Blood and Bourbon
“I have heard it said that the Embrace is like the original sin, that it passes from sire to childe, and from that childe to his own progeny, the taint of undeath remains the same throughout. What such defeated and pious doggerel fails to take into account is the power of the Blood itself. We are not bound by the sins of the father. We can change each individual sin, make it one of our own choice.”
—Dr. Miranda Estes, Beyond Post-Mortem
While every vampire belongs at least ancestrally to one of the thirteen great clans, some Kindred diverge from those lineages into their own unique bloodlines. Also, Disciplines favored by those thirteen clans hardly exhaust the possibilities of Kindred power. Some bloodlines exist as purely social divisions. Certain Kindred prefer to identify themselves as descendants of some esteemed vampire from centuries past, instead of being just an ordinary Malkavian, Nosferatu, Gangrel or whatever. Other bloodlines come about because of shame. A Kindred suffers some disgrace in the eyes of clanmates, and that disgrace passes to his childer and their childer in turn. An elder who joins a covenant that is not usual for his clan, and draws his childer in likewise, might also cause other Kindred to call his descendants a bloodline. Such “bloodlines” have no consequence in terms of game mechanics.
When most Kindred talk about bloodlines, they mean a lineage whose nature or inclination genuinely differs from that of its parent clan. True bloodlines stand out because their members favor at least one different Discipline than their parent clans, they suffer a different blood-borne weakness, or both. Most remarkably of all, some bloodlines practice Disciplines known to few other Kindred. Some bloodlines actually introduce new Disciplines that have never been seen before.
Joining a Bloodline
Kindred may join bloodlines as allowed by their Blood Potency dots. A character may join her sire’s bloodline (if any) at Blood Potency 1. At Blood Potency 2, a vampire with which she shares a blood tie may act as Avus. At Blood Potency 3, any vampire of her clan may act as an Avus. At Blood Potency 4, a vampire not of her clan may act as an Avus. An Avus is a sort of mentor. Acting as an Avus into a bloodline requires feeding the prospect at least one point of Vitae. This carries all normal risk of addiction and blood bonds. At Blood Potency 6, vampires may create their own, unique bloodlines. This is to say, all bloodlines were founded by Kindred of Blood Potency 6 or greater. A character may only be part of one bloodline, and cannot leave a bloodline once joined.
Many bloodlines possess unique Disciplines, exclusive Devotions, or strange sorceries. All bloodlines have three Disciplines that are inherent to their Blood: Kindred who join a bloodline can pick a single one of these Disciplines to treat as in-clan (which is to say, all Kindred who join a bloodline have four in-clan Disciplines). A given bloodline may only have one unique Discipline; and nobody outside the bloodline can learn their gift, even through diablerie.
All bloodlines impose an additional bane on their members. Often, these banes are more pronounced and restrictive than their clan counterparts. For example, one ancient Malkavian bloodline takes aggravated damage from sunlight regardless of the member’s Humanity, and one group of Gangrel can only feed from Kindred, from the moment its members adopt the lineage.
Scions and Orphans
Kindred who belong to bloodlines are subdivided into two further categories.
Scions are Kindred who belong to a bloodline and an identifiable parent clan. They have four in-clan Disciplines: three from their parent clan and one chosen from their bloodline. Scions have a bane from their bloodline and a bane from their parent clan.
Orphans are Kindred who belong to a bloodline but have no discernible parent clan. Orphans have three in-clan Disciplines determined by their bloodline. They have only a single bane, again from their bloodline. Some particularly insular bloodlines only accept orphans into their ranks.
GM’s Notes: For those players who aren’t aware, bloodlines are pretty different beasts in VtM and VtR.
In Vampire: The Masquerade, bloodlines are effectively mini-clans. Players choose one for their PC to belong to during character creation, in lieu of a regular clan, and that’s what they play for the rest of the game.
In Vampire: The Requiem, bloodlines are akin to D&D’s prestige classes. PCs begin the game as one of the base clans, and can later join a bloodline. They still remain Kindred of their parent clans.
The GM greatly prefers Requiem’s approach, as it makes membership in bloodlines a character choice rather than an out-of-game player choice. That’s always good. This approach further enables PCs to remain members of the core clans (with all the history, plot hooks, and extended family of Kindred relatives that entails) while still getting to enjoy the “cool factor” of belonging to a bloodline.
What follows are recommendations (though not hard and fast rules) of the clans best suited to particular bloodlines. A few, rarer bloodlines may restrict their membership to a single clan or only to orphans.
• Ahrimanes: Brujah, Gangrel, Ravnos, Setites
• Anda: Brujah, Lasombra, Gangrel
• Baali: Any clan
• Blood Brothers: Brujah, Tremere, Tzimisce
• Children of Osiris: Any clan
• Daughters of Cacophony: Malkavian, Toreador, Ventrue
• Gargoyles: Orphans only
• Jocastians: Malkavians only
• Kiasyd: Any clan
• Lamia: Orphans only
• Lhiannan: Brujah, Gangrel, Malkavian
• Mnemosyne: Malkavians only
• Nagaraja: Orphans only
• Nictuku: Nosferatu only
• Noiad: Gangrel only
• Salubri: Orphans only
• Samedi: Orphans and Nosferatu only
• Telyavs: Gangrel, Nosferatu, Tremere
• Tlacique: Gangrel, Lasombra, Setites
• True Brujah: Orphans only
• Agonistes: Assamite, Lasombra, Malkavian, Salubri, Sangiovanni
• Anvari: Setites, Toreador, Ventrue
• Allucinor: Malkavian, Tremere, Salubri, Sangiovanni
• Architects of the Monolith: Malkavian, Ventrue, Tzimisce
• Baddacelli: Gangrel, Nosferatu, Tzimisce
• Bohagande: Gangrel, Setites, Tremere
• Bron: Lasombra, Salubri, Ventrue
• California Xiao: Brujah, Malkavian, Ravnos, Toreador
• The Carnival: Malkavian, Ravnos, Toreador, Tzimisce
• Children of Judas: Malkavian, Ravnos, Setites, Toreador
• Duchagne: Brujah, Ravnos, Toreador, Ventrue
• Galloi: Nosferatu, Tzimisce
• Gethsemani: Lasombra, Nosferatu, Ravnos
• Gullikans: Setites, Toreador, Tzimisce
• Kallisti: Malkavian, Setites, Toreador, Ventrue
• Khabit: Assamite, Lasombra, Setites
• Kuufukuj: Malkavian, Nosferatu, Salubri, Tzimisce
• Macellarius: Malkavian, Nosferatu, Sangiovanni, Ventrue
• Melissadae: Gangrel, Nosferatu, Ravnos, Tzimisce
• Morotrophian: Malkavian, Nosferatu, Ventrue
• Mortifiers of the Flesh: Any clan
• Nahualli: Lasombra, Malkavian, Ventrue, Ravnos
• Nelapsi: Brujah, Toreador, Tzimisce
• Oberlochs: Gangrel, Nosferatu, Ravnos, Tzimisce
• Players: Gangrel, Malkavian, Tremere, Ravnos
• Qedeshah: Brujah, Malkavian, Toreador, Salubri
• Raskshasa: Gangrel, Nosferatu, Ravnos, Tzimisce
• Rötgrafen: Brujah, Gangrel, Lasombra, Ventrue
• Sta-Au: Any clan
• Taifa: Gangrel, Malkavian, Nosferatu
• Therion: Any clan
• Yagnatia: Gangrel, Nosferatu, Tzimisce, Ventrue