Caitiff is a complicated term with two general meanings. The first meaning is more of a political term: those of a flawed or unknown lineage, who have been abandoned by their sires. It is not so much that they lack a Clan as they lack the support that comes with the Clan structure. It carries the implication that they were a mistake by their sire. Many of these unfortunates are considered Caitiff simply because they do not know which Clan they come from, because they had not been told. It is an arbitrary title and may refer more specifically to any outcast.
The second and more biologically-oriented Caitiff, also known as the clanless, are rare Cainites that do not officially belong to any clan. These vampires have no inherent clan weakness, but no inherent disciplines as well. None of the typical clan markers apply to them. Although the Caitiff have manifested throughout history, they tend to do so more frequently among the higher generations, such that the terms "Caitiff" and "Thin-blooded" are often considered synonymous. While there is considerable overlap, not all Caitiff are thin-bloods.
Caitiff can purchase any Discipline at character creation, but thereafter have to pay six times current rating for any and all powers purchased with experience points. On a more basic level Caitiff suffer a social stigma from not being a part of an accepted clan. As a result, more established Kindred feel free to snub or denigrate Caitiff freely.
Caitiff have always plagued the clans, abnormalities to the Curse of Cain, without marks of his disfavor on them, leaving some Caitiff to speculate that they are indeed the original vampires, heirs to the legacy of the Second Generation and Caine himself (most of these Caitiff do not survive long after speaking their mind). But in those times, happenings were fewer, as the curse still ran strong in the veins of the undead; even an abandoned childe would normally manifest the marks and weaknesses of their own clan. Some of these vampires, like the Stone Man, still survive into the Modern Nights, but these happenings are few and far in between.
Following World War II, the Caitiff population seems to have exploded as more and more begin to appear. These Caitiff are typically of high generation, where Caine's blood is too diluted to pass on any consistent characteristics.
The appearance of Thin-blooded have done nothing to soothe the fears of the Elders and many are more happy when there is a Caitiff less to prowl the night. Many cite the Book of Nod and claim that the blood has weakened to the point on which it can no longer establish the clan lineage. The appearance of the special Caitiff-like vampires known as Thin-bloods is also a growing concern and many Elders decide to wipe away every vampire without Clan protection.
In the Sabbat, the works of Joseph Pander led to the recognition of the sect's Caitiff as a "clan" known as the Panders. In 1973, a similar try was made to gain recognition in the Camarilla, spearheaded by Alexi Darba, although they were taken captive by the Justicars and probably killed.
Every so often, someone attempts to organize the Caitiff into a clan-like structure. The attempt inevitably fails, in part because of the innate fractiousness of Caitiff society and in part because the established clans have a vested interest in keeping the Caitiff disorganized. In some domains, Caitiff who fall through the cracks may establish themselves as the lords of broods of their own illicit Embrace. It is no surprise that these unbound rogues continue to give the rest of their ill-sired ilk a bad name.
Some Caitiff cling to any sort of protection and acceptance, while others rebel at being treated as disposable and look to the Anarch Movement or even the Sabbat as alternatives. Still others dismiss politics as unimportant, eking out unlife in the fringes of the Ivory Tower or even becoming Autarkis.
The Panders arose in the aftermath of the third and most recent Sabbat civil war, during the late 1950s. A clanless vampire known as Joseph Pander united the Caitiff "antitribu" Sabbat under his own banner and led them against the Moderate faction at the behest of several key Lasombra and Tzimisce. Impressed with his efforts, the elders of the Sabbat rewarded the sect-loyal Panders with a formal recognition, which immediately touched off a powder keg of ill response from more "legitimate" clans. In the end, though, the Panders won out, earning recognition time and again, through bloodshed and diplomacy. Joseph Pander still exists in the modern nights, but rumors of assassination attempts spurred by disapproving elders run rampant through the Mutts' circles.
Panders have no inherent, blood-bestowed weakness, same as their Camarilla, Anarch and Independent counterparts. Note, however, that the Panders are given only grudging respect, and they generally get stuck with the worst jobs in the Sabbat. Also, no Pander may begin the game at better than ninth generation (though they may increase this via diablerie or other means during the game).
- caitiff: Originally meaning a captive, by extension a wretched miserable person. It often expresses contempt and means a despicable wretch or villain.
The term "Caitiff" is traditionally used by the Camarilla. Whether they were abandoned by their sires or they rejected their own clans, Caitiff exist outside the political structure of vampire society. Without the protection of sire or clan, they are in the lowest social position of any Cainites.
While Caitiff are Embraced normally by existing clans and bloodlines across the gamut of Kindred existence, something seems to happen between sire and childe. Either certain defining traits are not passed along in the Embrace, or some manner of imprinting is missing. As a result, the childe inherits none of their sire's clan's disciplines or weaknesses. They often only inherit the more common Disciplines. The lack of clan weakness is something which particularly galls the Nosferatu.
Unwanted and abandoned, the Caitiff have swelled the ranks of Kindred society in the past few decades. They are the results of mistakes, regrets, Frenzies, and poor choices. Many are lucky to have even a vague recollection of their sire and the Embrace, while most stumble around with no understanding of what they are. Those that find a way to survive are the exception instead of the rule, and some of these trash grow to become notorious Kindred in their own right.
Their lack of a true Clan Curse and their peripheral understanding of their new undead state lead to the adaption of vampiric weaknesses common found in popular culture. Some Caitiff are unable to cross running water, while others are repelled by garlic. On the other hand, Caitiff are also able to adopt any Discipline that seems to tie into their undead being or into their personal strengths, some even turn out to be Inceptors. This does not help to better their reputation, as many elders are fearful of new bloodlines, citing the cases of the Tremere and Giovanni to prove the danger these Caitiffs present to vampiric society. Also, many Kindred take offense when their treasured Clan discipline is copied by some low-running Caitiff and immediately ask for his destruction.
However, by swearing fealty to an elder of renown, it is possible that some Caitiff become adopted by a Clan, although few elders would confess this and it happens rarely. Most of these Caitiff have worked decades and centuries to prove their worth to the Clan, endured every humiliation and degradation the elders could think of and have survived safe deathtraps, so that the elders have no other choice than to accept them into their ranks. Many of these Caitiff are Blood bound and develop characteristics of the Clan they are bound to due to the regular infusion with foreign vitae.
There is another possible role for a Caitiff in the Camarilla: that of a small-town "prince". Such a Caitiff can find a small town with no Camarilla presence and establish their own little domain there, ghouling or otherwise controlling the local officials and possibly creating a single childe. The Camarilla acknowledges such outposts as legal, if the Caitiff "prince" swears loyalty to the nearest proper prince and takes on the duties to report any movement of Sabbat packs, Lupines or other enemies through their territory. Any Masquerade breaches in such an outpost result in the city prince sending the Scourge or the Sheriff's hounds to remove the incompetent Caitiff.