The Sins of London
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. It all depends upon the domain and the circumstances. Note that these are allegiances or classifications, not jobs. Titles and offices a Kindred may possess are something altogether different.
One of the ways that Kindred determine the social pecking order is through a combination of age and Generation (an indication of how far the vampire is removed from Caine, the original vampire). Newly- Embraced Cainites must prove themselves to older, more established vampires in order to gain any sort of recognition or standing. There is a small degree of mobility, but a vampire primarily gains respect through the passage of time and the attrition of his enemies.
Fledgling: A fledgling is a newly-Embraced vampire who has not yet been introduced to Kindred society and formally emancipated from her sire. To this end, a sire is responsible for the actions of his childe until he deems her able enough to handle Cainite culture on her own. Some Clans shelter their fledglings for years or decades, like the Tremere, while others, like many Gangrel and Brujah, figure that once you’re a vampire, you’re on your own — tough shit if you can’t hack it.
Neonate: A neonate is a young vampire, one who has not been Kindred very long. The main difference between a neonate and a fledgling is that the neonate has been emancipated from her sire and otherwise is seen as an “adult” in vampire society. The line between fledgling and neonate is incredibly subjective, but usually once Kindred society stops thinking of a vampire as her sire’s appendage and more on her own merits and actions, then she’s become a neonate.
Ancilla: Those Kindred who have a few decades or centuries under their belts generally fall into the loose, subjective category known as the ancillae. They have paid their dues, understand (mostly) how Kindred society works, and have probably accomplished something. Ancilla is the rank between neonate and elder, implying some degree of achievement in what local Kindred society deems appropriate. Of course, what counts as
“achievement” can vary wildly from Sect to Sect. A Camarilla ancilla would be considered soft and effete by the Sabbat, while a Sabbat ancilla would probably be described as a raging maniac by Camarilla standards.
Elder: What constitutes an “elder” is similarly subjective, but it generally corresponds to a rough age distinction of anywhere from 200 to 1000 years of being Kindred, with appreciable claims to domain and a variety of other assets to bring to bear in the Jyhad. Typically, elders of Europe are much older than those across the Atlantic Ocean. Elders are typically the oldest active vampires in undead society.
Methuselah: When a vampire reaches a particular age, somewhere between 1000 and 2000 years of undeath, a profound change invariably overtakes him. It has long been debated whether this change is mystical or biological. Regardless, 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, Methuselahs retreat from the world. The constant struggle of facing the young 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 retreat fully from society, and go into torpor. Some Methuselahs remain involved in power struggles and the Jyhad of the Kindred, but do so from a position of complete anonymity. Still others do so from the cold sleep of torpor, moving their minions with mental commands, dream-visions, or centuries of conditioning. The fear of Jyhad, that no Kindred may truly call his actions his
own, stems from the inexorable dread spawned by the terrible potential of the Methuselahs.
Antediluvian: Literally “before the flood,” the Antediluvians are believed to be those vampires of the Third Generation who are descended from Caine’s original childer. Rumored to be the last vampires “with mastery over life and death,” the Antediluvians are almost certainly in the grip of millennial torpor, assuming they still exist at all. 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. 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.
Clans and Sects
A Kindred’s Clan is her lineage, the vampiric “family” into which she was Embraced. The Clans are distinguished by their Antediluvian founders. Kindred society generally acknowledges 13 Clans tonight, though some may have been lost to history, some may exist in secrecy, and some may never have been known. Some Clans are highly organized, while others are utterly decentralized. The only constant when speaking of Clans is that each has a unique ultimate progenitor, a set of mystical aptitudes known as Disciplines, and a pervasive flaw.
Those without a Clan are known as Caitiff. These individuals are undeniably vampires, but they display no inherited characteristics from their sires (if, indeed, they know who their sires are at all). Caitiff are frequently shunned in Kindred society, as much for their lack of pedigree as their ignorance of vampiric social structures.
A Sect is an artificial organization of vampires, usually composed of multiple Clans that form a league or compact. In most cases, one’s Clan has immense influence on one’s Sect, but exceptions do occur. Some Clans belong to no Sect at all, and in most cases, Caitiff may be found among any of the Sects.
The way Clans function varies. Some are closely knit, almost fraternal organizations with distinct agendas and focused hierarchies. Others are little more than a predilection toward certain Disciplines and an exploitable flaw in the blood. Ultimately, what Clan means to each vampire is unique, and some Kindred may be very proud of their Clan while others don’t give it much thought. Ultimately, though, each Clan tends towards certain common behaviors, perceptions, or roles in Kindred society.
The Assamites are silent masters of assassination, killing for hire and collecting blood for rituals to bring them closer to their progenitor.
The Brujah were once philosopher-kings of an ancient civilization, but are now rebels and rogues with a fearsome inclination toward frenzy.
The Followers of Set venerate a chthonic God while seeking out the world’s secret places and protecting ancient artifacts.
The Gangrel are bestial and untamed, often coming to resemble the animals over which they demonstrate mastery.
The Giovanni are an insular family of vampires who practice the art of commanding the dead while commanding global finances, as they have since the Renaissance.
The Lasombra are proud nobles who command the very essence of darkness and shadow — to the point of worshiping it, some say.
The Malkavians are a Clan fractured by madness, each member irrevocably suffering under the yoke of insanity.
The Nosferatu are hideously disfigured by the Embrace, so they keep to the sewers shadows and traffic in the secrets they collect.
