The Gentleman’s Guide to Vampires: V5 Episode Six – The Clans

The Gentleman’s Guide to Vampires: V5 Episode Six – The Clans

November 17, 2019 100 By William Hollis


Hello again. We should probably see if there’s anybody in…
I suppose we’re here to talk about something rather important.
Something you’ve been looking forward to. I will wager the clans are one of the
most exciting things about becoming a Cainite. Finding out a little about
each of the families of blood I think you will agree. Whether Brujah, Gangrel, Nosferatu, Malkavian, Toreador, Ventrue, Thin-Blood, Tremere,
Caitiff, everyone wants to know a little about the opposition. Everyone wishes
to know a little about their family. Well one of these nights we will go into great
detail on each of the clans, but tonight we will talk on the subject of
all of them. All of the Camarilla and Anarch clans anyway. I do not wish to overburden
you with information that you will not retain. We may touch on the rest. Let us
talk of Clan Brujah. It seems appropriate. Where to start with them? Are they as
many believe, uncontrollable rabble? Barbarians? Some call them savages.
Some call them punks or loons. Zealots, Furores, Prometheans, Anarchs. Many when they assume a clan belongs the Anarchs assume that clan must be the Brujah, and in a
self-fulfilling prophecy it appears to have been the case in recent years.
Let us dial back to the start of the Clan Brujah.
Clan Brujah were the clan of philosopher- kings. If you trace back their roots they
were princes but they were also thinkers. They were the clan most likely to adapt
to mortal challenges where other clans were often left in the dust of mortal
progression. The Brujah latched on to those kine like ticks and they rode them
to success. They even sometimes came up with revolutionary new ways that the
mortals adopted. I am told — although I can’t claim the accuracy of this
statement — that the Brujah were instrumental in the Soviet, the Bolshevik
Revolution. It’s a grand claim. But what is known is the Brujah were very much
responsible for some of the worst decadences of Carthage. Those
philosopher-kings dabbled in the infernal, in human sacrifice, anything
that could grant them with a little more wisdom and more power, and so slowly they lost their
Humanity. And on the subject of their humanity, those Brujah love to claim that they are the most human,
most mortal of all Kindred. Or at least they used to say this before the Thin-Bloods grew in
great number. But their belief is the reason they are so prone to anger, so prone to frenzy, is because they still possess a spark of life in their heart. This is not
some biological thing, but a spiritual thing. They believe they are more alive
than any other Cainite, which is why they can be so easily pushed into emotion.
They still know what it feels like to truly love, to truly anger, to truly
desire something other than blood. Maybe they are right. Maybe that is their curse.
Although they will call it a strength. Carthage of course fell to Rome. Rome was backed by the Ventrue, who we will get onto. And ever since Carthage, the Brujah have been a disappointment. They try to emulate their greatest successes, their greatest
progressions, they often fall to frenzy and embarrassment. They were still considered
a High Clan in the Dark Ages. But this was tenuous, especially when the
Anarch Revolt occurred. Many of those Anarchs happened to be Brujah. Again, one
of the attempts to progress our society was just by burning it. I do not believe
that I am merely disparaging the Brujah. I will disparage most clans in this little
lesson and the Brujah have certain traits that are admirable. Why, they often Embrace the most passionate, the thinkers, the radicals of mortality. This can backfire as often as it goes well, but when it does go well, Brujah are a force to be
reckoned with. They field some of the greatest princes, the greatest minds
among our kind, because they target those mortals with a desperate desire to
succeed. Come the 20th century they were still a
Camarilla clan but notable members of that clan…
Well, they drifted. Some drifted to the Sabbat, some drifted to the Anarchs. Ostensibly the clan remained Camarilla. Members such as Theo Bell — who is no doubt a source for a lesson all its own — upheld the Camarilla flag. He was an Archon. He defended Camarilla
domains. He burned countless Sabbat out of theirs all on behalf of the Camarilla, because he believed in the Camarilla. As much as he despised it, he believed it was the best
option. At least until recent nights. You see, the Brujah for all their passion, all their
fury, they bent and they bent and they bent, and eventually they broke. Eventually they snapped at a convocation in Prague in the last few years. I was not there, but the shot heard around the
world of Kindred was when Theo Bell placed his
shotgun beneath the jaw of Hardestadt of Clan Ventrue and pulled the trigger
not once but twice, I’m sure, just to make sure. Those Ventrue are hardy. I have to respect the Brujah for this, because the Brujah celebrated Theo
Bell’s as one. When Theo Bell said, to use the vernacular — “fuck the Camarilla” — the
rest of the Brujah followed suit by and large. Do not think they are all just mindless rabble. That is how the Brujah often end up underestimated and
indeed how to easily provoke a Brujah, if that is your game.
