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 O-T

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Margifish
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PostSubject: Clans and Bloodlines O-T   Sat Jun 23, 2018 1:34 pm

Toreador

The Toreador are a clan of vampires known for being some of the most beautiful, sensual, seductive, emotional and glamorous of the Kindred. They are responsible for the legends of vampires who seduce and entice their prey with beauty, love and sensuality. Famous and infamous as a clan of artists and innovators, they are one of the bastions of the Camarilla, as their very survival depends on the facades of civility and grace on which the sect prides itself.

Due to their inherent clan weakness, although lovely and seductive, the members of this clan are as much prisoners of their artistic vision and sensitivity as they are its beneficiaries. They are often overcome by the beauty they see around them and can become immobilized with fascination. Such things as paintings, neon signs, or even sunrises can captivate them. It requires sheer willpower to break the fascination quickly; otherwise, the Toreador will stand, awed and helpless, for minutes or even hours. This trait explains why Toreador so often fall in love with mortals and other vampires. This trait, however, also bans them from ever reaching perfection in their chosen form of art and makes them callous and disregardful once the experience becomes banal, resulting in trails of heart-broken mortals and discarded projects behind every Toreador.

Nickname: Degenerates

Founder: Arikel

Clan Flaw: Can become entranced by beauty

Disciplines: Auspex, Celerity, Presence

History:

It is said that the Clan's founder, Arikel was a mortal painter or sculptress in the First City. Famed throughout the lands for her work, after her Embrace she painted a mural on which the past, present and future of Kindred society was depicted. When Caine saw a terrible future for his race, he cursed her with the affliction that affects Toreador today – the art that she loved most dearly would now be her obsession and distraction above all things.

The Toreador had a strong presence in the early minoic cultures of Greece. The Toreador attribute many of the classic tales as distorted versions of actual interference of mortals and Cainites (such as the tale of the Minotaur or the tale of Tantalus and Pelops). Their squabbling, however, weakened the first civilization of Mycenae, as childer drew their sustenance from the population, who in turn became too weak to defend themselves from foreign invaders. After the fall of Mycenae to the Dorians, the Toreador wandered across the Mediterranean, often seeking shelter by the Roman Ventrue or the Carthaginian Brujah.

At first, the Toreador supported both sides in their struggle, but when it became clear that Carthage would lose, many Toreador abandoned the city and joined the Roman forces, bringing with them tales of debauchery and infernalism that propelled the Ventrue to completely raze the city to the ground. The Toreador began to insinuate themselves into the city, often competing with the Ventrue and Malkavians. When Rome's glory began to fade, one of them, the Toreador Mi-ka-il, deserted Rome to follow Constantine into Nova Roma, to construct the Dream that had failed in Rome, much to the shock of many Toreador Elders. Constantinople remained a beacon of Cainite power and glory, until the city was sacked by the Fourth Crusade in 1204 and original Cainite population either had fled or was destroyed.

Dark Ages:

In the middle ages, the Toreador were a member of the High Clans, and their numbers were made up of the same types that are common in the modern nights – minstrels, painters, poets and actors. Many Toreador insinuated themselves into the structures of the Catholic Church, primarily because the Church was the only supporter of art in these dark times. The Courts of Love, which encompassed much of France, were firmly under their control.

Following the formation of the Camarilla thanks to the efforts of the Toreador Rafael de Corazón, some of the members left the Clan proper upon the formation of the Sabbat, most famously Arianne of Esztergom. Toreador antitribu are the dark reflection of their Camarilla cousins – while they are beautiful social butterflies, their weakness has twisted so that all antitribu derive joy from the emotional, physical and mental suffering of others.

The Renaissance is well remembered as a Golden Age of the Clan among the Elders. As one of the most powerful Clans within Europe, the Toreador prospered in France as Europe's cultural nexus, enjoying the works of various new artists as Michelangelo and DaVinci as well as the works of Shakespeare and the invention of the mirror. Many Toreador began to turn away from spiritually motivated preservationism to a self-serving hedonism that plagues them today.

Victorian Age:

The Toreador revelled in the Victorian age. The Industrial Revolution led to a phenomenon that only the rich had been previously afforded – leisure time. A heyday of theatre, music and art began in cultural nexuses like New York, London and Paris and spread throughout the globe. While the influence of the Church in people's lives (and consequently, the influence Toreador held over the church) waned, those Kindred that latched themselves onto businessmen prospered. Possibly the one thing most Toreador love with the exception of beauty is money, and it was now accessible from places other than the landed gentry of the time. While the Clan has had peaks and troughs, this was a time that cemented them as a true power in the Camarilla.

Modern Nights:

The Toreador play their games as they always have, albeit at a slightly more frantic pace due to the upheaval of the various skirmishes the Camarilla have fought. The recent innovations of cinema, television and the internet means that new forms of art and expression are being discovered almost daily, meaning the Toreador have become even more varied.

However, the Toreador are still a noble and aristocratic clan, and many perceive the Embrace of graffiti artists, Wall Street Wizards and CGI technicians as a pollution of the vaunted ideals that the Clan used to stand for. Many nights are filled with one Toreador bickering with another over what can be considered true art, and each Toreador's opinion is as varied as the definition of art itself.

Organization:

The Toreador have no formal overarching hierarchy. Ad-hoc gatherings called "affairs of the clan" are called, with no mandatory attendance though most turn out for them. These can range from parties, dinners, art showing, or actual meetings.

The Toreador of a city organise themselves into Guilds. While this has something of an artistic ring to it, most Toreador in the city are members, whether they are Poseurs or Artistes (see below). The head of the Guild is typically the oldest and most influential Toreador within the city, with the other members forming a complicated stratified social system, the rules of which boggle many an outsider.

The clan itself has two divisions. The Artistes consist of the sculptors, the painters, the musicians and the writers. They consider themselves to be the "real" Toreador as inheritors of the Clan's original values and goals. The Poseurs make up the other faction – they can include the failed artists (or those that happened to be Embraced while their sire was riding a particular fad), as well as the professional critics and those who consider their bodies to be their life's masterpiece. It should be noticed that neither group has a nickname for themselves – they tend to be only flung at the opposing faction as a derisive epithet.

Toreador Antitribu:

The Toreador antitribu are the dark mirror image of their Camarilla brethren. Although they are no less beautiful than their cousins, their minds are twisted and warped, and the antitribu often lose themselves watching others suffer, much like their Camarilla siblings lose themselves watching a beautiful painting.

