Campaign of the Month: October 2017
Blood & Bourbon
Age, Generation, and Blood Potency
Vampire society is incredibly stratified. Everyone at the top shits over everyone at the bottom, and vampires love nothing more than to put someone else at the bottom.
Consequently, various castes, appellations, and divisions distinguish the Kindred. Most vampires belong to more than one of the following groups, and movement between them can be as liquid as a neonate’s ambition or as calcified as an elder’s habits.
The three most commonly recognized of these groups are age, blood, and generation.
• Age is how old a vampire is. Older vampires are generally more supernaturally powerful than younger vampires, since they’ve had more time to develop their blood-borne gifts, though this isn’t an absolute rule: every vampire’s Requiem is different. Older vampires also tend to wield more political power in Kindred society, as they’ve had more time to amass it. After all, it’s not like they’re ever going to get old and die.
• Blood, measured through the game statistic Blood Potency, is how strong a vampire’s vitae is. While even vampires with low Blood Potency can accomplish feats that would be impossible for mortals, vampires with high Blood Potency can seem nigh-godlike in their power. A vampire’s vitae thickens with age, though it does so faster for some vampires and slower for others: it’s all a matter of what kind of Requiem they’ve led. Blood Potency has a score from 1 to 10, with most vampires falling between 1 and 5.
• Generation is how distantly a vampire is descended from Caine, the mythical first vampire. Generation ranges from 1 (Caine himself) to 13 (the last true-blooded vampires). Only vampires who are “close to Caine” can achieve the highest, godlike levels of Blood Potency. The further a vampire’s descent from Caine, the greater the limit on their potential, no matter how old they survive to be. In effect, generation serves as a “glass ceiling” on Blood Potency. A 10th-generation vampire could have walked the night for a thousand years, but they may still only be as a strong in the Blood as a 7th-generation vampire Embraced a decade ago. Still, that younger vampire would do well not to underestimate their elder’s cunning and experience. Rarely do the weak survive centuries.
Several strata of vampire society must coexist in the Jyhad. These are the stories that swallow one another.
These are the coyote stories.
They are the tales rooted in emotion and the fundamentals of the vampire experience. These are naked fangs running on raw nerves, and moment to moment struggles with the Beast. You’re a monster so close to being human. You are a predator afraid of all the bigger predators. You are afraid of all the things you don’t know, and you don’t know most things. These are the thrilling tales of running. Run, run, run!
Neonates survive night to night, forming loose groups. Mistakes are inevitable. Plans have to change on the turn of the unlucky dime. You are the mutt, the down-and-out, the fleet-footed scavenger staying one step ahead of calamity. Revel in the excitement of the unpredictable. The elder knows what he will be doing in 50 years. You don’t know where you’ll be in 10 minutes. Yours is the desperate power, the x-factor. Everyone else, ancillae on up, will underestimate you. They have their reasons, but you can surprise them. Sometimes it takes just one moment to shake the totem pole. Neonates can even surprise themselves, in wonderful and horrible ways.
In the All-Night Society, the neonates bear the dread weight of all above them. They are the numerous, the expendable. The ancillae influence you, and so do the elders through them. Gravity is the unfair tyrant; blood flows up and shit flows down. If you could just survive another night.
A neonate is a young vampire, one who has not been Kindred very long. Marked by the stigma of not yet having proved themselves to the elders, neonates are generally lightly involved in the true machinations of undead society. They aren’t powerful enough to really matter. They might make something of themselves one night, but more likely, they will fall as pawns in the schemes of older undead.
Conversely, neonates still have an investment in the mortal world of the 21st century and are less likely to adhere to the neo-feudal character of vampiric society. Most Anarchs, vampires who rebel against the oppressive strictures of Camarilla society and seek to tear it down or reform it into something better, are neonates.
Age and Blood Potency: Neonates range in age from fledglings Embraced last night to indolent Kindred many decades old. The definition is somewhat fluid. It’s for however long a vampire is reckoned as “new” to Kindred society by centuries-older predators.
Neonates often have Blood Potency scores of 1 or 2, and rarely 3 or above. In olden times, the childer of methuselahs could start with even higher Blood Potency scores, but these ancient Cainites rarely bestow the Embrace in the Modern Nights.
These are the wolf stories.
These are the tales of politics and the dead community. These are the smooth monsters wearing damnation like a stylish coat. Immortal intrigue, thy name is ancillae. The middle management of the Damned deal in grim hierarchies, predator-and-prey posturing, and the complex social stratum of bloodsuckers. The game turns more subtle, but the ancilla is just savvy enough to get ahead.
You still have the trappings of humanity, but they are weatherworn. The Man might just be a tool to make a cleverer Beast. Innocence is barely a memory. Betrayal is like a frightening ladder; you just take it one rung at a time, and you reach heights you never thought possible.
