invictusand Lancea Sanctum-dominated cities can be textbook cases, except for their city-wide size, which imposes a – 1 or –2 modifier to activation rolls. (It’s important to note that an individual vampire’s haven does count as an institution.) Storytellers are encouraged to apply circumstance modifiers to represent how formally institutionalized a group is. An asylum filled with lifelong inmates that’s presided over by an abusive staff may grant as much as a +3 bonus to uses of Institutionalize. A college fraternity with a campus house and a tradition of hazing might barely qualify with a –3 penalty. The cultish and/or tribal groups of other supernatural beings may qualify, depending on how tightly knit and controlling they are. In general, such organizations are esoteric enough to impose a penalty (–2 to –3) to Discipline rolls. When Institutionalize works, its effects tend to be pervasive. Many of its powers are able to affect multiple targets without penalty. Applications also combine power with subtly. Most targets are never aware that they’ve been affected by a mystical phenomenon. Those with knowledge of psychology, brain washing or group politics may recognize that some kind of manipulation is at work, but probably have no reason to suspect that it’s “magical” in nature. Short of using Auspex on an Abbot while he uses Institutionalize, there is very little that can be done to prove the mystical nature of Discipline effects. They’re simply an exaggeration of phenomena already at work. The Nosferatu clan weakness does not apply to any roll made as part of activating or using Institutionalize powers.
 
Ракшаса
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In the last decade, several cities throughout Europe, the Americas and Australia have received immigrants from India. Hideous vampires called Rakshasas, who have petitioned Princes to accept them among local Kindred. Although few in number, these self-styled "Demons" present themselves as members of a large bloodline, a Nosferatu offshoot so old and pervasive that Indian Kindred treat it as a clan unto itself. Hindu, mortal mythology describes rakshasas as a sort of demon. The horrific and evil monsters of those stories are deadly enemies of humanity and the gods themselves. They supposedly exercise their murderous malice with the help of a power to assume both human and animal form. The Indian Nosferatu claim they are the inspiration for the legend. Vampiric Demons can fight as well as their mythical namesakes, and proudly claim the rank of Kshatriya (warrior) in the Hindu caste system. Indeed, some emigrants have traded on their martial prowess. Rakshasas who have taken up physical professions such as bodyguard or Hound distinguish themselves through great courage and loyalty. Others, however, offer to sell Kindred access to the realm of influence these vampires have established: shipping, specifically of the undead. Kindred who want to smuggle cargo into or out of a city can hire the Rakshasas and their ghoul minions. The Demons also claim they can safely ship other Kindred anywhere in the world… though few vampires are brave or trusting enough to accept the offer. Meanwhile, most Rakshasas seem genuinely concerned about building a reputation for honest dealings.
 
Parent Clan: Nosferatu
 
Nickname: Demons
 
Covenant: The covenants in India bear no relation to those known in Europe and the Americas. Rakshasas who come west describe themselves as Kshatriyas, or members of a warrior caste. In India, castes seem to play a role among the undead not unlike they do with mortals. Of all western societies, the Lancea Sanctum offers the least to Demons and treats them with antipathy. The immigrants do not believe Sanctified quasi-Christian myths about the origin and purpose of vampires. I will strive to obey your laws, but I must fulfill other duties as well. The Invictus and Carthians treat the Rakshasas as just one more faction to recruit in their political and business struggles. Members of both groups cultivate alliances with Demons in hopes of monopolizing their shipping services. Some Acolytes want to learn the mysticism of the East, though the Rakshasas pay little heed to magic. The Ordo Dracul likewise sees the Demons as possible routes to whatever occult lore the Kindred of India might possess. As yet, few western Rakshasas show much interest in joining the covenants, remaining unaligned.
 
Appearance: These Nosferatu tend toward grotesquely inhuman appearance, extreme even by their parent clan's standards. Rakshasas have skin colored pustulent yellow, rotten green or bruised blue. Their arms or legs may be too long or too short for their bodies, while their claws and fangs never retract. Rakshasas often carry a dagger, a custom borrowed from mortal Sikhs as a means of demonstrating their status as warriors. While they may adopt turbans on formal occasions, emphasizing their difference from other Nosferatu, these immigrants prefer modern business suits (tailored for their misshapen forms) to traditional Indian garb.
 
 
Havens: The aristocratic Demons refuse to dwell in filth. Crypts and abandoned cellars are the humblest havens a line member may accept. Rakshasas who have enough talent at Obfuscate to pass for human may dwell in posh hotels, handsome townhouses or mansions. The Rakshasas say that back in India, their elders and leaders dwell in ancient palaces, fortresses, temples and royal tombs. Demons with sufficient skill at Protean often sleep while melded into earth or stone, but prefer to rest in the wall or floor of a pleasant, well-appointed haven.
 
Background: All Rakshasas come from the Indian subcontinent, particularly southern India and Sri Lanka. Players should consider what specific circumstance prompted a character to make the difficult passage to a distant land. The few line members Embraced in the West come from mortal stock of Indian descent, propinquity; Demons tend to dwell among their mortal countrymen and favor them as vampires and ghouls. Most would-be Demons spend several years as ghouls before being Embraced. Rakshasas value hard work and street smarts, as well as aggression and ambition. They select their servants, and therefore their childer, from the full range of mortal society. In life, many Rakshasas were laborers, petty tradesmen, beggars, gang members or outright criminals. Other Demons select childer from the police or military, as the modern warrior elite. Like their parent clan, however, Rakshasas sometimes use the Embrace to punish mortals who take great pride in their looks, standing or wealth. Such nascent line members must endure years of humiliation and abuse, and must work twice as hard as any other childe to gain acceptance in the lineage.
 
 
Bloodline Disciplines: Nightmare, Obfuscate, Protean, Vigor
 
 
Weakness: Like all Nosferatu, Rakshasas possess an ineradicable aura of horror that penalizes dice pools based on Presence or Manipulation Attributes. In their case, the revulsion comes in part from Demons' grotesque and inhuman appearance. Without Obfuscate, no Rakshasa can ever pass for human. These warlike Kindred also inherit a hot temper. The 10 Again rule does not apply to Rakshasas on rolls to resist anger or hunger frenzies. Additionally, any 1's that come up on such a roll are subtracted from successes. (This latter part of the weakness does not affect dramatic-failure rules.)
 
 
Organization: Western cities seldom see more than three or four Rakshasas at a time. As these immigrants are quick to admit, they're fortune hunters or refugees. Back in India, the bloodline has fallen into a feud so vicious that migrant Demons prefer the risk of transcontinental travel. Brood members tend to have at least one ghoul servant, while some keep multiple ghouls as well as assorted blood bound, mortal minions. (In part, this is simply because a vampire needs such servants to travel.) Most Rakshasas maintain contact with sires or older Demons back in India, who coordinate the bloodline's fledgling transportation network. Modern communications technology lets members stay in contact around the world. A city's Rakshasas work closely with each other, even if individuals join coteries of other vampires. They even share their ghouls, as a common asset of their private corporation.
 
Character Creation: Mental Attributes and Skills are often primary among Demons who are entrepreneurial, all the better to recognize opportunities or to create them where they don't exist. Social traits are important to those line members who seek the wider world, so that they may ply their trade among the Kindred. The failings of their Blood might make deal-making a challenge, but Rakshasas seem to believe that the quality of their services wins out where their own demeanor founders. Physical traits may be primary to those Demons who pursue their martial calling first and foremost, putting emphasis on personal combat before ranged combat. No matter what, Physical Attributes and Skills are at least secondary among line members when another class of trait takes precedence. Haven is an important Merit for Demons, specifically Location or Size. Retainer is also common in the form of ghoul servants who may or may not receive the Embrace one night. Of course, if a Nosferatu of Indian heritage is to join the bloodline shortly after the Embrace, two dots of Blood Potency are required. It is highly unlikely that a non-Indian Haunt would be accepted into the line.
 
Concepts: Loan shark, urban legend, warrior poet, guardian monster, guru, spy, modern Robin Hood, security consultant, man about town, personal-combat trainer, tech-support night manager, gambling-den proprietor, former professional athlete.
 
History: According to legends told by Indian mortals, the god Brahma made the rakshasa-demons from his foot. Indian vampires consider this story allegorical at best. Eastern Kindred tell several myths about their origin, all just as unverifiable as the legends of western undead. Most Rakshasas believe their bloodline descends from the arch-demon Ravana, the legendary king of their race. The story of Ravana and his struggles against the gods is told in the Ramayana and other myths. The Ramayana says the hero Rama, an incarnation of the god Vishnu, killed the Demon Emperor using an arrow fashioned by the creator-god Brahma. Vishnu incarnated as a mortal because Ravana used magic to become invulnerable to gods, beasts and all the powers of nature, but not to mere men. Because Rama was actually a god and used a god’s weapon, however, the Rakshasas say his victory was a deception. Once the gods bent their own rules, the demons could too, and became flesh and spirit. They could incarnate as mortals and then regain their demonic powers through the Embrace. Ravana is said to have been the first to reincarnate this way, transforming into a vampire through his own spiritual power. He became the first Rakshasa vampire, and supposedly one of the first Kindred. The Rakshasas say the other Nosferatu bloodlines in India split off from Ravana’s brood. His brother Kumbhakarna became the first of the Sudra, or common Nosferatu. Prominent Rakshasa sub-lineages claim descent from Ravana’s son Meghanada, his sister Surpanakha, and his minister Maricha. The Rakshasas believe Ravana ruled their bloodlinecaste for more than a thousand years, and Demons ruled the night in southern India.
 
 
The Kshatriya Ascendance: In truth, the Rakshasas cannot prove they existed before a thousand years ago. As with all Kindred, their early records have been corrupted through self-serving forgery and revision, or were destroyed in ancient conflicts. Their legends first intersect mortal history in 500 B.C., when India underwent political and religious turmoil. Around that time, India’s mortal Kshatriya aristocracy adopted Buddhism and suppressed the Brahmins’ religious authority. Kindred tradition holds that this period saw great strife among Indian vampires. The bloodline was confined to southern India. The Rakshasas fought a long series of battles with other clans and bloodlines to become the dominant lineage of the region. The Rakshasas’ traditions say they Embraced mortals from aristocratic families, and so were Kshatriyas from birth and from the “second birth” of the Embrace. Many Rakshasas also clung to Buddhism from their mortal existence. Indeed, the bloodline preserves a substantial body of legend about members who became “wrathful protectors,” battling monsters and demons on behalf of mortal monasteries, and even escaping undeath through Buddhist devotion (which is perhaps the origin of the Kindred myth of Golconda, which bears the name of an Indian city). And yet, other accounts claim the early Rakshasas were vicious, almost mindless beasts that roamed the forests and villages, slaughtering mortal prey at whim. The stories say that in the centuries before the Common Era, undead Brahmins trained some Rakshasas into a reasonable approximation of civilized humanity. These disciples founded the Rakshasa lineage of southern India. Regardless of content, all of these accounts date from centuries later, and credit the undead Brahmins with all the achievements of Kindred society in Indian. Whatever the truth of their origins, the Rakshasas spread from southern India until they dwelled throughout the subcontinent. Their expansion occurred through adoption as much as through the Embrace. Many Nosferatu are said to have joined the line and contributed their own childer to its growth. The lineage used the promise of higher rank to recruit lowcaste Nosferatu as warriors for the cause.
 
The Brahminical Revival: After A.D. 400, Buddhism lost its grip in India and Hinduism reasserted itself — but a Hinduism extensively rewritten to favor Brahmins. The caste system hardened for Kindred as well as kine. For the next four centuries, Brahmin vampires mobilized other Hindu undead to suppress the Buddhist Rakshasas and install Hindu Rakshasas as local leaders. Rakshasa tradition claims that at that time the Brahmins had mastered the potent blood magic that became their hallmark and key to power. (Brahmin Kindred, meanwhile, claim they always possessed it.) As Brahmin vampires achieved greater power in Indian cities, they discouraged the practice of adoption between bloodlines. Nosferatu (and other Kindred) who dwelled in villages continued the custom, but India’s urban undead came to regard it as indecent… unless sanctioned by a Brahmin. In fact, the Brahmins established an opposing custom of expelling bloodline members who disgraced themselves by violating their caste duty, or by showing insufficient respect for Brahmins. Through a variation on the adoption ritual, a Brahmin with powerful blood could strip a Kindred’s Blood power, turning him back into an ordinary member of his clan. Such degraded Kindred were deemed Untouchable. The most powerful blood-magicians could even curse disinherited vampires to force them into new Untouchable bloodlines of their own. Rakshasa immigrants to the West cannot provide any details on this potent rite. The Brahmins supposedly keep it even more closely guarded than the rest of their blood magic, assuming it exists at all or the secret has not been lost altogether.
 
 
New Invasions: The Rakshasas paid little heed to the early Muslim invasions of India, which began as early as the eighth century A.D. In the 13th century, however, Demons in the Sultanate of Delhi began Embracing Muslims, and many old line members converted. Rakshasa tradition ascribes spreading conversion to a Muslim holy man who showed the supremacy of his faith by requesting the Embrace, and then restoring his own humanity. This saint, remembered as Nur-al-Hayy (“Light of Life”), also performed various other miracles before he disappeared as mysteriously as he had appeared. Continued Muslim invasions and conquests, such as Timur’s sack of Delhi and Babar the Great’s founding of the Mughal Empire, led to more northern Rakshasas accepting Islam. They saw it as a faith of conquerors. Smaller numbers of Demons converted to Sikhism, a new faith combining aspects of Hinduism and Islam, and which enjoined all men to consider themselves warriors. The 16th century saw a new factor enter Indian politics,
when the Portuguese and other Europeans established trading posts such as Goa. India’s Kindred largely ignored such visitors until the 18th century, when the British subjugated Indian kingdoms. In response, the Kindred of many domains attempted a campaign to expel the British as defiling foreign conquerors. Once again, the Rakshasas clashed with several Brahmin bloodlines. Demon elders saw the Brahmins’ call for a pan-Indian alliance of vampires as a scheme to subvert Rakshasa independence. Although Demon groups had fought over hunting territory and prestige for centuries, they found a common purpose in asserting their right to fight each other free of Brahmin interference. The Rakshasas also fought against other Kshatriya lineages that joined the Brahmins for reasons of their own. Such infighting (the Rakshasas were hardly the only group to oppose the plan) rendered local Kindred irrelevant to India’s war for independence. Many vampires supported the movement against colonialism, but they did not drive the struggle or play a crucial role.
 
The 20th Century: The infighting of the 19th century led to a powerful alliance of Rakshasa leaders in southern India. This pact sought a return to tradition in the face of cultural change among Kindred and kine. For instance, the new Indian government supported British attempts to break down the mortal caste system, which led to some young Kindred to challenge the old ways as well. Although Rakshasa elders welcomed any movement that weakened Brahmin authority, they did not want to accept undead from lower castes as equals. Elders also condemned the minority of Rakshasas who supported the undead Brahmins’ anti-colonial campaign, saying they were not worthy of Ravana’s blood. Some pro-Brahmin Rakshasas had been adopted from other Nosferatu stock, or descended from adopted sires or grandsires — enough of them for elders to link adoption with disloyalty and impure blood. Naturally, proud Rakshasas resisted attempts to be degraded into second-class members of their bloodline. Some Demons left their cities and returned to the lineage’s tradition of rural hunting. Others schemed with fellow Kindred to overthrow the elders, or to at least reduce their power. Sometimes these plots worked, but they inevitably led to more suspicion in Rakshasa communities. By 1990, undead conflicts escalated to all-out war. In some cities, Rakshasa elders sought to destroy all Demons who lacked a sufficiently ancient pedigree. Others offered Demons of “impure” blood amnesty — if they would submit to blood bonds. Young Rakshasas fled north if they could, but other Indian cities were already overcrowded, and existing residents did not care for the upstart newcomers. The most desperate Rakshasa tried to leave India altogether. Some already owned or exploited trading companies. They used their cargo vessels, ghouls and mercantile connections to ship themselves out of the country, risking everything for a chance in a new land. The first would be expatriates suffered Final Death as often as they succeeded, but each Rakshasa who sent word of his success back to his allies inspired a dozen more to seek their fortune abroad. The journey west remains dangerous, but the Rakshasa gradually become better at it with practice. The full implications of this diaspora remain to be seen — as does the potential emergence of a system that enables vampires to cross continents.
 
 
Society and Culture: Until recently, as the undead reckon such things, western Kindred weren’t sure India had vampires. Thus, they feel they cannot take anything about the Rakshasas for granted. Demons do not display any supernatural powers unknown to western vampires, but their culture presents many puzzles… and what seems straightforward often becomes strange when looked at more closely. The Rakshasas say they are warriors, but they do not merely fight mortals or other vampires. They claim to exist to fight the gods themselves.
 
 
CASTE AND DHARMA: Hinduism divides humanity into five classes technically called varnas (“colors”), but they’re more often called castes. Not only does Hinduism forbid intermarriage between castes, but people born into a particular caste can perform only certain types of work. Other occupations defile them. Each varna includes numerous specific castes and sub-castes. Some represent occupations, while others began as tribes, religious sects or other divisions. One ethnologist compared the caste system to dividing the population of Britain into “families of Norman descent, clerks in Holy Orders, noblemen, positivists, iron-mongers, vegetarians, communists and Scotsmen.” Priestly Brahmins perform sacrifices and claim most of the educated professions for themselves. Kshatriyas were the land-owning, warrior aristocracy of old India, and rivals of the Brahmins as India’s ruling caste. After centuries of religious and political conflict, the Brahmins eradicated the old Kshatriya families. Over the centuries, however, the Brahmins awarded Kshatriya status to one conquering military elite after another as a way to curry favor with the new ruling class. Vaisyas began as farmers and tradesmen. They eventually claimed many of the middle class, mercantile and artisan occupations. Sudras are peasants and menial laborers. The Pariahs or Untouchables consist of all the people (and their descendants) who have fallen off the bottom of the caste system: aboriginal tribes; non-Hindus; criminals; slaves; the offspring of forbidden, inter-caste unions; and people who perform jobs the Brahmins thought especially degrading, such as sweepers and garbage men. The very lowest castes were believed to defile high-caste people by proximity or merely by being seen. Brahminism defines separate and distinct codes of conduct and ethics, called dharmas, for each of the castes. A Brahmin who acts like a Sudra sins as greatly as a Sudra who acts like a Brahmin. Indeed, deviation from caste duty threatens the very order of the cosmos. The world will end when it reaches a state of complete adharma, when no one obeys the purity taboos and codes of conduct set by their castes. Jainism, Buddhism and ascetic Hinduism challenged the caste system by positing universal dharmas: codes of conduct, ethics and supernatural merit that applied to all people, regardless of caste. Even Demons could gain merit as ascetics, or convert to Buddhism and turn their violent natures to good use as “wrathful protectors” or “guardians of the dharma.” Islam and Christian converts rejected the caste system, but it has survived every challenge. Indian Kindred possess their own versions of the mortal castes. Each clan possesses lineages in one caste or another. The Rakshasas began as a Kshatriya division of the Indian Nosferatu. Other Haunts belonged to other castes. After centuries or millennia of separation, bloodlines barely recognize each other as members of the same clan. To a large degree, castes take the place of covenants for Indian vampires.
 