Whether the variance of the antitribu weakness is just a variance due to circumstance or an actual Bloodline variance is disputed. Within the Toreador antitribu is an actual variant bloodline though: Toreador who as mortals were members of the Sabbat's Zantosa "revenant" family. Zantosa are born with the Vicissitude ability, and when Embraced as a Toreador they retain this as a Bloodline Discipline instead of acquiring the Celerity of mainline Toreador, and they retain their familial weakness of hedonistic addiction instead of acquiring the Toreador antitribu weakness of compulsion toward cruelty. The reputation of Toreador antitribu as being perverts is due in part to Zantosa Toreador.

Culture:

It is said that while the Ventrue are the mind of the Camarilla, the Toreador are its soul. It was one of their number, Rafael de Corazón, who was instrumental in its formation. The Toreador are the greatest supporters of many of the Camarilla's traditions, most notably that of Elysium. This is where the Toreador are in their element, showcasing their latest pieces and practicing their highly effective (and sometimes deadly) form of social maneuvering. From the outside, most other Clans think of one face of the Toreador, but see another. When speaking of them to another, most envision Toreador as the Artistes – billowy shirted, frock-coated fops who crow about the beauty of the ages and lamenting their lost humanity. In reality, outsiders are less likely to meet such characters, given as they are to sequestering themselves away to work on their latest masterpiece. Far more often encountered are those Toreador whose unlives have become dedicated to the Kindred social scene – Toreador are often a large contingent of the city's Harpies, and having spent years with their bitchy and conniving clanmates they are more than capable of ruining someone's reputation with a pithy comeback or a damning piece of gossip whispered in just the right ear.

The Toreador portray themselves as the vampires closest to the living, breathing pulse of the humans around them (though this honor might be shared with the Brujah). They claim that this is what keeps them so vital and modern. Indeed, Clan members are often the first ones to be aware of what mortals are wearing, eating, buying and sleeping with. While a Malkavian elder might be found in his 1800s finery, the Toreador is much more likely to be wearing something from this year's Paris catwalks. Many Toreador are fond of having mortal "families" or assuming mortal identities, in order to capture the breath of life that is denied to them. The constant pressure that the proximity to mortals can elicit, however, can cause a Toreador to break down, losing all of their creativity and motivation in the process, resulting in a debauched individual that desperately searches for the next kick to experience the feeling of being mortal again, eventually turning to mortal vices like drugs in order to feel just this one aspect. The older a Toreador gets and the more mortal associates he has watched die, the more likely a "burnout" is to occur. Other vampires have to deal with it, too, but no Clan suffers so uniformly under this aspect of their existence than the Toreador.

Art:

Art is the cornerstone of the Clan, defining its Clan curse and shaping the preferences of every Toreador. The Toreador are not artists by choice as much by nature, as each Toreador desperately searches for something that anchors their passion and preserves it from withering from the ages. The desire to preserve art and artists is – more often than not – the impetus for an Embrace. As such, many Toreador struggle when they discover that the talent that originally brought them into the Clan is falling out of favour or that their creativity has suffered under the weight of ages. The relativity of art is one of the major conflict points within the Clan, especially between Elders and neonates, who refuse to think of modern developments (like dubstep or dadaism) as an "art form", while neonates are often frustrated over the conformity of art that the Elders seem to espouse.

Common accepted forms of art can be everything within the Clan, as long as it is prestigious (cooking, for example, is not a widely spread form of art among the Clan, mainly due the vampiric inability to actually consume the food). Painting and sculpting are the most iconic, but the Toreador have also a fair share of poets, artisans, dancers, actors, musicians and even warriors and martial artists. Revenge (also called "justice" by neonates with morals) and intrigue are also considered as art forms and many Elder Toreador commit themselves fully to this, having found ways to utterly crush their rivals and driving them to suicide without even lifting a hand.

Embraces:

As stated before, there are two rough moulds that clan members fall into. Artists make up a large proportion of the clan, which in the modern nights can include computer graphics artists, avant-garde performance artists and sportsmen alongside the singers, dancers and writers. The other portion consists of businessmen, critics and those who are simply beautiful. While the main detractors of the clan, often the Nosferatu and the Brujah complain that Toreador coddle their childer, the truth is a much more brutal one. Toreador sires are notoriously capricious, and while the subject of their Embrace can be the most cutting edge, the most innovative, the most beautiful, the most now, they can easily be terribly passe and embarrassing the following week. The sire then inevitably dumps the new childe as soon as is feasible, leaving the young vampire confused and struggling to make their own way. Such is the nature of the Toreador.

Tremere


Clan Tremere is the second youngest of the vampiric clans, having just come into existence during the Dark Ages. In the little time since then they have made incredible inroads within vampiric society and are arguably the most powerful clan in the modern nights. This is due in no small part to their strict hierarchy, secretive nature, and mastery of Thaumaturgy, all of which elicit suspicion, fear, and respect from other Cainites. The Warlocks stand as a pillar of the Camarilla and are one of its main defenders, despite the fact that they exist almost as a sub-sect. Some even go so far as to consider themselves the evolution of vampirism, citing their extreme versatility of blood magic and lack of a true clan curse. The modern nights have many things in store for the Tremere, however, and the more powerful they grow, the more their enemies gather - and in their bid for power, the Tremere have accumulated more enemies than most.

The Tremere clan weakness consists of an initiation, which requires all neonates to drink from the blood of the seven elders of the clan when they are created. This means that all Tremere are at least one step toward being Blood-Bound to the clan, and therefore must watch their step very carefully when around their leaders. The Tremere are more easily blood bound by their nature; vampires of Clan Tremere are blood bound by only two draughts of another Kindred's vitae. The first draught is treated as if another vampire had two.  

Nickname: Warlocks

Founder: Tremere

Clan Flaw: Start out one step blood bound to their clan as a whole, can be blood bound with two drinks instead of one.

Disciplines: Auspex, Dominate, Thaumaturgy

History:

The Tremere began as House Tremere, mages of the Order of Hermes named for their leader and founder, Tremere. At the end of the first millennium, the members of House Tremere realized the Hermetic arts were failing and found its immortality potions no longer working. Facing the possibility of losing everything, Tremere ordered research into alternate methods of sustaining their lives. House Tremere undertook numerous experiments, but it was Goratrix who devised a solution in his investigation of vampires.

