The Embrace [Vampire Open Development]

Open Development, Vampire: The Masquerade

The past two open development blogs on Gehenna and Humanity have been very informative. I’ve kept an eye on them both, and it’s interesting to see where people draw their own lines about what is central to their Vampire: The Masquerade experience. I’ve also been discussing my ideas with some very insightful consultants, who have helped me articulate the core essence of the game, and I plan to dig deep into every single comment on both blogs shortly to bring all the threads together. While this form of open development is different from what I’ve done before, it’s all very useful to me. So, thanks to everyone who has taken the time to made their thoughts known.

One of the areas that needs a good examination is the Embrace. It seems like a simple concept to make a human into a vampire through the ecstasy of the Kiss, but over the years a lot of questions have come up that undermine that perceived simplicity. Is the Embrace a supernatural or physical process? What part of the Embrace imprints the sire’s clan on her childe, and how does that go wrong in order to create Caitiff? Does the sire have to actually be the one who kills the potential childe? If the sire changes their Generation via diablerie or blood magic, how does that pass on to the childe? There are other complications as well, such as how being a ghoul impacts the Embrace (if at all), the creation of a vampire via multiple sires (such as by a cup of blood), and any potential connections between the Embrace and diablerie. The questions about the nature of the Embrace have led to a number of interesting stories and character concepts — I know I’m not the only one who has played a Sabbat Pander shovelhead with a few different vampires’ blood sloshing around inside — but there are areas where players and Storytellers could stand to have more clarity and understanding of the process, even if characters in Vampire don’t have an easy instruction manual.

So tell me what you think. What areas of the Embrace should be changed or clarified, and what areas should be kept mysterious?

  57 comments for “The Embrace [Vampire Open Development]

  1. Mutt
    October 22, 2015 at 3:03 pm

    When it comes to understanding the embrace I think that really should be left to the st and how they want to represent it.

  2. Ajay Pollarine
    October 22, 2015 at 3:11 pm

    I’m a big fan of leaving the matter entirely in the hands of the ST and Players. One of the best games we ran involved hunting down caitiff and bloodlines because our coterie was centered around cainite lore.

  3. CrackedMan
    October 22, 2015 at 3:12 pm

    I think it should be completely detailed out as much as possible, perhaps with variable options where appropriate for ST’s to make it fit their games.

    A particular issue I would like to see addressed is players being able to use it as a body disposal method (ie. drain the person, embrace them, kill them, body turns to dust).

    • MrP
      October 22, 2015 at 7:43 pm

      Personally I’ve always ran this as, on-death, the vampire’s body rapidly returns to it’s true age. As such, only turns to dust if the vampire was quite old. My precedent for this is the description of this happening to Ghouls who don’t receive Vitae.

      • IgnyteZero
        October 22, 2015 at 11:05 pm

        I think there are more examples of this in previous editions, but yes this is the way I myself has always handled the issue.
        The Buffy-style direct-to-dust might be effectful, but makes no sense and creates some issues. It would mean damaged tissue on vamps would become dust, not to speak of dismembered parts. And getting those vampire-teeth for your talisman or level five ritual becomes impossible.

        So no, age catching up when you die is a more logical effect, indeed.

        • Kaze
          October 25, 2015 at 8:07 am

          Yeah, I remember there are parts saying their bodies are in stasis, that if the Kindred have existed by hundred or thousand of years, they turn rapidly into dust, while if they were younger than that, their bodies decompose faster than a normal human corpse. That’s why people always interpreted the Kindred who got the Final Death return to their true age. Well, that has nothing to do with the Embrace, but, if it is considered, those concepts should be kept, although, they should also be detailed to make it more clear and interesting.

          It could be explained that only when the Kindred got the Final Death, then their bodies should return to their true age and at the end disappear as a natural way of self-preservation, if things like fangs, bones or body parts are dismembered, they should not disappear, as long as the Magi or Kindred kept it well conserved at the beginning, basically, if there was flesh on it.

  4. Nazfool
    October 22, 2015 at 3:13 pm

    One thing I would love to see in V4 is definitive mechanics to “Clanless” vampires. How does it happen? Are there multiple variants of Clanless that Cainites have just shuffled into an umbrella category of Caitiff? Is it a choice? Can a vampire say, “Frick it, I don’t wanna sleep in dirt,” and lose the Clan Disciplines/Weakness? Is it a weird vitae-anomaly?

    Granted, these are all things that Storytellers can House Rule but having solid mechanics to work with would be nice. What makes a Caitiff?

  5. Sarah
    October 22, 2015 at 3:21 pm

    I love thinking about this stuff.

    IMHO, the embrace is still a simple process. Caught somewhere between a magical event and a physiological process, it’s hard to define in medical terms alone. Obviously, there are physiological changes that happen, as the body must be drained of blood, and then fed the vampire’s own blood, to create a creature that defies the mortal bounds of age and illness.

    The part of the embrace that imprints the sire’s clan upon the childe is obviously the consumption of the sire’s blood. The mystical part of this process is how weak blood can sometimes create caitiffs; this is also linked with things like Gehenna and prophecies of the end of the world. I like this being sort of a gray area. Vampires don’t know why it’s happening and are struggling to reconcile it. And as far as Panders go, this is one of the obvious benefits (or flaws) of being created with the blood of multiple vampires – a mixing of blood and its effects, once which is supernatural in nature and cannot be explained with science any more than can a more traditional embrace.

    Changes in generation shouldn’t affect childer that have already been created, since they have already consumed their sire’s blood and are creating their own (however vampire do that). They are self sustaining, in a sense. However, future childer of a sire who has committed diablerie should see a reflection of that higher generation in their own blood, since they are consuming the more powerful essence as a part of their creation.

    I think that covers my input/understanding all the questions posed. 🙂

  6. Jason Ramboz
    October 22, 2015 at 3:33 pm

    I’m not sure I have good thoughts on the topics you bring up, but I am suddenly struck by the image of some Kindred running a secret Vampire breeding lab to study the Embrace–trying to do all the things you describe in a controlled environment and applying the scientific method. Forced Diablerie, multiple sires, attempting to create Caitiff, breeding out Clan weaknesses… For some reason, I think the head researcher would have to be a Malkavian.