They are often great minds, great thinkers and doers. They are activists. If
you want something done, speak to Clan Brujah. If you want to know why the
kine of behaving as they are, speak to Clan Brujah. They may not have their
eyes on the information services and networks, they may not be bedded into the
Internet, they may not be the best spies, but they know the zeitgeist, they
understand emotion, and speaking of emotion or emotional extremes, let us talk about Clan Malkavian. Clan Malkavian is a strange one. It is strange how they
have existed for as long as they have, I am sure you will agree, because the
Malkavian, are or at least were considered almost uniformly insane. How does a clan of insane vampires exist? Well I think the insanity is something
overblown. You see, insanity, until very recently, was the common attribution
for anything doctors did not understand. If you suffered from post-traumatic
stress disorder you were insane. If you were giddy with sexual excitement you
were insane. If you had uncanny wisdom in a time when everyone else was bashing
rocks together, you insane. So what does that make the Malkavians? They can’t all be mad. Well, if you tie it to the mythos of our
kind, blood drinkers were often considered insane seers and soothsayers,
doomsayers and the like were all considered insane. The lunatics of the Clan of the
Moon, Clan Malkavian, from the time Malvan Embraced his first childer, they were considered mad, but they were the ones with the wisdom. They knew the way the
world would turn, they foresaw the great portents, the great omens, and the great
disasters. They guided their allies past them or through them, but they guided
them to survival. Often the Malkavians lost many number in this. Often they lost
great faith and were attacked for saying things no one wished to hear. All
throughout the terror of Rome, great Rome, when they were the advisers to Clan Ventrue, through to the Dark Ages where they were jesters in the courts of nobles and princes, they were ridiculed. They were not taken seriously until it
became time where they had to be taken seriously. Of course it is very easy to
disparage someone with a mental illness. Very easy to disparage someone who is
different to the rest of all Cainites and one could say the discrimination
existing from the 19th and 20th centuries really harmed Clan Malkavian’s
credibility. I would even go so far as to say many Malkavians embraced the
ridicule. They played up their infirmity. But they were wise and they were linked
by blood, by mind, by family. Just ten years ago they were in
Jerusalem. They were communing with, if not their clan founder, an ancient member
of their clan, and that is my hypothesis. And they each drank of his blood and they
each learned something. I think they each gained uncanny wisdom.
Foresight. Something that allowed them to protect domains from the Second
Inquisition, and Sabbat purges before the Sabbat headed east.
The Malkavians acted as advisers unparalleled to the Camarilla. So it is no
wonder that they still a hold on to a position there, for despite that
unreliability, in the main they are through and through companions to the
Ventrue and the Toreador and the Tremere… and Nosferatu. Everyone
has an image in their mind when they say “Nosferatu” but it’s always of a
monster. And that is what everyone would want you to think. Every member of Clan
Nosferatu wishes to be underestimated in this way. Think of them as a hideous
beast that lives in the sewer, that speaks to rats, but that plays into the
Nosferatu’s manipulative hands. Because the Nosferatu have a
reputation. They have a reputation of being the clan to survive. They are a
clan that survives the scourges of the world, whether it be flame, plague, or Inquisition.
