- 1 Overview
- 2 History
- 3 Organization
- 4 Clan Variants
- 5 Culture
- 6 Weaknesses
- 7 Gallery
- 8 References
The Degenerates are responsible for the legends of vampires who seduce and entice their prey with beauty, love and sensuality. Famous and infamous as a clan of artists and innovators, they are one of the bastions of the Camarilla, as their very survival depends on the facades of civility and grace on which the sect prides itself.
It is said that the Clan's founder, Arikel was a mortal painter or sculptress in the First City. Famed throughout the lands for her work, after her Embrace she painted a mural on which the past, present and future of Kindred society was depicted. When Caine saw a terrible future for his race, he cursed her with the affliction that affects Toreador today – the art that she loved most dearly would now be her obsession and distraction above all things.
The Toreador had a strong presence in the early minoic cultures of Greece. The Toreador attribute many of the classic tales as distorted versions of actual interference of mortals and Cainites (such as the tale of the Minotaur or the tale of Tantalus and Pelops). Their squabbling, however, weakened the first civilization of Mycenae, as childer drew their sustenance from the population, who in turn became too weak to defend themselves from foreign invaders. After the fall of Mycenae to the Dorians, the Toreador wandered across the Mediterranean, often seeking shelter by the Roman Ventrue or the Carthaginian Brujah.
At first, the Toreador supported both sides in their struggle, but when it became clear that Carthage would lose, many Toreador abandoned the city and joined the Roman forces, bringing with them tales of debauchery and infernalism that propelled the Ventrue to completely raze the city to the ground. The Toreador began to insinuate themselves into the city, often competing with the Ventrue and Malkavians. When Rome's glory began to fade, one of them, the Toreador Mi-ka-il, deserted Rome to follow Constantine into Nova Roma, to construct the Dream that had failed in Rome, much to the shock of many Toreador Elders. Constantinople remained a beacon of Cainite power and glory, until the city was sacked by the Fourth Crusade in 1204 and original Cainite population either had fled or was destroyed.
In the Middle Ages, the Toreador were a member of the High Clans, and their numbers were made up of the same types that are common in the modern nights – minstrels, painters, poets and actors. Many Toreador insinuated themselves into the structures of the Catholic Church, primarily because the Church was the only supporter of art in these dark times. The Courts of Love, which encompassed much of France, were firmly under their control and the Toreador.
Following the formation of the Camarilla thanks to the efforts of the Toreador Rafael de Corazón, some of the members left the Clan proper upon the formation of the Sabbat, most famously Arianne of Esztergom. Toreador antitribu are the dark reflection of their Camarilla cousins – while they are beautiful social butterflies, their weakness has twisted so that all antitribu derive joy from the emotional, physical and mental suffering of others.
The Renaissance is well remembered as a Golden Age of the Clan among the Elders. As one of the most powerful Clans within Europe, the Toreador prospered in France as Europe's cultural nexus, enjoying the works of various new artists as Michelangelo and DaVinci as well as the works of Shakespeare and the invention of the mirror. Many Toreador began to turn away from spiritually motivated preservationism to a self-serving hedonism that plagues them today.
The Toreador revelled in the Victorian age. The Industrial Revolution led to a phenomenon that only the rich had been previously afforded – leisure time. A heyday of theatre, music and art began in cultural nexuses like New York, London, and Paris and spread throughout the globe. While the influence of the Church in people's lives (and consequently, the influence Toreador held over the church) waned, those Kindred that latched themselves onto businessmen prospered. Possibly the one thing most Toreador love with the exception of beauty is money, and it was now accessible from places other than the landed gentry of the time. While the Clan has had peaks and troughs, this was a time that cemented them as a true power in the Camarilla.
The Toreador play their games as they always have, albeit at a slightly more frantic pace due to the upheaval of the various skirmishes the Camarilla have fought. The recent innovations of cinema, television and the internet means that new forms of art and expression are being discovered almost daily, meaning the Toreador have become even more varied.
However, the Toreador are still a noble and aristocratic clan, and many perceive the Embrace of graffiti artists, Wall Street Wizards and CGI technicians as a pollution of the vaunted ideals that the Clan used to stand for. Many nights are filled with one Toreador bickering with another over what can be considered true art, and each Toreador's opinion is as varied as the definition of art itself.
The Toreador have no formal overarching hierarchy. Ad-hoc gatherings called "affairs of the clan" are called, with no mandatory attendance though most turn out for them. These can range from parties, dinners, art showing, or actual meetings.
The Toreador of a city organise themselves into Guilds. While this has something of an artistic ring to it, most Toreador in the city are members, whether they are Poseurs or Artistes (see below). The head of the Guild is typically the oldest and most influential Toreador within the city, with the other members forming a complicated stratified social system, the rules of which boggle many an outsider.
