There is evil, the serpent that tempted Eve to taste the fruit of the tree of knowledge … and then there is evil that tempts you with a smile, a suit, and promise of what you truly desire. This evil is dangerous because it does not hunt you, you offer yourself to it with a smile. You will sell yourself, heart, mind, and soul. And one night, when you least expect it, you will hear a knock on the door, and the sins of the past will be visited upon you and all those you hold dear. Thus the venom of Set will crawl into your veins, and no anti-venom will save you. Continue reading World of Darkness: Followers of Set
I stand at the hill, watching as a crypt is raided, or not necessarily raided, as it is not so much a break in as a break out. The new generation of Giovanni stepping out into the night. Followed by, oh my, he has been busy. Look at that, all his cousins are joining him in the march from the grave, but only he was gifted with eternal life. No, like so many from his family, he has cursed them with eternal death. And that my dear friends, is what make the Giovanni special. It’s a dead man’s party. Who could ask for more?
Continue reading World of Darkness: The Giovanni Vampire
To talk of the Nosferatu I came to see, I need only speak of the golden age of movies, back in the days when silent films giving way to talking pictures had slain the careers of many. But one of the greats, known as Golden Gary, survived. He had style, and he had grace, he had everything that one could hope for. But what he also had was one of the most mysterious disappearances of Hollywood history. The truth is, he was embraced by the Nosferatu clan of vampire and rendered to be one of the ugliest beings ever known to man. Yeah, he gained power beyond most people’s wildest dreams, but he had lost the very dream he had been living. Continue reading World of Darkness: The Nosferatu vampire
Knowing their reputation, I chose to bring help with me to this. For this, I brought my uncle Darwin, the Fianna Garou, to Tijuana. Here we sit in a bar of ill repute, watching as an act of a fire dancer amuses the crowd. From speaking to the others here, I see that the masses all have one thing in common. The previous night they had all ran across a mysterious woman, they had all been told to arrive here and see the show. For what purpose, neither I nor they could ascertain.
As the fire act ends, the lights and even the fires nearby seem to dim. With them comes the ever-rising drum beats like the thrumming of a great heart. As the drums meet a crescendo, the stage opens like a flower and up rises an exotic dancer who wields the shadows like silk to form the only clothes this predator wears. This way and that, she meets the gaze of the crowd one by one, the music driving them all to their feet in a hypnotic dance leading to death.
As my uncle places his hand on my shoulder and the world fades from our fleeing to the umbra, we witness the entire crowd opening their own throats to bleed for their crimson goddess. As one, they die. And as one, they will rise as a new army devoted to the whims of the Lasombra that made a dance into a call for war.
The Lasombra, oh, how this vampire clan differs from the ones we have touched on before. You see, these bad boys are to the Sabbat what the Toreador or such are to the Camarilla. They are one of the founding clans of the Sabbat, and indeed, many of the rituals and traditions of the Sabbat spring forth from them. That is a round about way of speaking that the Lasombra are a group ripe with nobility, and this is not the kind of nobility that the Silver Fangs of the Garou enjoy or the Ventrue portray. This is best personified in the statement of “Tis better to rule in Hell than to kneel in Heaven,” and with that mentality they not only acknowledge the Beast within all vampires, but they beat it into submission like a dog ready to be unleashed from the very gates of Hel.
Sounds fun, but let’s get into the flavor of these guys. To know them, one must hearken to many ways and people of times long past, to the ways and mannerisms of the cruel aristocracy of Spain, and onward to the death cults of Mexico and Latin America, to shadow deals, betrayals, and backs sprouting fresh blooms of daggers. By combining the new with the old, the smiling face hiding the danger beneath, you get a firm grasp of the ways of these vampires and how the Lasombra are one of the leaders of the Sabbat. Their ways, through silent observation and shadow dealings by ways of intimidating proxies, are but the first layer of this dark onion. For the monster that is hiding behind all the minions they have collected is more terrifying than every layer of defense combined. And the Lasombra typically revel in such knowledge.
Now these layers are many fold, as I have discussed, and one of the ones that most differentiates this clan from the previous ones is the way they “breed.” See, unlike selecting a specific target and converting them, the Lasombra very often will infect and change an entire group of people. Be this done zombie-apocalypse style, pseudo religious ritual, or in a blood-filled orgy culminating in the change, the result is the same either way. A massive increase in the Lasombra numbers through an army of “shovel heads,” shovel head being the term vampires use to denote a vampire that had been turned and abandoned to figure life out on their own. These orphans may not be individually strong, but they are numerous, and strength can be found in numbers, as the second generation would attest if they had survived the attack of their children. Mechanically speaking, a newly-turned vampire with their powers focused on combat could very well have the strength to end a much lower generation vampire’s long life. This is a lesson the Camarilla does well not to forget.