In the All-Night Society, you are one of the movers and shakers. You have some influence over the clueless neonates, and you better use it, because you’re just smart enough to understand the barest depths of how the elders are using you. Fuck or be fucked. Welcome to the damnation game.
Ranking below the elders but above neonates, the ancillae (singular form: ancilla) are vampires who have cut their teeth (so to speak) and proven themselves as valuable members of Kindred society. Certain ambitious younglings may achieve the status prematurely. Ancillae often serve as aides, agents, and lieutenants for elder Kindred, and—if they’re clever or lucky—will be tomorrow’s elders. Ancillae usually play their own power games as well, though these are of lesser consequence than the manipulations of the elders.
Due to the huge increase in world population over the past few centuries, the vast majority of vampires in the world are ancillae or neonates. Most were created in the modern era, and thus are somewhat alien in temperament to the older Kindred, though neonates can find them distinctly old-fashioned—in much the same way as one’s mortal grandparents or great-grandparents. In more ways than one, ancillae bridge the gap between the neonates and the true elders.
Age and Blood Potency: Ancillae can be anywhere from multiple decades to around two centuries old. There’s no firm benchmark. The Lancea et Sanctum holds that a vampire becomes an ancilla after exactly 70 years of undeath—when they have spent a mortal man’s biblically allotted lifespan in darkness. Another popular benchmark holds that a vampire becomes an ancilla when everyone they knew from their human life dies of old age.
Ancillae generally have Blood Potency scores of 2 to 4. As with neonates, this benchmark was higher in olden times when the Blood of Caine ran stronger.
This is the tiger story.
This is the tale based on ideas and shadowy influence. It is lonely at the top, and the apex predator can afford a little malaise, a little reflection, belly bloated with slaughter. There is enough room and time for turning thoughts inward, and that is a very dangerous place to look. From neonate to ancilla, you have collected a gallery of transcendental horrors. It is only now that you get to tour it.
In the All Night Society, you perch your bulk atop all others. You are a walking conspiracy, spreading influence over a domain, or even a region. You let your voice drift down to the ancillae. You barely notice the neonates. It is hard to identify them as individuals. There is your hungry self, and there are others. What more distinction need be made?
Humanity is a half-forgotten dream. Elders are the unmarked grave of many. The names on the tombstones dotting your shriveled soul are worn nearly smooth. You are no longer just a vampire, you’ve evolved into something alien and inscrutable. You are the pupa for something even more unknowable. All you need to do is survive the long chrysalis, and you might get to spread your terrible wings.
Elders are vampires who have existed for hundreds of years. With centuries of accumulated cunning and a terrible thirst for power, elder Kindred are the most physically active participants in the Jyhad—they do not suffer the long fits of torpor that hamper truly ancient vampires, but they are not so powerless or easily manipulated as the younger Kindred are. Elders are the oldest Kindred that a neonate in the 21st century is realistically likely to meet.
The choices and sacrifices elders have made in order to survive so long instills a degree of amorality and slow caution; it is not unusual for elders to design plans that take decades or centuries before coming to fruition. Elders are often cold, if not monstrous creatures, and focused completely on their own interests and well-being. A rare few struggle to maintain their human sentiments.
There is a long-standing cycle of jealousy, contempt and resentment between elder and younger vampires, being especially pronounced between sires and their childer. Elders often use their greater power and influence to oppress those younger than them out of fear of being outnumbered and replaced, and because most vampires of such age believe they know what’s best in the same way that mortal elders feel that theirs is the better way. Younger vampires naturally chafe under such treatment and grow jealous and resentful of the elders’ positions and power.
Indeed, elders keep a stranglehold on the Kindred power structure, preventing younger vampires from attaining positions of power and influence. It’s like working for the same company all your life: you’ll get steadily promoted over the years if you do well. You might even become CEO. Even if you don’t get to be the boss, someone of your generation will be. But Kindred don’t get old and retire. You’ll spend forever competing with your co-workers for increasingly scarce positions. The C-level executives will never retire and will always treat you like a flunky… unless “something happens” to force one of them out.
Age and Blood Potency: The term “elder” itself is a bit subjective; typically, elders of Europe and the Middle East are much older than those in the New World. A vampire who qualifies as an elder in an American city like Chicago or Dallas might be just another ancilla in Paris or London. Even an elder in an East Coast city like Boston or Philadelphia may snub their nose at the “elders” of West Coast cities like Seattle or Los Angeles.
One of the more broadly accepted definitions for “elder” is around three or so centuries old, before the advent of the Industrial Revolution and its accompanying social changes. At the end of the night, though, an elder is any vampire who’s been around for a long time and proven themselves a master of the Jyhad.
Elders typically have Blood Potency scores of 4 to 7. A few elders of exceptionally high generation may have lower Blood Potency scores, but they often have to work twice as hard and survive for twice as long to be recognized as “real” elders.
