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ghoul children? do they grow up

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  • #16
    I have to admit that I find it contrary to "general vampire lore" that ghouls shouldn't age and die of old age. Even if the books state otherwise. For a number of reasons:

    1. One of the main ways to stay undetected as a vampire in a city is keeping up appearances of a "normal family". Neighbours will see a family grow and age (the ghouls), while the vampire is kept hidden inside. I think this is one of the main reasons why vampires keep ghouls - apart from the daily chores that needs taken care of, and the obvious shelter ghouls provide.

    2. If Tzimisce ghoul families are to make sense (at least to me), they have to be of the blood, so to speak, yet mortal until a time where they may be embraced. If they didn't grow or age this concept would somewhat wasted from a pragmatic point of view.

    3. A reoccuring narrative (be it in Dracula or other stories) is the ghoul's plea to become embraced. If said ghoul was immortal and had super powers then there's hardly an arc to that story.

    4. In my opinion one of the best depictions of the aging of the ghoul was in Let The Right One In (the Swedish version, mind you), and that sort of dispair the old ghoul felt was along the lines I like to use them in my games.

    But I'm probably butchering WW lore now.

    V


    "They do say, Mrs. M, that verbal insults hurt more than physical pain. They are of course wrong, as you will soon discover when I stick this toasting fork into your head."

    --E. Blackadder

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    • #17
      1- Vampires need to closely control their ghouls for this reason. Ghouling friends and family out of love or care is a no-no. You'll get killed for it. Long term Ghouling is really only for a select few, likely essential guardians that aren't overly exposed to the outside world. Mundane persuasion, money, or Dominate are what's used the majority of the time.
      2-Tzmisce ghoul families are their own breed.
      3- The ghoul's immortality is entirely dependent on someone else. That's not really immortality. Should your master die, you'll likely find yourself on the chopping block, at best you'll be enslaved by another master.


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      • #18
        Originally posted by monteparnas View Post
        Of course growth is a transformation. But what triggers this transformation? The book is reasonably clear about what ghouling does to your body and to metabolism, child growth is the same fundamental transformation process of an adult getting older.
        Lore is lore and the lore says they stay physically children, but I will point out that you are incorrect here. The biological processes for child development are NOT the same as for senescence. The former is constructive (adding cells, increasing neural pathways) the latter is destructive (cells failing to replicate properly leading to atrophy, organ failure and cancers, degenerating neural pathways).

        As such, its entirely possible to have a process that halts senescence, but would not halt development and normal cellular reproduction. In fact, given what we know of ghoul biology; their hair and nails continue to grow and, if injured, they can still heal naturally (i.e. growing replacement cells); I would argue that children should actually develop into mature adults normally because ghouls can still do all the things at a cellular level required for such development.

        Now, having them stay children makes it way creepier and since, ultimately, magic is involved it doesn't have to make actual biological sense... but on the purely biological level the two are completely different things.

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        • #19
          Originally posted by Chris24601 View Post
          The biological processes for child development are NOT the same as for senescence.
          Stating that they're essentially the same was a simplification, because both development and senescense are actually far more complex and varied than that. We do have a process IRL that halts senescense and not development, it's called cancer.

          To halt aging through biological factor the Kindred Vitae would need to have a strikingly complex and different effect on a living body, balancing effects like the reposition of stem-cells, restoration of telomeres upon cell division, damage prevention from free radicals, and many others that differ greatly in nature and process, while at the same time avoiding the side effects of those same processes.

          Above all else, this is contrary to the explanation given to how vampiric blood work. Such a substance could exist, but it wouldn't keep vampires as immortal corpses, it would make them impossibly full of vitality. It corrects damage at the level of DNA structure while it lets the organism develop fully. Ghouls and vampires under such effect would universally achieve a body in their 30 years, as it is by this time that a human body finishes full development and achieves peak potential, healthier than normal, of course. It would also be a strange growth, as some aspects of our growth are due to senescense since early childhood.

          If vampire blood is an actual cure for senescense, then sure, children can be Ghouled and grow. But we will need very different rules for Ghouldom. What the lore currently proposes, though, is stasis, is a magical condition where the body is isolated from the ravages of time. Under this assumption, given that both growth and senescense are natural entropic processes that mark our passage through time, they are of the same nature.


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          • #20
            Originally posted by Vincent View Post
            I have to admit that I find it contrary to "general vampire lore" that ghouls shouldn't age and die of old age. Even if the books state otherwise. For a number of reasons:

            1. One of the main ways to stay undetected as a vampire in a city is keeping up appearances of a "normal family". Neighbours will see a family grow and age (the ghouls), while the vampire is kept hidden inside. I think this is one of the main reasons why vampires keep ghouls - apart from the daily chores that needs taken care of, and the obvious shelter ghouls provide.
            Being a Cleaver is an effective way to hide, but the fact ghouling them stops them growing older is one of the ethical dilemas the system poses you.
            1) Do I ghoul my family to keep them quiet?
            2) When is to young to ghoul them?
            3) If I ghoul my family do they still love me, or do they love the blood?
            4) How do I explain to them that they won't age?
            5) How do I explain to them the powers they'll develop?

