- The Ventrue consider themselves the natural leaders of all Cainites
- Ventrue Anarchs claim to be fulfilling their Caine-given duty to oppose the “Secret Masters”
- Others simply resent their elders move towards mercantilism
The Ventrue have long prided themselves on a reputation for honour, nobility, and leadership. A sense of noblesse oblige pervades the clan, accompanied by the genuine belief that the Ventrue know what is best for everyone. They not only consider themselves the oldest clan, but see themselves as the enforcers of tradition and the rightful leaders of Cainite society. They usually Embrace from the ranks of nobility and privilege, whether kings or merchant princes, but are also known as knights and warlords who seek to live by the laws of chivalry and duty. Each of them is a leader or lieutenant beyond compare.
This is why many younger Ventrue look on with disbelief at their elders betraying childer to the Inquisition throughout western Europe in order to save their own skins. The bonds of fealty run both ways and a lord who betrays his vassal is no more owed obedience than an imcompetent tradesman is owed employment. A significant number have joined the Anarch cause, taking the Vaulderie and breaking their bonds to their sires. They whisper the tales of the Secret Masters, and the noble Knights of the Blood dedicated to combating their machinations
The Secret Masters are shadowy figures that seek to rule the world of supernatural creatures and are said to hate the brood of Caine for being able to live among humans in ways other supernaturals cannot. Caine personally ordered the Ventrue Founder to stop the Secret Masters, having witnessed the coming of great destruction for humanity at their hands; it is said that Ventru was determined to free the Children of Seth from their subservience to the Secret Masters. For the Clan’s elders to then misuse the story to cement their own dominance over mortals and neonates is unacceptable.
And indeed, it is true that almost all the Knights of the Blood, once the Clan’s militant extremists, have turned to the Anarch Revolt for another reason. In their eyes, too many Ventrue have eschewed their aristocratic roots in favour of the merchant class, which they see as a path where complacency grows proportionally to ones’ material wealth. These Knights of the Blood believe that they should lead the Anarch Revolt against the Secret Masters and their own Clan elders alike.
The Ventrue cherish history more than any other clan, believing it to be a worthy guide to live by and to justify their positions of authority today. This is not to say that they have any particular obsession with the truth – a myth can be much more powerful than the real thing, after all. But they take history very seriously, a fact that is no doubt aided by their tale being one of conquests and grand achievements the likes of which few other clans can boast. To hear them say it, their claim to fame begins in the early days of vampire history with Caine himself commanding his eldest childe Ynosch to Embrace the Ventrue Founder, who they believe to be the first member of the Third Generation and who is often called Ventru. He was to be Caine’s advisor in the nights of the First City, and when the Dark Father prepared to leave he chose to hand the burden of stewarding his people to Ventru. Through this story the Ventrue justify their position of superiority and leadership over the other clans, just as they believe their progenitor led the other Antediluvians for a time.
The first major achievement of the Ventrue is attributed to Artemis Orthia, with the creation of militant Sparta. Wary of the mortal masses even in those ancient nights, Artemis saw promise in the ideas of the philosopher Lycurgus and supported him, seeking to make the humans a tool to be used rather than fought, and eventually making herself Sparta’s patron goddess. They would soon become the perfect example of mortal potential in her eyes: loyal, brave, and completely devoted to self-perfection. Sensing the rising power, other Ventrue gathered to become a part of the Spartan war machine, urging the neighboring City-states to ally with Sparta while establishing their own domains within the Peloponnesian League. This also made possible the rise of the mercantile city of Corinth and its Prince Evarchus, who exemplified the power of wealth in a role for all Ventrue to follow.
The growing power of Sparta and the Brujah alliance in Athens would lead to the first Brujah War, a conflict that would set the stage for a bitter rivalry between the two clans centuries afterwards. Though the Brujah or Ventrue never came directly to blows in the conflict, the eventual invasion of Athens led by Lysander caused many Brujah and Toreador to regard the Ventrue as power hungry barbarians, while Spartan Ventrue considered the Brujah dangerous idealists.
