Monday, 27 December 2021

After Gehenna - A concept for a VtM chronicle

 OK here's the pitch: You know the concept people throw out sometimes in Vampire games, of a medieval (or pehaps older) vampire who's woken up from a millenia or two of torpor and has no idea what's going on? A chronicle that's that but they're from the modern day.

You establish your coterie in the modern day, they go into torpor, and for whatever reason they stay in torpor for two thousand years, waking up to a very different world. 
This idea has two bits to it. The first is some scifi, basically, imagining what the world will be like a few thousand years from now. With climate change, it's going to be bleak. The second is imagining a vampire setting that is as different to 'modern' nights as 'modern' nights are to the dark ages. On top of that, let's pull out an interesting twist and have gehenna have already happened.
So, let's get those details pinned down.

The World

Aight. So what is the year 4,000 like? In four bullet points:

  • Catastrophic environmental collapse due to climate change.
  • Catastrophic societal collapse due to climate change.
  • Limited scientific advances in some specific fields, stagnation in others.
  • Fragmented societies due to social collapse.
The timeline goes like this. The third millenium is defined by collapse. Not enough is done to deal with climate change, and over a few centuries the climate goes completely bugnuts. Rises in temperatures, rising sea-levels flooding coastal areas, desertification, wild ecosystems collapsing, mass extinction.
By the year 4,000, there's much less inhabitable land. Most coastal areas are gone, and most inland areas are arid deserts that have suffered huge soil degradation.
The human cost of this has been immense. Between famines, disease outbreaks, natural disasters and so on, huge numbers of people have been displaced, and the third millenium was one of mass migrations and warfare. 
The wealthy (white, northern, eurocentric) nations of the world responded by fortifying borders, descending into fascism, attempting to empire build in order to preserve their power. However, fascism cannot sustain itself, and these states ended up collapsing harder than the exploited parts of the world. Total economic breakdowns, mass rioting, civil wars, no functioning governments. You end up with military powers preying on the citizens for a while before that too collapses and society returns to a simpler state. 
Capitalism finally ate itself and was no more. Corporate and state interests cannibalised themselves and were picked over by scavengers.
By the fourth millenium, things are starting to be rebuilt. Nation-states and empires are less common. Rapidly changing climate and ecology mean that safely, productively farmable land is constantly shifting, and populations migrate - over a matter of decades and centuries - to follow it. As one place becomes a dustbowl, another starts to receive rainfall and reforestation, and so settlements spring up there.
It's a world of citystates emerging briefly as an area becomes fertile, and dwindling as the favourable climate moves on. Humanity aren't individually nomadic, but as a whole they very much are. With natural disasters and ecological collapse pushing people out of their homelands, the concept of 'a homeland' has dwindled. Most social groups form diasporas across the world. Things are, if not cosmopolitan, no longer defined by where you're born, as every few generations whole communities uproot themselves and move somewhere new.
Technology hasn't advanced much overall. Fossil fuels were never abandoned voluntarily, but by now they've run out. Most electricity is generated using solar, hydro-electric or geothermal power, or where there aren't the conditions for those, using small-scale nuclear generators. Transport is mostly by sea, in large nuclear-powered ships, or across a few land routes. 
The internet lingers in new forms. Decentralised networks, with little to no moderation. Information blooms across the whole world, conversations flicker and mutate. 
Biotechnology is advanced, and is how humans survive. Genetically modified crops and livestock tweaked to fit the harsh new conditions. Synthetic tissue and organs for transplants. Advanced body modification. Human genetic engineering is a rubicon that hasn't been crossed, but humans - particularly wealthy ones - can reshape themselves with endochrine interventions and surgery.
Religion continues much as ever. Christianity collapsed with the west, and is a dwindling faith. In its place, Islam is the worlds dominant religion, and much of society practices bits and pieces of Islamic traditions in a secularised sort of way, much like Christianity was in the 20th and 21st centuries. Other faiths have sprung up, including a resurgence of traditional and indigenous beliefs that returned to prominence as European influence waned.

It's a distinctly post apocalyptic world. Not in the sense that 'Mad max' is post apocalyptic, but in the sense that 'the lord of the rings' is. 

