Kindred: the Embraced -- The Myth
|Updated 17 May 2002|
Kindred: the Embraced is about creatures of great passion, surreal beauty, and sensuous bearing. They are creatures of horror that humans call vampires. These creatures, however, call themselves Kindred and they inhabit a sensual world at the edge of human experience. Kindred are beings who had once been human. They belong to an ancient breed which has evolved alongside humanity since its earliest existence. They hide behind The Masquerade. They define themsleves by clans. They hunt for blood to sate The Hunger, and they create more of their kind through The Embrace.
In the TV series, Kindred must periodically drink small amounts of human blood to maintain their existence and their powers. They can move about in daylight if they have recently fed. They eat and drink; they make love. Their hearts beat, although very slowly. They have the power to remove a memory from a human's mind. They can spontaneously heal any wound that does not disintegrate their bodies. They can even heal minor wounds in humans. They will eventually die of natural causes, but not for centuries or perhaps even thousands of years. And the one thing for certain that will kill a Kindred is a phosphurus gun. Kindred pass legally as human with the help of Kindred working within various agencies and government offices. There are Kindred in every walk of life. "We're all around you" is how Julian warns Frank. Still, their slowed aging process and longevity has a curse: they must move to new cities, take on new identities as the unknowing humans around them succumb to age.
A clan is a group of vampires who share common characteristics passed on by the Blood. In the TV series, there are five primary clans: Brujah, Gangrel, Nosferatu, Toreador, and Ventrue. A sixth clan, the Assamites, appears in one episode.
The Brujah are outspoken, turbulent, and defiant, and in human terms, often criminal. In the TV series, they are led by Eddie Fiori, who has his hand in human affairs around the docks and shipping lines. He dabbles in the entertainment industry and yearns to be Prince.
The Gangrels are individualists who sneer at the contraints of society. They are ferocious fighters, proud, hot-headed, streeet smart, and they come from Gypsy blood. In the TV series, an ancient hatred between the Gangrels and the Brujah keep the rivalries churning up dissent. The TV series also portrays the Gangrels as loyal and trustworthy. They cannot be bought. Julian Luna prefers a Gangrel bodyguard and asks Cash, the Gangrel leader, to take the place of the slain Stevie Ray.
The Nosferatu are ancient, solitary, and possessed of talents magical and mystical. They embody the features that humans imagine as vampire. While other Kindred retain their human countenance, Nosferatu are distorted by the Embrace. Grotesque, they are often scorned by other Kindred, and certainly unable to move freely among humans. They prefer the dark and even the underground. Often called "Sewer Rats," they have mastered skulking and eavesdropping. They can blend into shadows. Yet, they are level-headed and practical. In the TV series, Julian Luna has a trusted confident in Daedalus, his Enforcer, and leader of the Nosferatu clan. Still, despite this bond of friendship, the TV series portrays the Nosferatu as remaining neutral in many Kindred conflicts, even if their decision is not as Julian Luna would have liked.
The Toreador are elegant, flamboyant, creative, and most of all -- passionate. They savor their immortaility, yet are most connected to the mortal world. Of all the Kindred, they are the most likely to fall in love with humans, and in the TV series, Lillie Langtry, the erotic and predatory Toreador leader, says: "We're the sexy ones. We like to entertain." Toreador Kindred have great influence in the world of popular culture. In the past, they have also used their creatve bent to promote a false mythology of vampires, leading Bram Stoker astray when he touched too close to the truth.
The Ventrue share a love of high society with the Toreador, not for its pleasures, however, but for the sheer challenge of running things. Ventrue are industrialists, leaders, aristocrats. They have a Blue-Blood bearing and are often found in positions of power, where they can shape destiny. They are the most like humans in their attitudes and behavior. In fact, they are the "Brahmin" caste of Kindred society. In the TV series, Julian Luna is Ventrue and Prince of the City.
For countless centuries, Kindred prospered and pursued their own schemes and desires. They were invincible, standing above humans in their understanding and awareness of the true nature of the world. They lived openly and arrogantly among mortals, relying on their power and human superstition to preserve them. Then came the Inquisition.
With the Inquisition, Kindred faced an enemy that studied both superstitious belief and scientific observation to identify Kindred, the demons of the dark. With maddening thoroughness, the Inquisition devised methods to rid the world of these creatures, along with witches, warlocks, heretics, the feeble, and the politically inconvenient. As for Kindred, the Inquisitors were diligent in their efforts to trace bloodlines and purge the creatures by the flame. Those Kindred who survived swiftly learned secrecy and stealth. They learned to band together in loose networks. Vulnerable for the first time, seven clans united to govern the rest. They called themselves the Camarilla, and this collective group existed first and foremost to enforce its first law, a law most sacred -- The Masquerade.
This law demands that the knowledge of Kindred be kept from humans. To make the law effective, Kindred set about to erase evidence of their kind, instilling doubt that they had ever existed, finally leaving behind only a myth of such creatures. It was safe to hide behind the myth. Through adherence to this law, Kindred were able to hide in plain sight within human society.
The Masquerade ensures the continuance of Kindred through secrecy, and any Kindred who breaks the Masquerade, who reveals the existence of Kindred -- that Kindred is outcast, even hunted down.
In the TV series, Julian Luna demands that all Kindred in his city follow The Masquerade. He is clear about punishing any acts that jeopardize it, even to calling a Blood Hunt against his once great love Alexandra Serras, who revealed her Kindred nature to Frank Kohanek.
The Prince is the Kindred who has the power to hold domain over a city, set its laws, enforce them, and maintain peace. He is the judge who settles disputes among Kindred; he grants permission for another Kindred to embrace a human. A Prince also influences human matters and uses this influence to guarantee that the Princehood is not lost. But most of all, the Prince is concerned with the Masquerade and preservation of Kindred law.
In the TV series, Julian Luna is Prince of San Francisco, a position he inherited from his sire, Archon Raine. His is a position sought by Eddie Fiori. Such cravings for power make the job of a Prince more difficult and demonstrate how fragile a Kindred peace can be.
In the TV series, a Primogen is the leader of a clan. The Primogens meet to advise the Prince, to consult, and to present grievances. They often have their own agendas and seek to promote their own clans. Archon Raine is the Ventrue primogen, Daedalus is primogen for the Nosferatu, Cash is the Gangrel primogen, Eddie Fiori is primogen for the Brujah, and Lillie Langtry is the Toreador Primogen.
In human myth, the dead who succumb to the treacherous bite of a vampire rise from the grave to become yet another predatory creature of the night. On the contrary, the act of transforming a human into a vampire requires conscious effort. The vampire drains the human's mortal blood to the point when life is no more, replacing it with Kindred blood, binding the human to the clan of that blood.
The Embrace also requires permission from the Prince. When permission is not granted yet the Embrace is fulfilled, the Prince has the right to destroy both the errant Kindred and the erstwhile human.
The reasons a Kindred embraces vary. Some do so out of spite or vengeance, forcibly embracing the human, stealing the mortal innocence. Some embrace out of love or desire, even lust. And others seek reprieve from their loneliness, wanting to share their long existence with a creature dark and beautiful, like themselves.