After Sparta’s fall, the rise of Rome signaled one of the clan’s greatest ages. Many Ventrue had long since settled in the region and lived relatively quietly while it was ruled by the Etruscans. Nevertheless, the rebellion that freed the Roman people was attributed to Collat, who would become the city’s first Prince. Recognizing the mortals of Rome to be a proud and superstitious people that would sooner stake any vampires than consider living with them let alone beneath them, Collat did not seek to rule the Romans directly or make himself a deity as vampires in the past had done, but influenced events from behind the scenes by collecting favors from the city’s citizens. This system would later be refined by Camilla, childe of Collat, who replaced her sire and set about establishing political connections with the patrician families of Rome. Instead of using Disciplines to force his will on the city’s leaders, Collat ruled through ghoul proxies delivering favors and contacts, allowing him to grow rich and powerful while the mortals remained ignorant. This strategy would be widely adopted in the centuries to follow.
The second Brujah War would parallel that of Rome and Carthage, where Brujah, Banu Haqim, and even Baali ruled the mortals openly, demanding blood and sacrifices while living as gods. In such contrast to what the Patricians had fostered in Rome, the seafaring nation was seen as a den of infernalists and monsters by the Ventrue and their Malkavian allies. Despite Lysander’s repeated efforts to convince Camilla, the war with Carthage would not begin until a Brujah named Dominic antagonized the Malkavian Prince of Syracuse, Alchias. Alchias turned to Artemis and the bull-dancer Arikel for help, and the three made plans with Lysander to arrange the war. Cainites largely avoided direct fighting during the first two Punic Wars, but in the final assault Ventrue, Toreador, Malkavians, and Gangrel of Rome battled openly alongside the Romans against the people of Carthage. In the end both sides were greatly wounded, but the Ventrue prevailed, and the Brujah would never forgive them for destroying their fabled city.
In the years that followed Rome prospered. The Ventrue shared its power with many of the other clans that had taken part in the wars against Carthage, establishing friendships with other Cainites even as the Ventrue themselves began squabbling with one another. Most Patricians of the time were independent, with the only organization of the clan being a largely ineffectual assembly that eventually fell out of practice. Following the cue of Julius Caesar, Camilla reorganized the Ventrue into a structure that gave authority over the clan’s members to the most important Ventrue in the region. While the power over the younger and less important Ventrue was not absolute, it did create a means for settling disputes, establishing connections, and identifying friends and enemies of the clan. These reforms served the clan well, and the Patricians prospered for several centuries until the empire itself dissolved.
When Rome fell, most of the Ventrue elite abandoned the ruined city to establish new centers of power elsewhere. During the rise of the Merovingian dynasty in Frankia (later the Holy Roman Empire), the Ventrue began infiltrating existing government as feudal lords, thus taking credit for the creation and expansion of the medieval feudal system. As the Frankish state expanded into Germany and Italy, the Ventrue began to prosper once again. When the Holy Roman Empire was dispersed, the Ventrue moved their center of power to Italy. However, since Rome was dominated by the Lasombra (as was much of the Church), the Ventrue established centers of power elsewhere in Italy, in Venice, Milan, Genoa, and Firenze. Here, the Ventrue constantly opposed the Lasombra (and their proxies in the church and in Rome) in their quest for power, as their own early efforts had not succeeded. Posing as kings and merchant princes, the Ventrue expanded their influence across the Mediterranean through trade routes and crusades, thus becoming again a force to be reckoned with.
The Anarchs claim that their Revolt began with the murder and diablerie of the elder Hardestadt at the fangs of the neonate Patricia of Bollingbroke, otherwise known as Tyler. Quite aside from the extravagance of the claim – a neonate Brujah could never kill a canny elder Ventrue, after all – it is patently false. Hardestadt still rules the Fiefs of the Black Cross with an iron fist, seeking to lead the Clan into the forefront of his new creation, the Camarilla.
Ventrue exalt in the glory of their lineage. A Ventrue in a Toreador court may bore the Queen of Love with recitations of ancestry, but that same Patrician in a Ventrue court will be expected to recount not only the names of her forebears, but their achievements and misdeeds. Woe betide the Cainite who misremembers.
