by Victoria Francés
What's going on here? An RPG post not about Dungeons & Dragons? Did we take a left turn at Waterdeep and end up in the realm of modern gothic horror?
Over the past month I joined a Vampire the Masquerade group on an IRC channel. Even though I am an avid collector of White Wolf game lines, for years I never found a group to play with until I was contacted on Roll20 by the group's GM. Being able to play the games instead of just reading them revived my enthusiasm for Vampire, and in no time at all I was thumbing through the marble green and blood red hardcovers on my shelves. During my search I rediscovered many cool ideas and adventure seeds which dwelt in the forgotten corners of my mind.
Concerning Vampire the Requiem, one of the interesting features of its setting is the preponderance of bloodlines, Kindred sub-families who originated among a vampire of particular background or talent. Most bloodline members can manipulate the properties of the blood to learn new supernatural disciplines. To use D&D terms, vampire clans are races, whereas bloodlines are subraces.
It's virtually a prerequisite for every Vampire chronicle to have an arrogant scheming archvillain manipulating living and dead alike as pawns for their own ends. Although the Ventrue clan and Invictus covenant embody the archetypical "vampire" noble, power comes in many forms. Whether by game mechanics or background, below is a compiled list of bloodlines I feel make for good "mastermind" archetypes:
Architects of the Monolith (Bloodlines: the Hidden, pg. 30): A secret society of megalomaniac Venture obsessed with geomantic rituals and ley lines, their Gilded Cage discipline is capable of changing the landscape and affecting others within their sphere of influence. Combined with a central grandmaster in France and hints of Freemason symbolism, and the Architects make for cool, occult-oriented villainous masterminds.
Asnâm (Circle of the Crone, pg. 165): Extremely arrogant pagan vampires who view themselves as potential deities, the Asnâm have a knack for establishing long-term hold over mortal cults. They can feed members Vitae from afar, sapping their Willpower, and even gaining the ability to force their soul into that of an infant to avoid Final Death! A campaign where cultists are tracking down a mother on the run whose baby has been chosen for their "blood god" in the vein of Shoot-Em-Up or the Golden Child? Count me in!
Bak-Ra (Ancient Bloodlines, pg. 167): The majority of the bloodline is consigned to millennia-long torpor, but these worshipers of the ancient Egyptian god of the sun claim to possess powers to be able to walk in daylight again. Even though many do not trust their grandiose claims, perhaps one of them rediscovers the power of their old bloodline, the power which once united all the Kindred of Egypt under one covenant!
En (Ancient Bloodlines, pg. 153): Diablerie is one of the few unforgivable acts in vampire society, but it's a great avenue for power. Descended from ancient Babylon, the En gains gifts from an evil spirit known as the Alu, such as the ability to steal one's soul with a touch and perform mass Embraces without permanently losing Willpower. The En pose a great threat to the power structure of any vampire domain, and their obsession with rule and outside status make for a good "usurper" role.
Lynx (Invictus, pg. 165): This bloodline has real, tangible power over social networks of all kinds, capable of tracing the various trends and interactions to know its members better than they know themselves. The ability to manipulate public perception on a wide scale and analyze trends gives the Lynxes an almost preternatural awareness of mortal and Kindred actions.
Melissidae (Bloodlines: the Legendary pg. 103): Nearly wiped out for fear of their power, these Ventrue have a nigh-uncontrollable need to form literal hive-minds of mortals by subsuming their free will. Melissidae hives are strange affairs, acting in unison and strange social ques indicating that things are not as they seem...
Spina (Invictus, pg. 173): Polite to a fault, the Spina are the graceful warriors of the Invictus. Possessing a discipline which allows them to literally wound with words, a Spina who attains power in a domain can make for a multi-faceted enemy capable of defending herself in any arena.
Zelani (Carthians, pg. 166): A very small bloodline of a few souls, its founder has nationwide contacts with many covenants and they all possess an uncanny knack for manipulating luck and probability so that things turn out in their favor. Depending on her potential goals, Lorna Zelan might have aspirations of leading the Carthian Movement itself, to perform an apocalyptic ritual, or even turn the bloodline into a new clan entirely.
The World of Darkness Wiki, for consolidating all of Requiem's bloodlines in one convenient location!