Lambach Ruthven is one of the most curious characters of the World of Darkness. Sometimes described as an elder or methuselah of the Tzimisce clan, sometimes as a coward and a weakling, he took part in many great events of vampire history.
During the Anarch Revolt, he was part of the ritual that drew upon the power of Kupala to break the blood bonds that held the Tzimisce in their elders' thrall. In 1413, he witnessed the staked body of Lugoj, as the Tzimisce Antediluvian faked his own diablerie while posing as the leader of the Tzimisce Anarchs in order to take command of the rebellious younglings. On top of that, in 1495, he became the sire of the infamous Count Dracula, but survived to tell the tale as how his own sire Tabak met Final Death at the fangs of this new childe.
Lambach was a noble-born Tzimisce raised in Eastern Europe specifically to become undead, bred to wield power. Unfortunately, the side effect of controlled breeding creates spoiled childer with weak genes and weaker wills. Thus, Lambach never wielded his command with much confidence or courage. He was a rather indecisive vampire lord. He lived his life in fear of the inevitable Embrace and tried his best to avoid it. Because he spent so much time dreading the bite, he suffered greatly when his sire, Tabak, drained him of his blood. As a vampire, he became an anxiety-ridden, desperate, terrified bully.
An alternative origin in presented in a journal entry by Molly 8, chronicler for the Librarians pack of Montréal, about the Embrace of the methuselah Demdemeh. She states that Lambach was in fact Embraced by the Tzimisce Antediluvian himself. According to that entry, the Eldest has Embraced him because he saw Lambach as a survivor in the purest sense of the word, as attested by his presence in the modern nights. This source could be read as unreliable, as it is presented as an explicitly in-character account; however, another out-of-character account discusses the purpose of this character, saying that Eldest saw something in Lambach to consider him worthy of the Becoming. While most other sources agree that Lambach was privy to the location of the Tzimisce Eldest's resting place, most also agree on the point that Tabak was Lambach's sire.
|“||Lambach Ruthven is fairly righteous, but part of me thinks he's been smoking crack out of babies' asses. I got a look at his precious journal when he wasn't around, and there's some wild shit in there. He claims he saw Lugoj Blood-breaker commit Amaranth on the Eldest itself before the Antediluvian went ahead and pulled a fast one on him. That means that Lugoj, who's in torpor somewhere in the Carpathians, is actually Tzimisce now. All right, cool, whatever. Later, Lambach tells me the Eldest's a mutated fuckingpatch of out of control cannabis living beneath New York and spreading through the sewers like a weed. I know, to you this sounds like moist and runny shit, but you got to respect the fact that we can do some scary-ass stuff. Lambach's tale means one of two things. One - he took a big hit off that baby butt, or two - the legends our sire told us were true... What!? You know which one. I'm talking about where Tzimisce can manifest in any of us and turn us into it. If that's true, then there's at least two Tzimisce Antediluvians running around right now, and we're doubly screwed. What? What d'ya mean "Be a good lad"? What the fuck are you talking... Holy sh...||”|
|— Kaleel Bratovitch, Tzimisce kennel master, deceased.|
Bashtani Koudye of Tripoli believes that once Lambach had petitioned to the Voivode among Voivodes (Yorak at the time) for the right to Embrace Shaagra. Yorak denied Lambach's request and granted the honor to Triglav, the Three-Headed. Lambach would never forget that slight, and its repercussions would echo down history's corridor. Koudye does not name sources or documents that could support his claim.
Lambach inherited a large power base to administrate many loyal followers. His Tzimisce leaders demanded that he help fight the Tremere, fend off rampaging Anarchs, and control the ebb and flow of mortal power. Trouble then stirred in the Transylvanian highlands. The Anarchs seemed unstoppable, as they had just slain the Lasombra Antediluvian and were now attacking the Tzimisce in full force.
In 1413, Tabak called all his childer to defend him, escaping while they were destroyed in his place. However, the only survivor left was Lambach, who was overwhelmed and captured by the renegade forces. While the other childer were slain, the Anarchs curiously allowed him to live, demanding that he join them or die. Lambach agreed to convert and joined the Revolt.
