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Were Ahrimanes an abandoned Time of Thin Blood plot seed?

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  • Were Ahrimanes an abandoned Time of Thin Blood plot seed?

    Forget the more recent writeups. Let's go back and look at some things from the original Ahrimanes splat from the Storyteller's Handbook to the Sabbat from 1993:

    They have slightly darker skin than most Kindred, allowing them to better pass as human.
    Weird, racist explanation aside, the jist is that Ahrimanes are better at passing for human. For some reason. Ahrimanes also can't sire or blood bond, and have only one clan discipline in common with their parent clan, the Gangrel. They also only take women. For some reason.

    Ahrimanes are said to usually dwell in highly secure, underground lairs. They have vast material wealth and involve themselves closely with moral affairs, while keeping the rest of the Sabbat at a distance. The Sabbat nonetheless tolerate them, because the Sabbat will tolerate a lot of things, and the Ahrimanes are good at dealing with werewolves.

    The Ahrimanes are an artificial bloodline. One is not embraced as an Ahrimane. Instead, a female Gangrel can be made an Ahrimane through a thaumaturgic ritual aided by a mysterious spirit who contacted the Ahrimane founder. The Ahrimanes also have Spiritus, the only discipline in all of canon that I am aware of that allows a vampire to perceive and communicate with umbral spirits without leaving their body, not counting Thaumaturgy.

    This is notable. That vampires are severed from the higher Umbra is kind of a big crossover plot point, having to do with vampires being spiritually dead. Ahrimanes also lose their Gangrel clan weakness, which is even more unprecedented.

    So let's suppose that around the time the first Ahrimane writeup was published, some ideas that showed up in the Time of Thin Blood were already being floated at White Wolf. Let's suppose that the Ahrimanes were a piece of foreshadowing that was never followed up on.

    Let's suppose that what the Ahrimanes were supposed to have turned out to have was a generation-raising ritual.

    This would explain...

    ...why Ahrimanes find it easier to pass for human.
    ...why Ahrimanes can't embrace or blood bond.
    ...why Ahrimanes have abilities that transcend vampiric nature.
    ...why Ahrimanes lose their clan weakness.

    It would also explain the women-only policy. If they wanted to breed a stable colony of dhampir, they would probably want to keep their dhampir close and know who they were. They wouldn't want a rogue male Ahrimane scattering love children who wouldn't necessarily be loyal and might blow the Ahrimanes' cover. They would isolate themselves from other vampires to avoid being found out, while maintaining close relationships with the humans they were breeding with.

    Or that's my theory, anyway. Take it or leave it.
    Last edited by Mr. Sluagh; 04-21-2018, 07:01 AM.

  • #2
    It's an interesting theory, though I feel the skin coloration is some what of a weaker point since Assamites get darker as they age rather than getting paler like all the other vampires. Thus a pale human or even an albino who was embraced by an assamite would eventually have a normal mortal complexion for a couple centuries.

    ‚ÄčTo me this would more easily be explained by the notion that the Assamite Antediluvian and the Gangrel Antediluvian had the same 2nd Generation sire. Assuming of course that the plot thread about the Assamite rumored to be 2nd generation is not valid in your take on the material.

    ‚ÄčAs far as the concept of a controlled breeding program is concerned, well we have that already with the various Revenant families from the Tzimisce, the Tremere and the Giovanni, so that isn't that much of a stretch. We even have examples from the Kindred of the East setting showing the idea of whole dynasties being of such half breeds, albeit from the 4th age, rather than the 5th age. Such programs just take time and patience more than anything else.

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    • #3
      It's certainly possible. The same people who made the Storyteller's Handbook to the Sabbat (written by Steven C. Brown and developed by Andrew Greenberg) were also responsible for Dirty Secrets of the Black Hand a year later, and that book is full of plot threads that were supposed to bind the various gamelines together, only to be quickly dropped when the book bombed.

      A key feature of early Second Edition Sabbat is how the sect embraces weird mutations, accidents, and experiments of the blood, offering them a sense of unity and purpose. At this stage in the game, the Sabbat is very much an apocalyptic melting pot of disparate elements, and the Ahrimanes as a herald of the Time of Thin Blood certainly fit that tone.

      It's a fun theory, at least. I wish we could get input directly from Steven C. Brown or Andrew Greenberg. A lot of the history and design intent of early 90s Vampire is fairly obscure from today's point of view, and there has been little interest in rediscovering the roots of the game, like the OSR has done so successfully for D&D.

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      • #4
        Originally posted by Mr. Sluagh View Post


        Weird, racist explanation aside, the jist is that Ahrimanes are better at passing for human. For some reason.

        I don't think it's racist, so much as pointing out the fact that most vampires tend to develop very pale skin over time.


        Hard to blend in with society when you're white as a sheet, after all.


        If you want something that seems racist, take a look at the Assamites, who literally become darker with age.


