ANATOMY AND NECROLOGY
...Much of what follows is -- and can only be -- conjecture,
unsupported by dissection....
Vlad Tepes, Tzimisce Antitribu of the Inconnu
For all the respect I should owe to an Elder, even more to the illustruous Vlad Tepes, I want to correct one mistake you seem to do: Vlad Tepes was a warrior, not a surgeon...
Gregory, Clan Malkavian, M.D.
Please, before starting this little mémoire, let me introduce myself. My name is Gregory, of the Clan of Malkav. I would tell you my Genealogy since Caine, but my Sire was... Er... somewhat vague about our Sires. I believe it has something to do with the memory losses that plagued her since before his Embrace. For this reason, I wondered a lot about our history and our condition, without having the possibility to quench my curiosity, as the only source of knowledge I had access was my Sire... I know, then, what the Neonate feel when they wonder in amazement about their own existence, and I feel obliged, as my scientific education probes me, to find their answers. So I studied our specy, for the begining, to the end, from the most physical to the most mystical viewpoint. I hope it will help you understand yourself a little more.
Most informations we have about the Kindred was somewhat biased, as it was always given by NPCs whose motivations and perceptions was, er... different from our own. the first exemple being Dracula also known as Vlad Tepes, whose description of the Kindred condition in the VAMPIRE: The Masquerade 2nd Edition rulebook, from page 7 to page 17.
I (I being Raoul, one of the Paris, la nuit...'s author) must tell that this text is the consequence of discussion in Internet Forums, be it at White Wolf Game Studio's server, at Ashland's server. server, or at news://alt.games.whitewolf's server. I have a lot of questions, and few answers were logical enough to pleases me. Some will say (Hi C.T. Serenade!) that it's Magick, or Curse, or anything. I will approve, but by answering that a least some logic must remain, lest we become lost in a Malkavian world where nothing works as we foresee because magick removes even the small base of logic that makes us sentient beings...
You will find in normal characters the ramblings of Gregory, a Parisian Malkavian, that will help you understand the Kindred viewpoint of their condition in our chronicles. And in italics the additional rules that could be used to simulate that, and the reasons behind the rules.
But you must know something before starting: Nothing, Nothing that is written here will contradict WW rules. the only contradiction you will find here is with texts from NPC's writtings, like the Dracula introduction in the first Rulebook. And even the contradiction is not plain and global. It will be a new viewpoint of the same phenomenon, that will complete the writtings, instead of destroying them. Keep in mind that some of these rules are untested, and all are totally optionnal.
If you have different viewpoints, or want to add information that you feel should be there, feel free to Email us. Thanks.
And before starting, some will have probably noticed it: Yes, it is somewhat inspired by the Van Ritchen NPC from the marvelous Ravenloft background from TSR for AD&D. To say the truth, I loved most of the Van Richten Guide to ((put here your monster)), most of all the Vampire, Ghost, Lich and Ancient Dead books. The inspiration is visible, even if Gregory has little in common with Van Richten. Anyway, Van Richten has a lot in common with another Vampire Hunter, Van Helsing... : )
''Unless the Kindred want to create a Ghoul (see somewhere else in this text), the Kindred must remove all traces of mortal blood in the human body.''
I must say this is somewhat false: Some experiment from one of my Clan Kindred, the Seventh Generation Dr. Douglas Netchurch (See Ghouls: Fatal Addiction) showed that Ghouls could have all their blood replaced by Kindred Vitae. By the condition said before, they would have been transformed in vampires... I believe that if the traumatic effect of having is all blood replaced by Vitae in less than one night can be enough to kill (and then, to Embrace), doing it little by little will enable the Ghoul to survive.
The key in Siring Kindred is that the mortal must be dying: Either from Blood loss, accident, suffocation, anything that would kill him. Of course, some injuries will remain if not healed by the Kindred Vitae, and most brain damage, as well as amputation will remain anyway.
