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Arikelites and the Importance of Love and Romance

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  • Arikelites and the Importance of Love and Romance

    Hello everyone,

    I've come here to write this post to discuss an issue that seems to have come up when discussing vampires, but especially the Toreador.

    I made the claim that love and romance are some of the most important concepts to the Arikelites. I suppose, until recently, this was understood by most of everyone because I don't think I've ever truly come across anyone who may disagree with that until very recently.

    A problem that seems to come up in this sort of discussion is that some people come to the conclusion that I am neglecting aesthetics and beauty in general, which is certainly not the case, I must make known. However, it is worth noting that love is perhaps the most common subject of works of art.

    If one is familiar with Toreador history and culture, love and romance come up incredibly often, all the way back to Arikel herself. One of her names being Inanna/Ishtar, the Sumerian/Babylonian goddess of love, beauty, sex, and warfare. One might think this would set the mood for the Arikelites, but I digress.

    If we are to step forth from antiquity and into the Dark Ages, the Toreador (especially those of France), became heavily enamored with the medieval concept of courtly love and chivalry and formed the Courts of Love.

    But let's fast forward all the way to Vampire: The Masquerade, Fifth Edition. If one is to do a cursory search throughout the core rulebook for "romance", it specifically brings up the Toreador in the summary sheet and is as follows: "Toreador: The Degenerates seek thrills of art, romance, and cruelty amidst stagnant undeath." Is this a smoking gun? Perhaps. But not the only one. Touchstones, even, can be lovers (this is not specific to the Toreador). There are any other such examples throughout the corebook about love and romance, and I believe in the Toreador section of either the corebook or the Camarilla sourcebook spoke about having lovers as well (with a mention about how many Toreadors' first lovers are their sires).

    One of the counter points that was made to me about the kindred don't feel emotions the way we do. Perhaps this is true, but I don't think so entirely. I can't recall the specific place where it's stated, but all kindred of humanity 7 and higher do feel emotions and attraction as most mortals do, and this does not exclude love and desire.

    Another counter point made was that all kindred existence is the acquisition of blood and that everything else is more or less a pretense of true emotion. The Arikelite hopelessly enraptured by a young man's beauty and his personality? He only wanted him for his blood, nothing more. (Why embrace, then? If not for love or admiration, are only the more sordid means the only reason to embrace?)

    I would love to provide more examples from the Toreador clan books and clan novels, but alas, it is getting rather late here.

    I hope everyone carefully considers what I've written and can contribute to this conversation.

  • #2
    I generally just ignore the "cannot have sex and express love" element and have vampires every bit as emotional and sensual as mortals if not more so.

    You may be a low humanity serial killer but you can still fall in obsessive dangerous love.

    Author of Cthulhu Armageddon, I was a Teenage Weredeer, Straight Outta Fangton, Lucifer's Star, and the Supervillainy Saga.


    • #3
      Vampire: The Masquerade wouldn't be a very satisfying roleplaying experience in my opinion if Kindred weren't capable of real human feeling and relatetably human motivations. Even a jaded elder who stirs chaos for their own amusement is at least human in the desire for novelty and entertainment. However, I generally think issues of sex and romance are best treated loosely in published material. It will depend strongly on what an individual group is comfortable with exploring. Perhaps your table is not in the least interested in running a Soap Opera or exploring the inner feelings of your characters; so in your World of Darkness vampires really are more akin to ghosts inhabiting a magically-preserved dead shell---or game players remotely inhabiting a digital avatar. They scarcely experience what we think of as physical sensation except when feeding and so very little can hold their interest except for blood and the amusing twists of the Jyhad. That might work for a game where you're playing World of Darkness as Amoral Urban Fantasy Dungeoncrawl and the campaign's story is mostly a spine connecting various setpiece shootouts.

      In my World of Darkness, vampires are still essentially human in their thought process, although incredible age and repeated disassociative episodes through Frenzy may warp them virtually beyond a mortal's comprehension. However, their hunger causes a kind of anhedonia: a vampire has difficulty enjoying things, much the same way a person who has abused drugs may short out their brain's ability to create endorphins and thus become physiologically incapable of feeling pleasure other than through satisfying their addiction. This can be staved off through things which are transcendent: A vampire might experience true creativity and create an inspired work of art; a vampire might fall in true love with someone; A vampire might commit themselves to a certain set of ethical and/or spiritual values and capture fulfillment in serving that code or belief. Another way of putting it would be without something that keeps them human, vampires inevitably become less human. For those vampires who are not fortunate enough to feel transcendent inspiration or love, there is the endless game of The Jyhad.

