Blood Will Have Blood: The Assamites

Next on the open development tour for Lore of the Clans is Clan Assamite, written by Alan Alexander. The link to the Google Doc containing his material is here:

Edit: Link removed now that open development is closed. Thank you!

Alan’s pretty heavily over his word count, so I’m pretty focused on where we can tighten things up and cut material. As always, though, I’m curious to see if your comments reinforce my instincts, or point in a different direction. I’ll close comments on this one on Thursday, July 31st. I’ll put a big note on the document when I close it so it’s clear.

A few things to keep in mind (and I’ll be repeating these points a lot):

Comments only: Everyone (except me) is restricted to comments only. Don’t resolve someone else’s comments or mine, but feel free to discuss whatever makes sense. Please keep it civil, though, even if you disagree.

Keep calm and carry on: This is a preliminary draft. Things will likely change between this draft and the final book. If you see something weird or that you don’t agree with, don’t freak out and tell the Internet OMG VAMPIRE IS RUINT. Just comment on the concerning area, and I’ll look into it. Certainly don’t give the writer shit for it.

Substance over style: I’m focusing purely on the content, not punctuation or grammar. That kind of refinement of the material will happen in a later draft. Don’t worry too much about commenting on those concerns, unless something makes the material confusing to understand.

Cards close to my chest: Because I don’t want to bias the discussion, I’m keeping my thoughts on how I want to redline this chapter to myself. I’ll certainly answer questions and help steer conversation away from unproductive avenues, but in general I want to see what you think, not tell you what I think.

24 thoughts on “Blood Will Have Blood: The Assamites”

  1. This is simply amazing. Great job! I hope the other independent clans get similar love. Like the Setite “castes” (warrior, priest, default) and giovanni families get the same kind of love. The way that Quietus changes to fit more with the caste is really great!

    Good job!

  2. This is the best writeup for one of the clans yet, giving both players and STs plenty of hooks to play with over the course of a chronicle. The gold standard so far!

  3. I fear I disagree with the new revision.

    Even when warriors are the caste I like the least, blaming one caste of all the evil in the world and leaving another (my favourite, indeed) is not what we want, I think.

    I think Dark Ages Vampire made the first version of Assamite clan that I enjoyed. There, the Assamites were not genocidal assassins, but they had the duty of judge other cainites and protect the kine (through I would made more emphasis in this part). The light was that, and the shadow was that any judged cainite could ask who pointed the Sarracen as judge (they would say that Caine was).

    Road of Blood was a radical approximation to that, giving moral dilemmas as I explained in a commentary to the text.

    From my point of view, Assamites were a noble clan with their more bright moment maybe in the Dark Ages (or at least, their last bright moment). What took down the clan finally was the Baali curse, that made them anxious junkies for blood who finally declared war to all European cainites as an excuse for commiting to the vice.

    The defeat to the Camarilla was humiliating, but worse was the solution they invented, selling themselves as mercenaries for those cursed children of Caine they should be judging. But maybe, they could not help it, dominated by their thirst of blood or power.

    As such, I see the clan as one that was one of the noblest one but fell in disgrace due to their own mistakes.

    • I have to say that still I see the warrior taking the more aggressive approximations and the viziers trying to smooth things with other clans, but just not as black and white as the text is.

    • Actually, the whole judgement thing you are referring to was present in the modern era as well. But this highlights my problem with the clan writeups so far: it seems to be oblivious to prior material. The Malkavians reached back and pulled some threads from before, but still seemed to teeter on the original era of the fishmalk a little bit. I feel in that case, the author just doesn’t really have firsthand experience with mental disorders (which is probably commendable, and really a hard topic to “guess” at so kudos for somewhat trying). The Lasombra just seemed to veer totally off course. It was almost as if someone skimmed a few paragraphs describing prior characterization, wanted to add their own “kewl” bit and let loose. None of their “flavor” seems to survive in that one, reduced to a kind of superhero/comicbook rpg style.

      Honestly, I was looking forward to this book the most but now I’m getting the feeling that ill be ignoring more than 2/3 of it. Only three clans in and two of my favorite clans have been presented. Lasombra, ill ignore. Malkavians had some good elements, its worth the printing. Assamites i don’t care about at all, but again feel the older material said it better. Maybe its too much to make a mega-splatbook? Three clans out of 13, though, is a bit much to judge the whole work on. Curious to see the rest.

      • I’m sorry you feel that way after seeing only very early first draft material. I tried to make it very clear that all of this will change (perhaps quite a bit) before the final book, but I’ll do what I can to make that clearer in future.