            2. If Tzimisce ghoul families are to make sense (at least to me), they have to be of the blood, so to speak, yet mortal until a time where they may be embraced. If they didn't grow or age this concept would somewhat wasted from a pragmatic point of view.
            Revenants are markedly different to ghouls, kind of like comparing a house-cat to a lion. Technically they're both cats, but what holds true of the housecat doesn't hold true of the lion.

            Revenants have all the innate advantages of ghouls but when they stop ageing is determined by circumstance and their particular Revenant Family and Domitor.

            3. A reoccuring narrative (be it in Dracula or other stories) is the ghoul's plea to become embraced. If said ghoul was immortal and had super powers then there's hardly an arc to that story.
            The story come from being an utter slave, to being one's own once again. Ghouls gain a fragment of the vampires true power a discipline, slightly improved healing, and functional immortality. But, they also become addicted to vitae and are utterly dependent on it in order to survive. An old enough ghoul will rapidly die without access to vitae. At the same time a centuries-old ghoul has no choice but to serve their source of vitae, why wouldn't they want to escape and become more via the embrace?


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            • #21
              Another important factor in the "Ghouling my family" strategy is the economics of the process. Each Ghoul is a minimum permanent investment of 1 Vitae per month, but can easily be more if you want to really protect them.

              Between costs, risks, effects on normal life and other considerations, I don't think a smart vampire of any age would try the "family" strategy by Ghouling all those humans. One Ghoul selected among them to take care of the rest is more than enough, aging or not.

              Masquerade considerations aside, it's unlikely that a majority of a vampire's mortal retainers are actual Ghouls.


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              • #22
                In my books, being a Blood Servant only makes you live up to 400 years.

                However, I think it's pretty established ghouldom prevents you from aging and is the primary reason most people become ghouls. After all, in addition to the supernatural loyalty, it provides longevity and health.

                I also think ghouled children is suitably horrifying.


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

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                • #23
                  I actually like the idea of really old Ghouls because of the option of using a Methuselah's old Ghoul instead of the Methuselah itself. Such a creature may be far older and more influential than most elders, working as a vessel of their master's power, without the need to put the master itself in the game.

                  The idea of an old guardian adapting through the ages, pretending to be a lineage unto themselves, managing from their homes the huge conspiracies their masters put in motion, hiding among humans pretending to be their equal.

                  Such are tropes I find interesting to work with.


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                  • #24
                    Originally posted by Chris24601 View Post
                    Lore is lore and the lore says they stay physically children, but I will point out that you are incorrect here. The biological processes for child development are NOT the same as for senescence. The former is constructive (adding cells, increasing neural pathways) the latter is destructive (cells failing to replicate properly leading to atrophy, organ failure and cancers, degenerating neural pathways).

                    As such, its entirely possible to have a process that halts senescence, but would not halt development and normal cellular reproduction. In fact, given what we know of ghoul biology; their hair and nails continue to grow and, if injured, they can still heal naturally (i.e. growing replacement cells); I would argue that children should actually develop into mature adults normally because ghouls can still do all the things at a cellular level required for such development.

                    Now, having them stay children makes it way creepier and since, ultimately, magic is involved it doesn't have to make actual biological sense... but on the purely biological level the two are completely different things.
                    I agree, halting senescence seems to be part of the ghouling but I don't think it makes any sense to say that ghouls couldn't grow. After all, they DO grow, they can make new sperm, have babies in their bellies and also grow their hair and continue to grow finger nails too. Ghoul adults literally can grow, they can grow new children after all...

                    With this in mind, if a ghoul can have a baby, and that baby is fed vitae, when does it say that they baby doesn't ever become an adult, and wouldn't they have touched on this in the books. I mean does it ever say that a ghoul child is always a child, and if so where?

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                    • #25
                      Allowing Ghouls to grow makes for more interesting distinctions between them and vampires, in my opinion. As only vampires are truly frozen in time, ghouls share a lesser version of the curse.

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                      • #26
                        Originally posted by SetiteFriend View Post
                        Allowing Ghouls to grow makes for more interesting distinctions between them and vampires, in my opinion. As only vampires are truly frozen in time, ghouls share a lesser version of the curse.
                        I think it also makes Revenants and Dhampirs work a bit more smoothly too as you don’t need the “they still age but slowly” or “they age normally until their vampire heritage kicks in then it slows.”

                        Instead it’s just “they develop at a normal rate until physical maturity then age at whatever rate you want for your setting.”

                        That said too, creepy Revenant children who look 6, but have the mind of a 30 year old and ones frozen as an infant because an insane parent feeds them their blood are really creepy so I can see that angle… however I sometimes wonder if it’s something too creepy to actually be useful.