In 1022, Goratrix invited Tremere and six of the founder's closest advisers to participate in the completed ritual, which promised true immortality. Whether Goratrix knew what would happen is known only by him and, perhaps, Tremere, but at the completion of the ritual the participants fell unconscious and were reborn as vampires, their avatars destroyed and magical abilities lost. The mages had gained their immortality but lost the power they lived for. Though the others would likely have slain Goratrix for his folly (or trickery), Tremere ordered them to halt and declared that they would remain at his side, leaving their chantries in the hands of subordinates while they discovered the powers of their new forms in secret.

In time the Tzimisce made war against House Tremere in retribution for the Fiends that had been made part of Goratrix's experiments. The Order of Hermes also became suspicious of diabolical practices being performed by the increasingly secretive House, but Tremere was able to dissuade them from investigating further. Finally, in 1037 Tremere gathered the seven newly-made Cainites and forced the blood bond upon them. He then declared to them that House Tremere would be restructured with a new pyramid hierarchy, placing himself at the top as Primus of House and clan Tremere and his seven closest followers forming the Inner Council of Seven directly under him. They would slowly begin Embracing the rest of the House, with each initiate being bound to the Inner Council to ensure their loyalty. In time, all members of House Tremere would die or become vampires.

Dark Ages:

Over the next century the Omen War with the Tzimisce continued on and off. With their mages growing weaker and those newly Embraced unfamiliar with the powers of the blood, chantries as far as their stronghold of Ceoris were repeatedly ravaged. While Tremere and Etrius pursued their own research throughout Europe in converting the hermetic arts into Thaumaturgy, Goratrix once again returned to his laboratories with his apprentices at hand. After years of experimentation on captured Tzimisce, Nosferatu, and Gangrel, he succeeded in creating a Gargoyle in 1121, and by 1125 the hybrids were serving as shock troops against the Fiends.

Nevertheless, the Tremere found themselves third-class citizens among the undead. Whatever boldness Tremere had shown in entering the night was ignored by the staunchly traditionalist clans, and they were often forced from cities by princes who did not look kindly on their presumption.

The Tremere's response to this was further boldness. As he and Etrius rapidly acquired more vampiric lore they discovered the history of Caine and the Antediluvians, as well as the benefits of diablerie. Seeking to establish themselves as a clan proper, the Tremere sought a clan founder to diablerize and settled on Saulot, the enigmatic founder of the Salubri clan. In 1133, Tremere and the Inner Council discovered Saulot's tomb in the Anatolian desert. Tremere diablerized the Antediluvian and promptly entered torpor, leaving the Inner Council to lead the clan and destroy the remaining Salubri.

As with everything else that the Tremere had done to this point, the result was a mixed blessing. Due largely to Meerlinda's efforts, the Tremere were entrenched in many Cainite courts, their services as mages making them indispensable to princes across Europe. They were now accepted as one of the Low Clans, albeit considered usurpers, distrusted warlocks, and known diablerists. A vicious propaganda campaign painted the Salubri as infernalists and soul-stealers, granting them some credit, and even those who knew better largely sat back while the Salubri were hunted to near extinction, for their arrogance had made them many enemies among the other clans.

In 1202, the Order of Hermes finally discovered what had become of House Tremere and sentenced them to death, resulting in a Wizard's March. The Massasa War, as it would eventually be called, never officially ended, but neither side had the resources to sustain the war and it subsided after a few decades, only to sporadically begin anew years later.

Renaissance:

The Tremere continued their hunt of Saulot's descendents while making alliances with Hungarian Ventrue against the Tzimisce. By the 15th century the Salubri were only a legend and the Tremere were completely acknowledged as a clan. The Inquisition was particularly hard on them, however, and they lost many of their cults and chantries. During this time Goratrix used his influence and power to try to corrupt religious orders, most notably the Knights Templar, in order to seize potent artifacts held by the Church and turn its hunters against his enemies. When his bid for power failed, and the Knights Templar were branded as heretics, Tremere awoke and summoned Goratrix to return to Ceoris to stand trial before the Inner Council. After being censored and stripped of his authority, Goratrix fled into the east, believing his assassination was imminent. Shortly thereafter Etrius moved Tremere's torpid body to the Vienna Chantry, which became the new center for the clan.

The formation of the Camarilla signaled the Tremere's rise to legitimacy. Though the Tremere did not suffer greatly from the Anarch Revolt, the spread of Thaumaturgy among the Anarchs by the Tremere antitribu was a dire threat to the clan. The Warlocks used their sorcery to facilitate communication and coordination of the Elders needed to support such an endeavor and played a pivotal role at the Convention of Thorns when they placed a curse upon the entirety of Clan Assamite, preventing them from drinking the blood of Cainites without extreme danger. The Assamites would never forgive the Tremere, their rivalry continuing into the present. At the same time, the Tremere antitribu were also cursed so that anyone who partook of the Vaulderie would be branded by a mark visible to "true" Tremere. Such mighty feats were said to have been led by Tremere himself, who rose from torpor for the event, along with the entire Inner Council.

Victorian Age:

In the 18th Century rumors were finally confirmed that Goratrix had joined the Sabbat and was gathering the majority of the Tremere antitribu to form House Goratrix. Though the Tzimisce ensured that the they would never become influential within the sect, the Betrayer's efforts brought them closer together in an ironic imitation of the main clan.

During this time the Tremere continued to spread throughout Europe and North America, with considerably less success in Africa and Asia. Despite this expansion, the clan maintained its hierarchy, and the web of communication leading back to Vienna and the Inner Council steadily grew.

The Victorian age saw a rise in occultism among mortals, and the Tremere were quick to capitalize. Infiltrating the many secret societies that sprang up among the upper and middle classes, they drew childer, servants and herds from them. This also allowed the Tremere to practice their talents more openly (although still within the strictures of the Masquerade), and what once would have gotten an incautious magus burned at the stake for witchery, now enthralled and excited mortals with its concepts of divination, conjuration and communing with spirits.

Modern Nights:

In 1998, the Tremere antitribu were wiped out. After being called to a chantry in Mexico City, they were completely destroyed in an unknown ritual. If any of the antitribu remain, those who did not attend the gathering, they are undoubtedly in hiding.

More problematic is the increasing number of free Gargoyles that are making themselves known within the Camarilla and those that are clamoring for more freedoms and rights despite the Tremere's attempts to keep them under their control. Far worse, the Tremere are beginning to take notice of a growing instability in Thaumaturgy with frightening similarities to the failure of the Hermetic arts that spurned Goratrix's experiments and the transformation into vampires. The curse placed upon the Assamite clan has failed, with subsequent efforts to renew it unsuccessful, and the Assassins are hunting them with renewed vigor, even as a new faction of sorcerers and scholars seek membership within the Camarilla. The advancements made by the Tremere seem to be met by further setback, and little reassurances is given from the top of the pyramid.  

Organization:

The Tremere are the most strictly organized clan bar none, and every member knows where they stand in authority amongst their peers. This creates the illusion of total unison and cooperation for other Cainites, who rarely know anything of the Tremere hierarchy or inner politics. Their Founder and namesake, the nominal Antediluvian Tremere, sits at the top of the Pyramid and supposedly directs the entire clan, though very few have ever seen him or witnessed his hand in action. Many do not believe he is even a real person, but perhaps an ideal of the Tremere cause or a symbol of their unity. Beneath him, the importance of the number seven is emphasized, as each successive rank down is comprised of seven to one, starting with:

   Councilors - the members of the Inner Council of Seven and the true rulers of the clan, each of whom is responsible for directing clan efforts in a particular portion of the world. Each councilor appoints seven -
   Pontifices - a pontifex oversees a large region, such as parts of a nation or groupings of smaller countries and islands, and in turn oversees seven -
   Lords - each lord is responsible for a small country or group of states and uses their influence and knowledge to sway the Tremere in their domain, specifically the -
   Regents - the most visible figures of Tremere authority. A regent runs an individual chantry and is charged with the supervision of it.
   Magisters - a term to describe a Tremere that has not sought power but instead has become a trusted advisor who manages inter-chantry disputes. Magisters educate and see to well-being of -
   Apprentices - the youngest and most numerous Tremere. Apprentices must spend much of their time training, serving some need within their chantry, or playing the politics of the clan as best as their inexperience allows. Some never advance beyond this rank, either because they are more interested in Camarilla politics or their own affairs to rise among the Tremere or because the lord of the region sees no need to create a new chantry and regent.
   Acolytes - are the ones who lie below Apprentices, a rank that includes Tremere that have not yet been accepted as a part of the clan, as well as groups that are bound to the Council of Seven (such as the Trimira). Below Acolytes are ghouls and servitors like Gargoyles.

Circles of Mystery:

Each rank, save for the Inner Council itself, is further divided into seven levels called circles of mystery. One's circle of mystery denotes one of several characteristics that have earned them prestige and further responsibility, such as skill in Thaumaturgy, years of experience and hard work, successful political machinations, or simple favoritism. The higher one's circle of mystery the more authority and power they have access to, but they are also expected to provide more for the clan and given less tolerance for failure. Those of the fifth circle or above are also commonly called "high" members of their rank, such as high apprentice or high lord. Promotion and demotion is dealt by members of higher rank, though tribunals may also be called where accomplishments and failings are examined. The pursuit of promotion is one of the most motivating factors for the clan's members to excel and obey Tremere doctrine, though advancement is rarely as simple as that.

Secret Societies:

The Tremere pyramid teems with conspiracies since the creation of the clan and the feud between Goratrix and Etrius. Many of these societies are tolerated as long as they do not threaten the foundation of loyalty to the clan.

Known and accepted societies are:

   Astors - a secret organization that hunts traitors and infiltrators within the pyramid;
  Brothers of Absinthe - those who believe in the usage of certain drugs to elevate their consciousness and awareness in Dreams;
   Children of the Pyramid - who revere the spiritual concept of the Pyramid;
   The Covenant - a group that seeks knowledge of Necromancy to combine it with Thaumaturgy;
   Elite - a group of Tremere that believe that they are the next step in vampiric evolution and are dedicated to show the supremacy of the Clan;
   Guardians of Traditions - who stand opposed to any change in policy and oppose all modern technology and conventions;
   Quaesitori - a remnant from House Quaesitor that act as independent judges;
   The Unbowed Mundanes - a group of Tremere that lobbies for a better inclusion of those Tremere that show no aptitude for Thaumaturgy.

Besides them, there exist groups like the Eyes of the Serpent, which is a cell from the Followers of Set, the Third Eye, a group of Tremere that seeks to atone for the genocide against the Salubri, and the Illuminated Brotherhood and the Order of the Wyrm, which are rumored to have connections to the demonic Baali. Membership in one of these societies can be punished with Final Death once it is known, and so, these cults hide among the other members of the Clan. Other societies die out due to lack of interest, such as the Humanus League or the Golden Path of Harmony.

Houses:

The houses of Clan Tremere are little more than cults of personality at their worst, but are distinct colleges of magic or philosophy at their most valid. The clan consists of an unknown number of houses, some claiming only a handful of members, while others — the House of Tremere — claim every childe of the clan.

Listed below are a few of the more prominent — or notorious — houses of Clan Tremere. Not all of these are common knowledge; some exist only as rumors and may well be fictional, while others are august and prestigious.

  Trismegistus - symbology and numerology
   Hashem - Kabbalah
  Rodolfo - divination
   Daughters of the Crone - birth and death magic
  Horned Society - infernalism (allows non-kindred members)
   High Saturday - voudoun and necromancy (allows non-Tremere members)
   Auram Guild - alchemy
   Etrius - Thaumaturgy
   Goratrix - Thaumaturgy (Tremere antitribu of the Sabbat)

Culture:

Aside from the clan hierarchy, Tremere are sometimes grouped into political factions and houses, which range from cults to distinct colleges of magic or other intellectual pursuits. These groups are generally highly informal and maintain their own organization, if any at all, and some may even at odds with one another. To the rest of Cainite society, however, they always present a unified front. Given their history as usurpers and power-grabbers, they are obsessed with the image and reputation of their clan. The Tremere are one of the primary pillars of the Camarilla in the modern nights, arguably second only to the Ventrue in terms of the support and influence they possess (most of this power comes from the Tremere's near-monopoly of Thaumaturgy, but also from the encouragement for individual Tremere to place clan interests high on their list of priorities).

