Emona By Night: A guide to the Night
You’ve been bitten! What does that mean?
You are not a hopeless fanged romantic, but a monstrous parasite
Forget what you’ve read in an issue of Twillight’s Fan Club Monthly. As the Elder vampires will tell you, vampirism is nothing but a curse. Some fools try and suppress their true monstrous nature, others simply succumb to the raving whispers of the Beast. Fledglings usually teether on a tightrope between both, slowly spreading their souls thin. Who wouldn’t succumb to the numbness? All your fleshly joys like food, drink and sex, suddenly don’t fulfil your endless need. That raving thirst for human vitae, the only sustenance that your ”life” now revolves around. And there is no other way to quench the fire, but with the revolting act of defiling an innocent’s flesh. The bite itself is like the ecstasy of a thousand orgasms flooding your victim’s body and making them limp like a boned lamb. Some monsters enjoy the surge of power they feel and others cry tears of blood as they realise what they have become. The hopeful try and cling to mortal customs, to all too quickly realise, that they are but chasing a feeling, that died on the night of their Embrace. Never to feel, never to love. Only to host an endless emptiness and a never-ending thirst for something long gone. Their humanity.
A society built on debts, secrets and schemes
Eternity births paranoia. The gift of endless life quickly becomes a battle for your existence. The Elders cling to their abusive positions of power, as the Neonates hungrily dream of authority that they are sure they deserve. Each member of this backstabbing society tries to climb its ladder of power, with the ones in front being just as immortal as you. Imagine your boss never retiring? The only weapon a Kindred has in this rigid Camarilla, are her intelligence, charm and scheming. Every Kindred, has built a palace out of plans and secrets. And some secrets, if they fall into the wrong hands, can bring down the mightiest of palaces. One could say, that one wrong word could spell the end of an empire and the end of an ‘’eternal’’ life.
Frozen in time
At a vampire’s Embrace, their looks are entrapped. They do not age, they do not grow hair. Old wounds and scars stain them forever. Their minds are no different, with them never truly feeling in touch with the progress of time, society and technology. Like an old person, clinging to their old ways and not accepting fresh ideas, they stay and fester. And nothing new, nothing fresh or innovative ever comes out of a festering old wound. Only old, slow and passionless reminiscing of the good old days.
Fearing death for all eternity
Is eternity worth not feeling the touch of the Sun upon your skin? The sweet caress of a gentle fireplace? For all their immortality, vampires are fragile beings. A single ray of the Sun or a well-placed match can spell the end for an uncareful vampire. Bring fourth your garlic and crosses, for vampires sometimes even adorn their havens with those. Van Helsing would have you believe a wooden stake, neatly placed through a vampire’s dead heart, would kill them. Oh no, it simply renders them paralyzed. But decapitation does end their endless existence. And who should vampires fear most? Who can do all the things stated above, as a vampire sleeps? Humans. Millions of humans. Just imagine what a whole herd of sheep would do if they found a sleeping wolf hiding among them? That is why vampires fear them and that is why they hide behind The Masquerade. A convenient lie, an endless charade and an endless struggle to keep their mortal eyes looking the other way.
Along with the general vampiric characteristics, something far worse awakens within the cursed individual. It is the true origin of all plights of a civilised vampire court. The hunger for blood comes from Its stomach. The fear of the sun and fire arises in Its eyes. And the will to betray your own family comes from Its cunning. We are talking about The Beast.
It hides in the deep corners of every vampire’s mind. Waiting. Gnawing at the thoughts of the poor individual, who thought that being a vampire is going to be pleasant. It is an insidious, insatiable being. It perverts the very personality of the accursed and wishes to fulfil its childish needs. Every negative emotion, every outburst of violence brings the Beast closer to the surface. And you do not want It to take control. If the Beast is released, it will not recognise friend from foe, it will tear limb from limb to get what it wants and it will want it NOW. It is The Beast that drives vampires to commit horrendous acts and destroy others for its selfish whims. And if you supress it, It will simply wait. Wait for that one moment of weakness, when it can again take control. All you can do is try and pick up the pieces of whatever it left in its wake.
As volatile as the Beast is, it can even manifest itself in more insidious ways. As stated, it will pervert the very personality of the vampire. It will try and smother your virtues and amplify your faults. A father’s love might become a fanatic obsession. A priest’s faith would become God’s will to commit horrific acts. And a wife’s love for her husband would become perverse, dark and twist itself into self-centred sadism. For the Beast is a selfish being. And it makes your longings more important than anyone else’s. It makes your wishes more important than anything else. And it makes your hunger more important that ANYONE else. Weak willed vampires will fall prey to the Beast, becoming nothing more than a snarling, hunger-driven animal looking to feed and survive and nothing else. Everyone within the Camarilla fears this state. For it not only means you shall be hunted and killed, but that your soul has already been consumed and that you no longer exist.
Those with a stronger will can resist their monstrous side. But not for long. They can hold the strings of countless young vampires, command legions of mortals with a flick of the wrist. But they will always have to struggle with their Beast. And no matter how hard a vampire clings on to his humanity, the Beast will always be in the back of their mind, reminding them, that they are beyond salvation. Beyond a normal existence. Forever.
How to portray The Beast in our LARP?
The Beast coming to the surface during a LARP is of course expected in a vampire LARP. A vampire could Frenzy on a LARP during time of great distress, shame, anger, disappointment or even fear. OF course, if you are angry The Beast would react much differently than it would if it were afraid. But unlike the ‘’combat-ish’’ description above, we portray the Beast in a more social manner, to emphasize the social aspect of the game. For example: the vampire would lose social control and lash out at other people in a burst of yelling and offensive language. Or perhaps the vampire could not control their own hunger and simply go for the hand/throat/leg of another vampire. Some vampires even experience an uncontrollable wave of jealousy or sudden acts of betrayal. These examples vary depending, firstly on the character that is frenzying and secondly on their Clan. It is more common for Toreador to have a sudden obsession with someone because of their Beast, or a Gangrel to act even more like an animal, with barking, snarling and howling being the usual response.
The Blood bond and Ghouls
The Blood bond. One of the most wonderful and perhaps most frightening of the powers at a vampire’s disposal. The vampires blood has a uniquely addictive effect on anyone who drinks it. Not only does the person want more and more and more, they also become more and more and more enslaved to the vampires will. It is one of the most powerful effects that a vampire can induce on another individual. If the person drinks the vampires blood on three separate occasions, they become practically slaves. And not just any type of slave. A loyal, obedient and almost fanatical toy that would do almost anything to please its Master. That person is referred to as a Ghoul. A Ghoul would do anything that the Master asks, listen to her every whim and try to fulfil her wishes to the best of his abilities. Some would even die for their Masters. No other vampiric power can induce the feelings that the Blood bond can.
Elder vampires often use this to control their subjects, but they also fear its power. For the Blood bond is not like vampiric Disciplines. You do not need to learn it. You do not need to be old or wise. You simply need to make the other person drink. And its power affects Elders just as well as it affects Neonates. The weakest and youngest Neonate could enslave the eldest and most powerful vampire, which is why even the Elders fear it.
The Blood bond can be separated into three distinct phases:
The First Drink
The drinker feels occasional bursts of emotion towards the vampire whose blood they drank. Often times they dream of them or find themselves in places that the vampire might frequent. The feelings are not ever-present though and the emotions they feel do not need to be positive. They can hate the vampire just as much as they might love them. But they say hate is just another way of loving, so a Ghoul on this stage definitely cares about the vampire.
The Second Drink
After the second drink, the feelings towards the vampire become more powerful and are always present. They are now strong enough to twist even hatred into love. Even if they hated the vampire before, now it’s more like a crush. And though the vampire isn’t the most important person in their life, he certainly is an important figure. The Ghoul caries on with his life normally, but he would go out of his way to help the vampire. And they most certainly wouldn’t think about harming their… Master.
The Third Drink
This is the final step. After this, getting out is very difficult. The Master is now the most important person in your life. Your friends, lovers, family, even children, your love for them pales in comparison to the love and respect you feel towards your Master. You are His. You can feel love this strong for one vampire only. Your Master. They only way a Ghoul on this stage can break free of the Blood bond is with the death of their Master. Which the Ghoul would do his utmost to prevent, of course.
On being a Ghoul
With the altering power of their blood at their disposal, vampires soon realized that humans that imbibed of their Vitae, would gain superhuman strength, immortality and dark lust for their master. The perfect attributes of a fanatically loyal servant. A Ghoul.
A Ghoul’s life now revolves around the service to their Master. They will fulfil any requests, wishes and commands of the Master, to the best of their abilities. All in exchange for the sweet nectar of undeath. If the Master decides to host more than one Ghoul, they should be careful, for Ghouls often compete for the love of their Master. And it is a jealous and volatile love.
