Technically, since "Antediluvian" literally means "before the flood", the term Antediluvian can be applied to any Cainite who predates the Great Flood, such as Caine or the Second Generation, but it is almost always used to specifically refer to the Third Generation, from whom the thirteen clans are descended.
Most believe these god-like beings to be either in torpor, manipulating the Jyhad, or dead, but there are a large number of myths and prophecies surrounding the clan founders, many of which are contradictory and suspect. However, certain beliefs have prevailed throughout vampiric history, particularly in regards to their actions in Gehenna.
While some clans regard their progenitor favorably, as a whole the Antediluvians are often portrayed as boogeymen that will one day rise and devour their descendants. There are rarely reasons given for this, but clan-wide purges have occurred in the past and Gehenna is seen as a time of blood and reckoning for Cainites.
Presumably the Antediluvians are of such age and potency of blood that they possess nearly god-like power, and in fact some of them may be deities. Very few records of such power being used exist, but legends typically portray them as undefeatable. Some even theorize that the only way for such creatures to be killed is if they desire it or if it is at the hands of another Antediluvian. Whether that is true or not, they seem to suffer from at least some of the traditional curses of vampirism, namely the thirst for blood, the ravages of the Beast, and vulnerability to sunlight, although their mastery of the Disciplines may have mitigated these weaknesses to some degree.
If the Antediluvians survive in the modern nights they must possess sufficient abilities to hide their existence and activities from the world, particularly considering the monumental effort that has been put into locating their havens by Cainites of many different factions. As they are commonly believed to be directing the Jyhad, they must also possess an incredible level of influence or knowledge, and perhaps even the ability to manipulate those who bear their blood. In fact, blood lineage is often cited as a factor in an Antediluvian's power, and most assume that each is concerned most of all with their own clan. There are also some examples of ancient vampires bestowing portions of their power to other vampires, and while few of the ancients are described as being actual thaumaturgists, they seem to possess a great deal of versatility, which is evident in the various artifacts said to have been created by the clan founders. Otherwise, members of the Third Generation are often attributed to having complete mastery over their clan disciplines, though this may not be true for the youngest of the Antediluvians, and it is difficult to state clearly which disciplines apply when considering bloodlines and clans that have changed disciplines over the millennia.
The Vampire: The Masquerade Rulebook states that members of the Third Generation can have traits up to 10 dots, can hold an unknown number of blood points, and can spend an unknown number of blood points per turn (possibly a limitless number, but definitely greater than the Fourth Generation). The Vampire Players Guide and Vampire Players Guide Second Edition include examples of Level 10 Disciplines, as do a few other pre-Revised Edition supplements. These systems were replaced for Revised Edition in the Gehenna supplement, which provides suggestions for the capabilities of Antediluvians as well as guidelines for their Level 10 Disciplines. The greatest example of an Antediluvian's potential power may have been during the Week of Nightmares, during which time the Ravnos Antediluvian woke and was eventually destroyed.
According to Noddist lore, the thirteen original members of the Third Generation were Embraced in the First City. Their sires were the Second Generation, the three childer of Caine: Enoch, Irad, and Zillah. After the First City was destroyed in the Deluge, they came to be known as the Antediluvians.
As Caine had left his childer and grandchilder shortly before the Flood, the Second and Third Generations were left untended. The Third Generation rose up and slew their sires in rebellion. They then sired their own childer, the Fourth Generation, beginning the lineage of the thirteen clans. The clans built up the Second City, but it fell to infighting and rebellion. The most prominent casualty of this revolt was the founder of the Brujah, who was killed by his own childe, Troile; those Brujah already Embraced by that point, and their childer, became the "True Brujah" bloodline, while the descendants of Troile took on the mantle of the Brujah clan.
Millennia later, the Antediluvian Saulot, founder of the Salubri, was slain by Tremere, a mage-turned-vampire. His bloodline, the Tremere, were thus elevated to the status of clan, while the Salubri, like the True Brujah before them, became a mere bloodline. Several centuries later, in the early years of the Anarch Revolt, the Antediluvians of the rebellious clans Lasombra and Tzimisce allowed their childer to think them destroyed as they withdrew from sight. Not long after, the Giovanni, a bloodline of the Cappadocian clan, elevated themselves to clan status when their own founder, Augustus Giovanni, slew the Cappadocian founder Cappadocius.
In modern nights, one more Antediluvian has been destroyed: the Ravnos progenitor was slain, but no childe of his was there to commit diablerie and take his place at the head of the clan. Instead, the Antediluvian was utterly destroyed in what came to be known as the Week of Nightmares, the greatest portent of the Final Nights and of Gehenna.