This is the Cthulhu story.
You don’t want to hear the rest.
If the Antediluvians are the Kindred’s gods, the terrible methuselahs are demigods and avatars. These ancient creatures are thousands of years old and commonly no longer bear any semblance of humanity. They have long since moved from earthly concerns entirely into the realm of the supernatural. By the time a vampire reaches this age, the weight of millennia sets in, as well as an increased paranoia. Those who are weak or take risks do not survive to this age—only the most indomitable attain the station of methuselah.
As a means of self-preservation, most methuselahs retreat from the world. The constant struggle of facing younger vampires who seek power through the blood of their elders grows numbing. Eventually one of the hungry whelps will get lucky. Thus the only option is to remove themselves from society. Some methuselahs remain involved in the Jyhad’s nightly power struggles, but do so from positions of complete anonymity, hidden behind catspaws, impenetrable disguises, and elder lieutenants. Still other methuselahs play the Jyhad from the cold sleep of torpor, moving their minions with telepathic commands, dream visions, centuries of mental conditioning, and still more terrifying means—methuselahs can wield vast powers that younger vampires only guess at. The fear of Jyhad, that no Kindred may truly call their actions their own, stems from the inexorable dread spawned by the terrible potential of the methuselahs.
Indeed, Kindred greatly fear the methuselahs, who are accorded any number of horrifying characteristics. Rumors speak of methuselahs whose skin has become stone, of everything from hideous disfigurements to unearthly beauty that cannot be looked upon. Some are believed to drink only vampire blood, while others control the fates of entire nations from their cold tombs. Although the power of Caine’s blood falls off this many generations removed from the Dark Father, methuselahs are still grotesquely powerful entities, and godlike in the eyes of a mortal or fledgling vampire.
In olden times, methuselahs openly walked the night and ruled as kings and queens of vast nocturnal empires. The Middle Ages was the last of these eras. Following the triple calamities of the Black Death, Inquisition, and Anarch Revolt, most visible methuselahs were either destroyed, driven into torpor, or withdrew from Kindred society. The upheavals of the time proved that even these mighty Cainites were no longer safe. The newly-formed Camarilla was largely relieved to see them go. Now play they play at Jyhad from the deepest shadows.
Age and Blood Potency: Methuselahs are typically multiple thousands of years old and have Blood Potency scores of 8 or 9. A rare few vampires of comparable age may have lower Blood Potency scores, but such Kindred are often accorded as “mere” elders—it takes extraordinary closeness to Caine and strength in the Blood to make a true methuselah, in addition to simple longevity.
Literally “before the flood” in Latin, the Antediluvians are believed to be those vampires of the Third Generation who are descended from Caine’s original childer. They derive their name from the fact they were allegedly Embraced before the Great Flood. Rumored to be the last vampires “with mastery over life and death,” the Antediluvians are godlike beings and among the most powerful entities in the world. They almost certainly in the grip of millennial torpor—assuming they still exist at all.
According to Kindred legend, there were 13 original Antediluvians (each one of whom founded the great clans), though anywhere from some to all have allegedly been destroyed. Any to have survived have long since sank into the mire of legend. If these Biblical monsters still dwell on earth, they cannot possibly still resemble humans in anything more than physical form. They have been vampires for so long that their urges and desires are wholly alien to human sensibilities, and even to those vampires who have been Kindred for “only” a thousand years or fewer.
The Antediluvians’ eternal struggle, the Jyhad, touches all Kindred, and innumerable layers of manipulation and deception make the plots of these ancients almost imperceptible. Kindred “conspiracy theorists” claim the actions of the Antediluvians range from anything as petty as the acquisition of a piece of artwork to grand schemes involving nations, and almost none are classifiable as the movements of ancients while they’re happening, so subtle are these inhuman master vampires. Those of the Third Generation must by this point be wholly other, split between those who would share the world with mortals and those who would re-make the world so that it quivers beneath their gaze.
Alternatively, some among the Third Generation may have conquered their Beasts through sheer will and eons of accumulated wisdom. Some Kindred hope there are bodhisattva-like figures among the Antediluvians who wish to help other Kindred attain their exalted state. Of course, they, too, must play at Jyhad with the other ancients who do not wish this to come to pass.
The Antediluvians have long since vanished from Kindred society, to the point that even allegedly eyewitness accounts of their activities are now matters of historic record. Most of the remaining Third Generation disappeared around the time of imperial Rome, and many of them were already long gone by then. Some Kindred philosophies prophesy that the Antediluvians will rise from their unquiet slumber and devour their wayward childer during an apocalypse known as Gehenna. Radical—perhaps suicidal—believers in this prophecy advocate destroying the sleeping monsters where they lie, if they can be discovered and destroyed at all.