 
The Dharma of Demons: Some Kindred wonder how creatures who consider themselves actual demons can treat their fellow Rakshasas and other Kindred with honor. Rakshasas appear in tales as murderous monsters, eagerly committing every crime imaginable against mortals and gods. The Rakshasas do not deny such portrayals. They say that as demons, their dharma or caste duty is to prey on the living and to fight the gods. As warriors, however, they have a duty to show martial virtues of courage, loyalty and honesty to their own kind… and they say all vampires are demons. Their creed says the Rakshasas were incarnated into mortal flesh for a time, but the Embrace revealed their true nature, as their destiny foreordained. Other Kindred merely retain a greater semblance of humanity, but none of them were ever really human. After Final Death, Rakshasas believe they may reincarnate as higher creatures, such as mortals of higher caste, if they fulfill their dharmas in undead existence. As enemies of the right and proper order of the world, Rakshasas know they should try to work evil and disrupt mortal institutions. In practice, they know that constant savagery toward mortals would quickly send them into the madness of the Beast. Their creed describes feral behavior as full acceptance of vampires’ demonic nature, a fulfillment of their dharma (which makes it right for other Rakshasas to destroy a rampaging vampire, so he can pass to his next incarnation). In practice, most Rakshasas seek to delay this holy consummation while paying lip service to it as a goal. Rakshasas can attack the world by other means than murder, though. Orthodox Hinduism sets forth a sacred order in which everyone takes his father’s occupation, obeys authority and observes the rituals and taboos that sustain reality. Violating that order threatens reality itself. A Rakshasa can strike against the gods by disrupting a religious ceremony, or by leading a mortal to act like someone from another caste. Crime, rebellion and chaos all bring the world closer to ruin. Indian philosophy also lends Demons the notion of universal dharma, which can counteract caste dharma. Indian Kindred have developed a large body of moral philosophy on how to resist the Beast while remaining technically evil. Every Rakshasa seeks his own balance between the universal dharma of maintaining Humanity, and the caste dharma of performing evil. For instance, a Rakshasa struggling to resist frenzy might pit greed against the Beast by concentrating on the financial harm he can cause. Another Rakshasa might turn “Robin Hood,” using crime to attack the distinction between rich and poor, a distinction much valued by the rich. The mortal world doesn’t care as much about caste taboos and religious rituals as it once did. Emigrant Rakshasas react to modern society in a variety of ways. Some believe their traditional duty is irrelevant in the West. In a society with no castes, where people value self-expression instead of keeping their place, where mass media celebrates greed and lust, and faith is a lifestyle choice, what’s left for a demon to do? Like many immigrants, they try to assimilate into their new land as quickly as possible, perpetuating the sins already performed there. Other Rakshasas continue their traditional practices as best they can. Many American and European cities now have Indian minorities and at least a small Hindu temple. A Demon can torment people from the old country, vandalize the temple and spread chaos in the community. Still other Rakshasas believe the West has its own gods and dharmas — different from India’s, but just as sacred to western mortals. These Demons believe their duty lies in attacking and subverting the sacred order of western culture, whatever it may be. Business, politics, public morals — all have their own codes of virtue and disgrace. Instead of killing a prince a vampire can rig an election. Instead of vandalizing a church, he can cause a schism in the congregation. He can spread chaos by destroying reputations and trust in institutions. Demons cunning enough to evolve such schemes are usually clever enough to realize how much western Kindred depend on mortal institutions. An immigrant doesn’t tell Kindred that he intends to bankrupt the Prince’s corporation, or ruin the reputation of the Ventrue Primogen’s city councilman. Once the brave, honest and very polite Rakshasa gathers his own power base, other Kindred simply suffer a shock when they learn how that power base is applied.
 
Career Changes: A Rakshasa’s activities and occupations depend on his mastery of Obfuscate. Without that Discipline, no Demon can pass for human. Seen in his true form, he terrifies mortals and breaks the Masquerade. Such a scandal matters somewhat less in India than in the West, since many mortals there still believe in evil spirits of monstrous appearance. Until a Rakshasa learns to cloud the mind and delude the eye, he cannot engage in any normal activity among mortals. Thus, before they master Obfuscate, many Rakshasas exist as pure predators, completely cut off from human society. They may stalk the countryside, relying on Haven of Soil to shield them from the day, or they may slink through the night as urban terrors. Young Rakshasas work especially hard to gain acceptance among other vampires, because other Kindred provide the only social interaction they may enjoy. A Demon can act through blood-bound mortal proxies, but overseeing ghouls is a poor substitute for a calling of one’s own. A few Rakshasas find companionship as well as feeding stock by setting themselves up as the demon-gods of blood cults, but the tradition-minded frown on the practice. It strikes them as more suitable for Brahmins than for warriors. Once a Rakshasa gains proficiency with Obfuscate, he may at least move among the kine unseen. Some Demons find solace in being near people. Others find that walking among mortals, unseen and ignored, makes them feel all the more isolated. A Rakshasa’s choice of havens expands, though, once he can enter and leave without fear of mortals seeing him. Rakshasa tradition teaches childer to accept their complete separation from humanity, because they were never really human to begin with. Nevertheless, Demons who learn The Familiar Stranger often devote great effort to creating an ersatz mortal identity. Then a line member can dwell in a comfortable, somewhat public haven, with mitigated concerns of exposure (except for preventing mortals from seeing him asleep during the day). Demons take great pride in their power to pass for human. Rakshasas can spend years practicing their social graces with other vampires so that they can pose as gentlemen and ladies once they rejoin mortal society.
 
 
 
YOU CAN’T SHOW YOUR FACE IN PUBLIC: Playing a Rakshasa (or any other vampire who cannot pass for human) presents special challenges. Such characters cannot interact with mortals as much as other vampires can. A number of strategies may help Rakshasas function when showing their face means breaking the Masquerade.
• Blood Cults: Some Hindu gods take a monstrous appearance at times. A daring Demon might be able to convince Indian immigrants that he’s an incarnation of a god, recruiting them to a blood cult. This gives the Rakshasa a pool of mortal lackeys, as well as a Herd. Running a blood cult takes as much work as running a business. Or a clever Demon might run his cult as a business, combining the roles of company owner and god.
• Concealment: Unfortunately, people who wear masks or bandages all the time attract more attention than a vampire would like. Wearing a ski mask and an oversized coat, and sticking to dark rooms and alleys may enable brief contact with mortals.
• Coteries: A Rakshasa really needs allies among other Kindred. A coterie can explain the customs and etiquette of western vampires, so the Demon won’t cause offense through ignorance. When a Rakshasa absolutely needs something done among mortals, it helps if he can ask another vampire to do it for him. A wise Rakshasa seeks every opportunity to do favors in advance, using whatever assets and abilities he has.
• Ghouls: A ghoul doesn’t care how his master looks. A Demon can use a ghoul Retainer as his proxy for dealing with mortals. Prudent Rakshasas treat their ghouls well (or at least watch them closely) to forestall any chance of resentment or rebellion. The danger is that a ghoul character may become more active and interesting than the vampire character.
• Urban Legend: Many regions have persistent legends of monstrous humanoid creatures such as the Mothman, the Jersey Devil or Spring-Heeled Jack. A clever vampire might deliberately create such a legend by showing himself to drunks or known tellers of tall tales, giving them a harmless scare and perhaps pulling an odd prank or two. Once the tale is established, the authorities probably discount any further reports of the vampire. 
 
 
Warrior-Merchants: Rakshasas know how to fight. They prove it when they meet hostile receptions in the West. The Demons escape more often than not, and then take lethal revenge on their attackers before departing for some other city. Like most Nosferatu, they combine great strength with supernatural stealth, but Rakshasas add the bestial prowess of Protean as well. When immigrants come to town, they don’t look for fights. They show utmost courtesy when petitioning a Prince for the right of residence. Quite often, they send a ghoul ahead to make an initial request. Once accepted into a Prince’s domain, Demons often go into business with the help of their servants. Many Rakshasas plan to form a loose mercantile coop,centered on India and extending around the world. Colonies usually include at least one Demon or ghoul who works to set up a shipping business. In addition to legitimate cargo, Rakshasa-owned companies smuggle everything from counterfeit clothing to pirated DVDs to people. The vampires form a small but growing syndicate within the billion-dollar racket of smuggling illegal migrants from Third World countries. The profits are secondary, however, to the experience gained at moving bodies covertly. The capabilities they develop at moving mortals help them move Kindred. Rakshasas smuggle themselves along with mortal cargo, and offer the same services to Kindred who want to travel. They charge thousands of dollars for transportation (as well as promises of favors in return). A Rakshasa “travel agent” does his best to provide lightproof hiding places for sleeping through the day, and a ghoul steward to deal with emergencies, to bribe customs officials when necessary, and to see to a traveler’s comfort. Sometimes Demons send Kindred with a group of mortal migrants. The kine make excellent provisions along the way, and no one complains if a few don’t survive the trip. A long journey may require a partnership between Rakshasa shippers in different cities, but modern communications makes that easy to arrange. As yet, only the most desperate Kindred entrust themselves to the hideous strangers from the East. Anyone who questions the Demons closely learns they haven’t perfected their travel arrangements. Kindred shipped around the world still face great danger from customs officials, accidental exposure to sunlight and other hazards. Not everyone shipped by a Demon survives. If the Rakshasas can perfect their techniques for smuggling vampires, the bloodline will have a powerful and precious service to vend. Kindred who dig a little deeper find the Rakshasa network incongruous. Line members describe themselves as warriors — aristocrats, even — but India’s caste tradition does not regard commerce as a suitable occupation for knights or lords. The Rakshasas point out that moving people and goods is logistics, one of the military sciences. A Demon who engages in other sorts of commerce must also find some military aspect to it, or he loses the respect of his brood. Demons also claim that smuggling adds criminality to their work, and therefore an element of danger.
 
 
Modern India: The Rakshasas seen in western cities are a small fraction of the bloodline. Most stay on the Indian subcontinent, their culture, history and conflicts unseen and unknown to western Kindred. Their greatest strength lies in southern India. In their homeland, Rakshasas follow a quasi-feudal hierarchy, with ranks analogous to squires, knights and nobles.
• Rajah: All the Rakshasas of a province bow to an elder called a Rajah, who combines the role of Priscus with some powers of a Prince. The Rajah adjudicates disputes and orders punishments for members of the line. He also allocates hunting territories, along with promotions of rank. In many parts of southern India, the Rajah is a Prince for all practical purposes, and Kindred acknowledge his rule. In other provinces, the Rajah merely serves as leader and spokesman for local Rakshasas, with no authority over any other vampire. Occasionally, a Rakshasa gains enough power or reputation to force other Rajahs to swear fealty to her. These higher nobles adopt imperial titles such as Sultan or Nizam. The little “empire” may encompass several cities, but such a realm seldom lasts for more than a few decades before the difficulties of travel and command break it up. No Rakshasa in a thousand years has dared to call himself Maharajah. Only Ravana himself may claim the title of Demon Emperor.
• Nawab: Respected elder Rakshasas receive this aristocratic title. Nawabs, as the principle vassals of the Rajah, receive limited authority over young, low-ranked Demons. They allocate feeding territories and decide when a childe receives promotion to neonate status and full membership in the bloodline.
• Praharan: The title for the lowest rank of Rakshasa society translates variously as “fighter,” “hero,” “murderer,” “destroyer” or “debaser.” It corresponds loosely to a western neonate. A Rakshasa childe starts by serving his sire, much like he did as a ghoul, and remains almost a slave until his sire grants him the rank of Praharan. Sometimes, a Nawab or the Rajah himself may order a childe’s promotion if a sire is unreasonable in recognizing his progeny’s competence. A Praharan owes many duties to his sire, like a squire to a knight. The neonate must show respect; assist his sire in battle; tithe a fraction of any loot he acquires; and accept whatever feeding territory his sire grants, subject only to the will of the Rajah. War-loot matters less in modern nights than it once did. Modern Rakshasas observe the tradition by saying a Praharan must give his sire a cut of any profits, however obtained. Once a Rakshasa becomes a squire, he can petition a Nawab or Rajah to transfer his fealty from his sire to some other Demon. This is a small loss of face for the young vampire, since it implies disloyalty or weakness, but it also marks the sire as a martinet who treats childer as if they were mere ghouls. A proper knight shows respect for the warriors under his command.
• Rawal: A Rakshasa gains full independence and responsibility for his actions when a Rajah promotes him to Rawal, or knight. This never happens until a Demon learns the rudiments of Protean. Demons may have to wait decades for this promotion, making most of them ancillae by western standards. Neonates who cannot or will not accept their bloodline’s powers and costs remain squires forever, or risk expulsion to become Untouchable outcastes (unless some other Nosferatu bloodline adopts them). Although India’s cities hold the greatest concentration of Rakshasas, line members depend less on urban prey than do many eastern Kindred. Once a Rakshasa learns the Haven of Soil power, he can hunt in India’s myriad villages, or out in the country. Demons esteem sojourns in the wilderness as tests of hunting skill and courage. Their willingness to travel extends Rakshasa domains from single cities to whole provinces. Kindred who fear being caught without a haven — even among India’s close-packed villages — often hire Rakshasa couriers when a mission is too important to entrust to a ghoul. Not all Rakshasas can claim an equally prestigious heritage. The more generations back a Rakshasa can trace his private lineage, the more pure and noble is his blood. Other Nosferatu can petition to join the Rakshasas, but they never achieve any formal rank higher than a junior knighthood, and they never receive the same respect as a Rakshasa by Embrace. Indeed, their childer also receive less respect from elders. In southern India, any Rakshasa whose parentage in the bloodline extends back less than a thousand years may be derided as “new blood” by Demons with longer pedigrees. And that’s why young Rakshasas leave the homeland. In the last 200 years, the bloodline has split into higher and lower subcastes. Conflicts with other clans and castes has weakened the bonds of loyalty. In province after province, the elite of “old Rakshasas” — or as they like to say, “true Rakshasas,” supposedly descended from Ravana or other legendary founders of the line — systematically exclude “new Rakshasas” from councils, deny them promotions, honors and financial opportunities, and assign them the worst hunting territories. Allies among Kindred Brahmins endorse the elders’ claims of pure blood and perpetual dominance. Such insults outrage Demons of recent origins, especially neonates whose attitudes have been shaped by a century of mortal efforts to end the caste system. Nighttime wars of assassination have erupted between Rakshasa factions as a result.
 
 
The Diaspora: As the civil war has escalated, some Rakshasas have decided they’ve had enough. Why waste their unlives fighting for scraps of hunting ground? Southern India isn’t the world. Mere mortals have left India in droves to seek their fortunes abroad. Should the heirs of Ravana, the greatest enemy of the gods, fear to follow? The first emigrants had tremendous courage. No vampire in memory had dared to cross oceans or continents. The success of survivors encouraged more to follow, including Muslim and Sikh Rakshasas grown weary with their second-class rank in Brahmin-dominated cities. Young Rakshasas often require the help of wealthier, older Demons to leave India and establish their companies. In return, they send shares of their profits back to their sponsors, enabling elders to fund still more emigrants. The expatriate network grows steadily. As more Demons flee India, the old Rakshasa elite grows more afraid. Increasing numbers of Rakshasas plow their wealth and influence into the expatriate network. Who knows what allies might be imported from distant lands? Already, sponsors are known to make deals with strange foreign vampires. Other Kindred spread rumors that oppressed young subcastes plan a mass exodus once the travel system can handle dozens of vampires at a time. If the rumors prove true, hundreds of Rakshasas might surge into the West, scattering across dozens of cities. What might happen then is anyone’s guess.
 
 
Rakshasa Customs: In their millennial history, Demons have accumulated an elaborate, courtly culture, most of which expatriates leave behind. Along with the classic military virtues of courage, self-discipline and loyalty, Rakshasas esteem the arts and fine manners. A Demon who spent his living days as a mugger might work mightily to change his accent and at least pretend to appreciate painting and poetry. Rakshasas like to think of themselves as sophisticated monsters. Each Rajah holds court once a month, typically at the dark of the moon. Rakshasas present their disputes, petition for hunting territories in a city, curry favor, and raise other concerns they feel deserve the bloodline’s attention. The assembly also makes deals and engages in the same sort of intrigue found in any Elysium or Prince’s court. Other Kindred may attend these courts if a Rakshasa sponsors them and takes responsibility for their conduct. At least once a year, a Rajah hosts a spectacular party for his subjects. These gatherings combine religious rites, blood feasts, music, poetry recitations, contests of Discipline use, athletics and combat prowess. Participants flaunt their grotesquery through gaudy costumes, Obfuscate illusions or ornaments made from parts of their human or animal victims. No Rakshasa is compelled to attend a Rajah’s court, but the yearly festival is the best possible time and place for line members to meet, negotiate and scheme. The Rajah may grant knighthood or Nawab’s rank at the festival. Some Rajahs permit small numbers of other Kindred to attend — a very great honor, although any sponsoring Demon must ask his Rajah’s permission beforehand. Sires generally wait for the festival to present their childer to the Rajah, acknowledging them as Rakshasas by blood, and to ask for a childe’s promotion to Praharan. Adopted Nosferatu are also inducted during the festival. A new childe stands in a circle of 10 flaming braziers. He recites the story of how Ravana meditated among 10 fires for ten thousand years, and at the end of each thousand years cut off one of his 10 heads and cast it into a fire as an offering to Shiva. Just as the Demon Emperor was about to cut off his final head and destroy himself, the god appeared to grant him the power he desired. As the recently Embraced vampire tells the story, he cuts himself nine times and shakes blood into the braziers. Just as he’s about to cut his own throat, his sire steps in, playing the role of Shiva, and proclaims him a true heir to Ravana. The presiding Rajah then gives the new Rakshasa a taste of his own potent blood, to initiate the vampire’s transition from ordinary Nosferatu to a member of the lineage. Nosferatu of non-Rakshasa origins require a more elaborate ceremony, in which the Rajah or a designated Nawab plays the role of Shiva, and assumes the duty of Avus to give the recruit blood. The Protean Discipline not only helps distinguish Demons from other Nosferatu, it gives them greater freedom of movement than most Kindred. As a Rakshasa learns each new Protean power, he is expected to demonstrate it before his Rajah or a Nawab. No Rakshasa receives his commission as a Rawal before proving that he knows at least the rudiments of the Discipline. Tradition further holds that once a Demon learns the Haven of Soil power, he should spend a year in the country, hunting beasts and villagers. During this time, the Rakshasa is enjoined to reflect on his existence as a predator and a demonic force of chaos. The Demon also collects trophies of his exploits. This wanderjahr isn’t mandatory, but a Demon who puts it off too long or who cuts it short may gain a reputation for weakness. Once a Rakshasa graduates to Rawal, he can accumulate other honors based on Disciplines learned, enemies or fierce animals slain (the bloodline has a tradition of hunting for sport as well as for sustenance), or on winning a Rajah’s favor. Each domain has its own system of honors, but titles often refer to gods and legendary Rakshasas. For instance, in Mysore province a Rakshasa who achieves five dots of Vigor is called a Valiant Son of Ravana, while a female Rakshasa who achieves five dots of Nightmare wins the title Handmaiden of Kali. Any Demon of Rawal or higher rank may be addressed as subhadra, or “strong-armed,” a traditional epithet for Ravana as a general term of respect. Demons see nothing inconsistent in worshipping the gods they claim to oppose. They direct most of their worship to Shiva, the god of enlightenment and destruction, and to the deity’s roles as Rudra, the god of hunting, wild beasts and storms; Bhairava, “the Terrible”; and Mahakala, “Lord Time,” who brings destruction to all things. Ravana is said to have written a collection of hymns to Shiva that remains well known even among mortals. It’s the only known work of Indian Kindred literature to achieve this distinction. Rakshasas also worship Shiva’s consort Shakti in the form of the battle-goddess Durga, and Kali as the Death-Mother. And of course, they revere their progenitor Ravana.
 