Other tales describing the supposed final fates of the more secretive Antediluvians have bubbled up over the years. For example, many Ventrue believe that their clan founder was slain by one of his own brethren (likely [Brujah] or Set); this tale has diminished into obscurity over the past several centuries, as acknowledging the very existence of the Antediluvians was, for a long time, anathema to the Camarilla.
Modern perspective on the Antediluvians
The Camarilla asserts that the Antediluvians are dead or never even existed, and actively persecutes those who publicly say otherwise. This is part propaganda part genuine belief on their half. Those Kindred who believe the Antediluvians are alive rarely have any real information regarding them and are prone to act rashly and with paranoia, such as by joining the Sabbat or a Gehenna cult. Furthermore, very few of the sect's members are over five centuries old and have thus missed the last period during which the Antediluvians were visibly active. As secular knowledge becomes prevalent, more and more Kindred view the story of Caine and the Antediluvians as creation myths, nothing more.
The Sabbat adheres to a pseudo-religious creed claiming it as their duty to destroy the Antediluvians and their servants. Most believe they are in a war for their very survival and that if the ancients are not stopped all vampires will be enslaved or devoured by them during Gehenna. The sect preaches that the Antediluvians manipulate all Cainites through the Jyhad, and that the Camarilla and surviving Methuselah are their pawns. While generally accepting of the Antediluvians' existence, the knowledge of the average member is not necessarily much greater than their Camarilla counterparts as much of what they are taught is meant to ensure their fanaticism in going to war. Despite the theoretically god-like power of the Antediluvians, the Sabbat claims the noble heritage of having slain two during the Anarch Revolt and most members truly believe they can be defeated.
The majority of the Assamites and Followers of Set not only believe in their clan founders but are indoctrinated to be loyal and even worship the mythical figures. They tend to disagree with traditional Noddist lore, however; some Assamites claim Haqim is a member of the Second Generation, while the Setites believe they are not descended from Caine but from the god Set of Egyptian mythology, with some even going so far as to state all the other clans are descended from him as well.
Number of Antediluvians
Canonical Noddist lore holds that there are thirteen Antediluvians of the Third Generation – one for each of the clans – and that each was Embraced by a member of the Second Generation, meaning that they are all nominally siblings or cousins. Some of the clans believe in very different creation myths, however, particularly those that originated outside Europe.
While most assume Caine had only three childer and thirteen grandchilder, this may not be the case. Several sources have offered different accounts, including:
- The book Gehenna introduced a number of previously unknown Antediluvians in several different scenarios, though each of these scenarios introduced a different set of new Antediluvians. For example, one of these was a woman called "the Shaper", who developed a unique Discipline that allows her to move, animate, reshape and transform material objects. She took the name "Sarah" to interact with the player characters during the story where she appeared.
- The Erciyes Fragments states that there were more Cainites at the time of the Great Flood, but presumably few survived during the time which they had to feed on one another for blood. In particular, it cites the childer of Caine to be Enoch, Zyllah, Jabal, Adah, Tubal, and Mehujael. It also suggests that the differences in generation came from a curse levied by Caine and did not appear until after his own childer were slain.
- In a letter from Vlad Țepeș to Mina Harker, Vlad stated that, in his research, he has come across various writings which state that the Third Generation numbered at 9, 27, 100, and 0. He was not sure which one was correct.
- Ravnos lore claims that their founder, Zapathasura, was created by the gods and sired five childer: Black Mother, the Rakshasa, Chandraputra, Ravana, and Ramessu. Since this tale is incompatible with traditional Noddist lore, these childer may be members of the Third or Fourth Generation (likely childer of [Ravnos] himself), or they may all be faces of the same individual.
- One Setite legend holds that Set became a vampire on his own, and that the Egyptian gods (actually the Gnostic Aeons) created the Antediluvians of the other twelve clans to thwart him.
- Angra Mainyu, a Baali High Priest, claimed to have visions revealing that Caine had five childer, not three.
- One branch of the Path of Lilith, the Path of Awakening, believes that Arikel and Malkav were twins, children of Lilith, and that they had a younger sister, Nahema, who also received the Embrace. According to legend, Nahema descended into Hell, but never lost touch with her siblings, her spirit forever bound to them and their childer – it is Nahema's spirit that whispers in the Malkavian Madness Network, that burns in the hearts of the Toreador. Some of her worshippers call her the Dark Muse, the Anti-Muse, and the Demon Queen of Madness, and she is said to be patron saint of serial killers and torturers.
