Campaign of the Month: October 2017
Blood & 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, Malkavian Ordo Dracul scientist, 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. These “sub-families” can wield exotic powers unknown to other Kindred, but pay for them with additional curses and weaknesses.
GM’s Note: For those players who aren’t aware, bloodlines are pretty different beasts in Vampire: The Masquerade and Vampire: The Requiem.
• In 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 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 prefers Requiem’s approach, as it makes membership in bloodlines a character choice which PCs can make in-game rather than an out-of-game player choice. It confronts new players with fewer options they need to immediately pick from. Lastly, it enables PCs to remain members of the core clans (with all the history, plot hooks, and extended family members those entail) while still getting to enjoy the “cool factor” of belonging to a bloodline.
Definitions of Bloodlines
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 their childer and their childer in turn. An elder who joins an atypical covenant for their clan, and draws their childer in likewise, might also cause other Kindred to call their 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 they suffer a different or additional blood-borne weakness. Bloodlines often possess Devotions entirely unique to their members, which they jealously guard from outsiders. There are two types of mystical bloodlines: scions and orphans.
• Scions are Kindred who belong to a bloodline and still belong to an identifiable parent clan. The Kiasyd (long associated with the Lasombra) and the Telyavelic Tremere are good example scion bloodlines. Scions suffer the weakness of their bloodline and their parent clan, but can develop Devotions associated with their bloodline much more easily.
• Orphans are Kindred who do not belong to an identifiable parent clan. The Salubri, Gargoyles, and (until recently) Samedi are good example orphan bloodlines. Orphans suffer their bloodline’s weakness instead of their parent clan’s weakness. They often share unique Devotions among themselves, but they have no inherently greater aptitude for learning these Devotions. Essentially, bloodlines are “replacement clans” for orphans.
Some bloodlines have a mix of scions and orphans. Others are composed exclusively of one or the other.
Permutations of Bloodlines
Joining a Bloodline
Any true-blooded Kindred may join their sire’s bloodline at the moment of Embrace. Sometimes this happens and sometimes it doesn’t; no one is completely sure why, although theories abound. Some sires want their childer to join their bloodlines, while others don’t. Typically, joining a sire’s bloodline is considered a mark of favor or prestige, and sires are proud of childer who carry on their bloodlines. Conversely, a childe’s “failure” to join a bloodline may be viewed as an embarrassment and/or weakness on the sire’s or childe’s part.
If a vampire isn’t Embraced into a bloodline, they may join one later though an avus. An avus is a sort of mentor. Their Blood must be equal or stronger than the prospect’s own. Acting as an avus into a bloodline requires feeding the prospect some of the avus’ own vitae, which carries all of the normal risk of blood bonds. Many bloodlines have elaborate and sometimes dangerous rituals to initiate new prospects. One of the most common involves draining the prospect of all of their vitae and replacing it with the avus’ as part of a “second Embrace.”
Vampires may also create their own, unique bloodlines. This feat is normally only possible for elders of the seventh generation or lower. The act of founding a bloodline carries great prestige in Kindred society: it’s seen as having enough will and power to impose an imprint of one’s self onto the Blood, forever.
A vampire may only be part of one bloodline. The only known way to leave a bloodline once joined is for a vampire to found their own bloodline.
All bloodlines have one or several associated Disciplines.
• Scions: When a vampire joins a bloodline as a scion, they gain one of the bloodline’s associated Disciplines as an in-clan Discipline. If all of the bloodline’s Disciplines are already in-clan for the vampire, they become more adept at one of the bloodline’s Disciplines. The vampire may also learn any Devotions exclusive to the bloodline.
• Orphans: When a vampire joins a bloodline as an orphan, they replace their prior in-clan Disciplines with all of the bloodline’s associated Disciplines. They may also learn any Devotions the bloodline only teaches to its members.
All bloodlines impose a unique bane on their members.
• Scions suffer their bloodline’s bane in addition to their clan bane. Scions’ banes are more pronounced and restrictive than their clan counterparts, and are considered a severe version of a normal bane. For example, one ancient Malkavian bloodline loses access to Disciplines during the day, and one group of Gangrel can only feed from Kindred, from the moment its members adopt the lineage.
• Orphans simply replace their clan bane with their bloodline’s bane.
List of Bloodlines
Most Kindred can join most bloodlines: the below list notes the typical clans that a bloodline attracts, but there is no reason a Malkavian can’t join the Ahrimanes or a Ravnos can’t join the Nephilim.