 
 
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Линии крови из Bloodlines the Legendary. Dead End

 

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Of all those once born of woman, the Kindred, those who have shed the coil of mortality in exchange for an eternity of Damnation, are the monsters. The Kindred are unliving souls doomed to shadow and a feast of blood. However, even among monsters, some inevitably stand out as distinctly horrific. One bloodline so embodies the twisted curse that all vampires suffer that the bloodline's very presence is a thing of unprecedented disgust, a vile reminder of just how inhuman the Kindred really are. Yet paradoxically, even the most disciplined Kindred, entranced by their own inability to comprehend such cruelties of Embrace, find it difficult not to stare at these piteous mockeries of flesh and bone. These Freaks are renowned for their grotesquery, each singularly deformed to the extreme, and put to shame their mortal sideshow counterparts. So accursed is the Freaks' Vitae that it literally twists and reshapes the corporeal shells of all new members, forever warping them into forms that mimic the most egregious congenital defects suffered by the kine. No alteration is too dramatic, leaving many Freaks severely handicapped. For all the additional pain and inconvenience they must endure due to this bizarre lineage, the Freaks possess an uncanny degree of strength that few outsiders, to their misfortune, can guess. Although largely shunned by the greater Kindred community, the Freaks share a tremendous bond with others of their ilk. Few coteries -- most often simply referred to as Carnivals -- are as tight-knit as theirs -- and with that intimacy comes power. The Carnival may not partake in the highly visible movements of the Danse Macabre, but a Carnival, despite its public face, is always more than a mere sideshow. The Freaks' ability to turn their seeming physical limitations into unexpected advantages provides these monsters a unique edge, allowing them to enter places no other Kindred or kine can penetrate and, just as effectively, escape from places and situations that would be impossible for others. Those witnesses unfortunate enough to see a Freak putting on the Show -- the bloodline's signature Discipline -- are in for an unpleasant surprise. Unable to pull their attention away from the disturbing display before them, they are open to all manner of inimical activity instigated by the bizarre vampires. Wise Kindred avoid the Carnival if they hear that it has come to town. Fools soon find themselves much worse off for the experience. The Carnival claims its founder was known at the height of her celebrity as Anulka, the Bohemian Mermaid, a sideshow freak who toured Europe with a small circus during the 18th century. Legend has it that Anulka was treated worse than the trained animals and was kept locked in a cage for most of her adult life, an object of ridicule and fascination who earned the owner of the circus enough lucre to forgo any consideration of Anulka's release. The malignant barker came to a just end at the hands of a blighted Kindred named Hagal, who is said to have taken pity upon the exploited Anulka, a creature even more repulsive than himself. Hagal took her as his own childe and, with her assistance, usurped control of the circus from its financial overseers. Upon Hagal's mysterious demise, Anulka created childer of her own, fledglings whose bodies underwent traumatic transformations as the full power of their sire's Vitae infused them with her utterly warped psychology. Freaks like their creator and, therefore, unwelcome even among Kindred society, these childer cleaved to one another as family, and their circus became a traveling horror show, its formerly human oddities both its greatest attraction and its darkest secret. In time, the circus became too great a threat to the Masquerade -- at least that's the story most Kindred tell -- and was destroyed in a night of bloodshed and fire. Not all the Freaks met their ends, however. Those who survived fled. Later, some established their own nightmarish Carnivals with their own twisted broods. Tonight, a small number of these vile bands survive. A few provide the darkest of entertainment for other vampires, putting on the Show in Elysium in return for feeding rights or other favors. Other Carnivals travel from domain to domain to survive, playing to Kindred and kine alike as the Freaks pass through each domain, using the Show to maintain the First Tradition even as they reveal the true horror of the Requiem.
 
Parent Clan: Daeva
 
Nickname: Freaks
 
Covenant: Rarely is the Carnival welcome among the covenants. Even rarer is the Freak who wishes to belong to these often insular societies. Few Kindred have any desire to associate with beings who so blatantly embody the hidden horror that lurks within every vampire. The Freaks' deformities are too painful a reminder of just how far the Kindred are from the mortals they once were. For the most part, the Freaks stand outside the covenants, forming their own exclusive Carnivals -- essentially a bloodline and covenant in one. The Freaks don't necessarily hold any particular antipathy toward one covenant or another, however. They reserve their spite only for those who actively move against them, either collectively or as individuals. The Invictus rarely opens its doors to the Carnival, unless the First Estate wishes to employ the Freaks, officially or otherwise, usually as objects of entertainment intended to add a dash of grotesque fancifulness to Elysium. Freaks are too visibly distorted for the First Estate. They resemble everything the Kindred upper crust detests. On the other hand, those Freaks who do cozy up to these powdered wigs, even if in a servile manner, can learn a great deal. Most Kindred peacocks are unable to recognize the scheming intelligence behind the eyes of a vampire with no limbs, and fewer still would deign to consider such a vampire a potential threat. Generally, the Carthians are not much different from their dynastic cousins. Some Carthians may give lip service to lofty ideals such as equality and inner worth, but these pretenders want no more to do with a band of deformed blood-drinkers than with a pack of Lupines. The Freak who does find acceptance is still likely to face social stigmatism, making any political ascent a Herculean task, indeed. The Kindred of the Lancea Sanctum view the Carnival in two distinctly opposing ways, depending on the personal doctrine of the believer. Some Sanctified see the Freaks as creatures doubly Damned and, therefore, worthy of pity and charity. This is fine, for nothing is an easier score than taking advantage of the foolishly naive. Some Freaks have used this attitude to exploit the Sanctified, even joining the covenant's ranks for a time in order to reap the greatest benefit. The danger lies in the covenant's other view of the Carnival. Even the most doted-on charity case eventually meets with a Priest who is convinced that this bloodline is nothing more than a blasphemy that should be expunged from the world, the sooner the better. Worse, some Zealots are of the mind that the Freaks are touched by the Devil, their deformities proof that the Adversary has put his own mark upon them. These Sanctified make it a personal crusade to cleanse the city of the Carnival, and, given the overall attitude of most vampires toward the bloodline, the Sanctified rarely find too much opposition to their witch-hunt. The Circle of the Crone is perhaps the most open to these aberrations, though the Acolytes certainly do not go out of their way to extend the Freaks any invitations. Should a disaffected Freak wish to become an Acolyte, she will likely find a place made for her at some table. Still, few Freaks are drawn into the ranks of the Acolytes, especially since the bloodline's physical form makes it difficult to properly participate in the covenant's rituals. On the other hand, the covenant's belief in learning from pain is occasionally appealing, given that most Freaks are in some degree of constant pain anyway. The only covenant that gives the Carnival real pause is the Ordo Dracul. It is rumored that at least one Freak has been initiated into the Order's ranks, but, for the most part, the only role the Dragons have reserved for the bloodline is that of curiosity. The Dragons' interest in how Vitae can cause gross transformative changes in Kindred makes the Freaks more likely subjects of study rather than peers.
 
 
Appearance: Physical deformities are the defining characteristic of the Carnival. What a Freak looked like prior to joining the bloodline is largely irrelevant after her Vitae has been fully transformed into that of her new family. It might be worth noting that a character is Caucasian, French, full-bearded, large-breasted, etc., but all this falls by the wayside when compared to the horrifying changes the Carnival's blood wreaks upon the bone and sinew of its newest members. Exactly how the individual's body will change is anyone's guess. Each change is unique, and no factor seems to play a determinate role in the hideous transformation. The only certainty is that the Freak is severely deformed, with some Freaks being so altered that they become virtual invalids. It is easy to see just how hellish the Requiem of a Freak can be. More on what qualifies as an appropriate deformity can be found in the discussion on the bloodline's weakness.
 
 
Havens: A Freak's haven primarily falls into one of two categories: mobile or established. A number of Freaks are nomadic, spending only a brief time in a location before moving on. Therefore, many prefer a mobile haven, one that allows the Carnival to pack up at a moment's notice, should trouble rear its ugly head. Given the treatment most Carnivals receive among their fellow Kindred, mobile havens are almost a necessity. Depending on the size of the Carnival, the Freaks may use a station wagon, SUV, van, truck, RV or even bus as their four-wheeled sanctuary. In some cases, the Carnival may employ more than one vehicle; in these instances, the entire group hits the road in a caravan. In some parts of the world, actual wagons, drawn by steeds usually fortified with the blood of their undead masters, are still employed for this purpose. All conveyances share aspects in common. First, rarely does a Carnival have the funds for something new. Motor vehicles are usually at least a decade old and held together with as much spit as welds. At least one member of the Carnival often possesses the mechanical know-how to deal with the regular maintenance required to keep the vehicle moving. Not only are such rolling heaps of scrap metal inexpensive to obtain, they tend to offer substantial advantages over newer models. Older vehicles are usually heavier and sturdier. They offer far more protection from minor accidents and rough roads. Older vehicles also go unnoticed far more so than glittering new coupes just off the assembly line, affording the Carnivals the veil of the Masquerade. Finally, although older vehicles do require frequent repairs, the work is relatively simple and requires only basic tools. De facto mechanics can find parts in most junkyards on the cheap. Compare this to the downtime required to fix a newer car, and an older car makes perfect sense. Almost universally, these vehicles sport blacked-out windows or at least some means to keep out the sun, as well as sturdy locks. More than one Carnival also uses menacing dogs to guard the caravan during daylight hours, which is usually not too much of an attention-getter given the Freaks' preference for parking in out-of-the way spots, such as junkyards, abandoned industrial zones and similar places. (For more ideas on mobile havens and survival on the road, see the Vampire supplement Nomads.) Despite the safety that mobility offers, some Freaks choose the protection of something more permanent. The greatest advantage to this is that the Carnival can establish an enduring sideshow, which in turn creates a reliable herd for the Freaks to feed from without having to face the unknown night after night. The downside, of course, is that the Freaks have to find some degree of acceptance among the city's other Kindred, even if only on the surface. Again, the Freaks' reputation precedes them, and few Princes are willing to permit the Carnival to set up shop in their domains. Even if only a fraction of the heinous stories told about this bloodline are believed to be true, suffering the presence of the Freaks is out of the question for all but the most sympathetic, apathetic or scheming Kindred lords. However, given that most vampires who have clawed their way to the top of the Kindred social order probably qualify as the latter, some Princes have admitted the Carnival, albeit usually with special restrictions to ensure that such mercy does not come back to haunt them. Urban havens are usually established in places that afford the Freaks both privacy and drama. For them, the haven is not only where they hide away from the sun but also a stage to be used to lure curious kine into their grotesque company. Forsaken warehouses, factories, tenements and similar structures prove to be excellent havens. Inside, the Freaks do quite a bit of remodeling, even if it's not apparent to visitors. Numerous hidden passages, escape routes and redoubts are created, along with areas where the foolhardy can gather to gaze upon the outlandish feats of the Carnival, unaware that they have walked into a trap. Part boudoir, part salon, part theater, part bunker and part charnel house, a Freak's haven is her domain in the truest sense of the word, a place in which no one else, living or otherwise, can find comfort. Even welcomed guests have a hard time stomaching the disturbing blend of showmanship and nightmare evidenced not only in the demeanor of the host, but in the furnishings and decoration that pay homage more to Bosch's infamous Garden of Earthly Delights than to Barnum's big top.
 
Background: Contrary to popular belief, most of the Carnival is made up of individuals who in life were not deformed horrors, or at least not outwardly. Freaks understand full well what it means to be an outcast, and few wish to visit the curse of undeath upon those already bearing the difficult hardship of pariah. Instead, Freaks tend to select childer from among those mortals whose inner nature is already far more warped than their outward appearance would suggest. Some Freaks feel that the Embrace is a just punishment for such cretins and enjoy watching their newfound progeny struggle with the harsh vicissitudes that the Requiem brings. Other Freaks recognize in their marks just how uniquely suited they are for unlife among the Damned. Unlike many celebrated mortal freaks, those who join the Carnival are rarely models of morality and compassion. The painful and often crippling changes wrought by the Vitae of the bloodline upon the new Freak's body works into the psyche with similar force. Very few have the fortitude to hang on to their humanity when they are savaged by the curse of the Carnival in addition to the breadth of difficulties they already face as vampires. People already accustomed to a lifetime of perversion and atrocity are far more likely to survive the transformation that will occur when they are finally ready to inherit the telltale legacy of the Carnival. In the bloodline's infancy, true freaks -- those deformed by birth, not Blood -- were the norm. Tonight, they are the exception outside of the ranks of the Carnival's elders. Although some Freaks relish the relative power that undeath has provided them, others see their Requiems as Hell on Earth, for they have been denied the one escape possible from their tragic conditions. Still, the rare childe is conceived who is already intimately familiar with what it means to be a freak.
 
 
Character Creation: Aside from the matter of the precise nature of the deformity the character suffers, a player should consider how the character compensates for that flaw, even if indirectly. A Freak whose legs completely withdraw into his torso still needs a way to get around. This could mean a board with wheels, a carriage pushed by a Retainer or simply a much greater reliance upon his arms for propulsion, using them literally as replacements for his missing limbs. For obvious reasons, Physical Attributes are tremendously valuable to the Carnival. Feeding is difficult enough without having to deal with such things as vestigial hands, malformed jaws, oversized and useless feet and so on. To overcome these afflictions, the character should consider at least one Specialty that counterbalances his weakness. Athletics Skill Specialties are especially common among Freaks. For example, a "Lobster Boy" ancilla whose hands are too horribly deformed to be used for most ordinary tasks might specialize in Foot Dexterity, enabling him to use his toes in place of his fingers, while another Freak cursed with backward-jointed knees and condemned to travel on all fours might specialize in Scrambling or even Climbing. Despite the emphasis on physical capability, few Freaks rely on might and agility alone to make it through the night. Mental and even Social Attributes can be the character's real forte. Allowing others to fall prey to the false assumption that the bodily handicaps so evident are indicative of other personal shortcomings is a hallmark of this bloodline. Because few Kindred wish to spend enough time around the Carnival to learn the truth about the Freaks' inherent strengths and weaknesses, Kindred are often easier to manipulate, usually to their detriment. Freak characters don't trust their bodies alone to reel in the dupes. Most Freaks have at least one trademark gimmick, stunt or talent they use to ply their audience to enhance the Show. Fortune-telling, driving nails into their head, sword-swallowing, magic acts: All are popular. Practically the only thing these bizarre vampires won't do to enthrall an audience is play with fire. Emphasis on Expression, Persuasion and Subterfuge is particularly appropriate for these characters -- anything that aids them in putting on a show. Ultimately, a Freak character has to be playable, and that means he must be able to hunt, find safety from sunlight and not spend every moment fleeing from hunters, whether Kindred or kine. A well thought-out combination of Attributes, Skills, Specialties and Merits, along with a bit of luck and camaraderie can see even the most sorely deformed to victory, even if it is only one night at a time.
 
 
Bloodline Disciplines: Celerity, Majesty, the Show, Vigor
 
 
Weakness:Not only does all Freaks suffer the standard weakness of all Daeva -- their lusts and perversions grow particularly dire, given their frequent activities -- but each Freak also suffers a unique curse of deformation that leaves the rest of the parent clan looking unblemished by comparison. When a character joins the bloodline, the player must make a decision. The character's body is warped in a manner that either is guaranteed to vex onlookers or imposes severe physical handicaps on the Freak. If the player chooses a freakish mien, the character acquires the Nosferatu clan weakness. If the player chooses a physical handicap, that character's Speed is reduced to one-quarter of its standard value (round down) after any adjustments are made (as with Celerity, for example). Storytellers should work with players to devise appearances that both serve the interests of the players and, at the same time, fittingly impair the characters to a degree justified by the mechanics of the weaknesses. Note that a Freak cannot posses the Crippled or Deformity Flaws. The character will certainly be deformed, but the player gains no benefits from it. per the rules for Flaws.
 
 
Organization: The Carnival is not just a bloodline but a full-fledged society akin to the Invictus or the Carthian Movement. True, the Carnival is admittedly too small both in number and reach to claim to be a covenant, but, for all other intents and purposes, the Carnival functions as one. Its members share a number of customs and practices along with a body of lore unknown to outsiders. They have their own pecking order and their own brand of justice tailor-made for the Carnival. Most important, they stick together. Few, if any other, Kindred suffer as these misshapen creatures do, and that suffering binds them together in a way that even Blood cannot. Each Carnival -- the term refers to the bloodline as a whole as well as to an individual coterie -- is led by a single Freak, who is responsible for ensuring that the entire group is safe from sunlight, discovery by mortals and Kindred harassment. In return for this leadership, this Freak receives a payment from each member of the Carnival who wishes to put on her own show. This Privilege, as it is called, usually consists of a Vitae tithe, ensuring that the Carnival's leader can spend his time guaranteeing the safety of the Carnival, rather than looking for sustenance. Freaks who have spent at least a year or so with the Carnival usually enter into this agreement; those who have spent less time have to wait until they have a little more experience under their belt first. The Carnival also attracts a few benighted Kindred unrelated to the bloodline proper who wish to join its twisted ranks, as well as a number of kine who handle all the sundry tasks necessary to the safety of the Carnival as well as the success of the Show. The bloodline's roots may be in Eastern Europe, but the Carnival's greatest numbers are in North America. Here, the circus and, later, the carnival found their greatest popularity, and, here the Carnival continues to exploit this historical fact. Although few ordinary carnivals and sideshows remain in business tonight, the Carnival continues to serve the very powerful, albeit mostly unspoken, need of the kine to witness oddities, blasphemies and outright horrors of humanity in what seems to be a safe environment. Whether as a traveling show that quietly advertises ahead of its arrival in order to drum up a crowd or as a semi-permanent spectacle that holds regular shows for a steady stream of the curious, the Carnival finds no lack of an audience and, thereby, no lack of a fresh supply of blood.
 
 
Concepts: The Alligator Lady, The Astonishing Merman, The Frog Man of Borneo, The Girl With No Face, The Human Skeleton, The Irish Leprechaun, The Missing Link, The Rubber-Skinned Woman, The Two-Headed Man, The Vampire Worm of Old Spain.
 
 
SAMPLE DEFORMITIES:
Skin Afflictions: Scaly or rough skin of a reptilian or elephantine appearance; excessively loose skin.
Hirsutism/Baldness: Excessive hair or baldness.
Missing/Extra Limbs: Completely or partially lacking arms, legs, hands or feet, as well as possessing extra limbs, wholly or partially.
Deformed Limbs: Any variety of disfi gurement of the arms, legs, hands or feet, which can include altered shape, fusion or hyper-extended joints.
Deformed Torso: A trunk that can bend in any direction and is often forced into an unnatural position by default.
Emaciation/Obesity: Condition leaving the Freak almost impossibly slender or large.
Facial Deformation: Shrunken head, pinhead syndrome, extra ears, missing lower jaw or any other grotesque abnormality of the head. Many other deformities exist and can be used, provided they are severe enough or are used to simply add more horror to the Freak.
 
 
 
