Campaign of the Month: October 2017
Blood & Bourbon
Blood Bonds (New)
“I was never insane except upon occasions when my heart was touched.”
Edgar Allen Poe
“Take some of my blood, into the bowl you have, and mix in these berries and these herbs, and drink deep of the elixir.
You will be irresistible.
You will be potent.
You will be masterful.
You will be ardent.
You will be glowing.
The heart of Zillah will melt like the snows in spring.”
The Book of Nod, Zillah’s Tale
“Can you imagine that, by the way? Being forced to love someone, forever? Knowing that the love you have for them—which is so strong you’ll kill or die for this person—is a lie, a damnably induced lie? Hating them and loving them all the same time, and not being able to do a damned thing about it?”
One of the most wondrous and terrible properties of Kindred vitae is its ability to enslave nearly any being who drinks of it three times. Each sip of a particular Kindred’s blood gives the Kindred in question a greater emotional hold over the drinker. If someone drinks three times, on three separate nights, from the same Kindred, they fall victim to a state known as the blood bond. A vampire who holds a blood bond over another being is said to be that victim’s regnant, while the being subordinate to the bond is called the thrall.
Put simply, the blood bond is one of the most potent emotional sensations known. A blood bound victim is absolutely devoted to their regnant and will do nearly anything for them. Even the most potent uses of Dominate cannot overcome the thrall’s feelings for their regnant; only true love stands a chance against the bond, and even that is not a sure thing.
The blood bond is most commonly used to ensnare mortals and ghouls, but Kindred can bind each other as well. Such is the blood bond’s power that a mighty elder can be bound to a lowly neonate; in this respect, the blood of a thirteenth-generation fledgling is (presumably) as strong as that of Caine himself. As such, the blood bond forms an essential strategy in the Jyhad; some ancients are said to hold dozens of influential Kindred in secret thrall.
“I still can’t believe that I did it. I had never given him a second glance before, and why would I? In my six years since my Embrace I made a point of keeping my privacy and staying out of the Jyhad as much as possible. So why on earth would I cozy up to him at Elysium? I can’t stand those harpies, but here I am, chatting like a teenager about things I have not talked about to anyone before. About mom’s accident, about the time I nearly saw the sunrise and about that woman I killed last winter. OMG! I can’t believe I told him that.”
“I don’t know what happened, but it just seemed so easy to talk to him. I guess I needed to. So I did and then, just like that, there it was. I didn’t even see him do it, but all of a sudden I realize that his neck is bleeding, and he gently pulls my head to him. I really can’t believe I did it, I just can’t. I’ve heard so many stories, but it just seemed so right at the time.”
“It was amazing. Really. I mean, I don’t think sex was ever that good. His blood made my usual supper seem like a bologna sandwich by comparison. It was so thick, so unbelievably sweet, but it also burned like a shot of 151 or something. I was light-headed for at least a few minutes, ‘cause I didn’t even notice stopping.”
“He pushed me away, but so gently, and I just focused on his eyes, at how deep and dark they were, and how perfectly clear, like I could see things I never dreamed before. It was like we really knew each other, even though he really didn’t say much about himself, but it didn’t matter. What happened that night was so incredible, it doesn’t seem real.”
“I kept on thinking about him, again and again. It was sort of like when a guy at a bar started talking to me, a guy I really didn’t find attractive, but then later, after a few drinks, I realize this guy is so hot on some weird level and the next thing I know I’m making out with him. I don’t know why, but it’s just one of those things. Wow.”
The drinker begins to experience intermittent but strong feelings about the vampire. They may dream of their regnant, or find themselves “coincidentally” frequenting places where their regnant might show up. The drinker wants to be close to the vampire and desires their approval.
Have you ever felt a crush, that butterflies-in-the-stomach feeling, but for someone you know you shouldn’t want to have anything to do with? Have you ever kissed someone, and loved it at the time, then regretted it later, only to know you were going to do it again and love it just as much? That’s what the first stage of the bond feels like. It’s not love. It couldn’t convince anyone but maybe an inexperienced teen that they’re in love. But it pulls you and makes you want. It makes you want to be close to your regnant. It makes you want their approval.
