ToTB Alternatives I:
An Alternative to The Time of Thin Blood
Back to Storytelling Index
There may be several of you out there that are conversant with, have heard about, or are thoroughly enamored with the 'Time of Thin Blood' aspect of White Wolf's Vampire epic. Of course, there may be several of you that don't know, or don't care at all - but read on anyway.
First of all, a quick recap - what IS the 'Time of Thin Blood'?
In its simplest terms, the 'Time of Thin Blood' relates to the time when Kindred of the 13th, 14th, and 15th Generations begin appearing. When Kindred are embraced with Blood so thin that their true vampiric natures are diluted to the point that they are almost indistinguishable from mortals (meaning the 'Dhampirs'). It also relates to the prophecies in the Book of Nod, which supposedly foretell the age of apocalypse for all Kindred - Gehenna - the time when the Antediluvians will rise and make war on one another - and destroy all of their offspring in the process.
According to White Wolf - NOW is the 'Time of Thin Blood'.
From a metagame perspective, I have to admit that this entire trend leads me to think two things. One - that the highest powers behind White Wolf are horribly cynical creatures in need of a good hug. And two - that this all is a marvelous marketing ploy that will lead to an entire new setting, game, and system for vampires within the next few years. A near future world with nothing but 3rd Generation Kindred left alive in it - spawning an entire new race of blood-sucking gods? Sounds like a gold-mine to me. Maybe I'm the cynical one.
Nonetheless, in the process they have foisted off on us, the gamers, a near-binding plot thread that permeates a great deal of their books, and is explained in its entirety in the sourcebook 'Time of Thin Blood' (imagine that). Frankly, I don't need a gaming company to write the entire story for me, and my partner - Benedira - is even less charitable in her opinion and more gifted in imagination. We both love White Wolf dearly - but there comes a point where our vision of the world differs, and a different path towards the future is taken.
That point is here.
In this dissertation, the 'Time of Thin Blood' is a myth - a creation of paranoid Kindred to explain a progression that they could see but could not explain - just as the Norse myth of 'Ragnarok' was created to explain the cruel and powerful impact of the coming of winter to a deeply spiritual but not terribly enlightened people.
But what about the appearance of the thin-blooded, not to mention the Dhampirs? Doesn't that indicate that the myth as laid out is actually coming true?
No. Why? Because the myth is entirely based on a seriously flawed argument - one that MUST remain flawed or else an entire chunk of Kindred history ceases to be relevant or even noteworthy. That argument is that this time - here and now - is the first time that Kindred of such weak Generation are being seen. (I am going to use 'weak' and 'strong' Generation in this essay to avoid the confusion that comes with 'high' and 'low'.)
In both the second and third editions of 'Vampire: the Masquerade', 'Generation' and 'Age' seem to be directly linked - so much so as to appear virtually indistinguishable. Third Generation vampires are all over 10,000 years old and comprise the Antediluvians. The Fourth and Fifth Generations are all several millennia old and are commonly referred to as the Methuselahs. 'Elders' are NOT ONLY those Kindred that exceed three centuries in age, but ARE ALSO composed of ONLY the Sixth, Seventh, and Eighth Generations. The Ninth and Tenth Generations are exclusively the Ancilla, and Neonates are the ones from there to Thirteenth - with the thin-blooded pulling up the rear in the last few years as the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Generations. Does anyone else see the inherent flaw in this proposition?
Admittedly, the Third Generation ARE the Antediluvians, and they ARE all old as dirt - in excess of at LEAST 7,600 years old. (The most comprehensive and supportable Flood theories place the Great Deluge at roughly 5,600 BCE - and since 'antediluvian' literally means 'from before the flood', this puts a precise time on the minimum age of these ancients.) The reason that they are all this old, however, is that they KILLED OFF their progenitors - the Second and First Generations - which means there are no super-vampires strolling through the park or fixing to make new Childer.
But right here is where we take leave of any kind of logic and fly straight into the realms of myth and fantasy. If we follow the vampire mythos, then we will be forced to believe that there were only six, seven, ten - no, thirteen, wait - maybe fifteen Third Generation vampires - or maybe Hakeem was actually Caine's Childe like the Assamite legends claim in which case wouldn't that make him First (or Second - depending on who you listen to) Generation, and all of HIS Childer would then be-
Ouch, I have a headache.