Due to the inherent attributes of the blood, a Ghoul’s emotional state is often pushed to the extreme. They might burst out in a fit of rage, get dragged down into depression if their Master is displeased or even develop insatiable lust. A small fraction of The Beast from the vampire now resides in the mortal’s bloodstream and it enhances all things dark and emotional.
Being a Ghoul does have its perks though:
- Drinking vampiric blood makes you immortal. As long as there is Vitae in the Ghoul’s bloodstream, they do not age. They remain the same apparent age they were at when they drank the blood. This way, a Ghoul can achieve an almost immortal like state, as long as the Master provides the blood. If they run out of Vitae however, if they indulge in the use of vampiric powers too often, or go without a drink for too long, the magic dissipates. At that time, the Ghoul will very quickly age back to their natural age. If they have lived past their lifetime, they will die a gruesome and painful death. That is why Ghouls make sure that their Master is always pleased.
- Much like the vampire, a Ghoul can heal grievous wounds with the use of the blood in their body. This expend the Vitae however, and they need to procure more.
- Ghouls can even manifest vampiric powers- Disciplines. They naturally attain a level of strength when they drink blood, meaning they have the equivalent of a weak Potence Discipline. Some manifest other physical abilities and are more resistant to injury. The equivalent of the Discipline Fortitude. Old Ghouls are even able to learn some of the less intuitive disciplines, if their Masters are willing to teach them, of course.
- After a time of drinking their Masters blood, Ghouls will develop signs of the vampire’s Clan weakness as well. For example: A Nosferatu ghoul will eventually start losing hair or grow warts over his face and body. Some Malkavian ghouls would develop mental illnesses and Ventrue ghouls would become picky eaters. It is good to note though, that after a long while, ghouls will no longer be satisfied with sustenance from vegetables. Meat will be the only thing they can eat. And if the Ghoul truly is ancient, then even animal meat will not suffice. Human flesh will be the only thing that fills their stomach. There are consequences for allowing The Beast to flow through your veins.
How to play a Ghoul in our LARP
- Vampires will always need servants. And in our game, a ghoul is just that. A servant. You do your Masters bidding. Either important or menial tasks, you will be used for the purposes of the one who feeds you. They are used for protecting a vampire as he sleeps and they sometimes accompany their Master to an Elysium. That is where you as a player of a Ghoul, would come into play. Creating a Ghoul character is always done in cooperation with the Ghoul’s Master’s player.
- A Ghoul can not attend Elysium without their Master. Unless the Prince specifically allowed it.
- A Ghoul is a mortal. Vampires behave differently to mortals than they do vampires. This means that you will often times be look at and treated as a slave, a dog or even just a tool. Something of less worth and to be used. Your Master will of course be angry if his property gets damaged, but he will often times not care enough to save you from any minor threat.
- If you enjoy being told what to do, playing a subservient role, then perhaps playing a Ghoul would be for you. Perhaps you might even get Embraced after a while? There is the possibility of a vampire having more Ghouls than one, which means that you and the other players will need to coordinate your characters well. But there can only be a set number of Ghouls per game, so keep that in mind.
- Lastly: being a ‘’blood-bag”. Many Ghouls are brought to Elysium to serve (usually the Prince or the keeper of Elysium provides these) as “blood-bags”. These are mortals whose purpose on the Elysium is to be the walking, talking and self-served buffet. A vampire requires a snack? You walk up and offer your wrist. These types of Ghouls are usually worth even less than an assistant Ghoul. Being bitten is the greatest ecstasy your body has ever felt. You fall limp and you will always want more. But it is also a dangerous job. While it is a night of ecstatic pleasure as the vampires feed on you all night, there is a chance, that someone might drain you past the point of life.
The opinion of a ghoul
Looks can be deceiving. You learn that better than anything when you share the nights with these monsters. Yes, I call them monsters. For they are nothing more than that. With time, they lose all semblance of humanity, lose whatever virtues they had and eventually serve only their dark and perverse wishes. And so, I live to serve those wishes. I know that they separate themselves into Clans. Families of sorts. There’s a few, but I have not met all of them. I have heard and seen the Nosferatu though. Ugly motherfuckers. Monsters. Unlike my Master. He is the only one of these creatures who is still pure. Still human. He treats me well and I serve him well. I am happy that I am his and not a Ghoul of any of the other perverse abomination that pretends to still have a soul. If I am lucky, he will have me forever.
-Amalija Novak, Ghoul to the late Prince Julij Savelli