A few exceptions, noted with an “only,” can only be joined by Kindred of the specifically mentioned clans (or only accept orphans).
• Ahrimanes: Brujah, Gangrel, Ravnos typically
• Alexandrites: Ravnos only
• Ananke: Malkavians only
• Anda: Gangrel typically
• Baali: Unknown
• Bashirites: Ravnos only
• Blood Brothers: Brujah, Tremere, Tzimisce typically
• Children of Damballah: Setites only
• Children of Osiris: Any clan
• City Gangrel: Gangrel only
• Crusaders: Ventrue only
• Daitya: Setites only
• Danava: Ventrue only
• Daughters of Cacophony: Malkavian, Toreador, Ventrue typically
• Gargoyles: Orphans only
• Giovannini: Hecata only
• Jocastians: Malkavians only, though disputed
• Kalderash: Ravnos only
• Kiasyd: Any clan, though Lasombra are the most numerous
• Kolduns: Tzimisce only, though disputed
• Lamia: Orphans only
• Lhiannan: Gangrel, Malkavian, Tzimisce typically
• Maeghar: Orphans only
• Mariners: Gangrel only
• Mithridati: Ventrue only
• Mnemosyne: Malkavians only
• Nagaraja: n/a, part of the Hecata clan
• Nephilim: Toreador only
• Nictuku: Nosferatu only, and hotly disputed to exist
• Noiad: Gangrel only
• Old Clan Tzimisce: Tzimisce only
• Phaedymites: Ravnos only
• Phuri Dae: Ravnos only
• Phralmulo: Ravnos only
• Sahir: Banu Haqim only
• Salubri: Orphans only
• Samedi: Hecata only
• Sybarites: Ravnos only
• Telyavs: Gangrel, Nosferatu, Tremere typically
• Tlacique: Gangrel, Lasombra, Setites typically
• True Brujah: Orphans only
• Viziers: Banu Haqim only
• Volgirre: Toreador only
• Warrior Setites: Setites only
• Wu Zao: Orphans only
• Agonistes: Banu Haqim, Hecata, Lasombra, Malkavian, Salubri typically
• Anvari: Setites, Toreador, Ventrue typically
• Allucinor: Hecata, Malkavian, Salubri, Tremere typically
• Architects of the Monolith: Malkavian, Ventrue, Tzimisce typically
• Baddacelli: Gangrel, Nosferatu, Tzimisce typically
• Bohagande: Gangrel, Setites, Tremere typically
• Bron: Lasombra, Salubri, Ventrue typically
• California Xiao: Brujah, Malkavian, Ravnos, Toreador typically
• The Carnival: Malkavian, Ravnos, Toreador, Tzimisce typically
• Children of Judas: Malkavian, Ravnos, Setites, Toreador typically
• Dead Wolves: Gangrel typically
• Duchagne: Brujah, Ravnos, Toreador, Ventrue typically
• En: Banu Haqim, Brujah, Lasombra, Ventrue typically
• Galloi: Nosferatu, Tzimisce typically
• Gethsemani: Lasombra, Nosferatu, Ravnos typically
• Gullikans: Setites, Toreador, Tzimisce typically
• Kallisti: Malkavfian, Setites, Toreador, Ventrue typically
• Khabit: Banu Haqim, Lasombra, Setites typically
• Kuufukuj: Malkavian, Nosferatu, Salubri, Tzimisce typically
• Macellarius: Hecata, Malkavian, Nosferatu, Ventrue typically
• Melissadae: Gangrel, Nosferatu, Ravnos, Tzimisce typically
• Morotrophian: Malkavian, Nosferatu, Ventrue typically
• Mortifiers of the Flesh: Any clan
• Nahualli: Lasombra, Malkavian, Ravnos, Ventrue typically
• Nelapsi: Brujah, Toreador, Tzimisce typically
• Oberlochs: Gangrel, Nosferatu, Ravnos, Tzimisce typically
• Players: Gangrel, Malkavian, Ravnos, Tremere typically
• Qedeshah: Brujah, Malkavian, Salubri, Toreador typically
• Raskshasa: Gangrel, Nosferatu, Ravnos, Tzimisce typically
• Rötgrafen: Brujah, Gangrel, Lasombra, Ventrue typically
• Sta-Au: Any clan
• Taifa: Gangrel, Malkavian, Nosferatu typically
• Therion: Any clan
• Yagnatia: Gangrel, Nosferatu, Tzimisce, Ventrue typically
• More to come…