- Not to be confused with Seth, the fourth mortal
Set, also known as Sutekh, is a powerful Antediluvian vampire and worshiper of Apep the Destroyer. He was embraced by one of Caine's childer, believed to be about two millennia prior to the first pharaonic dynasty, which began around 3000 BC. He became the Typhon of an ancient cult, originally known as the Snake Clan. They are the Followers of Set who are trained in the discipline of Serpentis. This cult's main enemy are the Children of Osiris, whom they have battled for millennia. After Set's last battle with Osiris, in 33 BCE, he disappeared, perhaps in torpor somewhere under the desert sands of Egypt.
Set was born in Egypt, on the Nile River, nearly 7,000 years ago. He was a great hunter and warrior whose only rival was his elder brother, Osiris. They were the grandchildren of Ra, a mighty chieftain who had conquered the people of the Nile, thus uniting Upper and Lower Egypt.
The death of Set's parents, Geb and Nut, was ordered by Ra who felt that they had betrayed him for having additional offspring. Ra felt threatened by royal bloodlines and commanded that they must not bear children. Set was anguished by the order of his parent's deaths, and his voice in the matter subjected him to banishment. Osiris, on the other hand, possibly out of fear, expressed loyalty to Ra and became heir to the throne.
After the death of Ra, Osiris took control of the kingdom, deified his grandfather and promoted his worship as a god. Set returned to his brother Osiris, in hopes of reconciling; however, his reigning brother continued the order of banishment. Thereafter, Set took the name "Sutekh" and travelled north to Assyria. During his journey, he encountered his sire, who is thought to be Zillah. The Gangrel claim that Set met Ennoia, who challenged him to a riddle contest. Set lost, and Ennoia tore him apart, devoured his entrails and filled him with her blood. When Set reawakened, he was delirious, believed himself to be a deity and became enamoured of reptiles and similar vermin. Needless to say, the Setites regard this as slander at best and blasphemy at worst.
According to the Malkavians, Set was a "brother", more likely a Kindred brother, to Malkav and Saulot. In these tales, Malkav and Set have an argument over the nature of Truth; with Set's position that all truth was already known within the soul, but had yet to be understood by the senses and that the best way to come to this understanding was the breaking of inner barriers, with the Embrace as the final of these revelations. Set was presumably in Enoch at some point and then took residence in the Second City after the Great Deluge. The Ventrue say that he was banished from the Second City, by Malkav, for eating the heart of his twin sister, Arikel.
As the legend continues, Set returned to Egypt and struck down King Osiris and his son Horus. Taking Egypt as his own, Set ruled in power – and perhaps (or perhaps not) sought to free mankind from the bonds of law imposed by Ra. Whatever the truth may be, Horus came back from death as a Mummy and sought vengeance for his father's destruction, ejecting Set from the throne of Egypt and beginning a crusade that would last millennia.
Set the God
Set the Revelator
According to this tale, eventually the sun-god Ra grew old and decided to retire. He chose his great-grandson Osiris as his heir and successor. But that did not sit well with Osiris’ brother, Set, for he was the mightiest warrior among the gods who guarded the sun-barque of Ra every night as it passed under the Earth from the gates of sunset to the gates of dawn, battling Apophis, the Great Serpent of Darkness. The succession of Ra brought great strife among his descendents. Set’s jealousy and wounded pride drove him to murder his brother through trickery. He hacked his brother’s body to bits and scattered them about Egypt. Patiently, Isis gathered the fragments, reassembled the body of Osiris and used her magic to conceive a child by her dead husband.
When their child Horus grew to manhood, he challenged Set for the kingship of the gods. Some legends speak of mighty battles between gods and armies. Other tales describe their strife as a farcical court case, full of low tricks and silly contests. One way or another, Horus prevailed. Horus lost an eye in their strife; in revenge, he castrated Set. Osiris, meanwhile, became King of the Dead just as his son became King of the Living; and the Pharaonic dynasties henceforth claimed to rule by descent from Horus the Avenger. As compensation, Ra gave Set two foreign goddesses as concubines and made him god of storms.
