The Four Humours

A well-accepted theory from the times of the great Hippocrates is that human nature is understood by the four fluids that each control a type of temperament. The four temperaments are:

  • Sanguine – Blood-driven – optimistic, active and social
  • Choleric – Bile-driven – Short-tempered, fast or irritable
  • Melancholic – Black bile-driven – analytical, wise and quiet
  • Phlegmatic – phlegma – Relaxed and peaceful

According to the Cappadocian scholar Kore of Unre, this is largely true of them as well. In her book “De rerum vampira”, she argues that the humours are passed on from the progenitor of the geni. All twelve progenitors have a combination of a dominant and a recessive humour that has defined the traits and interersts of the geni.

For vampires, however, the behaviour varies somewhat because of their very nature, that of being undead:

  • Sanguine – Blood-driven – Active, social, charismatic, human-centric
  • Choleric – Bile-driven – Short-tempered, competitive, tactical, leaders
  • Melancholic – Black bile-driven – analytical, occult and wise
  • Phlegmatic – phlegma – Planning ahead, patient, uninhibited

As the twelve clans have each a unique combination of dominant and recessive, Kore argues that vampires were at some point created by a superior being in an alchemical and occult ritual. Many scholars have spent time looking for any fragment of this ritual and for the power of creating vampires without the Embrace.

Division of humours among the vampire geni:

The sanguine include the Toreador (recessive choleric), the Disciples of Set (recessive phlegmatic) and the Assamite (recessive melancholic)

The choleric include the Ventrue (recessive phlegmatic), the Lasombra (recessive melancholic) and the Bruia (recessive sanguine).

The melancholic include the Malkavian (recessive choleric), the Salubri (recessive sanguine) and the Cappadocian (recessive phlegmatic).

The phlegmatic include Baali (recessive sanguine), the Gangrel (recessive choleric) and the Nosferatu (recessive melancholic).

 

 

This is meant to describe the genus as a whole, not the individual. This means that a scholar Toreador and a socialite Cappadocian is far from uncommon, but the general feel of the genus is the reverse. It is also thought that a way of quelling the beast is to behave in accordance with these principles.

The theory of the Four Humours has been embellished by many scholars, including the Bruia Mamercus Malleolus argued that the understanding of the relationship between the geni is understood by the juxtapositions. For example are the Baali and the Disciples of Set moving in opposite direction, but they have the same fluids. This makes them understand one another better than a Baali would a Cappadocian. Conversely, those with no fluids in common hardly understand one another, such as the Nosferatu and the Toreador.

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Ventrue

Some are simply born to rule, and no difficulties should stop them. Ventrue are such characters. Choosing almost exclusively from Patricians, Ventrue are so well-versed in the ways of power that they rarely settle for second best. In time, they will rule.

That being said, they often have different rules. Some desire the post as Praetorian leader, others want to be Princeps, some to control trade in the city and some again desire power in the temples. Also, Ventrue rarely lead solely because of the need for power, but also because they believe that Ventrue are the best suited, those who keep the tradition the best and those who understand the meaning of responsibility. Lasombra and Toreador, Ventrue argue, treat power the way a cat would a yarn ball. Full focus for a while, then totally uninteresting.

Ventrue make no excuse for it either. When Bruia and Toreador controlled Athens, Ventrue started the project of Sparta, which since became the symbol of Ventrue: Power, efficiency and no nonsense. This war, called the First Bruia War among Ventrue even though only a few on either side contributed, meant that Ventrue and Bruia were to be enemies. More importantly, however, Athens and Corinth, former allies of Sparta and suspected to be swayed by Toreador, attacked Sparta, and the ensuing battles between the Greek Cities meant the weakening of all of them.

Bruia got the last laugh when they first invaded most of Hellas and then most of the world with Alexander the Great. Ventrue found a safe haven in Rome, and soon got to the top again. Defeating Carthage, a mighty city run by Baali, Bruia and Lasombra, meant that the Ventrue coalition, which also included Malkavian and some Toreador, ruled the Mediterranean.

Since then, the Ventrue power has increased, with only a minor dent as some Ventrue foolishly challenged Malkavian during the reign of Augustus and were taught a lesson during the terror of Caligula. Since then Ventrue hold three things sacred: direct power, lots of resources and wisdom towards other powers.

Sobriquet: Patricians

Appearance: Ventrue are more fashion conscious than both the flashy Lasombra or the Toreador, and are therefore impeccably clothed. Ventrue can be of any extraction, but Italian are heavily overrepresented.

Haven: Only the best is good enough for Ventrue. It is not uncommon for Ventrue to live a bit beyond their financial capability.