Gehenna
Gehenna happened. The Antediluvians rose up, warred among themselves on a burning, collapsing earth, devoured one another and were in turn devoured. They're gone.
When Gehenna happened, the Sabbat rose up to combat the ancients. For all their attrocities and inhumanity, the Sabbat were the sect that stood against the apocalypse. And they were crushed, utterly destroyed. In the end, the sect was merely a speed-bump to the Antediluvians. They slowed them down just enough that the ancients never stabilised and adapted to the new world, and devoured themselves. The entire sect sacrificed themselves, buying the world a future.
The Camarilla, meanwhile, were destroyed by the second inquisition in the 21st and 22nd centuries. Rising fascism, advanced information technology and a stagnating camarilla meant they just couldn't keep up. The Inner Circle are all dead, as are most of the methuselahs that formed the upper leadership of the sect. 
In the resulting power vacuum, four factions rose to power: the Anarchs, the Bahari, the Baali and the Metamorphocists. 

Types Of Blood-drinkers
At this point in time, the blood has mutated. As well as vampires, Revenant lines are stable, flourishing and ever-evolving. And somewhere between the two, thin-bloods of the fourteenth, fifteenth and even sixteenth generations thrive. The thin bloods are more alive than vampires, more dead than revenants. Caitiff are common, mutations of the blood are common, and minor bloodlines emerge among true vampires with increasing frequency.
The line between vampire, revenant and thin-blood grows blurry.

Anarchs
The Anarchs stepped up to fill the space left behind by the Camarilla. And that space was Camarilla-shaped, so that's what the Anarchs become.
The Anarchs are the status quo now. They're city-based, internally organised (at least on the level of individual domains), and they talk to each other. By default, you're probably an anarch.
Anarch society lacks the global organisation that the Camarilla had, but on the level of cities its similar. Substitute Baron for Prince, and Reeve for Sheriff, Harpies are still Harpies, and you get the picture. The traditions are less absolute law, more suggestions, but they're still broadly followed. Except the Masquerade, that one is still absolutely strict. The Anarchs blend into human society, manipulating soft power, covering things up. A city where the masquerade is seen to be failing is soon invaded and taken over by worried neighbours.
Anarch sorcery remains limited. A tool to be dabbled in, but not the main focus of the sect. The Anarch movement remains focussed on worldly matters, on politics and social movements. The Anarchs are a hotbed of political theory and struggle, where old political models - from democracy to total communism to feudalism to meritocracies - struggle against one another in new forms and unexpected combinations. The Anarchs are a sect obsessed with an ever-churning political arena.
The remains of the Camarilla persist here and there within the Anarchs, as a secret society. Camarilla membership is hidden, but among themselves the ranks of Prince, Archon, Sheriff and so on persist. The Camarilla are a ritualised, highly formal society, but unlike the Anarchs they're a global organisation. Here and there, they put members into positions of power within a barony, push Anarch politics one way or another. To those outside the secret sect, they don't exist as more than a historical footnote or a rumour.

Bahari
Where the Anarchs are urban, the Bahari are rural. The cults of the dark mother dwell in the wilderness, preying on itinerant human populations, and cultivating their gardens. 
To the Bahari, the suffering and upheaval of the third and fourth millenia were unequivocably good. Old social orders were cast down, and in the crucible of tribulation a new order was formed. They consider themselves to be winning, more or less. They got the world they wanted. 
The Bahari have inhereted sorcery from a number of sources, including the remnants of the Tremere and Giovanni, as well as older, near-extinct clans and bloodlines. They've synthesized it into something new - they call it Edenic Magic - and mastered it. 
Edenic Magic deals with land, life, birth, and blood. It empowers ghouls, it elevates ghouled animals, it makes barren land fertile, it creates strange blood-infused plants. Bahari witches create gardens full of strange wonders and horrible monsters. 
These enclaves in the wasteland are hidden oases of untamed life. Beautiful in their own way, and unnaturally lush. Some human communities come to dwell in these places, inevitably being drawn into the worship of the dark mother. Such people end up becoming monsters, in one shape or another. Dozens of revenant families flourish in such places, and Vicissitude and Edenic sorcery shape even the mere mortals into new, holy monsters. 
The Bahari have no interest in warring with the Anarchs, no matter how many posters and pamphlets the Anarchs send them. They have their land and their cult and the clear favour of their dark patron, and all is well. The Anarch Barons have learned to leave these gardens well alone, as any agents sent in don't come back. 
What little remains of the Sabbat can be found here. Ritae such as the Vaudlerie and Games of Instinct are sometimes practiced alongside older Bahari rite like the Two Trees. 

