Vampire the Masquerade: Endless Night

A Vampire the Masquerade RPG set in modern day in the fictional metropolis of December City, Virginia.
 
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 Clans and Bloodlines L-N

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Margifish
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PostSubject: Clans and Bloodlines L-N   Fri Jun 22, 2018 9:39 pm

Lasombra


To the mind of a Lasombra, it is better to reign in hell than to serve in heaven. Fear, frenzy, the power to determine whether another lives or dies: these are at the root of the power that the Lasombra held dear. Whereas other vampires try vainly to hold the Beast at bay or give themselves wholly to it, the Lasombra beat the Beast into submission, invoking it when it suits them but leaving it trapped inside when they wish to govern themselves.

It is with these predilections that the Lasombra style themselves a “dark nobility,” an aristocracy of the night that choose the supremacy of the Cainites over veneration of the Masquerade. Their regard for such ideas as redemption and salvation are cynical at best, and much of the pomp that shaped the Clan’s pre-Sabbat outlook remains only with a sense of blackest irony or open mockery. The grandeur and rituals of the Church and aristocracy remain dear to the Lasombra, however, and the Clan was instrumental not only in establishing many of the rituals of the Sabbat, but in the institutions that keep it from descending into chaos each night.

Whether they see themselves as God’s instruments or as outcasts from His creation, the Lasombra believe they have a duty (whether to Sect, Clan, pack, or even just themselves), and obligation to their responsibilities give them a wicked sense of purpose. Even a Lasombra shovelhead may consider himself a cut above the rest; a surprising number of Lasombra mass Embraces survive, perhaps owing to the intervention of their sires. While the night belongs to all Kindred, the Lasombra are truly born to darkness, to the degree that their very Clan name reveals their tie to shadow. Theirs is the Discipline of Obtenebration, and it allows them to wield the stuff of shadow and darkness.

Antediluvian/Founder: Lasombra

Nickname: Keepers

Clan Flaw: Lasombra vampires cast no reflection. Whether in a mirror, in a body of water, on a polished surface, or in the rear-view of a taxicab, the image of the Keeper does not reflect.

Disciplines: Dominate, Obtenebration, Potence

History:

Early History:

Several thousand years ago, a tribe of Maasai people were ordered by a pale spirit to produce a child for him. This child was trained to lead by having every member of the tribe obey him, and he was trained to be loyal by extensive gifts and rewards from the Antediluvian [Lasombra]. The experiment failed. Before rerunning the experiment, [Lasombra] was visited by his child's playmate, Ontai. This shaman in training offered his life to [Lasombra] (who had already punished the tribe by wiping out half of its population) – in life, death, and beyond, with no price offered. [Lasombra], disturbed by the offer and Ontai's already impeccable honor, tested the shaman's resolve by demanding he slaughter his tribe. Ontai obeyed, and a shaken [Lasombra] called off the execution and embraced Ontai, renaming him Montano and bringing him to the Mediterranean. To his grave, [Lasombra] was uncertain whether his childe's unswerving honor had gotten the better of him.

From the very beginning, the Lasombra have been tied to the sea. Sicily, where Lasombra had his lair, was the center of the Clan, from which they inserted themselves into various seafaring cultures that arose. It is said, that after the eruption of Thera, [Lasombra] began various lengthy travels, leaving his progeny free to discover the world around them. Reveling in piracy and the freedom of the sea, most Lasombra fought against both Greeks and Romans, refusing to accept the feeding rights of any Cainite overlords. Others traveled to Iberia and the lands of the Roman Republic. Some particular adventurous even traveled so far as China, where their broods still survive secluded and hidden away from the wrathful Cathayans. Together with the Ventrue and Malkavians, the Lasombra clan ruled over the Roman Empire until it dissolved. While the Ventrue left for the north and the Malkavians were seen with suspicion and fear now, the Lasombra remained.

Dark Ages:

In medieval times, the Lasombra were centered around the Mediterranean in the feudal realm of the Sea of Shadows as one of the High Clans, headed by their Antediluvian himself. The Lasombra were heavily involved with the religious constitutions of this age, particularly the Roman Catholic Church and with Islam, leading to an internal conflict between the two factions within the Clan that resulted in the Shadow Reconquista in Spain, where both sides battled against each other for control over the peninsula. Most Lasombra had strong ties to the clerics and nobility and were able to utilize them to their own endings.

The Anarch Revolt:

According to clan legend, [Lasombra]'s last childe, Gratiano de Veronese, was the one who slew the Antediluvian with the aid of a coterie of Assamites, instigating the Anarch Revolt and the resulting chaos (although many Tzimisce challenge that claim). Many Lasombra flocked behind Gratiano, hoping to overthrow their scheming sires and gain their power. Most among them refused the Convention of Thorns, seeing it as submission to the despised Ventrue and the kine without even proper negotiations.

Renaissance:

In the early renaissance, the Lasombra had just become the leaders of the Sabbat. Their political and commercial power had weakened and they had turned to more brutal practices, such as piracy, even shifting their focuses from the dwindling Spanish kingdoms to Dutch pirates and opportunities in the New World. Their main focuses have been the eradication of the Camarilla, particularly their Lasombra antitribu clansmen.

