V20 Dark Ages: Laibon

Vampire: The Masquerade

Hi everyone!

I wanted to share something a little more substantial today, since I’ve been hard at work in the word mines, trying to get this book wrapped up and sent over to art/layout.

The Laibon are a weird bit of Vampire: The Masquerade history. The various editions have had conflicting versions, stories, and treatments surrounding them. Having discussed them with my team, we realized that they were really important to the way we wanted to present the Dark Medieval World, since this is a time when Africa and Europe interacted quite a bit. This was an opportunity for us to present interesting thematic tools for your chronicles. In V20 Dark Ages, Laibon is simply the word for “Cainite” for African vampires. They don’t subscribe to the Caine creation myth. Our Laibon come from a few lineages, including three new ones, and some existing ones like the Setites.

The Laibon are a place where we’ve deviated from past editions for a few reasons. Let me touch on a few:

1) Africa’s a big place. It contains a large swath of the human population. We felt that offering a single bloodline just wouldn’t do it justice. While we couldn’t do a whole book dedicated to the Laibon -nor would that book be V20 Dark Ages if we could- we wanted to offer some facets to what Laibon could be.

2) Kindred of the Ebony Kingdom exists already. We couldn’t really rehash that treatment, because it takes a lot of space to do any sort of justice. I’m already stretching it with the word count I have available.

3) The past single-bloodline versions of the Laibon were often interesting, but needed a little attention and depth in our opinion.

4) I wanted to offer more distinct variety for African characters, so as to avoid stereotyping. If all European characters were Gangrel, what would that say about European vampires? With our Laibon, we have a range of character types available.

So, what our writer for this section, Steffie de Vaan, did was use the past content for inspirational material and some names, but come up with new and exciting mythologies for our three Laibon lineages. I don’t want to call them bloodlines (although they appear in the bloodlines section of the book) because as far as anyone in the know knows, they’re effectively clans that don’t descend from Caine. I don’t want to call them clans, however, because the European Cainites don’t recognize them as such.

They draw loosely from African myth, the way most of Vampire draws loosely from European myth. Let us know what you think. These are partly through editing, but not all.

Here’s the three lines, along with Abombwe and the Necromancy Path of Haunting.

  51 comments for “V20 Dark Ages: Laibon

  1. J
    July 6, 2014 at 10:59 pm

    AHHHHH

    AHHHHHHHHHHHHH

    OH MY GOODNESS I AM SO EXCITED THAT I HAVE TO TYPE/YELL

    You guys are addressing literally every problem that I have had with the Vampire aspect of WoD, and you’re doing it SO WELL. I’ve always been fond of the Laibon, and this fleshes them out in such an effective way. I cannot wait to give you guys money for this version of Dark Ages.

    • machineiv
      July 6, 2014 at 11:12 pm

      Thank you so much!

      That’s really refreshing to hear. It’s definitely our goal.

      Really, this comes back to what Rich said in this article: http://theonyxpath.com/tuesday-we-try-and-get-along-together/

      I’m trying really hard to make V20 Dark Ages a positive, really exciting force. Some of that involves setting interesting examples. Some of that has to do with examining what’s come before, finding what worked, finding what didn’t, and turning all those dials to find the razor edge we’re going for. Sometimes, just a little more depth goes a long way.

    • Steffie
      July 7, 2014 at 5:03 am

      I AM VERY EXCITED TOOOOOO! In all seriousness, thank you for your words. It’s awesome when someone recognizes what you’re trying to accomplish and likes it :).

  2. Danparadox
    July 6, 2014 at 11:15 pm

    I salute you.

    I loved the DA Laibon, partially because I thought they got a cooler Abombwe than the Ebony Kingdom Laibon, but also because they felt truly foreign as opposed to “exotic” to the euro-centric DA book. And this is BRILLIANT!

    I have been nothing but impressed with what the Dark Ages development has been doing, I am beyond excited for seeing the final product.

    • machineiv
      July 6, 2014 at 11:17 pm

      Wonderful to hear. I can’t wait to get this product into hands. It’s been such a huge part of my life for the past year.