A single sip of vitae is usually not enough to create anything more than a pleasant, lasting impression of the experience that will color the character’s attitude toward the donor for a time. The character will never again look at that other the same, though this will not actually dictate how the two interact in the future. Still, all things being equal, the drinker may dwell often on that taste of vitae and often flirt with the idea of what it might be like to revisit the experience again, likely with the same Kindred. Even if the character is fully bound to a regnant already and, therefore, unable to ever share that kind of real bond with this new donor, she will still discover these kinds of thoughts and fantasies after a single taste and wonder about what could be.
A first-stage bond inspires friendliness. The victim will look upon you favorably and hear what you have to say. They want to hang out in the future but they’re not going to go out of their way for you. If you act creepy, a first-stage bond is not going to compel someone to get into your car.
Imagine you are a vampire. All you know is death and cruelty and paranoia. Then along comes this person. This person is another vampire. They take you, feed you, and at the first drink of precious liquid, something happens that you’ve never felt before. All of a sudden there is a spark of warmth in your miserable and tragic existence. It is like a sheer comfy haze that starts to envelop you and makes you feel safe. You feel that pull of the comfy place.
Kindred blood also loses its bonding properties after it’s been exposed to the air for more than several seconds. Kindred lovers often take advantage of this fact to practice “safe sex,” although it is less pleasurable than drinking straight from the source.
It’s even possible for Kindred to maintain ghouls without blood bonding them in this manner. Almost no vampires do so, and many ghouls have no idea that it’s even possible to avoid becoming bound to their domitors.
“What am I doing? Am I crazy or what? I really didn’t think I’d ever do it again, and certainly not with him, but there you go. I did it.”
“Truth is, it was even more amazing than the first time. I bumped into him in Seraph’s club. Okay, I didn’t really bump into him. I mean, yeah, I was hoping he might be there. But honestly, I didn’t think I’d do anything; just check him out, see who he’s with, maybe say “hi” or something. That’s it. I figured that even if I did want more he’d just laugh at me anyway, if not openly, at least in a way that made it clear that I was pretty much out of my league. But he didn’t.”
“He took me aside and actually surprised me when he asked if I wanted to go somewhere else with him. I don’t even remember what I said, but before I knew it we were in his place. I don’t know how he manages it, but he’s got a view of downtown and the river that I would literally kill for. And the art . . . damn. The guy has taste, I’ll give him that. He’s no simple poser, that’s for sure.”
“Then it happened, without prelude, which I realized later only made it that much more erotic. He leaned against the window and pulled me to him so that as I drank my eyes were fixed on the rain blurring the city lights beyond. It was so surreal, so absolutely perfect, as if he knew my every thought and understood what would move me and enflame my soul.”
“Damn, I’m still trembling just thinking about that moment when the rush of vitae filled my thirsty mouth, as my tongue swam in his fiery essence, as he fed my soul with his most precious of gifts. Drunk, high, sexually aroused, no, but something far better. He gave himself to me in a way that no one living can, and he did it completely, selflessly, trusting me to take only enough. I didn’t even want to wake up the next night because even that seemed like a vulgar waste of his vitae.”
“I wanted to keep it all inside, every drop he allowed me to have, and hold onto it forever. What does it mean now? Will he see me again? Will he want my own blood? Are we lovers? Argh! This is so stupid. Stop it, stop it, stop it. I have to let him decide, give him space, see what happens. But it’s driving me crazy I don’t know if I can wait for him to decide. I don’t know.”
The drinker’s feelings grow strong enough to influence their behavior. Though they are by no means enslaved yet, the vampire definitely an important figure in their life. The drinker may act as they please, but might feel the bond’s pull when they attempt to take actions directly harmful to the vampire. The vampire’s influence is such that they can persuade or command the drinker with little effort.