Background: Ventrue of a certain age are all nobles, a great deal of whom are Patrician Romans. Lately, wealthy traders and engineers have been included into the ranks. Good generals are always popular, even if they are outside the highest ranks.

Character creation: Ventrue often have a demeanor of having control and knowing what to do. In reality, you do not get to the top without gambling, gut feeling or calling in favors. Several Ventrue have been in heavy debt to other vampires on their way to the top.

Gens disciplines: Dominate, Fortitude, Presence

Gens weakness: Ventrue are extremely picky about their feeding, and can only drink the blood out of one particular vessel, be they defined from physical, cultural or personal characteristics.

Organization: Ventrue are probably the best organized gens. They have more or less a copy of the Roman orders, except that they do not have the public representatives (ironically, that has been the organizational structure of the Malkavian). At the top of the Ventrue is the Censor, followed by two Consuls, one for each side of the Italian peninsula. There are also Governors and Praetors and below them and so on. In theory each Princeps is his own master in his city, but in practice, the bigger cities, wherein the princeps is often also the Praetor and sometimes even Governor, has a lot of influence. Given, of course, that the Princeps is a Ventrue.

Salubri

No one but the Salubri have understood the curse that God has marked upon them. This is more than partly because hardly anyone outside the gens has a strong belief in the Jewish deity.

Salubri are something as rare as a cultist gens. Almost all of them are either Jews or believe in the Jewish god. Lately a number of Christians have joined the flock as well. Salubri strongly believe that vampires are the offspring of Cain, the first son of the first humans, who struck his brother to death. This belief is found in much of their cosmological understanding of vampires.

There are two main groups of Salubri, the healers and the warriors. The former seeks to heal vampirism itself, but settles for injuries and diseases at first. They seek also to reach a spiritual level they call golconda, an equilibrium state when they have control over themselves. This state came to them through their leader, a certain Saulot. According to Salubri, Saulot received this wisdom on a trip to India, and the state is named after the city in which he realized the road to equilibrium.

The second group are a strong opposite. Firm believers in the right to smite ones enemies, the Salubri warriors have blood, both human and vampiric on their hands. They believe in particular Baali, several of whom worship a rival god, to be evil. Lately, however, Salubri warriors have to show restraint on pain of excommunication of all Salubri from cities.

Unlike the Jews, Salubri are often quite missionary in their words, to the annoyance of other Vampires, who find their belief unlikely and morally constraint. Salubri do, however, believe that all vampires are equal, a sentiment that Nosferatu and Bruia find appealing, but which is met by further scoffing in most other geni. As of late, however, most Salubri have taken a more relaxed stance and are more interested in acceptance than spreading truths.

Sobriquet: Trioculars

Appearance: Apart from the third eye, there are few similarities. Jews are preferred because of their religious background, but in reality Salubri can Embrace anyone. It is a rare Salubri who does not cover her third eye.

Haven: Salubri have no unifying haven interests. The most devout healers often live in squalid conditions themselves, often top insula appartments, and the more dedicated warriors might even stay in caves. Mostly, though, they take what they get.

Background: Salubri tend to choose from the Middle East, and they are often found in the upper middle classes. Nobles are somtimes chosen, but only those who have a deep compassion for their fellow men. Among the warriors, a whole set of requirements are set, and only an exceptionally fit and wise warrior will qualify.

Character creation: A surprisingly high number of Salubri are traders or associated with trade. This could be a cover for warriors, or it could be a way of financing their cause; both healing and fighting is costly in the long run, and traveling is even in the short run. Salubri healers are often of a high humanity, ranking 6 or above, and almost exclusively embrace those who do acts of kindness. Salubri warriors tend to prefer vigilantes, rouges or fanatics.

Gens disciplines: Auspex, Fortitude, Valeren.

Gens weakness: In addition to the very conspicuous third eye, Salubri are incapable of feeding without at least some cooperation from the host. While not being as strict as having to ask for permission, Salubri will have to engage in an activity, usually seduction, that the host accepts. Even drinking and hoping that the experience is agreeable to the host is unacceptable. Salubri who drink blood that is not part of a voluntary activity will vomit the blood and an additional number of bloodpoints as the one that is taken.

Organization: Salubri are well-organized. Salubri often meet for sermons and updates, in local areas up to once a month, although twice a year is more usual. As well versed in the arts of commerce and handiwork, quite a few Salubri are rich. It is common for Salubri to give sums to the Salubri cause, led by ancient Salubris and organized in secret areas with immense riches and impressive libraries. There is really no punishment for not showing up to the sermons, but the large contact network of the Salubri, not to mention their wealth, might be less open to a non-practitioner.