Now why would an army of mewling pups be worthy of worry from the older vampires? What makes these Lasombra vampires act as superior to others even without the teachings of the elders? Well, that is because more than many vampire clans, the Lasombra are built to win this war on not one but on all fronts. Their powers (or disciplines) hit on every field of a war: Cunning through stealth and shadows, power through strength, and leadership through commanding the masses. I have spoken of Dominance before, but I want to point out a way the Lasombra use it that the previous clans did not, namely through commanding people to be herded like sheep. Be this to the slaughter for food or for mass turnings to make an army, the uses for this are a clear-and-present danger to all that oppose the Lasombra. When you stop seeing humans as human, you see them as merely 7 billion tools walking, eating, and creating more tools for your use.
Next up of the powers of the Lasombra is Potence, and with this you can see why the army of foundlings is a scary thing. Imagine one night being alone surrounded by enemies, and the next night you rise with ten, twenty, or more confused savage children ready to be aimed by their creator, each one capable of bendiing steel with their bare hands and able to do similar damage to any vampire they come across. Mechanically speaking, their childe are capable (much like the Nosferatu, Brujah, or other possessors of this talent) of near automatically crippling or staking vampires if they are not taken as a very serious threat. This should not be ignored if you value your vitae.
The final and most terrifying discipline of the Lasombra is their unique mastery of shadows known as Obtenebration. This power is many fold, and in many ways is the very stuff of nightmares. It can be used to snuff out life and unlife alike, to hide your presence, and even to create shadowthings from some creative nightmare realm. With this power, you could rend an enemy with tentacles of shadow, drown them in darkness, imprison your foes, clone yourself with your own emancipated shadow, and even drag them back to the shadow realm itself. This power is the very stuff of nightmares in every sense of the word, and the most terrifying part is that it comes packaged with the other abilities I have mentioned above. Fear the darkness, my friend. Or as a particular villain played by Tom Hardy once said, “You think the darkness is your ally? You merely adopted the dark. I was born in it, molded by it. I didn’t see the light until I was already a man. By then it was nothing to me but blinding.”
This level of evil does not come without a price. There is an old saying, I believe it comes from Dante’s Inferno, but I may be wrong, that states, “When you stare into the abyss, the abyss stares back.” In this case, to become one with the shadows, the reflection of light some would say, the Lasombra cast off their own reflections. Be it a mirror, a pool of water, or anything else that would show them the face of their evil the Lasombra see when seeking their reflection. This may not seem like much, but it is a subtle way of detecting the Lasombra vampire for what they really are. And for this reason, they must take care lest their presence be revealed to those who could spell their doom during the daylight hours. No vampire who lives to see centuries forgets the days of Rome and when the kine rose up to slay the ancient undead who dwelled there.
For roleplay advice, I suggest looking to those who rule through terror and deed. A role that springs to mind is the recent portrayal of the Kingpin on Netflix’s Daredevil series. Also worth note is the gangsters of the Sopranos of HBO fame. These people rule through command, terror, and when necessary, deed. You would do well to practice an intimidating presence, and let silence be your ally. For it is far more frightening to know you can, but not when you will.
Well, that is the Lasombra in a nutshell, or should I say the shadow of them. I find them to be one of the more intimidating clans of vampires. Next week, we will be touching the true monsters of the vampire world, the Nosferatu. These twice-cursed bastards are going to be a royal pain to find. Wish me luck. I hope to see you there.
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Coming around the corner of a cliff face almost a mile outside of the warehouse I was told contained my target. A Tremere, a vampire with a long colorful history unlike anything I have heard before. Torture, betrayal, and the most inhuman acts one could imagine are commonplace in this being’s history. Born a man of faith during the Salem Witch Trials, he single-handedly dropped the population of mages to almost nothing in what would become the United States. This being, the source of the screams I can hear from hundreds of meters away, once picked a target that decided he would rather not be burned at the stake. A Tremere vampire that turned him, and created a monster whose evil has nothing to do with his lust for blood. Continue reading World of Darkness: The Tremere vampire
“Find the Queen, win a prize! Ten dollars to seek the lady in red, twenty and you can guess three instead!” the man I seek states before I can even introduce myself, his grey eyes piercing in their intensity as he gauges my interest and gullibility. A Ravnos through and through, he follows his own path, and from what I can see from his long brown leather coat and weathered jeans, it has been a long path indeed.
“Alright, I’ll play,” I say as I throw down a ten dollar bill, its creases holding it in place upon his pop-up table as I see him nod in agreement before turning the queen of hearts face down. Continue reading World of Darkness: The Ravnos vampire
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.” Continue reading World of Darkness: The Ventrue Vampire
Watching this man from a distance, I can see the iconic insanity of the Malkavian clan of vampire shining through. Not the blithering idiot trying to bite off his ear so he doesn’t have to hear the voices, but one who has stepped up to the stage of life, lead by their insanity into a world without fear, and all the clarity that comes with it. Like a ring master, this man, young and vibrant in appearance, dressed to the nines as a showstopper of a ring leader, calls out to the crowd around him with charisma and verbosity.