      • Octavo
        July 7, 2014 at 12:37 am

        This is really good stuff.

        I know nothing’s been announced yet, but it would be so awesome if you and your team got a crack at the various cultural groups in Dark Ages: Mage (Or M20: the Dark Ages).

        • machineiv
          July 7, 2014 at 12:41 am

          That would really rock now, wouldn’t it?

          • JezMiller
            July 7, 2014 at 8:36 am

            It would, but is there a realistic chance that it might happen? *crossed fingers*

    • Steffie
      July 7, 2014 at 5:00 am

      Thank you so much! We tried to keep as much of the original Laibon as we could, but wanted to make them proudly stand on their own. I think we succeeded with that.

  3. Mort
    July 7, 2014 at 2:44 am

    While I support what you’ve done, dark ages has always been a large creative pool for me. I liked the original version of their power also so my question is: Why not provide a split version? Break the clan/brood into two forces like the Salubri one using the original version and the other following this one.

    Do not get me wrong I think what you’ve done is pretty awesome, and I fully intend to buy this book, but at the same time while refreshing the clan/brood its good to make notes on the chance from the original power if even in a side bar.

    I hate to be that guy but just some food for thought.

    • machineiv
      July 7, 2014 at 5:55 am

      Totally not “that guy”. I appreciate the comments!

      In this case, I felt that the Laibon have a wide swath of population to represent, and far too much to just call one bloodline. The Salubri aren’t, for example, the only vampires out of Asia. So they’re not the entirety of that representation.

      Also, the Salubri are two sides of the same coin. The Laibon are different coins entirely. Their only feature in common is their geographical heritage. And with few exceptions, we don’t define groups solely by their geographical heritage.

  4. Seth
    July 7, 2014 at 3:05 am

    I’m not sure what I should think. You are right with every word you said about Laibon and the three “lines” are quite cool. But in my opinion you make the problem with the Laibon even greater by introducing another complete different version. That answers no question and if you already use one of the previous versions it get hard to bring that together if you want to convert. Up to now every V20-Content was a kind of a new (fresh) look on the same (old) thing. Now you throw away an entire part of the the World and replaced it with something completely different.
    The Ebony Kingdom Laibon were a different thing than the DA ones, but you could explain that. For example bay saying the DA-Laibon are a extinct northern African Bloodline of the Ebony Kingdom Laibon. Or they are what happens, if a Ebony Kingdom Laibon starts to believing in the Cain-myth (as the semi-social semi-physical weaknesses of Clans and Bloodlines show, Vampires in the old WoD are just physical influenced by what they believe they are,) but however.

    The same with the new Abombwe. It is somewhat cool, but it lost its theme. The themes of Abombwe were always prey and blood. The new version kept the prey but lost the blood and replaced it with darkness. So it is a kind of fighting-obtenebration now (did I hear somebody say Khaibit? Anyway!).

    The Point is, the new Version leaves no room for the old one, not anymore. Players and storytellers may like that or not, but in my opinion it is a real pity and a kind of lost opportunity.

    • Steffie
      July 7, 2014 at 9:07 am

      When I began writing the Laibon, I started with the original DA splat. One thing that drew my attention is the previous version’s statement that ‘the Laibon’ are various lineages, and that the Laibon the Cainites meet are simply one of them. Which is cool, but also odd. Consider the Brujah going to Africa and introducing themselves as ‘clan Cainite’ for example, or the Ventrue somehow being the only Cainites found in the entire continent of Africa. So I decided to really dig into the original idea of separate lineages and write the as just that – separate lineages (which translated as three because of space).

      Which brings us to the Ramanga, Impundulu and Bonsam. So how, to go back to your comments, do they get along with the original version’s Laibon. Again, there are several options and you should choose what works in your game. Maybe ‘the Laibon’ were a Cainite invention to begin with – they were never only one lineage, but several lumped together by the Europeans. In this case, you could choose which new lineage fits best with your Laibon and update them to that. Or perhaps the three new clans are separate from the Laibon and are only now seeking contact with Cainites, meaning you add them and the original splat for a total of 4 lineages in your game. 

