Beyond The Veil
Vampires are the undead masters of the night, sophisticated and beautiful but still deadly to all other creatures, who are just prey for their superior species - or so they would like to think. In truth, there are creatures that even vampires fear, but even a common vampire is a terrible foe or a powerful ally.
A common vampire is built on 175 points, minimum. A more common vampire, who has been undead for over 50 years, might be built on 225 points. Vampire culture has a strong prohibition against making new vampires indiscriminately – because the ratio of predators to prey is a matter of discovery and survival – and a Count will usually execute minions who bring over humans without permission. Since new vampires are very rarely made accidentally and master vampires are usually self-serving creatures, most vampires will have been uncommon in some manner in life, whether that be looks, brawn or skills useful to the master who decides to make them one of the undead. That should be reflected in any vampire character. A new vampire is made when a vampire feeds from a human until he is drained to death, then foces some of the vampire’s blood between his lips or into his veins. The newly-made vampire will rise three nights later and will be at CR6 on his Uncontrollable Appetite for human blood until he has filled his blood pool.
Every common vampire is unkillable within limits, immortal and can exert mind control with gaze or an ecstasy-causing bite. They are amazingly strong and, if willing to “burn” blood to do so, preternaturally fast. A vampire can gain, as he grows in power, certain specific vampire powers such as the ability to cling to surfaces, levitate or even fly as well as several other less common abilities (choose from the Powerpack’s options based on the vampire’s bloodline or buy off disadvantages and limitations).
ALL vampire “Powers” must use Energy Reserve points from their Blood Pool.
If a vampire had Magery talent before being turned, they will have it in their immortal undeath too and can retain old spells and learn new ones (choose from the Mage Powerpack), only substituting their Blood Pool for Fatigue. Mage vampires are among the most dangerous and powerful of their kind.
If a vampire lives long enough and accrues enough personal power (becoming at least a 350 point character) then it has a chance of making the jump to Marquis status (the Master Vampire meta-trait template is added to the basic vampire template). A Marquis can continue to gain in power, as far as anyone knows indefinitely, and can gain a wide range of vampiric abilities. Choose from Powerpack options based on the vampire’s bloodline. These include marking a human or shapechanger servant, having an animal to call, using shadows to travel, a Blood Pool boost for every subservient vampire they dominate and many more.
Not all vampires can become Marquis – they only get one chance in their entire immortal existence unless some rare, powerful magic is involved and the vampire must make an unmodified Will save, rolling less than their Will on 3d6. However, a Marquis throws of the mental bonds of slavery to his maker and instead is only in thrall to his Prince. It’s common that a newly made Marquis will be subsequently re-bonded to a Count by a ritual known as the Bloodoath. The same ritual is used when common vampires are traded between masters or a free vampire (one who’s master has died but who has somehow survived that death) is brought into a new Kiss.
The Count is usually the most powerful Master in that territory (assume 700+ points).
Should a master continue to gain in power without being killed as a threat to some more powerful vampire’s position, he or she may one day become a Prince, progenitor of their own bloodline and under thrall to no-one – although they’d still be subject to the Council’s political rule. A master must have accrued at least 900 points and have enough spare CP to buy off any costs for a Bloodoath and Slave Mentality to his Prince (36 CP each) before attempting this. The same Will roll comments apply as for the transition to Marquis, only the roll is made at Will-4.
Princes pass on a little of the characteristics of their own powers to their creations, making a Bloodline. They can, however, develop abilities unfettered by the Bloodline of their own original creator, from whom they are now free.
Vampires concentrate in urban areas, where their feeding on human blood is least likely to draw attention. Each city and its surrounding urban sprawl is the territory of a Count or Countess, a powerful vampire who generally keeps the immortal undead of their “kiss” under a tight rein working in his own businesses and rarely allows independents of their own kind. They often involve themselves in vice and crime, expecting easier and less noticeable victims – but they’ll also run businesses through proxies or their “Renfield” human slaves. If a master has an “animal to call” then usually the local shapeshifter group of that kind will be dragooned in to bolster the vampires’ numbers. There are stories and legends about a Vampire Council of ancient and dangerous undead based somewhere in Europe that ultimately rules all vampire-kind, who’s members are the basis for the different Bloodlines of vampire powers.
