The Ravnos Antediluvian is the fabled progenitor of the vampiric clan Ravnos. Its nature is shrouded in lies and half-truths, perhaps even more so than most of the Antediluvians – the Ravnos are known for being tricksters and liars, and there is certainly a measure of truth to that stereotype. On the other hand, they might argue that the real value of storytelling comes from the lessons learned and impressions made rather than preserving the facts of a time long past. Either way, there are widely different portrayals of the clan's founder and almost no stories of him since recorded history. Whatever the true story might be, the Eldest Ravnos is believed to have risen in India in 1999 CE during the Week of Nightmares and to have been slain by a mighty conflagration of supernatural factions.
|“||A vaguely human figure staggered toward Tieh Ju through the rain. She guessed it might be male but could not be sure. Flakes of black ash covered the remains of its naked, shriveled body. One arm hung as a stump of tattered meat. Hallucinations of pain radiated from it, like the vibrating, inner light of migraine. It had survived the wrath of three Bodhisattvas and a bath of nuclear fire. Tieh Ju knew that, even weakened as it was, she could not fight it. If she tried, it would replenish its strength on her chi.
Although the thing had no eyes, only sockets oozing black blood, it turned to face the pair. Its fanged jaws worked, and it rasped out, "Blood. Feed. Hunger." It spoke Sanskrit, the ancient tongue of India.
|— Time of Thin Blood (appendix)|
There are several stories concerning the origin of the Ravnos. The first, detailed in Clanbook: Ravnos, speaks of the Rom as outcasts of the First City and of [Ravnos] as the favored childe of Caine. This would imply that the Ravnos clan founder was actually a member of the Second Generation. There are some notable problems with this story, however, namely that the Romani did not exist as a culture so long ago and that if [Ravnos] was killed in the Second City, as the tale attests, then he certainly was not the one to have risen in the Week of Nightmares.
The second account for the origin of the Ravnos is described in Clanbook: Ravnos Revised and diverges almost entirely from Noddist lore. It parallels the change of emphasis from the Ravnos as Romani Cainites to creatures of Indian legend. In it, the Ravnos are the descendants of Zapathasura, a monster created by the gods to hunt their fallen servants.
There is another story in Clanbook: Ravnos Revised which coincides with traditional vampire history more closely. In it, a man named Dracian attempts to steal from the haven of Irad and is in turn Embraced by Irad in an attempt to use the thief as a spy against the other members of the Third Generation. Dracian joined in the plot of his cousins, however, and led the assault against his sire. This tale seems to imply that the revolt against the Second Generation occurred in the First City, when it is almost always said to have occurred in the Second City. Furthermore, it directly says that Dracian became the first Ravnos at the same time the gods of India created Zapathasura as the first Ravnos.
The Tale of Ravnos
The history of the Rom begins as wanderers and outcasts of the Enoch, the First City. One family of these Romani was known as the Powara and were kinfolk of the descendants of Sarrath, werewolves that would later be known as the Silent Striders. One night during their travels, the youngest daughter of the Powara's leader, Laetshi, invited a stranger to camp with them. The man introduced himself as Caine, though he would be called Kaen in the Powara tongue. After sharing with the Romani tales of the fall of the First City and his curse to never walk among the children of Eve, Kaen was surprised to be invited by the Powara to travel alongside them for as long as he liked, provided he did not feed from among them. The Lupines that had long lived alongside the Powara refused to welcome Kaen amongst them, but for the time being they tolerated his presence.
During the months that Kaen walked with the Powara, he came to be loved by them, particularly by their leader's son, an adolescent boy named Ravnos who was filled with the passions and dreams of youth. When his father was killed by wandering vampires, Ravnos pleaded with Kaen to give his father eternal life, but upon realizing that was not possible, Ravnos instead accepted the Embrace himself. But when the werewolves realized what had happened to Ravnos, they fell into a rage and advanced against Kaen and his new childe. Bloodshed was avoided only by the intervention of Laetshi, who shared with everyone her visions of the future where Ravnos and his descendants would protect the Rom from other vampires that would otherwise drain them of their blood and souls. It was the destiny of the Ravnos to watch over their family among the living. Moved by her words, the lupines departed, though swearing curses upon Kaen and Ravnos. Kaen, for his part, realized that his time among the Rom was over, but taught Ravnos the powers of Animalism and Fortitude before departing. Ravnos is said to have later developed the signature Discipline of his clan, Chimerstry, himself with the help of his sister.
