The origins of the clans are lost to history, but some Kindred theorize that the clans were the first bloodlines, created by the earliest and most powerful vampires before unliving memory. Requiem for Rome Rulebook gives an ancient historical perspective on the clans, but sheds little more light on their possible origins, except to reveal that the five modern clans have not always been as prevalent as they are now.
Modern vampires with highly potent blood may establish their own bloodlines, but the clan is still the stronger tie: newly sired vampires belong only to their sire's parent clan, not their bloodline. No vampire can ever join a bloodline stemming from a clan other than their own.
Each clan exemplifies an archetype or aspect of the vampire myth, and each clan's members share many characteristics: they find it easier to master certain disciplines, and suffer a specific weakness. As well as supernatural similarities, members of a particular clan will tend to Embrace mortals like themselves, further reinforcing the feeling of "family".
- The Daeva are sensual and seductive social predators, but who frequently become enfatuated with their prey.
- Gangrel are animalistic savages with a strong connection to the Beast, and find it hard to remain in control like men.
- Clan Mekhet, as masters of secrets and shadows, suffer the banes of vampirism more acutely than their Kindred.
- Nosferatu vampires are supernaturally terrifying monsters, some hideously deformed, others oddly unsettling, but whatever the cause, every Nosferatu finds it nigh impossible to socialize with humanity.
- The Ventrue are the lords of the undead, rulers with regal bearing. Centuries of absolute power have corrupted them, and as they age they begin to see humans more as tools rather than people.
In Ancient Rome, the Ventrue are unknown, and another clan, possibly ancestors of the Ventrue, fills their niche:
- The Julii are the noble founders of the Camarilla who claim descent from Remus. Like all Romans, the Julii revere and fear their gods and their ancestors, and thus find it more difficult to resist the influences of the spirit world.
Some clans have a more organised social structure than others; the Ventrue and Julii keep track of their lineages with great accuracy, for example, while the Gangrel have virtually no society as a clan. In any case, most vampires look to the Covenants for social organisation.
The modern clans
In the role-playing game Vampire: The Requiem by White Wolf Game Studio, vampire characters belong to one of five fictional clans, each of which is representative of an archetype in vampire literature. It is assumed that each clan descended from a single progenitor, who passed to each of his descendants, or childer, his unique gifts and flaws.
The origins of the vampire species are mysterious. The idea of single source is not certain. Common theories include that the Roman soldier Longinus became a vampire after piercing the side of Christ on the cross, or that the first vampire was Dracula or a mysterious figure called the Crone. Some have even suggested that each of the five main clans had a different origin.
Since Requiem was a reboot and reimagining of White Wolf's previous game line, Vampire: The Masquerade, some of the clans and their traits are similar to clans that appeared in the previous line, though there are differences. In Requiem also, bloodlines play a more important role, with many vampires belonging to a minor bloodline that branched away from a major clan. Unlike the previous game, even members of bloodlines can be said to belong to the parent clan also.
Each clan is particularly gifted in three of the vampiric Disciplines. In terms of game mechanics, this translates as a reduced experience point cost to learn them. Each clan also possesses a specific weakness that is unique to them. The most common clans in modern nights include:
- Main article: Daeva
The Daeva are meant to be representatives of the deceitful, seductive vampire. Nicknamed "Succubi" by the other clans, Daeva are envied for the ease with which they move among mortals. Politically, the Invictus covenant is popular among Daeva.
Daeva are especially gifted in the vampiric Disciplines of Celerity (superhuman speed), Vigor (superhuman strength), and Majesty (the ability to attract, sway, and control the emotions of others). The clan weakness of the Daeva is that they find it very difficult to resist indulging themselves. A Daeva who has an opportunity to indulge his favorite vice and fails to do so finds his resolve weakened (reflected in the game mechanics as lost Willpower points). In this way, they can be seen as a successor to the Toreador from The Masquerade, which have similar behavior and similar weakness; this is further reflected in Requiem by the appearance of the Toreador as a Daeva bloodline, complete with their "original" weakness to beauty. They also seem to be mixed with the Brujah due to their physical enhancing powers and the fact they give in to their emotions easier than others.
The symbol of the Daeva is a thorny rose entwining an ornamental dagger.
- Main article: Gangrel (VTR)
The Gangrel clan from Vampire: The Masquerade was recreated for Vampire: The Requiem as one of the five major clans. As archetypal savages, noble and otherwise, Gangrels embody primeval instinct, ferocity and intuitive illumination. Feared, revered and reviled alike by their close relationship with their beasts, which both grants them spiritual insight and clouds their judgement, Gangrel stride the nights as feral savants, nomadic hunters and demonic barbarians.