                        This was actually something I ran into in developing a fantasy setting where one of the playable species was the lost shadows of murdered children (for those who wanted ‘edgy’). Well, literally no one chose to play one unless it was the last available pre-gen and after noticing this I did some interviews and it turned out the whole concept was just so disturbing that people “Noped” right out… it was too edgy even for the Edgelords.

                        My hunch is that ghoul children fall into that similar “Nope” range where it’s mostly only going to come up in the form of NPCs created by GMs who want to push things into extra-disturbing territory. But you can already do that by just making the child an actual vampire… you don’t need to double down by having it also apply to ghoul kids or to Revenants (kids can be plenty messed up by their families in a single adolescence… they don’t need 4-5 times that long to get there).

                        As a storytelling tool, I think there’s a bit more flexibility in letting young ghouls develop to physical maturity and leaving the eternal child angle to actual vampires. Particularly when you consider that this no longer requires your demi-vampires (revenants/dhampirs) to “age out” in a chronicle with significant time jumps in it.

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                        • #27
                          Quite the opposite, I think Revenants and Dhampirs already cover ground for the "demi-cursed" that still grow and age. The Ghoul child gives more bite to the decision on ghouling someone to begin with, and this is an eternal child with actual child necessities instead of just another Claudia ripoff.

                          With this character you can explore the theme of the "doll-face", instead of the ageless child that is a monster you have an ageless child that is a human and have to live its agelessness in direct contact with normal society. And outside this character, you have for the vampire a new host of tropes as the "eternal parent", stuck with the consequences of the decision (maybe not their own) to ghoul this child, with all that entails to a truly extended childhood.

                          The problem with the Vampire-Child is that it is just a fake extended childhood. It is actually a trope of lost childhood with a twist, and a reinforced theme of denial that actually every vampire already have.

                          Ghouls that grow up just become too similar to Revenants.


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                          • #28
                            Originally posted by Zennis View Post
                            I agree, halting senescence seems to be part of the ghouling but I don't think it makes any sense to say that ghouls couldn't grow. After all, they DO grow, they can make new sperm, have babies in their bellies and also grow their hair and continue to grow finger nails too. Ghoul adults literally can grow, they can grow new children after all...
                            You are also talking about an arbitrary magical process. Just because one thing works as we'd expect it to, doesn't necessarily mean anything else does. Ghouls also technically heal faster than normal mortals, they don't however have a faster metabolism or need to eat more, etc. We kind of have to accept that ghouls do X, Y, Z the way it's stated and everything else is normal.

                            With this in mind, if a ghoul can have a baby, and that baby is fed vitae, when does it say that they baby doesn't ever become an adult, and wouldn't they have touched on this in the books. I mean does it ever say that a ghoul child is always a child, and if so where?
                            This is referenced in the deleted Anarch section that monteparnas and I were discussing. In it, a character explicitly states feeding vitae to a child (including a baby) will stop them from growing, stop their ageing. How canonical you consider now cut content is down to you, but that's the only official content on the topic I'm aware of.

                            Unless there's something in Ghouls & Revenants: Fatal Addiction maybe?


                            STV Author - Guide to the Sabbat
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                            • #29
                              Originally posted by Karos View Post

                              You are also talking about an arbitrary magical process. Just because one thing works as we'd expect it to, doesn't necessarily mean anything else does. Ghouls also technically heal faster than normal mortals, they don't however have a faster metabolism or need to eat more, etc. We kind of have to accept that ghouls do X, Y, Z the way it's stated and everything else is normal.



                              This is referenced in the deleted Anarch section that monteparnas and I were discussing. In it, a character explicitly states feeding vitae to a child (including a baby) will stop them from growing, stop their ageing. How canonical you consider now cut content is down to you, but that's the only official content on the topic I'm aware of.

                              Unless there's something in Ghouls & Revenants: Fatal Addiction maybe?
                              maybe it was deleted because it was inconsistent with the material at large and they didn't use it for this very issue.

                              What if they didn't use it because they knew making this call was contradictory and couldn't be made cannon, so due to the lack of clarity, they deleted it?

                              not suggesting it, just asking about it.

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                              • #30
                                Originally posted by Karos View Post

                                Being a Cleaver is an effective way to hide, but the fact ghouling them stops them growing older is one of the ethical dilemas the system poses you.
                                1) Do I ghoul my family to keep them quiet?
                                2) When is to young to ghoul them?
                                3) If I ghoul my family do they still love me, or do they love the blood?
                                4) How do I explain to them that they won't age?
                                5) How do I explain to them the powers they'll develop?
                                Those questions are in my opinion the ones vampires normally deal with in terms of embracing others. Are ghouls really to be treated similarly?

                                Like I said, I'm probably butchering WW lore, but in this case I do it with pleasure.

                                V


                                "They do say, Mrs. M, that verbal insults hurt more than physical pain. They are of course wrong, as you will soon discover when I stick this toasting fork into your head."

                                --E. Blackadder

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