      As for Abombwe – I updated the discipline with the Bonsam in mind, which is why thematically it links to darkness (which is their origin story). Large portions of it remain the same mechanically though. So if, for example, you decide to keep the DA Laibon and add the new three, there is no reason why the Laibon and the Bonsam can’t both have Abombwe. They share the discipline, but one (Laibon) connects the power to blood and the other (Bonsam) to shadows.

      Does that help address your concerns? 

      • Aldo Montoya Reynaga
        July 7, 2014 at 11:57 am

        I think it does. I was of the sake mind that Seth. I like Laibon as a bloodline of Gangrel (as 1st DA say) but as you write i could use your 3 new lines and the old one to make the setting more interesting.

        Thks i hope to see the final product in my hands soon

        Also *cross my fingers* retake the DA lines

        • Steffie
          July 7, 2014 at 1:46 pm

          Yes, that’s exactly it. The Ramanga, Impundulu and Bonsam aren’t a literal, one-on-one update of the Laibon. They are the spirit of the ‘multi lineage’ Laibon split into separate lineage. You decide for your own game if you want them to coexist next to the old DA Laibon, or replace them.

      • Seth
        July 8, 2014 at 4:55 am

        Yes, it helps. And at the end of the day, it is always the storytellers and the players game and they chose what they use. The thing that irritated me is just that this is the first entirely new stuff in the V20 with no relation the “old” cWoD I aware of. I wounder why you do not use some of the KoEK lines to represent the multiple Line thing (or use them as well, the three you created are still interesting). I agree that rewriting KoEK is not what DA should do, but with no hint of the other “old” Laibon (which were widespread and mentioned to have huge empires in the old days), it just feel like you cutting away this entire part of the cWoD. I think one or two sentences who mentioned that there is more unknown in the dark continent could solve this.

      • Ben Linus
        July 8, 2014 at 9:55 am

        The Laibon will have an introductory text in the book before entering the three strains? Which in this case is to mention that there are other lines besides those mentioned which solves the problem.

        • Ben Linus
          July 8, 2014 at 9:59 am

          3 Bloodlines.

  5. JezMiller
    July 7, 2014 at 3:24 am

    Any game called “The Dark Ages” is going to be, and should be, Eurocentric by its very nature, since the dark ages are an innately Eurocentric concept. (Even though this particular game is actually about the High Middle Ages, he mutters petulantly). But the Judeo-Christian Eurocentricity of the Caine origin story never really appealed to me. I was always secretly rooting for the Followers of Set when it came to vampire origin stories. It’s (yet another) breath of fresh air to get a hint that vampire origins don’t *have* to be rooted in Biblical literalism, if you don’t want them to be.

    That aside, this ticks a lot of boxes. Highly diverse options for character creation. Numerous possible motivations for interaction (friendly or otherwise), with European vampires. Distinct enough to add something new to the setting, but not so alien to it as to jar with it.

    A key question left unanswered is the likelihood of their Embracing non-Africans. For instance, when I read the Impundulu write-up, it struck me that trying to Embrace childer from European “witch” families might be something they’d try to get around their inbreeding issues. (Successfully or otherwise).

    • Nathan Henderson
      July 7, 2014 at 3:56 am

      In the CWoD Vampire setting, my own way to handle cultural diversity vs. monomyth, is that different groups have their own legends of the first Vampire, but post-“Flood” things start to line up – afterall there are Methuselahs around who met the Antedeluvians. But only the Antedeluvians know what came before [insert mythic devastation event which they survived]. The legends of the forebearer vary from culture and culture and Clan to Clan, but the theme of Fratricide permeates.

      Norse vampires claim Hodr, God of Night, was the first vampire, outcast for slaying his brother Baldur. For this they hate Loki and his spawn (including “Get” of Loki’s son Fenrir…) who tricked Hodr into the deed.