The clan is synonymous with blood magic, a fact that they use to instill fear and envy in others. While they are surely not the first thaumaturges in Cainite history (despite claims to the contrary), their paradigm is one of the most flexible and expansive. The Tremere differ from the other thaumaturges by adopting a uniquely scientific approach to magic, and they encourage active experimentation – the result being a staggering array of thaumaturgical paths and rituals. Of course, no single individual knows every application of blood magic, and such knowledge is one of the main forms of barter within the clan.

The Clan places great value at the numerological value of the number seven. Seeing the mind ordered akin to a pyramid ordered in seven steps, the internal discipline of the mind mirrors the structure of the Clan itself. Thoughts, desires and fears have to be ordered in these seven steps. Likewise, the pyramid teaches seven lessons; those of Discontinuity, Hierarchy, Apathy, Favor, Authority, Documentation and Surveillance, in order to shape their members into the desired form.

Embraces:

The Tremere are very selective in who they Embrace and normally do so with a mind for the clan's needs, a condition reinforced by the fact that the local regent must give permission for an individual to be sired. Individuals of strong will or aggressive personalities are normally sought, provided they have a clear head and can learn to be a part of the greater whole that is the clan. Candidates were scholars in life, and many dabbled in the occult to one extent or another, though that is not a prerequisite. Of course, there are "rogue" Embraces for the usual reasons – love, political gain, or accident. Regents often have these mistakes killed immediately, with suitable punishment levied against the sire, but there are always exceptions.

Soon after being Embraced, Tremere neonates are made to commit to the Tremere Code – which elaborates on what’s expected of a Tremere, and what activities would earn disfavor. The neonate has to drink the blood of the Inner Council of Seven through a ritual called the Transubstantiation of Seven, bringing them one step towards a blood bond to the clan's leaders and ensuring some degree of loyalty to their peers. Afterwards their training begins, even as they continue to grapple with their transformation into a vampire, memorize the Traditions, learn to feed, and so on. These factors lead to a high rate of failure in newly Embraced Tremere, who may go mad or commit suicide.

Tzimisce


NOTE: Personally I've always considered the whole concept of 'Vicissitude as parasite/disease' to be beyond stupid, so that aspect is ignored in this game.

The Tzimisce are a clan of scholars and flesh-shapers. If someone were to call a Tzimisce inhuman and sadistic, the Tzimisce would probably commend them for their perspicacity, and then demonstrate that their mortal definition of sadism was laughably inadequate. The Tzimisce have left the human condition behind gladly, and now focus on transcending the limitations of the vampiric state. At a casual glance or a brief conversation a Tzimisce appears to be one of the more pleasant vampires. Polite, intelligent and inquisitive they seem a stark contrast to the howling Sabbat mobs or even the apparently more humane Brujah or Nosferatu. However on closer inspection it becomes clear that this is simply a mask hiding something alien and monstrous.

The Tzimisce clan weakness dictates that whenever a Tzimisce sleeps, they must surround themselves with at least two handfuls of earth from a place important to them as a mortal. Failure to meet this requirement causes a weakness in their powers that grows worse the longer they go without it. This penalty remains until they rest for a full day amid their earth once more.

Nickname: Fiends

Founder: Tzimisce/The Eldest

Clan Flaw: Must sleep in at least two handfuls of dirt from a place important to them as a mortal

Disciplines: Vicissitude, Auspex, Animalism

History:

While [Tzimisce] is presumed dead at the fangs of Lugoj, the Tzimisce clan still holds their deceased founder in some reverence. Far more than their Darwinist Lasombra brethren, the Tzimisce are a clan of tradition and history, and while the founder may be dead, its ideals and quests still capture the minds of the Fiends.

What the Eldest originally was is open to debate, although only marginal interest - the Tzimisce consider humans to be clay at best, and the Eldest's mortal existence would be a trivial prelude to a far more important undead career. However, at least one legend among the Tzimisce suggests that the Eldest was an experiment. Enoch, seeking to expel all of his bestial qualities spat out his existence into an Embrace using a modification of the Protean discipline - the beast, according to those Metamorphosists who adopt this theory is not just rage, but also change, whimsy, intuition and imagination, all traits that the Eldest showed after its Embrace. In this interpretation, the Eldest is not just a creature, but also a visible manifestation of Vicissitude.

The Eldest struck out early, eventually travelling to Eastern Europe, where it became tied to the land and Kupala, the demon of the area. Kupala's instruction of Tzimisce eventually culminated in an event known as Kupala's Night. Before the Deluge, and long before the rise of Rome, Tzimisce and its eldest and wisest childer gathered in the depths of the Carpathian mountains. Though the Lupines attempted to keep the demon-spirit imprisoned, the Tzimisce triumphed, and Kupala was set free – mostly. All of its chains to the mortal world were broken, save two: the Carpathian mountains, within which it had been bound for so long... and Tzimisce itself.

With the rest of the great demon freed, its only outlet was into the Clan, through the blood of the Antediluvian. The childer of the Eldest speak of a legendary single night in the Clan's history, during which their powers of Vicissitude were heightened to incredible levels, and their sorcerous magicks rivaled that of the gods. This was known as Kupala's Night – the night the Tzimisce Clan established their power and damned themselves for the rest of eternity.

Since Kupala's Night, the Clan has waged a private war with the werewolf tribes of Eastern Europe for custodianship of the Carpathians. Though any single werewolf is easily a match for an elder vampire, with the aid of koldunic sorcery and fleshcrafted war ghouls (vozhd), the Tzimisce eventually gained the upper hand, and from there largely drove off or slew the Lupines. Occasionally in later years, werewolf "crusades" were launched against the Carpathians, but the Tzimisce (oftentimes aided by Gangrel allies), kept the terrain free of their shamanistic influences.

In the Carpathians, the Eldest Embraced others, notably Yorak, Kartarirya, Byelobog, and the Dracon, each of these descendants spread both intellectually and physically around the world. While the Tzimisce are now noted for the madness and sadism of Metamorphosists like Yorak, creatures like the Dracon show an entirely different side – the Tzimisce are experimenters and creators, whether it be Constantinople or the Cathedral of Flesh.

The Tzimisce had little to do with Rome and its many conquests. Their real influence lay further eastward, in Constantinople. There, noted scholars such as Myca Vykos and the Dracon furthered the knowledge of the Clan in unheard-of ways. The city was the site of a major spiritual movement among Cainites: it seems that the Damned may not be so Damned after all. With this revelation, the Clan Tzimisce, along with many others (Malkavians, Brujah, even Nosferatu) could learn to enjoy the fruits of their decades-long labor and co-exist more-or-less peacefully among the mortals.