- The tale of the Iryi, or Watchers, says there were ten members of the Second Generation, anti-divine entities that cannot be easily classified by sorcerer-theologians, created by Azazel-Caine (the Dark Father in his aspect as Abel's murderer) and Lilith from the substance of the Qlippoth, anti-being and deception. When the Antediluvians killed the Watchers, their spirits returned to the Qlippoth whence they came, from where they seek to regain a foothold in the material world through the Disciplines stolen from them.
- The cult known as the Adoptive Childer of Malakai believe that while Caine may have been a vampiric founder, he was not the only one, or even the first. They are dedicated to the worship and study of the Antediluvian Malakai, spoken of in scriptures referencing Lilith's orphans as Malkav's twin sister, even more unstable and dangerous than her brother, her madness able to warp reality. She is said to be imprisoned deep within the Shadowlands, never a sire to childer.
- The highest levels of the Tal'Mahe'Ra know of records that hint members of the Third Generation were killed in the First City for the practice of infernalism, with at least one such account having the name of the accused utterly effaced from the stone.
- John Sidestorm concludes there might very well be missing members of the Second and Third Generations.
Traditionally, Antediluvians are simply referred to as the (clan) Antediluvian, such as the Gangrel Antediluvian, Tzimisce Antediluvian, and so on. An alternate usage is to describe the name in square brackets (i.e., [Tzimisce]), both to denote the fact that the names of the Antediluvians are unknown and as a precaution against drawing their ire by using their real names. That said, Noddist scholars in the past have arbitrarily derived names from the clan name, such as Malkav from Malkavian, which have since come to be accepted as the common sobriquets for the Antediluvians in question. Some records do exist of names believed to have been used by Antediluvians, though it is well known that they have gone by many aliases in their travels and it may be impossible to ever know their original names. Regardless, several names are commonly accepted as valid and are listed below:
- Brujah, founder of clan Brujah
- Cappadocius, founder of clan Cappadocian
- Gangrel, commonly named Ennoia, founder of clan Gangrel
- Haqim, founder of clan Banu Haqim
- Lasombra, founder of clan Lasombra
- Malkav, founder of clan Malkavian
- Nosferatu, commonly named Absimiliard, founder of clan Nosferatu
- Ravnos, founder of clan Ravnos
- Saulot, founder of clan Salubri
- Set, founder of the Ministry, or Followers of Set
- Toreador, commonly named Arikel or Ishtar, founder of clan Toreador
- Tzimisce, founder of clan Tzimisce
- Ventrue, founder of clan Ventrue
Several Antediluvians are believed to have fallen through diablerie:
- Augustus Giovanni, founder of clan Giovanni, committed diablerie on Cappadocius in 1444 CE
- Tremere, founder of clan Tremere, committed diablerie on Saulot in 1133 CE
- Troile, according to some stories, was the only childe of Brujah, who allegedly committed diablerie on his sire in the First City and assumed leadership of the clan. This is all disputed however, and there are many stories regarding the event. According to one account, there is no record of Troile actually committing diablerie on Brujah when they slew him.
Troile may in fact be the lucky one, since it seems that the "successful" usurpers above may have been tricked. The true Antediluvians could be beyond life and death, and thus the actions of their diablerists would likely be part of an extended plot. More information can be found within their individual entries.
- Lasombra was allegedly physically slain and diablerized by Gratiano de Veronese, although the only other witness to the event, Montano, knows his memories were tampered with, which only an Antediluvian or a methuselah like himself could have performed; Furthermore, sightings of the Antediluvian with the outbreak of the Gehenna War cast even more doubt into it
- Tzimisce was allegedly diablerized by Lugoj, however, the Antediluvian actually faked his own death, a fact known by very few kindred
Other names mentioned as possible Antediluvians (or as aliases of other Antediluvians) include:
These are presumably other names for the clan progenitors, though they may be Antediluvians who opted not to sire clans, such as the Shaper, an optional character from the Gehenna sourcebook.
- One of the scenarios in Gehenna suggests that the concept of the True Brujah is a lie. Instead a childe of the Brujah Antediluvian rediscovered the discipline of Temporis and claimed him/herself to be the real lineage of its founder. When the Brujah Antediluvian does awake it is furious that some of its childer would call themselves such.
|Vampire: The Masquerade Antediluvians|
|Clan Founders||Brujah • Cappadocius • Haqim • Gangrel • Lasombra • Malkavian • Nosferatu • Ravnos • Salubri • Set • Toreador • Tzimisce • Ventrue|
|Usurpers||Augustus Giovanni • Tremere|