Age and Blood Potency: It’s anyone’s guess how many eons the Antediluvians may have existed for. Some Kindred scholars have attempted to place their ages, but like so much else about the Third Generation, no one can say for sure. At the end of the night, they are unfathomably ancient. They are assumed to have Blood Potency scores of 10.
Even within a generation, the potency of the Blood varies. As the years pass by, the Blood thickens and matures within the limits of a vampire’s generation. Being Embraced by a powerful sire or braving the foul amaranth provide shortcuts to this power. But with increased potency comes also a price—you require more potent blood to sustain you, and Caine’s curses also become more evident.
Blood Potency increases as a vampire ages, up to the cap imposed by their generation. It’s fluid exactly how long it takes. Approximate times are given below. As a general rule, the more intense a vampire’s experiences, the stronger their predatory instincts, and the more potent the Blood they are exposed to, the faster their Blood Potency increases.
|0||14th and higher||Any; see below|
|1||13th, 12th||Last night to several decades|
|2||11th||Several years to one century|
|3||10th||Several decades to two centuries|
|4||9th||One to three centuries|
|5||8th||Two to five centuries|
|6||7th||Three centuries to a millennium|
|7||6th||Five centuries to two millennia|
|8||5th||One to three millennia|
|9||4th||Two or more millennia|
• Blood Potency 0: You are a thin-blood or ghoul, scorned and dismissed by true vampires, for your Blood will never thicken with age.
Mortals do not have Blood Potency scores of 0. They lack Blood Potency as a trait altogether.
• Blood Potency 1: You are a true vampire, though only barely so according to some elders. Still, your vampiric Blood can accomplish some spectacular things when roused.
• Blood Potency 2: A cut above lesser licks, your Blood sustains your vampiric existence better than theirs. However, blood not fresh from a human vessel starts to lose its power, as it has long since lost its savor.
• Blood Potency 3: For more conservative elder vampires, your Blood has thickened enough to render you no mere lick, but a true Cainite, worthy of consideration and notice. However, even as your Blood bestows great gifts, it nourishes your banes.
• Blood Potency 4: So close, and still so far, you occupy an unenviable position, both exercising lordship over the low and remaining a runt to the high. You require ever-more human gore to slake your Hunger, and you feel your humanity slipping from your red-stained fingers.
• Blood Potency 5: A feared elder by the standards of most vampires, and on the cusp of true elderhood in the eyes of more conservative Cainites, you remain but one tempting step from what many would consider godhood.
• Blood Potency 6 and Greater: These levels of Blood Potency are rare, especially outside of the Old World. With Blood more potent than it is human, these vampires can turn quite alien, both in mind and body. In olden times, many such Kindred were revered as gods.
Atypical Blood Potency Levels
Every rule has its exceptions. The following means are the best-known ones by which vampires can have higher (and lower) Blood Potency than the norm for their ages.
• Generation: As mentioned, a vampire’s generation serves as a glass ceiling on their Blood Potency. An elder could have walked the night for 500 years, but if they are only tenth generation, their vitae cannot thicken beyond Blood Potency 3.
• Diablerie: Vampires who devour the souls of other vampires through foul diablerie can have Blood Potency scores potentially as high as their victims’, irrespective of the vampire’s own age.
• Elder Sires: All vampires (other than thin-bloods) begin their unlives at Blood Potency 1 and only gain more Blood Potency dots with time and experience. Vampires with sufficiently strong-blooded sires, however, start their Requiems with Blood Potency dots equal to (sire’s Blood Potency – 4, minimum 1). Such “privileged” childer enter undeath with a significant advantage, but are also prime targets for diablerie.
• Torpor: One of the best-known effects of torpor is its thinning of the blood. A torpid vampire’s Blood Potency decreases by one dot per story arc, to a minimum of (Blood Potency – 4, and never lower than 1). Elders with superhuman (6+) traits still retain them, regardless of their adjusted Blood Potency score.
A vampire’s diminished Blood Potency returns to normal at the rate of one dot per story arc after the vampire wakes up. Exposure to significantly more potent vitae can accelerate this process. Diablerizing another vampire can immediately restore the formerly torpid vampire’s Blood Potency to (victim’s Blood Potency + 2). For this reason, many elders greatly fear the awakening of their grandsires.
All vampires gain their unholy prowess from the Blood, but not all blood is equal. The closer a vampire is to their mythic progenitor Caine, the greater the potential of their vitae. Vampires talk of generation, with Caine (and perhaps Lilith) as the mythic progenitor of the first generation. Following a vampire’s Embrace, they rise from death one generation higher—one generation weaker—than their sire. Thus the Antediluvians, childer of childer of Caine, comprise the third generation, their childer becoming the fourth generation, their childer becoming the fifth generation; and so on and so forth up through the distant thirteenth generation that makes up the last true-blooded vampires. A vampire’s Embrace sets their generation, and through it, their maximum possible Blood Potency. Only through the forbidden act of diablerie, by consuming the Blood and very soul of another vampire, can generation be changed.
|14th+||0: vampire is a thin-blood|
|13th||1, and sires thin-bloods|
Although generation conceptually has only a finite number of gradations, the significance of the generations is more important than a mere ordinal number. Certain generations correspond to certain social distinctions of the Damned, and a Kindred’s generation may mark them for a vast and terrible destiny or as the harbinger of a dread fate.
