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Vampires have existed in literature, folklore and mythology in numerous cultures around the world for hundreds, even thousands of years. Often the literature that exists about vampires will differ, or even conflict, when describing the nature of what a vampire is and how they interact with the world. The following section attempts to answer some of the questions that new players might have about what it means to be a vampire.

Perhaps the most important thing to understand is that all vampires have personalities. Just like humans, they have wants, desires, goals and needs. Although there are some vampires in existence that care for nothing other than killing, destroying and drinking the blood of humans, these vampires tend to live short and bloody unlives. The vast majority of vampires while away their immortality in search of a myriad of pursuits.

Vampires are supernatural creatures, however. They are the living dead; walking corpses that haunt the nights of the world and drink the blood of humans. A vampire's supernatural nature allows it many advantages, and also comes with certain disadvantages. Vampires are capable of using supernatural powers, called Disciplines. Vampires also frequently have greater physical and mental prowess than an average human. Vampires are also immune to disease and poisons, cannot be killed by normal weapons such as guns and knives, they never age and, if careful, they can live forever. Even should a vampire sustain massive damage, the vampire will not necessarily die, but will instead enter a death-like trance, known as Torpor, from which the vampire will recover, completely healed, within one month's time.

Unfortunately, being a vampire also has some unusual side effects. Vampires suffer from a never-ending and all-consuming lust for blood, known as the Hunger. Vampires are predators, who stalk and sometimes kill their victims. A Beast lives within all vampires and that Beast occaisionally takes control of the vampire, causing them to Frenzy and sometimes commit horrible acts. Fire and sunlight can destroy a vampire completely, and a wooden stake driven through the heart of a vampire will render the vampire completely powerless.

Vampires, or Kindred as they often refer to themselves in modern days, come in many different distinctions; by clan, by generation, by sect, by age and by power. The most significant distinction is that of Clan. All vampires are the Children of Caine, but there are only thirteen lines of blood that can trace their lineage directly back to Caine. Each of these bloodlines represents one of the Vampiric Clans.

Clan

Each of the thirteen Clans of Kindred, is easily distinguished by the nature of their blood, their temperament and their disciplines. The thirteen Clans are the Assamites, the Brujah, the Gangrel, the Giovanni, the Lasombra, the Malkavians, the Nosferatu, the Ravnos, the Setites, the Toreador, the Tremere, the Tzimisce and the Ventrue. In addition to these are those unfortunate kindred that do not know their lineage or whose blood is too weak to determine their lineage, they are known as the Caitiff. Finally, there is the bloodline known as the Gargoyles. These kindred are rumored to be the result of magical experiments performed by the Tremere in which the blood of the Gangrel, the Nosferatu and the Tzimisce were horribly mixed, resulting in these misshappen beasts.

Generation

Generation represents how closely related a vampire is to Caine, the first vampire. It is commonly held in Kindred Lore that Caine sired three Childer, they were the 2nd generation. They in turn sired thirteen Childer, the 3rd generation, or the Antediluvians as they are called. Each Antediluvian is rumored to be the founder of one of the thirteen Vampiric Clans.

The closer that a vampire is to Caine, the greater his power. The weakest generation is the 13th generation of whom there are literally thousands, perhaps even tens of thousands. It is rumored that even thinner blood may be possible and that 14th and even 15th generation vampires may exist, but there is no strong research, interest or evidence for the case. Vampires of the 13th generation are little more powerful than humans when they are first Embraced, although they can grow to incredible heights of power.

Sect

There are two dominant Sects of Kindred, the Camarilla and the Sabbat. Each of the two Sects has its own political and moral agenda, and the two Sects frequently war against each other. Additionally, there are several Independent Clans and, increasingly in modern times, those Kindred that claim no affiliation at all and name themselves Anarchs.

Age

Finally, age and power commonly, though not always, go hand in hand. The eldest of the Kindred are the Antediluvians, those of 3rd generation. Although Kindred Lore states that there were thirteen Antediluvians originally, several are thought to have perished over time. Those who have survived have age and power beyond measure. Methuselahs are those Kindred that are 4th, 5th and 6th generation, their age typically stretches thousands of years and their power is enough to make the very stones tremble when they are enraged. Elders are Kindred who have lived for hundreds of years and their generation typically ranges from 7th to 9th, although it is not unknown for particularly savvy and long-lived Kindred of lesser generation to occaisionally rise to Elder status. Ancillae are relatively young vampires that have typically only lived one or two centuries; they have begun to prove themselves in Kindred society. Neonates are typically young, thin blooded or inexperienced Kindred who have yet to make a name for themselves in the Vampiric world. Childer are the lowest social caste of Kindred; often not even considered to be full Kindred, Childer are accorded very few graces and almost no rights.

Vampire: The Masquerade 3rd Edition

Learn more about vampires from the source, White Wolf's Vampire: The Masquerade 3rd Edition.

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