Baali
Guess who's back!
The events of Gehenna saw a surge in Baali numbers, rising up to sacrifice vast numbers of kindred and kine to their patrons. They were mostly - mostly - pushed back by Anarch and Bahari leaders.
The Baali spread unlike other vampires. They can re-embrace outsiders into their clan, and often succeed in doing so. It's hard to keep track of them. 
The Baali have nests here and there, in the wilderness and under cities. They keep to themselves for decades at a time, and then maybe once a century burst forth in great numbers, empowered by demonic patrons, to wreak havoc. 
What do they want? It's not clear, but each Baali uprising seems to achieve its inscrutible goals before retreating back to the darkness. They're getting what they want, it seems. 
Long story short these are the terrifying demonic boogymen they've always been. 

Metamorphocists
The Metamorphocists have grown hugely in numbers since the fall of the Sabbat, spreading far beyond clan tzimisce. Metamorphosis takes new forms among new clans and bloodlines. A necromancer might seek to master death, undeath and the states between, and call this metamorphosis. An abyss mystic might become a thing of shadows and emptiness, and call this metamorphosis. A Ravnos might surround themselves with illusions, such that the truth ceases to matter and all that remains is perception, and this, too, is metamorphosis.
The Path of Metamorphosis has itself changed and evolved. The proscriptions against sharing knowledge have been discarded as slowing the great work of azi dahaka down. In its place, a dozen different philosophies have sprung up, each claiming their own way to ascension works. Somehow, Golconda has been absorbed into the wider Metamorphocist philosophy: becoming spiritually pure is, they say, just its own road to transcendence.
The Metamorphocists are less a sect in their own right, and more a movement between both Anarchs and Bahari. A network of scholars, scientists, artists and visionaries. Experimenting upon themselves and each other, pushing the nature of vampires and revenants in strange new directions.
In theory, the Metamorphocists are powerful and well connected, and would make a potent political force if they tried, but they have historically had little interest in politics. This looks to be changing, however, as a rising faction within the sect - the Heirs of Constantinople - consider that the route to personal apotheosis can be achieved through creating the perfect society. As above, so below. A few projects have begun to create just such a society that can thrust its members into azi dahaka, and while none have succeeded yet, the work continues.

The Giovanni
Most Giovanni vampires died in the events of Gehenna, sacrificed in some grand work of necromancy to protect their still-living families from the rising antediluvians. 
This isn't to say they're gone, however. The Giovanni are, in the 5th millennium, a network of powerful and well connected revenant families, backed by a few old, powerful vampiric necromancers. Most throw their lot on with the Anarch Movement.

Settites
Set rose, kicked the antediluvian's asses, was a magnificent dark lord, and then went away again. The Settites insist that he'll be back again one day. While some find themselves among the Anarchs, most can be found among the Bahari, an odd sub-sect substituting a Dark Father for the Dark Mother.
Every Eden needs its serpent, after all.

Tremere
Extinct. Torn apart in an antediluvian three-way between Tremere, Saulot and the Eldest. Those few that remain were absorbed into the Bahari.
Do not think about why so many of the Baali seem to know Hermetic Thaumaturgy. It's probably a coincidence.

Tzimisce
Having an absolute whale of a time, between the old clan tending to the land among the Bahari, and the new clan going all-in on weird new forms of Metamorphocis. Now is a great time to be Tzimisce.

Lasombra
Ships full of abyss-mystics churning through the ocean's lightless depths. Lasombra are the clan of the sea, of horrible shadowy things with tentacles, and of gazing into the abyss. Abyss-mystic metamorphocists have built entire strongholds in the lightless, lifeless depths of the ocean - technologically maintained grottoes in the crushing depths.
Rumour has it that the eutriphied, lightless depths of the ocean are becoming one huge oubliette as the darkness spreads, and individual shadows merge together. This does not bode well.

Daughters of Cacophany
Pretty much a pillar clan at this point. The oldest Daughters - those that predated the victorian era by centuries - were woken from slumber by the events of Gehenna, and were instrumental in the rise of the Bahari.
Alongside the Daughters, a number of other elders of obscure all-or-mostly-female lines - the Lhiannon, the Lamia, and both incarnations of the Ahrimanes - have emerged and merged into the bloodline. Think the Hecata, but for girlbosses rather than necromancers. 