Have you ever felt complete and utter tension when simply thinking about someone? Have you ever made a stupid excuse to run off and touch yourself to get rid of that tension? Have you ever blushed when someone’s name came up, then lashed out when someone accused you of having feelings for them? This is what the second stage of the bond feels like. It’s easy to confuse for love. It’s a strong, pervasive affection that makes you vulnerable, and keeps you persistently wanting more.
The second sip, or, more precisely, the sip that triggers that second degree of the bond, creates a far greater and longer-lasting impression than the first. The character is no longer able to easily dismiss the donor from their thoughts, but is instead regularly plagued by an infatuation with the individual that can last years, decades, and even longer. No artificial sense of love accompanies this stronger bond, but the character nonetheless finds themselves drawn to the donor. If the two are in proximity to one another, even if protocol requires them to maintain a physical or social distance, the character will find their attention continually returning to the other.
Only a real effort of will can enable her to fully focus their attention elsewhere. Even when the two are apart, they will replay intimate encounters over and over and entertain detailed fantasies about similar possible future trysts. They do not feel a sense of obedience to their supplier, but they will willingly desire to please and likely wish to explore greater intimacy.
A second-stage bond inspires strong positive feelings. The victim would want to date you if it were an option. They’re happy to accept moderate inconveniences for your benefit, and larger inconveniences with some persuasion. They still have their own life and responsibilities and they won’t drop everything for you. They think of you often and look forward to seeing you.
On the second drink you feel it again. Only the comfy place is more comfy and you start to feel the draw to it. It is a safe place—a place to forget all your problems. And this wonderful person is offering it to you.
“I once believed I knew what love was. I thought I knew it with Jason, and later with Alex. God, I was so wrong.”
“Last night I finally realized that. Maybe what I did was stupid, maybe some night I’ll regret what happened, but right now it seems like the most perfect thing of all. In some ways it’s like seeing the sun rise again, but instead of a burning agony I feel a burning energy that makes even the smallest thing seem better.”
“I stayed away from him for so long. It took every ounce of my will, but I did, I gave him his space and didn’t embarrass him in front of his coterie. But after all the shit that happened in the past few days, I didn’t know what else to do. If I didn’t talk to someone I was going to go mad, and of all the Kindred he knows me best, even if our time together has been so fleeting. I knew he understood me, and I knew he would see me.”
“He didn’t judge my actions or their consequences, but just listened and then calmed me down, saying he’d make sure things would be okay. He made a few quick phone calls and assured me that there would be nothing to worry about. I would have done anything for him then, anything, he so saved my ass. I probably looked like shit and I know he realized how hungry I was, but he didn’t pressure me. He just asked me if he could help, and without words he saw the answer in my pleading eyes.”
“I don’t really know how to describe it. The taste was the same, but the way he held me, the way he stroked my dirty hair, the way he moaned as I drank long and deep, was more exciting than anything I have ever known or could imagine. I felt things that I will never fully understand, but I know they were real, and still are.”
“Last night he gave himself to me, completely, this ancilla placed his Requiem in my trembling, fragile hands, and showed me the real meaning of love. There is no turning back now. My heart is his as surely as the sun will rise and set. We are bound until the last night as nothing else can bind us, his vitae nourishing me on every conceivable level and providing a salve against the worst of the Jyhad.”
“One night he will wish for my vitae, too, and he will find no resistance, no hesitation. It is his to take and command, forever, whatever may come. Last night I found love, and tonight and every night forward my love will be my armor, my shield and my sword, the taste of his blood always on my lips. I love you, and I know you love me, too.”
Full-scale blood bond. At this level, the drinker is more or less completely bound to the vampire. They are the most important person in the drinker’s life; lovers, relatives, and even children become secondary to the drinker’s all-consuming passion.
The blood bond is true love, albeit a twisted and perverse version of it. Ultimately, we can’t reduce the vagaries of love down to a simple “yes/no” system. Some thralls (particularly the weak-willed) will commit any act, including suicide or murder, for their beloved; other characters have certain core principles that they will not violate.