The Anarch leaders, Lugoj and Velya, used Lambach's powerful blood to break the blood bonds of their Tzimisce brethren using Kupala's Sacred Fire-Flower. Through Lambach, they obtained knowledge of the Tzimisce Founder's resting place. Lambach guided Lugoj and his mob directly to Sernog Monastery, where the Eldest laid in torpor. A great fight broke out between the Tzimisce guardians and Lugoj's Anarchs, which resulted in the victory of the latter. They dispelled the magical protections and unearthed the ancient Tzimisce from torpor. Lugoj himself greedily consumed the Antediluvian's blood.
Lambach seemed surprised how easily the body of the "Antediluvian" crumbled to dust. He knew full well the power of the Tzimisce's ability to mold mortal clay, to disguise and disfigure themselves as well as others. He realized that Lugoj did not in fact consume the "real" Tzimisce Antediluvian. Rather, it was a decoy that was fleshcrafted to look like him.
After further analysis of the carnage, his advanced powers of perception allowed him to see through a veil of illusion where he discovered the real body of Lugoj impaled on a massive wooden hook. Lambach soon realized that during the raid on the cathedral, Lugoj was somehow subdued by the real Tzimisce Antediluvian, who had not been in torpor at all. The Antediluvian fleshcrafted into an impostor Lugoj, fooling everyone into thinking that Lugoj had diablerised the Eldest. Perhaps this was a tactic for survival since the Lasombra Antediluvian had been killed not too long before.
Not disclosing this secret, Lambach now worked for the Anarchs in the newly formed Sabbat. It is hinted that it was Lambach who spread the word about the slaying of the Eldest, though a person who knew him well would not give his words much credence. Lambach felt the orders from the top were similar to his old orders. Oddly, he regrets keeping this secret for so long and when he attempts to reveal it to others, he is scoffed at.
Embrace of Dracula
Even as a mortal, Vlad Țepeș was well aware of vampiric powers. Due to Lambach's incompetence, Vlad discovered a vampire neonate spy. He had the spy imprisoned in Castle Dracula, drinking his powerful blood to gain the inhuman strength of a ghoul.
When Tabak caught wind of this violation of vampiric power, he led a group of Tzimisce to depose the "Impaler Prince". On their way to the Castle, they were ambushed by Camarilla Justicars who captured Lambach and forced Tabak into torpor while killing the others. Before they could do anything with Lambach, the mortal Vlad Țepeș attacked, driving away the weakened Justicars just after their battle with Tabak.
At that point, Vlad forced Lambach to turn him into a vampire. Immediately thereafter, he diablerized the defenseless Tabak. Dracula, now having the power of the ancient, warned his sire never to challenge him, then turned Lambach loose.
As the Final Nights approached, he fought along the Sabbat during the Camarilla's attack on Sabbat-controlled New York City in 1999. As Archbishop Polonia gathered the Sabbat to his side in the Bronx, Lambach joined him; the pair of them alone wielded enough raw power to send two dozen Camarilla Kindred, including an Archon, to their Final Death. The Camarilla's siege was ultimately successful, driving the Sabbat out of the city and forcing both Lambach and Polonia into hiding.
After the attack, Lambach followed a loyal Zantosa slave into the sewers of Manhattan. The slave led him to an unlisted tunnel on the maps, traveling more than 2 kilometers underground. In the tunnel was a new form of the Tzimisce Antediluvian, who claimed to be protecting Lambach to ensure that he recorded its history. The Antediluvian merged with the Earth itself to begin its ascension, and wanted to absorb Lambach's body. Lambach refused it and fled, leaving an arm behind while escaping. The following days, he talked about it with other Tzimisce, but none believed him. Since then, Ruthven tries to forget by drinking only the vitae of drunks and drug addicts.
Lambach does not realize his true purpose to the Eldest: to act as his witness and chronicler, monitoring the Clan while the Eldest sleeps. The will of the Eldest protects Lambach from harm, lending him portions of his Antediluvian power to escape dangerous situations. Lambach will survive up to Gehenna and will be the last being on Earth to be united with the Antediluvian once it reaches Metamorphosis.
After the siege and his rampage, Lambach eventually retreated to the Cayman Islands and the estate of the mysterious Kindred known as Prospero. Lambach told Beckett of the form of the sleeping Antediluvian under New York and that it had left by now.