The Ravnos are nomads and tricksters who can force the mind to see what isn’t there, though they are slaves to the vices they indulge in.
The Toreador enjoy every sensual pleasure the world has to offer, idolizing physical beauty and the adoratio of their thralls.
The Tremere wield the supernatural power of their sorcerous past, though they became vampires through treachery and artifice.
The Tzimisce are eldritch Old World lords who have little in common with the mortal world and can manipulate flesh and bone at a whim.
The Ventrue observe the noblesse oblige of vampire society, though their entitlement and greed encourages them to seek ever more at the expense of others.
The Caitiff have no inherent Clan society, support, or even characteristics; they are like orphans among the great families of vampires.
Clans that “fell” and tonight only a few members remain, mini-clans who has founders who are not one of the Antediluvians (the infamous Third Generation) and even vampires that started to exhibit the same aptitude to Disiciplines and the same weakness, due to psychological, physiological or experimental (dum dum DUM!) reasons, are all considered a “Bloodline”.
The Daughters of Cacophony are a clan of singers, with a song stuck in their heads for all eternity. The only way to get a little rest from it is to share it with others, but those who listened to a Siren’s song are changed, and not for the better…
The Gargoyles are vampires the Tremere changed to look like their stone namesakes — rocky-skinned, ugly, winged creatures that exist only to serve their masters. Used as Guardians by their masters but are little more than slaves, the life of escaped Gargoyle aren’t easy. But a least they’re free! is what they keep saying themselves…
The Kiasyd are a bloodline of the Lasombra Clan; that much is obvious, given that these odd Kindred make use of the Obtenebration Discipline. But their aversion to iron, their odd power of Mytherceria, and their very appearance speak to even stranger ancestry. Scarlets are allied with the Sabbat formally, but what really interest them is knowledge and the acquisition of it.
The Salubri were once one of the 13 clans, but then came the diablerie of Salut, their Antediluvian, by the Tremere (that took their place as a clan). Tonight, most Kindred know them as Soul-Thieves who diablerize their elders and “free” the souls of other vampires. The Salubri take advantage of this new age, where mystical knowledge is looked for, and now the kine are their allies. How can they keep their third eye covered all the time, I wonder…
Mysterious even to other vampires, the Samedi are secretive practitioners of vodun (aka Voo-Doo). The firstt Samedi were from orgins of slaves of america, and there are a few white Loa in their ranks. Not that skin color really matters when one is embraced by them, cause the rotting corpse look of the Samedi makes the Nosferatu look cute and cuddly.
Class and Status
In Victorian society, rising to a higher caste in the social order is an arduous process, but it can be done. For the greatly simplified purpose of storyteling, the Victorian Camarilla can be divided into three strata of status: a lower class, a middle class and an upper class. This status is primarily influenced by one’s clan, but belonging to a notable lineage or performing notable deeds can enable a social climber to rise above such distinctions.
The Upper Class: Most Ventrue and Toreador belong to the upper strata of the Victorian Camarilla. To qualify as a vampire aristocrat, a character should belong to one of those clans, be actively involved in the sect’s affairs and have at least one dot in the Status background; otherwise he is middle class. A Tremere or Gangrel with Status 5 also qualifies as upper class. A Ventrue or Toreador with Status 3 is a paragon of Camarilla virtues.
The Middle Class: Tremere and Gangrel are the “bourgeoisie” of the sect. The Witches have damaged their clans’ reputation by repeatedly meddling in occult affairs, while many Gangrel have raised the esteem of their clan above the hopelessly rustic by risking their very unlives in the defense of Camarilla domains. To qualify as middle class, a character must be actively involved in the sect’s affairs. A Malkavian with Status 3 qualifies as middle class; one with 5 is upper class.
The Lower Class: Brujah, Malkavians and Nosferatu qualify as the lower class of the sect. They face enough scorn for their ambitions that they have formed their own societies within the Camarilla, recognizing ideals that may seem cryptic to aristocracy of the sect.
Sect is a vampire’s political and philosophical affiliation. In this Victorian world, a fledgling is a part of his sire’s sect.
Victorian vampires Embraced in this momentous age see the world in extremes. For newly created vampires, these two political sects represent the Good and Evil of the age. Whether this distinction is largely a fiction presented by their elders is a matter of conjecture. The leaders of these two societies author cautionary tales of those who stray too far from their appointed roles as victor and villain.
Camarilla’s society’s greatest ideals are the humnamity and the civility mortals exhibit. To prevent their own annihilition, Camarilla vanpires struggle to maintain the faint spark of humanity they have preserved across endless nights. While dwelling hidden among mankind , they claim to rule the civilized world from the shadows. United in the belief that they should not act as monstrous beasts, they refer to themselves as the Kindred. The Victorian age is arguably the golden age of the Camarilla’s history. Throughout most of Europe, Kindred consider the major cities of the civilized world their domain.
Camarilla clans are Brujah, Gangrel, Malkavian, Nosferatu, Toreador, Tremere and Ventrue.
As opposed to the Camarilla’s Kindred desperately clinging to the last sparks of their humanity, Sabbat Cainites have abandoned all pretense of humanity, following older codes of vampiric behavior instead. They see no need to feign mankind’s civility. While indulging in their monstrous natures, they blaspheme in word and deed against all mankind holds holy. It is this motif that best defines the Victorian Sabbat – as rebels against Man and God.
Sabbat clans are the Lasombra and the Tzimisce.