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Ogygian

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Join date : 2013-02-09
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PostSubject: On Vampires    Wed May 22, 2013 5:47 pm

Just an interesting tidbit I found at vampires.ninjaflower.com..






The Origins of Vampirism


A topic long debated

While the history of vampirism has largely been intentionally erased from the physical world, there are still elders who claim to remember the earliest tales. There are four major schools of belief on the subject among the Western and European clans, though nearly every clan is thought to have its own progenitor tradition, few of which are at all compatible with the others.

The vast majority of Western vampires believe in some variant of the Founder tradition, two strains of which (the Conclave and the Convocation) will shortly be distinguished, while many of the younger vampires subscribe to a more secular view. A popular viewpoint among young Conclave vampires is the idea that vampirism represents an evolutionary advance in the development of mankind, and that vampires are merely a new sub-species of homo sapiens, albeit with an unconventional reproductive method.

Less popular in the industrial West is the idea that vampirism can be traced to a genetic anomaly or virus that can eventually be cured. This belief is ridiculed in most urban circles, but it is growing more popular in the southern hemisphere, in the small Conclave enclaves in both Latin America and Africa. There are vampiric cults that have sprung up around specific personalities, typically elders or ancients, who claim to know the way to remove the curse forever.

The Founder tradition is indisputably ancient - the first vampire scholars are said to have debated on this very subject many thousands of years ago, and the oldest confirmed vampire-written manuscript (scribed in Sumerian, though it was done during the Babylonian era) ever discovered is in fact a long treatise in favour of this position. There are two distinct ideological strands to this ancient belief system, and they are thought to have diverged around the turn of the last millenium, when the Convocation (made up of Christian, and later, Muslim elders and fledgelings) formed in opposition to the pagan ancients who they claimed were merely pawns of demonic forces.

Both sides agree on this much: each clan in existence was founded at various periods in history by anomalous spirits (called Shadows, or demons) that have infiltrated the physical world through the bodies of the Founders. The legends surrounding how this occurred are vastly different, and if all are to be believed, there are seemingly as many openings into the world as there are clans themselves. The origins of these spirits are in dispute, but it is clear that they are considered beings from beyond some wall erected specifically to keep them out.
According to the Convocation, the Shadow Founders have an inextricable connection with their progeny. They can see all the things that their offspring see, and they know all the things that their progeny know - and so, the more powerful a clan gets, the more powerful its progenitor gets. The Convocation think that every Shadow Founder is, in fact, a demon compelled from Hell to violate the punishment laid out upon them by God. The Shadow-Founders wish to continue their war against Heaven by first conquering Earth, and they have utter and complete control over all of the vampires who were born from their blood. All of the scheming and politicking that vampires think they do voluntarily, the Convocation say is merely the movement of pawns in a game that has been waged by secret masters for millenia.
They also believe that only the blood-rituals of the Fastening can wash the taint of the Shadow Founders away - and nothing can cleanse it eternally.

Only by blending the power of the blood with intense magical ceremonies involving quite a lot of ritualism and sacrifice can the tainted influence of the Shadows be conquered. The Convocation identify the Shadow Founders (even of their own clans) quite blatantly as Christian or Islamic demons, sometimes even by name - for example, the Convocation believe that the founder of the Rephaim Clan is an incarnation of the demon Adramelech, and they refer to his childer by epithets associated with that name.
The Convocation believes that vampirism exists solely as a means for demonic forces to exploit a loophole in God's punishment of them. Lucifer and his minions were sentenced to eternity in Hell, but through various means the Dark One's minions have found ways to inhabit the bodies of men, and through the Conclave and other such organizations they have begun to enslave humanity and bring Hell to Earth.

Only through the Fastening and other ritualized acts of depravity and cruelty can the Convocation escape the chains of servitude that Satan's minions have them under - they sate the Shadow within themselves, they say, so that they can defeat it when the days of Final Judgment come.
The Convocation believes that once the original Shadow-Founders are spiritually consumed by a Convocationist, a line is forever freed from the influence of its founder, though other Shadow-Founders can exert control over unbound lines. So it is that the Convocation believes that the destruction of all Shadow Founders (and all ancients for that matter) will result in the ultimate freedom and redemption of the vampiric race, as well as the ultimate salvation of humanity. Most vampires think of the Convocation as bloodthirsty mindless brutes, and while many of the grunts are indeed little more than that, there is a profound philosophy behind their acts of insanity, and there is a deep sense of spirituality and millenarianism in its population.

This has been true since its inception 1000 years ago.
The Conclave is split in belief, though variants of the Shadow-Founder mythos are most common. One must be careful which beliefs one espouses, however - more than one vampire scholar has met the morning after writing a treatise deemed too close to Convocation ideology. Among Conclave vampires, even those who believe in the Shadow Founder tradition, there is much less emphasis on an eternal bond between the founder and his childer, and there is no attachment to Islamic or Christian demonology. Conclave scholars are openly derisive of the Convocation over this - they say that the demons of Christianity and Islam were created after vampires had been documented for many thousands of years, but others rebut (more quietly) that these selfsame demons are almost entirely derived from the ancient gods of humanity's distant past.








