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High Clan/Low Clan; Why was this a thing?

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  • #16
    Originally posted by Elphilm View Post
    Just to avoid misunderstanding, this is much more a popular concept than a psychological phenomenon. The phrase is, indeed, the title of a paper on memory that do profess such theory, but this observation was not replicated consistently and the theory as such isn't well supported.

    That's not to say that organizing content in such a way isn't an interesting idea, but the psychological facts associated aren't really facts at all. Also, other games and media frequently demonstrate this without any problem whatsoever, like how D&D have presented 11 Classes since 3rd ed and no one finds particularly hard to digest.

    Originally posted by Elphilm View Post
    It's a way of organizing the content, not some claim about real-world or in-game history.
    Except that it is, because that's how they did it anyway.

    You can argue that the OoC primary cause is organization, and it may be right. You can also argue that it makes for better organization regardless. But independently from that, the way they did so was by making a claim about in-game history, one that is based on a common perception of real-world history. The mere choice of words is in itself a claim about meaning.

    Originally posted by CTPhipps View Post
    Society is full of meaningless distinctions and classicism.
    Not exactly.

    I mean, sure, it is and have always been. But those distinctions aren't "meaningless". They have a history behind them, and this is precisely where I agree that the divide is silly in the way it was done.

    On each and every society, as stupid as classicism is, it have a history. Its precise forms have an identifiable cause, even if it is a cause full of complexity and nuance, as the real world usually is far more than people credit it for.

    But what is the cause in VA? How those clans interacted as to produce this specific clash of forces? For example, why the Malkavians, that ruled Rome with the Ventrue, are lumped with the Ravnos? As far as I could see, the line is completely arbitrary by the authors while the apparent reasoning is obviously an afterthought.


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    • #17
      Originally posted by monteparnas View Post
      I mean, sure, it is and have always been. But those distinctions aren't "meaningless". They have a history behind them, and this is precisely where I agree that the divide is silly in the way it was done
      I disagree because if we're using that definition, it is that powerful mortal-influenced Clans gathered together and formed a society that excludes others.

      The Brujah used to be a High Clan but became a Low Clan because they lost power.

      Ditto the Malkavians.

      The Assamites just aren't a force in European society's upper crust.

      The Followers of Set don't care.

      Etcetera.

      So yes, that is how things happened the way they did.


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

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      • #18
        That's dumb tho. Real dumb.

        Let's take the Ventrue for example. There's no clan that exemplifies "high" more than the Ventrue, other than perhaps the Toreador. And I've talked bout them to death recently so let's do this: There are two great problems with the Ventrue being "high" here. First is the chance that one of them has a feeding req that requires them to get "down" with the people. Second is, well, you need to protect a herd, and anyone with Obfuscate, be they Malk, Nos or Settite, can absolutely slaughter your herd, if not you. Most high clans have hard counters* among the low clans and while the high clans can band together... that's prestation heavy. You absolutely don't want to be too reliant on others as a vampire if you can easily avoid it. Alienate the "low clans" too much and they'll be mass embracing and knocking down your doors. Why would you want that

        *yes, i'm aware it's probably a long shot to describe any clan as a counter for another, especially as some clans are just straight up more successful than others. The Clan that doesn't really have a counter is the Toreador, but they're not particularly good at any specific thing so I'm ok with that. This whole thing may just be a Toreador conspiracy.


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        • #19
          Originally posted by MyWifeIsScary View Post
          That's dumb tho. Real dumb.

          Let's take the Ventrue for example. There's no clan that exemplifies "high" more than the Ventrue, other than perhaps the Toreador. And I've talked bout them to death recently so let's do this: There are two great problems with the Ventrue being "high" here. First is the chance that one of them has a feeding req that requires them to get "down" with the people. Second is, well, you need to protect a herd, and anyone with Obfuscate, be they Malk, Nos or Settite, can absolutely slaughter your herd, if not you. Most high clans have hard counters* among the low clans and while the high clans can band together... that's prestation heavy. You absolutely don't want to be too reliant on others as a vampire if you can easily avoid it. Alienate the "low clans" too much and they'll be mass embracing and knocking down your doors. Why would you want that

          *yes, i'm aware it's probably a long shot to describe any clan as a counter for another, especially as some clans are just straight up more successful than others. The Clan that doesn't really have a counter is the Toreador, but they're not particularly good at any specific thing so I'm ok with that. This whole thing may just be a Toreador conspiracy.
          I'm not of sure the argument here.

          If a Ventrue has a Feeding Restriction that he can only feed on beggars, he's not going to hang around Beggars. He's going to order the poor kidnapped off the street and dumped into his wine cellar/dungeon.

          Next the High Courters have always had the Low Courters working for them. They're just treated as inferiors.