Toreador

It is a good time to be a Toreador. The gens has three points of interest: beauty, passion and social power. In the Roman Empire, the time is ripe for all three.

Toreador are not, however, mediocre artists with a sharp tongue. Their needs are understood by the fact that they understand more than anyone that vampire and vampire society is either a symbiosis of the supernatural and the human or a state where vampires and vampirism is a parasite on society. Toreador has no desire to become brutal parasites, killing the host while growing big. Rather, they want to contribute to human society and try to keep their humanity intact. As a result of this, a good majority of all human – vampire relationships involve Toreador, and most of them are secret.

It would be a mistake to believe that Toreador have forgotten the other half of the symbiosis. Love relationship, or lust relationships, can often come to a brutal end for the lover, and Toreador make no illusions of true love.  They are also fierce plotters if they choose to be, and they can also be fiendishly clever, a match for even the cleverest Ventrue.

Then there are those Toreador who care little for such politics. They are more caught up in their own affairs, which vary from wall painting to fencing, poetry or studies, or driven by other needs and desires. Toreador see the beauty in passionate idealists, and even if they were Embraced for their passion rather than from the object of the passion, their beliefs do not disappear. As such, Bruia and Toreador have a lot to talk about.

Toreador rarely, however, care for the occult, perhaps seeing their limitations in that field.

Sobriquet: Lovers

Appearance: Toreador almost never look ugly or even average. They tend towards beautiful, and they are more often than not above average height. Most of them wear clothing that is slightly too expensive for their background, but they rarely ever flaunt their wealth in the style of the Lasombra.

Haven: The typical Toreador lives in a fine domus or a villa, always impeccably painted and with stucco, statues, mosaics and marble in high class. Artists, idealists or others might, however, live in more humble dwellings, although very few stay in an insula.

Background: Despite their interest for the political games and the social intrigues of the Nobility, Toreador sire from a wide range of people. Attractive or talented often come first, with passionate as an added bonus. Toreador are also widespread, and therefore have no cultural preference.

Character creation: Toreador must have a minimum appearance of 2, and social attributes should be at least second highest. They should also choose at least one ability which they excel in. Humanity below 5 is unusual.

Gens disciplines: Auspex, Celerity, Presence

Gens weakness: Toreador have such a passion for beauty that it is their curse. A beautiful object can make them think of lovers past, the longing for a sunset, the reason for their lofty ideals or simply an admiration for the object. Whatever the reason, they become transfixed on the object. Toreador who are involved in for example swordplay will not necessarily be transfixed by a beautiful vase, the weakness must be associated at least partly with the personality of the Toreador.

Organization: Very rare. Toreador are individualists and care little for any meetings or systems. That being said, they are social animals, and often invite or accept invitations from other Toreadors, also in other cities. Unlike the Nosferatu version, Toreador do so only after conferring with the Princeps and the Elder Toreador in both cities. As these stays rarely last long (strong personalities will get on each others’ nerves), this is often a formality.

Nosferatu

In the Roman Empire, beauty is an unofficial virtue. Hideousness is often the sign of evil spirits or plague. Nosferatu, with their ugly disposition, find themselves in a difficult position. Getting by in a human society that at best looks as you with pity is not easy, and many Nosferatu find that to stay hidden constantly is the best idea.

In Vampire society, Nosferatu are equally distrusted, and a Nosferatu finds that he often has to prove himself worthy of not being a convenient scapegoat. This is done chiefly in gathering information. Nosferatu are hunters per excellence, and many are experts on sneaking up on those not trusted by the Princeps to reveal any plots. Equally important, Nosferatu have set up an incredible information system, where they rely on animal couriers and occasional ghouls to get information rapidly from one point to another. In times when news travels slowly, a Nosferatu can make a Princeps prepared for the news from far away and avoid surprise.

Nosferatu have a hideous appearance, but they have no other penalties to the senses. In fact, many Nosferatu take pride in smelling as bland as possible, to avoid being discovered. They also try to have as high a humanity as possible, knowing full well the consequences of “fitting the bill”. That being said, they are not above stealing to get by, comforting themselves that they could not get by otherwise. Nosferatu also consider changing cities from time to time, occasionally staying in smaller towns for periods long enough to be forgotten.

Nosferatu is far and away the most tightly knit vampires, appreciating each others’ company in a time where there is nothing else to have. This is one of the reasons why their information system works so well, every Nosferatu has an ally in another at some level.