Assamites
The Assamites remain hidden in Alamut, continuing to do Haqim's work despite the fact that Haqim is absolutely definitely dead. They have his ashes preserved in the fortress somewhere.

Ventrue
Yeah, that whole Camarilla secret society thing? Mostly a ventrue project. The clan is very much fallen from power, and has slipped into the role of pulling strings from the shadows. Many believe the Ventrue to be almost extinct - in truth, many more survive than most suspect, in disguise as Lasombra, Daughters of Cacophany, or Brujah.
The clan is going to return to its rightful place in charge of kindred society, it just needs to wait for the right moment.

Brujah
The Anarchs are their JAM and they LOVE IT.

Toreador
You can take the toreador out of the Camarilla, but they stay the same as they always were, god bless 'em. Artists, hedonists, posers and sluts, and we love 'em for it.
A surprisingly large number of them among the Bahari, honestly. 

Nosferatu
You'd think that Absimilard being gone would get the Nossies to lighten up and stop being so utterly paranoid. You'd be wrong.
They remain the same as they ever were. Monstrous, paranoid, a bit incestuous, spying on everything. Many are embraced by the Bahari. Those that remain among the Anarchs are disproportionately likely to be part of the secret Camarilla. Really, though, they remain convinced their clan founder will come back ANY DAY NOW, and carry on much a they always did, putting clan before sect.

Malkavians
A lot of Metamorphocists dive face first into the madness network and don't come back. The rest of the clan are much as they always were, seers and spies to the Anarchs and Bahari alike.

Gangrel
All Bahari All The Time.
One of the early breakthroughs of Edenic Sorcery was the devellopment of rituals for the Animalism discipline - much like those of Abyss Mysticism for Obtenebration - which was solidly a gangrel thing. 

Kiasyd
A lot of metamorphocists here. The rest have settled into a similar role to that the Tremere once held among the anarchs, a bloodline of occultists and sorcerers, almost all of which fuck around with abyss mysticism.

Ravnos
Mostly anarchs. Not super numerous, but surprisingly influential.

Samedi & Harbingers Of Skulls
These skull-faced nutters are often metamorphocists. The underworld is, frankly, all maelstrom all the time at this point, so necromancy has turned its focus back to the more physical aspects of death. Like the Kiasyd, these chaps have been absorbed into the space the Tremere once filled, as occult experts to the Anarch movement.

Werewolves
Gaia is dead, the wyrm is having a post-dinner nap and the werewolves murdered each other in pointless wars. This is a vampire game: suffice to say that the werewolves are pretty much gone and the wilderness belongs to the Gangrel and Tzimisce.

Mages
The technocracy won, science is real, and magic isn't. 
Having successfully got what they wanted, the technocracy faded into obscurity. After all, they accidentally defined themselves out of existance, and now they're just very good scientists. This is, remember, a Vampire game.

Changelings
Nobody believes in fairies anymore. They've all fucked off elsewhere.

Wraiths
The underworld is a mess. Most wraiths are spectres, hauntings are horrible, and necromancy is dangerous as fuck.

Demons
See: baali.
The slumbering demons are kept appeased by whatever the fuck the baali are doing, for now. Them waking up is the major existential threat facing the world, and nobody can tell if the baali are trying to do that or prevent it. Not even the baali, honestly.

Mummies:
Lol no.

More:
God am I gonna end up writing mechanics and shit for this? oh no.

8 comments:

  1. This is a really interesting idea. I'm not huge on VtM but the setting is fairly interesting in itself, or even with the Vampires but with or without VtM (I could imagine a more Vampire Hunter D / Netflix Castlevania-inspired version of this setting).

    Also, there's something a little ironic about a solarpunk-esque setting focused on Vampires lol. I mean it's just wordplay but still...

    I appreciate the way you consider how the changing circumstances would meaningfully be reflected in the culture, rather than just a linear projection of the modern world onto this hypothetical future.

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  2. Did Salubri make comeback, at least a little?

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    1. there's a whole paragraph on them and how they make a resergence every century or so for inscrutible reasons :D

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    2. Sorry, I must have missed it.

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    3. (the joke is that that paragraph is about the baali)

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  3. OOh this is some good shit. Kind of want to show this to my friend whos starting a vampire game soon

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  4. awwwww c'mon put mummies in, mummies are underrated.

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