The Obertus order was involved in this movement most heavily, of all the Tzimisce lines. They had preserved quite a bit of the lost Library of Alexandria, making them some of the most well-read supernaturals in the world at that time.

Dark Ages:

The Tzimisce Voivodate, a loose confederation of Tzimisce domains in Eastern Europe, had survived since the fall of the Second City only to face new threats to its existence during the Dark Ages. The first threat to Tzimisce power in the region was the emergence of the Tremere. Though the magi of the Order of Hermes were a familiar presence in the region, they invoked the wrath of the neighboring vampires after prying the secret to vampirism from captured Tzimisce. House Tremere, led by Goratrix officially became Clan Tremere in the wake of the diablerie of Saulot. Despite making enemies of mortal magi, the Tzimisce, the Salubri and later the Gangrel and Nosferatu, the fledgling Tremere managed to survive the Omen War with the Tzimisce. Voivode of Voivodes Vladimir Rustovich's assault on the Tremere was interrupted by the invasion of the Ventrue under Jürgen of Magdeburg. While Jürgen's assault was ended through the efforts of Myca Vykos and the Obertus Order, the Omen War continued on until the Anarch Revolt rendered the Tzimisce incapable of any real organized efforts as a clan. Despite the Warlocks' continued survival, most Tzimisce continue to bear a grudge against them into the modern era, though many younger Tzimisce fail to comprehend why. The Voivodate, and with it the feudal structure of Tzimisce society, would last only a few centuries longer.

Victorian Age:

Perhaps the most significant thing in the Victorian Age for the Tzimisce was the publishing of Bram Stoker's Dracula. Perhaps the most famous vampire novel (although by no means the first), it actually detailed a member of their clan (although a somewhat errant one). It introduced audiences to Transylvania, the home of the clan.

However, it was the Victorian Age that saw the beginnings of the Tzimisce's decline – once proud and aristocratic, the modernising of the world turned them into anachronistic jokes. The ease at which mortals could travel and communicate meant that the Fiends could no longer exist as lords and rulers of their own fiefdoms – troubling news of shambling monstrosities and villagers impaled on pikes would reach more civilised parts of the globe in no time.

Science began to shake the iron foundations of folklore and superstition that the Tzimisce had built their fearsome reputation on. This was truly a double-edged sword for the Clan. Their hated enemies, the Tremere had become very powerful during this time, and the peasants over which most of the Fiends ruled rose up against their masters. Once again burned from their rotting manses and forced to hide from the Kine, most considered the age a great indignity. But the leaps and bounds made in medicine and the sciences during this time yielded both a new crop of potential childer and a new way to study the effects of mutable forms. The Tzimisce had always been students of a sort, and having biology and anatomy codified and much easier to learn, their own knowledge of the body expanded.

Modern Nights:

The Tzimisce are a clan in decline, and have been ever since the Anarch Revolt. However, only in the Final Nights do these events come to a head and only, until the last moment, in the head of one vampire.

Lambach Ruthven, unwilling sire of Dracula, finds himself dissolute and wandering throughout Sabbat territory, haunted by occasional messages from his dead sire. Weak-willed and ineffective as Lambach is, he is still fifth generation and a major figure in the Anarch Revolt – respected (and feared), he is largely left alone by the cannibals of the Sabbat. He is eventually forced, or encouraged, or led to the sewers of New York City, where he finds a horrifying truth: Lugoj was destroyed that night, and [Tzimisce] "lives".

The Tzimisce Antediluvian, through advanced mastery of Vicissitude, has become a gigantic (miles-long) pseudo-fungal infestation under the tri-state area. Its consciousness is spread across thousands of creatures, and it can form bodies or new selves at will. It offers Lambach metamorphosis, a chance to be as it is as part of what it is. Lambach fled and tries to tell anyone who will listen, but the result is fruitless.

Organization:

Historically, the Tzimisce Embraced broods who maintained a particular plot of land. Tied to the land, Tzimisce broods were incestuous, violent hierarchies of hateful creatures who maintained a bare modicum of civility through raw power and the blood bond. The central government of the Tzimisce, so to speak, was the Council of Voivodes, guided by the Viceroy. The Viceroy was elected by his peers, but his tenure was set "for life". However, given the jealousy and suspicion among the Clan, there was a fairly regular progression of Viceroys, as one after another fell to the political or physical traps set by another ambitious clan member. The Council had anywhere from less than a dozen to nearly a hundred members during the Dark Ages, making it the single most influential factor in Clan politics.

With the elimination of this hierarchy during the Anarch Revolt, the Tzimisce have become intensely solitary creatures. They now tend to Embrace more... unusual individuals, psychopaths and sadists are common choices as are people who indulge in self-mutilation. However intelligence and dignity are still key concerns: the Tzimisce would choose Hannibal Lecter over Leatherface any day of the month.

In the modern era, the Tzimisce have a recognized clan head, the voivode, but the office is largely religious. For most Tzimisce, authority is a function of power.

Tzimisce who have awakened their zulo shape (i.e., have achieved the fourth level of Vicissitude), who have at least one level of Koldunic Sorcery, and / or who have demonstrated wisdom and loyalty to the sect and clan are known among the clan as zhupans. Zhupans are respected for their knowledge and power, and may "suggest" courses of action to lesser Tzimisce. The lesser Tzimisce are not required to heed a "suggestion," but ignoring a zhupan is considered extremely rude and will almost inevitably alienate the zhupan so snubbed.

Within the Sabbat, the Tzimisce are the spiritual leaders and scholars, in contrast with the Lasombra's preference to leadership and temporal power. While the Lasombra are the Cardinals and Bishops, the Tzimisce prefer being pack priests, Prisci, or even not having titles at all and focusing on personal development. Some people even ponder (out of earshot, of course) that the Tzimisce are not very sincere in their attachment to the sect, and that the only reasons they are even present amongst the Sabbat is their dislike of Camarilla clans (especially the Tremere) and not fitting with the Camarilla's policy of hiding among humans (Tzimisce tend to see humans as mere plaything below their consideration). However, those Tzimisce who show genuine dedication to the Sabbat ideal are paragons of their sect, impressing (and even scaring) other Sabbat with their fervor and contributions.

