It all started just like any other night. Well, any night that involves vampires, that is. See, I went to go interview the prince of a city on the West Coast, thinking a level of civility and decorum would greet a meeting with not only a leader in the Camarilla, but a Ventrue at that. Oh, how wrong I was. You see, the Camarilla does not like being revealed to the public in general. Not to mention the fact that just because they work together in an uneasy peace does not mean the Camarilla is filled with monsters unto themselves. I had barely gotten in the door of the business sky scraper that housed the prince when my mind was overtaken and conciousness fled from me.
Waking as if in a dream, I found myself tied to a medical bed similar to one used for dialysis. In fact, based on my woozy feeling, I could tell I had already been drained of a lot of blood. Before me sat a man in a lab coat, dress shirt, tacky fish tie, penny loafers and pressed slacks. Through my haze I could make out his droning monologue.
“You thought you were clever, thinking vampires are an easy mark, but you fleabags never expected me, did you? Not you, nor several others of your misbegotten family of lupines have been able to take me down. In fact, I take great pleasure in binding or even turning your super special ‘kinfolk.’ They make very effective test subjects. So are you part of the pack that attacked me last week? No, I don’t think so. They were smart, you are stupid. Almost too pathetic to use.”
Shaking my head to clear the cobwebs, I look at the prince as if he is some cliche Bond villain. “What are you talking about? Why have you done this? What are you going to do with them?” My voice was weak and trailing, softer than its usual bass tone by an octave.
As if he had been given his cue from the universe, this narcissistic Ventrue continues, “See? I told you that you are stupid and you didn’t listen. I am performing experiments -” His rant is interrupted by a distant boom, like thunder within another part of the building. “- on you and your kind. First I learned you come in two distinct types. Active lycanthropy and inactive lycanthropy. Your type being the inactive, you seem to be just hardy humans who don’t scare easily when presented with your obvious superior -” Another boom, this time close, pierces the conversation. “- though you do make excellent slaves and spies. I have learned many things about your animistic kind and the hoodoo voodoo that you believe you can do. Hogwash.” A third boom distracts the Ventrue. “What is that noise?”
He hits an intercom button nearby, “James? Please send security and see what is making all that noise. If it’s Paul dropping things again, drop him from the nearest window. Make sure to collect his ID when he reaches the bottom floor.” The other end is silent for just a moment before a deep voice replies a simple message of acknowledgement.
Turning back to me as he crosses one leg over the other, fingers interlaced over his knee, he says, “There, James will handle it straight away. Now where was I? Oh yes, experiments. Well, you see a pack of your people attacked recently, I am guessing as some pathetic attempt at revenge for the torture of their ‘kinfolk’ or some bleeding-heart nonsense. Needless to say, I captured them and added them to my experiments. Did you know the active lycanthropes have resistance to being turned into a vampire or being bound to one? You see, I had four to experiment on. The first one, a scrawny kid who seemed to smell as if he had been eating from a garbage can, just confirming my suspicion that you all do such, died screaming in pain when I forced him to be turned -” Another boom, followed by the distinct sound of automatic gunfire, breaks the monologue briefly. “- Ahh, sounds like James has met the problem. Anyway, the second subject was a rather sharp-tongued man of obvious celtic descent. Though it may have been the alcohol I suspect was in his system, he just up and died. Smiling even. Can you imagine that? Well -”
A roar in the not-too-far distance meets more automatic gunfire, though the Ventrue barely misses a beat. “Subject three, a rather rugged-looking woman, I suspect military training on that one, resisted all torture James and my other kindred could deal out. She died without pain, though she looked like she wanted another shot at James, if I were to guess. The fourth one, oh he was a clever one. I suspect he was the leader. He actually challenged me when I sought to dominate him! Can you imagine the audacity of that? Well, he didn’t die right away. In fact, I am not sure at all what happened with him. See if he rises, it will be tonight. Maybe I will let him -” A boom against the heavy metal doors of this medical lab answers the Ventrue, as if to say he will not be letting anyone do anything.
What followed was a horror I have never, and could never, imagine. Through the doors came the blood-soaked crinos form of someone I once knew. A Shadowlord, and the very subject of one of my earlier articles. Now enraged beyond all reason, his black-furred body caked in viscera, his eyes were like pits of rolling dark blood. As he roared, I could see the one once known as Mitchel “Midnight” Knight was fully within the thrall of the Wyrm. Worse, by his paler tone and enlarged canines, I could surmise that some unholy abomination has been created this night.