Victorian Age:

During this time the influence of the Church upon people's lives declined. As a result, Lasombra influence became more indirect as the years progressed. Like many other clans, the Lasombra began to influence the bourgeoisie, where most of the world's finances now flowed from. Unlike other Clans who had previously infested religious organizations, the Lasombra did not turn away from churches – indeed, the Lasombra are infamous even in the modern nights for their powerful grasp in religious circles, particularly the Catholic Church.

During this Age, many Lasombra sat down to codify the ancient Roads and clan-specific traditions into proper Paths of Enlightenment to create substitutes to Humanity within the Black Monastery. In the New World, various Sabbat Civil Wars threatened the rule of the Clan over the Sabbat and forced them to restructure the sect several times. The Purchase Pact defined the enemies of the sect to end various infighting (Antediluvian catspaws, Infernalists and Camarilla pawns) while the revised version of the Code of Milan formalized a more structured approach to intern control. In both cases, the Clan were heavily involved into these revisions.

Modern Nights:

Whether they approve or not, Clan Lasombra has changed with the times. Where once the elitist ideals saw that only those of certain lineages, ethnicity or religions were Embraced, the Clan now recruits from all walks of life. Financial influence is now increasingly important to them due to the establishment of global economy, and the Lasombra are the clan mainly responsible for bankrolling much of the Sabbat's operations in modern nights.

The Lasombra still hunt their hated antitribu, although fewer and fewer exist each night. The fervor with which their brothers are hunted has brought about a Darwinism of its own – those antitribu surviving are generally the oldest and wiliest Keepers to still walk the earth.

Perhaps most embarrassing for the Clan was the defection of Gian Galeazzo Visconti. A former Cardinal, he was a signatory on the Code of Milan, one of the Sabbat's most important documents. At the end of the 20th century, Giangaleazzo gathered all of Milan's Cainites to his castle. From the balcony of his haven, he announced that he would no longer be a part of the Sabbat. With that, he tore up the original Code of Milan and sealed the courtyard. Burning his former sect mates to death, he announced himself Prince of Milan and a member of the Camarilla. As a result, Gian Galeazzo is particularly hated throughout the Clan, but too well supported by the surrounding Italian Camarilla to destroy.

Organization:

Lasombra naturally seek positions of power and authority, as a result they form the bulk of the Sabbat's administrative offices – ducti, prisci, and the like. Tzimisce are more likely to be pack priests, while the Lasombra focus on the practical matters of administration and leadership. The Lasombra operate under the metaphor of "shadows". They do not stand in the limelight, preferring to manipulate others to their own ends while doing as little as possible to make themselves a target. This is not done solely out of fear, but because many Lasombra have domineering and superior personalities that necessitates having someone beneath them. This role is usually filled by mortals; though they are not quite as adept at manipulating the living world as the Ventrue are, those cultures that still revere the Catholic Church often have several generations of Lasombra pulling their strings. Those who find themselves under the control of a Lasombra can expect a demanding and unrewarding experience. Their domitor will use any and all tools available to ensure loyalty, such as the Blood Bond, coercion, physical intimidation, and unapologetic use of Dominate. The wise Lasombra will judge just how much of this force is necessary; too little and the servant is untrustworthy, too much and the servant is spineless and afraid to act when they need to act.

Separate from Sabbat organization, the Lasombra maintain a clan-specific organization, the Friends of the Night, usually called les amies noires (amici noctis during the Dark Ages). While a Lasombra can be in the clan and not a Friend of the Night, all Lasombra who matter are part of the organization. The Friends are something of a formalized favor network within the Lasombra - they grant prestige and prestation, but the most notable feature of the friends are the Courts of Blood which regulate diablerie.

The Lasombra are a clan driven by ambition, and consequently they accept diablerie as a necessary facet of their existence; from the Lasombra perspective, the only tragedy in diablerie is that such an unworthy vampire as the vessel was sired in the first place. The courts regulate diablerie by accepting petitions to diablerize other Lasombra and authorize hunts - these hunts usually have conditions attached because the target must be guilty of something before the hunt is authorized. The court system ensures that diablerie is managed – Lasombra are allowed, if not flat-out encouraged to cannibalize appropriate targets, but those targets must be judged worthy of this attention by a court before the attack can take place.

Factions:

Lasombra consensus holds that overly rigid structures turn on their creators. Thus the institutions within the clan operate flexibly and with substantial local autonomy. These informal distinctions are just as deadly earnest as anything chartered and codified, but they are much more lethal for being open to interpretation like any Court of Blood can prove. Most of the Lasombra subcultures have no organization or even a well-known name. They are outlooks rather than institutions. A group that became organized enough to challenge the courts would be co-opted and folded into the Friends themselves or destroyed, depending upon how well the group's leaders pled their case.