      My Setites actually claim Sutekh is the father of ALL vampires, cursed by Re, the Sun, for slaying his brother Osiris. Their line’s specific progenitor is Typhon, who alone was loyal to Sutekh.

      Ancient Greek vampires believed Ixion was the their forbearer. And so on.

      Obviously in the Dark Medieval World through the modern West, the myth of Caine has institutional ascension thanks to the dominance of Abrahamic religions.

    • machineiv
      July 7, 2014 at 4:16 am

      We kind of left that open, because I figure people will do with it what they will. If they want to make them insular within Europe, that’s not unreasonable. If they want to make them push outward and Embrace Europeans, awesome.

      The book is clearly Eurocentric, but there are stylistic dials to turn. And I feel that the sweet spot is probably a little closer to historical accuracy. In the middle ages, Africans did explore outward. As my team researched, we found all sorts of really iconic examples that were often ignored or erased from Eurocentric history. We thought those sorts of things would make for an awesome Dark Ages game, so we offered up some tools to make that a thing.

    • Steffie
      July 7, 2014 at 5:26 am

      I didn’t want to narrowly define the interaction between Laibon and Cainites, because I think every vampire is different. We have the stereotype types, but I don’t want to say ‘Laibon lineages a and b feel this way about embracing Europeans, but lineage c feels that way’ because that’s not how it works. All three lineages are in contact with European Cainites, obviously, but how YOUR Laibon N/PC reacts to them, should depend more on her personality, story and goals, than on her lineage.

      As for the Impundulu and their Bomkazi allies … The Bomkazi blood *seems* to need a trace from the original Bomkazi for the Impundulu to gain sustenance from it. In which case, adding more outside blood from European witches would make things worse. On the other hand, perhaps it isn’t the Bomkazi’s blood in a genetic sense that does the trick, but the strength of the magic in it – so adding a fresh magical lineage might work wonders. The details of this are best decided per individual campaign. Figure out what kind of options (solutions) you want to be available to the Impundulu and Bomkazi in your campaign and take it from there :).

      • JezMiller
        July 7, 2014 at 7:22 am

        It occurred to me that if the blood had to come from magically capable relatives, then Embracing a mortal from a completely different *human* bloodline might “reset” the definition of “relatives”, just as “native” earth doesn’t mean “Transylvanian” for all Tzimisce.

        If that’s not the case, then to avoid ultimate doom for the bloodline, you’re looking for a magical/thaumaturgical method of correcting inbreeding defects so that keeping the bloodline “pure” is a viable proposition. *Ching* Ready-made chronicle idea…

        • Steffie
          July 7, 2014 at 9:59 am

          That is pretty awesome :).

  6. Nathan Henderson
    July 7, 2014 at 3:26 am

    I notice these Lineages are very different from the Legacies of Kindred of the Ebony Kingdom (which includes a completely different Legacy of Obtenebration wielders, a different Legacy of Necromancy wielders, associates the Assanbosam of myth with Vicissitude wielding Legacy, gives Abombwe to clear cousins of the Gangrel rather than the Nosferatu, and has a very different Legacy of beautiful cousins of the Nosferatu).

    So beyond “not rehashing KotEK” is there a conscious intent to replace that, at least for the Dark Ages setting, or are they meant to coexist?

    • machineiv
      July 7, 2014 at 4:14 am

      They can coexist in your chronicle with little fussing. Clearly, KotEK vampires are a whole different monster, with different rules and all that. But we felt we couldn’t do with them what we wanted, in the space we could afford to spare.

    • Steffie
      July 7, 2014 at 5:10 am

      You can use whatever parts of KotEK that you like :). One of my (our, really – the entire team brainstormed on this) jumping off points was that I wanted to make the Laibon stand on their own, independent of their relationship to the Cainite clans. So I did that and clouded their history in myth. Whether you want them to be clans descendent from Cain, non-Cainite vampires all together, or bloodlines of existing clans is all up to you. And the same goes for whether you want these to replace or add to the KotEK lineages – whatever works in your game is what you should do.