The Ventrue stood up with such a start that his chair was thrown back. “You will KNEEL right now you dog!” The power behind his words was palpable to me at that moment even though I was not the subject of them. The slavering beast did slowly, with a growl, get on all fours with its head down without breaking eye contact.
Though this was just a ruse, as the beast-that-should-not-be lunged at the Ventrue prince, tearing into him with a ferocity no being should ever possess or even be witness to. In the chaos that was Midnight’s diableristic feast, three Garou stepped through from the Penumbra. The smallest one, the only one in homid form, was a kid with some odd tech spider attached to his right arm, and he began to free me.
One of the larger Garou, a Male who was shifting swiftly into Crinos as he pulled an ornate silver punching dagger covered in runes, spoke swiftly after seeing the carnage. “Okay, new plan. We need to get out of here. Midnight is now an Abomination!” His voice is becoming deeper and almost a growl as his face gives way to fanged muzzle. His body is growing to Crinos as black fur erupts all over his body, save for a distinct white mark on his forehead and neck, the tribal markings of Children of Gaia bold upon this one declaring elder status.
Another, an albino man of Asian decent wearing blue-mirrored sunglasses despite his having a third eye in the middle of his forehead, nods and looks to the Glasswalker who freed me. “Gnaws-at-the-Web, get him into the umbra and then run. Too-Many-Irons-In-The-Fire and I will hold Midnight and join you soon.”
The boy nods and frantically begins typing on the shell of the peculiar spider on his arm as Midnight stands, jaws dripping the last remains of the Ventrue who was prince. Like most Ventrue, he got what he wanted, but in the case of this final experiment, he got more than he could ever have hoped for.
Jacob, the three-eyed Garou, raises his hands both in a defensive stance and one of peace. “Midnight, come on, you know me. You don’t want to do this.” His words are met with a lunge from the Abomination that exceeded even the Garou’s mighty speed. The Metis was prepared though, as he shifted swiftly to lupus, his body no longer where it was a moment before.
The world begins to fade away as I am pulled into the spirit world, a bleak grey version of the room I was in before. The carnage wrought in this building has corrupted its spiritual twin, adding a threatening, hateful feel to the once sterile laboratory. The young glass walker half carries me as we run down the halls that seem to want to consume us. Shadows of things best left unseen skitter along webs that connect bits of eldritch technology.
Running down several flights of stairs, we think our exodus is at hand only to be faced with the stark reality of our nightmare as the Glasswalker screams in pain. Looking over as I am flung free, I see the Abomination has stepped sideways. His claws embedded in the arm of Gnaws-at-the-Web. With a twist and a slash across the face, the boy is left sprawling, his arm still within Midnight’s traitorous claws several meters away.
The boy grits his teeth and tries to stand, his left eye and face now a mess mangled beyond repair. I look back at the Abomination as with a pop he is tackled by the Elder Child of Gaia. A quick slash with the ornate Klaive he carries forces the Ventrue-Shadowlord hybrid to drop the arm. Another pop announces the arrival of Jacob whose hands glow as he uses spiritual energy to heal the Glass Walker.
Crawling to the the young Garou, I help him to his feet. The werewolf known as Louis screams to run again as he takes a telling blow to the flank. Blood and spiritual essence alike splatter the wall as claws sink into Crinos flesh. A sharp crack of the elder’s elbow across the now shattered jaw parts the two. Both taking a brief moment to heal themselves.
Hobbling, as dependent on my rescuer as he is on me, we make a break for the door and freedom. The howls of the three crinos behind come to us as we stumble, only to rise and keep going. The crinos form of the albino flies above us, shifting into hispo to spread the impact along four legs instead of two as he strikes the wall above the door with such force as to crack the marble beneath it.
Reaching out to the door, we barely get it open before a voice from outside bellows, “Dodge!” Throwing ourselves to the ground outside, the Glasswalker and I see a large flaming hammer fly over our heads. Moments later a gigantic Crinos Get of Fenris leaps into the building to join the fray, the bedlam behind us becoming that much more ferocious at the entrance of this new warrior of Gaia’s chosen.
Rising up to our feet, the Glasswalker begins to take us back through to the material world. My last vision of the scene is of the Get holding his now flayed throat, the Child of Gaia desperately healing himself of a wound that runs from his hip to shoulder, and Jacob breathing fire upon the retreating Abomination that was once their ally.
Reentering the material world, we find the Glasswalker’s car nearby. A somber drive back to the sept is the only victory to speak of today. Gaia be with us all. Midnight has fallen.
Woo! That was fun. Well, I may have to redefine fun a bit, but you get the point. None the less, the Ventrue are the aristocrats and power brokers of the Camarilla. Arguably, they are the leaders of such. This of course has much to do with their powerset, but there is much more to it than that. Let’s delve into what makes the Ventrue Vampire clan so very interesting, shall we?