Corsairs – The Corsairs are Lasombra that have answered the call of the sea that seems to be inherent to their blood. They spend most of their time on the waves, often masquerading as pirates, and some never come on dry land.
Crusaders - The Crusaders view the Sabbat as a religious and military organization almost to the exclusion of the Sabbat as an ideology of freedom. They have often strong ties with the Ultra-Conservatives within the Sabbat.
Faithful - The Faithful draw their traditions from the once strong hold of the Lasombra within the Catholic Church. Ardents followers of God and believers in their own damnation alike, these individuals seek to fulfill the will of God in this world.
Kings of Shadow - The Kings (and Queens) of Shadow take part in mortal institutions, exerting influence, gathering resources and in general keeping the mortal population unaware of the vampires among them. Most have distanced themselves from regular Sabbat activities to maintain their Humanity.
Children of the Abyss – The Children of the Abyss follow the ancient traditions of Abyss Mysticism, often paying only lip services to the Sabbat, but staying in line, as the sect provides them with the means to pursue their arcane art.
Transhumanists - Transhumanists revel in their predatory nature and seek to perfect their undead state. Transhumanists quantify their various powers, work out taxonomies and otherwise seek to reduce vampirism to data. Many have a keen interest in mortal technology, particular in those that augment the human body, while others seek a perfect state without reliance on external tools.
Fatalists - Fatalists are those Lasombra that have stopped to believe in the freedom of Will. Many claim that their blood ties them directly to the elders and methuselahs of their Clan and these beings are in charge of the destinies of their progeny.
Doomed - The Doomed are an exhibitionistic lot among the Clan that do not believe in the value of secrecy and aim to gain immediate and direct control of their environment, often without concerns to the kine. Many Lasombra kill those Clan mates on sight.
Black Angels - Also called Angellis Ater (possibly in remembrance from a bloodline originating from the Dark Ages), these Lasombra revel in their state as servants of Satan and enemies of God, practicing Satanism and other socially repulsive things.
Factionless - The Factionless are those Lasombra that have not yet found an overlying purpose within the history of the Clan and give more regards to their sect than their heritage.

Lasombra antitribu:

The Sabbat Lasombra deny that "traitors" exist, while the so-called antitribu see themselves as Lasombra — nothing more, nothing less. Not all Lasombra who disagree with the clan's stance within the Sabbat join the Camarilla – a significant percentage of this relatively small number simply go independent and absent themselves from vampiric politics entirely. The remainder, however, seize for themselves positions of respect and authority – if not prominence – in the Camarilla.

Philosophically, Camarilla Lasombra differ little from their Sabbat compatriots on a basic level. The antitribu still fully expect to win the Jyhad; they just see the Camarilla as a more efficient and effective tool for doing so than the Sabbat is. Distaste for the rabble the Sabbat is encased in shows clearly in Camarilla Lasombra's attitudes, as they regard the Sabbat tactic of mass Embraces as wasteful and insulting. Indeed, even the supporters of antitribu inclusion in the Camarilla see these vampires as haughty, arrogant and impatient. Few suffer fools or incompetent underlings to live, and the penalty for failing an assignment set by a Lasombra antitribu is often death. The position occupied by these few self-exiled Kindred is an ambiguous one. On one hand, these vampires are Lasombra, the core of the dreaded Sabbat, and no Camarilla vampire is ever completely certain than the defection is a real one. On the other hand, essentially all Lasombra antitribu are creatures of undeniable power and presence, and are devoted to the destruction of the Sabbat in a way that few other Kindred are. The Camarilla cannot afford to waste these Cainites' talents, powers and knowledge of the enemy but cannot afford to trust them entirely, either.

Culture:

Lasombra are fiercely predatory creatures, and the Lasombra mindset is defined by an enthusiastic embrace of social darwinism. The Lasombra firmly believe that power is best held by the most worthy, and that the primary test of worthiness is acquiring said power. As a result, they are predatory, backstabbing, power-hungry and unapologetically arrogant about their position. Needless to say, the Lasombra and Ventrue despise each other. Historically, the two clans have sought out parallel dominions – the Lasombra focused on the Mediterranean, the Ventrue on Germany. The Lasombra went to the Church, the Ventrue went to the state. The Lasombra went to the Sabbat, the Ventrue to the Camarilla. And finally, the Ventrue deduce their claim of rulership over all Cainites through their lineage from the first of the Third Generation, while the Lasombra claim leadership over them as the Clan who first managed to slay their Antediluvian founder. That stated, as the ruling clans of their respective sects, they are naturally prone to come to loggerheads.

Lasombra pride themselves on doing things with style and elegance. That does not mean they all dress alike, act alike or furnish their havens the same way. Almost anything can be elegant. One of the classic Lasombra virtues is the gift of exposition, allowing one vampire to explain to others why this particular choice is in fact elegant. The clan favors its members who can articulate their preferences in persuasive manner. The clan frowns on efforts to shock – unless they work. Managing to introduce something so unfamiliar that it tramples on existing assumptions and yet, with explanation, manages to fit clan imperatives is one way to win a great deal of honor.

That stated, the Lasombra embrace of the Mediterranean and the Church has left odd marks on their clan culture. Many Lasombra are drawn to the sea, and the majority of antitribu are sailors. Even now, the Lasombra are prone to some ancestral Catholicism, notable figures such as Archbishop Ambrosio Luis Monçada still view the world in Catholic terms - they believe in God and their own damnation with equal certainty. Elder Lasombra in particular place a strong emphasis on confession, although without redemption.