        Although, I believe their darkening is caused by the use of Quietus, rather than being inherent to their state of vampirism.


        Which implies any vampire who utilizes it would start to acquire dark skin after a while.
        Last edited by Nyrufa; 04-21-2018, 07:44 AM.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by Elphilm View Post
          A key feature of early Second Edition Sabbat is how the sect embraces weird mutations, accidents, and experiments of the blood, offering them a sense of unity and purpose. At this stage in the game, the Sabbat is very much an apocalyptic melting pot of disparate elements, and the Ahrimanes as a herald of the Time of Thin Blood certainly fit that tone.


          Actually, I have to say the Sabbat would absolutely not be fine with this. The time of Thin Blood is one of the signs of Gehenna, which the Sabbat have fanatically devoted themselves to stopping. They also glorify being vampires and regularly commit diablerie in an effort to thicken their blood and increase their supernatural power.


          Any bloodline consisting entirely of (alleged) Thin Bloods who can't sire and presumably hate being vampires (as v20 seemed to suggest), would probably be attacked on sight if the Sabbat recognized them for what they were.


          Another sign of Gehenna is the prophecy of caitiff becoming some kind of dominant force over kindred society. The only reason the sect tolerate the Panders (who consist entirely of caitiff) is because they demanded fair treatment by launching an organized rebellion against the Sabbat.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by Nyrufa View Post
            Actually, I have to say the Sabbat would absolutely not be fine with this. The time of Thin Blood is one of the signs of Gehenna, which the Sabbat have fanatically devoted themselves to stopping. They also glorify being vampires and regularly commit diablerie in an effort to thicken their blood and increase their supernatural power.
            I didn't mean that the Sabbat would be fine with the Ahrimanes as heralds of Gehenna, but that it would fit the tone of how the sect was presented in early Second Edition. Basically I was talking about OOC themes rather than IC views.

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            • #7
              I think the Ahrimanes, much like the Kiasyd and a few other bloodlines, were bloodlines made around one NPC from one chronicle at one point. They were used as a plot device, someone thought they were a cool NPC and then made an entire bloodline that is THAT NPC with little to no room for deviation.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by Mr. Sluagh View Post
                Weird, racist explanation aside, the jist is that Ahrimanes are better at passing for human.
                Isn't that just because the Ahrimanes are usually only "embracing" non white woman, so that it is actually something that applies to all non white Vampires?

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Aahz View Post
                  Isn't that just because the Ahrimanes are usually only "embracing" non white woman, so that it is actually something that applies to all non white Vampires?
                  But dead people with dark skin don't look less dead than dead people with light skin. The skin still takes on an "ashy" look, which is pretty noticeable.

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                  • #10
                    I loved the original Ahrimanes and always wanted to see more about them, like why they were Sabbat, how they would work within packs, and the reasoning behind the transmutation from Gangrel to Ahrimanes. However, even as originally written, the bloodline made for a cool mystery to solve for nomad packs that were so inclined. I find the "new" Dark Ages Ahrimanes less interesting from the point of view of them reusing the Ahrimanes name and changing the originals to have Potence instead of Presence. Even then, however, there is use in that with a little manipulation of Thaumaturgical paths, the Lhiannan and Ahrimanes make a great bloodline of pagan witches with Animalism, Blood Sorcery (Spiritus and either/both versions of Ogham, plus some appropriately witchy/druidic paths), and either Potence (Ahrimanes as warriors) or Presence (Lhiannan as priestesses) for use in a Dark Ages chronicle or even in modern nights as bloodlines previously thought destroyed return (Harbingers of Skulls, Tlacique, Lamia if you want to do that sort of thing as some examples).

                    Oh, man, that is one Hell of a long sentence, there. Sorry about that.


                    "At the risk of sounding like a murder hobo"

                    Attributed to Nyrufa.

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Elphilm View Post
                      It's certainly possible. The same people who made the Storyteller's Handbook to the Sabbat (written by Steven C. Brown and developed by Andrew Greenberg) were also responsible for Dirty Secrets of the Black Hand a year later, and that book is full of plot threads that were supposed to bind the various gamelines together, only to be quickly dropped when the book bombed.
                      Actually, DSotBH was (allegedly) the two of them deliberately leaving a train wreck behind for the company to deal with as the two of them walked out the door to never work for the company again. I've been told this by multiple Developers and Freelancers over the past 15 years. It's part of why so much of the book - and some of the material in the original Sabbat books - were retconned during the Revised period.