The Hierarchy (Rank includes Status, 10 points/level)
-2 – Biast or Beast, Lesser or Animalistic Vampire – If a human is killed during a group feeding and then rises (a very rare occurrence), he or she will rise as an “animalistic vampire,” also known as a Revenant, with little or no cognitive ability and with extreme strength and resistance to pain. It can only be controlled by any Master that was part of the group that made it, and even then only if he or she is powerful enough. They are usually killed quickly by other vampires as a risk to their society and The Veil.
-1 – Serf or “Renfield” – A mind-controlled slave, often a food source.
-1 – Gauja or Freeman, Outcast Vampire – One who is not bound to any master in the dominance pyramid, usually because their master has died or they’ve achieved Master status, and are not bound to a Count via Bloodoath. Very rare, they are anathema to all bound vampires.
0 – Scutaria or Knight, Common Vampire – the commonest vampire, they have a few Innate Powers and powers granted through their Bloodline. Some might also cultivate Spell Powers. The older title means “shield-bearer”.
1 – Squire or Pomme de Sang, an “apple of blood,” refers to a person who has voluntarily agreed to feed a master vampire regularly. In vampire society, the pomme de sang is a submissive but valued position, similar to a “kept man or woman” among humans. Squires are protected from interference by other vampires, and are typically given gifts and otherwise treated as a human might treat a lover. Only those of Marquis or above are allowed Squires protected by vampire laws.
2 – Seigneur or Lord, Master’s Servants – A Marquis’ human or shapeshifter servants are bound with him by the “vampire marks” and share much of his power. Worse, to kill one actually hurts and may kill the Marquis himself. They are thus accorded a status higher than his more common offspring and trusted servants.
3 – Marchio or Marquis, Master Vampire – a vampire with one or more additional Innate Powers. These include but are not limited to: call animals, rise early (daywalker), flight, feed by means other than blood (e.g. fear, lust, life energy depending on specific Bloodline), human & animal servant creation, empathic voice manipulation, call shadows, telekinesis, walk in direct sun (sun walker) or other specific Bloodline powers over and above those of the commonality. After a few centuries, some vampires reach “master vampire” status. Other vampires will never become master vampires no matter how long they live without outside magical assistance or the use of Spell Powers. There will only be a handful of Marquis in all but the most powerful Kisses.
4- Herzog or Baron. The appointed Second and Third of any Count will usually be powerful masters in their own right and the ones most likely to inherit the Territory. They speak with his voice, are his emissaries and lieutenants.
5- Dux or Duke, human or shifter servants of the Count do much the same tasks as Barons. But, because their death might even kill the Count, they are even favored over the Barons.
6 – Comes or Count- the ruler of a territory large enough to support a social group of vampires. Not all of the vampires owing fealty to a Count might be his or her own “offspring“ (i.e. created by the master or by his other offspring), although all are bound by Dominance through rituals involving magical oaths and a blood. One thing all such masters can do is feed at a distance by using their subordinates as proxies. The position is typically transferred only by the death of the existing master. A bound vampire traveling to a new area must by vampire law have the permission of that area’s Count, and when Counts of different territories visit one another, they often engage in detailed negotiations of terms.
7 – Princeps /Princepsa or Prince(ess), head of a bloodline. Also called a Sourde De Sang (or “fountain of blood”) – a vampire capable of supporting his or her own “Bloodline” of subordinate vampires (i.e. the top of a Dominance pyramid of offspring) by overcoming (buying off with CP) the Dominance of their original creator or any master they might have through sheer power of will. They possess specific “Bloodline” Innate Powers they pass to their “offspring”, although to a lesser extent.