Since their beginning, the Clan has extremely strong ties to the sea; some speculate that this fascination stems from the Antediluvian's experience of the Deluge and marks his beginning of fascination with the Abyss. The compulsion to spend time around dark tides comes even at many generations remove from the Antediluvian. It is not uncommon for Elder Lasombra to resettle to the coastlines and one day to venture into the flood and to never re-emerge from it.

The Lasombra are also noted for a strong fascination with chess; the game serves as a metaphor for Vampiric existence (or at least, as the Lasombra see it), and consequently any Lasombra who plans to get anywhere in the clan is proficient in the game.

Finally, something must be said about the impact that the lost visage has on the Lasombra. The clan weakness makes it impossible for a Lasombra to ever see his own image again – mirrors, photography, and other reflective media fail, and the Lasombra react to this problem in a variety of ways. Clan culture places a strong emphasis on not overreacting to this problem – it is generally acceptable to sit for a portrait every few years, but extreme reactions (such as hiring a Tzimisce to flesh sculpt a ghoul) is considered a breach of good taste and grounds for diablerie.

Embraces:

The Lasombra Embrace is notably sadistic. The clan generally has traits that they are looking for: strength of will, ability to manipulate events, self-control, and an ability to evade the limelight for positions of power. When a candidate is identified, the sire will usually "test" the candidate.

Testing, in this case, generally means totally destroying the target's life and seeing how the target reacts. If the candidate falls apart, then he was obviously unworthy of the Embrace. If he can continue to survive and even overcome the challenges, then these challenges tend to become more extreme, until the sire decides that the candidate has demonstrated enough merit and is taken into the night.

As a rule of thumb, the Lasombra generally do not Embrace that many shovelheads, while becoming True Sabbat after being shovelheaded is a sign of talent, the Lasombra generally prefer to be choosy.

Relationship with Ghouls:

The Lasombra, as a rule, loathe ghouls with a passion. To them, a mortal in the world of Cainites is as absurd as a poodle putting on a tutu and walking around on its hind legs. Due to their command of Potence and Dominate, mortals are laughably easy to control, both physically and mentally; how could the Lasombra possibly respect or value such a pathetically weak and frail thing? As a consequence, the ghoul of a Lasombra is typically a sniveling and timid wretch, living in terror of a single mistake which could end their lives.

Lasombra ghouls fall into two broad categories. The first are the raft of accountants, lawyers, and bankers that the Lasombra need to keep the finances rolling in, and perhaps these are the luckier of the two groups – as long as the books balance at the end of the day, they will live to see another one. The second group cater to the Lasombra's difficulty with their own image. Some Lasombra keep an army of personal attendants – scores of ghouls to brush the mistress' hair, do her makeup, and dress her. Such attendants are punished severely for infractions. If the hair is not brushed with exactly one hundred strokes the ghoul might find themselves on the wrong side of the hairbrush, a Potence fueled hand wielding it. Also due to the Lasombra's curse, ghouls of either stripe might have their faces reduced to identical spiderwebs of scar tissue, or be forced to wear featureless white masks.

Malkavian


Clan Malkavian is twice damned: once by the curse of being Kindred, and again by the turmoil that disturbs their hearts and minds. Upon the Embrace, every Malkavian is afflicted with an insurmountable insanity that fractures her outlook for every night thereafter, making her unlife one of madness. Some consider this a form of oracular insight, while others simply consider them dangerous.

Make no mistake: Malkavian insanity is a painful, alienating phenomenon, but it occasionally provides the Lunatics with bursts of insight or heretofore unknown perspective. Madness for the Malkavians may take the form of any clinical form of insanity, or it may be a hyperacuity of senses others don’t know they have; a supernatural puppeteer pulling the Malkavian’s strings, or a sense that the Malkavian is somehow ahead of evolutionary schedule. A Malkavian may believe herself to be an idea given physical form or an avatar of some concept the World of Darkness has yet to encounter. She may be a nonstop ravening psychopath, or may be a mostly lucid individual sometimes rendered catatonic by fear of an impending cataclysm.

Their precarious stability makes it hard for other Kindred (or, indeed, any vessels with whom they may meet) to interact with Malkavians. The Clan sometimes indulges in elaborate, terrifying, and dangerous “pranks” which does little to endear them to other vampires. These incidents are nominally meant to educate the target, but the lesson can often be lost between the vampire’s scramble for safety and the inability to parse the Malkavian’s inner logic.

Antediluvian/Founder: Malkav

Nickname: Lunatics

Clan Flaw: All members of Clan Malkavian suffer from a permanent derangement.

Disciplines: Auspex, Dementation, (or Dominate) Obfuscate

History:

Early History:

As with all the major clans, the Malkavians originated in the pre-Deluge city Enoch. Little is known about the clan's early composition, only that their Antediluvian, Malkav, was a seer Embraced by one of the Second Generation. Malkav was particularly close to two other Kindred: Saulot, the founder of the Salubri, and Set, self-appointed god to his followers. Some accounts suggest the three shared the same sire, possibly Enoch.

Sometime after the Flood, Malkav was ambushed and murdered by his fellow Antediluvians. Most Malkavians believe that he is still undead, only now he exists entirely within the Madness Network (or "Cobweb"), the group mind that all Malkavians share. Some Malkavians speculate that Malkav literally is Clan Malkavian and that when Gehenna arises, he will devour the clan whole and reconstitute himself.