History: Among carnival folk exaggeration, confabulation and outright lying are accepted as part of any tale, for even a whispered legend among close associates is as much a part of the Show as one broadcast onstage to a rapt audience of rubes. The story of the Carnival is no exception, and the Freaks would have it no other way. For them, the origin of their bloodline is just another reckoning intended to entertain fi rst and answer questions second. Even accepting its likely inaccuracies, most agree that, as told tonight, the narrative is probably not too far off the mark from the actual events that gave birth to this frightening brood. Anulka was a Slovak girl born in 1742 with the misfortune of having her legs fused together, a condition named sirenomelia because of the victim’s resemblance to the mythical siren. Anulka, rejected by her mother at birth, was taken in by the Church, which wholly expected the infant to die within days. To both surprise and horror, the child did not perish, and, though affl icted with pain and numerous attendant complications, the freak of nature survived God’s cruel joke. As she grew older, her caretakers treated her with increasing harshness but, afraid that the girl was a divine test, the nuns did not dare to visit harm upon her. Instead, when Anulka experienced her fi rst menses, she was expelled from the orphanage and handed over to a local businessman in exchange for cash. Although the entrepreneur promised the sisters that the young woman would be well taken care of, he, in fact, had no such intention. Rather, he acted only as a middleman for Josef Gensch, the manager of a small circus that traveled through Bohemia, Austria, and Germany. Gensch knew a money-maker when he saw it, and, in Anulka, he saw a small fortune. Once he had her in his possession, any pretense at hospitality ceased, and the deformed girl was thrust into the inhuman world of the early sideshow. Sharing a fi lthy, straw-strewn cage fl oor with an imbecilic albino, she was turned overnight into just another spectacle for the show. Towners — those locals who were lured to the circus — would come each day to gawk at the advertised Mermaid of Bohemia for a few pfennigs and would fi ll Anulka’s ears with words that were more injurious than her living conditions. She was spit on, insulted, threatened and degraded each day, her only solace the quiet hours of the night when she would pray to God for salvation. To add to her agonies, Gensch grew fond of having Anulka brought to his quarters now and then to satisfy his deviant lusts. In her mind, she was being punished by the Almighty, perhaps for the sins of the mother she never knew, for her life was as bad as any Hell could conjure up in her imagination. Any hope that God might rescue her fi nally died under Gensch’s slimy affections. The Mermaid of Bohemia no longer prayed to Heaven, but instead begged for Death to ease her torment. Her pleading did not go unheard, and one fateful night Death did answer her call. The circus had been in the town of Linz for only two days when Hagal, a neonate Kindred, paid a visit to the traveling show. Prowling through the throng of circus-goers, Hagal remained among the wagons and tents after the public had been sent home and the showmen and rousties found rest after their long day’s work. The interloper noted one wagon in particular — the offi ce, or the circus leader’s wagon — for from within emanated the sounds of pleasure and pain, emotions that stoked the young Kindred’s bloodlust. The wagon’s door was locked, but Hagal was too caught up in the moment to care, and tore the barrier from its hinges. Inside he found Gensch and Anulka, the former forcing his “mermaid” to provide him the basest of pleasures, to her clear distaste. Unable to control his own sense of arousal, Hagal launched himself upon the stunned circus leader and satisfi ed every one of his own monstrous urges, relishing the heavy splash of blood that fi lled his maw. Anulka sought only to fl ee, but her condition made that all but impossible. Instead, she could only cower in terror from the demon before her. In those brief moments before Hagal turned on her, she came to a simple yet fortifying conclusion. God had cursed her for the sins of her parents and had abandoned her to Hell. Now, the Devil had come to ease her suffering and offer her his own brand of salvation. Her darkest prayers had been answered. With that, her fright vanished. Sated with Gensch’s blood, Hagal eyed the deformed woman before him. As one who bore the curse of Damnation, Hagal knew what it meant to be feared and hated and abused, and a glint of his lingering humanity rose to the surface. What fi nally decided the fate of the freak was Anulka’s utter lack of fear of the blood-soaked vampire, who surely could destroy her with nary a thought. She seemed at peace, even excited at her expected demise, a reaction that caught Hagal by surprise. Here was a creature truly fi t for the mantle of the Kindred, a creature who was already comfortable bearing a horrible stigma without complaint. Imagine what she could be with the power of Vitae at her command! Without further hesitation, Hagal opened her neck and let the lifeblood given her by God spill out onto the already bloodstained fl oor. In place of God-given blood, Hagal gave his childe his own accursed Vitae, infl icting upon her the full weight of the Embrace. Together, Hagal and Anulka seized control of the circus, using the power of their Vitae to enslave key members of the group and put them in charge. The circus continued on its route as if nothing had happened, stopping in the usual towns and putting on the show, as the circus always had. However, this time, the circus collected blood as well as money from the locals, providing the circus’ undead masters everything they needed to survive. When the show returned to Prague, the circus’ owners — three merchants who bankrolled the enterprise and put Gensch in charge of day-to-day affairs — attempted to re-assert their control by installing a new overseer and seizing their share of the profi ts, but the Kindred would have none of it. Hagal and Anulka visited each of the owners in turn, impressing upon each one the need to immediately dissolve his relationship with the carnival, which worked precisely as desired. Now in full control of the circus, the haunting duo set out to put on a show that would exceed any other in history. For more than three decades, they did what they set out to do. The small circus gained a reputation throughout Europe as a show not to be missed, and their regular route expanded to include larger and more distant locales. Unfortunately for the circus’ owners, the circus also gained the unwanted attention of certain infl uential Kindred, who grew concerned about the rumors of midnight “vampire shows” that circus-goers could see with the purchase of a special, high-priced ticket. While the circus was performing on the outskirts of Strasbourg, that town’s Kindred Prince received word from his own spy that the rumors were indeed true. Hagal and Anulka were putting on a special exhibition in the middle of the night for a small audience that included not only blood-drinking but also a display of their vampiric powers, a fl agrant violation of the First Tradition. Enraged, the Prince commanded his Sheriff to drag the outlaws to his court to answer for their crimes. With the help of some backup, the Sheriff did manage to get his hands on Hagal, but Anulka escaped the notice of the Sheriff’s enforcers. Hagal was summarily tried, convicted and executed by Strasbourg’s Prince. Anulka was convicted in absentia, and her circus was ordered destroyed in the hope that the punishment would fl ush her out of hiding. Instead, Anulka was only driven away, fi nding refuge with the aid of a Retainer. Her sire and her circus were gone, but her will was unbroken. She retreated to her homeland and founded a new organization, something that would be less obvious and more able to move at a moment’s notice. Instead of a full circus, she operated a small traveling carnival and created her own brood of childer to assist her and enhance the outfi t’s appeal. To her surprise, her progeny eventually began to change, becoming true freaks like her, each unique in his or her disfi gurement. Anulka had become the progenitor of her own foul bloodline — she was a Freak and her family was the Carnival. By the mid-19th century, the bloodline claimed more than two dozen members, and the original Carnival had spawned other Carnivals. However, the nature of the Freaks and of Kindred society at large meant that the Carnival had to remain a largely secretive and limited lineage. Princes and Primogen were still extremely wary of any news of the Carnival and wasted little time in investigating such reports. This environment led to a few Freaks making the arduous journey to the United States and signing on with one of the numerous small circuses that had become so popular there. At the end of the 1800s, with the waning of fullfl edged circuses, and their replacement by an even greater number of carnivals and sideshows, the Freaks found their niche. American Kindred nursed far less paranoia than their European counterparts, and the relatively wide-open country made it far more diffi cult for antagonistic Kindred to pursue the Carnival, let alone even hear the rumors about their true nature. Tonight, the Carnival remains true to its origins. A mostly closed society, the Carnival clings to the fringes of Kindred society, putting on the Show and surviving. Concentrated in North America, where the bloodline surpasses three dozen members, the Carnival still claims family in Europe and parts of the Mediterranean. Rumors of at least one Carnival in the Far East have also been heard, but so far they remain just that.
 
 
CARNIVAL LINGO: The Carnival has its own special vocabulary that helps not only create a greater sense of community among its members, but also helps them conceal their activities from Kindred and kine. A complete lexicon is impossible to provide here, but a few of the most frequently used terms and those that differ in meaning from their ordinary carnival usage are given here.
Ballyhoo: The words or actions used to lure Kindred or kine to the Show.
Blowoff: The last part of the Show, when the Freak satisfi es his hunger by drinking the blood of his victims.
Hole: An individual Freak’s performance space.
Mark: A mortal targeted to become victim to the Show.
Mooch: A mark who is particularly easy to victimize.
Nut: The expenses required for the regular upkeep and defense of the Carnival.
Privilege: A payment, usually in Vitae, paid to the Carnival’s boss for permission to put on a Show.
Offi ce: The boss’s personal haven, whether a room, a wagon, an RV or something else.
Straight Up: Honest.
Tip: The audience for any given Show.
 Additional words can be found on some of the extensive lists of special carnival terminology available on the Internet.
 
 
Society and Culture: The Carnival looks to one Freak for leadership, variously called the boss, the Man, the Front Offi ce or simply Management, though such titles are usually used only for the benefi t of outsiders. Within the Freaks’ own Stygian tents, any pretense at formality is seen as just that —pretense. Despite the casual nature of the Carnival’s internal politics, this individual holds enormous infl uence. Management’s word is rarely disobeyed. Those rare Kindred who understand the inner workings of the Carnival speculate that this obedience has more to do with some innate servility that every Freak feels, perhaps an unseen aspect of their line’s weakness, than because of any real superiority of the boss. The Freaks laugh at this supposition. Their deformities and social stigma do not compel them to servility. Because they have only each other to protect against the worst the Requiem can throw at them, they have few other options. So long as the Front Offi ce does not command them to waltz into a blazing inferno, they are usually satisfi ed to follow orders, even if grumblingly. The alternative — each Freak for himself — is too terrifying to consider. The boss’s primary function is to protect the Carnival from any and all danger. If he fails in this regard, his tenure will likely be dramatically short. Allowing the Carnival’s wealth to be swiped is just reason to depose the leader, usually with a hearty beating. Permitting one of the Freaks under his aegis to suffer Final Death is inexcusable. Tales of bosses being literally tarred, feathered and left to burn in the morning sun are commonplace and probably not over-exaggerated. There are three tiers of social standing underneath the Man: troupers, greens and punks. Troupers are those Freaks who have been with the Carnival for at least one full circuit of its usual route, in the case of a traveling Carnival, or who have been with the Carnival at least a year, in the case of an established Carnival. These Freaks have essentially proven themselves and are accepted as full members of the Carnival, with all the rights it offers. Most importantly, troupers are permitted to put on their own private shows and may keep whatever profi ts they take in as a result. In exchange, they must pay Management a Vitae tithe, known as the Privilege, with precise terms set by the Carnival’s leader. Among this social caste, those Freaks who have meted out punishment to Kindred who intended to or succeeded in visiting harm upon the Carnival are especially respected. The “pinhead” who beat the Sheriff’s lackey into torpor for trying to set fi re to one of the group’s trailers, while lacking wit, will be held in great esteem by the bloodline. Aside from these rare few, most troupers are judged by the quality of their acts. The “Frog Boy” who simply squats on a stage has nothing on the “Two-Headed Woman” who is able to sing a two-part harmony and put on a comic argument with herself. A Freak seeking greater recognition among her peers need only work on her performance until it surpasses expectation. The greens are those Freaks who have yet to qualify as troupers, by dint of little time spent with the Carnival. Because greens cannot put on their own shows, they either perform as part of a trouper’s act — and have no claim to the profi ts received — or they refrain from performance entirely and instead assist in whatever capacity they are permitted. It is important to note that Freaks do not accord status based upon the nature of one’s deformities. A double-bodied Freak has no more or less inherent status than one who suffers from “lobster” hands. Merit, not disfi gurement, is what matters most to the Carnival. The third rung of the Carnival’s ladder is composed of those curious Kindred who desire to keep company with the bloodline, for whatever reason. Punks often work as shills during performances or otherwise engage in offering personal protection or assistance to individual Freaks. Some of these Kindred are used as gaffed, or fake, freaks or perform talent acts — sword-swallowing, marksmanship, magic shows and so on — with all profi ts going to the Carnival’s manager. Most Carnivals also claim a few mortals, in addition to the Kindred, as part of the family. Although mortals hold very low status, the various roustabouts, talkers, shills, joint men, advance men, blood dolls, and soonto- be-corpses the Freaks have successfully lured into their twisted spectacle are important to the Carnival’s overall success and survival. Central to the Requiem of every Freak is the Show, a term that has a double meaning in the Carnival. On the one hand, “the Show” refers to the actual performance that a Freak puts on for an audience with the intent of taking audience members’ valuables, blood included. “The Show” is also the name of the line’s unique Discipline that enables a Freak to better gain the attention of the crowd and become even more shockingly deformed before their unblinking eyes. Because the best acts also lead to greater prestige in the eyes of the Carnival, the Show, in both senses of the meaning, is of paramount importance. A Freak will go to nearly any length to make his act better, including stealing another Freak’s ideas,
putting his unlife at risk to obtain some prop or the secret to a particularly spectacular trick and even breaking the Traditions. Freaks spend a great deal of time rehearsing the Show, perfecting every nuance of the performance and testing its effect upon the audience. The latter is accomplished by peer review, dry-runs before the roustabouts and the use of select “test audiences,” who rarely ever see the light of day again. Competition among the Freaks for the best Show can be fi erce, but only rarely does such competition lead to physical attack. Usually, the battle for prestige literally takes place on the performance stage as well as via carefully placed rumors and accusations. Snide comments, pointed jabs and ghastly bits of slander always seem to accompany every Freak who seeks to climb this social ladder. The most original act will be labeled a rip-off and will be cruelly deconstructed by the invisible naysayers who hope to put the most avantgarde Freak in her place. Most accusations and gossip can be put to rest by a simple compliment paid by a boss, but this is very hard to come by. Instead, the exchange tends to eventually die down to a murmur after enough time has passed. In those rare instances when a Freak decides to take the competition to another level and actually engages in sabotage or violence, all bets are off and it is Management’s job to step in as quickly as possible to put an end to the confl ict. The Carnival maintains its own refi nement of the Masquerade: never let outsiders see our problems. Freaks who violate this rule can expect a punishment they will never forget. The Carnival does its best to skirt the scrutiny of other Kindred not by actually hiding from view, but by simply not making waves and by staying uninvolved in local politics, at least openly. The Carnival chooses to pitch its tent away from the Rack and other places frequented by or likely to be the favored domain of other Kindred. Management also often makes a gesture to the Prince as soon as possible that is intended to test the waters, as it were. In most cases, a ghoul or sometimes a Freak Kindred gathers information on the next city on the route. If a city Kindred’s hostility toward the bloodline is apparent, the Carnival will move on or entirely bypass the spot. When the Prince shows a bit less antagonism, the Carnival usually offers some kind of favor or kickback in addition to a guarantee that the Carnival will not be a drain on the local herd and will abide by any Traditions or decrees the Prince wishes to make known, which often include limits on how long the Carnival can stay, where its members may go and so on. Once given permission to set up shop, the Carnival will locate the best place to do so and send out a few of its Retainers to gather a crowd. It is never the Carnival’s intention to broadcast its presence openly and have long lines of curious kine waiting to see the Freaks. Rather, they target very specifi c groups that are likely to keep the existence of the Carnival secret. Typical marks are shut-ins, jaded subcultures, the ill and others who seek some kind of deviant charge to put a spark back into their lives. The Carnival also courts certain criminals, the deranged, military veterans and other people who have seen atrocity fi rsthand and have gained a taste for such things. The enticements used to lure these unwitting victims to their doom vary. The ballyhoo can include spirited argument and persuasion, promises of monetary gain, an offer of narcotics or nearly any type of appeal suited to the particular mark being played. The Show itself typically entertains a group of fi ve or more kine per performance, with as many as a dozen being the practical outer limit. During the Show, the Freak will identify one or more rubes who would most satisfy her inhuman cravings and will use some sign to indicate that individual’s identity to her assistants. As the Show progresses and the audience is unable to tear its eyes away from the Freak, these assistants will rifl e through the pockets, purses and backpacks of the gawking fools, taking anything of value. The assistants will also remove those kine the Freak has pointed out, using whatever force is necessary, and take the prey to a separate area, where they are secured for the blowoff. When the Show is over, the remaining audience is shown the exit and returned to the streets to carry on as before, though likely now haunted by nightmar ish visions that they will never forget. The blowoff comes when the Freak descends, in all her grotesque hunger, upon the immobilized marks set aside for her bloodthirsty purposes. Sometimes, if the Freak does not require a great deal of Vitae and if she has enough kine for the blowoff, some or all of these unfortunates are left alive and released. However, just as often, their lives are forfeited, and they are given a Show that no mortal would ever wish to see.
 
 
THE KEY TO THE MIDWAY: Kindred who seek to join the Carnival, whether they are already Freaks or would-be punks wishing to hit the road with the bloodline, are traditionally put through a cruel little game that tests the prospective member’s suitability even as it provides the Carnival no small measure of entertainment. There is no real way to win the game, but those who don’t perform well are usually going to fi nd that their request for membership is turned down. The prospective Freak is nonchalantly approached by a trouper and given a task that sounds challenging, but certainly not beyond the prospect’s abilities. Similar to the notorious snipe hunt, the task involves procuring some object, contacting some individual or traveling to some place that doesn’t exist. The prospect also learns that successful completion of the task is of critical importance to Management, and ultimately to the Carnival as a whole, even if that is not apparent. The prospective Freak or punk then goes to work, and the Carnival sits back and enjoys the charade, a thing of special beauty because none of them know how the game will play out. Often, if the task requires travel, they use some means to keep tabs on their little rube. Sometimes, they just wait for him to report on his progress and find in his updates all the comedy they had hoped for. Only on the rarest of occasions will the Carnival interfere if the prospect finds himself in real trouble, and usually then only if that trouble can find its way back to the Carnival. This game continues until the Carnival is ready to move on to the next town or until the test no longer provides enough entertainment to the troops. If the prospect outright refuses because the test sounds too diffi cult, any chance he had to join the Carnival is gone. However, if he refuses because he has seen through the ruse, his application for membership is greatly enhanced. Sometimes, outsiders endure variants of the game for the purpose of simply getting them off the Carnival’s back. Nosy Sheriffs, curious Dragons and others can bring dangers no Freak wishes and so they will be met by the Man, who will lead them on their own wild goose chase, giving the Carnival time to either cover up its activities or pack up and scram.
 
 
Legends
Carnival Justice
“Yeah, it’s true, I tell ya. I heard it from this holy-roller bitch who knew the bastard, spent time in Barcelona as a neonate or something. Yeah. Hey, shut up already, will ya? You want to hear the story, don’t cha? Okay, then zip it and let me tell it. “See, it happened sometime around 1800 or something, I think. Anyway, the date’s not what’s important. It was a long fuckin’ time ago, alright? The Prince of Madrid, or somewhere else near there — it was a Spanish city, I know that much — was minding his own fuckin’ business — you know, knocking heads, stomping on neonates, playing high-and-mighty — when he hears that the Carnival has just pulled into town. Of course, the fi rst thing that he thinks is, ‘Oh shit, not a bunch of Freaks messin’ with my turf,’ of course. I mean, do ya blame him? So he decides to send his kid out to see if the rumor has legs and then come back and give him the lowdown. “Well, junior’s never heard of these Freaks before, so he’s all juiced to track ’em down and see what the commotion is all about. He’s a self-important fuck just like his old man, buying into the whole vice-Princely power-trip thing, so he fi gures he’s gonna just waltz in and lay down the law on the circus mutants. Well, after a bit of screwin’ around — the kid couldn’t fi nd his ass if wasn’t attached — he fi nally fi nds someone who points him in the right direction, and he marches on out to meet the weirdoes. “Sure enough, they turn out to be exactly what daddy told him they were, and he nearly pukes himself having to look at them. Well, any thought of playing lord and master go out the window as his stomach turns, and he runs back to pops and gives him the dirt on the Carnival. You know, he saw how fucked-up they were, all deformed and shit; most of ’em shouldn’t have survived birth like that, ya know? “Fuck ’em. They should just be set on fi re. At least no one would have to see that kinda shit anymore. “Anyway, the Prince thinks about this, probably calls all his cronies together to waste more time, and fi nally announces to everybody that unless the Freaks formally request his permission to squat in his town, they’ll be destroyed. So, he sends his idiot son back to the carny camp to tell ’em how it is. The chief Freak, the fuckin’ ringleader himself, does a little dog-and-pony show for the Seneschal, saying how most of his coterie can’t make the journey to Elysium because of their condition and that kinda crap, which is bullshit if you ask me. The prick shoulda pushed it, but he wussed out and said it was cool if only the leader of the Freaks came back to court to speak for the whole motley crew. “Well, to make a long story short, things didn’t go too fuckin’ well for the Freaks. The Prince decided that enough was enough, and he wasted the midget fucker on the spot. Betcha it was funny as shit to watch Tiny Tim beggin’ for mercy. The Prince then ordered the whole Carnival to be wiped out by any means necessary. Of course, the best method was fi re, so he passed on the order to a bunch of kine fuck-ups and told them to do the dirty deed just before the sun set the next evening, so they’d all die in their sleep. “Thing is, the head Freak didn’t come to Elysium alone. Another Freak somehow fuckin’ squeezed his ass into court without anyone noticing a thing, and he saw the shit go down. He rushed back to his circus pals faster than possible and told them the whole story. So, instead of just leaving town immediately, the Freaks decided to do one last thing before they high-tailed it out of Madrid or wherever. “A few of them went back to town, somehow broke into the Prince’s own goddamn haven, and kidnapped him! No shit! And remember, it was still night, so it wasn’t like the Prince was a pushover or anything. These little monsters actually managed to take him out of his haven and back to the Carnival without anyone being the wiser. “Okay, I don’t know exactly what happened next. Only the Freaks know that. But here’s how it all shook out. The Carnival was gone by sunrise, and so the mooks sent to torch ’em out never found shit and fi gured it was just as well. “But it didn’t take a genius to fi gure out that something bad had happened when the Prince was discovered missing. Now, here’s the kicker. Really, this is some fucked-up
shit. About a year later, the same Carnival turns up in France or something doing its usual shit. But this time, they have a new attraction. In a cage is a new Freak, one with no arms and no legs and moves by wiggling its scaly body like a snake. And you know what? It was called the Vampire Worm of Old Spain, and guess what? It had the Prince’s face. No fuckin’ shit. Somehow, those Freaks turned the Prince into a Freak himself and now he was just another act in their little nightmare world.
“That, my compadre, is the plain fuckin’ truth.”
Secret Origins
A fragment of the journal of Hieronymous, Ordo Dracul
philosopher:
Jul. 17, 1739
The Great Work has consumed me. I am depleted in mind and body, and I know no more how much further I can go with this effort. Already, my progress has moved not an inch further for over a year, and I fear that I am going in circles. I feel more and more the call of sleep, of a lassitude that will claim me for the ages and from which I might one night rise again, though my past work be forgotten. My student grows restless, eager for his master to triumph as in nights long past, but it seems not to be. If I do not dismiss him, he shall become more foe than aid, pitching his ambition against me and tempting my meaner instincts. This I must avoid at all costs. Although my knowledge of the Coils ordinarily places me beyond such urges, ennui gnaws at even that achievement nightly.
Jul. 18, 1739
It has happened: a discovery. I am renewed, and the Great Work can continue. The Man within me is once again awakened to possibilities that just a night ago remained unseen. Subject Four (Gustav, I have come to call him, though I know it is a petty conceit), has changed. He has not been provided Vitae for six nights, and tonight I chose to give him the very first draught from the variant I had already forsaken as worthless on account of its impurities. Surely, its exposure to the crystalline dust that accumulated in the cabinet after the failed experiment of Jul. 7 should have rendered it so, yet tonight is proof that a new path has been opened. I must re-examine all my notes from before and tomorrow recreate that so-called failure. Upon consuming only 19 drams of the variant, he convulsed in a way that I initially mistook as fatal, the result of a toxic concoction. I was done with him, so no matter. The convulsions continued for at least two minutes, however, followed not by death, but something else entirely. In utterly astounding fashion, he let out a loud gasp as his arms began to withdraw inside his torso. There was no attendant expansion of the chest or abdominal cavity, which should have been the case, no matter how outlandish the activity, but there was not. Rather, the limbs just seemed to melt into him as he screamed in pain (surely, it must hurt; I forgave him his noise). When the transformation was over, a change unlike any other I have ever witnessed, only his hands remained. These too were different: distended in asymmetrical fashion and apparently useless to the subject. A careful examination with saw and scalpel afterward revealed that the entire length of the arms that had previously existed, along with all muscle and skin, had entirely vanished. It was as if the subject had been born with this deformity.
Aug. 3, 1639
So far, eleven entirely different results have occurred with fourteen subjects, all the result of the same batch of variant. Only the instances of the missing legs, the shrunken head and the skeleton-like emaciation have been repeated, in one case each. Tomorrow, I shall endeavor to isolate the differentiator, focusing on the missing legs first. I imagine it is either related to ethnic background, diet prior to the Embrace or some mental desire or fear on the part of the subject. The latter will require the greatest attention, given its difficulty. There is much progress to be made if the nature and value of this transformation is to be better understood. What it might offer our kind I cannot yet estimate.
The Devil’s Menagerie
In the 1940s, in Oklahoma City, somewhere in the vicinity of the stockyards and left to its own devices by the Kindred powers that be, stood a Carnival like no other. Led by a hideously deformed vampire who claimed to be the King of Freaks, the Carnival went far beyond the usual spectacle put on by the bloodline. Not only were there the usual assortment of Freaks — both living and unliving — and the assorted roustabouts and hangers-on typical in other Carnivals, but there were also other creatures that normally kept their presence a secret to humankind. One of the featured acts was the Werewolf Boy, a young man who was said not, as would be expected, to merely suffer from an extreme case of hirsutism, but was an actual lycanthrope, a Lupine. The act consisted of the youth undergoing a complete transformation from man to werewolf before the startled audience, with his bloodcurdling howls carrying over the sounds of all the other acts and putting a fright into livestock miles away. Another popular attraction was the Astounding Gabriel, Mentalist and Illusionist. Each evening, this placid gentleman would perform a series of increasingly incredible feats, including mind-reading, levitation and conjuration. The fi nale of his performance included the most unbelievable trick of all. The conjurer called for an assistant to bring a chest onto the stage. Then the conjurer turned his back to the audience and tossed a baseball into the air above their heads. Whoever was able to get his hands on the ball was permitted to name one object that resided in his home and was small enough to fi t inside the chest. After the object was described, Gabriel sat upon the chest and concentrated for a few moments. Then, to the delight of all, he would open the chest and, from it, retrieve an object fi tting the exact description given him. He would even permit the member of the audience who named the object to come on stage and examine the object to be sure it was his. Finally, the conjurer allowed the astonished participant to take the object with him, as it was, Gabriel noted with a knowing smile, “his anyway. I’m a magician, not a thief.” The most disturbing oddities of all left their audiences with nightmares to last a lifetime. Such acts included bloody dismemberment, cannibalism and, in one instance, a live birth by a woman of enormous girth, with two very different, but each singularly blasphemous, children issuing from her loins. Audience members were hypnotized and openly eviscerated, if some reports are true, and the effects of numerous Kindred Disciplines were freely demonstrated for the sake of the show. The King of Freaks seemed a particularly wicked fellow, his gaze captivating all who looked upon his disfi gured form, and his voice sounding as if it rose up from the throat of Old Scratch himself. Under the King of Freaks’ leadership, nothing was too profane, too impossible or too dangerous. The Carnival disappeared from Oklahoma City sometime during the early 1950s. For a time, various rumors placed the King of the Freaks and his show in other cities, mostly west of the Mississippi. These rumors stopped entirely for the next 50 years, with most Kindred speculating that the Carnival met its just end. However, only last year, word was heard in Elysium that the Astounding Gabriel’s show was seen in Pittsburgh and whispers that a Freak claiming dominion over all his kind began to spread in New York. Perhaps the Devil’s Menagerie has been biding its time, honing its act for its next performance.
 