    This is totally going in my next Chronicle. 🙂

    • Crüjen Geist
      October 22, 2015 at 4:03 pm

      Strictly speaking this doesn’t exist in cWoD, but look at the Ordo Dracul book for VtR, because that’s an entirely valid path of research for them.

    • October 22, 2015 at 5:54 pm

      I’ve played around with this idea, but it was Kindred of the East doing the experiments – since they don’t embrace as usual, they need to try to run some experiments to figure out the whole embrace thing.

      As for how it should be represented in the game – it’s magic, right? Why does it need to obey specific rules and regulations? Leave it up to the storyteller. White Wolf games (and VtM in particular) already invites arguments between player and ST about how things are “supposed” to work. The answer (of course) is things work the way the story needs them to. I hope that if there is any deep discussion about the mechanics of the embrace, they don’t effect a character’s starting stats (oh god, the min-maxing!) and that they come with a disclaimer about how the discussion is simply one interpretation of how the process might work.

  7. October 22, 2015 at 3:40 pm

    Nice topic!
    I think the embrace is a supernatural process that needs physical instances to happen… don’t know if I’m making myself clear, english is not my native language.

    I feel that the supernatural aspects should always overcome the scientific ones in the game. Of course I would love to read some medical and biological explanations from a savvy NPC, but
    I feel that the “magic” (better yet, the curse) in the blood is what really matters in the end – so, if someone “kills” (dryes) a victim, and then said victim drinks the blood of another vampire to rise as a kindred/cainite, they should belong to the “blood donor” bloodline.

    The same should happen with multiple blood concoctions: the vampire who contributed with more vitae shall be the father. On the other hand, a truly powerful Methuselah perhaps could “win” the competition… but if there’s no clear winner, then you end up with a Caitiff.
    Which brings us a little further from the Embrace topic. I guess that Caitiffs should only be allowed to get “physical”/”common core” (hehe) disciplines, like Potency, Fortitude, Celerity. That should be their weakness. The blood that created them has no real “signature”, for any reason (too mixed, too thin, etc), so they only get those “generic” vampiric characteristics. Of course they would still be able to learn other stuff later.

    Going back to the Embrace process: like I said before, the first “donation” of vitae and the blood heritage within should be the defining thing in my opinion. So, to me it doesn’t make much sense to have diablerie acts that happened after that affect the child in any way. Once the blood in your creation process is transfered and you rise as an individual undead, you’re done.

    Thanks for allowing us to contribute to the game. 🙂

  8. October 22, 2015 at 3:42 pm

    But diablerie acts commited *before* the embrace should be passed on: if something is part of the sire’s vitae, no matter how it got there, it has great chance to go along.

  9. October 22, 2015 at 4:11 pm

    I would prefer that the Embrace be treated in a toolkit fashion.

    I don’t know how the Embrace goes wrong or whether it’s supernatural or physical, or whether the sire has to be the one to kill the childe.

    Don’t just give us one idea, though. Give us a few ideas of how any given aspect could work (“Here’s how it might work if it were supernatural, or physical, or a mix”), and then let Storytellers pick and choose.

    • Saedar
      October 23, 2015 at 9:01 am

      This is the approach that I like. Give a bunch of possibilities. The setting already has a bunch of internal ideas about the Embrace. Collect some of those, add some mechanical weight and throw them into a section for optional stuff.

  10. Crüjen Geist
    October 22, 2015 at 4:19 pm

    Blood calls to Blood.

    I picture it as somewhat genetic: some people don’t make very good ____, for whatever reason. Picture a Brujah Embracing “The Dude.” Sure, he’s passionate about abiding, but the Blood in him can look into the core of his soul, and thus he’d become a Caitiff.

    This also makes for some interesting implications about, say, the Ba’ali and Tremere.

    That being said, I don’t feel like vampires should be able to abdicate their clan (or at least, make it a matter of titanic effort) since again, the Blood is bringing out whatever the clan’s essence is from their soul. Going from having a madman’s soul to that of a solemn warrior does not sound like an easy endeavor.

    That being said, I do like the idea of “latent disciplines” – of weak-clanned childer manifesting foreign powers, whether as bloodline offshoots or Caitiffs.

    I do think this makes the multi-Embrace scenario interesting – I picture a Cotorie placing bets on the poor chap. When his hair falls out and he begins to resemble Trump and/or Hilary, they turn to the Nosferatu and say, “He’s your childe now.”

  11. Rahod
    October 22, 2015 at 4:56 pm

    Clanless happen in a few ways in my games.

    1. You feed them half vitae and half normal blood and gives a 50% chance of clanless

    2. A High Gen who thought they could sire someone didn’t create a 14th gen but a 13th clanless. Also a 50% chance

    3. you used the vitae of another vampire you just diablerized (within a few turns of the diablerie). Also a 50% chance.

  12. SFSmith
    October 22, 2015 at 5:00 pm

    I really like the idea above about turning out as a Caitiff being a possible consequence for trying to Embrace someone into the “wrong” clan for their temperament.

    One thing I’ve always wanted cleared up concerns the Nosferatu Embrace. Some sources have said it can take weeks for a new Nosferatu to fully transform. How soon after the Embrace is a Nosferatu neonate properly considered a Nosferatu?

    Also, what was the deal with the Nagaraja? They function like vampires, having generation and all, but they aren’t descended from Caine. So what generation was the first Nagaraja? Three? One?

  13. Volesus
    October 22, 2015 at 5:41 pm

    I’ve always wondered about ghouls and the Embrace. Your average ghoul will have fed at least three times from a Vampire, and thus is Blood Bound. If said ghoul is then Embraced is the Childe still Bound, or does the Embrace kind of ‘wipe the slate clean’.

    I’ve always inferred the ‘clean slate’ theory, as sourcebooks like Guide to the Camarilla include both the Merit Former Ghoul and the Flaw Bound, and it never suggests that if you take Former Ghoul to take Bound too.

    But yes, some clarification would benefit V4.

  14. Crash
    October 22, 2015 at 5:58 pm

    I always liked the idea that the Embrace itself is a form of death and so it will usually either go one of two ways.

    Rejection. Trauma to the person changing, much like a car crash or any other near death experience would be but turned up to 11. You are dying and are doing so in a brutal and violent way. I’d think someone going through this process would either hate the memory of their embrace or maybe even block it out entirely.