Has someone’s name alone make you bite your lower lip in anticipation? Has it ever aroused you to imagine their reaction to something you’ve done? Have you ever sabotaged something that could have been special, for fear of its intrusion between you and them? Has your brain gone wild, imagining the worst possible scenario when they meet someone new? Have you ever thought to intervene in order to protect what you have? Have you ever tried to agitate them, because their irritation is better than their neglect? This is the feeling of a full blood bond. It’s nothing short of infatuation. It’s a tantalizing, forceful affection that always eats at the back of your mind.
The third sip of Vitae, or the one that pushes the character over the edge, firmly condemns them to true thralldom. Although the feelings they now experience toward their regnant are wholly artificial in nature, they are as strong or stronger than the bonds of true mortal love. Their will is thoroughly dominated by their regnant’s, though they rarely are able to see it this way.
From their perspective, they love their blood donor, and any submission on their part is entirely voluntary and founded on that love. This is the kind of love experienced by a prostitute for the pimp who supplies her all the drugs she needs to feed her addictions. Even though he may beat her and treat her like trash, she will defend him with all her will no matter the risk, so warped is her understanding of the reality of their relationship.
Anything that threatens to come between
thrall and regnant will cause the thrall to experience powerful feelings of anger, jealousy, hatred, and vengeance, as well as desperation, helplessness, shame, and self-loathing. These latter emotions are usually conveniently buried beneath the others, as the thrall rarely imagines any way to actually get out of their state of enslavement. In fact, they are usually quite convinced that this is exactly what they wanted in the first place. Their regnant is theirs, and this at least gives them something to hold onto as their increasingly bleak Requiem plays on.
A third-stage bond inspires obsession. The victim has great difficulty not thinking about you. They will take enormous risks to make you happy. If shunned, they will likely have an extreme reaction ranging from despondency to violence. Long-standing third-stage bonds in negative relationships can result in the victim’s suicide and/or the final death of their regnant.
On the third drink, you are completely enveloped in the comfy haze. You are safe. This wonderful person has come into your life and made all the pain go away. They gave you a place to feel protected and not alone. This person makes sure that you are always warm and cozy. Every time you drink from them, the haze further sucks you in, making you warmer and cozier.
When you feel the cozy place may be taken away, it becomes cold and painful. The haze starts to part and you can see a little bit outside, but not much. You start to think maybe this might not be a cozy place after all and maybe you should try to get out.
Then the wonderful person comes back and shows you the cozy place again and you feel warm and safe again. So you drink again, knowing that it is probably a bad thing. You hate yourself for doing it, but it is just too warm and cozy to resist. At this point you are sucked into a downward spiral and each time you climb a few stairs along the spiral, the light at the top of the stairs gets smaller and smaller until you just can’t see it anymore. At this point you are so deep into the cozy place, that nothing else matters.
Living Under the Bond
The Crone laughed aloud.
She had tricked him! She had trapped him!
Caine was angry beyond compare.
Caine reached out with his powers, to rend this Crone apart with his strength.
The Crone cackled and said, “Do not.”
And Caine could do nothing against her.
The Crone chuckled and said, “Love me.”
And Caine could do nothing but stare into her ancient eyes, desire her leathery skin.
The Book of Nod, Zillah’s Tale
A full blood bond, once formed, is nearly inviolate. Once bound, a thrall is under the sway of their regnant and their regnant only. They cannot be bound again by another vampire unless the first blood bond wears away “naturally.” A vampire can experience lesser (one- and two-drink) bonds toward several individuals; indeed, many Kindred enjoy such bonds, as they create artificial passion in their dead hearts. Upon the formation of a full blood bond, though, all lesser sensations are wiped away. Vampire lovers occasionally enter into mutual blood bonds with each other; this is the closest thing many of the undead will feel to true love. Even this sensation can turn to disgust or hate over the centuries, though, and in any event few Kindred trust each other enough to initiate it.
