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The nature and origin of vampiric "clan" flaws/curses

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  • The nature and origin of vampiric "clan" flaws/curses

    The Caitiff have always bugged me because it never really made sense to me that a childe just might not inherit the clan curse because reasons(??). Some of the supernatural flaws also seemed pretty odd to me, and I've never picked them.

    But then I was flipping though the merits and flaws, noting that the clan flaws were amongst them and thinking about how in a stupid way it'd be funny (if short lived) to make a really unlucky joke character caitiff with all the clan flaws. But then it was like, if that's possible then clan flaws aren't actually clan flaws are they?

    Feeding Restrictions, No Reflection, Bestial Temper, Grip of the Damned, etc, etc. They can manifest in any vampire of any lineage, which seems odd if they're supposed to come from the clan founders. Then there are random supernatural afflictions that have no connection to any clan. Some bloodline curses are in there, too. Speaking of bloodlines, if the curses come from the Antediluvians, how did the bloodlines just lose those and manifest their own afflictions? And if the curses have a chance of being hereditary, but are more random and not a characteristic unique to and specific to your lineage, then the fact that sometimes your childer just don't get one makes way more sense to me.

    If the curses come from the founders, why don't all their descendants get them and why do outsiders sometimes manifest them? Maybe if somebody in the vampire family tree before you diablerised someone from another clan?

    If the curses don't come from the founders where do they come from? Was Caine in fact the anti-Caitiff, possessing every single curse known to kindred? Is god just rolling dice every time an embrace happens to determine a random curse from a table? Is there even a reason?

    And why do some vampires manifest stuff like glowing eyes? A supernatural affliction that just turns up and isn't the mark of any lineage.

    I dunno, anyone got any thoughts?

  • #2
    I believe one of the original explanations for Caitiffs was that it was a sign of the Blood thinning much like the Thin Blood Generations. It was a sign that the curse had run its course and Gehenna was approaching. Or it could be a sign of possible pollution, as it was speculated one reason there were so many Caitiff in the Sabbat was that so many embraces were done via the vaulderie chalice with vitae from multiple vampires mixed together.

    There seemed to be an earlier definition of Caitiff that was just a vampire rejected or abandoned by its sire and thus outside of vampire society. But as these no clan curse Caitiff came up, this existing term was carried over to them.

    The issue with Bloodlines having their own curses but spontaneously being their own thing has always bothered me from a consistency perspective as well. Many bloodlines were from the Gangrel clan, and it was speculated one reason why that was is because there is something mutable or protean about the Gangrel vitae itself that lends itself to "mutation". But that was about the only reason I saw given and it only affected some of the bloodlines.

    We also know that some bloodlines were a result of magical experimentation. The Tremere, Kiasyd, Ahrimanes, and Nagaraja have origins that were all a result of magical experimentation with vitae. I imagine some of the other classic bloodlines about whom we know little, like the Daughters of Cacophony, could be the same.

    What cannot be explained in this fashion are the many sub-clans that are supposed to be part of their main clan, but are somehow different. The various Cappadocian lineages, Assamite sub-clans, and others are like that (I would include the True Brujah as part of this). I just attribute it to bad writing. The writers just really liked their concept and often wanted to shoe horn it in without giving much thought as to reasons. In my own chronicles, I streamline a lot of these by making their clan curse and Discipline set the same as the parent clan, with some modifications. For instance, I have the Giovanni basically be Cappadocians, but I also mandate they all must have the Flaw: Grip of the Damned as a result of an additional curse they received due to their crime of diablerie. The Samedi are Cappadocians, but again also have a mandated Monstrous flaw for reasons. I keep the True Brujah flaw as is, but say the reason the Brujah is different is that the Brujah antedeluvian cursed them so their emotional based flaw was transmuted into their current form instead of remaining the original emotional based flaw. Your mileage may differ.

    As for the other supernatural flaws, I say they just happen. They were always part of the nature of the curse/vitae, but they just had not manifested itself. It's not any different from negative mutations showing up in humans. If you want a rational explanation, I'd just say it was another sign of the blood "thinning" and thus weakening in some way.

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    • #3
      My headcanon is that clan weaknesses and discipline spreads are created by obsession. Ennoia obsessed over animals, so she gained the ability to progress at the animal related disciplines more easily, but also started to transform randomly into an animal. Troile obsessed over sparking violent rebellions and so gained the ability to create and participate in violent rebellions more easily, but was also filled with rage him/herself. Ventrue obsessed over controlling a changeless empire, and gained the ability to be more changeless and enforce changelessness, but lost the ability to even change his eating patterns.

      Some, like Nosferatu, don't fit this pattern and may have been genuine, separate curses, but I think most clans and even more the bloodlines are about this.

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      • #4
        I think the clan flaws are actually a boon for the clans. For the individuals, they're a problem, but for society? They're pretty good. To the point I think it's likely the Clan founders cursed their clans on purpose.

        Best example by far would be the Ventrue. If they didn't have a clan weakness, the greatest enemy of the Ventrue would always be other Ventrue: so many leader types each directly competing for resources, influence, territory and herd. Any truce would just be a temporary ceasefire. But, you throw in that weakness and BAM, Ventrue are interdependent. They often literally can't compete for herd, and their dire food scarcity makes for sharing resources, domain and influence a necessity. Plus, they can threaten eachother's food supplies should they start acting up. This weakness has very drastically turned what would've been the fiercest rivals into the most brotherly of clans.