The clan itself has two divisions. The Artistes consist of the sculptors, the painters, the musicians, and the writers. They consider themselves to be the "real" Toreador as inheritors of the Clan's original values and goals. The Poseurs make up the other faction – they can include the failed artists (or those that happened to be Embraced while their sire was riding a particular fad), as well as the professional critics and those who consider their bodies to be their life's masterpiece. It should be noticed that neither group has a nickname for themselves – they tend to be only flung at the opposing faction as a derisive epithet.
The Nephilim were part bloodline and part cult that revered the fallen methuselah Michael as an embodiment of the archangel of the same name. Since his death, which they refer to as his "ascension", they wait for someone who can inherit his divinity.
The line was founded by two surviving childer of Michael, Paul Bathalos and Pakourianis. The pair devised a rite that could purify other Toreador for their eventual deification, christening them childer of Michael in spirit, if not literally. These Nephilim were infused with a longing for the departed methuselah that even superseded their Clan Curse and resulted in the development of the Path of the Archangel.
The Nephilim performed a rite wherein the blood of the elders was fed to the initiates, rendering them more beautiful than before. This expanded the membership to those of other clans, especially the Nosferatu.
Since none of them survived the Dark Ages, it can be assumed that they went extinct.
The Islamic Toreadors are the Ray'een al-Fen, commonly nicknamed as Scribes, as the majority favor calligraphers, writers and architects. They are centered in Egypt and Persia, in the best parts of the city, decorating their havens with calligraphy, usually verses from the Qur'an. For this reason, the Scribes encouraged education in the holy scriptures, to allow mortals to better understand the calligraphic arts before them.
The bay't faces a schisms between its elders and neonates. While the Elders seek to preserve every form of art, including idols of lost religions and representative arts, the younger Scribes see this as an affront against Allah and are usually ready to use violence to remove them.
The Toreador antitribu are the dark mirror image of their Camarilla brethren. Although they are no less beautiful than their cousins, their minds are twisted and warped, and the antitribu often lose themselves watching others suffer, much like their Camarilla siblings lose themselves watching a beautiful painting.
Whether the variance of the antitribu weakness is just a variance due to circumstance or an actual Bloodline variance is disputed. Within the Toreador antitribu is an actual variant bloodline though: Toreador who as mortals were members of the Sabbat's Zantosa "revenant" family. Zantosa are born with the Vicissitude ability, and when Embraced as a Toreador they retain this as a Bloodline Discipline instead of acquiring the Celerity of mainline Toreador, and they retain their familial weakness of hedonistic addiction instead of acquiring the Toreador antitribu weakness of compulsion toward cruelty. The reputation of Toreador antitribu as being perverts is due in part to Zantosa Toreador.
In 2nd Edition, the Sabbat Toreador had a similar weakness to those in the Camarilla (although the Sabbat members could also find beauty in great ugliness). Revised edition changed this to forcing Toreador antitribu to make a Willpower check when confronted with an opportunity to cause pain to somebody.
|“||Art is the truth. Life is the lie.||”|
|— Baron Philippe Vollgirre|
A secret lineage of Toreador antitribu, the darkly beautiful Volgirre were experts in the blackest pursuits of art, employing Vicissitude to produce twisted and horrific works of repugnant beauty.
As part of a secret agreement, the Volgirre have recently been allowed to reintegrate into the Camarilla Toreador, having defected from the Sabbat. The jaded main body of the Toreador Clan got centuries' worth of darker arts to enjoy as well as access to a Discipline uncommon among the Camarilla, while the Volgirre received false names and lineages to conceal their true origins from the other Camarilla clans.
The Volgirre have the same Clan Disciplines as the main Toreador Clan, but may purchase the first two dots of Vicissitude without requiring a teacher, at out-of-clan Discipline costs.
The word "Toreador", meaning "bullfighter", was invented by Georges Bizet for his opera Carmen when he decided that the Spanish "Torero" had too few syllables to fit the song in which it is sung. The eponymous Carmen is best known for her desire to be admired and for her ability to manipulate the other characters in the opera. This is reflected in the lore of the Toreador which paints them as master manipulators, and the association with Bizets' opera is hinted at in both their love of art and the symbol of the rose.
It is said that while the Ventrue are the mind of the Camarilla, the Toreador are its soul. It was one of their number, Rafael de Corazón, who was instrumental in its formation. The Toreador are the greatest supporters of many of the Camarilla's traditions, most notably that of Elysium. This is where the Toreador are in their element, showcasing their latest pieces and practicing their highly effective (and sometimes deadly) form of social maneuvering. From the outside, most other Clans think of one face of the Toreador, but see another. When speaking of them to another, most envision Toreador as the Artistes – billowy shirted, frock-coated fops who crow about the beauty of the ages and lamenting their lost humanity. In reality, outsiders are less likely to meet such characters, given as they are to sequestering themselves away to work on their latest masterpiece. Far more often encountered are those Toreador whose unlives have become dedicated to the Kindred social scene – Toreador are often a large contingent of the city's Harpies, and having spent years with their bitchy and conniving clanmates they are more than capable of ruining someone's reputation with a pithy comeback or a damning piece of gossip whispered in just the right ear.