        • I get that it will change. I totally get that. I don’t expect 100% of this so far to make it thru to the end as is presented. Like I said above, I am indeed curious to see the rest. I certainly believe in the whole post-V20 WoD thats occurred so far. Hell, I’ve invested in the upper level books. I don’t even like Werewolf (except some breeds and Wyld West) but I sure put my money down for it. I don’t want you to mistake that.

          It’s just that so far, there has been three out of three that slightly look like the authors are unfamiliar with the material prior to tackling it. The Lasombra was (in my own opinion, valuable no more than anyone else’s) something out of a different game line and a bit scattered/sloppy. The Malkavian was mostly there, and I think with some editing will be decent. Not earth shattering, but decent. Fishmalks or not, this is where I felt the author tried to pull from other editions and showed familiarity to some degree. This Assamite article seems to keep referencing other systems entirely (twilight?), but again, some editing will definitely fix this. But ultimately, nothing yet has really been revelatory. I guess I was anticipating a bit more. I am still quite interested in what the rest of the book has to say, but Dark Ages is stealing more of my attention than this book at the moment, and I have to say I am surprised. Hence why I was wondering if maybe short writeups for 13 clans in a really-not-all-that-long book is going to actually scratch that itch for me.

          • In the case of the Lasombra, I like more this one than the revised edition. This is because I am a fan of old school Lasombra, the power hungry reckless and **pragmatical** **Sabbat** vampires that threw away their traditions along with their elders, not the dark nobility Path of the Night thing. When reviewing the open development for the Lasombra chapter, I also read V20 clan description, and I have to say that I did not find any of the original Lasombra in that description, not a single sentence. The Lore of the Clans, seem to place itself in a point in the middle, and I thank that.

            For the Assamites, I am trying to explain my position in the suggestions. Maybe the theme is not bad, but it should be softer. I agree that warriors took up power, and I agree they would have more radical views. I think the viziers can be frustrated in their attempts to enhance clan diplomacy, and they would like to have a different political approach. But I still see the clan as an united clan, at least to some degree, with a conscience of being Haqim children.

        • I actually think that most of these are kinda cool. These are also clearly first drafts. Stuff changes. But honestly, I like the IC approach to the whole thing. Once you grasp that these are presented from someone’s IC point of view…they can say whatever. Much of the Old clans books where the same way. I mean all the history sections of the clanbooks of the revised era are presented from an IC perspective. According to each clan it was THEIR clan founder who was totally loyal to Caine and the other clans suck and betrayed him. WE aren’t cursed like them, we are blessed!

          Its the ooc stuff that needs to be consistent. Which I feel like it has been presented. V20 is a hard line to walk. Its a careful balance of new material with respecting to the past material. That can’t be easy. For me, I like my rules separate from the metaplot. I like metaplot personally. I just like it as optional. Heck a “This is our advancing of the metaplot from revised” book would be cool. I could use it or not. The books we all know and love will always exist, and we can choose what do or don’t want to use. My only “complaint” is I personally still use the revised books, so I don’t personally need any reprints of old revised powers like combi disciplines etc. I already own those books and love them. But thats a mild complaint at best and I know it is done that way so you can use V20 all by itself without need for the previous books.

          I kinda ranted there. But largely I really like V20. The other onyx path lines feel like they choose a direction and went with it. V20 feels like its still trying to find its footing. Which makes sense as it was the first of its kind. I mean W20 has a continuation of the metaplot (see new addition to the prophecy of the phoenix). Requiem got the amazing blood and smoke with the Strix. I personally would like to see that happen with V20. But hey that’s just a dream, and i will be ok if they don’t.

          There’s are all of course just my own personal opinions. I will be forever grateful that you guys even brought CWoD back to life. I hope this doesn’t come off as antagonistic, but rather helpful in some way. As always just my own 2 cents, but keep up the good work Eddy!

    • Please keep in mind that Tegyrius is a bit of an unreliable narrator whose personal issues with the Warriors are so extreme that he’s about to defect to the Camarilla.

      • That I understand. But please note that this text is supposed to be the reference a V20 player should look when he wants to expand on the Assamites. An approach a bit more neutral would be more useful in my opinion.

        And I say “a bit” because I like the idea of the Viziers opposing the genocidal approach. But the thing of Warriors and Path of Blood being utterly evil, without any redeeming notes I dislike.

  4. I’m sad to say I have not enjoyed it too much.

    I like many portions of the text, but I dislike the general tone. I think putting the accent to the viziers is very cool and refreshing, but I don’t like doing it in expenses of demonizing the warrior’s caste.

    In Vampire it’s all about the ambiguous morality, but the text shows the warriors as utterly evil and barbaric creatures.