The Nosferatu will always survive. Their greatest enemy comes from within their
own number: The so-called Nictuku, elders of their clan that wish to
cannibalise all other members of the Clan of the Hidden. The Nosferatu will persist. They continue
continue to survive despite all expectation that they should be the ones
to fall. After all, they are the ones with targets on their faces. They are the ones
who are lacquered in fingernails or hold open sores all over their faces, or
have no nose and long teeth, eyes like beads dripping blood… The Nosferatu are hideous. Yes they survive, because they make
themselves invaluable. While the Malkavians are — one could say — “fairweather” in their reliability, the Nosferatu are constant. Throughout the
Dark Ages they were the finest of spies Almost every domain had an Nosferatu
spy in it, and if it was not a spy for the prince in the domain, it was a spy
for another prince elsewhere. Nosferatu would very rarely ascend to
positions of power among our kind. It is difficult to maintain respect when you
look as you do, and indeed frequenting Elysium can be tricky when you have a
face like that. But when it comes to holding and wielding true power, the
Nosferatu are on a par with none. If you wish to truly see who was pulling the strings
of the Camarilla, you would look to Clan Nosferatu. They know it, they are proud
of it, and this is part of the reason I often find them so intolerable. Because
they will offer you a morsel of advice and they will ask for payment in return, and
you will get your advice and the advice will be good, but the amount you had to
pay was massive. And you will never know how they obtained it.

With Theo Bell’s execution of Hardestadt and the Brujah migration to the Anarchs, well the Gangrel were already there. A
decent sum number. You see, when the portents of Gehenna came and one of the
Gangrel elders said the Camarilla had lied to them all along,
they turned nominally “independent.” Xaviar of Clan Gangrel, the great prophet, he
encountered a Gangrel so ancient and terrible when he melded with the earth
that he stated the Camarilla had long lied about the truth of our kind, and he led,
somehow led a clan with no communication network, to march outside the Camarilla. I
still don’t know how he did it. It is not like they could speak with
spirits, it’s not like they sent smoke signals, or painted on rocks, or maybe
that is exactly how they did it. Somehow the Gangrel knew “now is the time.”
Perhaps it was after years, centuries of misuse, because the Gangrel were
often used as warlords often used as shock troops. Indeed, if you look to the Tzimisce holdings in Eastern Europe, they were often used as loyal dogs. They were
always used, they were never taken seriously, they were never given the
credibility. Now, perhaps the Gangrel just grew tired. It was one lie too many. They
had been used to fight the Camarilla wars and this was it. And so while of course
some Gangrel remained in the Camarilla and are considered, as a result, lapdogs
rather than wolves, the rest of the Clan Gangrel turned independent and now declares for the Anarchs, because according to the Camarilla there is no independence.
You are either Camarilla, Anarch, or Sabbat. Well, you’ll see what the Clan of Death thinks
about that on another night. The Gangrel and the Brujah are lying
shoulder-to-shoulder. That decade or so and they were not led the Ventrue and
Toreador to think “well, we no longer have need to fear an uprising in the Camarilla. When they held the Brujah in the Camarilla and the Gangrel were independent, the Camarilla actually felt safe, and now both the agitant clans have joined the
Anarchs, and the Ventrue are unhappy. The Ventrue like to wield total control.
They have done since their genesis. The Clan of Kings is the clan of control, the
clan that dominates all. They make the kine love them, they make the Kindred
respect them, they make their enemies fear them.