    The other option is acceptance. Many who have made peace with their lives go out of this world with a bit of a smile and the knowledge that what comes next is out of their control and so surrender to it. Someone embraced in this fashion might see their unlife afterward as heave, hell, or probably more appropriately a kind of purgatory. They see their embrace as a transitionary period more than anything else.

  15. Bob
    October 22, 2015 at 6:47 pm

    I think the idea that a sires blood carries not just the Curse of Caine, but a reflection of the sires mind and soul is pretty neat. This can have an effect on the embrace.

    So a Vampire who relishes in his inhumanity (such as one who follows a Path of Enlightenment) may make his childe more prone to her new found inhumanity, while a Golconda seeker might make it easier for his childe to follow the same route.

    It may also have a effect on the embraced vampire’s body. The above inhuman vampire is more likely to twist the mortal body into something more monstrous and ugly (or for a Nosferatu, even more monstrous and ugly) than the Golconda seeker.

    For things like diablerie, a habitual diablerist may pass on some of the essence of his victims to the childe (not enough to affect generation, but may cause black streaks to appear in their aura. A vampire who used to be a mage might have a mystical aura, something that may pass on to the childe. And a Baali (or any infernalist) vampire might slightly taint the childe with the touch of hell, increasing the risk of the childe following in his sire’s footsteps.

    The humans soul could have a effect on the embrace. A murderer may have a easier transition from mortal to vampire than a (non True Faith) priest. Or links between the mind of the mortal and the vampire might have an effect, so the murder might be better suited for the embrace from the vampire on a Path of enlightenment than the Golconda seeker and vice versa for the priest.

    Then there is the mortals body. If she has supernatural elements, how will that effect the embrace. We already have fae blooded becoming the Kiasyd, but others. A Kinfolk (or a Garou that has not undergone her first change) might have stronger beasts, or a mage have better affinity for blood magic.

    The non supernatural elements of a mortals body might effect her embrace. The Efficient Digestion Merit allows a vampire to gain three blood points for every two drunk, so would athletes be more prone to this effect.

    And what about if there is some form of rejection, either supernatural or physical. If you think of the vitae as an infection, would Caitff be someone would partially rejected the Curse of Caine, so she did not gain the weakness of the sires clan. Or maybe she can reject the Curse entirely, and she just dies.
    Or might the body reject the Curse violently, leaving either a vampire who’s body (and possibly mind) is twisted by the embrace.

  16. PD711
    October 22, 2015 at 7:40 pm

    Personally, I have never liked the “imprinting” concept. The clan curse should be passed down through blood, full stop. If the curse could be avoided this way, why don’t vampires put their childe in isolation for a while, thus avoiding the downfalls of their own clan? Nosferatu who aren’t ugly! Ventrue who can drink any blood they like! Brujah who can keep their temper!

    Besides, I kind of feel like this imprinting process impedes the story a little bit. Like, wouldn’t it be kind of neat to run a game where one of the mysteries the fledgelings need to solve is what clan(s) they are? This should be pretty simple for veteran players but for new players this could be intriguing. Discovering their weaknesses as they explore their new vampire condition… it was a session like this that really made me interested in Vampire.

    Of course this means that Caitiff/Pander will need a new explanation. Frankly, the concept is in need of an overhaul anyway. Caitiff, judging by the variety of disciplines at their disposal, are AMAZING. Their versatility is so great that I find their status in vampire society to be unbelievable. They aren’t rabble… they’re ubervampires!

    Frankly, I wouldn’t mind if they were left on the cutting room floor, but others may balk at that idea… so maybe it’s better if we find a new origin for them and rein them in a bit.

    • Nazfool
      October 22, 2015 at 9:26 pm

      Caitiff/Panders aren’t a thing in my games, so I wouldn’t mind their omissions. I doubt we’re not the only ones who wouldn’t miss them…
      ^_^

      • Perverseness
        October 23, 2015 at 9:32 am

        you are correct there are some who would not miss them. There are some who would not miss Ventrue. There are some who feel that the whole clan Tzimisce could be done away with. But there are also plenty who would miss them horribly

        • Nazfool
          October 23, 2015 at 11:39 am

          You’re right; they should completely do away with all the clans.
          Brilliant!

  17. Andrew Thomas
    October 22, 2015 at 8:27 pm

    I think that having Diablerists in your bloodline should grant an inroad to learning out of Clan Disciplines at a modest cost, both in terms of XP and social status. As for Generation changes affecting the Embrace, I’ve never really been keen on Generation as presented, as it always created for me a conflict at character creation between being strong if less equipped, or weak and willing to do anything to advance. Related to this, being Embraced in game or doing so to another Childe struck me as inviting trouble, be it from giving the ST permission to have a stronger Kindred ready to pounce, or having to negotiate Kindred politics and/or dealing with the consequences of ignoring them. As to effects that temporarily boost Generation, I think that, as in prior editions, those effects should not bear upon the outcome of an Embrace attempt.

  18. NekoMata
    October 22, 2015 at 8:47 pm

    ok time for some theory crafting then:

    to me it would seem like its partially physical and partially magical, not just one or the other. using a dead body free of blood, forms a reagent that reacts with a vampires vitae acting as a magical mutagen of sorts. the blood removed from the original body doesn’t seem to be connected to their soul directly as they seem to be the same people so to speak modified by vapirism. rather, perhaps the term vitae can be taken more literally and the reason this is done is to remove human life force from the body and replace it with vampire life force which in turn also modifies the rest of the body and their nature. within the different lines, aspects of this life force differ in tertiary ways such as their curse and thus the effect of the mutagen slightly differs while maintaining the same core aspects (supposedly from caine). for a caitiff to be created these tertiary components must not integrate fully, perhaps due to genetics of the person, two blood lines vitae being used whose tertiary aspects conflict in this instance,etc thus causing in a sense, a default to just caines blood (with degeneration still in effect). i would say that maybe the closer one is to caine in terms of generation, the more accepting the vampiric vitae is of additional traits being modified to it. when cursing the original antedelluvians he perhaps modified their vitae directly seeing that he should have full control over it. perhaps going by what is stated previously, if a sire has diablerized a vampire of another clan, it will indeed also raise the generation of the childer but have an increased chance for producing a caitiff. if a ghoul is embraced their former status as a ghoul has no effect as they no longer have any of their own human vitae

  19. Austin Clark
    October 22, 2015 at 11:08 pm

    One thing Requiem did was create reasons why the Embrace would be regulated by the Powers That Be beyond simple political advantage. There are so many ways that it could go wrong that everyone has a vested interest in not letting Nellie Neonate embrace her boyfriend.