In another version of this tale Ra is depicted as a malevolent tyrant. It is said the “First City”, was called Annu, and it was the city of Ra. The story goes much like the version mentioned above, but it has a radically different ending. According to this version, after the triumph of Horus, Ra turned on his defender and cursed Set to live in darkness forever. Then the gods thrust Set into Duat, the dark Underworld of the dead, and the river of death whose waters come from the Primeval Ocean itself, where Set fought the great serpent Apophis once more. He slew the Worm of Darkness and ate its heart. With Apep’s death Set took on Apep’s dark wisdom and learned secrets hidden from the beginning of the world.
When Ra had created the world, he gave it life through his own semen, creating gods and the souls of human beings alike. Souls differed in size but not in kind. Jealous Ra lied to all his children. He told them that he was mightiest of all things, creator of the universe, when he merely shaped a tiny portion of the Primeval Waters. Now, however, Set knew the truth: all souls could grow as mighty as their tyrant father and become creators themselves. Set swore to overthrow Ra – not to get revenge, but to liberate the souls of humanity that Ra held in bondage.
It so happens that the Primeval Waters carry life as well as death, and every year, the gates of the world open to let the Primeval Waters bring new life through the yearly inundation of the Nile. Set disguised himself as a water-serpent and slipped through the gates with the rushing waters. Despite the power gained from Apep, Set still had to hide from the sun; he could not break the curse of Ra. Nor did he truly live, for he had tasted the waters of death.
As he walked the night, however, he recruited twelve talented disciples. He taught them the truth, and together they swore an oath to bring down Ra and the other false gods and become gods themselves. Set mingled his blood with that of his Disciples and when they drank of it, he gave up the greater share of his power, granting all thirteen almost equal might (although, as a true god, he remained the most powerful).
But when Ra learned from the Moon that Set had defeated Apophis and escaped the Underworld, he extended his curse to the twelve human disciples with whom Set had shared blood, decreeing that all who joined Set’s rebellion against the gods would share his banishment from the Sun and his castration, and that having sealed their pact in blood the thirteen would feed on blood alone.
Set's disciples begged for mercy, claiming Set had misled them, thus betraying Set and his teachings. Their betrayal outraged Set (he always did have a short temper), and he swore that if they would not help him fight the gods, after all he had given them, he would destroy them as well, though it take him a million years!
Set the Betrayed
Another story of Set is that he was once the protector of Ra against the chaos serpent Apep. Prideful of his elevated role, he mocked the other gods for their weakness. Doing so earned him the wrath of his brother Osiris, who plotted to embarrass Set before Ra by allowing Apep to best him. He tricked his brother into drinking a potion that would dull his wits and hid himself on Ra's barque.
When Apep rose, Osiris, seeing that his brother moved clumsily, lunged forward to defeat the serpent himself, but was knocked unconscious by Apep's tail. Then Set had to watch helplessly as the serpent's fangs bore into his chest. Not willing to let himself be defeated, he held Apep's head against his chest with all his might, driving the poisonous fangs even deeper into himself. At last, on the verge of suffocation, Apep thrashed mightily and escaped back into the river of the underworld, not to return until the next night. But Set had been infected by the chaos of the underworld. In his efforts to strangle Apep, he had driven the serpent’s fangs, which were the length of a man’s hand, into his own heart, which is where the serpent’s venom took root.
Set was now a cursed figure, alive but marked by the realm of the dead. Unable to withstand the rays of the sun, he was now forced to prey upon Ra's most treasured creations, mankind. It was there and then that Set swore vengeance upon his brother, vowing that he would repay Osiris in pain for everything that had been taken from him.
Set the Accursed
Other myths speak of Set as one of "the Great Nine" (a reference to the Ennead of Heliopolis), mighty beings that ruled over a city in Egypt. Set was curious and asked himself what might lie outside their borders and ventured there. He witnessed entities that were only known as "the Strangers", who sought to intrude into reality to become real themselves. Set found that he could not enter their realm without becoming unmade. When he came to warn the other eight, they laughed at him and did not heed his warnings. Set instead traveled and found another city, ruled over by a king named the Defiant One. The Defiant One told Set that he had defiled the world, and in doing so, chained it to his being, so that he might repent. But if he would repent, the world would end. Set saw the strength of the Defiant One and the burden he bore, and offered him to share it to protect the world from "the Strangers". In response, the Defiant One summoned Apep, the hatred of the world, who infused Set with blood and black earth that changed him. With the Defiant Ones power, Set ventured beyond the world and fought the Strangers, while his progeny continue to defile and profane the world to preserve the world's hate against Set to allow him to continue his duties.