8 – The Vampire Council are all Princeps in their own right. However, each is considerably more powerful than that.
The Vampire Bloodlines:
(Bloodline name, Sourde de Sang, Power categories, Area of Origin, Headquarters)
1) Bloodline Kalima, Empress Kali, Darkness & Death, India, Delhi
2) Bloodline Nighthags, Princepsa Moroven Mora, Fear, European Celtic, London
3) Bloodline Daksha, Princeps Pishacha, Anger, India, Mumbai
3) Bloodline Anhura, Princepsa Menchit, Beasts & Shapeshift, esp. cats, Africa/Egypt, Cairo
4) Bloodline Lillathu, Princepsa Lillith the Many Named, Air & Weather, Near East/Europe, Rome
5) Bloodline Lamashtu, Princepsa Dimmestra, Dreams & Snakes, Mid East, Tehran
6) Bloodline Succubi, Princepsa Empusa aka Belle Morte, Lust, Europe, Paris
7) Bloodline Ramanga, Princeps Adze, bird shapeshifting & lightening, Africa, Nairobi
8) Bloodline Chihuateteo, Princeps Culkulcan, madness, South/Central America, Rio
9) Bloodline Jiang Shi, Princeps Lao, energy drain, body “travellers“, China/Far East, Beijing
10) Bloodline Strigae, Princeps Nosferatu, “Morte de Amour”, rotting & bats, Europe, Budapest
The Harlequin Raid
The Harlequin are the closest thing to police that the vampires have. They are ghosts, bogeys, walking nightmares of vampirekind and the Council does not tend to use them lightly. They are based on the myths of the wild hunt: a supernatural troop that can fly, that can punish the wicked and kill mysteriously and quickly. They are taken from all the major bloodlines but owe allegiance to no one line, freed of their ties to their creators. They are neutral, utterly neutral. Or how can they dispense justice? Their most profound taboo is to break their neutrality. They are a law unto themselves, at one and the same time spies, investigators, judges and executioners.
There is only one “Harlequin” at a time but there are others as part of the Harlequin group. No one knows how many are in the Harlequin Raid. They are spies, and secrecy is their lifesblood. Most of the time they will only appear in nearly featureless masks of black and white. They will simply say, ‘We are Harlequin.’
Vampires can’t speak of them without being killed. All the vampires everywhere are under this restriction; it is a Council law. The only exception to this rule is if you are contacted by them, even then, it is something that they can only discuss among themselves, but not to outsiders.
The Harlequin Raid announces its formal interest in a vampire or Kiss by leaving a masquerade mask for them to find. White means “you are being watched by us”, red means punishment and pain, black means death. A summons to talk to them is announced by a white mask adorned with golden musical notes.
The Vampire Council
The Empress, Kali (Generally known as The Sweet Dark or as the Mother Of All Darkness), is the leader of all vampires and the titular head of the Vampire Council. She is the Indian Goddess of Death. According to several of the vampires, she was the first vampire, which means that she predates the evolution of homo sapiens. It has been suggested that she is a unique type of vampire, distinctly different and more powerful, from all later descendents; perhaps not even a vampire, per se, but a unique type of monster with vampiric traits. Her powers include the ability to project her attention and mental powers, to cause death with her touch and a deep control over darkness. Marmee Noir (as she is also called) has been “sleeping” for centuries, for unknown reasons, in an underground temple to herself. Her bloodline is called the Kalima. Her bloodline is an uncommon one to find outside India and the sub-continent, where she also has a cult of human worshippers.
Moroven Mora, is the newest member of the Council and is Princeps for the entire Night Hag bloodline, vampires who have the ability to feed on and create fear in those around them. This ability works similarly to the ardeur in that the vampire who feeds using fear can go longer without blood, though not forever. Night hags cannot completely turn this power “off”; everywhere they go there is a small feeling of dread, no matter what they do.