    I would like it if M4 incorporated something in that vein, as a horror element, possibly to do with each clan; Lasombra childer that dissolve into evaporating darkness, Brujah that enter an unending frenzy, Tzimisce that explode into shrieking monsters, and so on.

  20. Snarkwing
    October 22, 2015 at 11:32 pm

    Having any variation of “weak clanned” caitiffs or embracing someone into the wrong temperament is a waste of time. It makes the most sense for a caitiff being made clanless because there is some mystical imprinting process that happens shortly after the embrace while the fledgling is undergoing the physiological change from mortal to kindred. For the random Embrace that ends up in a dumpster because the Sire abandoned him, that’s the one that becomes a caitiff. Not the one who decided that Brujah have a bad temper and he’d rather be a pacifist.

  21. Pseudonymmetry
    October 23, 2015 at 1:24 am

    I prefer looking at vampires through the mythology of WtA: they are a variant of formori. The ‘beast’ inside each vampire is actually a parasitic fragment of an ancient Wyrm spirit. The human host’s own spirit must be weakened first (through near-death experience) before the new parasitic fragment can take hold. The human spirit is thereafter fighting a losing battle against a virulent spiritual infection. This neatly explains everything from Humanity to Clans (spiritual ‘mutations’). I have yet to find a better fit, and welcome any feedback.

  22. dataweaver
    October 23, 2015 at 1:25 am

    I wonder if something could be done with a supernatural “Blood Type”. That is, each Clan represents a broad “type” of Vitae; and the living likewise have broad “types” of souls which [i]tend to[/i] (but don’t always) align with their temperaments. A few possible consequences:

    • Most Embraces work as intended; but a few produce Caitiffs instead. This [i]tends[/i] to happen when the mortal being Embraced has a personality that doesn’t suit his Sire’s Clan; but exceptions exist both ways.
    • Ghouling a mortal is a good way to test the compatibility, in that Blood Types play into the blood bond as well: if the vampire/mortal interaction involves conflicting Blood Types that would produce a Caitiff if it were an Embrace, then the attempt to ghoul him goes bad, too: the mortal gets the powers from the ghouling, but doesn’t fall under the vampire’s influence. He’s not likely to be obedient, and may be hostile. This could give rise to rumors about mortals who are immune to the blood bond, when the truth of the matter is that it’s a compatibility issue.

    Put another way, the Embrace can result in a childe of the sire’s Clan, or sometimes a Caitiff; and an attempt to ghoul can result in a blood-slave, or sometimes a free-thinking blood-empowered mortal enemy. If feeding your Vitae to a mortal produces a blood-slave, Embracing him will produce a childe of your Clan; if the former produces a free-willed ghoul, the latter produces a Caitiff.

    Feeding a mixture of blood to a corpse is like impregnating a woman with a mixture of semen: only one sperm cell will inseminate the egg, and likewise only one of the potential sires will determine the new childe’s Clan and Generation; but there’s no way to predict which one it will be.

    Finally, the childe’s Generation is determined by her sire’s Generation at the time she is Embraced; if the sire recently committed diablery or otherwise managed to lower her Generation, the childe should be one Generation younger than that. But once te childe has been Embraced, any further changes to his sire’s Generation are inconsequential.

    • PD711
      October 23, 2015 at 3:33 am

      I think I like the idea of some people simply not being suited to their parent clan becoming Caitiff… But I also like the idea of playing a character against type.

      Your blood type idea is pretty good. I think that if it is a property of the kine’s blood, that a vampire should be able to taste the compatibility simply by feeding from them… but this might be something that takes experience (and a roll of some sort) to detect. Thus, neonates who embrace have a higher chance of producing Caitiff by virtue of their ignorance.

      Another thought that I had was that the embrace takes a random number of willpower points to accomplish. If a vampire fails to have the proper amount of willpower points to spend, but spends at least 1, it produces a Caitiff. If none are spent, the embrace fails. If the requisite number of points are spent, the childe is of clan.

      I kind of prefer the idea of multiple sources of vitae being used just resulting in caitiff.

      And I agree with you about Generation, though I feel like it would be interesting if the marks of their sire’s diablerie should be passed on to the childe, though in a faded form. Whatever the remaining duration was on the sire’s diablerie marks would be halved. This could make for some interesting stories where a vampire sires a childe to be a patsy for his own diablerie.

  23. Ian Blackney
    October 23, 2015 at 1:37 am

    I think that the Embrace is akin to a church Mass, a rite or a collection of rites that involve physical acts underlying a greater metaphysical processes. Just as some church rites can be long and complicated (like the vigil on Easter Eve) and some can be short and sweet (like Compline before bed) rites can vary, and these variances can have meaning to some.

    One question I want to ask is just how transformative is the Embrace? We’re already changing human to vampire, can anything more be done?

    For instance can there be a bloodline of child-vampires that cannot embrace adults – rather If they embrace an adult the victim turns into a child during the embrace due to a curse on the bloodline’s originator.

    Or In V20/OWoD 3e, the Daughters of Cacophony were said to have no male members. What if that’s because any man they embrace gets turned into a woman?

    Just how far can the Embrace change a person? If I was Embraced by a Yuki-Onna or a Penanggalan, would I become both female -and- (South)East Asian, as there are no myths of males of either?

  24. Reasor
    October 23, 2015 at 7:50 am

    The game mechanics (but definitely not the politics) of the original Caitiff concept were rendered completely obsolete when “Time of Thin Blood” introduced 14th and 15th Generation vampires as a playable option. There’s no longer any need for a pseudoclan that mimics the effects of diluted Generation.

    I’m leery of any canonical change to the Embrace which could weaken the importance of one’s clan, both in character creation and in play. One’s clan should mean more than simply which weakness you take and which Disciplines come at a discount; it should be the answer to the unspoken question of which Curse of Undeath were you hit with. It should be a choice of subspecies, one as distinct from another as they both are from the Kuei-Jin or the Mummies. Let it mean something when one player is a Fiend, another is a Nosferatu, and another still is a Shilmulo.

