Do not expect any truths from the undead. And yet, between the lines of all their contradicting tales, their lies, and propaganda, you may glimpse some of their ignoble history.

Foundation Myths

A Betrayer Twice Cursed

To hear the Kindred tell it, it all began with murder most foul among jealous siblings, somewhere in the fertile Crescent at the dawn of the Bronze Age. Many speak of the Biblical Cain, but there are many tales of the Dark Father and he has had many names.

Cursed by a divine power, not just for the sin of murder but for the sheer unremorseful hubris with which he had defied the laws of gods and humans, the First was cast out from the world of light and life, a wanderer, a pariah.

The sun itself would scorch his skin, he would be tasting only bitter ashes, he was to subsist without vitality in an eternal, unchanging wasting-away without succor, without end. Alone, outcast, forgotten, and suffering. 

The First traversed the wilderness of the land called Nod in great pain, when he was found by a powerful, supernatural being who took pity on his plight, being herself an outcast from the cities of the king-priests and their patriarchal ordinances. 

This saviour, often called Lilith, or, the Dark Mother, nursed his broken form from the life-giving fount of her own veins, teaching him to imbibe vitae to restore his form, teaching him to harness the powers inherent in his condition, to survive and to thrive.

But Cain's twisted heart knew no gratitude. As he grew in strength, so did his jealousy rear its ugly head again. When Lilith would not submit to his claim to rule, he attacked her, slew her children and stole her secrets, leaving her for dead. 

With her last words to him the Dark Mother cursed the Dark Father with eternal strife between him and his childer and with a shadow of all his sins personified residing in his breast that would never let him be content and always destroy what he loved.

Thus, step by step, curse by curse, was the blight of vampirism created.

An Empire Of Blood

The First returned to the city he had come from, though a lifetime had passed since he had been cast out. He used all his power and glory to subdue the rulers and and priests, installing himself as a god-king whose slave population would labour and shed their blood for him.

Though content for a time and mindful of the terrible curse that Lilith had laid on him in her defeat, Cain grew lonely and sought to make more like him. He sired the Second Generation, three childer, mortals great in stature, wise beyond their years, brave and loyal. Their names, though, are lost to time, as everything eventually turns to dust and vanishes.

Ultimately, the nature of Cain's personality or, perhaps, his curses, affected the hearts and minds of his childer, driving a wedge between them and the Dark Father and between each other as well. The Second Generation vampires, flaunting Cain's decree that life would proceed solely from him as patriarch, created childer of their own, bringing a Third Generation of many new vampires into existence, jealously keeping their servants for themselves. 

When the First confronted his unruly progeny, they rejected his claims as defiantly as he had once done. The Dark Father could have overpowered them, but he realised what must eventually happen, and despaired. He left his mighty city and all its glory behind, vanishing as a wanderer into the desert, his head bowed in regret, never to be seen again.

Cain's brood took over as rulers, expanding their holdings into a mighty empire of city states that soon covered a vast territory, overseen by blooded half-mortal ghoul servants. Carefully, they bound their progeny in chains of blood to ensure their loyalty and obedience, coming to believe themselves as all-powerful and unquestioned as their own sire had once been.

The Deluge

Then came the Deluge, a devastating earthquake followed by a catastrophic flooding of the plains by the rivers of Mesopotamia, that ravaged the central city of the empire. Mortals died in the thousands, broken and drowned. The Kindred, though impervious to many forms of bodily harm, began to starve as their larder was depleted, competing for the remaining resources.

The Third Generation appealed to the Second for aid, for guidance, but recoiled in horror, when they realised their true intentions: Capturing and feasting on their own childer to weather the storm. After all, they could always turn new fledglings as long as they survived.

Thus, the Third Generation rose up against their sires and, after a dreadful battle with casualties on all sides, slew them. Perhaps it began as self-defense but it ended in a feast of heart's blood, the diablerie, an ultimate rush granting enormous power.

Their hands stained, the deed done, the survivors eyed each other suspiciously. They knew, now, what they were capable of, how far they were all willing to go to ensure their survival and their power. There could be no trust among them ever again.

Leaving the ruins of their former home, the six surviving grandchildren of Cain all set off in different directions, casting paranoid glances over their shoulders at their dangerous kin. But the world, they surmised, was big enough. They would never have to meet again.

The Rise Of The Clans

Spreading out mostly across the lands around the Mediterranean Sea, the Antedeluvian vampires found other cradles of civilisation far from their former home. Where humans congregated and built cities, they would settle. 