However, in Eastern Europe, many Tzimisce give only lip service to the Sabbat, and prefer to live solitary unlives following their own pursuits. Most Sabbat give these Tzimisce leeway, since most of them are very old and very powerful. More than one upstart neonate has been toyed into an unrecognizable visceral mess by angry Tzimisce wanting to be left alone.

Clan Variants:

Koldun

While all Tzimisce consider themselves scholars, scientists, and sorcerers of a sort, those who call themselves kolduns claim to be the first vampires to have mastered sorcery. It is uncertain if kolduns are a true variation of the blood or a title bestowed upon those who have mastered the eldritch energies of the land, but in any case kolduns are rare and respected among the Tzimisce. Not all have the aptitude to properly harness and control the land's spirits in the practice of koldunism, and those who fail are incinerated by the unbound power. Those who succeed are Kolduns.

Old Clan Tzimisce

Younger generation of Tzimisce have taken to calling them the Old Clan Tzimisce, members of the Tzimisce clan who did not join the Sabbat or cultivate the use of Vicissitude, but they are the Dracul, and do not consider themselves a bloodline. Most of them are old (at least 500 years old, as they predate the formation of the Sabbat), of low generation and rule small domains almost exclusively in Eastern Europe.

The majority of Tzimisce elders met Final Death when the clan joined the Sabbat but a fair number escaped their vindictive progeny. Securing their demesnes against the ravages of the Sabbat, these vampires continued to exist much as they had for centuries, albeit more warily.

Though some refer to these Tzimisce as the "Old Clan", that is a misnomer. These hoary vampires have little use for sect, clan, or other ties. They remember well the nights of old, when each vampire was a law unto itself, and any other vampire was a potential enemy. (Note that like the surviving non-Sabbat Lasombra, Old Clan Tzimisce do not call themselves "antitribu".) Some of them have gathered in the Oradea League to fend off the sects who threaten their autonomy.

Accordingly, Old Clan Tzimisce society is structured around individual broods comprising a sire and one or more Blood Bound childer. Childer, for Old Clan Tzimisce, fill the roles of lovers, family, friends, bodyguards and servants. Tzimisce mastery over the Blood Bond allows the sire to attune the emotions of his childer to a desired pitch. Thus, a vampire lover may be Blood Bound to feel all-consuming desire for the sire, a guard may be Blood Bound for loyalty, and a mate may be "programmed" for love. The fact that these emotions are artificial and one-sided rarely bothers the sire.

Old Clan Tzimisce rarely congregate. Other Tzimisce are, if anything, even less trustworthy than other vampires. Indeed, many Old Clan Tzimisce spend more time brooding over some millennia-old, centuries-forgotten slight by one of their "peers" than they do worrying about the very real threat that the Sabbat poses. This is not to say that Old Clan Tzimisce have forgotten their traitorous progeny. On the contrary, many Old Clan Tzimisce have gone so far as to disown younger Tzimisce entirely. These Tzimisce, the Old Clan claims, are not vampires at all, but fleshly hosts for otherworldly parasites called "Souleaters" or play-doh for the Antediluvian once it rises again. This distinction seems to be based on the possession of Vicissitude, although some ancient non-Sabbat Tzimisce have verifiably possessed Vicissitude for millennia.

Some Sabbat whisper that a few Old Clan childer have been rendered immune to the Vinculum by their elders and sent into the world with the purpose of infiltrating the Sabbat and bringing it down. The clan publicly scoffs at these rumors, but some high-ranking Sabbat have expressed private unease about such a prospect.

Tzimisce antitribu

There are none, it is claimed. In truth, only a handful of Tzimisce are in the Camarilla, and most of those have only joined for personal reasons and often leave once those goals have been met. The vast majority of the Tzimisce belong squarely to the Sabbat; the rest are apolitical. The presence of the Tremere virtually guarantees that the Tzimisce have little interest in joining in any real number. Although a scant few individual members may join temporarily, it cannot be said that there is enough of an ideological difference, or enough members to declare an antitribu bloodline.

Culture:

Even before the rise of the Sabbat, the Tzimisce viewed their mortal charges as little more than a sophisticated form of herd beast; following the Anarch revolt, the majority of Tzimisce have abandoned lordship in favor of their own projects. To purify their thought and detach themselves from human subjectivity, Tzimisce either founded or developed the various Sabbat Paths of Enlightenment. These beliefs and rituals serve diverse purposes: engendering solidarity among vampires, providing new habits to replace human-learned ones, and fostering an understanding of what it means to be a vampire. As a result, the Tzimisce are intensely focused on the Vampiric condition: they gladly abandon their Humanity in favor of the Paths of Enlightenment, and they have spent more time thinking about their state than any other clan. One of the immediate results of this is that Sabbat culture is derived from medieval Tzimisce culture; traditions such as Vaulderie derive from Tzimisce custom.

Tzimisce culture, philosophy and self-image is intimately tied with their practice of Vicissitude. The Tzimisce view Vicissitude as a key to unlocking higher mysteries of the vampiric state, and consequently see deeper mastery of Vicissitude as part and parcel with vampiric enlightenment. Tzimisce almost invariably modify their own appearance using Vicissitude, sometimes on a nightly basis.

Tzimisce also use Vicissitude as a solution to a variety of problems that would not occur to a vampire possessed of a conscience. Unlike most rulership clans (e.g., the Ventrue or Lasombra), Tzimisce have no particular facility for Dominate. As a result, they rule their subjects not by mind control, but through sheer fear, using creative applications of Vicissitude to strike that fear home. Giant sculptures of living flesh, tables made from ghouled children, lovers glued together and transformed into dogs, all of these are tools for a sufficiently insightful Tzimisce. The most infamous of these creations, the szlachta and vozhd, are used as bodyguards and tanks.

The Tzimisce are also the last practitioners of a form of Koldunic Sorcery.