The story continues to speak of the meeting of Ravnos and Ennoia, who would eventually betray him and bring about his death. Guided by Ravnos and his childer, the Rom eventually came to the Second City and made camp outside its walls. There Ravnos witnessed the vampire Ennoia being banished from the city, and he pitied her as one outcast for another. He welcomed Ennoia among his family, and over time they become close friends as they shared tales of their journeys, and then lovers as they made daring raids together to steal and beguile the Cainites of the Second City. But Ennoia grew bored of their time together, and endeavored to supplant him as leader of the Romani by handing Ravnos over to the leaders of the Second City. When Ravnos and Ennoia did not return from a foray into the city, Laetshi used her Sight to find them and witnessed the destruction of her brother as he was left tied atop the city's high temple to meet the sun's morning light. Furious with rage, Laetshi summoned her kin among the childer of Ravnos and the descendants of Sarrath so that they might subdue Ennoia. When Ennoia returned to the Romani camps, she was captured, and the Rom gathered to pass judgment upon her. According to the tale it was Kaen who would hand out punishment, however, joining the Rom's gathering to condemn the betrayer of his favorite son. Cursing Ennoia as a beast, Kaen placed upon her what would become the clan curse of all Gangrel. Condemned, Ennoia fled, but in her descendants a feud would continue to be waged between the Ravnos and Gangrel.
The Tale of Zapathasura
The birth of the Ravnos, and perhaps all vampires, is recorded in an epic poem called the Karavalanisha Vrana, translated as Wounds of the Night's Sword. The god's appointed protectors of humanity, the siddhittizaya, had been corrupted by the demons they were charged to fight and had taken to devouring the flesh, blood, and souls of mortals. Outraged, the gods cursed them, naming them asuratizayya or "countless demons" and declaring that from now on they would only find sustenance in devouring flesh and blood. This only encouraged the asuratizayya, however, who embraced their sins and gorged on humanity. Dismayed by this turn of events, the gods agreed to create a foe that would make the asuratizayya know true terror and curtail their gluttony. To that end, the gods took the soul of the man most grievously wronged by the asuratizayya and gave him new life, making him a monster so that he and his descendants might hunt the asuratizayya. Though many of the gods bestowed him with great gifts to further his cause, not all of them agreed to creating another dark force in the world. Three placed curses upon the man so that he should fear falling into temptation as the siddhittizaya had, and so the man would forever be threatened by the touch of fire and sunlight, and would also know an eternity of physical and spiritual hunger just as the creatures he hunted. Named Zapathasura, or "accused demon", he was then sent out to drive the infernal hordes from the world.
In the centuries that followed Zapathasura supposedly Embraced five others: Black Mother, Rakshasa, Chandraputra, Ravana, and Ramessu. Each had their own gifts and specialties, but it was only Chandraputra who remained loyal to his father's war, while Ravana was said to bargain with true demons for power even greater than Zapathasura before disappearing. From each of these childer various lines of Ravnos spread across the world, many of whom ruled over the mortals while fighting against the asuratizayya. This war came to a climax in an apocalyptic battle, resulting in the death of both mortal armies, but with Chandraputra vanquishing the ruler of the asuratizayya. After this horrific battle, many of the Ravnos grew weary of the conflict, believing both that it did not concern them and that its excesses would draw the wrath of the gods. All of Zapathasura's childer deserted him save Chandraputra, who was left to lead the clan in India when his sire fell into a deep torpor.
The Tale of the Twin Gods
According to Gangrel myth, thousands of years ago there was a god who had many children and his children fought as children are expected to do. Ennoia and Churka, the youngest and a pair of twins, chose to leave their quarrelsome siblings and travel east to the lands of their mother.
Unable to escape their quarrelsome nature and without a father to control them, the twins came to blows. Evenly and perfectly matched, they could not face each other directly with a definite victor. And so the twins began to recruit armies – Ennoia recruited an army of the bravest warriors, and Churka, the most cunning.
They battled at night, so that the other gods would not learn of their feud. These two armies fought for centuries but at some point, when it was believed Ennoia's army would finally have victory, she was betrayed by her two best warriors, Laibon and Lhiannan. Without two of her generals, however, the battle tilted in the favor of Churka's army.
Saddened by this betrayal, Ennoia left her childer and disappeared. Soon, without the support of their progenitor, and battling Churka's get – who were aided by the demonic Giants of the East that served him – Ennoia's army was eventually defeated and pushed out of their lands in the east.
From that night on they called themselves the Gangrel, and traveled West, meeting their other Cainite cousins. Even today, some Gangrel believe that when Churka and his army are destroyed and the betrayers punished, Ennoia would finally come back to her children.
As different as the tale of Zapathasura is from the normal account of the origin of vampires it is not impossible to reconcile the two. Zapathasura may be a Third Generation vampire wrapped in an elaborate myth created by [Ravnos] thousands of years later in order to justify their existence. He may be a direct descendent of Caine, in which case there have been numerous Third Generation Ravnos. Perhaps unlikely, but it would explain why one of Zapathasura's childer, Ravana, is often named as the Ravnos Antediluvian.
Either way, the story of Zapathasura is often preferred over any other, even though the names Ravnos and Ravana are repeatedly used to refer to the clan's founder. Perhaps more than one tale is correct, for the creator of Chimerstry may have changed reality to reinforce any tale he desired. If such a thing were possible, the Ravnos Antediluvian may have survived the Week of Nightmares, having used his power to make the world think he had died. Such ideas go beyond canon, however, which simply states that the Ravnos Antediluvian is dead, whomever he was.