The members of the Third Generation began to sire childer of their own. The Fourth Generation in turn begat a Fifth Generation and those Kindred a Sixth Generation and so forth, creating great pyramids of heritage and power, reinforced by Bloodbonds.

The eldest of each bloodline found that their offspring inherited some of their own unique powers and weaknesses. Whether nature or nurture or both were responsible, soon there were six distinct familial lines, tribes, clans of vampires.

The clans were reared on tales of the greatness of a First's city long gone, lies of an unbroken line of divine authority inherited from the glorious Dark Father for the purpose of stewardship over the world. And every Antedeluvian twisted the tales to suit their own purpose, becoming the hero of a story full of distant but always threatening villains.

Due to the ever-growing need to feed all these vampires, the Third Generation sent their childer into neighbouring territories, once more expanding their demesnes into veritable empires. 

Given enough time, it was inevitable that the realms of the mighty undead emperors came into contact. They could have negotiated. But they carried the Dark Father's curse of strife, the Beast Within, that will always seek to take what others have and take offense at what they say. The Kindred went to war.

The Eternal Struggle

Beginning with the fall of Troy, the clans engaged in open warfare with each other, supplemented by the mortal armies they commanded. 

Human history books speak of the Late Bronze Age Collapse, a time of falling civilisations due to invasions and natural catastrophes. In truth, the world burned in the fires of supernatural conflict. It seemed that gods walked among mortals and fought in their battles, as epic poetry such as Homer's Iliad will attest to. 

During this time, as their progeny died in droves and the fires of war reached even their own havens, all members of the Third Generation either, died, fell into the deep sleep of torpor, or fled into the shadows, never to be seen again.  

In the free-for all that followed during the time of Alexander the Great and the devastating Succession Wars, many saw the inevitable end of the Kindred.  Clans, no longer isolated and bound to a central will, mixed, individual Kindred forming alliances of convenience or ideology. 

Carthage burned, Rome expanded and fell apart, great empires rose and toppled everywhere. 

For a thousand years and more there was nothing but abject chaos and eternal backstabbing. Everyone against everyone else. Night without end.

They called it the Eternal Struggle.

Recorded History

The Dream

A powerful coterie of ancient Kindred united in the Fourth Century CE to shape a unified society of Kindred under the rule of their Roman laws and the sign of the cross of Christianity.

They called it their Dream, a vision akin to that of Constantine, and they would seek to conquer, just as he had done.

Their great experiment, centered in Constantinople and stretching out over the entire Eastern Roman Empire, defied everything that had held true for so long among the Kindred. 

All the Kindred within the bounds of the Byzantine sphere of influence would honour the leadership of the representatives of the capital, pillars of a unified society with a central, very Roman and very Christian authority.  There was one law for all, one order, a set of rules called the Legacies:

The Kindred would no longer walk as gods among mortals. They would retreat to the shadows, steering affairs of state from the dark, unexposed, not in danger of Final Death.

They would honour the territorial sanctity of the Dream, settling and feeding only in their alloted places and not poaching other Kindred's territory.

Most importantly, the Dream stopped the overt killing by making it illegal and putting the power over life and death in the hand of one central authority.

While the Dream's new ways did save the Kindred from extinction, it bred a society of predators who knew how to excel at waging war covertly in games of intrigue and knives in the dark. 

The increasing stratification of society bred internal discontent and intrigue, wheras decadence and corruption caused weaknesses in the system. The Dream itself became more and more like a vampire, expanding, consuming, festering from within.

The Long Night

While the Dream reigned in the East, the West, following the fall of the Western Roman Empire, fell into an era called the Long Night. The rise of feudalism and the balkanization of formerly subjugated territories made the Kindred increasinly insular. 

Local potentates, now called Princes, would gather their broods around them and reign supreme in their cities, thinking their own castles the centre of the world, their peasant stock weak and easily cowed, their childer servants without a will of their own. 

On the opposite side, the deluded elders of the Dream would seek to enforce their authority beyond their territories, drawing the enmity of their cousins in all surrounding lands in their vainglorious overreach.

With even the Fourth Generation and most of the Fifth Generation gone by the time of the Crusades, there was hardly anyone left who remembered the times before. Most Kindred active during the Dark Ages had, in fact, been embraced after the fall of Rome. 

History became myth, law became dogma.

And on all sides petty tyrants forgot the lessons of their forebears. They were bound to repeat the mistakes of their sires. 

Kindred Religion

During this era, tales of the Kindred began to be told through an increasingly Christian lens that would shape perceptions for centuries to come.  

Kindred scholars and propagandists, called Ashen Priests, began to compile a '"vampire Bible", the Book of Nod, a collection of apocryphal records from various early Middle-Eastern cultures. These often contradictory fragments were collated and reinterpreted in various attempts at translations filtered through several languages. 