A particularly interesting phenomenon which is practically exclusive to the Tzimisce is the existence of Revenants. Revenants are families of ghouls constantly maintained by the Tzimisce, who serve as mortal pawns and possible candidates for the Embrace. Centuries of vampiric contact, infusions of vampiric blood and inbreeding have transformed the Revenants into a distinct type of supernatural creature. They produce a weak vampiric-like vitae, which sustains their bodies far beyond normal human lifespans (although not immortal, Revenants can live to be hundreds of years old), and also gives them the ability to use Disciplines. Revenants are fanatically loyal to their vampiric masters, and consider themselves superior to the average human, as well as "regular" ghouls. This, added to their treatment by the Tzimisce and their inbred, unsavory lifestyles, have shaped their mindsets into completely alien directions. Most Revenants could never function as normal human beings. The four Revenant families also provide the Tzimisce with a very diverse "breeding stock," giving the clan a lot of flexibility in its membership. Warriors, scholars, aristocrats and freaks are all found in equal measure amongst the Revenants, and this translates to them being found amongst the Tzimisce as well, once they Embrace the Revenants in question. Although there are other Revenant families in the World Of Darkness, the four Tzimisce families (the Bratovitches, the Obertus, the Grimaldi, and the Zantosas) are the biggest and most well established. What follows is a description of the four families:

   The Bratovitches are the muscle of the four families. Violent and animalistic, they are quick to anger, rough and savage. They are also the kennel masters for their lords, raising dogs, wolves and other wild animals so that their masters may shape them into fearsome creatures they may hurl at their foes.

   The Grimaldi are the Tzimisce's main liaison with human society. They are the most "human" of the Revenant families, and are usually in charge of maintaining Tzimisce estates and handling mortal endeavors like finance and politics. They are also the most independent of the Revenant families, some of them even secretly plotting to free themselves from their masters' yoke. Other Revenant families see the Grimaldi as soft, and hold them in contempt. The Grimaldi return the favor, seeing the other families as mindless slaves and freaks.

   The Obertus are scholars and occultists, and are held in high esteem by the Tzimisce, as many of their greatest scientists, spiritualists, leaders and sorcerers have been Embraced from their ranks. Sascha Vykos, the most famous (and notorious) Priscus of the Sabbat, was Myka Vykos adopted of the Obertus family (but formerly Magus of House Tremere).

   While the Grimaldi are the Tzimisce's pawns in mortal society, the Zantosas are their main link to culture. Zantosas are hedonistic social butterflies, on par with any Toreador in their dealings with human culture. They stimulate their senses and play with humans with reckless abandon. They are probably the Revenants in least control of themselves (even moreso than the Bratovitches), and many believe the only reason the Tzimisce have not wiped them out is because they value their tradition and history. The Fiends' anachronistic mindset may be the only thing saving the Zantosas from annihilation.

The Tzimisce are unique in how much their culture is centered around their signature Discipline, Vicissitude. This unique and quite disturbing Discipline allows the Tzimisce to shape flesh and blood (both living and unliving) into practically any shape they can think of. Their exploration of it rivals (some people even say surpasses) that of the Tremere towards Thaumaturgy, and the Tzimisce ascribe a spirituality that contrasts with the Tremere's practical view of their own Discipline. This results in most Tzimisce not looking at all like humans, having shaped themselves into alien or monstrous forms, or even looking beyond human, having sculpted themselves into paragons of mortal beauty canons, more beautiful than any human created by nature. In fact, this exploration of the Discipline, along with their studies into how it affects the body, mind and soul of the user or subject of its use, have led to whole philosophies being based around it, particularly the Path of Metamorphosis (it also fascilitates studies in the other Tzimisce path of enlightenment, the Path of Death and the Soul). Rumors of [Tzimisce]'s godlike proficiency with the Discipline have given way to the Fiends giving it an almost religious importance. While other clans may have their own personal Disciplines (like the Gangrel's Protean, or the Assamites' Quietus), none base their unlives around them like the Tzimisce do with Vicissitude.

Hospitality:

The rights and treatment of guests forms an indelible part of Tzimisce culture. There are many archaic rules concerning deportment, manners, greetings, goodbyes, allowances, and settlement of grievances, but there are a few Clan-wide obligations that are always honored. A guest of the Tzimisce is entitled to several things:

   Shelter and nourishment for three days and three nights (not counting the night of arrival)
   The protection of the host against third-party aggressors
   Suspension of inter-family grievances for the duration of the stay
   The best quarters in the home of the host (up to and including the host's own chambers)

However, the guest also has a few obligations that makes them worthy of such special treatment

   A ritual exchange of gifts or services (on arriving, departing, or sometimes both)
   Respecting the host's boundaries and property
   Not needlessly angering the host or any of his family
   Not staying any longer than the requisite three days and three nights unless invited to.

The balance of these laws is to ensure that no advantage is taken of either the host or guest – a Fiend's honor can be completely shattered by infringing upon either one of these sets of rules. Given the warfare that exists between lineages of Tzimisce, exercising patience and honoring these laws is a way to ensure that there is always a sort of "neutral ground" where combative families can meet and prevent any further outrages.

The older a Tzimisce is, the more seriously they treat these laws, for they remember the nights when the only shelter to be had was in the domain of a rival voivode, when travel was arduous and only undertaken when necessary. Most elder Tzimisce respect these laws in the modern nights, but their grandchilder may not even be aware that these laws exist, much less still enforced in their ancestors' domains. Minor breaches can be forgiven, though some sort of effort must be made to show that the trespasser is apologetic. Major breaches can fix a Tzimisce's reputation in a very bad way – slaughtering guests during the day is a sure way to make sure no one comes to visit you, or ever wants to make a deal.

Embraces:

Historically, the Tzimisce have viewed mortal life as largely irrelevant before the Embrace. While they do look for certain mortal characteristics, they tend to see this as the barest flicker of potential rather than a compelling argument. Tzimisce Embraces are supremely selfish – often based around specific obsessions or interests of the sire, rather than any distinctive characteristic of the childe. Those with interests matching their own are particularly prized, and many Tzimisce childer were masters of their field in life – whether this field was medicine or serial murder is a trifling distinction though.

That said, the Tzimisce have a reputation for choosiness, largely from a general disdain for mortals. The Tzimisce have partly addressed this by instituting breeding programs among mortals, resulting in ghoul families such as the Bratovitch or Zantosa line, which serve as the preferred fodder for an Embrace.

Speculation:

It seems curious that the Tzimisce are a clan that has Embraced many non-humans. Among their childer were magi, shamans, prophets or some other exotic creatures (particularly the Shadow Lords kinfolk and some even speculate about fairy blood running through Tzimisce veins). We can assume that this disposition may emanate from the Elders who refused to define themselves in mortal terms, or even from those sires in search of a better symbiosis between their vampiric powers and those of magical blood.
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