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  • How do you treat your ghouls?

    Just a curious notion I had as one of our players plays a Tremere who has a younger brother that she ghouled to keep her ties to humanity strong and does her best to protect him from the worst elements of Kindred society. He mostly maintains her haven and helps her aquire blood for her. So what about you people how do you treat your ghouls in general?

    I always go with the notion that good help is hard to find and I try to not put them at unnesscary risk (Sorry about the spelling mistake).


    What in the name of Set is going on here?

  • #2
    Originally posted by Lysander View Post
    Just a curious notion I had as one of our players plays a Tremere who has a younger brother that she ghouled to keep her ties to humanity strong and does her best to protect him from the worst elements of Kindred society. He mostly maintains her haven and helps her aquire blood for her. So what about you people how do you treat your ghouls in general?

    I always go with the notion that good help is hard to find and I try to not put them at unnecessary risk (Sorry about the spelling mistake).
    I think it's a Kindred by Kindred thing.

    Generally, I treat ghouldom as something that is ostensibly a sweet deal but is actually quite horrifying to witness. One of my longest running NPCs was the a teenage girl that the PC almost killed and he ghouled to save the life of. The Prince, annoyed at the breach of the Masquerade gave him the choice of permanently caring for her (in the manner of "you clean after her, you train her, and you don't complain if it's hard") or killing her.*

    This gave me the opportunity to demonstrate her slow transformation from a "normal" girl into someone psychotically fixated on the PC and willing to do anything for them. Given the PC was very high humanity, it was always fascinating to watch them deal with the impossible situation. The ghoul was also in love with him and desired to be a vampire herself but, of course, that was the Blood Bond and if she did, she would have been a Low Humanity one.

    (Few vampires turn their ghouls in my game because it breaks the Blood Bond, you lose a useful servant, and most are doomed to wightdom)

    * This is the Prince actually being quite reasonable and even indulgent by Camarilla standards. It helped the PC was a Toreador.


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

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    • #3
      The Toreador can be more reasonable then the other "High" clans for sure.


      What in the name of Set is going on here?

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      • #4
        I tend to want to emphasize, at least as someone that runs VtM far more than plays it, that Ghouls are magically made slaves. Being the nicest slave owner that still keeps people as chattel slaves, isn't really a contest that has a "winner" just for being the least evil possible while engaging in an immoral act.

        I think Bloodlines 1 is a good example of what should happen when vampires try to be nice to their Ghouls (assuming you decide to be nice to Heather of course).

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        • #5
          Originally posted by Heavy Arms View Post
          I tend to want to emphasize, at least as someone that runs VtM far more than plays it, that Ghouls are magically made slaves. Being the nicest slave owner that still keeps people as chattel slaves, isn't really a contest that has a "winner" just for being the least evil possible while engaging in an immoral act.

          I think Bloodlines 1 is a good example of what should happen when vampires try to be nice to their Ghouls (assuming you decide to be nice to Heather of course).
          Agreed. Arguably, it's kinder to keep them at a distance as it doesn't mess with their minds more.


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

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          • #6
            I disagree, to me ghouls are the cornerstone for many functioning kindred. That can include "positive" more humanlike relationships as well as feelings that can be very similar to a stockholm syndrome situation or even an abusive relationship.
            Something that needs to be stated over and over is that even drama needs to be realistic. In our modern times it is almost impossible to exist without a functioning ghoul (or blood bonded/dominated thin blood). Not even talking about animal ghouls that are equally useful.
            There is already enough darkness in the world of darkness, it is useful to create a little bit of light with useful Ghouls. You will have to snuff out the ghoul if he becomes too useful, but there is nothing better than a Domitor and her/his standing together, fighting against the rigid structures of the world, only for the ghoul sacrificing her/himself. Great drama needs more than mopping a la Angel, it needs positive feelings of togetherness and strength before it ends up in solitude and impotence. Sometimes it even works out for them!


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            • #7
              I'm gonna be honest, I never liked ghouls as a concept, not out of moral reasons but out of practicality, they are walking liabilities that, depending on the individual ghoul, offer very little and require a lot of upkeep, not saying vamps shouldn't ghoul but it should be given the same consideration as an embrace in my opinion.

              Regarding their treatment, the blood bond is not unbreakable and mistreating your ghouls might give them the opportunity to disobey your orders at the most inconvenient of times (something that I exploited in a lot of my games), same could be said with treating ghouls in a more gentle manner, they will believe you love them and go to extremes trying to please you, Heather from bloodlines is a good example of that.

              In my games I had powerful kindreds treat their ghouls like you would treat a capable subordinate, in many ways they were usually treated better than the fledgeling protagonists since they were much more useful then them, a detached relationship with the occasional praise and many privileges was how I usually ran top camarilla ghouls, street level ghouls meanwhile were little more than expendable cannon fodder and often the source of problem, a few were family members or boyfriends/girlfriends of very naive fledgelings that were going to regret it very soon, young kindred just don't have the right mindset to command people.

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              • #8
                I don't.

