ToTB Alternatives III: Age and Levels
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Caine lived 6,000 years ago?
Or - what does an antediluvian have to do with anything? I'm an ELDER.
Biblical scholars have placed the time of Cain over 12,000 years ago - why I'm not sure, but that's what they are saying these days. Conversely, there are some scholars that place the Flood about 7,000 years ago.
Here's some good reading on it - http://www.aapg.org/explorer/archives/04_99/greatflood.html
Considering that geological dating methods have placed the age of the ORIGINAL sphinx (the lower body, the head was re-carved later) at about 9,000 years old, and have proven that the stone of the body shows strong evidence that it was UNDER water for some time - which would have been before the Egyptian records of the statue - this also points strongly to the fact that if you are going to include the flood in any real world model (which is what WoD is - a model based on the real world) then you have to take as much science as mythology into account.
The bible is a set of parables and allegories, as well as a somewhat broken account of a family's lineage. It has been proven time and again that the dates in the bible are off - sometimes drastically.
Furthermore, the bible contradicts itself as to exactly how many generations there were between Adam and Jesus. The book of Matthew says there were 41, while the book of Luke says there were 76. When the average generation at the time seems to be anywhere from 30 - 75 years, you're talking about a discrepancy of between 1,050 and 2,625 years. Quite a difference, wouldn't you say? That alone blows the knee-jerk 3,974 years between Adam and Jesus right to Hell.
More reading - http://users.uniserve.com/~tfrisen/Jesgenco.html
In round figures, and adding in the discrepancy, the time of Adam was at LEAST between 7,000 and 9,000 years ago. Further evidence and theories push that date back even further. Paleontologists have found evidence of cultures in the Tigris Euphrates valley (a common theoretical origin for Eden) That date back over 10,000 years.
To bring all of this together into a working model of the World of Caine's Childer, and not throw away mythology or science in the process, one must believe that Caine himself lived somewhere in excess of 10,000 to 12,000 years ago.
Which brings me to the chart of ages that I worked from this model to take the various 'stages' of Kindred into account - i.e.: Antediluvians, Methuselahs, Elders, Ancilla, and of course - Neonates.
Under 100 years - Neonate
'Neonate' arises from 'newly born' - or simply 'new'. 100 years is roughly the span of the 'modern' or 'new' world.
Under 400 years - Ancilla
'Ancilla' arises from 'ancillary', meaning auxiliary or supplementary. The Sabbat/Camarilla split occurred just over 400 years ago - so all childer born after were supplementary to that monumentous occasion.
Under 1,850 years - Elder
The Christian Gospels were written between AD 70 and AD 100 - another event that drastically changed the face of the world. Elders are then vampires embraced in the 'Christian Age'.
Under 7,500 years - Methuselah
The best evidence places the Great Flood between 7,000 and 7,500 years ago, therefore any vampires between 1,900 and 7,500 should qualify as Methuselahs.
Over 7,500 years - Antediluvian
And given all of that - this should be self-explanatory. 'Ante-' meaning 'before', '-diluvian' meaning 'of the flood'. Antediluvians are vampires embraced before the flood.
Okay, nice story, with a little historical Three-card Monty to spice it up, but what does this mean in play?
A few things.
First - since everyone loves it so damn much - let's talk raw power.
To simplify this, I am going to again turn to the point system, since by now everyone should be familiar with it. If you aren't - just follow along, the 'points' used here are equivalent to the xp needed to account for a character's power level at any given stage of her existence. The 'point spread' takes into account the slowing of the learning process that is espoused in the 'Elysium' Elder rules by White Wolf.
Human - 230 points
Neonate - 320 points at 100 years (maximum)
Ancilla - 455 points at 500 years (maximum)
Elder - 815 points at 1,850 years (maximum)
Methuselah - 1025 points at 7,500 years (maximum)
Antediluvian - 1035 points at 10,000 years (roughly maximum)
Consider that a dot in an Attribute is only worth five points, and you can see the monumental difference between even an Ancilla and an Elder, and you can see that the Elders have very good reason to fear the Methuselahs.
But even more important than the dots - is the experience. In the human mind, ten years worth of experience can make the difference between a stock person and an executive. Try to imagine 1,000 years of experience more than you have - it boggles the mind to imagine.
In the Kindred world, everything comes down to age. All other considerations are subordinate - even generation. A Fourth Generation Neonate is at a tiny fraction of their potential, whereas a Tenth Generation Elder may be very close to their maximum. The Neonate will never hold a candle to the elder, in terms of power and experience - no matter what their generation is. And don't talk to me about spending Blood and Blood Pools - it is a limited and useless effort, especially when the Elder is wise enough not to carry the fight into an area where spending Blood would make a difference - a very easy thing to do. Experience breeds that wisdom. The adage 'old age and treachery will defeat youth and enthusiasm every time' has a very real basis in truth, especially for vampires.
So let's take a look at the practical aspects of each level of vampire.
These ancient creatures are older than the span of recorded civilization. They survived the attempts of God to cleanse the earth of their kind, and have walked down through the ages gathering wisdom and experience along the way.
The Sabbat whispers that they are out there, and wage a war against their influence that has spanned four centuries and several continents. Part of the reason the Sabbat is so adamant and blood-thirsty is from sheer terror of the awakening of these terrible creatures - if they are all even asleep. Gehenna will come, are the whispers, and the ancient ones will rise to slay us all in their final endgame against each other.
