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Anachronism vs. Recent Arisen

by: Belladonna A Legacy Article from Sanguinus Curae

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These two flaws are ones that can be relatively common among elder Kindred, but rarely seem to get more than superficial notice. Setting the rule-book definitions aside for the moment, one must consider the way players seem to often confuse the effects of the two. In truth these two flaws are vastly different, and can even exist in the same kindred character, and often should if the first - Recently Arisen - is taken.

The essential difference between the two is this - Anachronism is an inability or unwillingness to deal with the modern, finding comfort in the trappings of a past age. Recently Arisen carries a lack of knowledge of the modern - to varying degrees depending on when the Kindred first went to sleep. Lack of knowledge versus unwillingness to learn - a subtle difference, but an important one.

The anachronistic kindred is fully aware of the changes in the world around her, she simply refuses to adapt to a more modern semblance. Cars, phones, computers, modern speech patterns - all of these things impinge upon her awareness and hold no intrinsic mystery, although she may be utterly baffled as to how to make use of them if the need arises. She has retreated into the shell of a time period from the past in which she feels comfortable, but this does not mean she is blind to the modern world. The anachronism can walk down the street with ease, without being startled or frightened by neon signs and the blare of passing car horns. She may look a bit out of place due to 'period' clothing, but little more.

The recently arisen kindred does not have it in any way that easy. In order to fully understand how difficult life is for the recently arisen, one must consider how long she spent in torpor, and what region of the world she is in. How much changed while she was asleep?

Torpor of less than a century spent virtually anywhere in the world will yield to the waking vampire an environment that is - to the kindred's eyes - strange and new, but not completely baffling. But torpor of as little as two centuries in length - if spent anywhere in North America - would cause the Kindred to rise into a world utterly alien to them. If this same torpor period was spent in Europe or Eurasia the Kindred would be slightly better off, since the culture and surroundings have not changed quite so drastically in those regions over that period.

When considering the effects of extended torpor on the mindset of the Kindred, the first best place to look is History. Everything from political history of the region to technological advancement will play a part in the waking Kindred's view of the world.
It is also wise to examine in detail the historical period in which the Kindred went to sleep.

  • What language was spoken in the region at the time?
  • How advanced was the indigenous population artistically, culturally, and technologically?
  • What race or culture dominated the area at the time?
  • How did all of these factors relate to the Kindred and her own origins?
  • Did she view the people of the time as her own, or were they foreigners?
  • Have they been replaced by a people more or less familiar to the Kindred, now that she is arisen?

A very good example of how this might apply is the United States. It is easy to think of the USA as one large country, homogenous in culture and language. But even in very recent history this was far from the case.

In 1815, Florida belonged to the Spanish.

What would become Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, Utah, Colorado, Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma, Iowa, Missouri, Arkansas, Mississippi, and Louisiana all belonged to the French - the entire region was called Louisiana at the time, named for King Louis of France.

What would become California, Nebraska, Arizona, and New Mexico belonged to Mexico, still nominally under the rule of Spain.

And what would become Washington, Oregon, North Dakota, and South Dakota, were still Native held regions belonging to no foreign power.

The great United States was comprised of just 27 states in the Union. Depending on what part of the country you were in at the time, the dominant language and culture may have been British (the larger cities of the New England States), American, Spanish, French, or Native American.

All that difference - less than two-hundred years ago.
The further back in time you explore, the more surprises you find in store.

For instance, both Spain and portions of Italy suffered Moorish conquest early in their modern histories. Spain belonged to Islam from 710 to 1002, and it was not until the 13th century that the Moors were finally driven from Spain completely. Before this conquest the Spanish people were light of skin and hair, much like the Northern French or Germans. The darkly romantic Spaniards of lore did not appear until during and after the Moorish conquest - so if your Spanish character is more than 1000 years old - you will have to discard the 'Latin Lover' stereotype.

The same is true of Italy. Ancient Italians, from Rome to Sicily, had predominantly blonde hair and blue eyes. It was not until Saracen conquest of Sicily and the southern portions of the country in 917 that the dark Sicilian gangster stereotype would be seen, in fact it would not appear earlier than AD 1000 or so. As a mater of fact, this same truth holds for the dark Mediterranean features of the Greeks so common now.

A few other interesting points.

Wales was not part of England before 1536.
Scotland remained an independent country until 1707.
In 610, the whole of the United Kingdom, most of Northern Europe, and most of the Netherland regions belonged to Germanic Celtic tribes - essentially Nordic Vikings.
Christianity in Britain was originated and spread by Irish priests beginning in the late 6th century. Prior to that, the whole of the islands were Pagan believers.

The list of such interesting points could be literally endless, but just these few examples are still sufficient to show exactly what an aged Kindred might face if she has been asleep or out of touch for an extended period of time. The perils for the recently arisen do not begin and end with a failure to understand telephones and automobiles. These perils may run as deep as overpowering culture shock, an inability to communicate in the language now dominant upon their awakening, racial hatred and prejudice, or more.

Another interesting note: If your character has been asleep for more than five hundred years, they would have no concept of what the Sabbat was, let alone any familiarity with it. Furthermore, almost all of the modern Camarilla structures would be completely alien to them. Something to think about.

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