The Toreador portray themselves as the vampires closest to the living, breathing pulse of the humans around them (though this honor might be shared with the Brujah). They claim that this is what keeps them so vital and modern. Indeed, Clan members are often the first ones to be aware of what mortals are wearing, eating, buying and sleeping with. While a Malkavian elder might be found in his 1800s finery, the Toreador is much more likely to be wearing something from this year's Paris catwalks. Many Toreador are fond of having mortal "families" or assuming mortal identities, in order to capture the breath of life that is denied to them. The constant pressure that the proximity to mortals can elicit, however, can cause a Toreador to break down, losing all of their creativity and motivation in the process, resulting in a debauched individual that desperately searches for the next kick to experience the feeling of being mortal again, eventually turning to mortal vices like drugs in order to feel just this one aspect. The older a Toreador gets and the more mortal associates he has watched die, the more likely a "burnout" is to occur. Other vampires have to deal with it, too, but no Clan suffers so uniformly under this aspect of their existence than the Toreador.
Art is the cornerstone of the Clan, defining its Clan curse and shaping the preferences of every Toreador. The Toreador are not artists by choice as much by nature, as each Toreador desperately searches for something that anchors their passion and preserves it from withering from the ages. The desire to preserve art and artists is – more often than not – the impetus for an Embrace. As such, many Toreador struggle when they discover that the talent that originally brought them into the Clan is falling out of favour or that their creativity has suffered under the weight of ages. The relativity of art is one of the major conflict points within the Clan, especially between elders and neonates, Elders refuse to think of modern developments (like dubstep or Dadaism) as "art forms", while neonates are often frustrated over the conformity of art that the Elders seem to espouse.
Common accepted forms of art can be everything within the Clan, as long as it is prestigious (cooking, for example, is not a widely spread form of art among the Clan, mainly due the vampiric inability to actually consume the food). Painting and sculpting are the most iconic, but the Toreador have also a fair share of poets, artisans, dancers, actors, musicians, and even warriors and martial artists. Revenge (also called "justice" by neonates with morals) and intrigue are also considered as art forms and many elder Toreador commit themselves fully to this, having found ways to utterly crush their rivals and driving them to suicide without even lifting a hand.
As stated before, there are two rough moulds that clan members fall into. Artists make up a large proportion of the clan, which in the modern nights can include computer graphics artists, avant-garde performance artists, and sportsmen alongside the singers, dancers, and writers. The other portion consists of businessmen, critics, and those who are simply beautiful. While the main detractors of the clan, often the Nosferatu and the Brujah complain that Toreador coddle their childer, the truth is a much more brutal one. Toreador sires are notoriously capricious, and while the subject of their Embrace can be the most cutting edge, the most innovative, the most beautiful, the most now, they can easily be terribly passe and embarrassing the following week. The sire then inevitably dumps the new childe as soon as is feasible, leaving the young vampire confused and struggling to make their own way. Such is the nature of the Toreador.
Due to their inherent clan weakness, the members of this clan are as much prisoners of their artistic vision and sensitivity as they are its beneficiaries. They are often overcome by the beauty they see around them and can become immobilized with fascination. Such things as paintings, neon signs, or even sunrises can captivate them. It requires a successful Willpower roll to break the fascination quickly; otherwise, the Toreador will stand, awed and helpless, for minutes or even hours. This trait explains why Toreador so often fall in love with mortals and other vampires. This trait, however, also bans them from ever reaching perfection in their chosen form of art and makes them callous and disregardful once the experience becomes banal, resulting in trails of heart-broken mortals and discarded projects behind every Toreador.
Aesthetic Fixation: The Toreador exemplify the old saying that art in the blood takes strange forms. They desire beauty so intensely that they suffer in its absence. While your character finds themselves in less than beautiful surroundings, lose the equivalent of their Bane Severity in dice from dice pools to use Disciplines.
Obsession: enraptured by beauty, the vampire becomes temporarily obsessed with a singular gorgeous thing, able to think of nothing else. Pick one feature, such as a person, a song, an artwork, blood spatter, or even a sunrise. Enraptured, the vampire can hardly take their attention from it, and if spoken to, they only talk about that subject. Any other actions receive a two-dice penalty. This Compulsion lasts until they can no longer perceive the beloved object or the scene ends.
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