A vampire’s generation does not necessarily indicate their age. An elder might have sired a vampire of the tenth generation when Columbus sailed; a methuselah could have begotten a vampire of the sixth generation last year.
Caine has the dubious honor of being the first among the damned, the malignant seed from which all other Cainites claim their heritage. He is regarded as the first generation. Caine had no sire: legend holds that he was cursed directly by God.
The Second Generation
The most widely acknowledged version of the Book of Nod claims the number of second-generation Kindred is three. In its chronicles, Caine Embraced these unknowable ancients to dwell with him in his great city of Enoch and give him succor. Given to the “Antediluvian” moniker of the Third Generation, those Kindred who delve into such mysteries assume that the Second Generation was slain either during the Deluge or in the kinslayer times following the Flood. As one might expect, all those of age are reluctant to speak of their sires and the great strife that overcame them all. Undoubtedly, some know more than they are revealing.
Were any of the Second Generation still in existence today, they would be impossibly powerful beings. Some clans claim that their progenitors are in fact members of the Second Generation rather than the Third Generation, as is commonly assumed of clan founders. These claims are viewed as everything from prideful boasts to foulest heresy by those who place great stock in matters regarding Kindred origin.
The Third Generation
Numerous terrifying tales of the Third Generation exist, though the names of only two, Lucian and Mekhet, are widely known. Tonight, they are referred to as the Antediluvians, and they are the founders of the 13 great clans. If any survive, they remain hidden, intentionally obscured by the depredations of the Jyhad. They may still exist, collectively or in some fraction of their original number, but now instead of openly warring as the Book of Nod recounts, they move in a deeper struggle. Indeed, Jyhad seems to be their primary engagement, as they jealously thwart whatever moves their opponents make.
The original Third Generation was sired countless eons ago by their long-vanished sires. There will be no more. However, the Tremere and Giovannini clan founders are believed to have committed diablerie upon two Antediluvians in order to lower themselves to the Third Generation. By these acts, their bloodlines were elevated to full clan status: every true clan possesses an Antediluvian founder. (It should be noted most neonates and many ancillae believe the Tremere and Giovannini clans have always been “true” clans.) Technically, the Tremere and Giovannini founders would not be “real” Antediluvians, as they do not actually predate the Great Flood—but what is age against the ingenuity, ruthlessness, and burning ambition to diablerize one of these godlike terrors?
Fourth and Fifth Generations
The majority of fourth- and fifth-generation vampires are methuselahs, and they are nearly as powerful and secretive as the Antediluvians. Most were sired long ago and their numbers have dwindled throughout millennia of conflict with each other and greater, darker entities. Few of this generation remain active. Most methuselahs retire into ages-long slumber beneath the earth, where they may avoid attempts at diablerie by lesser Kindred. Eventually one of the whelps will get lucky. Others seek refuge among shadowy cults and conspiracies unknowable to younger vampires. The Inner Circle of the Camarilla is also rumored to consist of multiple methuselahs. Some critics believe that the true purpose of the sects is to blunt the efforts of the Third Generation to manipulate the younger generations.
The fourth generation is no longer being sired. The Antediluvians have long since sank into the mire of legend, and even their youngest childer were Embraced long ago. As to the fifth generation, some are creatures almost as ancient as their sires, and a handful were Embraced as late as medieval times. Most hail from eras long past. No new Kindred of such close descent from Caine are known to have emerged in the Modern Nights.
Sixth, Seventh, and Eighth Generations
Most elders hail from these generations of Kindred. Unlike the methuselahs of the fourth and fifth generation, these vampires remain deeply involved in Kindred society. Their movements dominate the nightly actions of the Camarilla, Sabbat, and independent clans (at least to hear them tell it), and their numbers comprise the majority of Kindred society’s ruling elite.
• Sixth-generation elders are considered the pinnacle of Camarilla society. Many justicars and princes and primogen of major Old World cities hail from this generation and boast as to the strength of their Blood. Kindred of this generation are rarely encountered in the New World. Many American neonates will not ever cross paths with a vampire so close to Caine.
• Seventh-generation elders occupy a similar position of lordship in the New World: they are the strongest-blooded vampires that an American neonate is realistically likely to encounter. They still become princes and primogen in the Old World, though their sixth-generation peers hold an advantage over them.