There are some dyed-in-the-wool rules lawyers that INSIST there are only thirteen antediluvians and that is all there ever were - but is it reasonable to assume that the members of the First and Second Generation only ever embraced that few over the course of 3,000 or more years?
Think about it. Three THOUSAND years - longer than the time separating the Roman Empire and the modern world - the same amount of time in which we are supposed to believe that the Methuselahs spawned an entire race of vampires from Sixth to Fifteenth Generation. Vampires are universally described as petty, self-indulgent, and self-interested creatures - and yet we are supposed to believe that these relatively primitive forebears of our modern Kindred exercised THAT kind of superhuman self control and never gave in to the desire to make 'just one more' - like so many of their modern counterparts seem to do?
Uh-huh, and Jesus jumped straight from age twelve to age thirty without passing through the intervening years and collecting his 200 drachmas.
It's all a myth, people - a story invented after the Flood and consistently handed down and embellished in order to support and give legitimacy to all kinds of vampiric dogmas, movements, and regimes. There are even portions of texts to be found that would lead you to believe that it was the SECOND Generation - not the Third - that survived the flood - making the term 'antediluvian' when used as a reference for the Third Generation entirely false. (see the 'Erciyes Fragments') It gets even whackier when you try to trace whether or not Caine himself was actually the first vampire - this 'fact' is left to deliberate debate everywhere in the 'historical' sources of the vampire mythos.
But there comes a point where you have to draw the line - as a Storyteller - and if your game demands it - make up your own damn mind and think for yourself.
Everything about history amounts to nothing more than reasonably proven theory based on the evidence at hand. 'Prophecy' plays no more a part in history than conjecture and theory - a guide to the attitudes and thoughts of those past creatures - since unless you heard the prophecy from the horse's mouth there is NO way to prove it was ever actually spoken at that time, in that way, or by that person.
So - here to follow is OUR theory of Kindred history, and the relevance of the so-called 'Time of Thin Blood'. This theory will be laid out in the fashion of a time line in order to simplify the explanation, and also draw out the significance of certain facts and portions of myth.
We will begin with the approximate calendar point of 10000 BCE (Before the Common Era) - since that is when geological evidence places the end of the last great Ice Age. This is a logical time for the beginning of our theory, and it coincides nicely with much of the hints and claims of vampire myth.
10000 BCE - End of Last Ice Age - creating the opportunity for the birth (or rebirth) of civilization.
9400 BCE - Adam is born (this date is derived from a creative interpretation of biblical genealogy - don't ask us how, just be assured that exhaustive hours of study and math went into it - and it also coincides with the Flood Theory estimates mentioned earlier)
9100 BCE - Caine is born (again - based on biblical genealogy - making Caine the Father something on the order of 11,100 years old.)
8800 BCE - Enosh is born (or embraced) - Enosh, or Enoch, is mentioned in the bible in the genealogy of Adam. It is logical that he is the same Enosh that became Caine's supposed first Childe.
8800 BCE - Enoch is founded as the First City
This is the point where our theory radically departs from what is proposed in the common mythos.
Rather than assume that in this marvelous city of vampires - where they rule as the supreme beings openly and in the sight of all - these vampires did not succumb to lust, self-indulgence, love, prejudice, fear, or jealousy - all reasons for the Embrace (and interestingly, all also attributed to these first vampires in spades). We instead assume that these first vampires were very much the same in THEIR early years as their modern counterparts are now - which, as I mentioned, is exactly how they are painted out to be. Remember that AT THE TIME they were not incredibly ancient gods of unimaginable power. Oh, they were powerful, no doubt - but they were still only a few decades or centuries separated from their former mortal existences. Just as their modern counterparts, they would have behaved in similar fashions - and one of those behaviors would have been the Embrace. Therefore, in this theory, the Embrace of successive Generations followed a fairly predictable pattern over the course of the existence of the First City. It should also be noted that in our theory here, the city of Enoch lay in the Tigris-Euphrates valley - the same region where biblical science theory places Eden - the region now known as Iraq and Iran.
6000 BCE - First Nile Farmers - this is included because it is the earliest civilized record of organized farming. Did the mortal population of Enoch rely on hunting and gathering parties to support them - or was farming used far earlier than when it appeared along the Nile almost a thousand miles from the seat of Kindred power?