The Book of Nod (of which there are many different versions) presented a history of the Kindred as the scions of Cain in an, albeit warped, Christian context, providing a grand heritage and a glorious purpose to support the Kindred feudal system, while adding a deep, spiritual dimension to the struggle with the Beast, couching it in terms of damnation and redemption. 

Kindred scripture had a dispensationalist bend, interpretating the cycles of creation and destruction the species had experienced as following a divine mandate of ages of trial, separated by periods called Gehenna, which would by various accounts see the return of the Antedeluvians, of Cain, of Lilith, of God, to purge those found wanting and leave only a few to spread the seed again.

In Noddist interpretation, the events around the Deluge ended the First Cycle, the Diadochi Wars were the peak of the Second Cycle, and a Third Cycle, the present dispensation, would end in an equally destructive Gehenna again. 

The Faithful were instructed that this Reckoning could come at any point, heralded by omens of strife and ill fortune, with many looking to the Millenium for this apocalypse, much like mortal Christians did.

The Omen War

Around the turn of the Second Millenium CE, a secret order of Hermetic mortal conjurers and alchemists managed to use their dark arts to capture vampires of the Dream and use their stolen blood to concot what they hoped for would be an elixir of eternal life. 

They accomplished the unthinkable, becoming vampires, the first new bloodline in millennia and the only one not directly descended from the Antedeluvians. 

These upstarts, quartered within the bounds of the Byzantine Empire, were harried in their homes by enforcers of the Dream seeking to purge the abominations. Their blood sorcery gave them an edge, however, the likes of which had not been seen before. They barely survived, but they gave as good as they got, destabilising the Dream at a crucial time of weakness of its mortal empire.

Though none would openly declare for the reviled fledglings, many Kindred were prepared to use this situation to their own advantage. The Patriarchs of Byzantium were a thorn in many a proud Prince's side who wanted to be truly free of their dictates. 

Some intrigue that cannot be traced to one single source anymore, diverted the Fourth Crusade to Constantinople, razing the city in 1204, killing thousands of mortals and upending the order of the Empire. Amidst the terror, the blood sorcerers used the chaos to overpower and drain the rulers of the Dream. 

Only when rumours of the fait accompli began to be spread by Byzantine refugees, did Kindred of all clans and factions suddenly proclaim their shock and outrage, calling for a collective punishment of the devilish usurpers whom they deemed harbingers of Gehenna, a holy crusade to justify genocide, the Omen War.

The Anarch Revolt

Though at the time the Tremere were certainly being blamed for using its outbreak as a doomsday weapon in the Omen War, no one can say for sure if there was even any Kindred influence behind the plague. 

When the Black Death ravaged Western Eurasia and North Africa in the middle of the Fourteenth Century, the Kindred found themselves susceptible to that terrifying disease. Drinking from infected vessels would drive vampires into torpor, even destroy them.  They could also spread it with their bite, infecting and killing whole herds, if they weren't careful. 

Feeding opportunities were rare, Kindred were starving. So, they began to prey on each other. As the Elders were capturing and draining their young in droves to buy themselves just one more night, a small group of fledlgings managed to break the power of the Bloodbond that made them helpless slaves through a kind of Kindred communion, a ritual eucharist called the Vaulderie.

These leaderless neonates turned against their elders, slaying them, then venturing to the next domain, to free the slaves there. From that first uprising grew a movement called the Anarch Revolt

Though many of the young were soon killed because of the sheer power of their elders, many potentates were also brought low by the frenzy of vengeful mobs of childer swarming their domains.

While the young had strength in numbers, the elders soon began to use mortal resources to combat their unruly childer, as they had in the covert battles of influence that struck such deep blows during the Omen War. In their panic, their blatant use of worldly or clerical authorities became a lot less subtle and indirect than it should have been. The wrong kind of people began to ask just the right kind of questions.

Faith And Fire

Among the Papal Inquisition, founded to root out heresy within the Catholic Church, there had long been a clandestine branch that investigated rumours of the pale demons who came at night and whispered wicked lies to people in power, marking them with their blood as servants of the devil.

When the Omen War, the Black Death and the Anarch Revolt decimated the ranks of the Kindred and broke up their social structures, members of the clandestine Society of Leopold began to receive copious evidence to confirm their suspicions. Inquisitors jumped at the opportunity.

Capturing Ghoul servants, they employed torture and brainwashing to get at their Kindred masters. With great effort and sacrifice, the Inquisition managed to trace whole bloodlines, studying ways to protect themselves against their powers and how to exploit their weaknesses. They dragged Kindred out of their havens by daylight, staked them, or burnt them on pyres. 