The Camarilla claims they are all dead, mere myths and legends to frighten Neonates with.
No matter HOW you stack it - Antediluvians are not even common knowledge, especially among the Camarilla. At best they are whispered legends and terrible rumors. To the average Camarilla kindred, an encounter with an Antediluvian would be judgment day on two legs, akin to Hell on Earth - a terrifying experience of Biblical proportions.
No amount of Will or courage could turn such an encounter into a blasé event.
These aged kindred are only slightly more common than the Antediluvians, but at least enough of them have been seen that they exist in at least some frame of reference for the average Elder. Still, the Methuselahs are far and away a breed apart, and even Elders shake and quake when a known Methuselah passes by.
To try and understand a Methuselah is to try and wrap your mind around something that has lived as much as ten times as long as your average Elder, or more. Try to imagine how strange and obscure adults seemed to be when you were a child, and you may have an inkling of how Methuselahs seem to the average Elder. Ancient power, unimaginable thoughts, more experience at being a vampire than you can possibly imagine. Even a young Methuselah is treated with cowering respect and fear by the common Kindred, because there is no way any Elder can hope to withstand the onslaught of such a creature if it is angered.
These are the most accessible of the aged Kindred, and the ones that perhaps pay the most attention to age and status. 1,500 years is better than 1,200, 1,200 is better than 900, 900 is better than 600, and so on, and so on. This 'pecking order' is strictly observed and maintained by the Elders - perhaps because they are aware of the looming powers above them and are trying to salvage their egos as best they can.
No matter the cause, Elders enforce the system of status and respect religiously, and come down on those that buck this system like the fires of Hell itself.
Elders are also the Kindred that shape the world for vampires as a whole. It is they that make the laws and decisions, it is their games that write history and reshape life for everyone around them. It is for this reason they are both feared and hated - even by their younger associates.
The Elders' word is the first, last, and only Law that dominates the sum of the Kindred world, save when a Methuselah or Antediluvian chooses to dabble.
These Kindred are the work force and 'Middle Class' of the Kindred world. They vastly outnumber the Elders in most cities, and it is they that carry out the wishes and whims of the Elders above them.
More often than not, the Ancilla are the caretakers of everything below them, assuring the Elders that all is in order and functioning properly for their aged masters.
It is only on the rarest of occasions that the Ancilla are allowed a voice of their own, and very few Elders even consider them worth listening to at all - indeed, most Elders take vicious, and often deadly, offense to any Ancilla that dares to pretend to be the equal of an Elder - and this offense could be as simple as speaking out of turn.
This does not mean the Ancilla are without power, for as a mass they could destroy an Elder - even a few, although many Ancilla would enter Final Death in the Process.
The Elders and the Ancilla exist in a state of symbiotic dependence - without support, the Elders would find their power a hollow thing, but without the protection of an Elder, the Ancilla would find themselves easy prey for any other Elder that came along. From this codependency arises the system of Status, Prestige, and politics that is the familiar venue of nightly Kindred life.
These young Kindred exist at the bottom rung of recognized Kindred society. With little power, no voice, and less responsibility, it may seem that they are doomed to a life of oppression and victimization. In some ways this is true, but in many ways they are also the most free of all the kindred - with nothing to do but live their lives as best they can, and occasionally do as their elders instruct. This life does run the risk of ending abruptly when the whim of an Ancilla or Elder steers the Neonate down a suicide path, but that risk only serves to enliven their otherwise relatively carefree life. Only the foolish Neonate tries to gain access to the halls of power, since they can never really compete and will eventually - if not immediately - fall prey to the machinations of the aged.
Of all the levels of Kindred Society, the Neonate's place is perhaps the easiest of all. Death and destruction lurk in the shadows for all Kindred, but the Neonates have less occasion or reason to invite it than any other class of vampire.
These newly embraced and unreleased Kindred are a class of non-people. Even the Traditions that serve and protect other vampires do not yet apply to them.
Childer exist by the leave of their sires and nothing more. They are not even held accountable for their own actions, and any mistakes they make are taken up with their sires instead. Of course, this could result in an errant childe simply being destroyed after a particularly embarrassing episode - since no vampire is going to risk their hard-fought Prestige on the repeated bad behavior of a disposable commodity.
Childer are the possessions of their sires, and it is the fortunate few that are treated as anything more than that. Childer have no recourse, no authority to turn to save their own sire, and no one to speak for them. Until they are released, they do not exist except as an accessory to their sire's presence.
If Childer seem to have it bad, they only need to look to these half-breeds to see how bad it can truly be. If vampire Childer are truly the children in a Kindred household, then Ghouls are the family dog - at best. At worst, Ghouls fill the function of prized chickens or pigs. Raised with care, fed from, and eventually slaughtered to commemorate some auspicious occasion. Every conceivable concept of 'human rights' disappears with the advent of the Blood Bond, and only the extremely fortunate can ever hope for the best of fates for a Ghoul - the Embrace, or a quick death.
And so, there it is in a nutshell - Kindred society from top to bottom, from a slightly Camarilla-slanted point of view, but in this day and age that is what serves us all best.
Remember this canon well the next time your Neonate is about to piss off an Ancilla, or your Ghoul lips off to their Domitor, or your Ancilla decides to get uppity with an Elder. This is the way Vampires live - and if your character survived to BE more than a year old, there is no way they did so without observing this code, no way at all.
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