The heart need not even be still beating. Somewhere between life and death lies a state where the cells are slowly running out of energy (coming from oxygen combustion or oxygenless fermentation), and slowly alter themselves, soon decaying. The more fragile are the cells from the nervous system, and of course, the Brain. After more or less 4 minutes (more if the subject was in hypothermia), the brain cells death rating reaches a --statistic-- point were the damage will not be healed, whatever the time.
Giving Vitae to someone before the limit awakens him enough to start an instinct reaction where he spends the last of his energy to try to drink more the life-giving elixir. After, the brain damage is too much, and the reaction of the body is somewhat displaced... If there is reaction at all. In one of my experiments, I created some monsters without any civilized behaviour. The Beast was free in the body, and I must say that his personnal power was enough to prove me that the other cells were still alive enough to feel the power of the Vitae. This case only presented itself one time, and I must conclude that most of the dead brain cells were from the Cortex (where the conscience lays), and that most of the surviving cell where from the primordial brain that holds all our instincts. The beast was here, even if the conscience was dead.
I have heard about some partially failed Embrace: The Childe did not remember anything from his past, and suffered from amnesia. I was told the Embrace was somewhat hastened by the fact that the future Childe had been choked litteraly to death. I think the brain damage traduced itself as memory loss. I fear that the Kindred being what they are, I don't think he will recover somenight...
About the quantity of Vitae? If the body is ''healthy'', few, but this will increase if the body have been damaged. Few Vitae is needed to transform any cell of the body in a vampiric one, but a lot more is to replace already destroyed cells. Giving not enough Vitae will result in a crippled Kindred in the most happy end, or nothing in most of the cases.
To Embrace a mortal, the mortal must have been beyond the Incapacited Health level. For sake's purpose, we'll decide the mortal is still barely alive but inconscious and dying (the 4 minutes effect).
Then the Kindred must give him enough Vitae to power the Change. At least one Blood Point is needed to make the transformation possible. But if the body has been damaged (not only because of the blood loss), more Blood Point will raise the Health Level by one. The Changing mortal can also raise the Health Level by one per success in a Stamina Roll, Difficulty 7.
Note that some internal damage doesn't matter, so, to create a normal Vampire, its mortal Health Levels must be raised up to Injured (Of course, if the damage is visible, something should be done or a scar could well appear from partial healing). Less, and the mortal will be crippled in some way, or more possibily won't survive the Embrace (if raised only to Crippled -5, or Incapacited):
A wounded mortal will perhaps to make a stamina roll. If failed, the said mortal remains injured into death. If critical, brain damage happened, which can result in a childe without anything but bestial conscience (or any other great brain damage), or even a simple, very dead brain.
If not given enough vitae, the Childe can suffer from a permanent cripplement like being lame, or even paraplegic for physical injury; or having a permanent derangement for brain injury. Other possible injury are the Color Blindness, etc..
Of course, if a mortal suffered from two knife injuries, for a total of 12 points of Damage, the Kindred would have to give the mortal 9 Blood Points to heal him enough to become a normal and healthy Kindred.
The Aggravated damage is different: The Kindred must give 5 Blood points for each damage! None but the very-poweful-Generation Kindred can awaken a mortal killed by claw...
The transformation is quasi instantaneous, but the Kindred will remain weak as he has few or no Vitae to sustain him. He will probably enter Torpor if not given blood enough (within the night?). He will remain weak (unless he was given enough blood to heal him totally) until he drink some blood and learns to use it to heal himself. The real danger is Frenzy, as the newly-created Childe will probably enter Frenzy as he has no way to understand what happens to him, and fight it. He will go, then, in search of blood.
The reason behind these rules? To explain the Flaws Crippled, and some ''accidents'' happening when Embraces are tried, and failed.
There is much to say about our Kindred Blood. It is divided in different parts which follow.
There is a difference between Kindred Vitae and mortal blood. Somehow, the mortal blood is transformed in Vitae. Experiences tell me the contact between the two Blood does produce nothing but some proto reaction that will, in a live body, end with the production of hormons that will give some strengh increase similar to Potence.