• The Qashqad Clan is believed to have originated deep in Uzbekistan, though when they first began to dwell among the nomads in the region is not known with any historical accuracy. What is well known is the fact that they stormed onto the western stage with the arrival of the Seljuk Turks who came to dominate Anatolia and Central Asia after 1000 CE. The Qashqad have their origins among nomadic tribal pastoralists, and so their first prey were almost invariably non-human; they mutilated cattle and fed on the blood of the domesticated beasts kept by the nomads. Because of this historical tendency, it is said that the Qashqadi get a great deal more sustenance from fresh animal blood compared to other vampires, and they tend to keep vast domesticated herds of various beasts for easy feeding. In addition to this, because they do not have the same urban genesis as most other clans, the Qashqad have a special ability to meld with natural materials like stone, earth, wood, or even living trees in order to hide out the daylight hours without additional protection. They are not a particularly numerous clan, and they do not have a strong presence in the leadership of the Convocation in any region; their former homeland is dominated by Vedmas or Algul leaders; but they are strictly Convocationalist in demeanor, and are very rare in Conclave territories. By consequence, not much is known about their habits.
• The Camaza Clan originated in the New World, and it is believed that they first arose among the Maya people of S Mexico and MesoAmerica. Unlike most American bloodlines that were either purposefully exterminated by Convocationalists and Conclave alike, the Camaza fought back with exceptional ferocity, taking down a number of Convocation opponents for each of their own number that fell. Eventually, the Convocation sought to use this to their advantage, and in 1500, seven of the last nine "tribes" of Camaza agreed to join the sect; the two that did not agree to Convocation rule were exterminated quickly, with the help of their former brothers. The Camaza are incredibly skillful killers, and they have a ritual obsession with murder, assassination, and death. They have the ability to manipulate sound, dampening or heightening it in their immediate vicinity, and have been known to be excellent mimics as well. They are very closely associated with bats in mythology and among the Convocation, though rumors as to why this might be are numerous, contradictory, and unverifiable.

Independent

• The Bakeneko Clan originated among the Yayoi people of Japan, but in early years it was driven out by the more powerful and better established Fujin Clan. Despite this it has established a powerful presence in eastern China, and even more dominantly in areas of South East Asia, particularly in Vietnam and Cambodia. The Bakeneko are acknowledged demonologists (some say infernalists) who study the various forces in what they call the Hidden Universe. They claim to have discovered many secrets about the origins of vampirism, and their studies (or the rumours that have leaked westward therefrom) seem to support the long-standing belief in spirits controlling the Founders of the various clans. Naught else is widely known about these elusive eastern Kindred.

• The Fujin Clan originates in Japan, and is one of the reclusive eastern clans - though it is the most open to Conclave emissaries and other occasional Western visitors. They originated with the aboriginal peoples of Japan and thereafter spread across all of its islands and even into SE Asia (especially after WWII). They have some traditional association with waterways, and legend has it that their most fearsome elders reside in bogs or rivers, waiting for prey to pass through.

• The Chiang-Shi Clan is by far the most powerful in China, and it has a strong presence in most of the rest of Asia as well. It has established small enclaves of control in a few of the Conclave's western-most cities, much as the Vetala Clan has done in London and other British cities. The Chiang-Shi are among the oldest of the Eastern Clans by the reckoning of all of them, and despite this their founder is supposedly both alive and awake, and he is supposedly the ruling face of the entire clan. He dwells in a vast compound surrounded by loyalists - supposedly, all of his clansmen are direct descendants of his. All other Chiang-Shi except this mysterious founder are completely barren and incapable of reproduction - and as such they are fanatically loyal to him, even to the point of worship. The finest and strongest of Asian men and women are brought before him for a number of elaborate tests and readings, and only the best are granted the chance to live eternally. The Chiang-Shi are invariably powerful due to their closeness to the original Founder, and this closeness to him is said to be an incredibly binding one. The Chiang-Shi keep a vast network of ghouls, many thousands in China alone, all of them hoping to impress the elites and to finally earn immortality and a place at the right hand of their god, the mysterious Founder.

• The Rakshasa are a monstrous clan that rules a large part of India, Bangladesh, and Pakistan, best recognized in the West due to rumours of great evil. For their part they do not say much, and most of this lore comes from their arch-enemies the Vetala Clan, but what is known about them is somewhat disturbing. They are a carnivorous clan - blood is never enough for them, and while they do not feed nearly as often as other Kindred, they nevertheless kill each time they do. They subsist on the internal organs of various creatures - and though they can get sustenance from animals, it is not enough to keep them for long. Their preferred feast is the fetus of a pregnant woman - a shocking suggestion to Western Kindred so keen on keeping their Masquerade intact. The Rakshasa have formidable numbers and dominate a large part of India, and due to that country's enormous population they can sustain very large numbers. They do not allow other Clans, even Eastern ones, into their territory, and they guard it jealously. They seem to have a pretenatural sense of when an intruder has come into their domain.
• The Vetala Clan are one of the two most influential Clans in India, and they have spread into various areas, even establishing 'embassies' (in truth little more than secretive spy enclaves which have won diplomatic immunity from the Conclave) in London and a few other European cities. They are the age-old enemies of the Rakshasa Clan, the other of the two main Indian groupings of vampire, and the two have warred for what seems to be millenia. They are accomplished shapeshifters, and there are rumors that they practice mysterious, dark magics, though no details are widely known.