          Also, thirdly, "alienate the Lowe clans too much and they'll be mass embracing and knocking down your doors" is literally what happened. I mean, you're just describing the First Anarch Revolt.

          I mean, the Elders of the Dark Ages HAVE to be assholes because the game canonically says they screwed the pooch.


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

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          • #20
            The Brujah used to be a High Clan but became a Low Clan because they lost power.
            The Brujah were considered to be a high clan in the Dark Medieval once the gameline decided that distinction existed in the Dark Ages Vampire line that was the successor to Vampire: the Dark Ages. They were literally featured in Player's Guide to the High Clans and described as a High Clan in the Dark Ages Vampire core rulebook. The main note that they had was that the clan was actively fighting to hold on to the distinction.

            DAV20 ultimately lightly retconned that whole setup and went with "while most vampires recognize the Ventrue and Lasombra as high clans, and Nosferatu as low, it is otherwise wildly variable and down to an epithet that whatever clan has the power and majority in a given area claims, and also whatever clan the local prince is because you go ahead and be the one to tell the prince they're not from a high clan, I dare you." Which was a somewhat more valid feeling approach to the whole idea as far as vampires and prestige games and their senses of self importance.

            V5, being V5, of course ignored that refinement and went back to the Dark Ages Vampire setup when talking about what the Low/High Clan setup was (which, sure, why not, why not ignore the attempt to approach the whole idea thing more sensibly in a way that felt more believable for attitudes majorities and or rulers would enforce about themselves), deciding to otherwise note the Brujah were both a high and low clan at the same time as far as anything else went.

            Also, thirdly, "alienate the Lowe clans too much and they'll be mass embracing and knocking down your doors" is literally what happened. I mean, you're just describing the First Anarch Revolt.
            No, that's not what happened considering the two major clans driving the Anarch Revolt along were themselves previously counted amongst the High Clans, and that the Brujah, who were turning on their own sires as much as anyone else, were also otherwise considered one of the High Clans before said revolt. And that the Assamites were considered a High Clan once you weren't in Europe.

            The Anarch Revolt came out from a mix of elders of a wide variety of clans throwing their childer to the Inquisition and their childer having a violent response to that (and Tyler being angry that the nascent Camarilla Founders didn't like her 'lets fight the Inquisition directly, not hide from it' idea), the Assamites going 'woo! diablerie rampage!' to piggyback on and exacerbate the violent response to that, and the Lasombra and Tzimisce in general having decided they had enough with their respective clan's hierarchy, such as it was, for their various reasons (ultimately Antediluvian manipulated reasons, but hey, Vampire).
            Last edited by MarkK; 09-14-2021, 07:37 PM.

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            • #21
              Originally posted by CTPhipps View Post
              I mean, the Elders of the Dark Ages HAVE to be assholes because the game canonically says they screwed the pooch.
              Basically the point is precisely that.

              The High/Low is a distinction made arbitrarily by the authors and without historical reasons in the setting. It is pretty much nonsensical for a lot of players.

              Yet, it is a thing, no one is arguing that it isn't a thing in the setting. The authors did, hence it is. And they made it into plot, so it must stand.


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              • #22
                Originally posted by monteparnas View Post
                Basically the point is precisely that.

                The High/Low is a distinction made arbitrarily by the authors and without historical reasons in the setting. It is pretty much nonsensical for a lot of players.

                Yet, it is a thing, no one is arguing that it isn't a thing in the setting. The authors did, hence it is. And they made it into plot, so it must stand.
                I guess I just don't see why the vampires, who we've known since First Edition give themselves an entire society with titles and prestige to amuse themselves, are weird for doing the same in the Dark Ages.

                The High Clan/Low Clan is just another way to make certain clans feel elite.

                But YMMV and if it didn't work for you, it didn't work.


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

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                • #23
                  The Anarch revolt happened because Europe was going through a period of rapid societal change (Medieval out, Early modern in) and this naturally brings in a lot of turbulence into a society of immortal bloodsuckers. A lot of opportunities for the young to get a leg up on the old, and thus a lot of reasons for the old to put a step down on the young. That doesn't mean that the elders ran the last thousand years incompetently, it means mortal change can disrupt immortal the status quo.


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                  • #24
                    Originally posted by MyWifeIsScary View Post
                    The Anarch revolt happened because Europe was going through a period of rapid societal change (Medieval out, Early modern in) and this naturally brings in a lot of turbulence into a society of immortal bloodsuckers. A lot of opportunities for the young to get a leg up on the old, and thus a lot of reasons for the old to put a step down on the young. That doesn't mean that the elders ran the last thousand years incompetently, it means mortal change can disrupt immortal the status quo.
                    I don't recall the existence of unnatural abominations being found to be real among the societal changes of Europe. I think its absolutely important not to attempt to tie the Second Inquisition to real life history and to make sure that you stick with the primary causes as crypto-historical (i.e. the work of fiction). Otherwise, a lot of the politics of Kindred don't make sense because they are motivated by the same forces that are independent of RL history.