A blood bond is a mighty force, but it is at its most potent when perpetually reinforced with further drinks. Feeding a thrall often reinforces the bond, while depriving a thrall of vitae may cause the bond to grow tepid over time. Like any other relationship, treatment and courtesy play a part in the dynamics of the bond. A thrall who is treated well and fed often will likely fall even more deeply in love, while a thrall who is degraded and humiliated may find resentment and anger eating away at the bond.
A blood bond can reinforce other powers of the Blood. It’s far easier for a regnant to command their thrall with the Disciplines of Presence and Dominate. When using the latter, a regnant may command their thrall through voice alone, without the need for eye contact.
What is the Bond?
“I have made you powerful. Caine of Enoch, Caine of Nod, but you will forever be bound to me.
I have made you master of all, but you will never forget me!
Your blood, potent as it is now, will bond those who drink it, as you did, once a night for three nights.
You will be the master.
They will be your thrall, as you are mine.”
The Book of Nod, Zillah’s Tale
Kindred do not agree on precisely what the blood bond is. Some believe it is a very real emotional bond, maybe the only true bond that they can ever experience.
Loyalty to one’s coterie, covenant, clan, prince, and even god are strong glue, but none of these bonds seem to provide the kind of very real, very emotional and very pleasurable rewards that the blood bond can bring. For this reason, many equate a blood bond with real love, seeing the giving and taking of vitae, the thing most vital to all Kindred, as not simply a conduit for an artificial love but rather as an experience no less powerful than any that inspires mortals to feel deep love for another. To these Kindred, a blood bond is something that can offer them a semblance of light in an otherwise dark night, allowing them to banish the loneliness that defines most Requiems and to face eternity with another at their side, someone they will never mistrust.
This view of the blood bond has more detractors than adherents, however. Far more Kindred see blood bonds with a somewhat more skeptical view. They believe that Kindred are, despite all their pretensions, more monster than Man, and any durable bond between vampires (or between a mortal and a vampire) is usually only a recipe for disaster. They don’t refute the strong feelings of love that accompany the blood bond, but they believe these feelings are merely the sign of a deep-seated desperation to be loved that is denied the Damned as part and parcel of their curse. When a vampire offers up their vitae to another, this desperation causes the recipient to blindly perceive the donor’s act as if it were one of selfless giving, when indeed it is much more likely to be the furthest thing from it.
The name “blood oath” is most used by those Kindred who see blood bonds as a means of control. Whether they have adopted this view as members of the Invictus or because they have themselves already exploited the power of the vitae in this fashion, these vampires care little for the philosophical arguments and focus only on the purpose to which a blood bond can be put. These scheming Kindred do not merely give away their vitae to feral addicts or admirers, rather they demand that those who wish to most gain their trust and assistance must demonstrate their loyalty and submission by taking a blood oath. The petitioner takes this oath by drinking the other’s vitae, thereby pledging their loyalty in a way that cannot be denied, for each party knows the risks involved in this act.
Certain Kindred scholars, particularly among the Ordo Dracul, spend decades studying and contemplating the precise nature of the blood bond. While all their findings are certainly not made public, enough of their hypotheses find their way into Elysium to provide other Kindred food for thought. But whether the blood bond is a purely emotional bond, a type of supernatural enslavement, or some fundamental aspect of vitae itself and, therefore, of what it means to be a Kindred, really is academic. These ideas can be argued night after night with no consensus ever being reached. Yet no Kindred questions the actual power of the blood bond or the purposes to which it can be put.
Breaking the Bond
Caine took the stake of gopher wood, seized it and drove it deep within the Crone’s heart.
Because Caine, wise Caine, had fed not upon her for a year and a day
And because he forced his will through his hands,
He broke the bond she held on him,
And turned his fortune.
She laughed again, as blood welled up and poured out of her mouth.
Her eyes poured out hate.
Caine kissed her once, kissed her cold, withered lips, and left her there to Raphael’s gentle smile:
The sun that rises.
The Book of Nod, Zillah’s Tale
The blood bond can be broken, but it’s not easy. There are four ways:
Time and Distance
The passage of time can naturally degrade a blood bond. This requires the thrall to avoid drinking their regnant’s vitae, which is easier said than done—sharing blood with one’s regnant is an incredibly pleasurable act. Even thralls who consider their bond a damnably induced lie find it incredibly difficult to refuse intimacy with their regnant.