  7. Olympius
    July 7, 2014 at 5:27 am

    I don’t usually read these early drafts, but my curiosity got the better of me and I couldn’t stop reading. You’ve brought some of the mystery and horror back into the oWoD and I love it. There’s so much story potential here with the possible interactions between Laibon and Kindred (and even mortals!), and the Bonsam origin myth is frightening and compelling. I didn’t think much of the Laibon before, but now I want them to get their own fiction anthology. Keep up the good work.

    • Steffie
      July 7, 2014 at 5:47 am

      Oh I’d be SO on board with a Laibon anthology. Or maybe there will be room in the future for a Dark Ages book detailing other regions of the world, and we could expand our three Laibon to more lineages. Not up to me obviously, but a girl can dream :). Either way, thank you for the praise.

      • machineiv
        July 7, 2014 at 5:51 am

        Let’s see how the Kickstarter does.

        I’d love to see more on these Laibon.

      • JezMiller
        July 7, 2014 at 8:27 am

        There was a spider-web of trade routes stretching out along the north African coast, through to the Crusader kingdoms, and along to southern Europe.

        How about a Med Basin Chronicle / Campaign setting (I know, I know, that was right out of the Leonard of Quirm school of lame names. You could call it “Across a Sunless Sea” or something), that explores those regions and the undead who inhabit them – and addresses things like the revolution in trade, shipbuilding and cartography arising from the Crusades and how Cainites/Laibon exploit that? It kills two bird with one stone – expands on the Laibon backgrounds and culture, and provides the means to integrate them into other DA chronicles?

        • machineiv
          July 7, 2014 at 8:34 am

          Damn that would be really fun.

          Keep that in mind once we start talking Kickstarter.

  8. DaemonChrno
    July 7, 2014 at 7:51 am

    The lineages are both cool, refreshing and horrific. There are three things that bug me currently:
    – Will a little boxed text be provided for explaining the kind of powers a Bomkazi can wield? For now, it’s too fuzzy for me to handle correctly.
    – Why adding the reference for the Cenotaph Path in the Disciplines of the Impundulu if you’re not going to print it in the book? It will only confuse players and new would-be storytellers. Also, the Cenotaph Path is pretty useless without access to the Sepulcher Path practiced exclusively by the Giovanni bloodline.
    – Can’t you change the mechanic of the weakness of the Ramanga? I think a clan/legacy/bloodline weakness should always be one. Even if you can achieve a shortcut, you should not be advantaged by it.

    • Steffie
      July 7, 2014 at 1:55 pm

      To answer your questions in order:

      – I’m not sure we have room for that, but it might be worth considering. I’ll let David decide. Thematically the Bomkazi are life where the Impundulu are death, so their magic leans that way.

      – I think Cenotaph path might see print in V20 Dark Ages, but again I defer to David.

      – There is some precedence for circumventing a Clan Weakness i.e. The Nosferatu and Mask of 1000 Faces. The weakness is based on the original legend of the Ramanga, which is a vampiric creature that (amongst other services) eats the nail clipping of the tribe elders. So translating that to Vampire, I thought: ‘why the heck would anyone do something that icky, what does he gain?’ And then this weakness was born – he doesn’t eat the naip clippings, but collects them for use. Plus, I don’t think that getting hold of someone’s physical body parts is too easy (unless you’re pretending to eat them ;).

      • JezMiller
        July 7, 2014 at 2:43 pm

        If DA: Mage gets an Anniversary edition, I’d love to see the Bomkazi as a new splat in that. Or if that’s overly ambitious, how about a standard 3 or four page DA:Mage write-up of them as a stretch goal or optional additional PDF supplement? Or both?

        I’m getting the impression from postings here that the word count in the book itself is pretty much maxed out and then some. But I do agree with DaemonChrno, the Bomkazi are integral enough to the Impundulu that defining them *somewhere* is going to be necessary to use the bloodline in a major role in the chronicle. You *could* use a mish-mash of powers cobbled together from the life-related aspects of the other Mage Fellowships to represent their powers, but that would be doing a disservice to a very interesting concept.