  5. For the most part I feel very positive about this. It’s well-written, enjoyable, and a fresh perspective. It makes me interested in using the Assamites in my games.

    It’s also about as unbiased as a biography of Martin Luther written by a Jesuit blogger. Reading Tegyrius’ perspective was extremely interesting, but I’d like to see his journal fall into the hands of one of the warrior caste – and I would like to see the notes that this hypothetical warrior scribbled in the margin…

    There’s also a slight mismatch between the clan’s history as presented in the new Dark Ages and the version presented here. I’m not saying that Dark Ages and Masquerade should straightjacket each other, and this is Tegyrius’ first-person perspective rather than a “definitive” account. But as I commented on the document itself, it would only take the smallest of tweaks to the text to resolve the inconsistency, so why not do that?

  6. It must take sheer patience to wade through all those mashed up comments. Some of them are cut off for me so I can’t read them. Normally I like to see what people are commenting on. Eh, well, I’ll figure out how to get them all to show up some other day, but I have a suggestion that may or may not be useful.

    Have you thought about possibly uploading multiple copies of the same document that way people can choose the next one down that’s less messy? Or would that become too much work as well? It can work well in a physical office environment, just not sure about an Internet link since I’ve never tried that.

  7. Sadly I must agree with several posters above that I very much disliked the tone of the text. It’s nice to see the Viziers brought up to the front of the Clan but it still should not be done through demonizing another Caste or through mangling their history so that it is forced to fit this new angle.

    There are a lot of holes in that history and some outright contradictions to what previous material has said, and not all of it is in the IC perspective, although some of the IC contradictions are still odd considering that they come from pretty high up and still seem to be created by either simple ignorance of how things really are or from willful ignorance and I have hard time deciding which is worse.

    Also though I dislike the canonical schism and have never nor will ever use it, or at the very least those running wont go running to their ancient enemies in the Camarilla, I do feel that much of this history and demonization of the other Caste’s, yes including the Sorcerer’s since Ur-Shulgi is the first of their line, seems to have been forced so that this one possible future event would at the least seem somewhat probable. Which I think is a mistake. Leave the Schism as optional as you have but also leave the Clans history at the least somewhat intact. No reason to mangle it because of this.

    Also the fact that Assamite skin Darkens with age has never seemed a Curse more a peculiarity of blood where they get darker while the rest of Cainites get paler, nothing Curse like in it. So why the change? Unless you also give elders of other Clans similar social penalties for appearing like albinos, there really is not reason to give them here either. Nor call it a Curse unless the other Clans also suffer from the Curse of Paleness.

    Also it missed any mention of the original weakness of Warrior Caste and even dared to call the Tremere Curse something that the Sorcerer’s and Viziers both liked to have upon them. It also made the claim of the Sorcerer’s never really putting any real effort, aside from token effort to “fool” the warriors, into breaking the Curse even though it has been established from OOC perspective I might add that that is exactly what they have been doing for centuries it has existed. The Tremere Curse is also mostly responsible for allowing the Baali Curse to spread throughout the Clan unnoticed as it hid it’s effects. A fact, again stated in OOC text if I remember correctly, that is completely ignored in the text. All in all it represents the Camarilla as the good guys who helped the oppressed Viziers through their Curse and now the Viziers are more than happy to scamper to the Tremere and the Camarilla as Ur-Shulgi awakens. While I tend to like text written in IC it has to bear at least some truth to it, especially about already established facts, I get it if opinions on which Antediluvian is the toughest and who amongst them is King of the Hill or other such unknowable things are twisted by the perspective of the teller but to have whole of the Clans history throughoutly mutilated beyond recognition by the writer of the proposed history is a bit too much. You want to give completely differing history to a Clan? Do it in a IC book like Book of Nod etc instead of in a resource meant to tell everything you need to know about a specific Clan. In a book like this we need the actual history not the twisted and mutilated history of an obviously deluded mind who is more than ready to sell out his Clan to others. Note how he says involvement in the Jyhad is against the wishes of Haqim, indeed in his opinion, and lays the sin of involving the Clan in the Jyhad in the past at the feet of the Warriors? Still he then seeks membership in the Camarilla and as a Justicar at that, you really can’t involve yourself in the Jyhad more than that. So he has a contradictional history that even he himself contradicts. No wonder he was fearful of being purged by Ur-Shulgi, such traitors should be purged.