                    For example, the Cappadocians weren't overthrown by changing economics, they were overthrown by a clan of incestuous cannibal necromancers at the behest of their leader's master mad plan to eat God.



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

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                    • #25
                      ...erhm... well I disagree with you enough to suspect you're a victim of lead poisoning. If reality can be used to add verisimilitude, it should.

                      I think its absolutely important not to attempt to tie the Second Inquisition to real life history and to make sure that you stick with the primary causes as crypto-historical
                      But you know they absolutely did that with V5 right? I mean, they're not good at it so we like to push that out of our heads, but everything from post-9/11 security paranoia to occupy wallstreet was used for building up the SI. Reality only becomes painful when it's misused, for example, V5 having vampires globally persecuted in a climate where the wealthy aren't.

                      For example, the Cappadocians weren't overthrown by changing economics, they were overthrown by a clan of incestuous cannibal necromancers at the behest of their leader's master mad plan to eat God.
                      While I applaud big Cappa's ambition, you'd have to be willfully ignorant to not see the message of the Giovanni being Italian bankers that rise at the cusp of the renaissance. Only thing that could be more obvious would be a whole bunch of Chinese super Vampires rising out of torpor during the opening ceremony of the Beijing olympics. Fact is, a big change in society is going to effect who is embraced, it's heavily going to hit the backgrounds of vampires (Oh look my useless domain just recieved a whole bunch of new developments, Oh look your church just lost all it's influence, sorry Lasombra) and it's going to benefit the vampires who are looking for the next big thing rather than the ones shoring up what they've got. The Renaissance brought about Capitalism, the decline of a now-bloated guild system, the decline of warrior elites, wars fought by mercenaries, religious upheavals, Guns went from a novelty to a mainstay, the world became more connected... There's a lot for neonates to take advantage of and a lot for elders to fall behind on. It's absolutely perfect for the Giovanni, and somewhat of a shitter for Capadocians.


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                      • #26
                        The High Clan/Low Clan distinction has always existed in the game in some form. Ventrue princes* are so common they're a stereotype. Toreador princes are another semi-common thing. Brujah and Nosferatu princes are uncommon. Lots of Brujah are also Anarchs. Not many Ventrue are. The Lasombra and Tzimisce lead the Sabbat. It's a basic fact of the game that some clans wield more political authority in their sects and are more "respectable" than others.

                        * 1e's core rulebook, interestingly, said that Ventrue often prefer to serve in advisory positions rather than be princes themselves, then promptly threw that idea out the window when Chicago by Night gave us Lodin the Ventrue prince and Milwaukee by Night gave us another Ventrue ex-prince.

                        So Dark Ages codifying that into the High Clan/Low Clan divide made sense to me. The Ventrue didn't become leaders in the Camarilla out of nowhere; in fact, they've always been seen as the aristocracy of the Damned, even if their fortunes have been higher at some points than others. (I like the idea that they were top dogs during ancient Rome and second fiddle to the Lasombra during the Middle Ages, as a result of the latter's domination of the church.)

                        The key thing is "seen as". There is no hard law that only Ventrue can be princes. You can have Low Clan princes. (I can think of a bunch from Dark Ages: Europe.) You can have members of the High Clans who've acquired unsavory reputations "not befitting" of their clans. The High Clan/Low Clan divide is a matter of perception and social expectation, as much as anything, though it also encompasses the very real phenomenon of more High Clan vampires attaining political power and facing fewer barriers to doing so. It's easier for them to establish cushy unlives in their sects. A Ventrue neonate is still going to watch his tongue around a Nosferatu elder, but a Nosferatu neonate will probably be more apprehensive about mouthing off a Ventrue neonate than a Brujah neonate in Elysium, all other circumstances being equal. This is true even among the Anarchs. Anarchs Unbound had a great "clans in the Movement" section where the Ventrue narrator described how other Anarchs deferred to her in subtle ways and looked to her for leadership, even as some of them seemed nervous around her and watched what they said. Their instincts said they weren't safe around a Ventrue, even one who was a fellow Anarch. (The narrator didn't like that.)

                        Again, these are social norms rather hard laws. In my current chronicle, the city's Brujah primogen holds higher Status and is more respected than the Ventrue primogen. But it also took her more work to get where she is, and there are still more Ventrue of high Status in the city than Brujah of high Status.