        • machineiv
          July 7, 2014 at 6:59 pm

          I don’t know about DA: Mage. But I have thoughts on fleshing them out a little bit soon. I’ve got to weigh a few things here.

      • Steffie
        July 12, 2014 at 2:35 am

        David and I talked about the Ramanga weakness some more and in retrospect agree that it’s a little too light. The updated Ramanga weakness still allows them to negate the penalty by owning a physical part of their target (there is a precedent for subverting weaknesses – see Nosferatu and Mask of a Thousand Faces), but this no longer grants a bonus.

  9. AnaMizuki
    July 7, 2014 at 8:26 am

    The Impundulu are awesome, turning the whole Dormitor and Ghoul dynamic on its head, I like the idea of vampire communities (DA Tzimisce have been my favourite clan for that for a long time) and Impundulu certainly are community vampires.

    • Steffie
      July 7, 2014 at 10:05 am

      The relationship between the Impundulu and Bomkazi was one of the things that immediately grabbed us when we brainstormed the Laibon, so I’m glad you like that.

  10. PrimalFlame
    July 7, 2014 at 11:49 am

    The Laibon traits of Orun and Aye always drove me away from that setting (KotEK). With Orun and Aye it was like the Legacies were another sort of supernatural creature, something similar to the “magic foreigner” stereotype (considering how Kindred/Cainite morality is “less magical” than that, specially when your consider Orun’s link to the spirit world).

    I like how you guys ignored that traits / mechanic.

    • Innes
      July 8, 2014 at 12:15 am

      Orun/Aye wasn’t very different from the Paths and Roads.

  11. JezMiller
    July 7, 2014 at 3:21 pm

    I’ll add a general observation. I was never going to be your toughest audience for this project. But you’ve taken aspects of the old DA that I actually disliked (the Malkavians) or wasn’t really interested in (the Laibon), and made me enthusiastic about the possibility of using them in a game. To misquote Han Solo, I have a very good feeling about this.

    Just please, please don’t let the Gangrel write-up say, “they’re kinda like Conan the Barbarian, only with fangs. And fleas”…

    • machineiv
      July 7, 2014 at 3:57 pm

      Oh god no.

      The Gangrel writeup is all about the dying spirit of adventure, and epic wild hunts. They’re all about being free spirits among monsters, not beholden or tied to anything. I might share it next.

      Also, my editor and I combed the book. I think there’s not a single reference to the word “barbarian”, except in specific, in-character phrasing. From an etymology standpoint, it really muddies a lot of important waters, and unintentionally builds bias.

      • JezMiller
        July 7, 2014 at 6:04 pm

        Thanks. I’ll look forward to that! And yes, I can’t see it being very useful, except as an IC indicator of social attitudes among Roman-era Cainites like Mithras

  12. Valismedsen
    July 7, 2014 at 5:18 pm

    Bonsam weakness seems really harsh, as a character would be completely unable to interact with mortals beyond violence between both. Does at least Obfuscate 3 and Abombwe 5 (mortal form) mitigate this weakness?

    • Steffie
      July 12, 2014 at 2:31 am

      Yes, in retrospect we agree that it’s too harsh. The updated Bonsam weakness only applies when a mortal sees their true form (meaning Obfuscate 3 and Abombwe 5 in mortal form allows them to subvert it) and a mortal need not roll again for a Bonsam if she passed the check once (meaning mortals can build up a resistance to fear when interacting with a Bonsam).

      I hope that alleviates your concern.

  13. tau neutrino
    July 8, 2014 at 6:16 am

    Good job on the new lineages. Will there be a “future fates” section with options about how these Laibon can be integrated into KotEK ?

    “After the Embrace, a new Ramanga traditionally stays with her sire for several centuries, …” That’s long, even for a vampire.

    Song of the Dead seems really powerful for level 1 Path. “If a target suffers the effects of this power for more continuous nights than her permanent Willpower, she loses a dot of permanent Willpower. This cycle continues after an interval of the new rating in days, with the victim losing a dot of permanent Willpower after each such iteration.” So does it continue beyond the number of successes rolled?