    • Dude, take a deep breath. 🙂

      I agree with some of the things you’re saying, but you are yourself being unilateral is how things have to be, and that might be a mistake. Some things you mentioned have been talked about or hinted at in past material: for example, the thing about the darkening of the skin is pretty good example. You didn’t interpret it like that, fine, but I’m fairly confident many others did. I can’t mention a particular source because I’m not good at that if I don’t have access to my books, but Assamite’s skin getting much darker with age is the only Weakness/Curse left to fit with the original 13 clans (Tremere Curse, Baali Curse, what else?). If I recall correctly, there was, in the Revised Assamite, a comment about how Caine didn’t curse their clan, but rather decided to make them stand out as the rightful judges among other clans. But since mostly all clans claim being the only one not suffering from the curse of Cain, there’s most likely something else. Anyways, don’t be so sure about how everything has been changed, because I personally consider it as an extension of what was mentioned before, if only with the lens of different folks.

      Does it make sense from Tegyrius’ point of view? For sure! Should he be the reference for the entire clan? Well, maybe not. But like for all books before, the IC storyteller always heavily influences what’s being said, and how it’s being said.

      • Well I do think it’s obvious that the original Curse Caine landed on the Assamites would be that their nature is always shown in their Aura.

        Think about it for a second. The pre-any-other-external-Curse Warriors had the Weakness that their Aura’s always showed the signs of Diablerie even if they had not tasted Vitae since their Embrace. Viziers have an Obsession that is sure to be seen in their Aura as well and the Sorcerers Aura always shows magic use and is in general easier to sense. This makes sense all across the board. The Darkening of the skin as a Curse not so much, not to me at the least, especially since it has had no Curse like mechanics what so ever before this one. Which in my opinion also supports the theory that it is not a Curse.

        And ye I do need to take a breath and am sorry for it devolving into rant over there. But still it shows just how much I find this sudden change in Assamite history abhorrent.

        • Well, the Golden Rule always applies, and what it actually is is obviously left vague so that STs can decide what better fit their stories. Question about Vizier’s aura: where is it stated that their auras betray their obsessions?

          • Sorry about the delay, didn’t notice your newest post.

            The Vizier weakness and it’s effect on their Aura’s is descriped in Dark Ages: Vampire p.79.

            “While this derangement is active, the character’s halo glows in such a way as to provide a careful observer with hints as to the vizier’s true Nature, as well as the object of his obsession, upon any successful use of Soulsight (Auspex 2).”

            Note the capitalization of Nature meaning that their Aura’s betray their Nature gamemechanic to the observer as well as the actual target of obsession.

            So there you have it. On that same page of the same book are all the Caste weaknesses and they all relate to the Assamites Aura hence my earlier thoughts about the nature of their Curse.

          • Just had to add that I checked CB:Assamites Revised as well since I was fairly certain the DA mention wasn’t the only one and it gives even a bit more detailed system on how much information you can glean from their Aura. After successful use of Aura Perception roll Int+Empathy 2 success gives you the focus of the viziers obsession and 4 reveals his Nature.

            So that’s one more reference that goes towards Aura Curse.

      • The revised clanbook was written by a schismatic Assamite (a vizier if a recall rightly). Still, he told the stuff with a sense of neutrality, not because it was realistic, but because the stuff written has to be useful for the readers. The IC perspective gives flavor and allow to have no official story, thus allowing the books to contradict each other and the Storytellers to work his own ideas. But should never be so biased that it can’t allow the readers to see the whole of the clan.

        I this chapter, it is not only Tergyversius point of view, the OOC text also support the same ideas. All said, to me the main problem is to include the metaplot, which should be optional, as the main theme of the chapter.

  8. Also since the whole purpose of this book is to give us enough of the Clans that we wouldn’t need the Clanbooks, though I still recommend them especially after this chapter on Assamites, in which case it’s doubly important to have consistent history with previous material otherwise you risk new players actually believing all this nonsense written here as a fact, at least until they come across the old CB’s.

    Like said Assamites should not be portrayed with any Caste being Demonized especially from within it’s own ranks. Also like pointed out the author should pay a bit more respect to the already published material.

    I might add there are a few nWoD references there as well with Twilight being mentioned at least three times.

  9. Something I mentioned in the DA thread was that there’s a tendency to make the Assamites better than their RL inspiration. Both the “Warriors lead the Clan in noble defense of the kine” and “Warriors corrupted the Clan with the Path of Blood” seem to come from this. The Assassins may not have been brainwashed like in the stories, but they did use assassinations to advance their political power. Public ones usually guaranteed the death of the assassin since they didn’t allow themselves to be captured. They didn’t attack the common people, but they didn’t consider themselves champions of them. I’m sure the viziers fall short of their ideals the same way the Venture do. Likewise the viziers and sorcerers committing Diablerie and using the same blood ritual to lower their generation (no moral drawbacks).


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