Lambach's sire and generation
Lambach is usually stated to be a vampire of the fifth generation and the childe of Tabak, although a few sources (one written in-character and another out-of-character) disagree on one or both points. Nights of Prophecy and Gehenna both claim him to be a grandchilde of Tzimisce; this is implicitly confirmed by Transylvania Chronicles II, in which Dracula, on lowering his generation to 5th via diablerie, is stated to have attained the same generation as his sire, Lambach.
An account in Clanbook: Tzimisce Revised states that he is the direct childe of the Eldest, who listened to the memoirs of the Antediluvian side by side with mighty Yorak – a statement that could imply that he was the true Lord Ruthven all along, though this reference could be considered unreliable as it is presented via in-character Noddist research. Calebros's account in New York by Night suggests that Lambach is "five or six steps removed from Caine" and that he is around a thousand years old, although Calebros' information on an elder of the Sabbat might well be inaccurate or at least incomplete.
Lair of the Hidden gives the lineage of Danika Ruthven as the childe of Damek Ruthven, childe of Ruthven, childe of the Eldest. Dark Ages Clan Novel: Tzimisce also has a character called Damek Ruthven, who is confirmed as the sire of Tabak Ruthven, which would mean that Tabak's generation would be 6th during the time of the Dark Ages setting (although he could have subsequently lowered it via diablerie). The presence of many Cainites with the surname of "Ruthven", combined with info from Children of the Inquisition claiming Lambach to be of noble birth, suggest that the unnamed Ruthven (the family patriarch) may be his predecessor and that he was a Revenant of the extinct Ruthvenski family. Children of the Inquisition also says that Lambach "lived his life in fear of the inevitable Embrace and tried his best to avoid it" and described him as weak (as both a mortal leader and as a vampire), therefore the description of his personality stands in stark contrast to that of the unnamed Ruthven, a childe of [Tzimisce] who would have great prestige. Lambach describes himself in a private letter to a deceased beloved from 24 December, 1997, both as weak and a coward, fearing both Țepeș and the Other, and focused mainly on being "a good lad" – an obvious reference to his compliance to the commands of the Tzimisce Antediluvian.
Encyclopaedia Vampirica lists Lambach as a vampire of the 7th generation, sired by Tabak, but it could be argued that the Encyclopaedia Vampirica is meant for use as an in-game reference since the authors are listed as actual characters in the World of Darkness and, as such, do not possess accurate information. Additionally, that book contains a number of other errors or discrepancies with other World of Darkness books which point to that conclusion.
In Beckett's Jyhad Diary, Dracula mentions that his sire is in Poenari Castle and apparently unable to leave. However, Lambach was clearly seen by numerous witnesses in New York City and later on the Cayman Islands in the company of Prospero. It is unknown if that means that Dracula's sire was someone else entirely (possibly the elder lord Ruthven), if a fleshcrafted puppet sits in Poenari, or if someone poses as Lambach and managed to fool even the one who presumes to be his childer. Lambach himself is noted in personal notes to speak of the Eldest as "great-grandfather", "grandfather", "father" and "ancestor", further complicating the issue.
The bulk of the evidence holds that Lambach is seen by the vampiric community as both the grandchilde and weak-willed pawn of the Eldest, although various sources indicate that his generation could range from 4th to 7th. However, some believe that he is in fact 4th generation, a childe of the Antediluvian and the grandsire of Tabak, and that he has been manipulating events, playing other Cainites for fools by trying to look naive and harmless, while being one of the true masterminds (or at least the major tool of the Eldest) behind the first Vaulderie, the Anarch Revolt, the foundation of the Sabbat, and the fake "diablerie" of the Eldest, and possibly even Yorak's demise at the Cathedral of Flesh.
There is the Clan Ruthven, a Lowland Scottish clan. The name comes from the Scottish Gaelic, Ruadhainn which means Dun uplands. Also, Lord Ruthven is a title in the peerage of Scotland from 1488, used until 1581 on the creation of Earl of Gowrie.
The name may be a reference to Lord Ruthven, a character from The Vampyr, one of the first vampires in English fiction. The character is an English lord who is considered a parody of Lord Byron, who was involved in the original creation of the story.