5600 BCE - The Great Flood and the Destruction of Enoch, the First City
This means that Enoch stood for something on the order of 3,200 years. The evidence for the city of Enoch to be when and where we place it is based in part on Sumerian myth that claims that the city of Kish (3,500 BCE to 2,400 BCE) was actually built on the site of a city that existed BEFORE the Flood - and was also the first city to be rebuilt after that great catastrophe. Many biblical scholars agree that it is very likely that the biblical reference to the flood is actually an adaptation of these Sumerian tales.
3500 BCE - City of Kish founded in Mesopotamia
In our theory, this is the Second City of the vampire mythos - since most texts agree that the Kindred survivors of the Flood rose up and rebuilt almost immediately. 'Almost immediately' is certainly relative here - since this occurs almost 2,100 years after the Great Flood.
What is important to note here is a passage from the Erciyes Fragments (a companion to the Book of Nod) that describes the lamentations of the Kindred trapped beneath the waves - in which they describe themselves as feeding one upon another, brother upon brother, and Sire upon Childe as they wait for the waters to recede. If this is true, how then could thirteen go under the water, and thirteen emerge from the water - while they ate each other while down there? I don't know about you - but my math doesn't allow for that.
So, instead, consider this - Caine's own supposed law allowed for a ratio of one vampire for every three mortals - maximum. Modern Kindred ratios are more on the 1 to 25,000 range (though White Wolf claims a ratio of 1 to 100,000 - which is completely whacked by every other description they make of Kindred society.) It takes a minimum of fourteen living mortals to support one Kindred at any given time - since fourteen days is how long a human being requires to regenerate the loss of one pint of blood - the nightly requirement of a single vampire. Historical numbers are notoriously inaccurate, and the number of times transpositions have occurred would boggle your mind - but the most common mistake was a factor of ten. So, if Caine's law was actually 1 vampire to thirty humans, this would be both reasonable and easily supportable in a city where vampires ruled mortals openly. It has been proven that the earliest cities in this region tended towards populations of between two and eight thousand people. If Enoch followed this trend, then there could have been anywhere from seventy to two-hundred and seventy vampires at the time of the Flood. Following the Flood, city populations grew over the course of the next two thousand years to approach fifty thousand or more - allowing for a far greater number of Kindred, even if they were generous with Caine's directives.
It should be noted that in the history of the Cappadocian Clan, there is a passage which states that Cappadocius called together all of his progeny after he had spent some time wandering around. Much to his horror - over 10,000 vampires showed up, and he understandably wigged out.
That was one Clan. Think about it.
3300 BCE - Unification of Egypt (just for reference)
2400 BCE - Destruction of Kish as independent state - the fabled end of the Second city
This would place the second city as surviving for a period of only 1,100 years - just less than half the time that Enoch stood. At the time of its destruction, it likely had a human population of around 40,000 to 50,000 - meaning a Kindred population within the city walls of anywhere from 500 to 1,700 - and that is assuming no one moved out, which from the stories of virtually every Clan we know they did.
1,900 BCE - Ashur, capitol of Assyria founded (Ashur has also been said to be the other name of Cappadocius - and that ancient's story gives him credit for founding a city - just more correlation with history)
1708 BCE - Moses is born (just for reference)
1628 BCE - The Great Exodus from Egypt - this is based on actual records found in Egypt and also on archeological evidence in other places. (just for reference)
1,045 BCE - King David (just for reference)
961 BCE - King Solomon (just for reference)
814 BCE - Carthage founded - commonly accepted as the Third City
This time the Kindred only waited about 1,400 years before trying their great experiment yet again - a city ruled completely by vampires.
700 BCE - Greek city-states flourish (just for reference)
509 BCE - Roman Republic founded (just for reference)
146 BCE - Destruction of Carthage and the end of the Third City
Carthage only stood for 668 years - just slightly more than half the time that Kish survived - which if you remember, survived roughly half the time that Enoch probably stood.
4 BCE - Jesus of Nazareth
1305 CE - Anarch Revolt
1493 CE - Convention of Thorns and the birth of the modern Sabbat.
So - a nice history lesson - but what does this have to do with the 'Time of Thin Blood'?