                - Dominate 3 & 4 is for making ad hoc disposable minions. Sometimes you do them from other people's retainers, for convenience and misdirection.
                - Dominate 5 is for programing people while in a random mortal's body or hijacking someone else's ghoul as vessel for a few minutes or hours.

                Typical night to night shenanigans, you know...

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                • #9
                  "Well I tend to deviate from most of my clan by letting my ghoul have a personal life and not constantly abusing them... obviously 20:00-03-00 she's mine but letting her do her own thing means I don't have to deal with her stupid shit so much. As for her uses, mostly mundaine stuff- buy me stuff, clean the haven, I need a gym buddy etc. I also quite enjoy interacting with someone whose just nice to me and isn't fucked up beyond all reason."

                  -Sam loomis lasombra siege veteran
                  Last edited by Ragged Robin; 11-26-2022, 06:12 PM.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Baaldam View Post
                    I don't.

                    - Dominate 3 & 4 is for making ad hoc disposable minions. Sometimes you do them from other people's retainers, for convenience and misdirection.
                    - Dominate 5 is for programing people while in a random mortal's body or hijacking someone else's ghoul as vessel for a few minutes or hours.

                    Typical night to night shenanigans, you know...
                    Mind you, that means if you're not a vampire with Dominate, you're screwed.
                    Last edited by CTPhipps; 11-26-2022, 10:17 PM.


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

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                    • #11
                      Generally what do Ghouls Do:

                      * Ghouls do all of a Kindred's daylight business.

                      * Ghouls generally keep busy looking after your haven.

                      * Ghouls are either in love with you, addicted to your vitae, or think of you as a god/idol. If you beat the shit out of them for no reason, they will make excuses for you. It requires a sustained and brutal campaign of abuse to get them to break the Blood Bond.

                      * Generally, whether a ghoul is a filthy insane degenerate or not will depend on how they react to an addiction. In RL, some people cannot function on a powerful drug and some people can't.

                      * Ghouls are fairly easy to make compared to Dominated or presenced servants.

                      * Ghouls are disposable to most Kindred. Some Princes require you to get approval but most won't bother and would find it silly you'd ask. Even then if a Prince doesn't give you permission to a ghoul, it's probably because he thinks you're too close to it or just being a dick.

                      * Ghouls are a handy snack and recover twice as fast.

                      * Ghouls CAN wake you or get you to safety if there's an imminent threat like your haven on fire or sunlight coming in.

                      * Ghouls do need food and sleep but most Kindred can provide the bare minimum for that.

                      * Ghouls can and do sometimes serve as bodyguards for their masters, even if it's less "fight my enemies for me" and more "buy me some time to escape."


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

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by CTPhipps View Post
                        Generally what do Ghouls Do:

                        * Ghouls do all of a Kindred's daylight business.

                        * Ghouls generally keep busy looking after your haven.

                        * Ghouls are either in love with you, addicted to your vitae, or think of you as a god/idol. If you beat the shit out of them for no reason, they will make excuses for you. It requires a sustained and brutal campaign of abuse to get them to break the Blood Bond.

                        * Generally, whether a ghoul is a filthy insane degenerate or not will depend on how they react to an addiction. In RL, some people cannot function on a powerful drug and some people can't.

                        * Ghouls are fairly easy to make compared to Dominated or presenced servants.

                        * Ghouls are disposable to most Kindred. Some Princes require you to get approval but most won't bother and would find it silly you'd ask. Even then if a Prince doesn't give you permission to a ghoul, it's probably because he thinks you're too close to it or just being a dick.

                        * Ghouls are a handy snack and recover twice as fast.

                        * Ghouls CAN wake you or get you to safety if there's an imminent threat like your haven on fire or sunlight coming in.

                        * Ghouls do need food and sleep but most Kindred can provide the bare minimum for that.

                        * Ghouls can and do sometimes serve as bodyguards for their masters, even if it's less "fight my enemies for me" and more "buy me some time to escape."
                        Can you mention / describe any positive or nice stereotypes in regard to Ghouls ? I do recall they are often mentioned as being important specialists in regard to some areas of expertise, or in the role of lovers, friends, and companions.

                        I would also like to note that many Vampiress and Vampires have been Ghouls before they have been Embraced. Surely such persons - after and before becoming Vampires - would contribute to a more positive image, and also better wealth / material conditions, for Ghouls who would be their acquittances, colleagues, or friends.

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                        • #13
                          Understand, I can only speak as to how *I* handle Ghouls and while we have GHOULS: FATAL ADDICTION to discuss them, there's going to be a lot of ST freedom and interpretation for how "you" handle your ghouls.

                          Everyone's World of Darkness is a little bit difference.

                          So this is just my interpretation.

                          Originally posted by Muad'Dib View Post
                          Can you mention / describe any positive or nice stereotypes in regard to Ghouls ? I do recall they are often mentioned as being important specialists in regard to some areas of expertise, or in the role of lovers, friends, and companions.
                          Generally speaking, ghouls love being ghouls. A ghoul is a slave, make no mistake, but if you ever bothered to sit down and talk to a ghoul, you might note that they are very often HIGHLY contemptuous of regular mortals.

                          A ghoul may want to be an actual vampire or satisfied with what they are currently (usually they're somewhere inbetween), however, virtually all of them consider humans to be sheep, ignorant fools, or inferior beings. To be a ghoul is to never be sick, never grow old, and to possess an eternal sense of STRENGTH that never leaves you as long as you have the blood in your veins.

                          However, psychologically speaking, ghouls just feel like they belong to the secret society that rules the world even if they're the lowest ranking members. Ghouls separate the world, even if only by picking up on their master's psychology, into the feeders and the fed upon. They consider themselves closer to the former than the latter. The sheep dog even if not the shepard.

                          There are also ghouls that aren't simply tools to their masters, though this can certainly be dangerous. Whether they're viewed as pets or long-time servants, some ghouls are the beloved confidants to their masters: their Alfreds or Katos. Ghouls who serve a particular purpose like being the financier for a Ventrue's money or lawyer may also be given vast amounts of wealth they can enjoy on their master's behalf as well as a great deal of freedom.

                          For the man at the Blood Bank, he may never meet his Kindred master save once a month and yet gains all the benefits of the condition as well as an extra payment. As for lovers? Well, that tends to the tragic. A Kindred may believe their ghoul sincerely loves them and in other circumstances, they might, but their loyalty isn't exactly a CHOICE.

                          I would also like to note that many Vampiress and Vampires have been Ghouls before they have been Embraced. Surely such persons - after and before becoming Vampires - would contribute to a more positive image, and also better wealth / material conditions, for Ghouls who would be their acquittances, colleagues, or friends.
                          I actually think that ghouldom to Kindred is very rare outside of the Giovanni, Tremere, Old Clan Tzimisce, and Ventrue. Which is to say that it's not unknown among Kindred but it's not exactly something that happens very regularly. When these Clans Embrace ghouls, it's usually part of a very formalized tradition with a lot of steps to make sure it doesn't backfire.
                          Why?

                          When the Blood Bond snaps, A LOT OF previously rationalized abuses and problems come into sharp focus that may result in someone totally changing as a person.

                          "YOU KILLED MY MOM!"
                          "You said you forgave me!"
                          "I WAS INSANE!"
                          Last edited by CTPhipps; 11-27-2022, 06:32 PM.


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

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                          • #14
                            To be fair animal ghouls change this narrative quite a lot.

                            Since animals only care about being fed, sheltered, and given head pats, there isn't much that they want from the relationship. Likewise, since the animal doesn't psychologically contextualize things like a human does, the vampire master doesn't expect as much from the ghoul. I mean a crate trained dog isn't upset at being put in a cage, while a human being theoretically should be. I say theoretically because I did know a girl who enjoyed forms of puppy play and thus was rather happy at the prospect of being put in a cage or crate. The older I get, the weirder the world seems to be.

                            The Nosferatu mutagenic vitae also make Ghouling a tad less cut and dry. The mutations don't go away if the Vitae runs out. The humans might break mentally at the thought of being ugly or monstrous, but I don't think it would be a concept for animals. While many mutated animals would be non-symmetrical and thus be considered less desirable by potential mates, the fact that the ghoul is usually disturbingly huge and physically powerful more than makes up it. Since Animalism is a thing, that means we can actually ask the animal ghouls what they feel about the situation rather than guessing.

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by CTPhipps View Post
                              Generally speaking, ghouls love being ghouls. A ghoul is a slave, make no mistake, but if you ever bothered to sit down and talk to a ghoul, you might note that they are very often HIGHLY contemptuous of regular mortals.

                              A ghoul may want to be an actual vampire or satisfied with what they are currently (usually they're somewhere inbetween), however, virtually all of them consider humans to be sheep, ignorant fools, or inferior beings. To be a ghoul is to never be sick, never grow old, and to possess an eternal sense of STRENGTH that never leaves you as long as you have the blood in your veins.
                              However, psychologically speaking, ghouls just feel like they belong to the secret society that rules the world even if they're the lowest ranking members. Ghouls separate the world, even if only by picking up on their master's psychology, into the feeders and the fed upon. They consider themselves closer to the former than the latter. The sheep dog even if not the shepard.
                              I chose to play a Ghoul in my last VtM game, and this is basically the attitude I went in with. My ST and I both wanted to play up the ‘secret society’ and political aspects - so basically avoided the abusive relationship / slavery elements (at least with my character).

                              I played a Toreador ghoul to a relatively influential elder, primarily acting as a recruiter. In daylight, she was an undergrad and political activist, and approached ghouldom like an internship to become the ruling elite (tm).
                              The horror came from meeting her master in a blood den comprised of all the friends and classmates she served to the kindred, seeing them as captive drug addicts… and deciding it was fine, because they were lesser people, who wanted a “party school” experience, and probably wouldn’t amount to anything anyway. (She /really/ wanted to be Ventrue.)
                              Then, when the Prince was murdered, there was the horror of being a disposable pawn while the Clan was falling from power, and getting all the shit work with kindred on the political fringes as part of her masters desperation ploys - until she could convince him to Embrace her.


                              Not necessarily an archetypal ghoul experience, but I think it’s one appropriate interpretation. There’s certainly room choose the kind of horror you want with ghouls.


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