      A human being can have a perfectly fine Friday night staying home and watching Netflix. This does nothing for a Vampire (unless you're prepared to argue before your Storyteller that some film or TV show is good enough to give your vampire existential fulfillment/epiphany). Just as even the most depraved and vile human beings inherently cannot lose their humanity, humans can coast along through life without ever finding a real purpose---something to strive or live for. Vampires can't---in a sense, without something to stay human for, vampires grow less and less human, eventually fragmenting---shaving off ever more vestigial pieces of the human they were---until at last they are merely a Wight: The Man is gone and only The Beast remains.

      Mind you, the spiral doesn't immediately take effect. You don't suddenly discover your personality is fragmenting the first night after your embrace (maybe if you were Awakened and the Embrace destroyed your Avatar, but that's Advanced Theory 203...) There is definitely a honeymoon period which may last only the first couple nights or go on for years depending on how much of a human life you had to lose, where Fledgelings go through the whole "sleep all day, party all night; it's fun to be a vampire," phase.

      The kicker is that The Beast perverts everything. You might decide, for instance, protecting your impoverished neighborhood is what drives your vampire to stay human. You start by scaring off hoodlums and sabotaging gentrifying development without really hurting anyone..... you end as the neighborhood's newly-crowned kingpin, those who stood in your way dead and buried, directing drug traffick and exacting a tax in blood from the kine under your "protection." A good vampire player should (part of the reason I at least have no problem in theory with V5's Compulsions) always take into account their character's goal.... and what The Beast is pushing them to do to reach it. Vampires can be aware of this, and they can work to compensate for The Beast's effect on their psyche. I like to point to the Buffyverse's Angel as an excellent example of this---his fear of his own emotions, his effort to avoid any strong passion for fear his dark side might take over.... that is one valid way in which vampires might strive to keep The Beast from tainting their words and deeds (they can't do anything about their thoughts).

      Headcanon Alert: At Humanity 8, fleeting pleasure returns. A vampire looks at a painting, or an old family photo; he tastes a glass of wine, puffs on a cigar, puts on a silk shirt, walks in the park on a clear moonlit night. Something more than the dim echo or memory or the mere habit of an old, genuine pleasure returns.... as long as that's all it is. "Simple" or innocent pleasure returns. I won't try to elaborate on what I mean by this because I'm not sure I can even put it into words. But what I'm getting at is, at Humanity 8 a vampire is once again capable of the act of love, so long as that's what it is---an act of love. Vampires at this level of Humanity are almost human again, agonizingly close---but only by being as rigorously ethical and focused as a monk. Indulging in sophisticated pleasures---for example, enjoying the disgust or bemusement of others at a piece of art which only you get; or enjoying the downfall of a rival; any pleasure from morbidity or excess---will draw you away from that warmth of humanity and back into the cycle of alienation and eventual disintegration.

      Vampires who are not at Humanity 8 can feel love, and they can have wonderful, noble ambitions, but they're not there yet. Their ability to feel pleasure, by which I mean simple pleasure or joy, is... diminished. Like an addict's. Like someone who cannot ever let the mask slip. They are wrestling on the inside with their Beast (unless they're not), and cannot let their guard down. They may feel stirrings, more than a memory, not quite the thing-in-itself, if prompted by true inspiration or love (you know, what those irritating fae folk call glamour). And if they chase that inspiration it may take them up the hard road to reclaiming their Humanity.... but then, with all the hazards of time, they'll have that much further to fall when Time conquers Love....

      Anyway, below Hum 8 no sexytimes. That is why Toreador are called Dry-Humpers.
      Last edited by Ventrue Busboy; 03-15-2021, 01:02 AM.


      • #4
        What do you mean by Arikelites? Do you just mean Toreador? If so, just say that. It's unclear if you are making a distinction or just trying to be poetic. If you mean something specific, then please define it.

        I run it as high Humanity vampires still experience the higher emotions like love and so on. However, even high Humanity vampires still need to deal with the Beast, and the needs of the Beast can subvert or degrade such emotions. Lower Humanity vampires experience it less, though they can still experience the more base physical desires (such as lust). Really low Humanity vampires and most vampires on Paths have gotten to the point where such things are "forgotten" and it is no longer possible for them to feel such things. They've given over to being a corpse, and a corpse doesn't care about such things. (Though some Paths of Enlightenment might allow for such things as well - it depends on the Path.)

        If they do somehow find themselves caring, it's a story point that would allow them to reawaken their feelings towards higher Humanity and could be a reason for them to switch to Humanity or gain Humanity. But given the emotional pain and dangers of doing so, I imagine most of those vampires would suppress those desires, or pervert them into something else - like a desire to feed on that person, or turn them into a vampire (destroy the very thing they love).