If the thrall successfully avoids drinking from their regnant for long enough, they can reduce their bond’s level by one step, to a minimum of zero. There’s no exact time frame for how long this takes, but it doesn’t happen overnight. How long would it take you to move on from the most burning, passionate love you’ve ever felt? That’s at least how long it takes to “move on” from the blood bond. Some vampires can labor under a bond for decades before it degrades.
Distance (physical and psychological) from a regnant can help. A thrall who never sees their regnant, starts over in a new city (with few reminders of their old “love”), and leads a vigorous and active unlife is likely to degrade their bond faster. A thrall who continues to regularly see their regnant and has other little purpose in their Requiem will see their bond degrade slower—if it even does at all.
It’s exceedingly rare for ghouls to break their blood bonds this way, as they must sup upon their domitors’ vitae every month. However, it’s not unheard of for ghouls of torpid vampires to regain free will while their domitors sleep.
Curiously, mortals and ex-ghouls who expunge all vitae from their systems tend to slip their blood bonds in far less time than it takes Kindred and current ghouls—rarely longer than a year. Kindred scholars hypothesize this is because their bodies don’t run on vitae. The Blood of Caine has less power over them.
Hatred and Mistreatment
Everyone has their limits, even the most weak-willed individuals. Beat a child enough, and one of two things will happen: either the kid will permit the abuse to go on forever and just wait for the punisher to move on or die or the kid can take matters into their own hands. The latter requires a tremendous effort of will. Overcoming the scarring psychological trauma and the perverse bond that is formed between the child and their abuser, not to mention facing the very real possibility of more punishment and pain, may be the most difficult thing any mortal child can ever face. Despite this difficulty, there are those rare individuals who find the courage and resolve to stand up to their attacker and strike back. This can either be an indirect strike—for example, notifying the police and letting them handle it—or it can be direct, and usually lethal for the abuser.
GMs might wish to approach thralldom with this analogy in mind. If the thrall is treated well, is given their space and, for the most part, is rarely exploited, there is very little chance that the character can summon the will to break the blood bond. There is not enough fire in their gut, so to speak, and fire is exactly what is needed, in spades. However, should the regnant prove to be an abusive bastard, even if this mistreatment does not extend to the physical—and let’s be honest, the most painful injuries are not bodily but emotional—then the above example can serve as a template for just how the thrall-regnant relationship might play out.
An occasional cruel word or two or the every-so-often slap across the face doesn’t cut it. The blood bond is more than strong enough to cause the victim to rationalize away such abuse. No, for it to count, for it to ignite a fire in the victim, one that will continue to grow and eventually explode, the abuse must be regular, unwarranted, and truly harsh. Periodic humiliation in front of other Kindred, violent outbursts directed at the thrall, all manner of restrictive or difficult “rules” being laid out and enforced, and an utter disregard for the thrall’s own wishes and private affairs are all the kinds of things that can lead a thrall to build up the kind of hatred and passion necessary to overcome the blood bond.
The simplest way to be rid of the bond is to kill the regnant. Such a choice is extremely perilous on many levels and makes no guarantees that everything will go smoothly. Those who have been released by such means claim the bond shatters like spun glass upon the moment of the regnant’s final death. Some thralls are driven to psychotic rage by their regnant’s loss, while others remain in eternal mourning for their lost “loves.” Some go hopelessly mad or even succumb to wassail. More than one wight has been created when a broken bond destroyed the last bulwark of sanity between the Beast and the Man.
Certain covenants and bloodlines may know of ways to overcome the blood bond that don’t necessitate any of the above methods. Each such means is subject to its own unique rules for implementation, but almost always requires great power or sacrifice. The Kindred who possess such secrets almost certainly won’t share their knowledge for free, and may refuse to help outsiders altogether. Less scrupulous Kindred might even lie about having ways to break the blood bond when it’s beyond their power. If the bond were easily broken, after all, it wouldn’t be as feared as it is.