                      What is tolerance? It is the consequence of humanity. We are all formed of frailty and error; let us pardon reciprocally each other's folly. That is the first law of nature.
                      Voltaire, "Tolerance" (1764)

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by No One of Consequence View Post

                        Actually, DSotBH was (allegedly) the two of them deliberately leaving a train wreck behind for the company to deal with as the two of them walked out the door to never work for the company again. I've been told this by multiple Developers and Freelancers over the past 15 years. It's part of why so much of the book - and some of the material in the original Sabbat books - were retconned during the Revised period.
                        That sounds like kind of a vindictive interpretation from people who didn't like their work. Is it possible that it was more like they could tell they had creative differences with the rest of the staff and wouldn't be with White Wolf long, so they pulled out the stops and tried to lay out their whole grand theory in one book, when it was supposed to be revealed over a decade's worth of metaplot? Sort of like the second season of Dollhouse, where Joss Whedon knew the show was getting canceled, so he tried to cram in four seasons worth of plot, so it kinda sucked, even though it was based on good ideas?
                        Last edited by Mr. Sluagh; 04-24-2018, 02:15 AM.

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by No One of Consequence View Post
                          Actually, DSotBH was (allegedly) the two of them deliberately leaving a train wreck behind for the company to deal with as the two of them walked out the door to never work for the company again. I've been told this by multiple Developers and Freelancers over the past 15 years. It's part of why so much of the book - and some of the material in the original Sabbat books - were retconned during the Revised period.
                          I'm going to have to agree with Mr. Sluagh on this, especially since practically everything that is controversial about Dirty Secrets of the Black Hand (such as the True Brujah, Vicissitude as a disease, and Souleaters) was hinted at years before the book was released. It's a sloppily edited and underdeveloped book, but I feel like time pressure is a more likely explanation for the state of Dirty Secrets than deliberate maliciousness.

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Inertial Frame View Post
                            I loved the original Ahrimanes and always wanted to see more about them, like why they were Sabbat, how they would work within packs, and the reasoning behind the transmutation from Gangrel to Ahrimanes. However, even as originally written, the bloodline made for a cool mystery to solve for nomad packs that were so inclined. I find the "new" Dark Ages Ahrimanes less interesting from the point of view of them reusing the Ahrimanes name and changing the originals to have Potence instead of Presence. Even then, however, there is use in that with a little manipulation of Thaumaturgical paths, the Lhiannan and Ahrimanes make a great bloodline of pagan witches with Animalism, Blood Sorcery (Spiritus and either/both versions of Ogham, plus some appropriately witchy/druidic paths), and either Potence (Ahrimanes as warriors) or Presence (Lhiannan as priestesses) for use in a Dark Ages chronicle or even in modern nights as bloodlines previously thought destroyed return (Harbingers of Skulls, Tlacique, Lamia if you want to do that sort of thing as some examples).

                            Oh, man, that is one Hell of a long sentence, there. Sorry about that.
                            Sorry for the necro, but I was looking for canon connections between the Lhiannon and Ahrimanes. It did occur to me that, at some point, the Lhiannon might have been intended to be the DA analogue of the Ahrimanes, with the idea that the later Ahrimanes circumvented the Lhiannon flaw by using the ritual to create childer instead of reducing their own Generation, but that later writers didn't realise or wanted to flesh out both individually.

                            It's also possible they're just redundancies due to writers wanting to portray different sides of pagan religion. Which makes total sense. But also, I like the idea of a connection between the two, as it adds an element of mystery into both clans.

                            The two clans do have a lot of overlap, and except for Ogham and Spiritus, have the same Discipline spread. (Ogham and Spiritus could be seen as different manifestations of the same root power, though.)

                            Has anyone found any textual support for this theory? Or is it just a case of redundancy after all?

                            Another theory is that both could come from a unique Antediluvian, or even Eickos (the Crone/Second Woman). ToJ: Gehenna perhaps hints at that, by having Eickos' powers look most like the powers of those two bloodlines.

                            Furthermore, in the Book of Nod, the Crone takes some of Caine's childer away for an unknown reason. It's possible she did so to turn them into proto-Ahrimanes using the same ritual that would later become used by Muricia. She was clearly skilled in magic because she knew about the Blood Bond and staking before Caine did (or somehow created these innate vampiric weaknesses in the first place).


                            Writer, publisher, performer
                            Mostly he/his, sometimes she/her IRL https://adam-lowe.com

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by adambeyoncelowe View Post
                              Sorry for the necro, but I was looking for canon connections between the Lhiannon and Ahrimanes. It did occur to me that, at some point, the Lhiannon might have been intended to be the DA analogue of the Ahrimanes, with the idea that the later Ahrimanes circumvented the Lhiannon flaw by using the ritual to create childer instead of reducing their own Generation, but that later writers didn't realise or wanted to flesh out both individually.
                              I don't think that really works out geographically, at least as long as we ignore the the DAV20 retcon of the Ahrimanes.

                              The Ahrimanes are iirc a Native American Bloodline, and the Lhiannon a pangan european one, and the blood line waekness of the Lhiannon makes it pretty much impossible for them to travel from Europe to the US.

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