To start, you have to realize what the Ventrue are and what they are not. Let’s cover what this Vampire clan is not. The Ventrue are not defacto leaders. They earn their positions through diplomacy, guile, tact, and if all else fails, good old betrayal. They are not all powerful. In fact, they have very little in the way of direct butt-kickery compared to Vampire clans like Gangrel, Brujah, or even Toreador. They are not prone to flying off the handle, but that leads to a point I will cover in just a minute.
Now that we covered that, what exactly is the Ventrue clan? These Vampires carefully select from the cream of the crop in various fields, picking only the most driven, conniving, intelligent, charismatic Kine from medical, political, business, and even entertainment fields. This leads them to their nickname, the blue bloods. By picking from those that already excel, the Ventrue start with a leg up in the vampire world. The elitist attitude stays with them well into their unlife. In fact it is the source of the clan weakness. You see, each Ventrue has a specific kind of blood that they can actually consume. This rarefied blood is the elixir of life to them, and nothing else is good enough to even re-energize the Ventrue. In the history of World of Darkness, I have seen Ventrue who can only feast upon druggies, rape victims, aristocrats, MENSA members, medical experiments and in the case of Midnight, other supernatural creatures.
Remember how I spoke of not flying off the handle? Well, the Ventrue come typically in two flavors. The young and the bold or the old and the calculating. In a world so wrought with in-fighting, rare is the Ventrue (or any vampire) that is both old and bold. Quickly, the Ventrue are taught that the same dog-eat-dog tactics of the mortal world can be applied to court. As such, the Ventue are the most common clan to be the prince in an area. The Ventrue will always try to gain the advantage on a situation, even if he must sacrifice pawns to seize the proverbial queen or king. The drive that drove them in life will continue and push them hard. The question is, how will your Ventrue push themselves? How will they react to things the lessers do?
Let’s get into the power of the Ventrue, and perhaps the least iconic of their powers though it is perhaps one of the most important. See, one of the iconic things these kings of the vampires are known for is acting with impunity. As possessors of the discipline of Fortitude, the Ventrue can take all the abuse of their lessers and laugh it off. In fact, it can be a hell of an intimidation factor when your lesser tries their damnedest to stake you, but you laugh it off as if it was funny that they even thought it would work. I don’t know about you, but the thought that you can do nothing is a hell of a control mechanism. The villain that is untouchable is one who gets to rule for a long time. Again, be confident, but unlike the Gangrel you won’t push your luck. This is your last ditch effort, not your first.
The second power of the Ventrue is part of why they make such amazing leaders. The discipline of presence, shared by the Toreador and Brujah already mentioned in other articles, allows you to have supernatural levels of charisma, to not only draw in the masses but to make them want to serve you. The world has seen many leaders, and the great ones, be they good or bad, are prolific in their charisma. This power makes them able to do all that Hitler, Stalin, Bush ever dreamed of. The other side of the coin is to be the one seeking to improve the world. I can see the high-humanity rating Ventrue to be the next MLK Jr., Captain Picard, or Ghandi. Lead with flair. You are in charge by right and merit, so show it.
The third power, and probably the most notable, is the big bad wolf of Wallstreet. The discipline known as Dominate is a show stopper. Even from the first stage this power has the ability to warp and control the mind of others. You can say “jump” and listen to them huff as they leap into the air. The power of Dominance makes slaves, temporary or even permanent, this ability is so powerful. When your presence fails, order them. When you have the power to control minds, your entire persona is changed. Like a spoiled child, you expect others to do as you say. It may happen that you even get upset when people don’t listen to what you say. You are in control, you can do anything you want, never forget it or let others forget it. With Dominate, you getting what you want is as natural as the rain falling.
All righty. Well, the Ventrue are what you make them, but you should have the Alpha leader type of personality. Me? I am going to lead myself to work and then to bed as I have worked a massive amount of overtime this week on very little sleep. One day off in a two week period, I swear my boss has Dominate. It’s all good, I like my job, wait … is that presence at work? Oh, well! I hope you like what I got here, especially that intro. I would like to thank Eric Taylor, Avery Baril and Karen-Ann Williams for the use of their characters in the intro story. If you want to have your character used, let me know. I’d love to bring them to life for you. Well, anyway, I will be calling on the gypsy vampires known as the Ravnos next week. They are actually one of my favorite clans. Hope to see you next week. Also, I will get a new article out as soon as possible on what exactly is an Abomination. They are an entirely new beasty.
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