Still, GMs should given real consideration to permitting characters to hear about such options. Pursuing some legendary blood ritual that will allow one member of the coterie to throw off their chains of thralldom to an elder can be the stuff of an entire chronicle, or at least an exciting subplot.
Attitudes Towards the Blood Bond
“The Camarilla cannot suffer a prince to bond their own childer. We’d go right back to the Long Night.”
Most Kindred feel a healthy fear of the blood bond. They know how their kind treats its slaves, and they shudder at the thought of becoming the pawns of one of their fellows.
In most cities, the prince or other dignitaries use a single drink from their veins as a common punishment for misbehavior. A prince who too often orders other Kindred to submit to their regnancy, though, might provoke a rebellion. The primogen tend to be especially wary of a prince who orders too many of their subjects to submit to full blood bonds (especially, ironically, their own childer), although some princes are powerful or foolish enough to disregard these elders’ feelings.
Kindred who believe that love can be eternal (if not entirely natural) might drink each other’s blood to form a mutual bond. They also recognize that their mutual bond protects them from ever becoming bound to anyone else: this alone can be powerful incentive to submit their wills to another Kindred they trust.
Such mutually bound Kindred become self-absorbed and hopelessly addicted to one another. To each other, they are everything. It’s the sort of love that almost always ends in tragedy. Kindred call this phenomenon “perversion,” for good reason. In some cities, perversion is illegal. Most couples committing the crime believe they’ll be able to hide it, but the signs are usually obvious. In most cities, it’s derided and chastised. Of course, what petty, self-serving society wouldn’t reject those able to rise above childish bickering in favor of (as the bound lovers see it) eternal companionship and happiness? A couple that doesn’t care about the barbed words of courtiers or the protocols of Elysium is more dangerous to the status quo than even the most radical Anarch.
Many Kindred coteries engage in webs of mutual blood bonds with one another. These partial bonds can defuse conflict or mistrust among members (as well as seem less like a punishment if everyone participates), prove as well as secure the loyalty of newly-initiated members, or simply solidify existing fraternal bonds. The method to this is simple: every member takes one two drinks from everyone else, and the coterie grows closer together. Kindred youth have crudely dubbed this practice a “circle jerk.”
Much more rare is that coterie that completely bonds its members to one another. Since thralls can only be under full blood bonds to a single regnant, this requires one Kindred to bond themselves to a second Kindred, who bonds themselves to a third, who bonds themselves to the first (or the fourth, depending on how large the coterie is, who bonds themselves to another, and so on). The amount of trust required to enter into such an arrangement is considerable, and the results are all-too frequently painful for those involved, as they must spend much of their time watching the object of their affections fawn over someone else. Many coteries that attempt this process eventually tear themselves apart out of obsession and petty jealousy.
But the ones that make it work are terrifying forces to reckon with.
The First Estate tolerates the blood bond more than any other covenant does. Its elders see the blood oath as another tool by which they can rule over their juniors. In some cities, elders routinely blood bond their childer and all of their line (a practice that was even more widespread in the Middle Ages). In most cities, however, a sire is wary to do this, for princes do not like Kindred who love their sires more than they fear their rulers. Invictus elders accept such prohibitions because opposing them would turn too many Kindred against the covenant and would too blatantly contradict the covenant’s pretense of meritocracy.
The Other Covenants
The other covenants generally disapprove of blood bond, or at least their members say they do. The Order of the Dragon sees blood bonds as distractions, emotional baggage that diverts attention best focused elsewhere. The Lancea et Sanctum holds that Kindred should serve only God and Longinus. The Anarchs see blood bonds as the acme of elder tyranny, while the unaligned simply loathe submitting to anyone else. The Circle of the Crone merely notes that while Kindred should accept the blood bond as one more aspect of their existence, forcing a Kindred into a blood oath serves no spiritual purpose.
Political or spiritual dogma seldom prevents members of these covenants from blood bonding other Kindred when it suits their purposes.