  25. Valismedsen
    October 23, 2015 at 9:00 am

    This question is surprising, as the embrace never seemed like a contentious point to me. Aside from the ghouling issue, the embrace has always been pretty clear in vampire books: a mortal needs to be freshly dead and the sire must give the smallest amount of his or her blood to create a new vampire, who is the same clan as the sire. Caitiff are either created by other caitiff or are the result of thin blood embraces. The Sabbat had many caitiff because once it was common for many vampires in the pack to give their blood to embrace mortals, so instead of having many Clans a new vampire is caitiff.
    The idea of being a former ghoul and thus having potence as a vampire was always problematic, imo.

  26. Terminaro
    October 23, 2015 at 9:46 am

    I’d love to see a biological-explaned embrace.
    Of course it is something supernatural, but giving blood should be like giving dna (and so in not-modern times it would still be considered magical, and could be a huge discover for modern ones).
    So the concept of clan can be divided between “biological” and “social” one: your true clan is the one you born with, but (thinking about Caitiff) you can still be adopted by another one.
    Also mutations can be introduced, so for example you are naturally talented in one or more disciplines who are not your clan’s, and not to your standard ones.
    Moreover the clan traits can be separated from disciplines, making clan and disciplines choise less restrictive (in the end, all descend from Caine, do they? 🙂 ).
    Long story short: the “why” should be supernatural, but the “how” should be biological-like.

  27. Perverseness
    October 23, 2015 at 10:47 am

    I think figuring out this process doesn’t preclude the mystery. Just because the author knows how it works doesn’t mean the audience does, but if the author does not, then the audience cannot.

    Questions like timing. You need to be recently dead to be embraced. To a thousand year old vampire anything in the last decade is recent. If I initiate the process and then stick the vamp to be on Ice, can I hold him ready to be embraced for weeks at a time? Does doing something like this affect the experience of the embrace or leave traces in the vamp afterwards?

    Speaking of which, what does the embrace feel like from the inside? Are you aware of the changes taking place? Is it blindingly painful or sweetly fulfilling? Are you fighting the beast from the moment the drop of blood hits your tongue? Are you stuck in the worst nightmare ever unable to awaken until you come to some internal accord? I kind of like the idea that your fighting your beast and you only awaken after you have reached agreement. If you won the fight you come out with no imprint – Caitiff/ Pander. If the Beast wins you are bound by it’s rules and are clanned up. At that point the thin blood becomes the weakening of the Antediluvians imprint. Not a cause for panic unless your outnumbered 10,000 to 1 against folks you’ve suckered. Or possibly the nature of this internal negotiation is what causes the imprint. Ventrue command. Brujah assault. Malks gibber. And that’s what actually influences the flavor of beast infects your soul

    You need to be drained to the point of death. But is being drained by a vamp actually part of the process or can you be bleeding out from a war wound? Bled dry like a Kosher calf at the butchers? Does the nature of the bleed affect things? Is there some subtle difference between draining from the neck, or the bleeding out from a gut wound or being fed from via the artery in the inner thigh

    How long does the process take? Is it instantaneous or do they not awaken until nightfall the following day? Being forced to choose between embracing someone on the spot in an unsafe place or possibly moving them to somewhere you can wait out the change but having the window of opportunity till they are just a corpse seems like a good ST device. Or is it variable and someone who thought the process failed could be leaving a trail of vamps behind them.

  28. Zifnab
    October 23, 2015 at 12:09 pm

    Might be nice to make certain benefits tied to higher generation. So Caitiff can only exist at Gen 10+, for instance. Diluting blood might offer a weaker curse or some ancillary benefit, but any Sire above a certain generation would dominate the pool and drown out the perks.

    As it stands, new players are always asking “Why WOULDN’T I max out my generation at character creation?” There should be some mechanical answers, if for no other reason than it’s nice to know a backstory choice isn’t a chronic, nigh-insurmountable handicap.

  29. Phaolan
    October 23, 2015 at 12:44 pm

    Unlike the previous open dev topics, I’ve decided to post BEFORE reading through the rest of comments. That is because I have a very strong feeling about how the Embrace ought to be handled…

    The very term ‘Embrace’ evokes, for me and my troupe at least, a TWO WAY experience, meaning that on some level, the neonate must have accepted damnation from her sire. It’s not only a curse inflicted but also a curse chosen.

    …I’ve implemented a version of the above to explain the Traits Mask and Dirge in our Requiem game that hasn’t actually started, but I actually believe that such a baseline understanding of the nature of vampires fits far better with the mechanics and milieu of Vampire: the Masquerade. The notion that on some level (no matter how deeply buried) each and every Kindred or Cainite or Setite or Shimulo or what-have-you KNOWS that she accepted her fate adds TREMENDOUSLY to the personal horror of the game.

    But as ever, what do I know? I’ll go and read the other responses now to see if I’m way, way off base on what the rest of the community thinks, even though I KNOW I’m right about everything. Y’all just need to figure that out, I guess? 😉

  30. Berto
    October 23, 2015 at 2:08 pm

    I’ve always seen the embrace as a purely magical phenomenon that happens to be enacted via the physical process of feeding a just-drained (and therefore just-dead) person vitae straight from the source.

    Furthermore, to my knowledge (and this may just be a product of my not having read All The Things) the embrace only works if the vitae is fed to the just-dead person straight from the sire. That is to say that a person who wants to be a vampire, can’t simply get a hold of a vial of vitae, then set up a Rube Goldberg machine to drain them of all their blood and then drop the vitae into their mouth immediately thereafter.

    The jury is out (for me personally) as to whether the vampire providing the vitae for the embrace must intend to embrace the person, or even consent. In other words, I don’t know and have not dealt with the situation where two vampire hunters capture a 9th or 8th gen vampire, stake it, and then systematically embrace one another via taking turns bloodletting and cutting the torpored vamp’s wrist open to feed the drained party blood–but I’m inclined to allow it (i.e., not have the sire’s intentionality be a decisive factor in the Embrace).