                        The main difference between the High Clan/Low Clan divide in the Dark Ages and the Modern Nights, to me, is that it's more subtle. There is "officially" no such thing as High Clans or Low Clans and the term has fallen out of use. The High Clans are less blatant about their status. The Toreador and Tremere (modern-day High Clans) don't really say "I'm just plain better than a Nosferatu because I'm a Toreador/Tremere." The Ventrue are the loudest about their status as leaders of the Camarilla, but they publicly insist it's by merit. Ventrue aren't rightful lords; they are competent leaders. The puff themselves up more than they put the Low Clans down (for being Low Clans). Brujah aren't inherently "less than" them by dint of their blood alone. It's just an unfortunate fact that many Brujah are punks and rabble-rousers and Anarchs who aren't suited to lead the Camarilla.

                        I don't remember what V5 did with the High Clan/Low Clan concept. If the High Clans themselves are pushing to re-introduce the label, I agree that's stupid. It does make sense to me, though, that some Anarchs would want to bring the term back. It's just a fact that some clans tend to be more "privileged" than others and High Clan/Low Clan gives a name to that phenomenon--which is why the High Clans don't want the term brought back. It's harder to talk about something when it doesn't have a name.


                        Blood and Bourbon, my New Orleans-based Vampire chronicle.

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                        • #27
                          Saying that the Toreador or Ventrue can look down on the Nosferatu or Gangrel because the Ventrue or Toreador can more easily control humans would be like saying that a shepherd can look down on a knight or a blacksmith because the shepherd is the one who can control the flocks of sheep. Sure, the shepherd's job is important and maybe the knight and the blacksmith both depend (if indirectly) on those sheep, but the shepherd also needs valuable things that the knight or blacksmith can provide and can also be killed by the knight if he causes trouble for him.

                          Some Clans might be seen as enemies or outsiders, the Assamites might be attacked by European vampires as a murderous diablerists just as a Muslim human might be attacked in Europe by Christian humans as an enemy of Christindom, but that isn't the same thing as some Clans being seen as noble and others being seen as common.

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                          • #28
                            Honestly I think the whole Ashirra thing was an anti-Assamite front and really they just wanted to pacify those crazy diablerists with mortal religion. It worked.

                            Ventrue rarely go anarch because they've got a great support network. How much clan mates help (or police) eachother is a great indicator of how many won't go anarch. This is why when I think "anarch" I first think of Brujah, and then Toreador, two clans with a lot of internal disputes. Gangrel are more likely to go Autuark than Anarch, because though their clan are spread out, their relationships with clanmates aren't as toxic, so they're more likely to fall out for being a psycho than for any perceived sense of injustice that the clan has done upon them.


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                            • #29
                              Brujah may have fewer princes than the Ventrue and are far more closely tied to the Anarchs, but that doesn't mean that the Brujah have no power, particularly the elders. There are elder Brujah of great power just as their are elder Ventrue of great power, or childer Ventrue with little relative powr. An elder Brujah would be powerful even if affiliated with the Anarchs, just as a leftist or populist politician or donor could be very powerful even if they advocated (seemingly or actually) for "the people."

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                              • #30
                                Originally posted by Sergeant Brother View Post
                                Saying that the Toreador or Ventrue can look down on the Nosferatu or Gangrel because the Ventrue or Toreador can more easily control humans would be like saying that a shepherd can look down on a knight or a blacksmith because the shepherd is the one who can control the flocks of sheep. Sure, the shepherd's job is important and maybe the knight and the blacksmith both depend (if indirectly) on those sheep, but the shepherd also needs valuable things that the knight or blacksmith can provide and can also be killed by the knight if he causes trouble for him.

                                Some Clans might be seen as enemies or outsiders, the Assamites might be attacked by European vampires as a murderous diablerists just as a Muslim human might be attacked in Europe by Christian humans as an enemy of Christindom, but that isn't the same thing as some Clans being seen as noble and others being seen as common.
                                Eh, the thing is that vampire powers also work on vampires.

                                Just not as well.

                                In the middle of the woods, a Gangrel has the advantage over a Ventrue night but the Ventrue is perfectly capable (and probably has many times) of dominating the Roman Legions to go into an area, pacify the locals, build a city, and then have an endless number of thralls to make life for the Gangrel Hell. It's why I state that a Garou will always beat an individual vampire short of Decker (and there's usually a pack of Garou) but vampires will always win long-term.

                                Batman reference on how Ventrue vs. Gangrel work

                                “That thief in Burma. Did you catch him?”

                                “Yes, sir.”

                                “How?”

                                “We burned the forest down.”

                                Which is to say, yes, this is why the Ventrue rule and the Gangrel didn't in the Dark Ages to Modern.

                                Last edited by CTPhipps; 09-15-2021, 07:20 PM.


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

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