Most Nosferatu are like this. There is, however, a group of rebellious Nosferatu who live on the fringes of the Empire, organizing robbers, pirates and brutes. They are well adapted to the wilds, and are the only vampires who will take on the Gangrel, although they normally outnumber the Gangrel. These Nosferatu are few, and they are at odds with everyone, especially the rest of the gens.

Sobriquet: Lepers

Appearance: Aside from being hideously ugly, there is no common trait to the Nosferatu. They might have decaying faces, abnormally elongated facial features, lumps, boils, charred faces or any number of disfigurements. Some Nosferatu are lucky enough to appear like deformed humans, and can pass off as one in human society, the others look so ugly and wrong that no one would suspect them of being human.

Havens: Nosferatu often choose areas where no one lives or even want to live. The spacious graves of the Necropolis are always inviting to them, as are the squalid places of the very poor. Abandoned and decaying houses are also good, and a Nosferatu often changes between two or three places so that no one can be absolutely sure where to find her in case the Princeps needs a scapegoat.

Background: Nosferatu are often fond of good hunters. They tend to choose gossips too, but not as often. Thieves, bandits, lepers and drunkards are also chosen for different reasons. Nobles are almost never considered, nor are beautiful people.

Character creation: Nosferatu tend to come from stubborn folk, adding to the difficulties of integration with human society. They are often quick and quiet, so physical attributes and talents come highly evolved. Most Nosferatu know how to read at least rudimentary, else they are cut off from the information network. It is not uncommon for them to have a retainer, but it is not standard practice either. The rebel Nosferatu are more feral in nature.

Gens disciplines: Animalism, Obfuscate, Potence

Gens weakness: All Nosferatu are hideously deformed, and their appearance, beyond normal “ugly”, makes them fail all first contacts. Only seasoned vampires can greet Nosferatu without a hint of revulsion.

Organization: Nosferatu have no formal organization, but they do have the most nightly contact with one another. There are a number of unwritten rules among the Nosferatu, and equality in misery is one of these. Nosferatu will invariably help another Nosferatu, even if said Nosferatu is guilty of diablerie. Information also flows freely between the Nosferatu, rendering official gatherings pointless.

Malkavian

About a millennium ago, the Malkavians managed to correctly describe all vampiric activity when they divided themselves into the seekers of political power and the seekers of spiritual and occult truth. No other gens so beautifully captures the essence of all vampiric activity as they do, and all of them except Assamite seem to focus in only one field. The diversity might be the secret to Malkavian success.

Those seeking truth in a spiritual way, named Oracles by other Malkavians and most others, began a study of what a vampire is, what spirits are, where the gods belong and how it all fit together. Some would wonder about how the Lasombra caught the shadows, others how blood can change appearance, and those again who need to understand how the werewolves came into being. Malkavian oracles almost all embrace (no pun intended) the techniques of Socrates, but rather than annoy their fellow men, they ask themselves: How do you know? How can it be? Why is it evident? It is said that Malkavian Oracles have gained so much insight that they soon no longer can talk coherently with those not at their level. This is not the case now, even if they occasionally put up a shroud of mystery. Studying the signs for future events is a matter of course, but they have, for some reason, refused to look beyond the next fifty years.

Their opposites are the Politicians. The Malkavian who use their ability to see pattern to understand human groups, understand their dynamics, empathize with their feelings and try delicately to steer them, can prove to be quite the force. They were junior allies with the Bruia during the heyday of Athens, but the cooperation and the city dwindled. The Roman Empire is a joint work between Ventrue and Malkavian, and when the Ventrue thought that the Malkavians were no longer of use, they paid dearly, as the advent of Caligula meant the butchering of many important players in the hands of the Ventrue. When Ventrue declined the offer of truce, Nero found his way to the throne. After that, Ventrue and Malkavian have made their peace.

Malkavian make no secret of their gens weakness. They are all fighting a debilitating mental disorder, a heavy burden on the mind of such astute thinkers. Some snap and never quite adjust to society, but they are few in numbers, and there are rumours that Malkavians arrange mercy killings of those who should never have been Embraced.

Sobriquet: Seers

Appearance: Paupers and noblemen, preachers and sinners, all could be a Malkavian. Malkavian are among the most spread geni, and are easily found both in the Northernmost reaches of the Empire and at the borders to Parthia.

Haven: Oracle Malkavians tend to prefer solitude, and seek company at their lesure. Therefore abandoned houses are ideal for them. Befitting the gens, the Politicians are their stark opposites, preferring the life of a busy city.

Background: Malkavians are anything but traditionalists, and their progeny are much the same. Those steeped in traditional thinking are hardly ever considered for Embrace, but those willing to see beyond the day-to-day happenings, this is equally true for both parties, are much more often considered interesting. Malkavian is the only gens with a majority, if small, of women.