For the first time, the Kindred stood in real danger of extinction not by themselves but by mortals. Humans had the wherewithal to rid the world of monsters forever. It was a terrifying time. Many elders still bear the mental scars to this day, living in fear and paranoid seclusion.

The Camarilla

The survivors quickly learned the wisdom of stealth and secrecy. Networks sprang up, conveying information and individuals sub rosa for the safety of all. Cells of various underground railroads began to cooperate, led by a generation of Kindred barely a few centuries old, young enough to understand the ways of the world but old enough to have no interest in blindly joining the Anarch fray. 

They wanted to survive and reestablish order, but not fall back into the ways that had led to this ruin. Even as they were laying the groundwork for their rescue operations, these conspirators looked to the future, seeking to create a system that favoured them, a meritocracy of the capable based on ambition, capability, and trade. 

By paying it forward, each Kindred they saved owed them and each one was roped into supporting the structures they were building based on these debts.

The Founders of this system were revolutionaries of a different kind. With clever insights and twisted guile, this small alliance grew very quickly, winning a war that everyone else was losing.

Little by little, they called the disparate factions of the war to the table, negotiating peace treaties and discreetly removing those who still wanted to continue the fighting. It was an era full of remarkable acts of ruthless political brinksmanship. 

Their efforts culminated in a grand conclave in the late 15th century, gathering representatives from all regions, factions, and clans to sign an accord, called the Treaty of Thorns. This was the birth of modern vampire society. 

What had long been colloquially refered to as the Camarilla (named for the clandestine backroom meetings of its members) became a formal organisation, establishing a new reading of the ancient Traditions among its members as well as formalising a system of trading favours, or Boons, as a stable currency.

The Anarchs who would return to the fold and obey the laws, gaining complete amnesty in exchange for their future obedience. 

The Elders had to make concessions that limited their power, while gaining safety and receiving some of their old privileges back. 

The Tremere were recognised as a true clan in exchange for a promise to not seek leadership positions and serve the Camarilla.  

While local Princes would continue to hold all power locally, independent judges and enforcers, called Justicars, whom anyone could address their grievances to, would arbitrate between domains and see to it that the laws and customs of the sect were obeyed everywhere equally. 

The Sanguine Renaissance

The united Camarilla, bending all its many members to one new, single purpose, began to steer away the Inquisition from real targets to mortal concerns, while also working to strengthen Renaissance movements that weakened centralised power and began to establish a more secularised society. 

Though it took them centuries, they succesfully drew the veil of the Masquerade, the greatest lie ever told, over the Kindred, gradually turning them into nothing but fairytales (and later figures of books and movies) in mortal eyes. 

Kindred would learn to pose as humans and limit their influence to subtle and localised impulses with long-term effects. Their whole society would adapt and shift with the times. 

There would be no warfare among them, no overt supernatural displays. They would learn how to feed without killing and grow the herd by steadily urbanising their lands.

The Sanguine Renaissance was a radical shift in Kindred society unlike any of the preceding events. Each new generation of Kindred embraced into the fold began to imbibe its lessons with the first drop of blood that they took. 

Unlike the Dream, there was no central, overbearing authority that could be toppled. There was no grand system that could be challenged and attacked. The Camarilla, crab bucket of ambitions that it was, was an idea and an ideal, with many benefits and strictly no alternatives. 

While its name still pointed to its beginnings as a clandestine organisation, after a few hundred years, it had become a way of life.

Sects And Secrets

The one thing the Camarilla distinctly lacked, which all its systems regulating status, boons and Traditions could not provide for, where answers. 

The Camarilla, trying to provide a space for anyone, was purposefully bland. It looked to precedent, to good order, to profit. It's lesson was: "Fit in, do your part, and you will have what you desire." There was no place for philosophy.

For many, this was enough. But in every Kindred heart there is what is called the Riddle, the eternal question of the whys and the hows of the Kindred condition and how to deal with it.

During the Age of Enlightenment, just as various open and many clandestine combinations of followers of philosophies, religions, occult practices sprang up among mortals, so did the Kindred of this era form secret sects, banding together to seek answers and influence others to see things their way or be removed out of their way.

Though there were many, most of these movements were false starts, amounting to nothing or quickly being quashed by local rulers seeking to enforce Camarilla orthodoxy. The most dangerous and persistent sects, continued to grow, though, surviving through underground networks, isolated cells working on tasks they knew just a fraction of.