Gangrel favor the Disciplines of Animalism (control over the beasts of nature and the Beast within man's and vampire's soul), Resilience (supernatural toughness), and Protean (shapeshifting). Gangrel have a unique weakness caused by their close connection to the Beast; their animalistic instincts are drawn close to their surface, clouding more reasoned thought. This is represented mechanically by preventing Gangrel characters from re-rolling tens on rolls requiring Mental attributes, and subtracting ones from the total successes rolled.
Gangrels favour a blend of physical and mental attributes, largely ignoring social ones. One of the Gangrel's bloodlines is the Bruja, a collection of bikers and thugs loosely based on Vampire: The Masquerades Brujah.
The symbol of the Gangrel is a stylized rendition of a predator's eye, seemingly made up of various animal species and carved by claws.
- Main article: Mekhet (VTR)
The Mekhet embody the idea of the shadowy vampire lord, omniscient and unseen. Nicknamed "Shadows" by the other clans, Mekhet are known for the large number of secrets that they keep, and for knowing the secrets of others. In order to garner rank or respect within the clan, a shadow must demonstrate a greater ease and familiarity with some knowledge. If a Mekhet's knowledge about a specific subject surpasses that of the others, he is considered more capable and respected than a Jack of all trades, master of none. Their uncanny ability for knowing that which they shouldn't is based on the ease of which they master the Disciplines of Auspex (enhanced senses), Celerity (superhuman speed), and Obfuscate (supernatural stealth). However, as suits their nickname, the Mekhet are even more vulnerable to the ravages of sunlight and fire than other vampires, suffering an additional point of aggravated damage when burned. In this way, they can be seen as successor to the Assamites and Followers of Set from The Masquerade, which have similar behavior, goals, and weakness.
The symbol of the Mekhet is an hourglass inside a crescent moon, all contained within a spiderweb.
- Main article: Nosferatu (VTR)
The Nosferatu were originally a clan from Vampire: The Masquerade, their flawed blood rendering each of them physically hideous in a unique way (see Nosferatu). The Nosferatu of Vampire: The Requiem have expanded on this weakness, by rendering them disturbing in a different way - rather than a physical deformity, they each have something less obviously inhuman wrong with them, be it a terrible scent, a broken and screeching voice, a sickly pallor, or something less specific. This allows them to interact with mortals without violating the Masquerade, though they still suffer severe social drawbacks, represented mechanically by preventing Nosferatu characters from re-rolling tens, and subtracting ones rolled from the total number of successes.
Nosferatu are often found in less desirable portions of the city, such as the sewers, and are known as "Haunts." The Nosferatu make extensive use of Vigor (inhuman strength), Obfuscate (supernatural stealth), and their unique Discipline, Nightmare, which grants them the ability to tap into the hidden fears of their targets.
Their symbol is a clenched fist, surrounded by maggot-ridden skulls.
- Main article: Ventrue (VTR)
The Ventrue are the movers and shakers of vampire society. In times past they were the nobility of the vampire world, but, recognizing that the world has changed, have modelled themselves after the current elite - businessmen. The Ventrue are perhaps the most conventionally powerful of the vampiric clans as a result of their wealth, social influence, and commanding powers. The clan as a whole is quite conservative, be it in actions or customs. The Ventrue have their own etiquette which is nigh-inviolable.
Unlike the Ventrue clan from Vampire: The Masquerade, the re-imagined Ventrue of Vampire: The Requiem are not restricted to a specific type of blood. Instead, their mind have been subtly unbalanced by the power of their blood, cursing them with a susceptibility to madness, represented mechanically by a penalty to derangement rolls. The Malkovian bloodline, based on the Malkavian clan in the older game, is a Ventrue offshoot in which this tendency to derangement is further strengthened (manifesting in-game as a mandatory minor derangement at character creation that can not be removed.)
Their tendency towards dominance is reflected in their clan Disciplines - Resilience to resist that which would wrest power from them, Animalism to command lesser species, and their unique Discipline of Dominate, which grants them the power to control a sentient's actions.
The clan emblem of the Ventrue is a scepter inside a crown, superimposed over an inverted isosceles triangle.
Clans of Ancient Rome
Requiem for Rome Rulebook, the historical setting for Vampire: The Requiem, describes the clans active in the Roman era, and during this time the Ventrue were unknown, at least in Rome. Filling their niche in vampire society was the Julii, the clan who founded the Camarilla.
- Main article: Julii
The Julii are tied to Rome and, even more so, to the Camarilla. They are the Kindred nobility of their age: they claim descent from Remus, whom their legends paint as a "first vampire", and in days past Embraced only members of his noble mortal bloodline. They rule the Necropolis, having created the Camarilla and continuing to fill the loftiest positions in the Senex. They also invented the Masquerade, the tradition of disguising oneself as a mortal, though by the time of Requiem for Rome Rulebook many Julii elders no longer ascend to the surface themselves, sending their loyal ancillae in their stead.