So the transformation lies elsewhere. The second possibility was the digestive system. In a normal live body, the stomach digest the food, and the intestines permit its absorption. I discovered that the Kindred stomach aquired to possibility to digest the blood into Vitae, which would them, by permeating the cells of the stomach, move deeper in the Kindred Anatomy (See after).
There is two variables in the digestion of Blood. One is the concentration the Vitae will achieve. The Generation is the main reason for the concentration. The other was discovered by chance, when I met a Kindred who would survive by drinking one third less blood than normal Kindred. I have no explanation for that, but it seems that the digestion is not complete, that only a percentage of the blood is effectively tranformed into Vitae, and that the rest is simply lost. This Kindred could keep an higher percentage of Blood by his better digestion. Strangely, it did not work with Kindred Vitae. I must assume it is because it is already digested and that there is no more nutritive components to extract from it.
Why these rules? Because I wanted something to limit the
production of Vitae by non-Kindred, specifying that a live stomach
(i.e.: Inside a live Kindred) was needed. Secondely, there was
the problem of the Efficient Digestion Merit (from the Vampire
Player Guide. For each 2 Blood Points drunk, the Kindred
wins 3 Blood points for his Blood Pool. Now a little experience.
Two Kindred are famished, and have a 4 Blood Points. As one
has the Efficient Digestion Merit, he drinks it, and so, win
6 Blood Points. Then the other Kindred drink from the first 4
Blood Points. Then the first drink from the other Kindred the
4 Blood Points, transforming them in 6 Blood Points, etc..
The Limit of Vitae Volume, and Vitae Concentration:
Each Kindred as a maximum volume of Vitae in his body. It could contain more, but somehow, the body removes the extra blood by starting a reaction much like the mortal vomition. Only that there is no gastric acids, and that the Blood is partially non-digested.
The limit of Vitae depends on the Generation of the Kindred: Powerful Generation enhance the digestion, that concentrate the vitae even more. Weak Generation have no real concentration.
There is a difference between Concentration and Volume. Concentration means more ''energy'' in the same volume, while volume means only that.
While all Kindred can have the same volume of Vitae in their system, there is a limit of concentration depending on the Generation, but the Kindred can go beyond the limit for some time, depending in his personnal stamina. After the time, the body expells the extra blood, by the tears, or even blood sweat for the already digested extra blood, and vomit for the non-digested blood.
Why the overdose occur so fast, when the body could physically keep more blood? I believe that if the physical volume of the blood is not the reason, the mystical volume of the blood must be it. How our Generation affects the limit, I don't know. But should this limit be exceded, then the body enters a state of unbalance, to which the only solution is remove the extra Blood.
(The Tremere have, perhaps, a partial answer to this. But they still have to accept to tell me it, or teach me their Thaumaturgy Discipline...)
When overdosing, The Kindred feels sick, too, and too much full, and feels as if he wanted to vomit.
The maximum time for the overdose is one 3-second Turn per stamina point. The superior limit is twice the Blood Pool. Going further provoke immediate vomition.
The rate of Digested Blood/Non-Digested Blood is at the discretion of the Storyteller. But if the Kindred Blood Pool is decreasing, then non-Digested Blood replace the disappearing Blood: It's a way to ease the Embrace of a mortal, by Overdosing with the Mortal's blood and then giving it back, digested in Kindred Vitae without too much weakening oneself.
Where is stored the Blood?:
By study, (by injecting radiactive elements in the blood, and then using radiography to see it evolve in the body of one of my subjects), I discovered that the Vitae tends to gravitate around the heart and the brain. Gravitate is the right word, as the Vitae seems to ''float'' in the Kindred body as the atmosphere floats around the earth. Near the heart, the pression is maximum, and far, the concentration is very low indead.
By asking my Kindred subject to use is blood to enhance his strength, I discovered the Blood moved by itself into the body, and remained concentrated in the muscles, its concentration decreasing as the time was passing. I must conclude the Blood created some chemical reaction that enhanced the power of the muscle by consuming itself.