        For most other clans, a weakness is what turns characters who should be big competitors into comrades. Someone said something like "strength is celebrated by weakness drives us together" and I think most clans like the Nosferatu or Malkavians would agree. Lasombra have it the weirdest since their weakness puts them at eachother's throats in the name of quality control/brand value, since if a Lasombra got captured it would be disasterous for the rest as vampire hunters would go after those without a reflection in a frenzy, thus the clan is so extreme about survival of the fitest/killing the unworthy.


        Throw me/White wolf some money with Quietus: Drug Lord, Poison King
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        • #5
          An interesting notion MyWifeIsScary about Clan Flaws being a boon. Although my Brujah character would wonder what kind of boon having a short temper would give at all.


          What in the name of Set is going on here?

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          • #6
            Originally posted by Lysander View Post
            An interesting notion MyWifeIsScary about Clan Flaws being a boon. Although my Brujah character would wonder what kind of boon having a short temper would give at all.
            Given their spread they're essentially the warrior clan. Having too many warriors is bad for peace.
            -The short temper actually limits their power and that's a good thing: fewer embraces, fewer holdings (they might just frenzy and destroy everything they've built). Why is this a good thing? Well, without these limits they become an extreme threat that needs to be eliminated. regular brujah culls is a fair bit worse than the normal internal disputes. Think Krogan.
            -it gives them solidarity and protects them from when the prince actually does decide he doesn't want a bunch of loose warriors causing problems.


            Throw me/White wolf some money with Quietus: Drug Lord, Poison King
            There's more coming soon. Pay what ya want.

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            • #7
              This is a fascinating thread. Thanks.


              Amethyst is my birthstone. She/they.

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              • #8
                Fair enough MyWifeIsScary. I should've considered that idea before hand. But I normally don't play my Brujah as combat heavy monsters in general and lean more towards there intellectual roots who know how to handle themselves if trouble arrives.


                What in the name of Set is going on here?

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                • #9
                  Personlly I can't see the weakness being an intentional boon to the clans due to, according to my perhaps limited knowledge on the matter, that the Ancients and Caine didn't have a very functional relation with their Childer.

                  If the Antediluvians had been more like the, at least mostly, paternal Primarchs from 40k in regards to their clans this would make alot of sense. But I personally don't see that relationship being so functional, paternal or simply well meaning enough to make this likely.

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                  • #10
                    If I recall Caine punished his grandchilder for the transgressions against the 2nd generation and made sure the punishments/curses were fitting and ensured that they didn't get to big for britches so to speak.


                    What in the name of Set is going on here?

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                    • #11
                      Except many bloodlines were born thousands of years after that, yet still have weaknesses. Hence my theory that a weakness forms as a result of an obsession that creates an affinity for certain disciplines at the cost also creating a weakness.

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                      • #12


                        Originally posted by Lysander View Post
                        If I recall Caine punished his grandchilder for the transgressions against the 2nd generation and made sure the punishments/curses were fitting and ensured that they didn't get to big for britches so to speak.
                        Originally posted by Gurkhal View Post
                        Personlly I can't see the weakness being an intentional boon to the clans due to, according to my perhaps limited knowledge on the matter, that the Ancients and Caine didn't have a very functional relation with their Childer.
                        Originally posted by Gurkhal View Post

                        If the Antediluvians had been more like the, at least mostly, paternal Primarchs from 40k in regards to their clans this would make alot of sense. But I personally don't see that relationship being so functional, paternal or simply well meaning enough to make this likely.


                        The Caine myth is exactly that, myth. At most, your storyteller could push it as legend. I think it should be pretty obvious that Vampires don't accurately write their histories and something like "the antes cursed their own childer" is not going to go over well. The ancients don't need a warm relationship with their clan, they just need tools.


                        Throw me/White wolf some money with Quietus: Drug Lord, Poison King
                        There's more coming soon. Pay what ya want.

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                        • #13
                          Don't forget you have The Book Of Nod, Revalations Of The Dark Mother & The Enriyes Fragment all giving different takes on Kindred origins. Though The Enriyes Fragment is my personal favorite of the three.


                          What in the name of Set is going on here?

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by MyWifeIsScary View Post





                            The Caine myth is exactly that, myth. At most, your storyteller could push it as legend. I think it should be pretty obvious that Vampires don't accurately write their histories and something like "the antes cursed their own childer" is not going to go over well. The ancients don't need a warm relationship with their clan, they just need tools.
                            The way its pushed in VtM makes it more than a myth among other myths. Unlike VtR there's no alternative that's promoted nearly as hard in official material.

                            Its like saying that "Gaia", "Wyrm" etc. conflict is just something the werewolves made up to justify their use of violence towards things they don't like.

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Gurkhal View Post

                              The way its pushed in VtM makes it more than a myth among other myths. Unlike VtR there's no alternative that's promoted nearly as hard in official material.
                              I mean yes, but the devil is in the details. What is certain is that A Lot of (maybe all) the Clan Founders are Really Effing Old (T the First and Aggie excluded); it appears that they largely knew each others and have lived in proximity in some early civilization at least once. There is a chance that somebody somewhat Cain-like is involved, and if so, it's likely that there has been one generation between him and the Founders. One or more ancestral witches could have been there (or not). Beyond that you can get quite creative.


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