    As far as how Clan is inherited, it just seems like it’s an immutable characteristic of the blood–it’s part and parcel of handing down the curse. And while I’ve never dealt with the problem of HOW vampires come to be embraced as Caitiff, I don’t much feel the need to do so. As far as I’m concerned, it’s nothing more than a metaphysical fluke that occurs from time to time.

  31. Christofer Sandell
    October 24, 2015 at 2:53 pm

    Ok. So my thoughts are:

    The Embrace is a mystical happening. The Sire to be must feed the Childe to be some of his blood and the Childe wakes up a Vampire.

    Though how much blood have never really been discussed i think. And to me, the amount of blood decides if the new Vampire wakes up a Caitiff or with any residual effects/healed wounds etc.

    I’d say it could work something like this:
    A few drops – Enough to create a vampire, but not enough to “imprint” the Clan

    1Bp – enough to imprint the clan but not enough to heal any wounds/defects the character had before the embrace. It is at this stage alot of the physical flaws can be “earned” since the embrace didn’t get to “smooth out” any imperfections.

    2Bp+ – This is where it gets interesting, this is where deformities, birth defects, injuries etc can be healed. The more blood the Sire donates the better condition.

    Regarding mixed blood embraces i say this: The usual result is a Caitiff unless one of the donors is of a significatly lower generation (3 steps lower). So if a 11th gen Malkavian, a 12th gen Nosferatu and a 10th gen Lasombra mix their blood in a bowl and feed it to the dying person, that person is embraced as a caitiff, generation determined by the lowest gen in the group (in this case 11th gen).
    If the Lasombra was 8th gen, the newly embraced Vampire would be a Lasombra as well, now a 9th gen.

    Then there is Generation. IMO you shouldn’t have Generation as a Background at all.
    I think using a system similar to Requiems Blood Potency, where you can increase the trait with XP is a much better way to go.
    Generation should be a 1-5pt Merit that allows the Character to start at a higher Blood Potency (1 extra point per point invested in the Merit) and in addition recieve some form of social bonus for being of a Lower Gen/More powerful blood/closer to the Original Vampire.
    In an example a character would start at Blood Potency 1 (13th Gen), no merit points invested. This represents a Sire with Blood Potency 2 (12th Gen). If the player invested 3 points into the Generation Merit he would start at Blood Potency 4, representing that his sire was more powerful/closer to the Original.

    This could lead to some complications though as there are no longer any direct connection the “Closeness to the Original” and “Power of the Blood”. But IMO this could be explained with that all Vampires (even the Antediluvians) started out weak but grew more powerful with age. Also i do not advocate in any way that we should adopt the Fog of Ages or any other way of decreasing the Blood Potency except maybe with Blood Magic.

    Another thing i want to discuss is Ghouls. When a Ghoul is Embraced all of his stats should be kept, inluding Disciplines and the Bond. Actually, i think reworking the Former Ghoul merit is the way to go here as well.
    Former Ghoul should give you the usual social bonus plus allowing you to start wth one or more dots of Disciplines in addition to the 3 starting dots you usually recieve.
    The downside is the Blood Bond, you are fully blood bound to you sire/former regnant. Not only will this dissuade players from choosing the merit it will also cut back on the cost.

    Ofc there are alot of diffrent form of ghouls (Independent, Vassal, Revenant) so there should be different rules for different Ghoul backgrounds.

  32. Kieran
    October 24, 2015 at 7:26 pm

    While I favour ambiguity, leaving it to the Storyteller’s discretion, a few more details on the physical side of the Embrace’s transmutations wouldn’t hurt. Werewolves are well-known as a combination of genetics and spiritual factors, but have certain physiological limits imposed by being creatures of flesh and blood, first and foremost.

    Vampires, on the other hand, break a number of physical laws – and sometimes not always the *same* ones, given the different Clan attributes. So an examination of *how* so complicated a process can *be* so varied (and *why*) would be nice.

  33. stylanski
    October 24, 2015 at 11:21 pm

    Might I ask, how much will 4e be written with total newcomers to cWoD in mind?

    I am asking this because getting any (let alone most) of the previous editions’ material will come with a deterring cost in both time and money.

    Any chance this might assume the reader is a complete VtM newbie?

    • richt
      October 25, 2015 at 9:22 am

      A very large chance, yes.

  34. Varney
    October 25, 2015 at 1:05 am

    I think it doesn’t need explicit explanation. It’s the curse and blood of Caine and his ancient childer. How it works, why it works is beyond complete comprehension. If everything is answered, where’s the mystique? Where’s the mystery?

  35. Geddie
    October 25, 2015 at 3:24 am

    The embrace does seem like a mechanic that works as is. Maybe it’s just how the embrace is articulated. Maybe you could establish a basic timeline of a “typical” embrace. Ex: Ten minutes after death, the new vampire awakes with a start. Bloodlust begins after 2 hours. Fangs push out the old canines after a day. Etc.

    I always thought of it as a mystical curse with a biological effect passed on through the blood. It’s actually two curses though — God’s curse on Caine (that creates vampires) and Caine’s curse on the Antedilluvians (that creates clans).

    Giving blood to a dying person means they will rise as a vampire – although they do have to die (a good storyteller moment). Giving blood to a living person creates a ghoul, because the curse of Caine is competing with the breath of life.

    You embrace a ghoul the same way you embrace a standard mortal. (It is strange that if they die randomly with vampire blood in their system that they don’t auto embrace – that might actually be a fun system to avoid the “I have 100 ghouls” issue.)

    There are two kinds of Caitiff (three if you count thin bloods). The first are vampires that don’t know what clan they are because their sire didn’t socialize them or weren’t available. That’s more of a roleplaying issue than a mechanical one. The second is the ‘not a clan’ Caitiff splat, created because for SOME reason, Caine’s curse on the Antedilluvians didn’t correctly pass down. It was a cool idea for VTM 1.0 where we only had 7 clans. It just doesn’t quite seem that attractive an option when you’ve got dozens of minor clans, antitribu and bloodlines. It might be a good idea to add another sort of bonus to make Caitiff more attractive for players.

    Mini-bits:

    Diablerie changes the generation of a vampire. It effects the generation of future neonates, but not past ones.