Character creation: Malkavian can have any concept whatsoever. Being of a strong mind and a curious disposition is by far the most important traits for a Malkavian, and other than this, there are no common traits.They rarely Embrace dullards, and choose those with mental strength over physical nine times out of ten. Choosing Nature and Demeanor is interesting, they might often be quite different from one another, in particular for Politicians. Choosing derangement is not really vital, as it is only part of the vampire, and not a dominating characteristics. Storytellers might consider choosing derangement for the player.

Gens disciplines: Auspex, Dementation, Obfuscate

Gens weakness: All Malkavians suffer from a derangement. This derangement often appears in moments of stress, and has a debilitating effect on the Malkavian. Malkavians of the Roman Empire take little pride in this, and try to keep their illness hidden.

Organization: The Politician Malkavians have meetings that are arranged every four years or in times of need. These meetings are regional as a rule and only global in extreme cases, such as with the abolishment of Malkavians during the reign of Caesar and Augustus. The meetings work in the way of a simplified Roman Republic rule, with a Plebeian Council (for the younger Malkavians) and a Senate (for the Elder). In cases where the Plebeian Council was united, they could veto decisions of the Senate, but there are strict laws as to how a Plebeian Council might seem to have an overwhelming majority. Oracles have hardly any organization, but occasionally come to those of the Politicians.

Lasombra

Lasombra were once pirates and trade flotilla leaders, and there is a great affinity to water in most of the gens. However, they know all to well that their history has been a number of failed attempts of taking over authority, be it as sea peoples and pirates, defenders of Carthage, enemies of Alexander or advisors to Pompey. Lasombra have therefore learned the value of time, and they are not to rush into political power positions. A Lasombra rarely accepts power positions given to them. preferring to work their way up themselves.

Quite a long way from their place at the top, Lasombra are fighting their way into the political centre and not taking any prisoners. Lasombra is often said to be everybody’s darker shadow. The gens of the night is a gens that uses what it takes to get to the top. As a rule this means brute force, threats, gang wars and bribery. Lasombra excel in all of these.

Lasombra understand the power of social skills of manipulation and guile, but most find their powers to be more confrontational. Lasombra care little for humans, save the few handpicked retainers they have. To further their unpleasant character, Lasombra consider themselves apart from other vampires inasmuch as that they are better, smarter and more intelligent. And Lasmobra are dangerous foes in both physical and political struggle.

Lasombra know that they are now not strong enough to manage on their own, abd they will cooperate with those who can help them get to the top. While getting there on one’s own is preferred, a Lasombra who will not accept any help is a fool also by their standards. Their brutish standards and their indifference towards humans is often a reason for other Vampires to think twice about cooperating with them.

Once at the top, the future Lasombra is easily recognized. With a combination of high intelligence and constant paranoia, Lasombra almost by force start to plot and scheme to make sure they remain on top.

Sobriquet: Pirates.

Appearance: Lasombra are often of Phoenician or Spanish stock, and many were out working hard in the  sun. In the latter decades, there have been noblemen included into the ranks, but for now, Lasombra are often chosen from the lower-to-middle ranks. Lasombra often wear flamboyantly if they can afford to.

Haven: Many Lasombra prefer to be close to the sea, remembering the happy days when they were pirates who struck fear into the natives. Others are more comfortable close to the temples of their deities.

Background: Only lately have nobles been included into the ranks of Lasombra. They much preferred the brutes of the lower ranks. Lasombra have quite a number of people from Hispania, Lusitania, Italia, Cyrenacia and Phoenicia. Male and female are equally chosen, but they rarely ever embrace Germanians or other tribes they deem “primitive”.

Character creation: There are temple custodians and even pontiffs, and the occasional patrician, but more often Lasombra consist of local heroes, highwaymen, seductresses, veteran soldiers, bandits, traders, smugglers, bent peace keepers and freedmen. Only in later years the tables are turned and the claim made that Lasombra were always noble.

Gens disciplines: Dominate, Obtenebration, Potence

Gens weakness: A cruel fate has made a gens so flamboyant and vain unable to see their own reflection in any reflective surfaces.

Organization: Lasombra is starting to develop a gens structure which is alarmingly efficient. Combining the gens members’ brutality and sense with their devotion to their gods (often Neptune or Apollo), Lasombra are organizing into a large group lead by their pontifex maximus, and having ranks downwards in echo in the ritual positions of the Roman Empire. This means that Lasombra will accept their leader not only because of strength, but because of their closeness to the gods.