• Eighth-generation elders can likewise go far in the New World, and many American princes and primogen hail from this generation. Elders in the Old World may subtly condescend them, for their Blood cannot fully transcend the limitations of mortality as the seventh and earlier generations can.
It should also be noted that while most elders are of the sixth through eighth generations, not all Kindred of these generations are elders. Most members of the sixth generation were Embraced centuries ago, as few fifth-generation Kindred remain both active and inclined to sire new childer. The sixth generation, however, remain visible figures in the Old World and continue to Embrace new progeny. Thus, the seventh generation is the earliest generation that ancillae and even neonates continue to hail from in the 21st century. Elder sires are often quite choosy in selecting their progeny, though, and only a fraction of tonight’s neonates are Embraced into such potent blood. Eighth-generation ancillae and neonates are more common (though still a minority), and in many New World cities, represent the lowest generation that a new childe can realistically expect to be Embraced into.
Colloquially, elders of the eighth generation seem to be the last Kindred described as elders by those even older than they. Perhaps it is because many of them were created before the modern age, and that is evident in their manner and bearing. Then again, perhaps it is very dry sarcasm directed toward everyone below the rank of an irascible methuselah.
Ninth and Tenth Generations
Kindred of these generations are considerably more common than the sixth through eighth. Many ancillae and neonates hail from these generations. Fewer elders do. Their Blood is still close enough to Caine to become fairly potent with age, but a glass ceiling starts to close in. They are the “middle class” of the Damned.
• Ninth-generation Kindred in American cities still feel at liberty to proclaim the strength of their Blood to neonates and ancillae. Those who survive enough centuries to be reckoned as elders, though, often need to work harder than any lower-generation peers: more conservative Kindred don’t consider them “true” elders. Ninth-generation Kindred still manage to become princes and primogen in American cities (especially newer ones), but there’s rarely room for them in the Old World.
• Tenth-generation Kindred don’t boast of their Blood’s strength except to those weaker than they. In Kindred society’s eyes, their potential in the Blood is thoroughly average, neither strong nor weak. Conservative elders consider the tenth generation the last one with the potential to become true Cainites, not eternal whelps. These Kindred are unlikely to ever be accorded as true elders, though: just seasoned ancillae, no matter how many centuries they survive. The Blood of Caine runs too thin.
Eleventh, Twelfth, and Thirteenth Generations
The Blood of Caine grows weak indeed in these final generations of Kindred. They may outnumber the preceding generations by over four to one, but the majority of these vampires are neonates. Few survive to become elders, for their weak vitae puts them at a disadvantage against stronger-blooded rivals. Here the glass ceiling starts to bear oppressively low. These vampires are the lower class of Kindred society, though many of them are products of the modern age and believe their personal worth is not determined by their Blood. Anarch sentiments run stronger in these generations than any of the preceding ones.
• The eleventh generation represents a precarious bottleneck between ancillae and Kindred who are essentially permanent neonates: the eleventh is the final generation of Kindred whose Blood can still thicken with age, albeit to a level condescended by more conservative elders. Vampires of this generation can still achieve prominent positions in Kindred society, but often have to work twice as hard as their lower-generation peers.
• The twelfth generation is a second bottleneck and much worse off than eleventh. The Blood of these vampires will never grow stronger with age, no matter how many centuries they survive. Elders and even ancillae see Kindred of this generation as little better than eternal childer. Their only saving grace is that they can still sire true-blooded progeny of their own… though many princes are disinclined to grant permission to such weak-blooded vampires. Elders may reward such Kindred for useful service, and even treat them with courtesy, but they will always be servants: never peers. Their distance from Caine is an eternal glass ceiling in the Camarilla.
• The thirteenth generation, in the dry words of one elder, “are the last generation worth the oil it will take to roast them in Hell.” In addition to sharing the feeble vitae of their sires, they suffer a further drawback: they cannot sire true progeny of their own. Any childe Embraced by one of these Kindred will become a thin-blood, a creature as much mortal as vampire. It is with the thirteenth generation that the eternal Curse of Caine finally exhausts itself… or at least approaches that event horizon. Many neonates of this generation are ignorant of how weak their Blood is and Embrace progeny without knowing what they do.
The Fourteenth and Higher Generations: Thin-Bloods
Vampires of these generations are known as thin-bloods. The Curse of Caine becomes an almost border condition for these wretched creatures, who are as much mortal as vampire. Thin-bloods are supposedly immune to many of the weaknesses that plague true-blooded undead: various (sometimes contradictory) accounts claim they are unharmed by sunlight, can ignore the Beast’s murderous impulses, can sire or bear mortal children, and a host of other strange tales. Yet the final generations are also pitifully weak by the standards of full-blooded vampires, and barely stronger than mere mortals. Some are said not even have proper fangs. Thin-bloods were all but unknown for most of Kindred history, but experienced an enormous population explosion in the years leading up to the turn of the millennium. Elders disgusted and alarmed by their very existences responded with a policy of genocide that only officially abated in 2011, and still persists in some more conservative cities.