The Convocation

The Convocation has its early beginnings in the short-lived Anarchist Movement. While Rome conquered most of Europe, the Caelumites thought it prudent to do the same on the vampiric side, and in so doing they developed many native enemies who refused to succumb to their leadership. This resulted in war on the Kindred level that mirrored the wars of the mortals during the day, and the Caelumites exterminated many bloodlines, but the Vedmas could not be tamed.
The Vedmas, born among the Celts and Gauls but largely relegated now to the lands favored by Slavs, pushed the Caelumites back again and again, but finally, their numbers could not withstand the onslaught. When their enemy offered terms, the Vedmas agreed. Quickly, such loose arrangements became tyrannical fiefdoms held by Caelumite Princes who terrorized their mostly Vedmic subjects, and forced them into submission though bonds of blood, or worse.
The Vedmas began to openly revolt in 910 CE, and some other bloodlines and clans joined with them, including the Kudlak, and the Nachzehrer. The Anarchists wanted more power in local government, and did not seek to eliminate Caelumite rulership completely, despite the name their movement was given by the rulers they sought to temper.

The battle raged for quite a while, but it soon became apparent that the younger members of this Anarchist Movement had transformed it from a demand for local power to a social and religious movement rebelling against the paganism and excess of ancient rulers like the Caelumites. When such general denigration of the ways of the eldest Kindred reached the ears of the Vedma elders, they immediately sought to put a leash on the rebellion by signing peace agreements with the Caelumites, which again put them into power. The Vedma youths considered this an awful betrayal, and their antipathy toward foreign tyrants was turned into a hatred of elders in general, regardless of bloodline.
Young Vedmas rose up in violence in response, but they were flouted nearly every time by Caelumites and Vedma elder accomplices who seemed to know what was planned before they struck. Only after the conflict had been lost did they come to realize that their allies, the Nachzehrer, had sold them out.

The Nachzehrer were a people hunted thanks to their natural problematic visages in the face of the Masquerade, but they won acceptance from the Caelumites by betraying their Vedma brothers.
The Kudlaks, for their participation, were given the cold shoulder when a genocidal campaign was launched by murderous hedge-magicians-turned vampires who had created their own bloodline within the clan, and began to eat it from the inside out. They claimed fealty to the ideals of Caelumite Europe, and produced much faulty evidence that the Kudlak were in league with the enemy. A quiet campaign began against them, and shortly after the Convocation had arisen, the Kudlaks were exterminated full force by the fledgling Conclave. It is an act of genocide that the Convocation bitterly contests to this day.

The Vedmas were heavily put upon by Caelumite tyrants, and even some tyrants from within their own bloodline, and so many scores of the young fled to Iberia, where their hyper-religious tendencies seemed to sit well with the unholy alliance of Catholic Lasombra and the Islamic Algul. The Princes of Iberia were known for their tolerance and treatment of the youth in their courts, but the influx of foreign renegades gave them cause for alarm. When the Prince of Barcelona, Miguel Delacroix, set a Blood Hunt upon a prominent Slavic Vedma theologian for his warped views on vampiric origins, his court erupted, and he was put to death, overthrown.

This scene played out again and again throughout the year 1000 CE, and eventually these slow rebellions were organized into a fully planned revolt. Elders were attacked, staked, and left out into the sun, or in other cases, simply diablerized. The first packs of young vampires arose during this period, as without strength in numbers, they could not bring an elder of such power down. The elders looked upon this behaviour with further shock, appealing to their European brethren for assistance against these savage beasts who fought like animals. But help was slow to come.
Elders of all clans including the Lasombra, Edimmu, and Vedma transplants, were killed or had their souls consumed, in a massive purge that stretched across the entirety of the peninsula. Near the end of the Lesser Pogrom, as the Convocation calls it (evidently presaging a Greater Pogrom that is yet to come), the sect focused its ire on all Caelumites in the area, regardless of age. This panicked and frightened the Princes of Europe, but still they were too insular to offer help, sealing themselves instead into their own private fiefdoms where they could feel safe.

In the year 1218 CE, a pack of Convocation raiders led by a Lasombra Ancilla called Igone discovered a heavily fortified Caelumite enclave in Mao, on Minorca. Minorca was an island long held by the Caelumites despite its closeness to Iberia - but instead of an all-out assault, Igone and her posse walked in darkness and stealth onto the island's shore. They discovered something unbelieveable - a vast complex built beneath the ground, seemingly a temple of some sort. Igone and her followers attacked the guardians closest to this temple, and while her followers fell and died at the hands of Caelumite guards, Igone ventured deep within the temple-chasm, and discovered there the sleeping form of Strix, the founder of the Caelumite clan, stricken with torpor.