Pisacha lairs in the slums of Mumbai, India, where she and her Daksha kindred have plentiful victims. She can afflict others with and feed from anger, as can most of her brood. Like Night Hags, Daksha spread anger and strife wherever they go as they cannot completely turn off their power.
Menchit, also known as the Mistress of Beasts, is originally African. Her power is the ability to “call” all animals, not just a single species. Using this power, Menchit or a member of her Anhura bloodline can often bend animals and shapeshifters to her will unless the group Alpha has enough will and power to stop them, and can also use their power as if it were a shapeshifter’s “beast” – forcing their power into another, controlling their shapeshifting, and even killing them.
Lillith, This female member of the Vampire Council is somewhat enigmatic. She is an old vampire, apparently from at least Babylonian times. She has the power to draw all of the energy from another creature at a distance – even a vampire, killing it permanently – as well as command of the air and weather. Like Belle Morte and Moroven, the Dragon can project her power. Her bloodline is the Lillathu.
Dimmestra is the head of the Lamashtu breed – famed in the legends of pre-Islamic Persia – and usually takes a half-snake, half-woman form although she can shift completely to either. Her bloodline’s power is control of all serpents including the various shape changer varieties such as were-cobras and were-pythons. Many of the masters of this bloodline can also shift form either wholly or partly into snake form and some have a poisonous bite.
Belle Morte, Beautiful, pale skinned, dark haired, with eyes the color of dark honey, Belle Morte (or “Beautiful Death”) is known to be at least 2,000 years old and is probably far older – perhaps even being the original inspiration behind some Goddesses of physical lust and love. Her abilities include the power to induce lust from a distance (extending to at least hundreds of people at a distance of miles), the ability to draw power from lust, and the ability to call all of the “great cats” (presumably lions, tigers, leopards, jaguars, etc.). All members of Belle-Morte’s bloodline tend to be selected for their beauty, and some of the vampires in her line are visited by the ardeur, becoming incubi or succubi that need to feed off of lust as well as blood, but able to also project the ardeur to control others. Belle-Morte can make mental contact with all new vampires of her bloodline, and can serve as a mental “bridge” between willing members of her bloodline. In some cases, Belle Morte has shown the power to actually “resculpt” the features of vampires in her bloodline, making them still more beautiful than when they were chosen. They are known as the Succubi.
Adze. This African Princeps is head of the Ramanga bloodline and reputed to be so old that he is of a pre-sapiens human species. Rarely encountered beyond Africa, his kindred call lightning to their hands and can take the forms of birds such as hawk, vulture or ibis. Vampires of this line will always be “bird-like” in some way, having clawed feet, a beak-like nose or even feather tufts.
Culkulcan, the head of the Chihuateteo bloodline, is one of the most feared of all the Council. Once he was worshipped as a God and sacrificed to atop stepped pyramids. His power, and that of those he has made, is that of madness. They can inflict insanity with a look or a touch and are all, by any other standards, insane themselves. Luckily, this bloodline is incredibly rare outside Amazonian South America because a single one can spread a trail of killing across a wide swath of territory.
Lao The Traveler. He has the ability to possess other vampire’s bodies, though that vampire’s consciousness is still awake. This seems to be limited only to vampires considerably weaker than himself. He also has the ability to steal vampiric energy by touch or to lend his power to lesser vampires temporarily, bolstering their inherent strengths, and he can shield others from sensing him. The Traveler’s own body is never present on his visits to other vampires, only his consciousness possessing other bodies, and it seems that the Traveler’s body is hidden away someplace.. His bloodline, the Jiang Shi, is incredibly rare..
Morte D’Amour, his name translates to “death of love” or “death from love.” Morte D’Amour is a rotting vampire with the ability to cause corruption with his bite, and all vampires with either ability are of his bloodline, which is known as the Strigae or by his other nickname – Nosferatu. Their base Bloodline power is “Guise of a Rotting Corpse”.