Generation is not without dangers. Generation equals raw power potential, and Kindred of higher generation seek the power of their elders. By slaking one’s thirst on the heart’s blood of a vampire of lower generation—drinking the vampire’s soul in a transgression known as diablerie—a Kindred can lower their own generation.
Naturally, the elders hate and fear diablerie, and knowledge of the foul deed is unknown to most neonates and many ancillae in the Camarilla (though it would surprise these younger Kindred to discover how many elders attained their own generational potency by destroying their own sires and elders). Also known as amaranth, diablerie is the greatest crime a Kindred can commit against another vampire.
At least in some circumstances. In others, diablerie is not only permitted but encouraged. For example, a prince who declares a blood hunt may decree that those who diablerize the outcast will be pardoned. Further, in the Sabbat and in certain Anarch domains, diablerie is an acceptable (and even honored) method of promotion and advancement. After all, if a vampire lets themselves be diablerized, well, they must have been too weak to use their power effectively.
Full article: Diablerie.
Benefits of Blood Potency
Blood Potency has a number of benefits, including:
• Reduced Rouse Costs: Using many Devotion requires the vampire to make a Rouse check, potentially costing them precious blood and increasing their Hunger. Vampires with higher Blood Potency than the dot rating of the Devotion they use, however, pay no Rouse cost (or for a few Devotions, a reduced cost). This allows the vampire to draw on their lesser Blood-borne gifts as often as they want and to save their vitae for other things, like healing injuries or fueling their more powerful Devotions.
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• Supernatural Tolerance: Blood Potency adds to a vampire’s dice rolls to resist Disciplines and other supernatural powers used against them. For example, when an NPC vampire tries to use Presence to fill a PC vampire with unreasoning terror, the PC rolls Resolve + Composure + Blood Potency to resist. The higher a vampire’s Blood Potency, the harder they are to affect with supernatural powers.
• Clashes of Wills: When two Disciplines or other supernatural powers directly clash with one another, the PC rolls (power’s dot rating) + Blood Potency to see which power wins out. For example, if a PC vampire with Auspex tries to locate an NPC vampire hiding with Obfuscate, the PC rolls Auspex + Blood Potency against a DC equal to (1/2 NPC’s [Obfuscate + Blood Potency]) + 1.
• Stronger Ghouls: The maximum dot rating a ghoul may learn in any Discipline is equal to their domitor’s Blood Potency. For this reason, “hand-me-down” ghouls from elder vampires can be highly prized commodities among neonates and ancillae.
• Other Powers: Blood Potency improves various other powers innate to vampires, such as…
• Blood Sympathy: Blood Potency adds to blood sympathy rolls, allowing the vampire to more easily sense and communicate with their Kindred relatives.
• Blood Surge: Vampires gain a bonus up to their Blood Potency on Physical dice rolls when they use Blood Surge. While a vampire with Blood Potency 1 can only gain a +1 bonus (the difference between a 98-pound weakling and a human of average strength), a vampire with Blood Potency 4 can gain up to a +4 bonus (the difference between a 98-pound weakling and one of the strongest men on earth). Even physically weak vampires with high Blood Potency can temporarily become physical powerhouses if they’re willing to spend enough blood.
• Devotion Immunity: Some Devotions are unable to affect vampires with equal or higher Blood Potency than the Devotion’s user, or else have reduced effects.
• Predatory Aura: Blood Potency adds to a vampire’s predatory aura rolls, making them more likely to win these contests of dominance. Many disputes among vampires can be nonviolently resolved with a predatory aura roll.
• Social Benefits: Finally, not least of all, Blood Potency is respected among the Kindred. High Blood Potency makes a vampire taken more seriously, potentially justifying higher Status. At the end of the night, vampires deal with one another on a comparative power basis and respect Blood Potency as the “purest” form of vampiric power.
Benefits of Elder Blood Potency
Yet for all these benefits, elder levels of Blood Potency (6 or more dots) offer even greater powers, including:
• Increased Trait Maximums: While vampires with Blood Potency scores of 0-5 can “merely” raise their Attributes, Skills, and Disciplines as high as 5, vampires with elder Blood Potency level can raise these traits to a dot rating equal to their Blood Potency, achieving truly superhuman levels of aptitude and talent. An elder with Intelligence 6 is more brilliant than Einstein; an elder with Melee 7 makes Miyamoto Musashi look like an amateur.