The Show: The Freaks know their bodies, frightening though they may be to others. In fact, these Kindred have become so familiar with their deformities that they have literally become addicted to that which makes them different. Just as a woman who gets her fi rst piercing on a lark and a year later has two dozen all over her fl esh, the Freaks are obsessed with making themselves even more grotesque, exploring the limits of their forms and delighting in the extremes they can discover. While this certainly proves personally satisfying to the Freaks, even more importantly, they can put on an ever-more spectacular Show. By displaying themselves in the most shocking fashion, they are able to captivate an audience, whether a small crowd or a single onlooker. The more fascinating their performance, the less viewers fi nd themselves able to tear themselves away from the Show — and the more helpless they are. Once captivated, they are easy targets for the Freak, no matter what she may have in mind.
 
Дети Иуды
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In some parts of the world, people who commit suicide are said to come back as vampires. This legend may have some connection to the bloodline called the Children of Judas. Where the Children of Judas dwell, suicides increase -- and some of these suicides become Children of Judas themselves. Many Kindred hate and fear the so-called Suicide Kings. A cynic might suggest the Kindred hate and fear most other Kindred, but the Children of Judas endure extra suspicion. The Suicide Kings bring the siren call of self-destruction to other vampires as well as mortals. Perhaps this bloodline receives too much blame: Kindred can feel horror, remorse and despair without any help. The Damned may not want to admit how many of them choose suicide. When their fellows destroy themselves, it's more comforting to blame an outside force than to suggest they had reason for such self-loathing. The Children of Judas emerge from the Daeva clan. The Succubi slake their own desires by arousing the desires of others. The Suicide Kings gain the power to arouse the darkest, most enigmatic and perverse desire of all. No one's sure when the Children of Judas originated. The legend connecting vampires with suicide dates back to antiquity. Despite the bloodline's name, however, members do not claim that their lineage began with Judas Iscariot, the disciple who betrayed Christ. Rather, they see a spiritual connection to the traitor disciple: Judas destroyed what he should have loved most, and killed himself in remorse. Many Children of Judas feel they, too, have betrayed what they love and destroyed themselves. They know all Kindred eventually must feel this self-hate as well. The bloodline calls its alleged founder the Hanged Man. As a mortal, the Hanged Man supposedly lived in the Balkans during the late Middle Ages. The story goes that the Hanged Man was a vampire-hunter. After he retired, a vengeful vampire massacred the vampire hunter's family, then Embraced the hunter when he tried to hang himself in grief. The Hanged Man pursued his sire for decades before destroying her, then joined the Lancea Sanctum for an unlife of penance and renewed service to God. He is said to have destroyed himself in the 18th century, in an attempt at martyrdom. Over the centuries, the Hanged Man sired a number of childer who sired childer of their own. The bloodline also adopted a number of Daeva who fell prey to self-disgust or who wished to add the Children of Judas' power of Despond to their cruel schemes. One legend of the bloodline, however, says that Suicide Kings may arise spontaneously. If a Daeva Embraces a mortal who's dying from an attempt at suicide, the childe supposedly bears the Judas taint and shall inevitably make the transition to the bloodline without any help. Some Kindred loremasters believe the Hanged Man was merely a noteworthy case of such spontaneous emergence, in a bloodline that may be as old as the Kindred themselves.
 
Parent Clan: Daeva
 
Nickname: Suicide Kings. (Female Children of Judas may be called Suicide Queens, but the bloodline as a whole always receives the masculine nickname.)
 
Covenant: Children of Judas join the Lancea Sanctum in greater numbers than any other covenant. The bloodline's reputed founder joined that covenant, and the Suicide Kings certainly excel at leading Kindred and kine to sorrow and contrition. A signifi cant fraction of Suicide Kings join the Invictus, however, to skulk among that covenant's large Daeva contingent. The doctrines of the Carthians, Acolytes and Dragons rarely hold special interest for the Children of Judas, and those covenants show little special interest in recruiting these Kindred. A higher percentage of the Children of Judas prefer to remain unaligned than is usual for Daeva -- especially among Suicide Kings whose lineage is known to other Kindred. The hoary vampires who lead the covenants may see a Child of Judas as a useful ally, but younger Kindred tend to fear the heralds of despair. Neonates and ancillae often hint to a known Suicide King that she might be happier in another covenant, preferably one in another city. The youngsters have not yet accepted that despair is both an intrinsic part of the Kindred's curse and perhaps their only solace. These youngsters also do not realize that happiness may not be a Child of Judas' goal.
 
Appearance: Many Children of Judas share the attractive and stylish appearance the Kindred associate with Daeva. The bloodline's habitual Embrace of suicides, however, forces the Children of Judas to draw from a more finite and less beautiful sample of the mortal population. Thus, many Suicide Kings (or Daeva who could potentially join the bloodline) look quite ordinary -- though they may improve their appearance as much as possible through makeup, personal grooming and stylish clothing.
 
Havens: Children of Judas, just as other Daeva, often design their havens to indulge their sensual appetites and lure their prey. The Suicide Kings' obsession with sorrow and despair, however, may lead to odd touches: Anything from a floor-to-ceiling print of Munch's "The Scream," to the polished skull of the Judas' first kill sitting on the mantelpiece. A Child of Judas who attempted suicide as a mortal often keeps reminders of his search for self-destruction. For instance, one Suicide King might keep coils of rope in his closet, while another Judas might have a medicine cabinet stuffed with bottles of sleeping pills. A third Judas might keep a selection of small, sharp knives on a tray next to her bathtub.
 
Background: Similar to other Daeva, Children of Judas are drawn to the beautiful, the cultured and the elegant. The Children of Judas feel just as strong an attraction, however, for the desperate, the grieving and the self-loathing. From the widow who can't imagine life without her husband to the PCP-addled thug who waves a gun at the cops, the pain of the desperate and grieving draws the Children of Judas like flies to rotting meat. And, if a Child of Judas should witness someone actually attempting suicide -- why, the compulsion to Embrace becomes terribly strong. The Suicide Kings, therefore, come from every level of society. They may have any mortal age from teens to senior citizens. Both genders and all races are well represented.
 
Character Creation: As a true cross-section of humanity, Children of Judas may have any balance of Attributes and Skills. After the Embrace, however, they often try to develop their Social Attributes, Skills and Merits so they can play the predatory games of seduction their Daeva appetites demand. Nascent Children of Judas often seem like second-best Succubi, preying on mortals who seem particularly vulnerable to emotional manipulation.
 
Bloodline Disciplines: Auspex, Despond, Majesty, Resilience
 
Weakness: As for all Daeva, it costs two Willpower points for a Child of Judas to resist her Vices. Children of Judas are also fascinated by the despair that draws other Kindred and kine to self-destruction. A Child of Judas might not want to make another person's emotional pain worse, but she can't help wanting to draw it out into the open and savor it. Admittedly, some Suicide Kings do try to make grief and depression worse, but individual Children of Judas can choose how cruelly they satisfy their thirst for despair, just as the Kindred can choose how cruelly they satisfy their need for blood. Satisfy it they must, though: A Child of Judas who resists a chance to explore another person's emotional pain loses a Willpower point, but gains a Willpower point for indulging her desire. Fortunately, the Daeva weakness does not double the Willpower penalty for the bloodline's unique, specific Vice.
 
Organization: The mortal Slavs of southeastern Europe have a legend about vampires called Children of Judas, so other Kindred presume the bloodline remains most numerous in that region. However, Suicide Kings are found wherever mortals feel despair. The Children of Judas seldom congregate in numbers larger than three or four. Indeed, more Children of Judas than that could cause such a rise in the suicide rate that mortals could not help but notice. At least, that's what many Kindred believe. So many Suicide Kings pretend to be ordinary Daeva that their numbers are hard to estimate, even for them. One of the more widespread and persistent rumors about the Children of Judas says their founder faked his destruction, but actually left the Lancea Sanctum to join the secret society called VII. According to this rumor, the line's founder sired a secret lineage of Children of Judas who all pose as ordinary Daeva. These undercover Children of Judas use their powers to drive other Kindred to self-destruction. Of course, no one has any evidence that such a secret lineage exists, and even the existence of VII is half-rumor. When Kindred who seem secure and content with their lot suddenly decide to meet the sun, though, it's common for a few Kindred to bring up tales of hidden Suicide Kings.
 
Concepts: Abandoned spouse, dentist, desperate housewife, disgraced cop, downsized executive, grief counselor, hospice caretaker, old person who didn't want to be a burden to her children, petty crook, picked-on teen, prostitute.
 
History: The Children of Judas don’t know much of their history. Neither does anyone else. Many Suicide Kings hide their true bloodline from all but their childer, broodmates (if any) and (of course) sires, so it’s hard to say whether or not a Suicide King was involved in some bit of Kindred history. Even the rumors of Children of Judas involvement tend not to travel far, because most Kindred simply don’t care about events in distant cities. The few tales Children of Judas tell about themselves have clearly been adjusted to make the stories better legends, with none of the loose ends and awkwardness of real history.
 
 
The Romance of the Hanged Man: Despite speculation that the bloodline began in antiquity, most Children of Judas believe their lineage began in kingdom of Serbia, during the 13th or 14th century. Most versions of the story say the founder’s name was Janko — South Slavic for “Jack,” a hint that the whole story may be nothing but myth. This particular Janko was a vampire-hunter who earned honor, wealth and a knighthood by destroying several undead in a 20-year career. At last, he caught and destroyed his most elusive quarry, the Daeva who slew Janko’s older brother and made Janko a hunter in the fi rst place. Family honor satisfi ed, Janko married and settled down. Unfortunately for Janko, the Daeva (whose name remains unknown) had faked her destruction to end the hunter’s pursuit. After several years, however, she found herself bored. Over the centuries, all pleasures had palled, and she realized just how much only by comparison with the excitement of her long duel with Janko. The fear when he caught up to her, the triumph when she escaped him — she had not felt anything so strongly before, or since. She missed him. She — loved him. When the Daeva found her old nemesis married, with four children, jealousy consumed her. When Janko returned from a few days’ journey, he found his entire family slaughtered and drained of blood. Grief gave way to rage and, fi nally, despair. He wanted to fi nd the vampire and avenge his family, but he was not a young man anymore. Mad with grief and guilt, he made a noose and tried to hang himself. Although he was a great warrior, he was no hangman; instead of breaking his neck in one quick jerk, the noose slowly strangled him. As he swung, dying, the Daeva appeared. This had not been her plan. She cut Janko down and Embraced him. When he rose again, she explained why she saved him. She loved him for his hatred. Now he had the power to resume his hunt, and their Dance of Death could begin again. Janko pursued his sire for another 20 years. One version of the story says the long hunt ended with his sire grown weary of their dance and wracked with despair — in fact, the fi rst full display of Despond. Another says she stopped running and enthralled her childe into one night of passion before Janko cut off her head. After this resolution, Janko joined the Lancea Sanctum. He loathed his existence as a vampire, but believed suicide was a mortal sin. He had sinned once this way already, and undeath was his Damnation. If he tried to destroy himself again, what worse punishment might God fi nd for him? The Sanctifi ed said vampires were part of God’s plan. Janko wanted to believe them. During the centuries, he became an important fi gure among the Sanctifi ed of the Balkans. His Discipline of Despond became well-known and feared by the Kindred. Janko, now called the Hanged Man, built a reputation as an Inquisitor who never failed to bring other vampires to penance for their sins. He even sired a few childer, reputedly all mortals driven to suicide for their crimes — the Hanged Man would not let them off so easily. They, too, would do penance with their unlives. By the 18th century, the Hanged Man grew weary of inquisition and spent more and more time on theology. Around the middle of the century, he called together all his childer and their childer who dwelled nearby, and delivered a sermon to them. He named them the Children of Judas, the Hanged Man of the Bible. Similar to Judas, they were suicides, and would be instruments of suicide. Similar to Judas, they and their childer were damned, but their Damnation served the glory of God — for a time. The Embrace merely delayed their selfdestruction. When they completed their long-averted suicide, they would join Judas in Hell — and him. Then the Hanged Man poured oil on himself and set himself on fi re, screaming the Lord’s Prayer as he burned. The local Bishop declared him a martyr. For a century thereafter, the Sanctifi ed of Belgrade held a yearly blood feast in the Hanged Man’s honor.
 
The Immolation of Danzig: In 1795, a fi re destroyed more than a dozen Kindred in the city of Danzig (modern-day Gdansk). The tale of the fi re spread throughout Europe’s Kindred because the immolation was supposedly a suicide-murder. According to the sole survivor, a ghoul, the city’s Nosferatu Primo gen, who was also a member of the local Invictus’ Inner Circle, set the fi re. He invited the other Inner Circle members to a special Elysium. When they arrived, the Nosferatu delivered a rambling speech about the sins of the Kindred, the decadence of the Invictus and his anger at futile centuries spent playing the treacherous and petty games of the Kindred. While he spoke, servants locked and barricaded the doors. They did not know why; they merely followed their dread master’s orders. The surviving ghoul said that as the angered Invictus tried shouting down the Nosferatu, the Haunt tipped a barrel of lamp oil onto the fl oor of the room and fi red the oil with a torch. The assembled Invictus went mad with terror and turned on each other when they could not batter their way out. The servants unblocked the doors as quickly as they could to save their master from the fl ames, but were too late. The ghoul survived, ironically enough, by climbing up a fi replace chimney after his master’s immolation. He reached the room above and made it out of the house with severe burns. Invictus who had not attended the meeting questioned the ghoul using Dominate and Auspex before he died of his burns, and were convinced his story was true, or at least honestly told. Naturally, the Kindred sought an explanation and evolved conspiracy theories. For several years, the competition between Danzig’s Invictus and Lancea Sanctum had been especially fi erce. The destruction of most of the Inner Circle greatly weakened the First Estate. Suspicion naturally focused on the Sanctifi ed. The Kindred came to believe one of the Sanctifi ed Daeva was a Child of Judas. (Perhaps the Daeva was already known as a Child of Judas, but most Kindred didn’t initially realize the bloodline’s signifi cance. Perhaps the Daeva hid his bloodline but was somehow exposed. Perhaps there never was a Suicide King at all, merely a panicked rumor. When stories of the Kindred move between cities and through centuries, important details get lost.) The accusations, assassinations and counterattacks between covenants continued for years and left the Circle of the Crone as Danzig’s dominant covenant for the next century. Such a convulsion, apparently wrought by a single Suicide King, inspires fear and hatred to this night. Whenever a Daeva becomes known as a Judas, someone always brings up the Immolation of Danzig. The lone ghoul’s somewhat confused account of the Nosferatu’s rant included one element the vengeful Invictus neglected to investigate. The story says they found one Child of Judas among Danzig’s Sanctifi ed. The ghoul remembered the Nosferatu speaking of three “terrible women” who condemned him for his sins. At least, some modern accounts of the Immolation mention this detail. Kindred histories change in the telling — the three women might be an addition from the 19th century, when they emerged as the most important fi gures in Judas legendry after the Hanged Man himself.
 