There is no wonderful the majority of princes across the world are Ventrue, no
wonder at all. Always have been. And, to do them credit, they often do a fine job. Yes,
sometimes over the course of history they’ve Embraced patricians. Those
emperors, princes and like who take their role because they are aristocrats, not
because they are qualified, and this has happened time and time again. But in recent centuries the Ventrue have changed their tact. When they started embracing from
the merchant class shortly after the formation of the Camarilla, they started
embedding themselves in actual mortal affairs, mortal politics, mortal influence
in industry. Now these nights the Ventrue hold a
tight grip over commerce and industry the world over, both among mortal and our own kind. There is some debate: Are Ventrue a wealthier clan, by and large, than the Giovanni of the Clan of Death, or is there
someone else in the middle? Both claim to hold masses amounts of wealth. I
suppose it is immaterial. It’s not like they ever have piles of cash on desks they’re going to count against each other, but the point is the Ventrue can do what
they want, they can buy what they want, they can buy loyalty, they can buy action.
They want someone met to meet final death? They will pay for that to happen.
They want you to work for them for the next hundred years? They will pay for
that to happen. They will make you do it with a smile on your face, because you
can’t help but love the Ventrue. I have a great deal of respect for Clan Ventrue.
Of course, my prince was a Ventrue and he was among the finest of princes.
They are fit to rule and they are the strongest pillar of the Camarilla. Let me tell
you, when the Tremere suffered that little implosion recently, none was so relieved
as Clan Ventrue. So they feared the Tremere were due to rise up and take the sect from them, but as is often the way among Cainites, the old
clan, the Ventrue, the establishment, the house won against the Houses of Tremere.
In these nights, it is likely that when you visit a new domain you will find
Ventrue in positions of power. I suggest you accept it and move on. They
do know what is best for the Camarilla, even if they did lose some of their
most famed, notorious Justicar leaders and princes during the Brujah revolt. We spoke
of the Tremere briefly. A clan of warlocks. The Clan of Usurpers. They are
one of few, a couple of our clans that does not have a progenitor that was created
directly by the lineage of Caine. So, as I mentioned in a previous lesson, we have
Caine, we have his childer, and we have their thirteen childer.
None of those thirteen led to Clan Tremere’s genesis. Again, the Tremere genesis is a very convoluted point so we won’t go into it in terrible detail, but we should
maintain that the Tremere are not of the original thirteen, and that is still held
against them to this night. They are the usurpers. They stole their clan right
from another clan that they all but annihilated. And while that clan suffered… suffered, experienced a resurgence in recent years — very interesting events involving the Inconnu, Hunedoara, and the Master of
Ravens I can tell you that — the Tremere are still the dominant force in that little
relationship. They came to exist in the Dark Ages.
They came to true power when the Camarilla was formed and when they could levy a
mass blood sorcerer curse on the Banu Haqim, although
rumours say the Banu Haqim allowed — and that’s conjecture — they truly flourished
when it came to the Renaissance and the Victorian era. But then the 20th century
came and the Tremere were on top. The stablest of clans! Most uniform of clans.
Why? Because they were a pyramid, with Tremere on top, his Council of Seven
beneath, and all kinds of magisters, lords and other such titles beneath them. They
had absolute control over the clan members, and they did so by having a
great blood ritual between them that ensured loyalty. And yet they condemned
the Sabbat for the same… Well the Tremere, these practitioners of blood magic, thaumaturgy, the ability to boil blood and create flame from nothing, they suffer to
a degree. They fracture in these nights. When the Pyramid — I will not say collapsed, but splintered — three houses rose from the ruins. Tremere — although Tremere himself is reportedly dead; Carna — led by the rebel Carna mentioned earlier;
and Goratrix — and I cannot say who leads that house. But Goratrix
was a noted rebel of Clan Tremere responsible for all kinds of
foundations, and supposedly responsible for their creation, or at least suggesting the
ritual that allowed it. There are many smaller houses too, as you will
undoubtedly find in years to come. Oone could wonder are the Tremere a clan
or are they a host of bloodlines? A strange thing, the think they do not
receive enough credit for, is despite their being split, they hold that proverb
dear, an old Bedouin phrase: “I against my brother, my brother and I against the
world.” They will spend their time bickering among each other but when it
comes to onslaught from beyond, Tremere close ranks. Whether Tremere and the Council of Seven are in charge or not, the Tremere close ranks. That blood bond no longer exists. From what I understand, the Tremere can no longer bond other Cainites.