• Elder Disciplines: Elders with six or more dots in a Discipline can develop Devotions with equal dot ratings. These awesome powers, which are completely unavailable to weaker Kindred, frequently break the rules for how a Discipline is “supposed” to work or else amplify its effects to a massive scale; Michael of Constantinople’s iconic Presence Devotion (A Perfect World), for example, allowed him to permanently enspell an entire city’s mortal and Kindred population into building his dream of heaven on earth. The exact nature and capabilities of these powers are often shrouded in mystery to younger vampires, for the elders guard them jealousy. They are used less openly in the Modern Nights than in prior eras, but their mere existence can act as a deterrent to other Kindred.
• Elder Ghouls: Ghouls who have outlived their mortal lifespans can develop Blood Potency dots at a level equal to (domitor’s Blood Potency – 5), making them more useful servants to their masters. Blood Potency confers a number of benefits to ghouls.
• Stronger Childer: As described earlier, newly-Embraced vampires start their Requiems with Blood Potency scores equal to (sire’s Blood Potency’s – 4).
Drawbacks of Blood Potency
No power comes without price. Blood Potency carries a number of drawbacks, including:
• Increased Hunger: Vampires cannot reduce their Hunger below (5 or Blood Potency, whichever is less) without killing mortals or drinking the blood of supernatural creatures. While vampires with high Blood Potency often have larger herds and domains, and can draw upon Disciplines more freely, it also takes stronger blood or deeper feedings to fully slake their thirst.
• Feeding Restrictions: Cold blood, bagged or stored blood, and blood from animals decrease its “grade” by one step per vampire’s Blood Potency. Vampires gain the benefits of a light feeding from a deep feeding at Blood Potency 1, a dangerous feeding at Blood Potency 2, and a fatal feeding at Blood Potency 3. Vampires with Blood Potency 4+ gain no sustenance from such paltry fare.
• Banes: Vampires develop an extra bane for every Blood Potency dot beyond their first. These supernatural weaknesses are the figurative gaps in the dragon’s scales, and have spelled the end of more than Kindred elder at the hands of weaker but well-prepared foes.
• Daysleep: Vampires’ blood weighs them down during the day, imposing a penalty equal to their Blood Potency dots on all dice rolls.
• Sunlight: Vampires with high Blood Potency burn more quickly in sunlight.
• Torpor: Age and Blood Potency both incline a vampire towards torpor. There is no firm game mechanic for this, but the stronger a vampire’s blood, the stronger (and the more frequent) torpor’s call. Many methuselahs spend significant portions of their Requiems in slumber; some of these hoary vampires have been asleep for thousands of years. Conversely, weaker-blooded elders are known to be some of the most active Kindred for their age. Kindred scholars postulate that vitae psychophysiologically “weighs down” vampires, especially over great lengths of time, and that weaker blood poses less of a burden.
Does it Matter?
“Everyone hates the pontifex, Davis, even the ones happily licking his boots. I imagine the pontifex even hates himself when he looks in the mirror. He’s a relatively competent thaumaturgist for someone of his age, but nothing special. He has risen to his position mainly through aggressive politicking combined with low generation, an accident of birth that gave him social benefits he’s done nothing to deserve except survive his peers. Give our pontifex my blood and the face of a Nosferatu and he’d be mopping floors.”
Monica Chang, 11th-generation Tremere ancilla (subsequently turned Anarch)
“[Some Kindred] refer to all high-generation neonates as thin-blooded. This is merely the prejudice of age and generation against youth. Of course Kindred of the 13th generation are weaker than Kindred of the eighth! Of course Kindred sired five years ago are weaker than those sired five centuries ago!”
“Yet the differences are of degree, not of kind. Only the veriest idiot would read some moral lesson into these simple facts—or dismiss a fellow Cainite as somehow inconsequential, or unworthy of their Blood, because of age and generation. Any prudent vampire realizes that power comes far more from intellect and experience than from innate strength of the Blood. An astute neonate of the 13th generation makes a far better ally than a fool of the eighth who has dwelt under his sire’s protection for the past century.”
Dr. Douglas Netchurch, 7th-generation Malkavian ancilla
“It is our choices that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.”
Albus Dumbledore, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
Age, Blood Potency, and (especially) generation do not equate to competence, intelligence, badassitude, moral character, or other types of personal worth. This fact is easy for players and even writers to forget. Masquerade has countless published low-generation NPCs who are Machiavellian badasses.
One of the GM’s favorite published NPCs is a 5th-generation elder who’s a spineless coward. His Blood makes him strong enough to drive off many would-be diablerists, and he’s intensely paranoid about his personal survival, so he hasn’t fallen prey to amaranth. But for the most part, he’s a reactive character who never takes initiative or gets the better of a social situation. Other characters push him around and coerce him into doing things he doesn’t want to do, often to his centuries-long regret. He’s a haunted man broken by past traumas who just wants to be left alone. He aspires to no higher goal than survival. He hasn’t achieved significant rank or influence in his sect, even though his sectmates know how powerful his vitae is. They know he’s a coward.
The GM really likes this character. He often thinks Masquerade would benefit from more of them.