Jumping up on a box and stretching his arms wide, he speaks in a voice that nearly yells at the start of a sentence only to fade away to draw the crowd in so they don’t miss a thing, “Ladies and gentleman, boys and girls of all ages! You have seen that seeing is believing! Please forget your seats, as you will not be needing them. This show is one for the ages, his age to her age, and all the ones in between! You will see wonders, and what will you wonder? That is the question and you will question everything from this world and beyond!” By this time I can hear the whispers, the edges of my vision clouded by the iconic infectious insanity the Malkavians have become synonymous with.
Turning, as if filled with knowledge that no one should have without being told, he addresses a crowd only he can see, “Nerdachy readers, you will see all that you can imagine and more than you ever dreamed. Not just a collection of glorious beards. Come with me, and you will see a world of pure horrific imagination!”
Well … that was unexpected. Wait … why is the crowd wearing bunny suits? Oh, boy … time for another trip down the rabbit hole … Continue reading World of Darkness: Malkavian
I watch, enraptured inn every movement of the cold flesh of the vampire before me. Her pale skin clad in sheer lace and the velvet she gets her stage name from, yet somehow her style and grace are obvious, demanding respect from everyone there.
As her legs wrap around the pole, gravity and skill beyond that of humans the world round driving her to flip upside down in a waltz that has everyone wishing to be the pole, to dance with her for a night even if it would leave them empty vessels for an eternity.
Thus is the danger of this predator, the prey do not run. No, they clamber, they would fight to the death to be her next victim. Everything about her draws them in, to please her in whatever way would bring her a moments pleasure.
The clack of heels on freshly polished reflective floor barely warn of this pink haired beauty’s approach, not on her feet like a feral animal, but on hands and knees, slinking along like a cat in control of the mouse that is on the menu.
That mouse, in the case of a Toreador, is art and forms of beauty in this world. As she crawls to me, her green eyes becoming my world, I realize that knowledge of the abilities she wields does not grant immunity to them, for my world fades into a world of green and pink. If I ever see the sun is no longer my will.
Toreador, the deviants, are vampires that live unlife to the fullest. They are such prolific personalities that they do not have a reputation for combat but are feared none the less. A founding member of the Camarilla, the Toreador are beings of near infinite charisma and skill. Though they are the opposite coin to the rebellious Brujah, controlled ability to the ruckus impulse of their opposite. This comes from their powers as well as their weakness. For in the interaction of those two factors, you find why the Toreador are the way they are. Continue reading World of Darkness: Vampire – Toreador Clan
After so much time dealing with the Garou, I got cocky when it comes to the Kindred known as the Gangrel. I had went to deal with the clan and thought that because they are close to the beast, they would parlay freely. Well, that does not seem to be the case as I was punched in the head hard enough to knock me reeling. Well, to say he was not friendly from that point on is an understatement. Then again, I was not the most polite guest. Especially after I found out my sharp tongue could literally drive my host Blaine into fits of feral rage.
I heard once that there is nothing sharper than an Irish tongue. Well, they have not felt the claws of the Gangrel clan, twisting and drilling it’s way into my hand as the Kindred laughed in delight. His face, at first normal like any human’s, had shifted to have lupine ears and eyes like a cat with the various aggressive roars of frustration my insults and unwillingness to cooperate had brought forth from him. This man, no, this beast is only wearing a thinly held back visage of civility ready to fade away like a mirage. And like such illusion, once the truth is seen it is forever feared by the prey and the predator alike despite any collar one can put on it.
Heaven help those that bear the curse of the Gangrel, for they are doomed to an eternity not of the world of man, or beast, but a world alone forever.
There is a beast within every vampire, and then there is the beast known as the clan Gangrel. See, where other clan’s let their kindred hide their beast on the inside, the Gangrel personify it inside and out. This is a nice way of describing the extra bit of nastiness that the curse of clan Gangrel is, the ever lasting fear that the next frenzy will leave it’s mark and turn their greatest gifts against them in the ultimate form of karma. Course karma is a beast unto itself. Continue reading World of Darkness: Vampire – Gangrel
I watch from from a distance as I have not found a way to safely introduce myself to the vampires before me. Each one exactly the same in how they are trying to be different. Rebels without a clue some would say but who can argue with the results as I listen in on what could only be described as a exsanguinated shakedown. The rebels, feral in their devotion to the Sabbat, are attacking an entire warehouse that is soon to be a haven, a place to stay and launch their assault on the Camarilla and the world at large.
Like many of the Sabbat, these vampires are of the warrior-poet clan known as Brujah, Strong and fast, these men and women are charismatic in a terrifying way. The predatory nature they exhibit as enthralling as it is fear inducing. The world itself seems to be a smaller place as I realize they could be anyone. From my friends, to the mail man, the Brujah and vampires like them are the apex predator of the world because they can hide in plain sight. I think I will have to find a way to get closer but without a way to protect myself I cannot risk it. Continue reading World of Darkness: Vampire – Brujah