 
The Sorrows: In the 19th century, Children of Judas began trading stories of three mysterious fi gures called the Ladies of Sorrow, or the Dolorae. Some Children of Judas believe the Dolorae are childer of the Hanged Man, looking after the rest of his lineage and bringing more Kindred into the bloodline. Other Children of Judas believe the Sorrows are spirits called to this world by the immolation of the Hanged Man. Whether the Dolorae come from God or the Devil is also disputed. According to the stories, some Children of Judas encounter the Sorrows when these Judas think they can escape their bloodline’s curse of anguish and achieve some great happiness. The Dolorae warn that the Kindred never experience true joy, and the Children of Judas are particularly condemned to know every facet of grief. Shortly thereafter, circumstances wreck the Suicide King’s chance at happiness and plunge him into despair: other Kindred learn of his true bloodline, perhaps, or the mortal who seemed ready to accept him for what he was dies in a tragic accident. The Sorrows appear again to say, “I told you so.” Other stories say the Dolorae visit Suicide Kings who contemplate their own destruction. In some stories, the Sorrows pull the Judas through her own dark night of the soul, and teach her to accept her destiny as the herald of despair. In other stories, the Sorrows encourage the despondent Judas to make his suicide an example and lesson to other Kindred, as the Hanged Man did. Still other tales describe the Dolorae as defenders of persecuted Suicide Kings. One story (told in many variations, each set in a different, distant city) recounts how a Prince who called a blood hunt against a Judas was visited by the Sorrows, went mad and destroyed himself. Another story has a Sanctifi ed Bishop condemning a Child of Judas, then turning around and proclaiming her a true servant of God after a visit from the three sisters. The Sorrows are also said to induct despairing Daeva into the bloodline or Embrace suicidal mortals. The Sorrows can do this whether the tale’s teller believes the Sorrows are Kindred or spirits. No Suicide King ever seems to say that he himself was Embraced or inducted by the Dolorae. It always happened to a Child of Judas his sire knew in another city, or the like. The stories agree that the Sorrows can appear anywhere in the world, a point in favor of the theory that they are spirits. In fact, no Child of Judas can prove she met the Sorrows at all, and hardly any Children of Judas claim they did. The Sorrows may be entirely mythical. Students of Kindred mythology would like some documented account of the Dolorae from before 1845, the year Thomas de Quincy published his poetic essay collection, Suspiria de Profundis. This now-obscure English author described his visionary encounters with the three Sorrows, and how the griefs he endured in his youth prepared him for wisdom in later life. Many Children of Judas accept the connection to de Quincy, but they believe he did in fact encounter the Dolorae and later chose to reveal their existence to the world. Certainly, de Quincy’s experiences of loss and the horrors of opium addiction would have made him a prime candidate for Embrace into the line, but, for some reason, the Sorrows let him live out a full lifespan. No Judas believes the Dolorae Embraced the aging author and faked his death and burial. Some Judas, however, repeat de Quincy’s admonition that one may learn from sorrow, however painfully. The Suicide Kings also use the titles de Quincy gave for the three sisters. Mater Lachrymarum (sometimes called the Madonna), Our Lady of Tears, embodies the grief that expresses itself in wailing and shrieks, demanding an answer from God. Mater Suspiriorum, Our Lady of Sighs, teaches the grief too deep for tears, when the heart is crushed by helpless despair. The third sister is Mater Tenebrarum, Our Lady of Darkness. The most terrible of the Sorrows carries madness and horror, when despair overthrows reason completely. She, of all the sisters, is the greatest apostle of self-destruction, against whom the mightiest Kindred or kine struggle in vain. Other Kindred who hear of the Sorrows dearly hope they are a myth — just some fable a Suicide King cribbed from a drug-addled essayist. Knowing the World of Darkness, however, some Kindred suspect they can’t be that lucky.
 
 
MEET THE SISTERS: Madonna moves with uncertain steps, fast or slow, but still with tragic grace. Our Lady of Sighs creeps timidly and stealthily. But this youngest Sister moves with incalculable motions, bounding, and with tiger’s leaps. She carries no key; for, though coming rarely amongst men, she storms all doors at which she is permitted to enter at all. — Thomas de Quincy, “Levana and Our Three Ladies of Sorrow,” Suspiria de Profundis 
 
 
Society and Culture: The Children of Judas prefer not to dwell near each other. Aside from the Masquerade-endangering rise in suicide rates a Judas colony could cause, the Suicide Kings are not immune to each other’s drive to explore another creature’s despair. Sires can resist prodding their childer’s emotional pains. Most likely, they already know every trauma in a childe’s past (and inflicted some of them). Other Children of Judas eventually want to know what brought a fellow Judas into the bloodline. The Children of Judas are more intimate with shame, grief and despair than most Kindred, but even the Children of Judas don’t like to keep revisiting old pains, especially under the infl uence of another Suicide King’s Despond or the Revelation power of Majesty. Sensible Suicide Kings tell their childer to grant other members of the bloodline the courtesy of leaving them alone. When Suicide Kings know they must dwell in the same city and can’t avoid each other forever, they prefer to learn each other’s traumas as quickly as possible and get it over with. The result looks a lot like group therapy. Older Children of Judas call it the Via Dolorosa; younger Children of Judas, steeped in a culture that treats strong emotions with irony, call it the Sobfest. The assembled Children of Judas mingle their blood and drink it, while everyone who knows how uses either Revelation or Doomed to Fail (see below). Shared Vitae extends the effects of each Discipline to the entire group. Everyone recites the events that caused them despair, both as mortals and as Kindred. No one enjoys this Sobfest, but they have the consolation that the other participants feel just as bad. Over time, Suicide Kings become used to such confessionals and no longer feel much embarrassment about revealing old griefs and insecurities. Then again, for the Kindred, all emotions fade with time. To be sure, a few elder Children of Judas come to enjoy the Via Dolorosa because it’s a chance to feel something. For younger Children of Judas, the shared embarrassment of revealing and learning each other’s traumas builds an odd camaraderie they seldom acknowledge except with jokes about each other’s griefs and humiliations. The Suicide Kings’ shared experience of suffering creates a surprising loyalty. They know how other Children of Judas feel. The dislike shown by other Kindred also encourages solidarity. For all the Children of Judas’ apparent cruelty, they almost never fi ght each other or try to sabotage each other’s plans.
 
 
The Anatomy of Suicide: People who have never felt the urge to commit suicide often think it comes from simple sadness. The Children of Judas know better. Sorrow plays a role, but there is nothing simple about suicide. The desire to die, to kill yourself, is a complex emotional state with many possible causes and many possible expressions. The Children of Judas know them all, and are entirely too willing to teach.
 
 
The Worst Feeling in the World: People feel sorrow for many reasons, ranging from a TV show being canceled to learning they have an incurable disease. Most episodes of grief, however, do not make people kill themselves, even when their sorrow is extreme. On the other hand, most suicides don’t seem to have much reason to be sad. Why does one man kill himself because his girlfriend left him, while another man sees his wife and daughters raped and murdered but soldiers on? One element that separates suicidal depression from ordinary grief is the feeling of absolute isolation. Poet Sylvia Plath, who herself committed suicide, called that feeling “the bell jar.” You feel trapped in your own head, cut off from everyone else. No one loves you or understands what you’re going through. People prove it when you try to say how you feel and they tell you to cheer up or don’t make a big deal about it. Yeah, that’s really useful. If you died, maybe at least they would regret your loss. It’s a poor way to connect to other people, but it seems like all you have left. The wise men say to know yourself. You wish you could forget yourself, because there’s something about yourself you despise. Maybe it’s the way you need another person so much, and that person is gone. Maybe it’s your pride, which won’t let you forget how you failed to live up to your ambitions. Maybe it’s a sexual desire that your faith or upbringing tells you is wrong. The possibilities are legion. If only you could kill that hated part of yourself . . . . Very often, you hear the message to die from other people, too. You know your isolation and self-hatred aren’t all in your head, because other people take the time to tell you your shortcomings. It may start with childhood taunts on the playground, but doesn’t end there. From the boyfriend who dumps you to the supervisor who tyrannizes you, a thousand casual or calculated insults and rejections let you know you aren’t good enough and people don’t like you. After a while, it can be easy to believe them and stop fi ghting to exist. The thought of suicide comes with a feeling of terrible inevitability and fi nality. “You’ll feel better tomorrow,” people say. You know you won’t. This is your life. You will always be alone, always have to live with your losses and failures and always lack the power to change your life and who you are. You know your future, and it doesn’t get better. But you have one alternative to helpless misery — one way to take control. Perhaps you can even strike back. Suicide often has elements of anger, defi ance and revenge. In some cultures, declaring that you kill yourself because of another person can shame your enemy into his own suicide, set your family on a blood-feud against him or simply terrify the entire community with the thought you might come back as an angry ghost — or a vampire.
 
 
Varieties of Suicide: As Children of Judas teach their childer and students, suicide can take many forms. Some people kill themselves in hidden ways, perhaps hidden even from themselves. Other people destroy themselves for reasons that aren’t obviously connected to grief. Not all despair comes from personal issues such as the death of loved ones or isolation from other humans. Sometimes the despair isn’t even painful. In some cases, the abandonment of self preservation brings courage and even serenity.
““Voodoo Death”
Anthropologists report that in some societies, people can die because they broke a taboo, were cursed by a sorcerer or simply argued with another person. The person stops eating and retreats from his friends and family. A few days later, he dies. The anthropologists call this “voodoo death” for reasons that no doubt make sense to them. Voodoo death is a kind of suicide because the victim cooperates in his own demise. He’s so convinced of his death that he makes it happen through malnutrition, dehydration and sheer nervous exhaustion. The community helps him along, fi rst by drawing away from the “living dead man” and then returning to mourn him and help him plan his own funeral. Only primitive tribes suffer from voodoo death — or do they? In the “developed” world, some people still get sick because they think somebody cursed them. Medical examiners also fi nd cases in which people seem to die of disappointment or a broken heart — they just “lost the will to live,” with no medically explicable cause of death. The death rates among people fi red (or forcibly retired) from jobs they held a long time, old folks sent to nursing homes against their will, recent widows and widowers and other people who suffer shame, loss and helplessness suggest that voodoo death may not be so rare after all.
Honor Suicide
People who live by strict codes of conduct may kill themselves from shame if they break those codes. The samurai of old Japan would kill themselves if they failed their lord. Modern soldiers and police sometimes commit suicide after public disgrace. They have shown themselves unworthy in their own eyes and the eyes of their peers. Only death can expiate their shame. Grave insults may provoke honor suicide as well. A Roman gentleman who felt his reputation irreparably damaged by slander, insult or humiliation could ask the state for permission to kill himself. In some cultures, suicide was also a legitimate alternative to a more humiliating fate. The Jewish zealots on Masada are the most extreme case, but warriors from the Roman Empire to World War II Japan have fallen on their swords rather than surrender.
Protest Suicide
Sometimes suicide can shame the people in power. In the past, Chinese offi cials sometimes killed themselves to protest the policies of their superiors. Sometimes this really did force reform, and the offi cial was declared a god to pacify his ghost. In recent decades, Buddhist monks and other protesters have set themselves on fi re over government policies. The hunger strike, used so successfully by Mahatma Gandhi, is nothing less than a very slow suicide meant to force a government’s hand. Medical Suicide The “Suicide Doctor” Jack Kevorkian became notorious for supplying sick people with devices they could use to kill themselves. The Hemlock Society publishes a manual of painless suicide methods. They didn’t invent the idea of death as an escape from disease or infi rmity, though. Medical suicide comes closer to a rational choice than any other form of self-destruction. Some people do know their future holds nothing but pain and debility, and any life they have renders them helpless under constant supervision from doctors. These sufferers want to spare themselves humiliation and physical discomfort, and spare their families the expense and stress of a long, drawn-out death. Very few people actually choose the “fi nal exit,” though. In some cases, people procure the means of suicide, then don’t use them. Having taken control of their lives and deaths, they don’t feel so helpless anymore, and so decide they’d like to live a little longer.
Death By Cop
Some people want to die, but they can’t quite do the job themselves — so they fi nd help. Every police offi cer knows about “death by cop,” in which a perpetrator commits a brazen crime, won’t surrender and must be shot. The suicidal intent seems especially clear when the perp brandishes a gun that isn’t loaded or runs at the cops. Particularly in inner cities, where suspicion and hatred for “the man” runs high, death while committing a felony leaves you with a better reputation than an overt suicide. At least you went down fi ghting. “Death by john” is a more horrifying form of disguised suicide. Suicide rates among prostitutes are very high, and the murder rate is high as well. Experienced hookers know to stay away from some men, but some prostitutes take clients no matter what the warning signs of danger are. The other hookers know their sister doesn’t want to live any more, and she’s looking for the man to do her in. Who knows how far this form of suicide extends? A person who takes crazy risks again and again may be an adrenaline junkie or just not have much sense — or maybe he truly doesn’t care if he lives and wants to die in a way that leaves him with a good reputation.
Addiction
Drugs can block the inner torment that leads to suicide. Alcohol, tranquilizers and narcotics can dull the mind; cocaine, amphetamines and other stimulants supply ersatz energy and confi dence. So often, though, a drug becomes just a slower or less direct means of death. In the long term, alcoholism or drug addiction can kill by damaging the body or clouding the mind so the person falls prey to some accident. And is every fatal overdose really an accident? Maybe not. Addicts often show a perverse bravado about the danger of their habits and say that yes, they do prefer dying from their drugs to living without them.
Suicide Bombings and High School Shootings
The Middle East has given the world the most aggressive of all forms of suicide. Whether the suicide bomber straps on TNT or drives a car fi lled with explosives, she wants to kill the enemy so much she’ll die to do it. Suicide bombers come from a culture steeped in pride and vendetta, in which humiliation demands retribution — and many people feel the West has humiliated their culture for centuries. At least, that’s the explanation experts give. On the other hand, most suicide bombers are young, and adolescence often features an overblown sense of victimized pride. Instead of cultural grievances, the fad for suicide bombing may spring from the same roots as the shootings in American high schools. Several times now, a teenage boy (in one case, two) has taken guns to school and shot several teachers and classmates. Sometimes the attack ended with the boy turning the gun on himself. Afterward, the signs of suicide were clear to see: the sense of isolation, of being hated, of hopelessness and of wanting to strike back at the world and be noticed.
Religious Suicide
The promise of going to heaven as a martyr touches on another version of suicide: self-murder as a religious sacrifice. In ancient India, elderly Brahmins gained honor by immolating themselves as sacrifi ces. The Jain sect considers the taking of any life to be sinful in some degree. Supreme piety consists of starving to death, so no creature shall die to sustain your life. Christianity has its own tradition of dying for the faith as well. Martyrdom isn’t supposed to be suicide. The martyr prefers faithfulness to self-preservation because she knows her soul, the real person, will not die. However, who knows what actually is in another person’s heart? Who knows whether an apparent martyr acts out of faith and courage or desperation and shame?
Murder
Sometimes people decide their inner pain really does come from other people, and they can kill the pain at the source. Thus, most murder victims are relatives, lovers or apparent close friends of their killers — the people who have the greatest power over the killers’ hearts and can cause the greatest pain. Most murderers confess promptly, ready to take their punishment. Back when murder convictions meant certain execution, confession was as good as suicide. It still takes the killer out of his old life and identity, though prison is hardly an improvement over psychological pain. Then again, death is an even worse “solution” to the despair felt by suicides.
 
The Killer Meme: Suicide is contagious. One high school student commits suicide; others follow within the next year. Young Palestinians’ enthusiasm for suicide bombing makes it the strangest fad in the world. On some South Sea islands, after a person drowns, his friends report seeing him in the water and asking them to join him — and sometimes they do. Religious suicide occasionally consumes whole cults, such as the Jonestown, Heaven’s Gate and Solar Temple mass suicides. Most people fi nd suicide unthinkable most of the time, and most cultures discourage suicide. One additional factor leads to suicide: it becomes thinkable because other people have done it. What’s more, it seemed to work. The other suicide did make people sorry she was gone, or he did strike back at people he hated and he thought hated him. The Children of Judas can rouse all the varied emotions that lead to suicide — the grief, the shame, the bell-jar isolation, the hopeless abandonment of selfpreservation and the rage at a hostile world. Perhaps the most evil aspect of the Children of Judas’ power, however, consists of making suicide thinkable. To convince a person that he is better off not existing is deception most foul. For this, the hatred other Kindred direct at the Suicide Kings is entirely justified.
 
The Ethics of Despair: Children of Judas are compelled by their blood to explore suffering and infl ict it, often leading to their subjects’ deaths. Children of Judas who want to avoid a swift degeneration into the Beast’s madness need some way to justify such cruelty. Much of the bloodline’s tradition consists of philosophy about when to infl ict the misery of Despond, why and how severely. The ethics of Suicide Kings often draw heavily from the beliefs of the Lancea Sanctum, even the ethics of Children of Judas who belong to other covenants or to none.
 
Inquisitors and Executioners: Between Auspex, Majesty and Despond, the Children of Judas are well suited to uncovering sins and punishing them. Some Children of Judas indulge their need to explore pain by searching for crime and punishing the perpetrators. In the Lancea Sanctum, pious Children of Judas may force other Kindred to account for violating the Traditions of Longinus. A few Sanctifi ed Children of Judas can even declare their bloodline openly, because other Kindred fear being called to repent their own sins — and they will repent, with wailing and gnashing of teeth at their own worthlessness. Princes may fi nd their own uses for a Child of Judas. A Suicide King makes an excellent Hound. She can cripple the Prince’s enemies through bouts of depression or perhaps even drive rivals to self-destruction while the Prince’s hands appear clean. Such an ill-worker is most effective when least known. A Judas who works as the Prince’s executioner hides not only her bloodline but also her offi ce, completely. Of course, other powerful Kindred may want to keep a secret Judas on retainer as well, though Judas and employer both face execution themselves if the Prince learns what they’re doing. Suicide Kings can also turn vigilante. Sanctifi ed Children of Judas easily justify driving mortal evildoers to suicide as part of their mission to be God’s scourge on the world. Other Children of Judas may simply feel that by forcing pain on criminals, the Suicide Kings prevent the suffering those criminals would infl ict on innocent kine. Despond can drive a guilt-stricken robber, drug dealer or rapist to confess to the police (especially if backed up with timely use of Revelation) — or his suicide can end the problem completely, with no evidence that could endanger the Masquerade.
 
Teachers and Testers: More than one mystical tradition says wisdom and salvation come after grief and fear. Fire-and-brimstone preachers terrifi ed their audience with damnation to lead members to the joy of salvation. Psychoanalysts speak more clinically of displacements and defensive reactions. Likewise, some Children of Judas believe they can teach through suffering. They may speak theologically, of contrition and humble submission to God. Young or secular Children of Judas may speak psychologically, of complexes, repression and traumas. Either way, Children of Judas think Kindred and kine must confront grief, anxiety and selfhatred to overcome them. No one wants to face his own fl aws and pain. Despond gives someone no choice. A Child of Judas may seek out mortals who suffer great anguish, to help them move beyond the suffering. Such a course demands great care and sensitivity, lest the Suicide King live up to the bloodline’s nickname. Simply forcing the subject to dwell on his grief and trauma is not enough. The Judas may need Auspex to read the subject’s mind and past or Majesty to persuade him to talk. Majesty also provides a brute-force method to cut through the bell jar of depression and engage the subject with another person. Beyond Disciplines, however, the Judas needs facility with Empathy, Persuasion and other Social Skills, to convince the subject he can end his pain without ending his existence. As for how to move beyond that anguish, every case is different. A person who dwells on grief for a lost loved one might need convincing that it’s no betrayal to care about someone else. Someone who despises himself for not living up to his image of what he’d like to be needs a dose of realism, as well as pride in what he can do well. The helpless needs a way to take control of something in her existence. Religious Children of Judas have a slight advantage in that Christianity and other faiths offer their subjects ready-made models for a new life. Still, the Child of Judas must still take care that in leading a subject to God, she does not lead him to new guilt and demands for self-punishment. On the other hand, a Child of Judas may feel some people need a little more pain in their existences. The arrogant, the self-indulgent, the callous — perhaps a bout of self-hatred would give them more sympathy for the people around them. Children of Judas who follow this program care a bit less about guiding their subjects through their bouts of Despond or, at least, Children of Judas use phrases like “Get over yourself” a good deal more. Either way, malpractice remains a danger. A Judas might go too far or misjudge a “patient,” resulting in suicide. In that case, the Judas may still be able to give her subject another chance at personal growth — but as a vampire. An important fraction of the bloodline came to the Requiem by this route. Not many of them would recommend such a course for other mortals who fi nd life too much to bear. When faced with a mortal who chose self-destruction, though, the temptation to grant the Embrace can be too strong for a Judas to resist.
 