She instantly consumed his soul, and when the Caelumite guards came upon her they saw with horror the power that had come into her being. Strix, their god-figure, was reduced to ash and she had powers unbelieveable to them - all were killed in her wake, and she fled to the sanctums of Convocation power, rising instantly to fame and incredible influence. She is now the Grand Bishop of Mexico and Central America (excluding war-torn Panama), and rules virtually every aspect of her domain from the walls of her compound in Mexico City. She is a boogie-man of sorts to the Caelumites - many would like nothing more than to have her killed; but despite many assassination attempts, she remains standing.
The Caelumites were plunged into utter chaos after the death of their founder - for centuries their clan had been built on worship of their founder and the spirit that inhabited him, and now everything had to change. It seemed inevitable that Caelumite power would fall within Europe and that the Convocation would end up in dominance across the continent.
But then, a Lamia by the name of Lady Brenna (who had once been a favoured Primogen to the Caelumite Prince of Barcelona before she was forced to flee the turmoil) called for all the Princes and Primogen of Western Europe to join together at her new Primogen's Court in Paris, under one of the first non-Caelumite Princes, Jean Lemarque. Though Brenna was by no means an internationally renowned figure, so desperate was the situation that most of the Princedoms sent representatives to her conclave. From it the Conclave was born.

The Convocation did not waste any time with inaction, however. Instead, it spread itself out along the paths of the Portuguese and Spanish Empires, and most of the world that once belonged to these mighty kingdoms is still firmly within Convocation hands. The Conclave stormed westward and occupied North America in an attempt to keep it free of Convocation taint, and both sects encountered a number of bloodlines that had never before been encountered. Assuming that they were pawns or spies of their enemies, both sects initiated a policy of outright genocide against other vampires in the region. The only bloodline that escaped this treatment was the Camaza; they were so fierce in their battle against the Convocation that they were eventually offered a spot in its ranks, and they accepted.
The Convocation currently controls unquestionably the lands of Central and South America (excluding Belize, Costa Rica (which are Conclave-controlled) and Panama (which is a constant warzone with the Conclave). Mexico is their stronghold and the place where they are most powerful, and since the 1990s, they have made strategic strikes against various cities in the southwestern United States, held by the Conclave. Though these strikes have only resulted in destruction, and not the transfer of power, a few cities have come very close to being lost entirely to the Convocation.

The most striking example of this occurred in 1998 in New York, where under the disguise of sports-related rioting, the Convocation effectively assassinated three of the Primogen, one of whom was a childe of the Prince. They claimed sixteen neighborhoods and it took almost nine months to reclaim the territory lost. Several other cities, since 2000, have fallen to Convocation trickery. In the aftermath of Katrina, the Convocation stormed into New Orleans and have yet to be driven out; a few years earlier they had flipped the prince of Detroit and instituted a purge, holding that derelict domain since 2001. And most damagingly, in 2010 hordes of Convocation terrorists stormed a centennial conclave meeting in Miami and murdered not only the Prince, but also a Justicar; they also purportedly put a Council member into torpor. The city was so overwhelmed with attempting to safeguard these dignitaries that it was overwhelmed by fighters, and by dawn it became clear that the Convocation would not be driven out. It wasn't until 2012 that the last of the Conclave's fighters withdrew from the center of the city, though fighting still continues on its fringes.

All of Africa except for South Africa belongs to the Convocation, along with the entire Middle East. Likewise, all of Russia and the farther east of the ex-Soviet Republics belong firmly in (Vedma) Convocation hands. The Phillipines belong to the Convocation too, though native creatures seem intent on disrupting their control there. The Convocation has a heavy influence in India as well, and they are accepted there much more freely than are the Conclave, but they do not control the area.
The Convocation does not necessarily believe the creator myths promoted by many of the other clans. They do believe that each clan exists because of a founder, but where they disagree is in the labelling of these founders. The Conclave and others take a vaguely animistic view, whereas the Convocation is planted firmly in Judeo-Christian tradition. The founders of all vampire clans, in their eyes, are demons that can be easily identified with individual creatures that are described in scripture and tradition.
The Convocation says that all vampires are intrinsically linked to their evil spirit hosts, the demons that compel them to continued life. They are forever detached from God and godly things, beings of unnatural violation of God's law. The Convocation seeks to redress this sin by combatting it physically.


One of their primary methods is the Fastening. Packs of Convocationists mix their blood in a chalice, and ritually bind themselves to the other members of the pack. They claim that only through being tied to each other can they resist the strong bonds exerted by the demon-founders behind each of their clans. Convocationists believe themselves to be the chosen of God, meant to exterminate non-Convocationist vampires, to prevent their demon-hosts from finding a way into the material world.
It does not go unnoticed that the Convocation only seems interested in destroying the founders of those clans which are not members; in fact, those vampires who were so quick to murder Iberian elders centuries ago are now elders themselves, and they are not culled. Igone, the Lasombra who devoured the old soul of Strix, Caelumite founder, is one of the most revered leaders in the entire sect, even though she supposedly has the devoured soul of a demon inside of her.