After a brief awakening shortly after the Crucifixion in 33 AD, Set disappeared from view and has not been seen in the modern era. He left his childer nothing but several vague prophecies that concerned his eventual return.
Despite this, a Ventrue named Nasch came upon a cult known as the Coil of the Lion that allegedly harboured the torpid body of the Antediluvian in the 14th century. When Nasch opened the sarcophagus that held the body, the last thing he heard was the sound of a thousand serpents rending the air with their unearthly hissing as the chamber around him vanished into blackness. He found himself standing upon a dais in a vast, open temple situated on an otherwise empty expanse of desert that stretched into infinity. Before him lay the body of a man with the head of an unspeakable beast, no sarcophagus in sight, naked but for a simple loincloth. Nasch managed to drink from the torpid creature, but the experience overwhelmed him and sent him to Torpor for more than a decade. In contrast, the Cappadocian Lazarus claims that Set is indeed dead and has been shattered into infinity.
In the Final Nights, however, many signs and portents seem to indicate the impending rebirth of Set and/or his most powerful childer. The opening fiction of Time of Judgement: Gehenna revolves around one such event, and Set himself is involved in most of the Gehenna scenarios in varying degrees.
While not every Setite accepts Set as a literal god, Serpentis offers various transformative ways of presenting oneself as one. Many of these aspects reflect theological interpretations of Set, both mortal and vampiric. Since Set's history in the Egyptian pantheon experienced gradual shifts over the course of several millennia, there is a multitude of aspects to revere. Each Temple holds one particular aspect of Set above others, in most cases represented through a childe of Set that exemplifies this aspect.
- The King, which sees Set as the patron and god-king of Upper Egypt
- The Warrior, the protector of Re against the chaos-serpent Apophis
- The Ruler of the Desert, the master of serpents, scorpions and similar vermin
- The Master of Storms, the Lord of Storms and the desert winds
- The Master of Duat, the rightful master of the netherworld who strives to recreate the original peaceful state of the Underworld
- The Lord of All Outside Egypt, an aspect in which Set represents the fear of foreigners and foreign domination
- The Triumphant, Set as kinslayer who defeats and ceremonially dismembers his corrupt brother Osiris
- The Typhon, an aspect which sees Set as a cultist of Apophis and a harbinger of corruption and malady, who seeks to plunge the world in eternal darkness
Other gods that are identified with Set by the Clan (sometimes against the wishes of the cults themselves) are the quatrain of Pluto, Mars, Dionysos and Typhon (sometimes syncretized with Hermes Trismegistus to Typhon Trisgemistus) in certain mediterranean cults; the triad of Shiva, Rudra and Vritra in India; Jörmungandr and Loki in Scandinavia; El Cristo Negro in the Caribbean, and several others, including Dis, Nergal, and Damballah, to name a few.
- Circa 5000 BCE. Set is embraced by Zillah (presumably) and then embraces Nakhthorheb, Nephthys, Wadjet, and possibly Sobek
- 3100 BCE. The Week of the Midnight Sun occurs and the Scorpion King is killed
- Circa 1700 BCE. Setites ally with the Lasombra to encourage the Hyksos takeover of Egypt in the 15th dynasty
- Circa 1500 BCE. Set leads Setite sorcerers in assisting in the defeat of Nergal at Knossos during the Second Baali War, which ends with the eruption of Thera
- 1300 BCE. Set embraces Kemintiri
- 1032 BCE. Set embraces Nefertiti
- 33AD. Set briefly awakens and makes roughly 300 prophesies before returning to slumber, awakens for a brief time, covering the noonday sun in darkness. He is restless for three to seven nights, giving commandments and prophecies to his childer across the world, including telling them he will return in the future. The night after his voice falls silent, members of the Council of Tanis visit his hidden tomb and find his sarcophagus shattered, seemingly from the inside. Set is not heard from again.
- See also Enosch Sarcophagus
- Set is said to have been a mortal 7,000 years ago from the context that the Tale of Set is being told in the Final Nights
- - "The Tale of the First City"
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- VTM: The Kindred Most Wanted, p. 87-91
- Second Generation, and the reference is in the female context. Note: Set's Sire is said to be of the
- VTM: Clanbook: Followers of Set Revised, p. 12-14
- VTM: Time of Judgement: Gehenna
- VTM: Time of Judgement: Gehenna, p. 176