Many of the early Malkavians posed as city-gods, using their oracular powers to convince the population that they spoke and listened to the gods. In Greece and the lands of the Fertile Crescent, many of the early Malkavians prospered as oracles and soothsayers and later, their foresight placed them into the role of viziers and advisors to the ruling Ventrue of Rome. It was on behest of the Malkavian prophetess Tryphosa that Camilla called for the war against Carthage and it was with the aid of Alchias, the Malkavian ruler of Syracuse, that the Romans proved to be successful in the end. Later, however, the Malkavians were blamed for the more unstable emperors and when Rome finally fell apart, the Malkavians drifted away, shattered and lost. Several Malkavians, however, became attracted to early Christianity (a running gag within some elements of the Clan are the consequences of a graverobbery in 33 CE), seeing Jesus as the reborn Malkav who would end their curse. Some even claimed that Andreas, one of the disciples of Jesus, was secretly a Malkavian, and tasked by him to find Caine to persuade him to finally ask for forgiveness from God.

Dark Ages:

The Dark Ages were a difficult time for the Malkavians; still suffering from their fall from grace as an important clan after the collapse of Rome, many of the Kindred feared and distrusted the Madmen. Many more pitied their sad, insane state. Humans, needless to say, also feared the madness of the Malkavians; many were persecuted more for their derangements than vampirism. That is not to say all Malkavians suffered horribly; quite a few became advisors, seers, and jesters to well-placed and powerful Cainite Princes. However, the bulk of the clan lived up to the Low Clan status bestowed on them by the more self-important Kindred. Part of this age were also the Ordo, secret covenants of Malkavians who sought to utilize their madness to predict the future and carried on the legacy of the Malkavian Oracles of Antiquity.

The Renaissance was a chaotic and paradoxical time for the Lunatics, much to their delight. The developing forms of literature and philosophy granted them a freedom that was only overshadowed by the religious backlashes against it. Malkavians stood on both sides of the fray, often also enjoying dabbling in Camarilla and mortal politics that provided an intricate web of possibilities to disrupt. Many Malkavians also came to regard the growing medical developments, particulary insane asylums.

Victorian Age:

The Victorian Era was the time of Freud and Jung, as the old theories of phrenology, demon-possession and divine punishment gave way to more learned theories of psychology and psychiatry. Asylums now started doing what Malkavians had been practicing for centuries – taking an interest in insanity. While the reforms of these hospitals no doubt crippled more than one Malkavian's supply of blood, the new system permitted the Lunatics to experiment with madness like they had never before. Some set themselves up as psychologists – others visited psychologists as patients.

The rise of the Bohemian lifestyle within society meant many more kine were willing to expand their own perceptions with new cultures, experiences and drugs. The Malkavians were only too happy to oblige. New forms of expression and ways of thinking both nourished the Malkavians and allowed them to be as florid as they pleased – after all, if a finely dressed gentleman is shouting about how dogs on the street are telling him to kill people, why it must simply be the newest performance piece going around the salons. In fact, a friend of yours heard it on the streets of Paris...

Modern Nights:

The Malkavians always had a dangerous reputation due to their madness and their signature Dementation discipline, which can induce madness in others. With the Inquisition and the formation of the Camarilla, the clan faced possible extinction at the hands of other clans – the Malkavians were just too dangerous to continue existing. In order to prevent this, the elders of the clan changed the Clan in ways unknown and incomprehensible - the result was that the majority of Clan Malkavian discarded Dementation in favor of the Dominate discipline. More disturbingly, the majority of Malkavians, even those present at the time of the change are unaware that this happened. A small fragment of the clan preserved the Dementation discipline, defecting to the Sabbat and becoming antitribu.

This "Great Prank" means that almost all Malkavians are antitribu. While Sabbat Malkavians possessed the same mystical abilities as their ancestors, the violent environment of the Sabbat drove the antitribu even madder: all Malkavians have a mental disorder they cannot overcome, but Sabbat Malkavians have two.

This division was fixed in 1998, when for reasons unknown to anyone, Dementation resurfaced within the Camarilla, although several "Domination" Malkavians remained un-affected, for some reason.

Organization:

On the surface, clan Malkavian is barely a clan. The majority of Malkavians are only marginally aware they belong to a clan; Sabbat Malkavians generally claim to be Panders. What connections Malkavians generally have are informal and generally paternal, sire-childe relationships being the most common, although Malkavian sires are prone to abandoning their childer.

Scratch the surface, however, and the Malkavians become a smörgåsbord of paranoid delights. Malkavians operate on their own timescale, and will gather spontaneously for incomprehensible events. Malkavians usually do not explain how they know these gatherings are occurring, and when they do the explanation is not necessarily worth anything. Scratch deep enough and it appears that the Malkavians are highly organized, so highly organized they do not even know they are, and instead they continue to pursue incomprehensible and arcane goals that even they are not aware are relevant.

