Sires and Progeny
Sookie: Is he your maker?
Eric: Don't use words you don't understand.
Sookie: You have a lot of love for him.
Eric: Don't use words I don't understand.
-- Sookie to Eric about his sire, Godric, in True Blood
In many ways, Bram Stoker's Dracula is the O.G. of vampires: he is a one of a kind and beholden to no one. He made himself into one of the undead and although he is sometimes shown with three vampires he sired, they have no real personalities or impact on the story. Dracula has no one who came before him and does not owe anything to those who have followed after, adding to the sense that he is truly alone in the modern age. Most vampires would do anything to avoid that sense of isolation - even if it means making someone else one of the undead.
It is one thing to be overcome with mortal passion and biological imperatives and to create another life. There is much in human nature that seems to invite such accidents. Similar passions can drive the Kindred to Embrace without intending to, but this is not the norm. Most vampires have ample time to decide when and whom to Embrace, and sometimes they share the same basic motivations as mortal parents. But at the end of the day, mortal parents give birth to beings too weak to function on their own. This gives mortal parents unprecedented control and influence and minimizes any potential threat.
Vampires, on the other hand, have far more at risk with their progeny. While the newly Embraced are clueless and fragile in their own way, they have just enough power to cause real damage. A new vampire is a person who has lived their own life up until that point; their sire is unlikely to know all of their secrets, quirks, and imbalances. A new vampire who feeds too much or too openly can draw down bad consequences for themself and the one who made them, so a sire has to keep a steady rein. But if a sire's rule is too ironclad, they risk creating an enemy, or someone who will work with greater enemies. And even if a childe does manage to get along with their sire, any relationship will sour, given enough time and stress. Eventually, a sire will have to release their childe into the world - or destroy what they have made.
The sire-childe relationship has made for some compelling movies and television, from Anne Rice's Vampire Chronicles to True Blood, because it is one of the most complex and intense relationships a vampire will ever have. There is a certain intimacy present when a person takes your life and then gives you a new one, but it is an intimacy that can be twisted beyond human measure. Without the boundaries of law and taboo, sires can become parents, lovers, tormentors, mentors, and jailers. Beyond the restrictions of time, a sire can try each role on for size and never look a day older.
After a hundred years or a thousand, a vampire will never feel for their food or their friends or their enemies the way they do about their sire. After years of tutelage and torment, a vampire may come to wonder why they were Embraced in the first place - and if they haven't wondered, they should.
Sires and Stories
You won't let me do anything and I am so hungry! You are the worst maker ever!
-- Jessica to her sire, Bill, in True Blood
Storytellers and players will find it necessary to consider sire-childe relations when they are involved with vampiric player characters. In chronicles about new and young vampires, sires will take center stage as NPCs. It can be helpful to get some input from the players about how they imagine their character's sires. Sometimes players will have stories about their character's sires, why their characters were Embraced, and the basics of how their characters get along with their sires. A quick interview can provide plot hooks or points that interest the players and can give Storytellers clues as to the kinds of things the players want to explore.
In the Vampire the Dark Ages game I ran a couple years back, I started the characters generally within their first 50 years of unlife. One of the players wanted to portray a Brujah raised in the tradition of the enlightened warrior, with a Roman flavor. He came up with his character's birth name and with a Roman name. Together we figured out that Cornelius' sire was one of the few who traveled; Cornelius was raised by his grandsire, a man who was reared by a Roman vampire. This explained Cornelius' idealized views of strength and humanity and suited the player's tastes.
In some cases, a vampire has already been released from their sire but the two live in the same city. It can add depth to the characters to think about how the relationship has evolved to the present night. Did things start out passionately but burn out? Was the childe Embraced as a student, only to feel that his sire had nothing more to teach him? These things will affect how characters regard and react to one another, and will play into allies and enemies. It can also help Storytellers to create or develop NPCs. One NPC in my Dark Ages game, Acibella, had a childe she Embraced to spite another vampire. Thus, Cecily started out as an altogether too sweet vampire under Acibella's thumb and in her shadow. Since one of the player characters hated Acibella, she got to know Cecily and I had a basic idea to build from.
Not all sires will be around to provide such immediate tension, however. The older a vampire is, the more likely it is that their sire has perished in some way. An elder vampire might not know what happened, or might hold a deep hatred for whoever killed their sire. There is also the possibility that someone's sire has gone into torpor or has moved on from the city. But not all vampires can afford to kill or harm their sires, and not all player characters will have sires out of reach. A sire in torpor is a land mine waiting for the right moment. A sire who lives somewhere else could at any time reveal themselves and throw a character's world into upheaval.
Reasons for Siring
The different reasons for siring are like a palette of colors waiting to be mixed. Few sires have one reason and one reason alone for making someone else immortal. Even those who insist on a singular motivation might find that they acted on hidden desires that were far more compelling. But the reasons themselves can give insight into the sire and will likely shape how the childe reacts. Click on the links below to explore the possibilities.