Something terrible happened when the Pyramid fell. The Toreador enjoyed it
though, and Toreador we will speak on next. Clan of degenerates, lowlifes, artists,
great thinkers — as many of our clans are. Passionate Kindred. It is, as with many others, to easily stereotype the Toreador as nothing more than hedonists, dilettantes, Libertines, vampires who have little else to do other than to sample
blood, still revel in the joys of the flesh, and host extravagant parties. Those
Toreador exist and all fairness to them, my respects to them. Someone has to keep
us entertained, and the Malkavians gave up the jester’s motley several hundred
years ago. But other Toreador exist too. The greatest among them was Michael of
Constantinople. Long has he been fallen, but it was his Dream that led to the one
chance in the last millennium, for Cainites to experience some kind of
utopia. A city where all clans were equal, where all offered something to the
pursuit of Golconda and enlightenment, and a harmony with the kine was formed.
Not since Carthage was something on these lines brewed. And while a new
Constantinople rises in the place of Istanbul
tonight — many of our kind never used the term Istanbul out of reference, reverence
Michael — there are other Toreador like that who wish to repeat the Dream.
Likewise, there are Toreador who have fallen into complete carnality. Helena, well known. Last I heard she was in Chicago but that may be a
rumour. She dabbles in all kinds of things infernal just to get a sense of what it is
to live dangerously as a vampire. I’m sure she has greater reasons than that but
I do not wish to experience them. From my reading of Beckett’s Jyhad Diary, he was
forced eat to his own fingers for her pleasure. The Toreador have long been
allies of the Ventrue, and this may seem strange, because both are equally capable
of praxis, being prince holding domains under their sway, and yet they work
together as simpatico. Perhaps the reason they are sympathetic to one another is
because they recognise that they each offer something that the other does not.
The Ventrue fixate on rule but the Toreador are all about the bread and the
circuses. After all, if the Ventrue is the administrator someone needs to
keep the people from uprising. It is all very well making sure the banks are full
of money, but if there’s no one there to spend it, the bank collapses.
The Toreador have waxed and waned in power and influence, and like many
others are underestimated. But I recall my first experience with the Toreador,
how my eyes were open to experiences, sensations that Cainites should not be
able to feel. Yes, they hold the same sway over emotions as the Brujah and the
Ventrue, but they can see into someone’s soul, they can tell the greatest desire,
and then they will make every effort to deliver it.
The Toreador are however not servants. Like drug dealers, they know exactly what
their clientele requires and they hook them on it. Why, we are getting through
these clans that are rated for knots are we not? The Camarilla consists these nights of
Malkavians, Nosferatu, Ventrue, Toreador, and Tremere. There’s rumour that the Banu Haqim,
perhaps the Ministry formerly known as the Followers of Set — they underwent a
rebrand — may be joining.
The Thin-Bloods and the Caitiff. They occupy strange
positions because they exist both in the Anarch Movement and the Camarilla, and
the Anarchs while led by the Brujah and Gangrel, at least nominally — many Anarch
Free States would claim they have no leader — I would say they house more Caitiff and Thin-Bloods than the Camarilla. The Caitiff are the clanless, and the clanless are an odd breed because the clanless are sometimes vampires that just do not know their sire, but, they should still manifest the same bane as their sire, the
same weakness, the compulsions, but sometimes they do, but that would make them not Caitiff.