The Convocation believes that their rite of Fastening can overpower even the most powerful of demon-shards, and so, as long as Igone continues faithful devotion to the rituals of their sect, she (and any other powerful elder) will remain Untethered; that is, without the taint of being under control of their clan progenitor.
In fact, there is a common belief among the eldest of the Convocation that only through soul consumption can the demon spirits truly be shackled. More than once a demon-founder is said to have been killed, and the demon that inhabited him simply found another vessel with which to continue its quest to rend the Veil. Through soul consumption, powerful Convocationists can hold a demon-spirit hostage within itself, keeping it bound and chained, thus incapable of enacting its awful will.
The Convocation engages in acts of violence, depravity, ritual abuse, human sacrifice, rapine, robbery, assault, and all manner of other societal abuses.

They do this because they believe that by overpowering the sinful Shadow, or demon-shard, within them -- the link they have to the demon founder spirit -- they can prevent long-term domination by the same force. By indulging their own darkest, most demonic urges at will, the Convocationists believe that they keep the demon-shard sated, so that it doesn't overpower them completely, as it does the more restrained vampires of the Conclave. It is the reverse of monastic ascetism and self-flagellation, but for the same purpose: by blinding the Beast with satisfying acts of random cruelty, they keep it distracted, obese and satisfied, and can continue their godly function without interference.

For every great transcendental shift in human developmental patterns, there have been great conflicts among vampires. From the first days of mankind's settlements into great villages like Catal Huyuk, there were two separate types of vampires extant: those that followed the old ways of territorial fiefdoms, open terrorism of the mortal populace, and near animalistic behavior, and those that were more closely related to mankind and the new civilization that he was building.

The Ferals
The first group were called ferals, and they were much feared by the second group, as they were much older, much stronger, and very vicious. Still, younger vampires from established cities would hunt the countryside in an attempt to clear their bloodline's claimed region from interference (often hunting their own ancestors in the process). These first blood hunts were encouraged by the vampire elites of ruling cities, and so the Drain became an accepted practice in the earliest of vampire societies, punishable only if the perpetrator was a known monster and liability, or if his victim was renowned and better respected. It is largely out of fear of these cannibalistic primal vampires that the Blood began to organize itself; the ferals fed only on the blood of their Blood, and weaker vampires began to organize themselves to for protection.

Vampiric clans developed in these early days, as did a reverence for vampiric lineage. The reason for this was simple; vampires were very territorial, particularly in light of the constant threat from normal men who hated them as monsters, from other supernatural entities, from the feral vampires of ancient times, and from other bands of vampires who might want to claim bits of their territory for themselves. Add to this the fact that feral vampires seemed to prefer to hunt those with whom they have close blood ties, and it is no wonder that vampires slowly began to organize into small families, and then into ever larger fillial bands. As such, bloodlines of Kindred who could trace descent back to a certain common ancestor started organizing around specific geographic focal points.

The largest of these early bloodlines became known as clans, but it is a purely sociological construct. The bloodlines themselves do tend to give preference to certain vampiric powers and disciplines, and the blood can carry with it both boons and curses specific to certain lines of descent, but there is no discernible biological difference between the clanned vampires and the so-called Clanless, who do not belong to one of the older bloodlines, or who have forsaken their claim to it.


The First Clans

Arguably the most influential vampiric clan started in an Etruscan backwater, though there is some evidence that it originated before even that, in prehistory, among either the Villanova Culture of northern Italy, and through them possibly even among the Unfield Culture of Eastern Europe. This has become very confusing for the modern clan, now called Caelumite, because there have been several bloodlines throughout history that have claimed descent from older strains of Caelumite heritage, and it is nearly impossible to judge the veracity of their stories.

As such, over a millennium ago, the eldest members of the Clan (then called The Six, for being the supposed original childer of the myth-figure who founded the clan in legend) decided that only those vampires that could trace unbroken lineage back to the original Caelum, or Strix, would be accepted as members of the clan. This separation between clan and bloodline had a lasting impact on virtually all vampire cultures from that point forward, and clans were given a heftier status that they had never had before.

The Caelumites became reverent of their own lineage as no other clan has done; they can often recite their (much manufactured) lineages all the way back to the founder himself, though this practice has fallen out of favor with the lazier and more independent American branch of the clan. Caelum means 'the chisel' in Latin; it is unclear when or why the founder picked up this nickname, and the myth-story associated seems to be a somewhat closely guarded piece of Caelumite lore.

From the beginnings of the Kingdom of Rome until about 100 BCE, the clan was ruled by a figure who had claimed, without opposition, to be the legendary Strix, god-king and founder of the line. Though the clan's legends held that he was "reborn" (or turned into a vampire) in the late 570s BCE (and many equate him with the 'murdered' king, Lucius Tarquinius Priscus), he was said to have been awake and active for hundreds of years. This was clearly a matter of derision among all other clans at the time, but the Caelumites insisted that it was true.

Still, when he finally seems to have succumbed to torpidity in the middle of the 5th century CE, his already intense cult of personality only grew more cultish and severe. Strix was hidden away in a place of great safety, constantly under guard by incredibly powerful clansmen, and the everyday affairs of the bloodline were left to his supposed Six childer, the sextet from which all of the "true" Caelumites descend. Many of these Six were in torpor for long periods throughout the management of the clan as well, and the problem only grew more intense as time passed.