Theology of Judas: Some Children of Judas see an even deeper purpose to their power over the soul’s darkest urge. In the Hanged Man’s fi nal sermon to his childer, he pointed out that the Crucifi xion was a suicide. God Almighty became incarnate for the specifi c purpose of dying on the cross, and, through this sacrifi ce, the race of humans was redeemed from sin. In modern parlance, the Crucifi xion was death by cop, with the Pharisees, their supporters and Pilate as the manipulated executioners. And Judas helped set the suicide up through the kiss of betrayal. The Suicide Kings also like to point out how odd Judas’ role is in the story. Christ knew Judas would betray him. Christ said so, at the Last Supper. Why would Christ have brought Judas into his circle at all unless it was to perform this very deed? And what about the kiss that identifi ed Jesus to the priests and soldiers who came for him in Gethsemane? Jesus was a public fi gure. Half of Jerusalem could recognize him. Again, did Jesus plan this visible act of betrayal? Mystical Suicide Kings believe he did. They suggest the divine plan required humanity to show itself at its worst. The callous bureaucracy of the Romans wasn’t enough. Even the jealous anger and rejection by God’s own priests weren’t enough. God needed to die because of the most wretched, contemptible crime possible, betrayed by one of his hand-picked disciples, someone who knew better, for mere money. Only through a supreme crime against God could God deliver a supreme act of forgiveness. And what of Judas himself? Several times, the Gospels describe Jesus speaking to “the disciple He loved most,” without saying who this was. The Suicide Kings suggest this disciple was Judas. Peter denied his Lord three times. The other disciples bickered and dithered. Judas loved Christ enough to accept the duty of betraying him. What a terrible duty! Judas went down in history as the worst sinner since Adam and Cain — faithless, greedy and too much a coward even to face the consequences of Judas’ betrayal. He killed himself instead, and so missed his chance to ask his resurrected Lord’s forgiveness. Or maybe that was part of Jesus’ purpose, and God’s. The gospels say Jesus took on humanity’s the burden of sin — but he did not sin. He remained stainless, a pure sacrifi ce of God, by God, to God. The Suicide Kings argue that if Christ took on the burden of sin, he passed it to someone else: to Judas, perfect in sin as Christ was perfect in virtue. Judas, who stayed in Hell. Judas, the co-Redeemer, the other Son of God. Even the Lancea Sanctum, whose members explore many unorthodox interpretations of scripture, fi nd the Hanged Man’ exegesis too radical for comfort. For one thing, his explanation distracts attention from Longinus, who was transformed into a vampire by the blood of Christ. The Children of Judas don’t deny Longinus his transcendent roles as their own sin-eater, apostle of their Damnation and instrument of God’s wrath. Just as Judas the co-Redeemer, however, the Kindred can do more than frighten mortals with their bad example. Judas theologians believe that just as the saints can shorten a sinners’ torment in Purgatory by giving out excess merit, the Kindred can redeem individual sinners by accepting damnation in their stead. The Hanged Man said he would join Judas in Hell as minister and comforter to the lost souls. Judas theologians say all Kindred can do the same, and should. Christ gave his blood to mortals for their salvation, and mortal priests repeat this act with every Mass. When the Kindred take blood, they can ask God to give them the mortal’s damnation. When the burden of the Kindred’s own and transferred sins grows too heavy, they can follow the example of Judas and the Hanged Man, and discharge their burden to Hell. Mystical Suicide Kings call this practice the auto-da-fé. It is the second great ritual of the bloodline, though practiced much less often than the Via Dolorosa. Some Children of Judas fetter themselves so they cannot escape the burning touch of the sun. Others immolate themselves, as the Hanged Man did, so other vampires can watch and feel the awe and terror of serving God with all one’s being. Even secular Children of Judas, who don’t accept the theological contortions of their fellows, admit the auto-da-fé makes an appropriate end for Suicide Kings.
 
 
Despond: Few Disciplines inspire such fear and hatred as Despond, and with good reason. The Kindred play the Danse Macabre in part to distract themselves from the horror and futility of their own existence. Despond strips away the distractions. Kindred who feel its power can no longer hide from the awful truth that they are dead and Damned, with the Beast as their personal demon to torment them — until something destroys them, or they do the job themselves.
Actually, Despond affects mortals worse than it affects vampires. The Kindred have years, decades or centuries to grow accustomed to anguish and self-loathing. The Beast rages against its own destruction, or maybe the vampires’ supernatural natures help them resist Despond. Mortals succumb all too easily to the lure of self-annihilation. The few Kindred who choose to learn Despond find the learning most unpleasant. To crush hope in others, they must explore their own despair. To set the lure of self-destruction, they must feel that lure themselves. Many among the Children of Judas — perhaps most — already walked that path as mortals, to its terrible ending. Other Kindred seldom want to touch the void, and be touched in return. Those who can resist the call of oblivion learn to make that call themselves. For greatest effect, a user of Despond must speak to her victim. A minute is good; fi ve minutes or more are even better. Through well-chosen phrases, she can prod her victim’s regrets, self-doubts and sorrows and send the message: you should not exist. The more she knows about her victim, the greater Despond’s power. Even without killing words, however, a vampire who knows Despond can send whispers of despair into a victim’s mind. Either way, the vampire must see her victim directly. Despond has no effect over the phone or through a recording. In most cases, a target of Despond does not immediately recognize that he was affected by a supernatural force. Once he recovers, he may wonder at the depth of his sudden despair. He might even connect his anguish to his conversation with the vampire. Mortals, however, don’t expect mind control. The very suspicion seems insane (giving the person another reason to feel depressed). The Kindred know better, so using Despond on them can be dangerous. A vampire who’s in too much of a hurry to converse with her target, but who doesn’t want the weakness of a silent attack, can simply snarl out a few cruel or menacing words to rouse the target’s grief or self-loathing — but the victim defi nitely knows the vampire tampered with his mind. Even the most skeptical or unwary mortal can’t deny he felt an alien touch in his thoughts. Despond cannot actually force another person to attempt suicide. Despond’s lesser powers merely work on grief, anxiety and self-loathing already present, helping these feelings overpower the conscious mind in various ways, for a limited time. For Kindred or kine already troubled by thoughts of suicide, however, one use of Despond may push the sufferer over the edge — though he might do the deed nights or weeks later. The more times a victim suffers from Despond, the more likely he will seek suicide. Storytellers should never decree that a player’s character destroyed himself because someone else used a Discipline on him. For other characters, Storytellers may want to base their resistance to despair on their traits or roles in the story. For a simple system, you can decide that, assuming no one intervenes to prevent the suicide, a Storyteller character commits suicide within the week if a use of Despond achieves more successes than the higher of the character’s Resolve or Composure.
 
 
STANDARD MODIFIERS: All Despond powers use the same set of suggested modifiers, based on how long the character can speak to his victim and his knowledge of the victim’s psychology.
 
 
 
 
Гуликан
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For a few, rare Daeva, the seemingly wealthy realms of sight, sound and touch remain empty of promise, unable to satisfy the Daeva's unique lusts. The most perfectly formed human figure, the most hauntingly melodic ostinato or the purest Xian silk offer these hedonists nothing in comparison to that which they crave. Even the flavor of the most exquisite Vitae, while certainly welcome, is only an echo of the one thing that can calm the special hunger within. These Succubi would forgo all of these luxuries, if they could, if only they could possess and consume the essential scent of all things, most especially things of the living variety. For this legendary bloodline, odor is all that matters. Cursed with a sense of olfactory perception so acute that no scent can escape their notice, these Kindred are unable to deny themselves the ecstasy they experience by consuming certain scents. Of course, while many odors of interest might fascinate these peculiar vampires for hours on end, none is as arousing as that produced by the living. The hunger that compels most Kindred to fixate on the flavor of still-warm blood spilling down their throats gives way to a similarly insurmountable need to savor the aroma of that blood instead. In a fashion not unlike a wine connoisseur relishing a new vintage, the Gulikan try to draw from Vitae every last drop of its aromatic soul, before they fi nally drink out of necessity. While the Gulikan have an astonishing facility for detecting and recognizing scents, a singular talent for producing scents surpasses this ability. Certainly, such sensualists are capable of creating aromas that would put mortals in a similar line of work to shame, but the Gulikan's possession of the means to capture and exploit the essential scent and supernatural power of Kindred Vitae has made this bloodline a legend among the Damned. The Gulikan (roughly translated as "rose-blooded") first appeared on the bustling market streets of Constantinople. Five years after the Great Schism between the Byzantine and Latin Churches, a Daeva named Eumathius offered as a gift to a deathless luminary a pomade that exuded an almost undetectable scent that caused others nearby to act as if held sway by the potency of the elder's blood. Eumathius went on to produce other aromatic products for the ancient vampire as well as for various Primogen and other prestigious Kindred; these scented products became nothing less than symbols of status in undead society. Unsurprisingly, Eumathius became an extremely influential figure in his own right. What his clients did not recognize until too late was that the numerous pomanders, oils, balms, soaps, powders and perfumes produced did not actually enhance the seductive power of the wearer. Rather, they extended the range and insidiousness of Eumathius' own supernatural irresistibility. Unlike the Vitae of other Kindred, the potency of Eumathius' own Vitae could be inhaled as well as consumed. A seducer extraordinaire, Eumathius' used proprietary Daeva charms as well, causing Kindred and kine alike to fall prey to the master Perfumer's personal charisma. Countless mortals, including many thought to be the puppets and loyal playthings of other Kindred, as well as a dozen or more Kindred important in their own right, became Eumathius' unwitting thralls. Using his new-found dominance, Eumathius succeeded in winning permission to create a brood of his own, one that inherited its founder's unusually aromatic Vitae as well as the inability to resist tracking down and relishing particularly captivating scents. For more than a century, the Perfumer and his rose-blooded offspring relished their place in society, all the while expanding the scope of their regency by luring more individuals into their invisible traps. The Gulikans' ruses came to a near end when Eumathius' own weakness led him to violate the Prince's law, breaking the Masquerade in a fashion that was certain to earn the Perfumer a judgment of Lextalionis. He did not meet Final Death, however. Using all his guile and discipline, the master of fragrances managed to replace the Prince's favorite tobacco with one of Eumathius' own construction. By the time Eumathius appeared before his sovereign to answer for his crime, the Prince was already so entranced by the specially prepared shisha that he dealt with the accused in a manner that stunned his advisors. The verdict left the Perfumer in a position that enabled him to continue exerting his unseen influence on his peers. concentration of renowned perfumers in the world. Modern-day Istanbul is quite a different place from the magnificent city it once was, but, for the Gulikan, it remains home. Their aromatic wares are no longer limited to only the local market, however. Tonight, high-ranking Kindred in Elysiums across the globe prize Gulikan aromatics. Those Kindred who purchase Gulikan products are well aware of the source of their power, but given their purchasers' distance from the source and the great unlikelihood that they will ever encounter the actual perfumer who produced the goods, the Kindred feel safe enough to use the scented goods in order to profit from their legendary efficacy. A cologne that makes even the most intransigent mortals want to surrender their blood to a Kindred certainly has its value, even if the suicidal urge ultimately derives from another vampire's Vitae. A few Gulikan have actually turned their backs on their traditional trade and found their niche exploiting the small advantage that accompanies their horrid weakness. Offering their services as bounty hunters to Sheriffs and other Kindred needing to track down the living and unliving, these Gulikan command exceptional fees, and deservedly so. Those who choose this line of work dwell nearly anywhere, ever on the trail of someone who crossed the wrong vampire. The extraordinary exploits of a few of these Bloodhounds have only further cemented the bloodline's legendary standing, making them as feared and yet as indispensable as any of the Damned.
 
 
Parent Clan: Daeva
 
Nickname: Perfumers or Bloodhounds
 
Covenant: As most Daeva, the Gulikan are most commonly found among the ranks of the Invictus. The First Estate produces the bulk of the Gulikans' customers, and the Perfumers are most comfortable among these elite, able to profit both from the sale of their wares and the hidden web of thralls that they weave nightly. Powdered, oiled and garbed in only the most expensive, scented wardrobe, these olfactory wunderkinds are as much a part of the Danse Macabre as any who want to climb the Invictus ladder. If more than one Gulikan makes his home in the same domain, the competition is fierce. Nothing poses as great a threat to a Gulikan's plans as another Perfumer who plies her own goods in the hope of wielding power over the local Kindred. Consequently, each Gulikan seeks to gain as many allies in the Invictus as possible in order to win over the competitor's customers and pawns. Only in Istanbul, where the bloodline is strongest and established rules of competition based on ancient guild customs exist to govern their practices, do Gulikan suffer each other's co-existence. In some domains, the Lancea Sanctum is an attractive alternative to the Invictus. The Sanctified make use of incense and other perfumed products for a variety of purposes, giving a cautious Perfumer a chance to sway an entire congregation. The only downside can be a rigorous set of obligations that demand precious time better spent perfecting the next scented concoction. The Ordo Dracul has few Perfumers among its number. For most, the outlook of the Ordo Dracul is far too esoteric, and the limitations on to whom the Gulikan may market their wares and in what capacity are all too commonplace. The Carthian Movement is popular with those Gulikan who adopt the Requiem of a bounty hunter. The nature of Carthian politics allows the Gullikan to pursue prey that might otherwise be off-limits due to their social connections. Until recently, the Circle of the Crone has never been a popular destination for the rose-bloodedy. In the past half-century, the Perfumers have taken a sudden interest, finding in Crúac a possible means to greatly expand on the possibilities inherent in their own special Discipline.
 
 
Appearance: Despite their parent clan's infatuation with physical beauty, the beauty of scent draws the Gulikan to their future childer. Many Gulikan select their progeny literally with eyes closed. Others, of course, rarely ever discern these distinguishing odors and judge the Perfumers on visual appearance first. For this reason, and for no other, most Gulikan at least make an effort to appear to fit in with their chosen peers, whether powdered and diamond-draped Harpies or a rustic congregation of Sanctifi ed White Robes. Those whose Requiems consist primarily of playing bloodhound tend to be the exceptions, caring little if anything about appearance. For these Gulikan, their own hedonistic expeditions into the invisible world of aroma leading them to their prey matters far more than what the Gulikan wear or others' opinions of them.
 
 
AN EVER-PRESENT SCENT: A habit that truly sets the Gulikan apart from other Kindred is sniffi ng. Kindred do not breathe, but the Gulikan habitually sniff the air in order to detect every odor they can. So ingrained is this practice, due to their bloodline’s weakness, a Gulikan make a concerted attempt to stop this activity for longer than a few moments. A successful Resolve + Composure roll allows the Gulikan to stop sniffi ng for a full scene, so long as he does not speak during that time. Any use of speech requires the Gulikan to inhale and expend air, a sensation that makes it impossible for the rose-blooded to resist sampling any passing scents. Naturally, this habit, along with the Gulikan’s legendary status, makes it nearly impossible for the Gulikan to mask their identity most of the time. Some Kindred might eventually be able to put two and two together and recognize the incessantly sniffi ng vampire for what he is. Among the kine, this habit can also prove troublesome, as police offi cers, as well as many ordinary citizens, especially those in the underworld and those who live on the streets, will assume that the Gulikan uses cocaine or some other inhaled substance. The fact that the Gulikan may visibly savor the odors they encounter only makes these weird hedonists that much more noteworthy, further complicating their Requiems.
 
 
Havens: Perfumers need proper space to produce their wares, not only in terms of actual square footage and security but in terms of geography. In times past, Perfumers were primarily located in districts where the atrocious aromas wafting from the maceration vats and distillation tanks, not to mention the simple stores of herbs, oils and other pungent ingredients, would not disturb those with the wealth and influence to cause economic harm, the same people who consumed the Perfumers' products with unremitting fervor. Even Gulikan who possess the most technologically advanced equipment still have no desire to draw undue attention should a spill or other accident take place. The smallest of inadvertent releases could result in all kine within 10 blocks to come swarming to the supernatural aphrodisiac! Consequently, those rose-blooded who pursue Ortam almost always locate their havens in the Barrens, far from prying eyes and noses, as a precaution. They usually select large spaces, in order for the resident Gulikan to be as distant from the fires and heat needed in his work, with the personal sleeping chamber typically fireproofed, just in case. Intruders will be hard-pressed to resist being overcome by the powerful fumes -- from the sickly saccharine to the utterly noxious -- that assault them upon entering a Gulikan's haven, which is more laboratory than workshop. The master will require a constant supply of ingredients that are unavoidably used up with each use of Ortam. Gulikan working as Bloodhounds have no need of such quarters but still prefer to bed down far from the wash of human odors that drenches most of the city, in order to keep temptation at bay as much as possible. Of course, when hunting, Bloodhounds dive into that sea of sweat, flatulence, rotting food, soiled garments and every other source of human effluvia in order to indulge as only Gulikan might.
 
 
Background: Although a childe is ultimately selected because she possesses a scent that the sire must claim for his own, only the dimmest Perfumer would adopt as his apprentice an individual whose wits leave something to be desired. Ortam is as much a technical exercise as an art. A prospective childe must master fundamental mathematics, a broad knowledge of herbs and related chemistry and an ability to carefully balance all the ingredients in a way that produces the exact result desired. Therefore, a childe's merit depends not merely on her ability to be a companion or thing of desire but also on her potential as an exceptional student and useful assistant to the sire. College graduates, some skilled laborers and those with a demonstrated flair for creative prowess are highly prized. Many Gulikan still harbor ancient biases and also prefer their proteges to be of a middle- or upper-class upbringing, ensuring that the fledgling will be able to fit in well with the bloodline's usual patrons. In Istanbul, most who are Embraced are also of local birth, with mortal bloodlines stretching far back into the city's earliest nights. Beyond the Bosporus, this degree of pedigree becomes less important. Bloodhounds who sire tend to focus much more on survival skills and take as their childer cops, streetwise types and even mortal bounty hunters, guaranteeing that the new vampires can hit the ground running. A fledgling Bloodhound's will not have access to the acute olfactory ability of the bloodline until his blood is potent enough; until then, he must rely on far more mundane means of tracking.
 
 
Character Creation: It almost goes without saying that Gulikan who fill the traditional role of Perfumer are best served by having at least some capability in Crafts, specializing in Perfume Manufacture. Similarly, Intelligence and Manipulation are both crucial for the ambitious character, enabling her to not only excel in producing effective aromatic wares but also in surviving and mastering the complex Danse Macabre. Bloodhound characters will want to emphasize investigative and combat abilities. Investigation, Brawl and a high Wits and Composure are essential boons to finding and capturing prey. Mechanics aside, every player should put some effort into imagining the World of Darkness from the perspective of one who literally "sees" with her nose, rather than her eyes. Imagine the smell of rain-soaked pavement, the foul stench of trash Dumpsters, the acrid burn of fear, the reek of unwashed humanity, the scent of gunpowder and, of course, the tang of mortal blood. Numerous tricks, from closing one's eyes during the game to burning incense or scented candles, can be helpful. To play a Gulikan requires some understanding of just how different the world is when odor, not form, defines that world.
 
 
Bloodline Disciplines: Celerity, Majesty, Ortam, Vigor
 
 
Weakness: Similar to all Daeva, the Gulikan find it especially difficult to resist the hedonistic urges that all vampires indulge now and then. Whenever a Gulikan has the chance to satisfy her Vice but chooses not to do so, she loses two points of Willpower, rather than gaining one by partaking of the pleasure.Compounding the clan weakness is the Gulikan's particular craving for certain rarified scents. Every member of the bloodline favors the scent of one type of mortal in a way that goes far beyond mere interest. Whenever the character detects this special scent, no matter how far away the source of that scent might be, the character must do all she can to locate the source and, ultimately, possess that scent until nothing of it remains. The fragrance distracts the character to the degree that she finds it difficult to concentrate clearly on anything else until she can have the scent for herself. What this means in game terms is that from the moment the character has detected that scent and until the moment when she has finished consuming that scent the character is subject to a -1 penalty to all dice pools. Worse, until the Gulikan finds that particular target, she can drink the blood of another only by expending a point of Willpower. Only the blood of her special victim will otherwise satisfy her desires. Once the character finds the kine exuding the scent, the Gulikan cares only for savoring the scent as long as she can. This means she may literally press her nose into the skin of the mortal and bask in the odor that drew her in the first place. Unless she is in a frenzy, she will try to forestall the inevitable drinking until the last possible moment, enjoying the fragrance until hunger or expediency overwhelms her lust. Gulikan are prone to kidnapping their victims and keeping them alive as long as possible, often curling up against them night and day in order to be immersed in the intoxicating scent. However, because the need for blood grows inexorably, such situations are usually short-lived. In the end, the Gulikan will take the victim's blood, until nothing remains. If, for some reason, the character is unable to locate the source of the scent or to possess the individual, after three nights she may spend a point of Willpower to overcome the gnawing desire for that particular scent, though she will never forget it entirely. The precise type of person whose scent is uniquely irresistible to the character can be nearly anything. Pregnant women, murderers, opium addicts, Native Americans, people fearing for their lives, borderline suicides, diabetes sufferers and so forth all are appropriate. The target group should be common enough that they might show up regularly, but uncommon enough so that, unless the character went to a specific place known to be populated by such people -- a hospital, prison, orphanage, head shop and so on -- he'll have no certainty that they will make an appearance. At the beginning of every game session that a character is not currently fixated on a particular individual's scent, the player rolls Wits + Composure. A success indicates that the character detects and fixates upon a new special scent. If the target group selected is unusually common in the vicinity of the character, the Storyteller might apply a bonus to the roll. On the other hand, if the group is likely to be uncommonly scarce -- for example, in the Barrens near the character's haven -- a penalty should be applied.
 