    Every vampire has a sire. Sure, you can feed someone a mix of blood, but it’s always one bit of blood that jump starts the body again. There’s a fairly unseemly sperm and egg analogy there. For Sabbat shovelheads, part of the fun should be trying to figure out their clan and who their sire is.

    Keep generation as is. I like the Blood Potency concept, but generation makes VTM what it is. I did like the idea that the clan curse is stronger for low generation vampires and weaker for higher generation.

    I’d avoid linking Caitiff to having the “right” personality type for the clan. Part of the fun is having vampires that play against type – the socialite turned as punishment by Nosferatu or the meek housewife suddenly overcome with Brujah rage.

  36. Kaze
    October 25, 2015 at 6:10 pm

    The Embrace itself should be kept mystical, although, there should be more details about what it happens physically, mentally and spiritually to the body, mind and soul respectively. The process should be definitely a mix of a supernatural and physical process, the supernatural happening from the effects the Kindred blood has in a dead body, if not, it could turn in a kind of scientific and medical explanation (“a blood transfusion can cure that!”), not fun.

    The physical process should be about how the body changes from a fresh corpse to a vampire, like how it gradually acquires the pale-dead skin, how the internal organs become atrophied with the pass of the time, because their bodies no longer care about them, the formation of sharp fangs or if it is a Caitiff, how he doesn’t fully develop fangs, what it happens to the flesh, etc.

    About the Caitiff, I’d say that like the Blood Bound, the blood gave during the Embrace, should work in a supernatural way and the eagerness and desires from a Sire, during the Embrace, could define if the Childe might be a potential Caitiff, if the Childe’s abandoned or rejects and leaves its Clan and Sire. If the Sire felt inside himself, he didn’t really want to embrace or he was already regretting his decision without even knowing it, then the blood passed might be weak. Considering the Caitiff are embraced mostly in cases the Sires regretted the act or when a Cainite wasn’t able to control its actions, because he frenzied or it was a Malkavian unaware of its acts and the books say that something happens between the Sire and Childe during the process, all of that’d have sense.

    How the Kindred get the weaknesses and other bloodline characteristics, it could have something to do with staying close to its Sire, like the children that learn from good to bad things from their own parents.

    How someone’s embraced, it should still be determinate by the Sire, he could traditionally do it through the pleasure the humans have with the Kiss or maybe he desired to be violent and killed the Mortal in some way, perhaps to satisfy his own sadism or to give some kind of twisted lesson to the Childe, that could also help to define even more the personality of a Sire, how he used to mistreat his Childe or how he cared about him from the beginning. It could add more horrific and/or interesting details to the chronicles and particularly to the lore.

  37. October 25, 2015 at 7:39 pm

    One concept I detest, particularly because it’s so overdone in media these days is the “It’s a virus” approach. Please, if you are going to delve into the Embrace keep it 100% supernatural. Not a virus, not a curse dna imprint, or anything of the sort.

    I’m a little confused, though. I don’t think I’ve ever heard of any out of character debate or questioning involving the metaphysics of the Embrace? Outside of the mixed cup thing, which has been pretty well answered for a while.

    I guess if you are going to do anything with the Embrace, I might looks at how different groups, not Clans, or Sects, but other groups view it. It could be interesting to look at how the Salubri view it in regards to their own search for Golconda and passing on the mission. As far as lore, probably the best part of the Embrace I find is the Caine learned of it’s possibility from the very angels that cursed him. The act itself is, and absolutely should be damning in itself. Mortals, no matter what they think, or how they feel at the time, simply can’t understand what it means, but the Sire does, and going back to the idea that Cainites are “the Damned”, willing passing on that curse is a pretty big deal. Sorry, I’m fishing for ideas here. I really have no idea what is not clear? Or what is debatable or causing arguments or even discussion? It seems pretty clear.

    The Sire needs to drain all the blood from the would be Childe, and at or just after the point of death, feeds them some of their own blood, basically directly, and in most cases the Curse begins to take effect. They die, and they come back as a Cainite.

    Actually, I do have something I’d like to add. Back in our show on Prophecy and the Thin Bloods, we touched on the idea that some of the Thin Bloods, (those that developed the Insight Background) might have done so as when they where Embraces, as Thin Bloods, didn’t wake back up immediately. They might have actually been dead for a day or two, confusing their Sire’s who thought it failed, but it just took longer than normal. And one of the ideas was that because they where dead, but the Embrace was still working it’s magic, their souls visited the other side for a bit, and opened up some sort of mystical channel to something, granting them Insight.

    Now that is something I’d like to see looked at. You could even branch out a bit from this into the communal cup and suggest that maybe the curses are attempting to fight each other, and during that time the dead Childe’s soul is trapped in some sort of limbo, unable to complete the Embrace until the Curses find a way to resolve the issue. In the end, they (normally) cancel each other out, (but not always), and in doing so, force that Childe’s soul to experience a sort of limbo state. It lets them touch, without knowing it, maybe different aspects of their various Clans’ inside secrets, (like the Malk Madness Network) and get glimpses, (ones that they will not consciously remember), but in doing so it opens them up to the potential to learn a variety of Disciplines.

    Another concept we talked about on the Daughters of Cacophony episode is what if, that Bloodline in particular, but this could be applied broadly, where actually a members of an extinct Clan, but just enough of their bloodline remained within a few Caitiff that they began to reawaken. No one knew this, but it was a pretty cool concept, and could even go so far back as to maybe show that the modern Caitiff could even potentially carry some of the lineages of the Second Generation, only slowly beginning to resurface.

  38. Pharniel
    October 26, 2015 at 9:35 pm

    The embrace *should* have all these questions in setting.
    The book *should* give the ST some answers.

    The big one is “clanless”/catief vs. actually clanless-mechanically catief.

    If there are truly clanless vampires then some standard boundaries need to be setup including “what happens when you have a pander get down to Gen 7 through Diablere?” and if the answer is just “you get a gen 8 vampire w/out a clan flaw” then that’s fine – it’s a great reason for the elders to be scared.

    As for the act its self – I go with it’s a death, but with true death delayed. It is a mystical process that acts on the body and mind producing progeny one generation higher than the sire at the time of creation.

    Chalace of blood – easy way we always did was to put blood ‘cards’ in a cup and draw randomly – welcome to the clan folks.