All were Camarilla, ostensibly. But behind the smiling face of your sire, your child, your broodmate, could lurk a Cain cultist of the dread Sabbat looking to expedite Gehenna, a brainwashing guru of the Inconnu mystery religion seeking to ensnare your soul, a vengeful Bahari Lilith worshipper, trying to punish a species for the sins of the Father.

An atmosphere of paranoia eventually grew among the Kindred. As revolutions began to bring great and often violent upheavals in the mortal world, Kindred authorities were beginning become increasingly authoritarian and highly suspicious rulers instead of arbiters and diplomats. And everybody always had a convenient scapegoat.  

Fear Of A Second Inquisition

The devastation of the two World Wars were not the work of the Kindred. Some certainly profited or urged certain individual movements of the slaughter, but no more so than humans. 

In fact, the unimaginable scope of the industrialised means of killing and wholesale destruction terrified the vampires. They had absolutely no response to stop the developments or protect themselves and their holdings from the consequences.

The bombings of many European cities, the genocides, the battles that razed whole regions, killed off a great many Kindred and their retainers, or sent them into the death-sleep of Torpor. 

While no one had ever kept any reliable statistics, it is safe to assume that perhaps a tenth of the Kindred population of Europe was left after 1945, and where once almost every town had held a court, only a dozen or so all over the continent still existed.

Little is know about Kindred activities on other continents, though, for example, the Americas are said to be a Kindred stronghold to this day, where the sects have risen openly, where there are battles for land between the Camarilla, the Sabbat, and others. 

The vampires of the Old World wouldn't know. They had gone dark.

Science, technology, modern warfare, organisational structures too complex and diverse to influence by controlling just a few people, made the Kindred feel powerless. And many elders, having barely survived the wars not even directed at them, feared what would happen, if mortals, now possessing the means to overpower vampries so easily, found out the truth again.

Whereas for centuries there had been a relatively open and vibrant social scene among the Kindred, the Camarilla domains of the Twentieth Century were beginning to resemble the mortal states of the time, spying on each other, cracking down on dissidents, becoming isolationist and highly competive. 

These fears intensified even further, as the mortal world entered the Information Age and sensitive data became easily available through the internet, while the means of surveillance became increasingly sophisticated and omnipresent.  

On the orders of the Justicars, around the turn of the Third Millenium, a moratorium was called on the use of all modern communications technology, of all record keeping, of any direct influence in mortal affairs, be it business, politics, religion, news media etc. 

All messages must be passed in person, through trusted messengers. All violations of the Masquerade must be punished most severely.

Stopping a possible Second Inquisition in the form of intelligence services this time around, was used as an all-purpose argument to justify an erosion of the rule of law, privacy and the relative equality that had been the Camarilla's forte for so long.

The Final Nights

Recently, Elders have started to dream of a Red Star in the  night sky, implanting in them a psychic Beckoning to look, or even come East. Many have not been able to resist this urge, packing up and moving away without ever being seen again, leaving their domains to their overly ambitious lieutenants and a gaggle of leaderless fledglings.

Those who have resisted the siren call and clung to their domains found themselves subject to a strange Withering, a weakening of their vitae manifesting as loss of power, inability to sire, or an unquenchable thirst for the blood of their own kind.  

It is even said that certain Kindred, turned recently, have not been manifesting their blood legacy, producing the Caitiff, who show no signs of belonging to any clan at all and seem to still carry some human traits, such as the ability to withstand sunlight.

Many have marveled at or feared these mysterious portents. Invariably, some old copies of the Book of Nod have shown to contain references to such occurences towards the end of the previous cycles, presaging the Gehenna-ended that ended that age.

While these nights there are not as many believers in Noddist scripture among the general population, the hidden sects have been driven to religious frenzy, increasing their activities, as each side sees their own beliefs validated.

Elders and Princes, who may or may not believe, that a Reckoning is upon them by any divine means, have legitimate reason to worry that the already tense structures of the Camarilla are close to breaking down if the social order is challenged openly. 

The Camarilla exists because people believe and act like it does. Any sign of cracks in this Ivory Tower might become a self-fulffilling prophecy of an actual break down.

The way domains have gone dark for decades makes it extraordinarily difficult to confirm sightings across borders or to formulate a joint response. Each domain might as well be the last one left, an image of that very first city: The curse exemplified, and a Deluge waiting to happen.

Though many whisper of the Final Nights, hardly anyone will admit their fears. The Kindred hate any sign of an ending, any indication that their unlives, though long, are not eternal. The deeper the anxiety, the more overt the denial. 

"Let the music play, let's dance. There is no way, there must be no way this party can end," they seem to say. 

But the time for lies will soon be over.