    • Steffie
      July 8, 2014 at 7:35 am

      At this point I don’t think we plan on offering an ‘eye on the future’ for the Laibon. So how they fare is up to you – you can add them alongside the KotEK in your chronicle, drop them entirely (meaning they went extinct) or have them merge with some of the KotEK lineages.

      And yes, the Ramanga stay with their sires for a loooong time (even so long that the relationship remains tight even of they should no longer be amiable). The Ramange have an internal unity that could make the Giovanni weep with envy and it’s one of the things that makes them very, very scary. However, this need not mean stay physically together under the same roof. It could mean stay in a mentor x protege relationship or stay working in concert. I leave that up to individual players.

  14. Ben Linus
    July 8, 2014 at 11:12 am

    I seem to have missed one Bloodline to represent the West African. Nubians, Abyssinians and Yorubas. That interacted strongly with the Muslim World.

    Shango would like a revision to represent this region to demonstrate that the Assamite has had his heresies before Islam.

  15. Zakariya Ali Sher
    July 13, 2014 at 3:38 am

    Love it, love it, love it! As a fan of the old KotEK, I fully intend to use these new “bloodlines” (Legacies? Clans?) alongside the existing African Legacies. It’s good to see the Laibon, and Africa, get some more coverage. All the more so when you consider that Africa was intimately tied up with the Mediterranean and Islamic worlds through trade networks (and indeed, a good chunk of Africa was Muslim by this time period, and increasingly so over the next couple centuries).

    I really appreciate that all three Laibon “bloodlines” are entirely separate from any of the existing European/Middle Eastern “Clans.” Maybe there are connections, maybe not (the Bonsam have similarities to both the Nosferatu and Gangrel, for example, while the Impundulu have little in common with the Cappadocians, or Giovanni, or even Nagaraja beyond Necromancy). It brings some of that sense of mystery back to the WoD. It also calls the Caine myth into question, keeping the focus firmly on the indigenous African vampires and their mythology.

    And all three of these Laibon “bloodlines” are firmly rooted to specific cultures or geographic locations. Sure, they could have spread across the continent by now, and likely have. I’m sure there are Bonsam running wild across the Serengeti and Congo, Ramanga manipulating the markets of Mogadishu and Algiers, and Impundulu poaching the secrets of the Orishas from the Yorùbá people, but the write-ups draw on specific cultures, mythologies and folklore, which goes a long way toward dispelling the myth that “all Africans are the same.” Moreover, the Laibon aren’t necessarily presented as benevolent protectors of African culture either; they are pretty explicitly monsters, just like the European Cainites.

    I also like that the Setites’ connections with Africa are alluded to. Out of the 13 “core” Clans, only the Followers of Set are explicitly said to have originated in Africa (albeit in Egypt, which is culturally, linguistically, historically and mythologically linked with the rest of the African continent, but also the neighboring Middle East and even Mediterranean too; its really a crossroads of cultures due to its geography). Moreover, the Setites were presented as a Legacy alongside the other Laibon in KotEK, so its quite fitting the other Laibon are aware of them. Even if their Egypt-centric prejudices kept them from straying too far beyond Nubia or Aksum in earlier centuries, by the Dark Ages its likely the Followers of Set would have established a network of cults and influence across the African continent.

    One minor quibble, though. Shouldn’t the Ramanga be concentrated along Africa’s southern and eastern coasts, and maybe even a little into the Indian Ocean islands? Madagascar is located to the southeast of the African continent, not the southwest. Actually, come to think of it, Madagascar would be an interesting setting in the Dark Ages since it was only recently settled (and by humans from Indonesia at that) and likely still retained much of its endemic megafauna. The largest birds to ever live (which may have inspired legends of the Roc!), panther-sized fossas, horned crocodiles, and lemurs as big as gorillas!

    • Steffie
      July 13, 2014 at 2:05 pm

      Thank you for your enthusiasm and support! Yes, the Ramanga’s island is located off the south east of African – I simply mistyped that and it’s been fixed since :).

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