Then I hurt him (thanks to the Blood Bond, he did not retaliate!) and asked him to heal himself. The same phenomenom occured, but this time, if the strenght didn't increase, the injury repaired itself as the Blood concentrated around it.
I asked, them, him to move his body, while looking at the screen where we could see the live radiography of his body. He actually succeeded to move it around. I must conclude that it is the way some Kindred uses to simulate some... Arhem... mortal behaviour concerning sexuality. With some training, we can actually move the blood to the surface, thus appearing more human.
I know of two Kindred in Paris who kept their human appearance. One is Serena a Daughter of Cacophony, and the other is a Bâtarde. The two proved to be quite uninterested in my experiments, and I was really hard pressed to cross Constance, the Sire of the first, and the somewhat unstable and dangerous Catherine (Jonathan, a clanmate who happens to be a surgeon, too, convinced me in no uncertain terms that she would be quite mad at me should I try to experiment with her, even for the sake of knowledge!... Tsk tsk...). The only deductions I did are that somehow their heart are still beating and propels the blood in all the body through the somewhat impermeable veins and artery, thus colorizing it in more human ways without any conscious effort. The reasons behind this strange physiological effect are unkown, but I theorize that some nervous functions of the vegetative system that should have died with the Embrace were conserved: So as a mortal vegetative system asks for the heart to beat, this reflex must be still surviving in someway. I wonder about the possibility of the non-developpement of other reflex functions, like the Frenzy of the Rotshrëck... But I disgress...
To simulate any human behaviour, be it sexual, or simply the color of the skin, one must have enough Masquerade. For the sex thing, a Kindred male would have at least Masquerade **** to simulate an erection. Less would be risky and would probably need Blood Point expenditure (as a rule of thumb, 1 Blood Point to raise 1 per 1 a Scene-temporary Masquerade up to 4) to awaken the physical processus and raise the skin temperature (mortals don't like to touch cold meat...)
Is the Vitae Alive?:
How can the Vitae move around the body? Kindred can live some time without Vitae, falling in Torpor soon after. But Vitae gives them energy. But this does not explain why the Blood can move so. It permeates our cells instead of moving throught our veins like the blood does for mortals.
I can tell only one thing: The Kindred can produce Vitae from mortal blood through some mystical alchemical process. And the Vitae, that is blood with mystical proprieties somehow feels our needs and find its way through our body. The Vitae itself can't move when out of the body, and can't permeate through our skin. I won't talk about some alien Disciplines that seems to enhance the Blood possibilities, but the communication between Blood and Kindred conscience seems now a total mystery.
Some Kindred tell their Childer the body of a Kindred is nothing but dead flesh and blood. More than one Elder was sent in a precarious position as his Childe asked him then why their body wasn't all red, or why their saliva, as well as their eyes, teeth, gums and skin wasn't blood-stained. And more than one Childe discovered too late Elders were not to be questionned, even with reason...
What Organs are Alive, and what do they do? Some poets like to describe us as corpses still walking due to some unholy pact. Simple logic will refute this 'dead-thing': We still can see, and if someone hurt our eyes, we loose our sight. Even one with the Gleam of the Red Eyes power will be blinded with his eyes are hurt. So the eyes are central to the vision of a Kindred. Even if the eyes are not needing Oxygen to live, they still live. I would call it un-life. The same can be said with all the other neural system cells. I say un-alive because the same neural cells, very sensitive to some neuro-toxin poisons when they are mortal ones, are unaffected when they are Kindred ones.
The same can be said about the heart, who is central to our survival (I believe in fact that the heart and the brain must be linked. Should this link be broken by decapitation, the Kindred dies). It does not beat, even if we can make it beat by our force of will. Does something so important to our survival be simply dead? I don't think so.
The same could be said about our stomach, and our muscles. In facts, half of our internal organs are still needed in some (sometimes unknown) way, and their removal or destruction can incapacitate a Kindred as much as a mortal.