In other places aside from Italy, bloodlines were slowly amassing enough power to declare themselves as 'clans' distinct from their neighbors, and that auto-designated status was transferred into a manifest destiny, leading to the segmentation of territory and the establishment of genocidal wars against non-members of the bloodline who happened to live within domains claimed by the clan's headstrong leaders.

Evidence from the far east is incredibly spotty because of the paranoia of the vampires that live there, but there have been a number of recovered clues that suggest that the Chiang-Shi clan predates any of the bloodlines found in Europe or even in the Middle East. Some have taken this a step farther, insisting that all vampires are descended from some far eastern ancestor, but this is a step too close to heresy in most princes' courts.

The Chiang Shi have established enclaves in some major western metropolises, such as London, San Francisco, and New York City, and because of favorable relationships with princes there, they have been permitted to establish vast 'embassy zones' that are under their exclusive territorial control. It is as if the region is itself a part of mainland China, and thus trespass is forbidden. Incredibly, the Chiang-Shi claim to be descended, one and all, from the clan's ancient and perpetually awake founder, a being they call Feng Bo.

It is claimed that any member of the clan who sires progeny of his own is hunted down along with the fledgeling, and put immediately to death. Because of their supposed descent from the first generation founder of their clan, the Chiang Shi are reportedly incredibly powerful; almost god-like, if rumors are to be believed. Most think this is merely artful propaganda, but most domain's leaders are very wary of upsetting important ambassadors to this secretive and supposedly incredibly numerous clan.

The vast majority of Chinese territory is exclusively in the hands of the Chiang Shi, and they are ruthless in purging their domains of unwanted visitors (and this includes their exurbs in western areas). As they are all (supposedly) descended from the same sire, there are no descending or offshoot bloodlines known to exist. Most scholars insist this is simply because of a policy of ruthless purging whenever one shows up.

In India, another bloodline of supposedly ancient origins exists. It is much more open to western influence and contact compared to the Chiang Shi or some of the other far eastern bloodlines, but still it is looked upon with distrust. Making matters worse, the clan has petitioned both the Conclave and the Convocation for membership (and has been rejected by both for this very reason), cementing its reputation as disloyal opportunists. They are said to have a proprietary gift involving communion with snakes; commanding them, absorbing and excreting their venom, and even becoming snakes themselves. These are the Vetala; they are wanderers and quite numerous -- as such, it is not unusual to find one or a pair in the most far-flung of cities.

In Egypt, there is some evidence that a number of influential and powerful clans had established a confederacy of sorts across the entire region of North Africa in prehistory; it appears that when the Lamiai arrived on the scene from the nomadic tribes of Libya, the newly emergent bloodline purged the region of would-be rivals. The Lamiai deny this claim of genocide vociferously, and have mostly annexed any mystical archaeological evidence from the region as belonging to proto-Lamiai vampires, however unlikely such a position may be.

Several bloodlines have arisen throughout the centuries claiming direct descent from supposedly ancient and supposedly purged bloodlines from the past, but most of these have been bald hoaxes. One that has some potential as a truthful offshoot is the Erishu, an Egypto-Sudanese bloodline with associations with an ancient cult of Kuk located along the Red Sea. The Erishu are not particularly numerous, but in recent centuries they have begun to make a comeback; this was only bolstered by their 1960s decision to join the Convocation, thus allowing themselves access to their ancestral territories for the first time in millenia. Their power associations involve darkness and blood magic - it is said that they can read the darkest secrets and temptations from the minds of men, and exploit them.

Older than the Caelumites are the ancient Persian vampires called the Edimmu; they claim heritage that extends back to the ancient Elamite culture on the eastern fringes of Mesopotamia. For thousands of years the Edimmu were known as the Warriors in the Dark; they were revered as tireless defenders of their homeland, a land full of ancient ferals from time before history. When one of these ancient beasts awakened, great hordes of Edimmu would scour the countryside until the beast was Drained; it is from them that the modern vampiric societies of the Convocation get their ideas of The Hunt. Second only to the Vedma, it is the Edimmu who have a history very intricately tied to the struggle between the two modern sects of vampires.


The Elder Wars
Around 800 CE, the Edimmu saw a rebellious movement within its own ranks; young Muslim vampires rose up under a messianic vampire, supposedly a general of Mohammad in life. At first it was merely a political movement, but over time the Algul became violent and radical, turning to terrorist acts and open rebellion. By 980 CE, the original clan was decimated. Europe looked on in horror as the ascendant Algul hunted down its largely peaceful elders and drank their blood in religious ceremonies dedicated to their one cruel god. The Caelumites and the Lamiai mobilized against them, perhaps associating the conflict with their much more placid Anarchist War, and the Algul not only drove them back, but by 1000 CE they had scoured Libya of the Lamiai altogether, removing that ancient bloodline from its prehistoric ancestral homeland.

As stated previously, in darker ages past the night was terrorized by feral vampires who disdained settled society and crept through the darkness murdering their own descendants. The memory of this was always particularly strong among the rebellious young, and over the centuries ideas about society, government, and religion began to shift dramatically. The difference for vampiric society was that the eldest do not die, and their power lends them many rights, particularly over those weaker and younger. By the late 700s CE, vampiric rulership was a dark and shrouded thing in all cities, as hordes of younger vampires, predominantly raised Christian and European, were ruled harshly by heartless beasts of a bygone era, often still believing in lost pantheons and demonic fairy tales.