 
Organization: Traditionally, the bloodline is organized in a way not unlike a medieval guild, with masters, journeymen and apprentices. A master is technically any member who has learned the fifth level of Ortam. Once the Gulikan achieves this accomplishment, he customarily relocates to another city so as to not to jeopardize the monopoly held by his former master, usually his sire. A journeyman are a step below this august rank and is deemed to be any Gulikan who has demonstrated the third level of Ortam. Because journeymen represent potential competitors, sires often withhold knowledge of the third level of this Discipline for extended periods of time. This often forces the least of the bloodline, the apprentices, to leave their original masters in search of others more open to their apprentices' advancement. Given the small size of the lineage, this structure gives the Gulikan a sense of community that crosses the globe, a situation that promotes the sale of Ortam wares far from a Gulikan's home domain. For example, a journeyman in one place sells an item he is yet incapable of producing. He contacts a master Perfumer in a far-off place and acts as the middleman, selling the master's products in his own domain, sending most, but not all, of the profits back to the more learned Gulikan. In addition, the journeyman might provide the master information about the buyer, usually for an additional cut of the profits, so that, one night, the master use as he pleases the influence he has acquired over the oblivious customer. Gulikan in Istanbul observe this organization rigorously; elevation to the next rank, particularly to master, comes with great ceremony. Elsewhere, such formalities often enjoy far less obedience, though any Gulikan who wish to advance their understanding of Ortam never entirely ignore the formalities. Only the Bloodhounds dare to turn their backs on the long-standing customs of the bloodline. Bloodhounds need only their own company and someone willing to provide their few wants in exchange for unprecedented tracking services.
 
Concepts: Avant-garde artist, creepy assassin, drug lab scientist, dutiful bloodhound, fashionista, iron-fisted perfume empire matriarch, leather-clad biker, New Age hippie, respectable member of the gentry, reverent priest.
 
 
History: Eumathius’ distinction as the founder of the Gulikan bloodline is the result of the ancient Perfumer’s collaboration with a renowned alchemist, Symmachus Khimara. This alchemist reputedly spent the latter years of his unnaturally long life attached to the household of the Patriarch until Khimara was beheaded for lecherous crimes against the lofty cleric’s own family. From this learned scholar, Eumathius discovered the means of not only extracting the essence vitale absolue from traditional sources — herbs, grasses, hides, fruits, minerals — but also from those substances that typically do not yield up their fundamental scents so easily, such as metals. This alchemical art depended as much on occult formulae as on the so-called scientifi c method. Using these new techniques, Eumathius was able to wring from his own blood its secret odor, the very scent of Damnation. The fi nal step that forever set him apart from other Kindred was his discovery, again with Symmachus’ aid, of how to amplify an object’s essential scent to a degree that is otherwise impossible. Eumathius eventually succeeded in magnifying his own essence vitale absolue to such an extent that even the slightest whiff of his odor would permeate the mind and body of all who smelled it, even at great distances. Using this potent scent as a foundation, the master Perfumer then began to construct his greatest and most terrifying contribution to the world: the Discipline of Ortam, which allows the user to produce aromatic wares that affect all who smell them as if under the spell of Kindred Vitae. Eumathius also produced balms and salves that emulated the supernatural effects of other Disciplines, especially Majesty. These balms allowed those Kindred without formal knowledge of such Disciplines to wield them by proxy. With these occult achievements under his belt, Eumathius tested the limits of what could be accomplished by selling his wares to various kine, at fi rst, and later to other Kindred. The results exceeded his wildest expectations: overnight he went from a largely unknown ancilla to the highest tiers of Kindred society. Despite a few close calls on the road to stature and lasting infl uence, Eumathius attained heights that most Kindred can only envy. Legends suggest that the master Perfumer succeeded in ensnaring the Prince, in addition to a host of prestigious Kindred dignitaries in the city. Some Gulikan believe that only the great deal of time required to concoct the powerful aromatics prevented Eumathius from orchestrating his own ascent to the throne of Constantinople. Despite never having made that fi nal move, the founder of the Gulikan continues to preside over his lineage as one of the city’s most respected and powerful Primogen; unknown to his peers, his power extending far beyond the Bosporus. During the mid-15th century, after the fall of Constantinople to the Ottoman Turks, the Gulikan fi rst set foot outside the gates of Byzantium’s capital. With the victorious army came a handful of Kindred whose infl uence on the existing society of the undead shook it to its foundations. One consequence was a strict prohibition against the formerly widespread practice of procreation, especially against certain bloodlines that the new powers-that-be deemed a particular threat to their own authority. Even Eumathius’ own stature was not enough to protect his lineage from these new laws, and so some of his progeny departed for domains where they could establish their own broods and exert their own infl uence over local affairs. To be sure, this exodus included only a half-dozen Gulikan. Most remained behind despite the unfavorable atmosphere. However, by the 18th century, Perfumers were found in a score of domains that stretched from the Middle East to North America. In each domain, the bloodline zealously practiced its traditional customs and the Discipline of Ortam. For most of the past 300 years, the line’s growth has been minimal. The threat of competition from skilled childer discourages most Gulikan from serving as Avuses to their offspring and other Daeva, and Princes remain reluctant to accept newcomers into their domains. The legends of the Perfumers have also made it diffi cult for them to fi nd sanctuary in new cities. The last few decades have seen a turnaround for the bloodline, however. Breakthroughs in technology have allowed the Gulikan to produce their wares faster than ever. Dramatic improvements in communication and commerce enabled by the achievements of the information age have improved the ease with which the Perfumers can dispense their goods far beyond the borders of their home city. Perfumers have Embraced many childer, especially individuals who have an grasp of modern innovation that many elders lack, to assist in the bloodline’s business. An increasing number of Succubi, enticed by the legends of the Gulikan as well as the promises of structure that apprenticeships would bring to their frequently unstable Requiems, occasionally petition the Perfumers to become apprentices. The Ordo Dracul and the Circle of the Crone are particularly fertile grounds for new members of the bloodline. Those covenants emphasize a methodological exploitation of Vitae, very similar to the way the Gulikan use their own Discipline.
 
 
Society and Culture: An informal but undeniable social division clearly exists between the Perfumers and the Bloodhounds. The former view the latter as little more than failures who tarnish the incomparable pedigree of the “true” Gulikan. Only those who learn Ortam and consequently produce scented wares of the utmost quality and effi cacy can call themselves Perfumers. These elitists make up the vast majority of the bloodline and, as the original Gulikan, have much more of a sense of tradition and culture. In fact, it is not inaccurate to say that the Perfumers possess an authentic society of their own beyond whatever social strata they recognize as part of a covenant. On the contrary, the Bloodhounds effectively eschew that society and seem satisfi ed by the community offered them by covenant and coterie. Beyond alliances and acquaintances that serve expediency, survival and shared purpose, these two types of Gulikan rarely mix and have little in common. 
Apprentice Perfumers: A Perfumer’s Requiem depends on her place in the bloodline’s guild-like hierarchy and by the degree of success she achieves in disseminating Ortam-augmented goods on clientele both living and unliving. An apprentice’s nights often involve carrying out the numerous demands made upon her by her master as well as by any journeymen who might reside within the city. Except for the most menial, tedious or impossible chores, which are often left to mortal thralls, an apprentice serves as messenger, gopher, assistant, student, companion and deliveryman for her seniors. Free time is rare in most cases, but that doesn’t mean the opportunity for personal pursuits and intrigue doesn’t exist. On the contrary, an apprentice frequently undertakes errands that require travel — almost always within city limits, of course – providing ample opportunity for private divertissement and business. While the apprentice’s place is to deal with her master’s customers, even an infrequent visit to the Judex’s haven to drop off a cedar briefcase of velvet-couched phials of scented oils offers a chance to learn a bit about First Estate politics and to secure some measure of trust, and possibly even confi dence from the Invictus exemplary. Openly exploiting this kind of relationship to advance her own place in the Danse Macabre would earn a frown or worse from her master, but cautiously working her business contacts for future use is a no-brainer for all but the densest apprentices. Ultimately, the job of the apprentice is to aid her master in bolstering his acclaim and power. A wise apprentice avoids taking credit herself, even when deserved. Selfl essness is the watchword of these hardworking neonates, and, so long as they hold true to that virtue, their places in the bloodline are secure.
Journeyman Perfumers
An apprentice who has served well and faithfully learns the secrets of Ortam. Those who have pleased their masters beyond expectation eventually master the third level of this prized Discipline. Upon mastering the third level, an apprentice is offi cially recognized as a journeyman of the lineage and, for the fi rst time, enjoys relatively free rein to pursue whatever work pleases him. A journeyman may change masters at will; however, because fi nding another to accept her service can be onerous, most journeymen remain with their original masters. While the journeyman continues to assist the master and claim little credit for himself, he may also follow his own inclinations and produce perfumes, colognes, oils, salves, pomades, talcum and other scented wares as he sees fi t. He may even distribute these products, either to his master’s customers or to customers of his own. Due to the nature of such occult trade, however, few masters wish to compromise their own infl uence over their buyers. Therefore, the journeyman must locate and nurture his own customer base. Often, a master will forbid sale of a journeyman’s wares to other Kindred, restricting the lesser’s infl uence to the mortal demographic. On the other hand, in cases where the bond between master and journeyman is strong, the senior Perfumer may actually direct his journeyman to ply his trade among a certain segment of Kindred society, or against particular Kindred. In this way, the Gulikan master can increase the scope of his power using his student’s skill with Ortam as a proxy for his own where time or circumstance make it diffi cult for him to do it himself. Apart from all the work the journeymen perform on behalf of their masters (which might includes nightly oversight and instruction of apprentices, if any), most journeymen ultimately establish their own clientele. Via this conduit, the journeyman’s own sphere of personal influence can gain him a place among the Kindred elite. Every master realizes this when elevating an apprentice to the rank of journeyman or when accepting the service of a foreign Gulikan — it is the nature of the Beast, so to speak. The master’s only real means to forestall the night when full-scale competition develops between his journeyman and himself is to hold back the greatest powers of Ortam as long as possible. Perhaps forever. A journeyman knows this, and the savvy seek ways to coax their masters into revealing the fi nal secrets of the Perfumers’ signature Discipline. Demonstrating trustworthiness is obvious, but is only the fi rst step. Given the political proclivities of many Gulikan, it is not beyond consideration for a journeyman to employ far less honest means to achieve his end. Bringing his own master under his sway emotionally, whether through ordinary seduction, the judicious application of Majesty or even the formation of a Vinculum, is certainly one way to increase the likelihood that his master will divulge more than he may have been prepared to give up. Some journeymen — those exceptionally skilled in the arena of intrigue as well as those who only believe they are — might forgo such subterfuges and force their masters into handing over this precious knowledge. Playing the Danse Macabre to this purpose can be a masterstroke in every sense of the word for the journeyman with the acumen to pull it off. On the other hand, failure to pull it off can mean far worse than merely being prohibited from any further progress with Ortam. The Gulikan bloodline, the same as the guilds of old, does not take kindly to egregious treachery. Punishment is swift and often final.
Master Perfumers
When a Perfumer succeeds in demonstrating her facility with the fi fth level of Ortam, she has proven herself a master Perfumer. Outside of Istanbul, this almost always means that the new master must remove herself from her long-time haven and locate a new domain where she can establish herself, far from her former master. All journeymen understand this custom, even if the master never states it outright. Most elder Gulikan consider a new master remaining in the same domain as one’s former mentor a direct challenge. Given the elder Perfumer’s likely access to greater resources — social, political, economic and supernatural — few newly minted masters wish to face this kind of competition, especially when they plan to forge alliances and win over customers. Although very rare, when these types of confrontations do take place, they are rancorous affairs. Setting up shop in a new city is diffi cult for any Kindred. The Perfumers face a special challenge: Legends follow them wherever they go. Some Kindred believe the most frightening of the stories and view the arrival of any Perfumer as a threat to their own power. Few Princes risk permitting Perfumers to linger any longer than a few nights, fearing their legendary ability to subvert even the most cautious elders to the Gulikan’s cause. Many Princes refuse even that brief a stay. Other Princes and Primogen take the stories with a grain of salt, and, though they remain wary of these “Turkish skunks,” these powerful Kindred are also intrigued by the possibilities suggested by the legends. If the Gulikan’s perfumes have the efficacy suggested by rumor, then, risk aside, would they not offer an ambitious Kindred a sudden advantage in the Danse Macabre? What’s more, anything truly new and unique that a Kindred dignitary can acquire, especially something as sensual and personal as perfume, can go a long way toward making him the center of attention, at least for a time. Prestige, of course, is of tremendous importance to those Kindred who hound the halls of Elysium in pursuit of companionship, entertainment, reputation and power. Any vampire sporting a Gulikan cologne might become the talk of the town, a boon that even the dullest Kindred can turn to her immediate advantage. A master Perfumer might never truly acquire the local Kindred’s trust, but the promise of excitement and a conversation piece few others can acquire is too enticing for reputation-hungry
Damned to deny. A few Kindred ignore all the stories they hear about the Gulikan and other bloodlines of legend, until those Damned have seen the Perfumers for themselves. The dominant Kindred in small domains may have only heard of the Perfumers in the most bastardized retellings of the most common legends. How these Princes and Primogens view masters of Ortam petitioning to reside in their domains will depend on the version of the stories they have heard, and whether they believe them or not. Once the new master fi nds a suitable domain, his fi rst order of business is locating a proper haven. As mentioned above, Gulikan frequently prefer havens in the Barrens, though a master may wish to have other digs closer to the Rack for the convenience of feeding and entertaining guests. This secondary haven also serves as a storefront, where the Perfumer can display small samples of his wares and conduct business transactions. Some Perfumers even hold regular salons or word-ofmouth parties, where mortals or Kindred can come to test the samples and then purchase those that strike their fancy. The nascent master also requires equipment and supplies. Depending on her fi nancial resources, this can mean a shop reminiscent of a medieval alchemist’s or of a 21st-century Parisian factory. The time it takes to purchase everything necessary to create Ortam products can vary greatly, but, until the shop is complete, production remains limited. Storytellers should require Perfumer characters to spend the requisite time and money to organize their production facilities prior to allowing them to actually create Ortam wares. This need not be formalized with mechanics, but it should require more than the player simply saying “Okay, I just buy the stuff I need, and now I’m going to create some perfumes.” Obtaining some of the equipment might be diffi cult, especially in terms of cost and delivery. Acquiring many aromatic supplies might be even more time-consuming, given the rarity of certain herbs and other sources of scent. When the Perfumer has all she needs to produce her wares, the next step is to seek out customers. Whether she begins with mortals or with Kindred depends on her own preferences and personal goals. Generating business among the Damned is a precarious thing. Even those who have not heard the stories of the bloodline are going to be wary of accepting anything from another vampire, even if they are the ones who ask for it. Kindred are paranoid by nature, and something as simple as a bottle of eau de toilette might function as a Trojan horse. The Perfumer, therefore, must assuage her customers’ fears by whatever means possible. Armed with charisma, Majesty and the power of her own scent, she embarks upon a mission to vanquish any concerns about her intentions and turn skeptics into fervent customers.
 
THE PERFUMED CITY: Istanbul is perhaps the only place where a Perfumer, upon reaching the lofty status of master, need not necessarily relocate. Instead, the new master claims a domain to exploit as he sees fi t. How these allocations are made is up to a trio of the eldest Gulikan, the Syndics. Eumathius stands at the head of this triumvirate, with his most trusted childer equals beneath him. This trio dictates all bloodline policy, including not only how a Perfumer can market his wares but also ceremony, requirements for advancement, procedures for petitioning for membership in the bloodline and how duties are divvied up among the ranks. This Syndics even serve as a quality control board, permitting themselves to test anything created with Ortam by any Perfumer and to disallow further production of any product that fails to meet their self-declared standards. The Syndics also possess full authority to punish any Gulikan who violates their rules, power that is limited only by the Prince’s prerogative over the Traditions. Perfumers who are refused by their masters the knowledge necessary to advance their mastery of Ortam and, therefore, their place in the bloodline’s hierarchy, are permitted to petition the Syndics for a hearing. This, of course, means travel to Istanbul, a diffi cult prospect in the fi rst place. Those who do make the trip are given an audience — when convenient for the Syndics — and their case is heard. Should these petitioners be able to demonstrate their worthiness for advancement — which usually requires producing an array of Ortam wares taking as long as a year’s worth of labor under the supervision of Istanbul’s masters — they may be rewarded with the instruction they seek. Frauds, upstarts and those lacking the requisite bona fi des, however, may face any sort of punishment for their arrogance and temerity. Only when the bloodline’s hierarchy has truly failed one of its own is that Gulikan’s petition deemed appropriate.
 
 
Bloodhounds: Not every Gulikan clings to the bloodline’s traditions and practices the art of the Perfumer. Because joining the line is voluntary, most Gulikan at least set out with the intention of doing so in the fi rst place; however, a harsh master, disillusionment, ineptitude and a sense of boredom can all quash the desire to spend eternity crafting the next new scent. These Gulikan forgo any further progress with Ortam and instead focus their efforts on the more run-of the-mill pursuits of the Damned. Whatever these activities may be — manipulating the kine, learning other Disciplines, making money, pursuing the arts or just relaxing and enjoying what few joys the Requiem offers — the Gulikan’s peculiar weakness is always present and always overwhelming. Rather than let it destroy any hope of achieving his personal wants, a Gulikan who has cast off the robe of the Perfumer need not also throw away the advantage offered by his fl awed inheritance. By selling his services as a smeller extraordinaire to others who could use that ability, a Gulikan can profi t fi nancially and socially, certainly improving his conditions and enabling him to better eke out some pleasure from his Requiem. Of course, the only reason someone would pay handsomely for the aid of a keen sense of smell is to use it to track down someone or something, and so it is this tracking that these Gulikan sell. Most Bloodhounds offer their services locally, to Kindred and kine alike. The dangers of travel are wellknown and having a preternatural sense of smell does little to diminish most of those dangers. However, just because a Gulikan has chosen the path of the iconoclast does not mean he has entirely given up on wanting the creature comforts that other Gulikan relish. A comfortable and secure haven, regular and reliable companionship and a sense of community can only be had by staying put. A Bloodhound will sometimes attach himself to a single Kindred, often the Prince, and serve as the personal or “bonded” tracker for that individual alone. A Prince with a loyal Bloodhound at his side has much to crow about, as few individuals can hide long from these extraordinary hunters. Other Bloodhounds prefer not to bind themselves too closely to a single vampire, but, at the same time, don’t wish to whore themselves to just anybody and end up being accused of backstabbing a former client. A Bloodhound can avoid the worst of these ethical dilemmas by offering his tracking services to only one or two convenants or clans. At any rate, some Bloodhounds care nothing of ethics and are perfectly okay with running afoul of their own customers at times and will take whatever job they can, hunting down anyone at all, so long as the pay is good. True mercenaries often fi nd that their stay in a city ends up being much shorter than they had imagined, as eventually they accept the wrong job andpiss off the wrong Kindred. When the heat becomes too much or if tracking the same folks all the time just doesn’t cut it anymore, some Bloodhounds hit the road as nomads. These bounty hunters go from domain to domain taking jobs hunting down troublesome mortals and dastardly Kindred, often vampires who are the target of a blood hunt. This kind of existence can prove exhilarating; many Bloodhounds become addicted to this never-ending hunt, a perfect vocation given their nature. The road can be very unforgiving, however. Without good advance intelligence and a solid invitation, entering a new Kindred domain comes with its own slew of problems. The only advantage the Bloodhounds have in dealing with these things is that their keen sense of smell is especially good at alerting them to approaching danger. Even in a completel