This organization is generally termed the "cobweb", "Malkavian Time", or the "Malkavian Madness Network" and is a form of shared consciousness unifying all Malkavians. The strength of the voices varies from Malkavian to Malkavian, however all of them are at least aware of its call and capable of interacting with it. Dead Malkavians' memories live on in the Cobweb, and it is implied heavily that Malkav himself is this network. The cobweb is only accessible by Malkavians, and they themselves only marginally understand it – most of them merely listen to the voices, but elders have demonstrated a powerful capacity to manipulate the rest of the clan through it. It is rumored that powerful Methuselahs partially exist within the Cobweb and can "download" themselves on their descendants if needed. The Cobweb also reacts to the presence of powerful Malkavians, like the Ankou.

Dominate Malkavians:

Although they typically do not differentiate themselves from the main body of the clan, this offshoot was, for some reason, protected from the Great Prank which caused the clan to reacquire Dementation as its signature Discipline. These Malkavians continue to have Dominate as their Camarilla brethren did throughout most of the modern nights. Although certainly suffering from the same weakness as their brethren, the derangements of the Dominate Malkavians are stereotyped as being more internalized and "sedate" (such as sociopathy, obsessive-compulsive disorder, or a tendency towards hallucination); similarly, they show no particular propensity for prophetic wisdom, and often seem somewhat contemptuous of the ones that do. They still carry the "infection" for Dementation, and may infect other Kindred despite not being infected themselves.

Culture:

Malkavians have traditionally fulfilled two roles in Vampire society: seers and jokers. As seers, the Malkavians have relied on advanced Auspex and the Cobweb (Madness Network) to provide information. Malkavians being Malkavians, this information is generally jaundiced, incomplete, filtered through cracked lenses or a total lie.

The joker role is somewhat more complex: Malkavians have a clan tradition of pranking. The exact purpose of these pranks is open to debate; they often appear intended to readjust the target's perceptions, but are also often sadistic.

In the Camarilla, Malkavians are tolerated; they are rarely Princes but often are important primogen or otherwise figures of authority. Given their obvious insanity, princes traditionally give the Madmen a certain amount of latitude; in return, Malkavians are generally expected to demonstrate enough self-control to not break the Masquerade. This is not a benevolent arrangement but largely driven by fear on both sides: fundamentally, Malkavians are unknowable and the general attitude among Princes is that it is better to keep them quiet and happy, since unhappy Malkavians have a tendency towards introducing bizarre and inexplicable incidents to the equation. Conversely, Malkavians need the protection of the Camarilla, and have been modified as discussed above to make them more amenable to it.

Many Malkavians are gifted with insight into the world around them. Through their shared madness and the powers of Auspex and Dementation, many are able to glimpse little bits of the future or the past. True Oracles and Seers, however, go beyond these common talents. They are blessed (or cursed) with strong visions that come upon them without warning. No one knows for sure from where this connection originates. Some embrace their powers and attempt to channel them. Some try to shun the visions and get on as if nothing happened. Other unsensitive Malkavians use the picture of the prophet for their own advantage like mortal fortune-tellers, using vague prophecies to secure themselves safe places. Those with the true Sight, however, often suffer for it, as they receive visions they do not understand at first and then watch helplessly unfold before them. During the Dark Ages, the Malkavian Orders of Mystery, also known as Ordos, tried to channel the gift of prophecy to mimic the Methuselah-Oracles of Antiquity, but with the formation of the sects and the severing of Dementation, their practice fell out of use.

Despite their madness, most Malkavians are not anti-social. In a certain period of time during their unlives, they may experience the cravings of companionship. Often, such companionship can ground the Lunatic's madness, giving them a focus that solitary Malkavians often lack.

Embraces:

The Malkavians are one of the more intellectually focused of the Camarilla clans (with the Tremere arguably being the only clan as interested in cerebral pursuits). As a result, Malkavian candidates for the Embrace tend to be intelligent and more than a little... odd. While the Malkavian embrace guarantees insanity, they do tend to choose candidates who are already halfway there.

Lunatic childer do come from all economic and cultural strata however, though most have some sort of hard-luck story or black secret behind them that caused their sire to take note. Truly damaged Malkavians who are unaware of the meanings of their actions may not even be aware that they have sired childer, which makes for very difficult entry into Kindred society for these castoffs, many of whom end up among the Caitiff.

Those Malkavians whose derangement is so severe as to make them non-functional are called the Gnawed.

Nosferatu


Those who doubt that the Embrace is a curse need look no further than the Nosferatu. Twisted by the mark of Caine, members of Clan Nosferatu are warped by the Embrace into hideous monsters. As such, they skulk and keep to the shadows, and they often rouse the ire and mockery of other Kindred for their nightmarish appearances. Still others are so terrified or revolted by the Nosferatu that these warped Kindred have little social interaction at all.

To their credit, the Nosferatu have come to possess many of the whispered secrets of their reluctant fellows. The Sewer Rats enjoy a grudging respect as the information-brokers of the Kindred, given their supernatural acumen at stealth and the fact that many Kindred would rather ignore them than acknowledge them. Savvy Nosferatu exploit this for all it is worth, turning the hypocrisy of other vampires to their own profit.

Some of the Sewer Rats are cruel, as blighted on the inside as they are on the outside, while others are tragic, wretched creatures who have been cursed with eternal outsider status through no choice of their own. A few of the Sewer Rats even position themselves as prophets or avatars of the Damned, physically embodying the haunting riddle, “A Beast I am, lest a Beast I become.”