Over a century or so, a society of young vampires rose up and began to preach for more openness in government, and some called for secularism over ancient pagan rituals; in many cities elder princes would force their citizens to engage in ungodly rituals and magic ceremonies, regardless of their own beliefs. Predictably the elders did not respond well to these youth mobilizing against them, and they reacted violently. No place was more affected by these fissures than the area surrounding modern Germany.

The Vedma bloodline (formerly associated with the Celts until Roman and Caelumite annihilation) was particularly involved in a movement to rid its Slavic territory of Caelumite princes, and though they did not believe in the tenants of the movement further west, they soon became the poster-children for the opening of European cities, the creation of Primogen councils made up of local bloodlines and clans, and the codification of secular law that spanned all domains. From 920 CE to 960 CE they waged a conflict now called the Anarchist War; it is seen today as a fight against Caelumite influence, but the truth is that it was largely a civil war within the Vedma; the young devoured the old, and replaced their government structures with new ones made in a more modern image.

The war went very poorly for them; not only were they labeled unjustly as Anarchists and reviled across the continent, their lands were occupied, and Caelumite princes installed over previously independent areas. The Vedma elders surrendered to humiliating terms, including Blood Oaths to the conquerors, whom they saw as liberators. Those that refused (usually the younger vampires) were burned at the stake, often several at once. A diaspora occurred, and over the centuries more and more of these vampires made their way to Iberia. Even today, the Vedma clan is predominant in areas of Latino influence because of this forced migration.

Though the Vedma were absolutely decimated and Caelumite influence only spread further east after their conflict, in the end their beliefs were adopted. Caelumite princes all over Europe began to announce an Open Door policy wherein vampires of all clans, bloodlines, and faiths could settle in their domains for nominal tithes and oaths of fealty, instead of the costly Blood Oaths that had historically been demanded. Starting in Krakow, Primogen councils were adopted in cities across the region, outlets for vampires of clans other than the Caelumites to exercise control and power. Indeed, several cities began to see non-Caelumite princes rule, though even in modern times 60% of Europe's princes are Caelumite. These developments may have had more to do with the sudden influx of Lamiai into Caelumite cities throughout Europe, but at least some credit belongs with the so-called anarchists as well.


The Convocation
These compromises never seemed to satisfy the more radical modern vampires; by 1000 CE a millenialist cult had arisen, calling itself the Convocation. These vampires played upon the fact that most modern vampires were Christian, and most of their elders were not. Rifts that had been papered over began to swell and break apart anew. Within five years Europe was racked with civil war, starting in Iberia and largely centered around the Mediterranean Sea. The Caelumites did an excellent job of keeping the cities of Europe free of rebellion, but at great cost in blood and freedom. Great battles were fought over the centuries, with the first hundred years seeing a push of Convocation principles from Iberia and Germany across the entirety of southern Europe.

In 1218 CE, a resounding blow was struck by the Convocation. A Lasombra by the name of Igone found the holy resting place of Strix himself and she drained his soul from him, proclaiming his bloodline 'unbound.' She was spirited away to the sacred places of Convocation power, the essence of a founder absorbed. The Caelumites were left in utter chaos; the majority of the Seven were torpid, and with Strix dead the rest were stricken. It seemed clear that the European Kindred were doomed before this onslaught, with no leader to guide them. Vampiric Rome had fallen. It was an act of desperation, then, for a Lamiai ancilla by the name of Brenna to hold a conclave of the leading princes in the region at her new palace in Paris. She belonged to a council she called the 'Primogen,' made up of one member of each clan with residents in her domain, all acting as advisors to their Prince (remarkably, another Lamiai called Jean LeMarque). The Lamiai had been warning about the dangers of a movement like the Convocation since they were forced out of their homeland by vengeful Algul, and now their worst dreams were beginning to come true again. Brenna proposed a cross-clan alliance, a set of key principles, and a web of affiliated cities, a confederation of princes, that empower not only a larger federal government structure, but also the war against their newfound enemies. Thus was the Conclave born, in the fall of the year 1300.

It did not take long for northern and western Europe's vampires to strike back, once they had organized. By the late 1400s the Convocation was relegated to Iberia, and the eastern fringes of Germany and into Russia in Vedma territory. However, with the settlement of the Reconquista, they pulled off a huge victory; they swayed the newly emergent Algul clan to abandon its historic neutrality and accept membership into the Convocation. A formerly deeply Christian movement now had two distinct offshoots; one Christian, and one Muslim. It did not take long for an entirely new mythology to develop, centered around the bondage of ordinary vampires to their demonic forebears. What was once a purely political struggle between opposing clans had morphed into a world-wide religious battle that often split clans or even broods in two.