  39. Keith
    October 27, 2015 at 3:11 pm

    There needs to be more than blood goes in and Vampire wakes up.

    Everyone is different. The Antedilluvians each got their clan curse as a punishment from Caine, each curse reflecting the individual antedilluvians crime. So there should be a lesser effect for embraces. A beautiful person embraced by a Nosferatu may become uglier than a ugly person embraced by a Nosferatu (after all, Absimiliard got his curse because his vanity meant he killed Zillah the Beautiful).

  40. IgnyteZero
    October 28, 2015 at 2:03 am

    Having pondered on this subject for a while I’ve come to the personal conclusion that these matters should remain somewhat mysterial. This game benefits from leaving a lot to interpretation, so more rules or explanations than what is needed probably just detracts from the game system.

    While some explanations for the Caitiff nature might help, don’t overexplain. This should be one of the games unknowns, since a lot of fear among kindred is based on the lack of understanding the origin and implications of their existence. However, a handful of common ideas and prejudice about Caitiff nature and origin could be mentioned, leaving the subject open. That way the mystery is kept intact, and exact mechanics is up to Storytellers.

    • IgnyteZero
      October 28, 2015 at 4:47 pm

      To be really honest, during development of 4th ed, when you stumble upon parts of rules and setting just like this where parts of the information is unclear, ambiguous or just missing you need to ask yourself a few simple things:

      Does clarifying this benefit storytelling this game? Can this lack of input be used to build interesting characters, plots or stories? Does adding rules here perhaps destroy what makes this game fun and diverse?

  41. Evil Lord Zog
    October 28, 2015 at 8:15 pm

    Something as fundamental as the Embrace should be codified because if all these years in the hobby has taught me anything it’s just how much roleplayers can’t help themselves but delve into the nooks and crannies of a thing to tinker and break it apart in ways unenvisioned and unintended by the creator(s) of that thing. Parameters are both necessary and challenging.

    That doesn’t mean however that it needs to be any one thing to the exclusion of all others. Make it modular & flow-charty so the storyteller can look at the logic of it and decide exactly what the Embrace means and how it works in their chronicle. Explore the logic behind the default off-the-shelf Embrace intended by the writers.

    I’ve always wondered what it would mean for the setting if the caitiff was the default state of a vampire, their ‘unique’ combination of powers determined by the nature of the childe rather than the sire. What if clans with their trademark powers and quirks were the oddity rather than the rule? Assemblages of those who find they share certain traits after-the-fact and look for strength in that commonality rather than the cause of the traits. Maybe in such a take, being able to reliably rubber-stamp your vampiric ‘DNA’ onto your childe is something like the expression of a recessive gene, and clans are looked down upon like pure-blood asari.

    Or maybe ’embracing true’ comes from the realisation that it’s the sheer amount of vitae involved. Perhaps the sire has to risk their immortality with that first gift of vitae as the price of ensuring it continues in their childe. Or is ‘clan’ simply the first and greatest of bloodbonds, established either at the sire’s end through a protracted embrace or as a deliberate choice of the childe through some particular ritual that marks their entry into larger vampire society akin to a fae’s choosing of their defining court?

  42. Claire C.
    October 30, 2015 at 5:42 pm

    The origin (and nature) of the Beast. Where does it come from? When a new childe is Embraced, and the sire is not diminished, from whence did her Beast arise? Where does the Embrace send the slain human’s soul that it returns with a hungry evil eager to sink its fangs into Humanity’s throat? Is the Beast in fact a distinct force at all, or simply the potential worst of a person freed from the mind’s dark recesses by death and resurrection?

    Those kinds of questions would definitely get me thinking! I’d love to explore them in a game, but they must also remain mysterious enough that a vampire must wonder.

  43. Michael Vides
    November 1, 2015 at 10:09 am

    Caitiff don’t need hard, fast mechanical rules for how they are created. All that will do is close doors to players and storytellers.

    It’s fine to offer guidance. Discuss the various ways that Caitiff *could* come about (Revised edition did stuff like this splendidly).

    But setting down mechanics like “Roll the Sire’s Generation Background against a difficulty of 6 and if it botches you have a Caitiff” is the kind of stuff that’s best left on the cutting room floor, or at best tucked away in a side-bar.

    See the Vicissitude as Disease rules – they’re there if you want them but we don’t have to go all Requiem on this and have mechanics for every tiny nuance of the game (then you end up with crap like Predator’s Taint – rules that have to be ignored 95% of the time and end up getting slashed out of the second edition).

    Honestly, I see almost all aspects of the Embrace like this. I wouldn’t mind seeing more narrative mechanics for “This is what can happen” but treat these as options, not as core mechanics.

  44. Arkhon
    November 1, 2015 at 11:30 pm

    Honestly I think the Embrace should stay as it is. The Storyteller’s Guide (Revised) already did a good job with some of the questions you made.
    Storytellers can make adjustments on their own.

  45. VaderofBorg
    November 4, 2015 at 8:44 am

    I know I’m a little late to the game here. I’m not sure if this is in any of the V:TM books but a better idea of how a bloodline can be created. Just ideas and concepts, that sort of thing, not so much mechanics though. We have some examples, the Tremere and Nagaraja were mortal mages who were embraced through magical means, hence a bloodline. I also like how some of the bloodlines were changed too in recent books. So some type of sidebar would be nice at the very least.

    An example from my current Dark Ages game one of the PC’s (a Ventrue) husbands was embraced by a Cappadocian and immediately put into Torpor via Necromancy. In trying to wake her husband she fed him copious amounts of Ventrue blood (other than the embrace he had never had any other blood), buried him in the soil of her city (that sits on one of the Carpathian i.e. Kupala’s ley lines) and then eventually learned Necromancy to wake him up. So given all that I decided that once she dug him back up, he was a no longer Cappadocian but a new distinct bloodline. Clan disciplines were based on the two “parent” clans Presence (Ventrue), Auspex (Cappadocian)and Fortitude (both).

    In a less interesting case I had a pair of Kindred lovers from different clans that had shared blood for centuries with each other, neither having embraced during that time. Once one of them finally did, they found that their childer was a distinct bloodline. So while the sire was effectively still their parent clan, their “seed” wasn’t and produced a bloodline.

    Anywho, that’s my 2 cents, thanks for considering.

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