On other occasions, they don’t. This is a strange thing. If I were to Embrace a
childe — I am not going to — but let’s say I was to Embrace a mortal, create a childe tonight and abandon that childe before it wakes up. Will that make a vampire of my clan, or will it make a Caitiff? There is no science behind it. Again, this speaks to
some great spirituality, some blood connection between our kind, the strength
of the blood, the strength of the bond. What makes a Caitiff a Caitiff? Caitiff are clanless, they are peasants, they are ronin one could say, and that gives them a
great liberty because it means they can operate in any domain without having to
pay fealty to their descendants or ancestors. They are on their own and in so doing they can also wield the powers of many clans without having to
claim this is what my founder decreed. But at the same time they lack for
allies. They want for them and maybe this is why they cling to the Anarch ship so
fiercely in this storm as they’re pelted from either side and the Ventrue give
the Caitiff great offers. They say “we will recognize you as a clan in our
domain if you do this service for me,” but those services never end, because the
Ventrue know the Caitiff wish for acceptance, and the Caitiff will do
anything to get it. Now the Thin-Bloods are similar. When we
get on to them I should tell you of something remarkable. Some Kindred, some Cainites believe a Caitiff a relatively recent phenomenon, but that is certainly
not the case. Clanless vampires have existed since we have existed. You could
even argue that Caine was Caitiff. Some of the oldest: The Stone Man a very
mysterious Caitiff believed to be a Methuselah; Mukhtar Bey, the Prince of
Cairo is a Caitiff. There was until recently the rumor that the Prince of
Sydney, Australia was also Caitiff, but that has proven to be debunked to
amusing results. The Caitiff are a powerful force that
everyone has underestimated because everyone just disposed of them, discarded
them, because they have no clan they have no value, but it is because they
have no defined loyalty that they are intensely valuable. It is the Caitiff of
our world that will create the new clans in the times to come, because when their
blood is strong enough through diablerie, through age, and potency increasing,
their childer will emulate them. So just think before you mock a Caitiff. How if that Caitiff diablerised a fifth or fourth generation vampire, how easy it would be
for that Caitiff to imprint a bloodline of his or her own. Now the Thin-Bloods
are a different story. The Thin-Bloods are run-off, they are discharge, they
should not be, according to most. But let us face the facts: When I was a
neonate we considered tenth and eleventh generation Cainites to be weak, signs of
Gehenna, portents of the end times. “Surely there should not be this many vampires
in the world!” we said, and then come the Dark Ages was the twelfth generation ofCainites. “No! Surely the end times are coming! It is the apocalypse! Surely Caine and God would not allow this! Twelve steps removed?” Then come the 20th century it was the thirteenth generation, and now we have fourteen, sometimes even fifteenth. I have even heard that when
the sixteenth generation Cainite — the first sixteenth generation Cainite comes to be — that will be the true sign of Gehenna. And so it goes. Is it really
true that they are any more or less than us? Those of us who proclaim lineage to
an Antediluvian? Well they can, but I don’t expect a sixteenth generation Kindred
to remember all of the names. The Thin- Bloods are an odd case though. They do
have a clan and they do have their own powers, and this is the most peculiar
thing: Thin-Blooded — the Duskborn — they wield an alchemy. They can mix mortal blood. They can mix their own vitae into it. And they can create their own
Disciplines. So while the Caitiff are over there creating their own bloodlines, the
Thin-Bloods are creating their own powers. I’ve heard that some Thin-Bloods can even walk in the sun. I’ve heard some that can even breed.
Are they even vampires or are they the evolution of vampires? Is it actually the
case the nights of clans Brujah through to Ventrue are gone? That we are on
the way. That the Week of Nightmares, when one of the 13 clans all but fell, was
just another symptom of our time being nigh? And the Caitiff and the Thin-Bloods their numbers bolster as they boom, that they will be the heirs apparent? I
think there is a very good chance of that.
So before you dismiss Caitiff and Thin- Bloods, before you dismiss Anarchs and their allies, consider what will our world look like in 50 years, a hundred years, a
thousand years. Because I intend to be around that long, and I intend to be on
the side of whoever is in charge whether we once called them Thin-Blooded or not. Another night we will discuss the Banu Haqim, the Ministry, the Clan of Death, maybe even the Ravnos and the Salubri. But for now… our lesson is at an end.