Sunday, November 8, 2020

V5: the Clan of Death

In the mythology of Vampire: the Masquerade, there is a clan of vampires who did not achieve their position in the usual manner of "being a descendant of one of the 13 whom Caine embraced before the Flood." Instead, they diablerized the unsuspecting Antedeluvian of another clan, thereby becoming a clan in their own right, but this heinous act marked them as the enemies of the other kindred and to survive they needed to rely upon their magical abilities, subjugated supernatural soldiers, and their own tight-knit structure to survive. To this day they are mistrusted and seen as being only out for themselves. 

Quickly now: am I talking about the Tremere, or am I talking about the Giovanni?

Unfortunately, the answer is both. The Giovanni are just a re-skin of the Tremere, with Necromancy instead of Thaumaturgy and Potence instead of Auspex. The similarity was only reinforced in the 3rd edition (aka Revised) when Necromancy was given multiple magical paths in exactly the same manner as Thaumaturgy. I always preferred the Cappadocians, the original Clan of Death introduced in Vampire: the Dark Ages, who approached the study of the afterlife from a spiritual and scholarly aspect rather than from one of power and manipulation and whose disciplines were Auspex, Fortitude, and Necromancy. 

As it turns out, the writers for this version of VtM agree with me at least in part, because they have decided to rename the clan of death Hecata. I assume this is a reference to Hecate, the three-faced Greek goddess of magic (including necromancy) due to the fact that the Hecata are an amalgamation of the Giovanni, the surviving members of the Giovanni, and all the other death-related bloodlines like the Samedi and the Nagaraja. On the one hand, this is good because it ties up a lot of loose ends in the form of errant bloodlines tied to a meta-story. On the other, it's bad and lazy because, suddenly and magically, all of these bloodlines with their formerly disparate powers and weaknesses now all have the same disciplines (Auspex, Fortitude, Oblivion) and bane (the Giovanni weakness of dealing extra damage when feeding -- which, if used properly, can become a benefit in combat). 

What's worse is that the V5 writers have decided that the shadow powers of the Lasombra come from the same netherworldly source as the Hecata's necromancy, and now canon Lasombra have Dominate, Oblivion, and Potence. So now not only do the Lasombra resemble pre-V5 Giovanni, they also have access to necromantic powers... which rather puts the lie to the Hecata's claim as the "clan of death", doesn't it? Ugh. 

By the by, this is why I made my version of the Lasombra jettison the whole "shadow power" concept. Not only was Obtenetration reductive ("We're the clan called 'The Shadow' and we have shadow powers"), but it also opened a huge can of worms by making the Hecata no longer unique and giving the power-hungry Lasombra access to too much power. 

So, with all that said, here is my version of the Clan of Death. In terms of game heresy it's worse than my Tzimisce writeup but not as bad as my non-Obtenebration Lasombra. Much like in Cult of the Blood Gods it integrates the Giovanni and Samedi back into the mother clan but, if I may say so myself, my version does it less awkwardly by ignoring a lot of the metaplot-backstory baggage which caused all the problems in the first place. This also nicely explains how and why the Cappadocians have managed to get along without the Camarilla: they are effectively a sect in their own right, and much like the Banu Haquim of previous editions* they are too useful and too powerful to alienate but too insular and too disturbing to be kept close. 

Also, for those who are wondering about the Nagaraja, I left them out because I think they're too interesting to be a mere bloodline. I'm going to tweak their concept (and probably their disciplines) to see if I can't come up with a clan that has a distinct flavor of India and Central Asia. 

* I am NOT a fan of the Assassin Clan joining the Camarilla. I preferred them as NPCs who did awful things for payment in large quantities of vitae, not the Cam's new enforcement branch. 

No comments:

Post a Comment

The Fine Print

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution- Noncommercial- No Derivative Works 3.0 License.

Creative Commons License

Erin Palette is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to