The War Wages On
Shortly after their win in the Middle East, on the heels of Spanish and Portuguese explorers, the Convocation found new realms full of riches, and new refuges in which to hide from their enemies. They were the first to exploit and conquer the New World, and it is because of this head-start that they have such enormous influence across both continents of America, though particularly in the south. Even Conclave bastions like the United States and Canada are not safe from the Convocation; several cities belong to the sect entirely, and several others are constantly threatened. Since the 1800s, the real front in the war between the two sects seems to be in the Americas. Further east things have ground to a halt, with the Convocation's Vedmas firmly in control of Russia and most of the former Soviet Socialist Republics, with the Algul controlling all of the Middle East (except a tiny section of Iraq, thanks to American imperialism), and much of Africa, and the Lasombra, the Vedmas, the Algul, and the renegade Lamiai sharing control of the Iberian Peninsula. The Conclave cannot make inroads, but nor can the Convocation seem to assail any of the fortress cities that European princes have created for themselves. Too strong and too firmly ensconced are these elders, who have fought them for hundreds of years. Easier pickings are the younger, inexperienced princes of the American territories. Great wars have been fought over cities such as New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago (which still remain in Conclave hands), Detroit, Miami, and New Orleans (which have fallen to the Convocation).

The key clans of the Convocation are the Vedma, the Lasombra, the Algul, and the Lamiai. There are several smaller, but the majority of the sect can be said to belong to one of these bloodlines.

The same is true of the Conclave's key membership: the Caelumites, the Lamiai, the Nachzehrer, the Kresnik, and the Rephaim.

The Kresnik are a very recent bloodline, and would not be called a clan at all if not for relentless pressure before the Conclave Council. It is a political designation, and one that scholars routinely object to. Nevertheless, the Kresnik are, despite their youth, an incredibly powerful and influential clan at the Council table. The Kresnik are in actuality merely an offshoot of the much older Kudlak clan, a brother clan of the Vedmas, which found its home among the southern Slavs, in the area once known as Yugoslavia. Like the Vedmas, the Kudlak were highly involved in the failed Anarchist War, but unlike the Vedmas they were spared much of the bloodshed afterward. The Kudlak were perfectly willing to accept figurehead Caelumite princes in the cities, as these princes largely did not interfere with the vast Kudlaki fiefs where these dark lords truly ruled. They did not relocate to Iberia with the Vedmas by consequence.

In 1263, a Kudlak Ancient called Acrus experimented with a dangerous concept; he took thirteen hedge magicians as a new brood, assembled from among the most highly regarded occultic minds in Croatia. The leader was a man named Rolfe Kresne; so powerful was Rolfe that his master attempted to have him killed just six years after his rebirth, fearing a coup. As a result that coup did come, and Kresne took over Acrus' ancient holding and began to engage in dark thaumaturgical experiments, including the joint-draining of their ancient sire. The Kudlak were a fearsome and merciless clan, and Acrus' allies began to mass against Kresne; as a result, the Thirteen began to embrace scores and scores of Croatians, soldiers mercenaries among them.

Fearing an attack on his holding, Kresne led massive assaults on the territories of the most powerful of Kudlak lords, devouring each one as he had devoured Acrus, in an act of joint-draining powered by evil magics and the blood of ancients. Civil war raged for centuries, ignored by western European vampires (who saw both Kresnik and Kudlak as backwards, brutal, and provincial), until the rise of the Convocation. With supposedly manufactured evidence, Kresne went to the fledgling Conclave council and argued that the Kudlak were secretly aligned with their old allies, the Vedma. Because of this he was able to convince the other clans to first not only turn a blind eye to the genocide of the Kudlak, but then to actively participate in it.

At the end of the war, in 1516, Kresne found the resting place of the ancient ancestor of the Kudlak clan and bled him dry, devouring him individually, the other twelve denied the privilege of godhead. With this act Kresne declared himself the founder of a new clan, the Kresnik, and declared that they would be stalwart defenders of the Conclave, and forever enemies of the Convocation. Indeed, the Kresnik are all extremely devoted to their favored sect; if any clansman is found to associate with the Convocation in any way he is marked for death, and immediately eliminated by his fellows before he can give up their secrets. It is common knowledge that every last member of the Kresnik clan is bound in a Blood Oath to his sire, in a supposedly unbroken line that stretches all the way back to the original Thirteen, who rule the clan to this day.

The Rephaim are mentioned as an influential clan because they are this, even if they are no longer a large one. Touched by madness and once considered gifted with oracular powers, the Rephaim have their origins in ancient Israel. They claim to be descended from a race of literal giants born from angels and men, and there are rumors that Rephaite ancients, from times before history, have awakened to stand eight feet tall or higher. Like the Lamiai, the Rephaim were driven from their ancestral homeland by rising Algul hordes; unlike the Lamiai, scores did not immediately depart. Many attempted to remain, trying to eke out an existence under their strange new conquerors, but time saw their circumstances grow less and less hospitable. Before long those few Rephaim who had followed the Lamiai to their strange Caelumite cities were the only ones left. In the last great Convocation purges against the Edimmu, few Rephaite refuges were left standing. The Rephaim are considered to be very shrewd and incredibly perceptive, able to see things and touch places that other clans cannot; as such they have earned a place on the council of many princes, particularly those of a more ancient belief system. As such, the Rephaim are ready targets for the Convocation, who associate them with sorcery and pagan superstition, and thus a denial of god.
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