Antediluvian/Founder: Absimiliard

Nickname: Sewer Rats

Clan Flaw: All Nosferatu are hideous in some way...though no two Nosferatu are hideous in quite the *same* way.

Disciplines: Animalism, Obfuscate, Potence

History:

As with all of the Antediluvians, the Nosferatu Antediluvian (referred to as Absimiliard) was Embraced in the shadow of Enoch. Powerful and vain, Absimiliard was a hunter of great skill and beauty who attracted the attention of one of the second generation, who stalked him down as prey. The Embrace was quick, but left him with a tiny facial scar that inflamed his vanity. His wounded pride, coupled with his ego, led him to resent, then hate, then kill his sire, precipitating the revolt by the Antediluvians.

As with his brethren, Absimiliard had sired a small clique of childer by the time of the Second City. His childer, hunters all, remained loyal to him except for one woman who fled further than he could chase. When Caine returned in judgment, he cursed Nosferatu with hideousness, a curse passed to all his descendants, including the hidden maid. Since that time, Absimiliard's eldest descendants, the Nictuku, have chased her. The maiden came to be known as the Matriarch for according to legends, she gave birth to the entire modern incarnation of the Nosferatu clan. Through his loyal Nictuku, Absimiliard hopes to exterminate all of the Matriarch's childer in atonement for his crimes against the laws of Caine – or in bitter vengeance, some would say.

In the beginning, most Nosferatu resorted to hunt humans as prey, as they were unable to coexist with them in their cities, as the mortals either ran away in fear or resorted to fire and violence to drive them out. Most hid from the sun in subterranean caves or in the grounds of rivers and lakes. Many Nosferatu hid in the great rivers like the Tigris or the Nile to prey on farmers at night. The development of the catacombs in ancient Rome connected the Clan with mortal society, although they were regarded as low-blooded by the ruling Ventrue and Malkavians.

Dark Ages:

In the middle age, Nosferatu were one of the Low Clans, and notable in particular for their embrace of Christianity and redemption (flagellation in particular). They were, however, not without power, as they had discovered the connection between human waste and plagues and used it to defile the water sources of a village if a local Cainite lord became too arrogant. Many Nosferatu chose to dwell among the beggars and outcasts of society, feeding from the muck of society and hiding their disfigurements as illnesses like leprosy.

The Nosferatu did effectively split during the formation of the Sabbat; however, Nosferatu antitribu are largely identical to their Camarilla kin. Nosferatu tend to place a higher emphasis on clan unity and mutual survival, and are consequently fairly cordial with each other even though technically enemies.

Renaissance:

During this period the Nosferatu began to construct their urban lairs, using the urbanization as a means to disappear from the mortal world to ensure the protection of the Masquerade. Many ghettos and tenements housed large populations of Nosferatu that lived hidden from the views of the Toreador and Ventrue who had instituted themselves into mortal society. The Renessaince also saw an increase in Embraces that had only spite and hatred as reasons, as many Nosferatu grew to resent the new arts and philosophies that began to develop.

Victorian Age:

The Nosferatu were very (some would say suspiciously so) quiet during the Victorian Era. In a time when physical beauty was supposed to reflect spiritual beauty, the Nosferatu experienced one of the greatest periods of exile in their long and lonely history. Where the Toreador were ascendant, the Nosferatu were relegated to the slums and ghettos of Europe. More than one Prince of London banned them from entering Elysium.

So, instead of parading around the brightly-lit mansions of the wealthy and noble, the Nosferatu scuttled around the back alleys of London, taking over derelict buildings and, yes, the sewers. The banks of the Thames were downright infested with Nosferatu, for the river was a convenient way to cross the city without being seen. The Nosferatu also lived in what was termed "the Thieves' Citadel", which was the name given to high-crime areas of London. These zones tended to be self-contained both culturally and architecturally – the Nosferatu ensured that they controlled how and when new construction went on in these zones for their own protection and that of their herd.

Modern Nights:

The Nosferatu feel their Antediluvian metaphorically breathing down the back of their necks. Technically savvy, the Sewer Rats adopt every technique they can to protect themselves, encouraging the fears evoked during the Cold War to use many of the now deserted bunker systems as supplements for their own warrens. Most notably, the Nosferatu develop an information sharing network – ShreckNET, a parallel internet that the Nosferatu use to enhance their traditional information gathering and reporting skills.

The most terrifying and unique event in the early 1990's was the rise of the Shadow Curtain in Russia, a mystical barrier that separated the vampires of the former Soviet Union from the rest of the world. The Shadow Curtain eventually was revealed as the product of Baba Yaga, a fourth generation Nosferatu of almost incalculable power. Most frightening of all was not the witch, however, but her demise. In the late 1990s, Baba Yaga was destroyed... by a Nictuku.

Organization:

Nosferatu are generally organized into broods; communities centrally located around a sewer system and serving as underground cities which may house dozens of their kind. Nosferatu are stereotyped as ugly on the outside, humane on the inside - this is not entirely true. There are many Nosferatu who never leave the sewers, the Nosferatu make a habit of sending their friendliest to communicate with the rest of the Camarilla.