As a result, the Ventrue believe strongly in the feudal order. Structure and hierarchy allows them to understand precisely who is above them and who is below. An oath, backed by blood, is one of the easiest ways of enforcing loyalty of those below. It is a very rare childe indeed who is not wholly Blood Bound to their sire.
- Bohemia, Holy Roman Empire, and Hungary: the line of Ueruic, close comrade of Antonius (then Antiorix), was founded near the banks of the Elbe river, and finds its purest expression in Hardestadt. This elder is firm ruler of the Fiefs of the Black Cross, and waged war against the Tzimisce of the Voivodate long before they joined the Anarch Revolt.
- England and Ireland: the line of Mithras pay homage to their founder, who still rules the Cainites of the British Isles through the Baronies of Avalon. He encourages them to exemplify pride and power, unconquerable in battle or in politics.
- France: the line of Alexander, former Prince of Paris, still make their home here, claiming his talents for passion, oratory resonance, and persuasive skills as their own. Their detractors instead highlight their founder’s propensity to fly into frenzy over the slightest breach of decorum.
- Italian Peninsula: The line of Artemis Orthia, Ventrue’s first childe, often share their founder’s desire to destroy enemies through force of arms, typified by Orthia leading the charge against the Carthaginian Brujah. She and her brood-sibling Tinia were instrumental in cementing Ventrue domination of ancient Rome – Tinia having led the Etruscan people as a god, promoting power through discovery.
- Ottoman Empire: the line of Antonius, lover of Michael the Patriarch of Constantinople, are said to tend toward tactical thinking and administrative brilliance. Some of them are still enacting Antonius the Gaul’s plans seven centuries after his death. In contrast, the line of hated Arakur, who ruled the city of Ur in ancient times, are branded with a reputation for diablerie, infernalism, and hubris. And once she had left Rome in search of new lands and undiscovered people, Tinia sired many childer throughout Persia and further east.
- Scandinavia: descendents of both Mithras and Ueruic have long made great efforts to try to oust the Gangrel as the most populous Clan in Scandinavia, with limited success. Nevertheless, they are very well-established in the courts of the areas.
Ventrue dislike being in the middle of nowhere, unless there is a stronghold with vast lands and resources they can draw upon. Because of their feeding specialties, they tend to gravitate toward locales that provide ample flocks to draw upon. They thrive on being amidst the populace, for what purpose in being a leader if there is no one to lead?
The Ventrue sense of self-superiority is often so strong that it can be quite off-putting. It makes sense that they seek the aristocracy and the cream of society to Embrace, those whose education, background, and talents draw the attention of the Ventrue elite.
Ventrue never Embrace haphazardly, but rather select prospects like fine wine. Once they Embrace a childe, they focus on their training and upbringing to hone them to Ventrue expectations. Purity of bloodline is preferred, but they also appreciate the strengthening brought by mixing in a prodigy of a more “mongrel” background. Ventrue with a less rarefied history can rise in the ranks, but it demands true commitment, the backing of a well-regarded sire, talent, and luck.
Ventrue have rariﬁed tastes in blood. Each Ventrue ﬁnds only one speciﬁc type of mortal blood palatable, and does not gain sustenance from anything else. When a player creates a Ventrue character, they should talk to the Storytellers and deﬁne a speciﬁc type of blood that suits the character’s taste. This category should be fairly narrow; less than one person in 10 should ﬁt the description. This choice is permanent.
Blood of any other type (even animals) simply provides no sustenance to the vampire. No matter how much they consume, their Blood pool will never increase, and they will immediately vomit the blood back out. The blood of other supernatural creatures (such as blood from other vampires) is exempt from this restriction, and can provide the character sustenance even if that creature does not match the Ventrue’s feeding restriction. If forced to feed in unfamiliar territory, a Ventrue must spend an additional downtime action to come into play at full Blood pool.
- Aura of Command (1)
- The Duty of Kings (1)
- To The Manor Born (1)
- Strength of Honour (2)
- Hard As Steel (3)
- Primacy of the Blood (3)
- Regal Bearing (4)