We can talk about the fascinating Zombu, whose description I've found in an old Grimoire written by someone claiming to be from the unknown-before Cappadocian Clan (I made some research to discover more, but most Elders seem to know nothing about them, or simply ignore my questions. Strange, isn't it? Somehow, the Giovanni must know, as they have the Discipline of Necromancy: Perhaps the name of their Founder is Augustus Cappadocius Giovanni... I will have to ask the next time I meet one...). The Zombu's life was given by the Blood of the said Kindred, but when the Vitae was expended, the Zombie simply crumbled into dust, only the Vitae gives them semblance of life. By the description, mortal blood was of no use.
The Kindred are able to create their own Vitae from mortal Vitae, and the Zombu can't. The Kindred are simply inactive if too much time is passed without Vitae. The Zombu are simply destroyed. Yes, the Vitae must be alive, and the Blood Bond's existence makes me think that the Vitae must be really a part of our Kindred Soul, necessary to be active, but not to remain immortal...
Zombu are what we could call dead flesh whose life is prolonged because of the Vitae the Kindred give them. But the Kindred are not Zombu because of physiological differences. Physiological differences that makes them a different form of life. Unlife, or Undeath is a mortal viewpoint tinged with superstition and biblical references with no real physic basis.
So all the liquids of our body are only Vitae? I must remind that 70% at least of a normal body is made of water, and that I even found water as a constituant of blood, or Vitae. So a Kindred would be red a blood because of his vitae lubrified skin, would have blood-stained lips because of his Blood saliva, and would walk as a crippled zombie because the blood (or Vitae) is not as good as a articulation lubrifiant as some would like to believe.
So? What is the answer?
Kindred still have 70% of liquid in their body, but this time the liquid is somewhat of different origin. When we burn blood to fuel Discipline, the Vitae disappear, as it was demonstrated by the experience. So from where comes the water?
The answer lies in the digestion. The digested Vitae hold less volume than the blood it comes from. Most of the water must be destroyed by the mystical digestion, but some percentage can ''survive'' the digestion, and enter the body to lubrificate it. What we get is a translucid liquid similar to plasma.
This is the liquid that permeate our body, and from what our glands still create the saliva, or the lacrymal liquid that lubrify our eyes. Any excess of this plasma seems to evaporate through our skin, with enough time.
Why do we cry tears of Blood? I believe that crying involve some mental state that provokes a psychosomatic reaction: A local overdosing that stains the normal tears in red. Another theory is that crying needs a great influx of water, water that refuses to move easily in the body. The glands are now ineffective and cry instead blood-stained tears. The same can be found with any excessive emission of any bodily liquid.
And about sweat of blood? The same answers can be found true. The Vitae seems to be the only liquid to move freely in our body, so a ''sweat'' that would ask for high quantity of water would find Vitae instead. Normal sweating, I mean lubrification of our skin, stills works normally (as our skin is still white).
Riding the Wave:
Someone wanting, for any reason, to enter Frenzy cannot do it unless the reasons are good enough. If not, and if the Storyteller believes there is no reason to let the player make a Frenzy Roll, then the Character can still try to awaken the Beast: He must fail a Humanity (or Via, and not Self-Control or Instincts!) roll against a difficulty chosen by the Storyteller. Succeeding it means that the attempt failed and can't be tried again unless real good reasons. A Botch implies that the Beast is unleashed and the Frenzy can't be controlled by using Willpower.
Thus, the Merit ''Berseker'' gives the character an edge, as he can enter Frenzy at any moment, without the need of any roll.
SEX & VAMPIRISM:
I'm simply too much ignorant of those matters to discuss them. So I asked Sven, a Setite sentualist rumoured to love women more now than when mortal. He claims vampires can ''have sex''. Here is his answer to my letter...
Unless severe physical impairement, a vampire can simulate sexual relations. This said, we can go to the next part: Do vampires have sexual or sexual-like relations?
I say yes.
I already imagine your reaction to this chocking assumption. Let me explain, and it will be clear to you, in the end...