Consider this then. Vampire history Chronicles three great civilizations of Kindred, and each time that civilization collapsed and the seat of power was destroyed in a great cataclysm that set the Kindred at each others' throats. Now think of how Kindred are constantly described - especially the aged - as using their younger counterparts to do the fighting for them. It is reasonable to assume that in each of these great cataclysms, the youngest vampires perished in droves, while only the oldest and most powerful survived to begin anew when the dust settled (or the waters receded, as the case may be). Therein lays the very key to the entire theory.
The reason why there are no ancients of weaker Generations is because they have been successively wiped out in the great cataclysms of vampire lore.
The so-called 'Time of Thin Blood', and the resultant hysteria caused by the interpretations of supposedly ancient prophecy, may have - and likely has - occurred more than once, and this time is no more important than any of those times in the past.
If you followed the dates and numbers above, you would notice that the cycle of birth, flourish, and death of the great vampire civilizations seemed to obey a directive to speed up. Then again, historically speaking the entire WORLD has been speeding up. Part of the reason for this is the exploration and expansion of the 'world's' boundaries, and hand in hand with that the development and improvement of technology. As one's world expands, and one's ability to perceive, reach, and affect it increases, one's ambition and desire tend to also increase proportionately. With ambition and desire comes drive, and drive will cause one to act more decisively, and more often. Therefore it is only logical that the cycle of vampire civilizations has been obeying a shrinking ratio.
If we are to believe that the Methuselahs average about 2,000 years old - coinciding nicely with the era of Carthage - and that they are predominantly of the Fourth and Fifth Generation - then we must believe that they have spawned ten Generations of Progeny in that same 2,000 years. This amounts to one Generation for every 200 years. If we follow THAT theory as being an average for vampires in general, and take into account the shrinking ratio of Kindred events - then we might come up with numbers that look something like this:
Modern Era - 2,000 years, 1 Generation every 200 years (5th to 15th)
Pre-Carthage Era - 2,700 years, 1 Generation every 250 years
Pre-Kish era - 2,100 years, 1 Generation every 300 years
Pre-Flood Era - 3,300 years, 1 Generation every 350 years
Assuming that you begin with the second Generation way back at the beginning, it is likely that there were at LEAST Eleventh or Twelfth Generation vampires in existence at the time of the Flood - and it is possible, given certain references in the Book of Nod to vampires taking mortal lovers and actually fathering children (a trait of the Fifteenth Generation), that Enoch itself saw its own 'Time of Thin Blood'.
Now begin again with nothing but Third Generation vampires following the Flood. By the time you reach the founding of Kish you're back up to at least the Tenth Generation being in existence - over FIVE THOUSAND YEARS ago. Since the few writings that there are hint at the destruction of the Second City being due to the ancients quarreling over something, and using their own Progeny as pawns in the battle - it is not unreasonable to assume that the struggle was over the same thing that has fueled vampires in feuds throughout history - the words and teachings of Caine, much of which center around the so-called 'Time of Thin Blood' and everything that goes along with it.
But, moving right along, there is the next period preceding the rise of Carthage - in which you can again begin with the Third Generation as the founders and STILL wind up at the Thirteenth Generation by the time that great city was established - but this time there is no direct or indirect evidence that there were ONLY the Third Generation left at the point that we begin counting.
The point here is that vampire history clearly rises and falls in waves, and each wave must logically carry with it a swelling and receding of Kindred population. This logically dictates that the existence of weaker Generations must have risen and subsided right along with these population fluctuations. Everything about Kindred nature points to this being true - except the commonly held belief system.
So why believe that the weaker Generations are a wholly unique occurrence and a byproduct of modern times only? Because this makes them unique, and in that uniqueness they can be pointed at as a failure of Caine's Blood - a degeneration of vampires that has never happened before now. And with THAT kind of heavy-handed prejudice at your disposal, it is very easy to cow, embarrass, and control these younger Generations - which is exactly what every generation of Elders has wanted to do since Caine toddled out of Enoch and left it to his kids in the first place.
So - the so-called 'Time of Thin Blood' is nothing more than a myth conveniently perpetuated by elder Kindred as yet another tool to manipulate and control their weaker counterparts. Gehenna is not around the corner, and the world is not going to end next Tuesday.
This does not preclude anything offered in the 'Time of Thin Blood' supplement, it is simply a different interpretation of those events that allows for a comfortable continuation of any given storyline or Chronicle.
Printer Friendly Version | Back to Storytelling Index