Nosferatu strongly stress clan loyalty over almost everything else. Given their hideous appearance, they depend heavily on clan support structures for everything from havens to food. Broods are generally gerontocratic, with the eldest Nosferatu setting policy and guiding the youngest. Most Nosferatu can acquire jobs within their clan, including assisting on construction or other survival projects. Most Nosferatu are inculcated with a survivalist mentality and increasing the strength of their havens is a constant preoccupation. The Nosferatu also use ghouled animals as defenses and have created Spawning pools, which are tainted by their vitae and turn, over the course of many years, every animal that drinks from them into a monstrous creature loyal only to the brood.

Nosferatu antitribu:

There is no real difference between the Sabbat Nosferatu and their Camarilla cousins: to the Nosferatu, clan loyalty trumps sect loyalty any night of the week.

Ironically, or perhaps because of their disfigurements, the Nosferatu antitribu are perhaps the most humane (if not human) of the Sabbat clans. Having transcended the need for ostentatious brutality, the Creeps have come to grips with their monstrosity. They do not caper in blood or senselessly slaughter mobs of kine; rather, a Nosferatu antitribu's every move is one of calculated precision, designed to get the exact response she seeks, whether that be respect, fear or understanding. Many young Sabbat consider the Nosferatu antitribu soft – until they step into the sewers and see the true malice of the Creeps' black souls. Many antitribu also have a pathological fear of their own Antediluvian and the desire to prepare for the last stand against him is one of the main reasons Nosferatu desert the Camarilla and join the Sabbat.

Culture:

In both the Camarilla and Sabbat, the Nosferatu are famous information brokers and spymasters. While this is partly supported by their use of the Obfuscate and Animalism disciplines, the Nosferatu also emphasize information interchange as part of clan culture. Nosferatu invest an awful lot in teaching their childer with riddle games, memorization exercises and other activities which emphasize sharing and hiding information. Most Nosferatu tend to present themselves as antisocial creatures and as they seldom play the games of Elysium, they instead focus on the acquisition of knowledge to make themselves irreplaceable for vampiric society.

The Nosferatu have a deeply ingrained complex about physical beauty, especially with clans like the Toreador. Nosferatu will tend to charge Toreador higher prices, and make the higher clans crawl through humiliating or disgusting tunnels to actually negotiate with them. Similarly, Nosferatu will often accentuate their hideousness by cultivating an array of disgusting physical habits. Some of the Nosferatu who dwell underground can develop a penchant for bizarre forms of art, in particular for music, gardening and sculpture. Rumors tell of the development of acoustic subterranean chambers – some of which employ channeled water, and of fantastical gardens with fungi the size of trees. The greatest work of Nosferatu art is the Escalera, a giant sculpture of twisted metal and piping that spans an underground chasm in Lima. On several cases where Nosferatu have embraced a caitiff, the childe has been exiled or killed. Nosferatu also tend to use Obfuscate for practical jokes involving their appearance, such as dropping a discipline's use for a brief instant and reveling in the effects.

The most bizarre relationships can occur between Nosferatu and mortals. Even the most hard-bitten Nosferatu may discover a weakness for a certain human or types of humans. Living as they do in places many would consider to be Hell, there is a long tradition of the Nosferatu offering help to others like them. There are many, many cases of cruel kindred preying on homeless people, children or mental patients who have inexplicably been beaten black and blue and left somewhere as a warning to others. Cliché as it may be, many orphanages, scholarships and self-help organisations owe at least part of their funding to the Sewer Rats. Living in the gutter, there are a lot of Nosferatu who want to help those who still can get out of it. Unlike the Toreador and the Ventrue, they seldom if ever brag about their accomplishments, and most outside the clan are unaware of them.

Embraces:

The Nosferatu tend to embrace two classes of people: first are those for whom the Embrace is a step up, such as the homeless, the hopelessly antisocial, derelicts, the mentally ill, the emotionally damaged, the flawed, vagrants or other people at the bottom of the totem pole, often out of a feeling of kinship with them. The second class are those for whom the Embrace is a step down, such as beauty queens or people from privileged backgrounds. Nosferatu are notorious for revenge Embraces, and the resulting Cleopatras often lead miserable lives within the clan.

The Embrace of the Nosferatu is especially painful, as the body warps and twists as the blood creates a new vampire. The chance of a Nosferatu dying in the process of the Embrace is higher than in other Clans and many emerge as simple brutes, their brains damaged and incapable of higher thought or basic survival skills. For these reasons, some Elders of the medieval world used the Embrace by a Nosferatu as a punishment for disobedient ghouls. Rumors tell that those poor souls are most often killed directly by their own sire to spare them an eternity of pain and misery, but that some instead resort to hiding their childer and trying to feed and care for them.

Each Nosferatu is disfigured in a unique way that make each of them unbearable. Rare breeds of Nosferatu that have often geographical connections, however, tend to develop similar disfigurements, creating differents stocks of the Clan that come and go as time develops. Example of this are the greek Larvae, who were said to burrow through soft rock with their teeth and to feed on their victims through strange serrated proboscises, the German Volsi, who were bog-dwelling giants and cannibals, the French Parisii, who have near translucent skin, and the Turkish Lazarenes, whose disfigurements are similar to those of leprosy. Many others are rumored to have existed once and have vanished with the Clan's focus on the sewer systems of major cities.
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