A mortal's need for sexual relation can find multiple sources. The first is a basic biological need. Because of genetic programming (result of evolution), sex feels good, and lack of sexual relation is source of tension, or even frustration for the said mortal. So ''lust'', as an animal urge, seems unavoidable.
But to limit sex to its most animal effect for a human is similar to limit her need for food. Humans need food, but they evolved in this field, and now few Toreador would refuse the title of Art for the science of cooking...
The fact is that sex is also, for humans, a way to express other feelings, like love, or even simple but deep affection, or to decrease mental tension (this is not even an human's privilege as I was told by a zoologist friend of mine than the Bonobo monkey eased aggressive tension and fear by having sexual relation with each others, no matter the sex!). Sex have also a social effect: The Bonobo are, perhaps, the only primates avoiding violence between them. Humans would learn a lot from them, should they open their senses to the truth. But I disgress...
The vampire seem to have lost, at first sight, the need for sex. After all, some believe that hormons have disappeared altogether from vampire bloodstream. While there is no proof, this can be false: Rötschrek and Frenzy seem to happen more easily when certain chemical components of vampiric blood seem to be in greater quantity: vampiric hormons. It seems that even vampiric emotions have a manifestation in the vitae. And even should the hormonal event be absent from our blood, just by drinking from lustful mortals could well provoke similar, if somewhat blured, emotional responses.
The physical sexual apparatus is still there in the vampiric anatomy. Even if most liquid in our body have a trace of vitae, this doesn't mean that the appartuses can't work. Quite the contrary, I assure you (as could some of my partners...).
Vampire's need for reproduction is lost (at least, as an hormonal need -- the intellectual need is still there). But while a vampire won't lust after the gorgeous body of a woman because of this need of reproduction, this is easily replaced by a lust explained by a need for blood, and a young gorgeous and healthy woman has usually excellent blood. Thus, the vampire is still usually attracted by beauty, even if he doesn't understand this attraction is both a remembrance of his mortal days and a lust for mortal vitae.
Some ''well-thinking'' Cainites want everyone to believe their flesh is dead. I say good riddance. They thus lose a great deal of their own sensuality. And this word is used at his purest form: We, Kindred, are among the most sensitive creatures on earth. A good massage, a kiss, the perfume of our conquest. All this moves us more than a lot of Kindred would like to admit. Mortals find confort in the arms of one another. We, Cainites, believe ourselves the ultimate predator (what a vain claim, as most lupines would like to confirm over the finally dead body of the vain ignorant...). But even wolves find confort when touching another of their kind. And we, Kindred, would, if not for our natural paranoia. In fact, Kindred love affairs are such great passions exactly for this reason.
In the end, I believe Kindred's capacity for mortal-like orgasms disappeared. If only because after centuries of trying, I never felt one no matter how much I tried.
The conclusion of this is that sexual-like relations are still possible for a vampire. But no matter how much one will try, the only orgasmic pleasure she will find will be in the consumption of blood, the more potent the better.
In the end, this explain why being a Cainite is seen as a sin by most ''well-thinking'' consciences. By feeding, we not only take the forbidden blood from other, we also make sex to the other. And sometimes, it even is more a rape than a love relation. This is exaclty why Diablerie is so much attractrive, and is such a crime: It is canibalism and rape drapped in blood. The most exquisite crime and passion all in one, terrible act.
A Vampire's love is expressed through mutual consumption of Vitae. This is both a great act of trust, as one lets the other touch (this alone can be a death sentence for the victim), and even drink one's vitae. How far will the partner go. Will she be able to stop? And what if she doesn't? And what if her Beasts takes over?
What a terrible situation, isn't it? So similar to the black widow's...
I'm both frustrated and excited by the letter of Sven. While I believe the poor Cainite to be in love with a dead feeling, I still wonder if the strange feeling I felt when I met Serena and Catherine at the Cour, and when I saw, smelled and even felt their strong vitae coursing under their warm skin...