Though they share the same Discipline affinities as the Ventrue, it is uncertain whether the later clan is descended from the Julii. The Julii weakness is similar to the Ventrue's, but rather than being more susceptible to madness as they lose their humanity, they are simply more likely to let their humanity slip in the first place, represented by a dice penalty on degeneration rolls.
Their emblem is a coin with "IVLII" ("Julii" in the Latin alphabet) above a small crescent moon and a stylised picture of Romulus, Remus and the wolf who suckled them.
Main article: Akhud
The Akhud are presented as one of three possible versions of VII in the sourcebook on said "covenant". Their clan weakness makes them unable to knowingly harm or betray other members of their clan or the mortal descendants of their founder. Additionally, the Akhud are tormented by the whispers of the demon Shaddad, represented mechanically by a small penalty to derangement rolls, as well as a penalty to resist frenzy in any scene in which they speak, write, hear or read the name Shaddad.
The Akhud's clan disciplines are Celerity (superhuman speed), Praestantia (superhuman dexterity), and Obfuscate (supernatural stealth).
Additionally, supernatural differences between the Akhud and normal vampires prevent them from triggering or being affected by Predator's Taint, allow them to detect vampires and protect them from mind reading attempts.
The clan does not have a formal symbol, however it is associated with two symbols, both of which resemble the roman numeral VII.
Main Article: Jiang Shi (clan)
A minor clan, supposedly of Asian origin, known to be active in the Research Triangle of North Carolina. They are detailed in Blood and Smoke: The Strix Chronicle under the Triangle's write up in the setting chapter.
There are many references and hints from various sources concerning clans believed to now be extinct, and about which very little is known.
The Traditories is the only name given to a clan that was supposedly destroyed by Aulus Julius and his followers sometime before the foundation of the Camarilla. The name Traditories is not the true name of the clan, as it was erased from history. The Traditories were accused of serving the Strix.
The Lost Iceland Clan
An unnamed Icelandic clan is mentioned in Shadows of Iceland. According to the Saga of Hilmar Pétursson, this clan was founded in the eleventh century by a demon that demanded they spread his faith. It is unclear what happened to the clan, but their symbol can still be found in the place of their founding.
Of course, since Shadows of Iceland was an "April Fools" product (Hilmar Pétursson being CEO of CCP/White Wolf) this may not be true in the mainstream World of Darkness.
Some (minor) speculation is that The Lost Iceland Clan may possibly be the origins of VII; though it is unlikely, it has made some interesting fanfics.
The Lost Cahokia Clan
A story hook in A Thousand Years of Night concerns the native vampires of Cahokia, in North America. Their souls bound to the land, they could not leave when their herd did, eventually falling on themselves in an orgy of diablerie, with the last survivor slumbering still under the Monks Mound.
Main article: Grettir
The book Shadows in the Dark: Mekhet suggests that the Norvegi bloodline it presents may have originated from a long lost clan called Grettir, which inhabited northern Europe and Scandinavia, with its greatest concentration in Norway. The main traits of the Grettir were that they rose from graves, suggesting a post-mortem Embrace. The clan became so inbred that they lost their fangs, however, and soon fell into obscurity, becoming part of the Mekhet clan.
There is some speculation that clan Grettir and the Lost Iceland clan may be referring to the same group.
Main article: Pijavica
Blood and Smoke: The Strix Chronicle tells of the Pijavica, a bizarre Slavic clan. When one of these Kindred Embraced, the victim would die, the extremities withering and the stomach bloating and blackening; left for long enough, the stomach would burst open, and a sentient mass of blood come crawling out. Given forty nights and sufficient blood, it would eventually develop into a near-human form. They are believed to have died out by
There has been some speculation late 19th century.
A Thousand Years of Night mentions a lost clan called the Uttuku, or the Children of Uttuku, who lived in the city-state of Ur in Mesopotamia, and slowly died out as Ur was swallowed by the desert and its inhabitants left. Some few, perhaps only one, may have survived to modern nights.
A lost Clan mentioned in Half Damned, the Lilitu were native to Mesopotamia. They pioneered Blood Sorcery, devising rituals to transform themselves into smoke and substain themselves on breath instead of blood.
Main article: Mikhaili
A dead Clan in Half Damned. Native to Siberia, the Mikhaili bred themselves out of existence during a conflict with the invading Gangrel. Traces within their vitae are still able to resurface in Revenants.
A Mesoamerican clan mentioned in Half Damned, wiped out after the conquistadores arrived. A Revenant dynasty claims to be a resurgence and seeks the sorcery to restore their blood to its rightful status.
There has been some speculation that they were the destroyed tyrant clan mentioned in the Ventrue section of the Shadows of Mexico. This is unconfirmed and others draw comparisons to the Xotoli (a Nosferatu like clan also wiped out).
Vampire: The Requiem Clans
Lost and Minor Clans: