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We vampires - we Tzimisce - no longer dance at the whims of mitosis and mutation. We become whatever we need to be. We alone have that option. Indeed, I made myself, and so will you. And so does every butterfly that seek release from its lumpish pupa purgatory. The other clans - they are so myopically complacent. We have conquered enzymes and entropy, osmosis and oxygen. The chains binding everything from the first amoeba to the newest human babe lie at our ankles. And still the others bleat about their "humanity." Humanity? Did the primordial amphibian pine for its fins and gills? Did the first Cro-Magnon mourn its vanished brow ridge? Did my delightful pets over there begrudge the loss of their invertebrate plasticity?
~ Alexei, Tzimisce Elder

Clan Tzimisce is a major villainous bloodline in the White Wolf Studio RPG Vampire: The Masquerade and its larger franchise, "The World Of Darkness". One of the thirteen major playable clans, the Tzimisce were among the founding members of the Sabbat, and contributed greatly towards the development of its brutal, pro-Kindred anti-human philosophy; in the modern nights, they continue to serve the Sabbat as scholars, priests, scientists and torturers. Brilliant, sadistic and profoundly alien in thought, Tzimisce have long since abandoned the human condition, and are now determined to transcend their vampiric limitations through the use of their clan-unique Discipline, the flesh-warping power of Vicissitude. To this end, they will gladly distort their own bodies and those of countless innocent victims in pursuit of their own vampiric evolution; for this reason, the Tzimisce are widely feared in Kindred society to this day, and are often known as Fiends.

Behaviors and traditions

In person, Tzimisce vampires at first seem far more civilized than the brutal packs of the Sabbat mainstream: studious, solitary, courteous and dignified, their manners often seem somewhat disarming given the reputation that the Clan as a whole has acquired. However, spending any length of time with a Tzimisce usually provides enough proof that this reputation is well-earned: out of all the Clans, the Tzimisce are the most alien in mind and body, outdoing even the depraved ranks of the Toreador antitribu and the dark nobility of the Lasombra in sheer otherworldliness. Exceeding their fellow Sabbat in their contempt for mortals, they have divorced themselves from all but the vaguest semblances of human behavior and morality - to the point that many elders seemingly cannot comprehend mercy.

This detachment from mortal nature begins from the Embrace: Tzimisce disparage the mass-Embraces favored by the rest of the Sabbat, instead choosing their Childer with only the greatest care. Prospective Sires often seek out those of an intellectual or scientific bent, placing great value on individuals who are already disconnected from humanity in some way - be they antisocial loners or amoral psychopaths. Once their Creation Rites are complete, Childer are taught to abandon their humanity in favor of a Path of Enlightenment, the most popular of which is the Path of Metamorphosis. To the followers of this Clan-specific belief system, the world is composed of evolutionary chains: humans are above animals, Kindred are above humans, ergo something else must be above Kindred - a level that Tzimisce believe they can reach through their clan-unique Discipline of Vicissitude. Through the mastery of this power and many years of experimentation, Metamorphosists hope to eventually reach Azhi Dahaka, a state of transcendence comparable to godhood.

Dark Ages Tzimisce symbol first edition

The Clan symbol during the Dark Ages

Deriving its name from the three-headed dragon of ancient Persian folklore, the specifics of Azhi Dahaka remain uncertain given the Clan's insistence on individual study, and it's not known if anyone has truly obtained this state - with the possible exception of the Eldest. Nevertheless, the motif of the dragon has always been important to the Clan, dragons being revered as powerful avatars of chaos and transformation in Tzimisce culture: one of the Eldest's childer was Dracon, occasionally referred to as The Dragon, and one of the Clan's most famous members is Vlad Tepes Dracula - also known as the Son of the Dragon. During the Dark Ages, clan symbols always featured heraldry emblazoned with images of a dragon, while in the Victorian Era and the Modern Nights, the clan symbol is the Ouroboros - an ancient symbol of infinity featuring a serpent devouring its tail. Opinions are divided as to why this symbol was chosen: some speculate that it perfectly captures the essence of vampiric immortality, others believe it is a representation of the Clan's diablerization of its founder, while others still claim that it symbolizes the eternal cycle of creation and destruction that the Path of Metamorphosis embodies.

As the basis of Clan Tzimisce's intellectual and spiritual acumen, the Path of Metamorphosis demands a bizarrely ascetic yet amoral lifestyle of its followers: compassion must be disregarded, the Beast is to be resisted, asking for help is forbidden, and knowledge of the Metamorphosis must be earned alone without sharing. Of paramount importance is empirical research, and in order to pursue the physical onset of Metamorphosis, the body must be modified - for purpose, for practicality, or simply for pleasure: few Tzimisce retain their original appearance for very long after their Embrace, and many of them go on to alter themselves so monstrously that they no longer appear even remotely human; others still modify themselves to appear impossibly beautiful, the better to emphasize their superiority to Kine.

Somewhat paradoxically, the Tzimice are at once trailblazing researchers and stolid traditionalists, for while they gladly push the boundaries of possibility in their experiments, they abide by a very strict code of conduct in social interactions: since the Clan's earlier years as feudal lords in Eastern Europe, laws of hospitality have been vital in ensuring cohesion between individual Tzimisce and the survival of the Clan as a whole, often serving as the only guarantee that fellow members of the Clan would be protected on another Tzimisce's territory. Even to this day, Fledglings are still taught to abide by the law of Guest Right and act with the same degree of aristocratic honor that their forefathers demonstrated in the nights when the Clan were true nobility. Among other things, guests are to be granted at least three days and nights of shelter under the host's roof, though they are also expected to respect their host's property and to provide gifts and services to the host in exchange for protection. Failure to abide by these laws is considered a serious breach of etiquette; among the worst offences involve the murder of a guest or the betrayal of a host - acts considered unforgiveable even by Tzimisce standards. For this reason, Tzimisce are well known for being infallibly courteous to anyone protected under the banner of hospitality: over the centuries, one-time rivals, mercenaries and members of outcast clans like the Salubri have all been made welcome by the Clan at one time or another; on occasion, even mortal mages have been granted sanctuary, for despite being kine, their knowledge and powers earned them the respect of the Fiends. The only exception to this rule is the Tremere Clan, the Warlocks having been considered beyond redemption ever since they first acquired immortality from experiments on captured Tzimisce.

It is in dealing with enemies like the Tremere that one of the most infamous of all Tzimisce traditions becomes obvious, namely that of torture: interrogators par excellence, members of the Clan will torture for a variety of reasons - sometimes for strategic purposes, sometimes in order to further their scientific knowledge, sometimes for pure amusement. As supernatural beings, they are not limited to mundane methods, as all three Tzimisce Disciplines can be used in order to inflict some form of pain on other beings, be it physical, emotional, or psychological. Even the Blood Bond, more commonly used to ensure the loyalty of ghouls and Sabbat shovelheads, can be used to create extreme emotional connections with the victim, all for the sake of rendering any physical pain all the more horrendous for the sense of betrayal involved.

Structure and Loyalties

Hierarchy has been somewhat fluid among Clan Tzimisce, as is their participation in politics over the years: in the past, it was more common for entire noble families to be Embraced, dividing the wilder regions of Eastern Europe into dominions owned by these incestuous vampire broods; internal strife was only prevented from spiraling out of control through judicious use of the Blood Bond, and civility between families was ensured through their hospitality laws - barely. The patriarchal heads of these broods formed the Tzimisce government, commonly known as the Council of Voivodes, which was usually headed by a Viceroy or Voivode Among Voivodes; originally, this position was claimed by the Eldest himself, but once the Eldest descended into Torpor and his successor Yorak grew more preoccupied by pursuing the Path of Metamorphosis, this position was soon filled by a much less imposing succession of nominal leaders. Due to the barely-restrained rivalries between broods, it was common for the Viceroy to meet a violent death at the hands of his successor, who would in turn meet an equally-brutal demise at the hands of his successor.

The Council of Voivodes did not survive the Anarch Revolt. In its wake, the Clan fractured into a loose-knit family of Kindred, united only by blood and traditions. Determinedly individualistic and fiercely territorial by nature, to this day many Tzimisce claim a dominion as their forebears did and rarely ever leave except on official business - a habit exacerbated by their Clan weakness. They still revere a Clan head in the form of a Voivode, but this is a religious office rather than a political one: to modern Tzimisce, power is earned through force and will, not through the authority of a position.

The overwhelming majority of the Clan are members of the Sabbat; due to their intellectual bent, they rarely serve in leadership positions, instead acting as advisers, priests, scholars and torturers - essentially taking the second-in-command position to the Lasombra's role of the ruling clan. However, some Tzimisce claim no rank at all, and simply offer their services as members in order to exploit the potential for fresh resources and further their own mysterious goals. For this reason, some Sabbat claim that the Tzimisce have no interest in contributing to their sect's mission, and only refused to join the Camarilla out of contempt for humanity, but even in the modern nights, Sabbat Tzimisce remain loyal members of the Sabbat - if not necessarily enthusiastic ones.

On the other hand, in certain areas of Eastern Europe, a rare few Tzimisce have chosen to remain separate from the sects, instead opting for a neutral existence spent cloistered away in their ancestral manses; these recluses are usually very old and very powerful, likely the only reason they have managed to avoid being forcibly recruited or diablerized by the Sabbat. Respecting their power, the sect chooses to grant such Tzimisce ancients leeway within their territory, not wishing to end up like the last upstarts who made the mistake of challenging their dominions.

Ghouls

Much like the Nosferatu and Giovanni Clans, the Tzimisce have a unique relationship with their ghouls. Other Sabbat Clans, like the Lasombra, despise ghouls for their humanity and only create them to perform services they themselves cannot; in military matters, they prefer to simply mass-Embrace a few dozen individuals and launch them at their foes, then promote the ones that survive. However, because the Tzimisce have eschewed mass-Embraces ever since the Anarch Revolt, they cannot rely on armies of Sabbat Shovelheads to protect their havens or fight their wars, instead making exclusive use of ghouls as their servitors of choice, most commonly obtained through the abduction of individuals considered too lowly for mortal authorities to bother investigating.

Much like their domitors, ghouls rarely retain their original shape for very long: the Tzimisce will gladly alter their blood-addicted slaves for any reason that occurs to them, no matter how minor. Indeed, younger Tzimisce have refined the art of pointless mutilation into games in order to test their abilities and impress their fellow Sabbat; "Pin The Tail On The Lackey" has become immensely popular with antitribu audiences, allowing novice fleshcrafters to show off their skill in Vicissitude by seeing just what kind of distortions they can inflict upon a stable of five ghouls within a time limit of fifteen minutes. Beyond the realm of fun and games, mutilation is actually used as a means of control in place of the Blood Bond: Tzimisce masters frequently mangle the faces of newly-"hired" ghouls, promising to restore one feature of the disfigured servitor's face in exchange for one year of perfect service (ten in the case of harsher taskmasters). Naturally, perfect service is difficult to provide, and many ghouls are doomed to an eternity of facial mutilation.

Out of all the ghouls in Tzimisce service, those that still remain partly human in mind and body arguably suffer the most: quite apart from the strain on their sanity inherent to their work, these vaguely-humanoid manservants are condemned to serve until they either die at the hands of the Szlachta or are recycled into modeling clay by a bored domitor - the nearest equivalent to "natural causes" that unaltered ghouls are likely to die from. Until then, the ghouls must spend their days walking on eggshells around their masters, knowing that they are constantly at risk of being experimented on for no logical reason whatsoever; should they outlive their usefulness as servants or test subjects, they can expect to suffer a long and extremely painful death on their master's torture rack. Tragically, all too many doomed ghouls ended up in this predicament ironically because they tried too hard to avoid such a fate and ended up accidentally displeasing their domitors in the process. Naturally, Tzimisce vassals are never awarded with the Embrace - the sole exception to this rule being members of the Revenant Families.

Valuing their havens as private kingdoms, the Tzimisce regularly use ghouls in order to make these havens more comfortable - usually by transforming them into living pieces of furniture. Over the centuries, the Clan has developed the use of organic building materials in their domains, much of it still alive and sentient: living walls, membranous curtains, skin wallpaper, intestinal tapestries, bone chairs and living sculptures are just some of the things that Tzimisce domitors can make from their ghouls. Its not known how many of these organic decorations still maintain their sanity or even their sentience after decades spent trapped in this predicament, though one Tzimisce still boasts that his couch (made from only the most responsive children) still cries when sat on.

Given their intense need for privacy, Tzimisce often employ fleshcrafted ghouls to act as warriors in order to secure their havens and act against their enemies during the day. Sometimes derived from human or animal stock, these Szlachta are modified beyond all semblance of their original form, sometimes outfitted with immensely thick hides, spiked bodies, enormous jaws, bladed extremities, or whatever other deformities might be considered useful in combat. No set template exists for a Szlachta; the only limitations on a ghoul's new shape are its master's imagination: across history, there have been recorded instances of Tzimisce ghouls who have suffered extreme sensory hypertrophy in order to act as spies; others have been conjoined back to back to protect them against attacks from the rear - and to make retreating impossible; there have been instances of Szlachta that are little more than severed heads mounted on springing, froglike legs; others have been grown to the size of small cars, and have been coated in bullet-resistant plates of bone and keratin. The possibilities are limitless, though in most cases, the ghouls have lost almost all sense of free will thanks to a combination of surgical pain, brutal disciplinary techniques, and the Blood Bond - and indeed, some have regressed to bestial semi-sentience as a result of their "training."

Vozhd

A Vozhd

The most feared of all Tzimisce ghouls are the legendary Vozhd. Consisting of fifteen to thirty ghouls melded together into one single gigantic organism, such creatures commonly stand over two stories tall and weigh over six tons. Bristling with gargantuan mandibles, six-foot-long claws and razor-sharp quills, often heavily armored with carapace, and augmented with all the muscle and bone density that their creators have at hand, the Vozhd are essentially fleshcrafted tanks reputedly powerful enough to match the strength of a werewolf and fearsome enough to drive fear into the hearts of all observers. The creation process is long and complicated, requiring an entire team of Tzimisce experts in order to accomplish, often demanding high skills in not only Vicissitude but also Koldunic Magic - not to mention large quantities of flesh. Also, because the process of being melded often results in the ghouls being driven completely insane, it's common for the resulting Vozhd to be lobotomized in order to make them more pliable - but not by much: the lobotomy renders the monster immune to the effects of Dominate, Presence and Animalism, making it even more effective in combat, but also making it extremely dangerous to its handlers as well. As a result, they can rarely be used for anything other than attacking their enemies head-on, regardless of who gets in the way; worse still, the threat posed by just one such War Ghoul has been known to prompt even the bitterest foes to join forces in order to destroy it, destroying any advantage the Sabbat might have possessed against divided enemies. For these reasons and many more related to its impracticality, the Vozhd has fallen out of favor in modern nights, a fall from grace exacerbated by the proliferation of rocket launchers and shaped charges.

Though highly uncommon, it is not unknown for a fleshcrafted ghoul or even a Szlachta to escape Tzimisce service. Unable to rejoin society because of their deformities, they are reduced to haunting the boundaries of civilization in search of prey, becoming the basis for many ghost stories and urban legends in the process. In a few mercifully rare instances, especially depraved Tzimisce like Sasha Vykos have been known to release their creations into the wilderness in order to serve as public demonstrations of the Clan's power - sometimes even Embracing them to ensure that these object lessons last forever, as was the case with the Midnight Circus's Tub of Flesh and Mexico City's Jaggedy Andy.

Revenants

A variety of ghoul unique to the Tzimisce, the Revenant Families are a holdover from the days in which the Clan ruled over Eastern Europe as feudal barons: beginning as mortal families selected to serve the Tzimisce as their most trusted ghouls, constant familial exposure to vampire blood over the millennia and countless generations being born from the union of ghouls inflicted a subtle but undeniable change upon the bloodlines. The children of these families lived much longer lives than their parents, demonstrated greater strength, and even began to mimic the powers of their vampire masters. Fascinated, the Tzimisce encouraged the inbreeding of these families, eager to see what would emerge. The result of this ancient breeding program became known as Revenants.

Though still mortal, Revenants can naturally produce a vitae similar to vampire blood, slowing their aging process and granting them lifespans in excess of several hundred years. Born possessed of all the strength, resilience and healing powers possessed of normal ghouls, they can even utilize diluted versions of vampire Disciplines. Though the years of inbreeding have left them with their own unique weaknesses, Revenants can still perform tasks that other ghouls are too clumsy to be trusted with, and are often tasked with serving as agents within within mortal society on behalf of their masters. As a result of this utility and the superhuman gifts they have developed, the Revenant Families are the only ghouls that the Tzimisce will ever reward with the Embrace.

At present, four main Revenant bloodlines remain in the modern nights: the Bratovitch, the Grimaldi, the Obertus, and the Zantosa. All of them have different powers, all of them have different possible uses to the Tzimisce, and all of them have their own specific weaknesses.

Revenant

A Bratovitch Revenant

The Bratovitch serve as the muscle of Clan Tzimisce. Popularly stereotyped as hillbilly-like broods with a penchant for cannibalism, incest and bestiality, they breed and maintain vast kennels of Hellhounds to act as guard-dogs for their vampire masters. In the past, when vampires more openly warred with werewolves, the Bratovitches were frequently employed to hunt the Lupines, a task they delighted in - and still do to this day. Possessed of the Disciplines Animalism, Potence and Vicissitude, their abilities allow them to warp animals into new shapes almost as impressively as their masters and command the resulting mutants into battle, while also granting them the strength to grapple with foes that might give lesser Revenants pause. Their one uniting weakness lies in their volatile temperament: Bratovitch possess vicious tempers on par with the Brujah Clan, and like the Brujah, often descend into violent Frenzy at the slightest provocation.

Originally an Italian merchant family in the late-Middle Ages, the Grimaldi are the political backbone of the Clan; of all the Revenants, they possess the strongest ties with the mortal world: indeed, many of them were tutored at the finest private schools known to humanity (and moved frequently to prevent anyone from noticing their diminished aging process). Blue-blooded, sickeningly wealthy and immensely influential, Grimaldi are most commonly employed in burying any evidence the Tzimisce before it reaches the public. Exhibiting the Disciplines of Celerity, Dominate and Fortitude, they are granted sufficient grace and fortitude to survive the dangers of working alongside both humans and vampires, along with the ability to manipulate human minds to their masters' benefit. However, because of their ties to the mortal world, the Tzimisce do not trust the Grimaldi and keep most of the family Blood-Bonded in order to ensure their loyalty; needless to say, the Family live in perpetual fear of the genocidal purge that will ensue on the day their masters finally decide their services are no longer required, and spend much of their time trying to convince the Sabbat that they are worth preserving - or trying to find another clan to protect them.

The Obertus exemplify the intellectual traditions of their masters, and have done so ever since their days as librarians to the Tzimisce lords of the Byzantine Empire. Reclusive scholars by nature, each member of the clan develops an obsession with a subject of paranormal research that they will pursue at any cost, hunting down information with a fervor that their masters can only admire. In their adopted homelands of New England and South America, the estates of the Obertus family are home to colossal libraries of ancient texts, jealously guarded by every member of the bloodline. Secretly, they also believe that Revenants are the next stage in human evolution, destined to replace humanity and vampires, and have begun a program of vigorous experimentation in their attempts to further the ascension of Homo Obertus. Armed with Auspex, Obfuscate and Vicissitude, they possess the insight and malleability so appreciated by their Tzimisce masters, along with the power to hide themselves from those who would not understand their research. Unfortunately, they commonly suffer from obsessive tendencies and tend to become dangerously fixated with their topic of research, often to the exclusion of all other concerns.

The Zantosa are the eyes and ears of the Tzimisce, and frequently serve as secondary loci of influence in mortal affairs. Wealthy and depraved, the family's inclination towards hedonism has given them connections throughout the darker regions of the mortal world, and these allow the Tzimisce a means of twisting events in their favor should the "legitimate" influence of the Grimaldi fail. Among other things, they have an impressive talent for digging up dirt on compromising individuals - or ensuring that individuals who threaten the Clan become compromised themselves, providing a wealth of blackmail material and potential favors. Possessed of the Auspex, Presence and Vicissitude Disciplines, Zantosa enhance their social abilities through vampiric insight and charisma, while also possessing a capacity for Tzimisce fluidity. Unfortunately, they are almost always drawn to vice and hedonism, and are very easily addicted to illicit substances and activities - resulting in the loss of many fortunes over the centuries; for this reason, many Tzimisce have begun to wonder if the Zantosa would be better off being consigned to extinction...

Powers And Abilities (Disciplines)

As with all Clans, the Tzimisce possess three vampiric Disciplines: Animalism, Auspex, and Vicissitude. Outside the Clan's mainstream, older low-generation Kindred also possess a talent for Koldunic Sorcery, augmenting their powers with arcane magics unknown even to the Tremere clan.

Animalism is the power of control over animals and primitive impulses: this is most commonly used in order to make animals into spies where fleshcrafted scouts will not suffice, or to create distractions in the field. Beyond these simplistic uses, the Discipline can also be used in order to manipulate mortals: Animalism's influence over baser instincts in nature allows Tzimisce a certain degree of control over human minds, most commonly in calming or enticing them. Though not as powerful as mind-controlling Disciplines like Dominate and Presence, higher levels of the Discipline allow Tzimisce to remotely control their Szlachta, further eliminating the need for supervision on the battlefield. More disturbingly, Tzimisce have also harnessed Animalism for use in torture, mainly by summoning swarms of disgusting or dangerous creatures in order to menace their prisoners.

Auspex grants its users superhuman sensory abilities, beginning with simple enhancements to the basic five senses before expanding to powers like telepathy and even astral projection. Along with its pedestrian uses on the battlefield or spying, the Tzimisce have also adapted this Discipline for great effect in their torture sessions, with particular emphasis on its use in preparation: telepathy is used to learn secrets that can be exploited to humiliate or disturb the victim, while aura perception can be used to study the victim's sensitive organs, allowing the torture knowledge of exactly what areas of the body to target and in what way.

Vicissitude In Action2

Vicissitude In Action

Of all the Disciplines in the Tzimisce arsenal, Vicissitude is the most valued - and the most versatile: the art of manipulating flesh and bone by touch, it is used by the Clan for combat, espionage, home defense, personal remodeling, decoration, artistic expression, scientific experimentation, and of course, torture. In preparation, Tzimisce torturers can make themselves appear especially horrific in order to terrify their victims, or especially beautiful in order to make them feel ashamed; they can transform their limbs into specially-designed torture tools to assault the victim's skin and orifices - or they can simply pincushion the victim from within on their own ribs. For Tzimisce who must join the fray alongside their ghouls, Vicissitude also proves immensely useful in modifying their bodies to that end: of particular use is the dreaded zulo war-form, a monstrous shape designed specifically for close-quarters combat. At higher levels, Tzimisce can use their skin as nets, make their blood acidic, breathe fire, transform into giant bats or even animated pools of blood - allowing them to escape staking, to seep through the tiniest cracks, or even drown mortal opponents. The most powerful Tzimisce can actually use Vicissitude at a distance - or even recreate their bodies in the event of their deaths.

Koldunic Sorcery is a special brand of magic known only to the Tzimisce, similar in concept to the Thaumaturgy of the Tremere - though rather different in practice: it is not gained by all members of the Clan upon their Embrace, but must instead be learned, and involves harnessing elemental spirits rather than blood magic. Though primarily used by powerful low-generation Elders based in the ancestral homelands of Romania, it has recently gained adherents among some of the younger Tzimisce. Koldunic magic is divided into the Path of Earth, Fire, Water, Wind and Spirit: at their highest levels, these elemental powers can be used to create earthquakes, conjure devastating storms, or even summon up volcanoes.

However, these powers are balanced by a significant weakness: all Tzimisce must sleep in their native soil, more specifically earth taken from their birthplace or their place of Embrace; if they do not rest with at least two handfuls of the required soil, they will weaken progressively until they can barely act of their own accord. For this reason, Tzimisce are extremely reluctant to travel and fiercely territorial.

History

Origins

As with all Clans, the history of the Tzimisce is not entirely known, and often obscured by legends, misconceptions and outright fabrications by Elders determined to conceal their darker secrets. What is known is that, like all the Clans, the Tzimisce's origins stem from one of the fabled Antediluvians ruling over the primeval city of Enoch: belonging to the near-mythical Third Generation of vampires, the Antediluvians are the grandchildren of Caine the First Vampire, and possess near-godlike powers as a result of their close blood-ties to their Grandsire. The Tzimisce Antediluvian was no exception.

The name of this Antediluvian remains unknown: most simply call him Tzimisce, though some call him The Eldest, believing him to be the oldest and most powerful of all Caine's grandchilder. His life before the Embrace is unknown and considered irrelevant to the notoriously anti-human Tzimisce, though many believe that he was once a mage and seer of immense power. The events of the Embrace itself are shrouded in myth, the most persistent of which claims that it occurred at the hands of a Second-Generation vampire known as Ynosh the Lawgiver: having been driven to the brink of insanity by the Beast within him, Ynosh attempted to purge himself of the impurities that made him vulnerable to it, believing that the vampiric madness would ultimately die without the flaws it could exploit. So, using a powerful variant of the Protean Discipline, he expelled these impurities from his body and contained them within the first mortal he encountered - which just so happened to be the Eldest.

Having been imbued with these seeds of corruption via the Embrace, the first Tzimisce was to be destroyed immediately to prevent the impurity from spreading. But to Ynosh's surprise, the Eldest did not devolve into a savage monstrosity as he'd been expecting, and instead remained as lucid and intelligent as ever; so, in spite of his misgivings, the Lawgiver chose to spare his Childe's life. The newborn vampire quickly revealed himself to be unlike any other Fledgling born before him: the spiritual detritus that Ynosh cast off had imbued the Eldest with the power to alter his flesh and those of others, taking on whatever shape he desired whilst twisting the forms of Kindred and Kine alike into whatever form he pleased; indeed, Tzimisce claim that the Nosferatu Clan were not cursed with their hideous appearances by Caine himself, but imbued with ugliness through the Antediluvian mastery of Vicissitude. Furthermore - at least according to the legend - the Eldest still possessed imagination, creativity and innovation, demonstrating new vistas of personal development while his fellow Antediluvians stagnated in the mentalities that had possessed in life.

However, the Eldest had been a mage and oracle in his mortal days, and though his vampiric nature gradually dulled his gifts, he still possessed sufficient power to divine the future: just as his vampiric powers would grow as the centuries passed, so too would his thirst for blood become more and more ravenous over the years. In the beginning, he could drink from both humans and beast alike, but soon his hunger would grow to forbid such paltry blood, and he would only be able to sustain himself with the blood of Kine - and eventually, only in vast quantities. After millennia, the Eldest would be forced to gorge himself upon the vitae of fellow Kindred in order to survive, devouring their blood, power and souls through the forbidden act of Diablerie; after that, only the life of his own progeny would suffice... and once his hunger grew too great to be satisfied by his Childer, the Eldest would starve to death.

This would one day be the fate of all vampires, the Eldest soon realized; nor was he the only one to hold this perspective: in Modern Nights, many believe that the hunger of the Antediluvians has by now grown so great that, should they ever awaken, they will lay waste to the Earth in their attempts to seek out blood that will sustain them, destroying all Kindred and most (if not all) of humanity. This vampire apocalypse is popularly known as Gehenna, and many of the Sabbat's most audacious acts have been committed in their attempts to prevent it - either by Diablerizing the slumbering Antediluvians or killing vampires of the Fifteenth Generation (popularly known as Thin-Bloods).

For the time being, though, the Eldest could only ponder the mystery of how to escape his fate, but found that there were limits to what he could accomplish with Vicissitude, and his old magic was too atrophied to be of much help. Having grown discontented with living in Enoch alongside mortals and the Kindred who sympathized with them, he left the utopian city in search of answers, determined to find a means of transcending the hunger that would one day doom him.

Kupala and Transylvania

The Eldest wandered the lands beyond Enoch for a great many years, gathering numerous tribes of humanity to feed upon over the course of his journey, and siring numerous Childer along the way: Kartariya, Yorak, Byelobog, Demdemeh, and the Dracon, to name but a few. Each of his children received the gift of Vicissitude, not merely due to blood inheritance, but due to an inheritance of spirit: bestowing a tiny portion of his immutable soul upon his Childer, he allowed them the capacity to fleshcraft and pass the gift on to their offspring as well; this also allowed the Eldest to manipulate his children and see through their eyes, even possess them if he so desired. Thus, he ensured himself a foothold in the minds and bodies of every single member of the newly-formed Tzimisce Clan - the latest step on his road towards Azhi Dahaka.

Eventually, the Eldest found himself inexplicably drawn to Yorak's homeland in Eastern Europe, and settled in what would one day become Transylvania. As the Clan and its mortal vassals made homes for themselves across the Carpathians and its surrounding lands, they met significant resistance from the local werewolves, the most prominent of which were the Shadow Lords tribe. Regarding vampires as servants of the Wyrm, the Lupines proved a thorn in the side of the Tzimisce throughout these early years; but despite their best efforts, the werewolves could not kill the Eldest, nor could they deter him from pursuing the force that had drawn him to Transylvania.

Eventually, the Antediluvian discovered that the Carpathian Mountains were home to a powerful entity known only as Kupala. The nature of this creature remains uncertain: the Lupines believe him to be a Talon of the Wyrm itself, while those familiar with Demons suggest that he is actually one of the Earthbound, a cabal of immensely powerful demons long since consumed by their own Torment. Whatever the case, Kupala had been imprisoned within the mountains since the dawn of time by the shamans of the werewolves, and longed to escape: in exchange for a taste of the demon's power, the Eldest agreed to release Kupala from captivity. However, because of his years spent tied with the soil of the land, the entity could not escape entirely: instead, Kupala took the Carpathians as his dominion and agreed to a shared rule over Transylvania alongside the Tzimisce, gradually forcing the local werewolves into decline. As a reward for his service, the Eldest was taught a new form of magic that his vampirism could not diminish - the art of Koldunic Sorcery. This bargain came at a price, unfortunately, for just as Vicissitude was the Eldest's foothold in the souls of his Childer, Koldunic magic was Kupala's foothold in the souls of the Tzimisce who practiced it.

When the Deluge finally ended the City of Enoch, scattering the other Antediluvians and their nascent clans across the Earth, the Tzimisce profited greatly from their position in the mountains: when mortal families sought refuge from the Flood, the Clan were able to offer them shelter in exchange for a tithe, usually by taking one of their number for nourishment, experimentation or servitude. In some cases, it was not uncommon for entire families to be taken as vassals of the Clan in exchange for their safety, eventually giving rise to the Revenant families that still serve the Tzimisce in the Modern Nights. Here too were formed the feudal families that shaped the Tzimisce political landscape, along with the Voivodes that ruled them, the Blood Bond that kept them in line, and position of Voivode Among Voivodes - naturally claimed by the Eldest himself. When the waters finally receded, the Clan soon found itself at war with the other vampire Clans seeking new dominions throughout the area, most prominently the Nosferatu; having grown intensely territorial by now, the Tzimisce were enraged at the lack of respect shown their dominion, and took to making hideous examples of any intruding Kindred... until a curse caught them by surprise.

It is around this time that the Clan weakness of soil-dependency struck. Scholars still debate the precise cause: many believe that Caine himself cursed the Clan for their dealings with Kupala; others believe that the curse was derived from their connection to Kupala, tying them to the earth in much the same way that the entity was imprisoned in the Transylvanian soil. More outlandish theories persist: some Clan scholars postulate that the art of Vicissitude requires a spiritual anchor in the form of soil; the Bahari believe that Lilith herself cursed the Tzimisce for destroying her creations alongside the Brujah and the Nosferatu; most unusually of all, the Followers of Set claim that the Clan are creations of the Egyptian god Geb and are connected to the earth as a result of their ties with the Constellation of Scorpio. Whatever the case, the Clan suffered immediately for their weakness, and even the Eldest himself nearly perished, having been caught abroad when the curse descended.

As conflict with outside forces increased, the Clan began to subtly fracture, with many Tzimisce looking to their own defenses and projects while their fellows were destroyed. Even Yorak, the oldest of the Antediluvian's children, eventually descended into his own private experiments, seeking the wisdom of Kupala himself. This eventually resulted in the creation of the legendary Cathedral of Flesh, a fleshcrafted building created as the ultimate expression of Vicissitude and the greatest known step towards Azhi Dahaka.

Eventually, the Eldest's alliance with Kupala backfired when the Salubri Clan ventured into the Carpathians: a bloodline of righteous warriors and compassionate healers, the Childer of Saulot were devoted to rooting out demonic corruption - most prominently the Baalites - and upon encountering the Tzimisce, the presence of Kupala prompted a violent reaction from the Salubri. Samiel, Childer of Saulot, fought the Eldest in single combat and apparently destroyed him, though it cost the Salubri vampire his life. However, thanks to the seeds of Vicissitude he'd planted in his offspring, the Eldest survived and ultimately grew a new embryonic body within the body of the Dracon, his second Childe.

After "rebirthing" his sire, the Dracon delivered the Eldest to Yorak, who hid the diminished Antediluvian in the Cathedral of Flesh deep within the Carpathian Mountains. While the Eldest recovered his strength and Kupala whispered in the slumbering Ancient's ears, Yorak claimed the position of Voivode among Voivodes as his own.

Rise Of The Tremere

Over the course of the centuries that followed, invasions of Transylvania continued, most prominently by the Roman Empire - accompanied by members of Clan Lasombra, sometimes even joined by their own dread Antediluvian. But even in the face of so many military incursions, the Clan and the country continued to weather the storm through a mixture of Vicissitude, magic, and carefully enforced alliances between Voivodes. Eventually the Roman Empire fell, and as the Dark Ages dawned, the Tzimisce entered what they described as "a golden age of progress and experimentation." For almost a thousand years, they enjoyed uninterrupted self-rule over their own territories and the privacy to experiment as they pleased without fear of interference - even from the declining werewolves.

After nearly a millennium of uninterrupted power and complacency, the clan's fortunes took a sudden dip in the year 1022 AD. Some forty years prior, a controversial branch of the Order of Hermes had constructed a substantial chantry in the Carpathian Mountains, intending to exploit Transylvania's wealth of magical energies; called Ceoris, this tower was to be the headquarters of House Tremere, followers of the Hermetic mage known only as Tremere. Less than two decades after they'd settled there, however, Tremere and his immortal inner circle discovered that their magic was failing them - to the point that they came to believe (erroneously) that magic as a whole was dying. Because the eternal youth of House Tremere's upper echelons was owed to potions that would be ineffectual without magic, the mages were immediately consumed by fear of aging and death. Tremere himself charged his followers with seeking a means of recovering their powers, but after countless human sacrifices, attempted deals with Infernal forces and many other failed experiments, the quest seemed fruitless. Then, in 1002, a party of travelling mages was set upon by a pack of hungry Tzimisce, and in discovering the long-hidden existence of vampires, the mage Goratrix had found the perfect means of regaining their immortality.

Capturing several Tzimisce and experimenting on them at length, Goratrix was able to create a ritual that imbued himself, Tremere and the rest of the leading Tremere mages with their own unique form of vampirism. Once they had adjusted to their new forms and created new magic Disciplines to replace the true magic now lost to them, they quickly set about converting as much of Ceoris as possible - so as to ensure that their nature did not become known to the rest of the Order of Hermes. In time, House Tremere gradually faded from the world and was replaced by the newly-formed Clan Tremere.

However, their secret was already known to the Tzimisce; as a whole, the clan was furious, and quickly set out to take revenge upon the Tremere for the insult they posed to the Fiends' dignity. What resulted was the Omen War, a centuries-long conflict between the wizards of Clan Tremere and the entrenched forces of Clan Tzimisce. At first, it seemed as though the Fiends had the advantage, for not only did they possess greater experience in the use of their Disciplines but also held vast stables of ghouls to act in their stead: battered from afar by Koldunic magic and assaulted up close by the Szlachta, Tremere outposts across the Carpathians fell, until even Ceoris and the Warlocks within faced annihilation. In the end, the Tremere were able to turn the tide by finally mastering their new magical Discipline of Thaumaturgy: not only could they answer the Koldunic mages blow for blow, but they were eventually able to gather their own monstrous shock-troops in the form of the Gargoyles, a constructed race of entities derived from experiments upon captured Gangrel and Nosferatu vampires.

The Omen War dragged on for over a century, the Warlocks holding the line with their Gargoyle armies and the Fiends attempting to wear them down through sheer attrition. Ultimately, the Tzimisce's attempts to continue the assault came to an end when Clan Ventrue invaded Transylvania; in the confusion that followed, the Tremere were begrudgingly afforded membership within mainstream Kindred society across Europe, allowing them status as one of the Low Clans - just enough to provide them with some distance and protection from their enemies in the East. Over time, further invasions of Transylvania gradually forced the Tzimisce to temporarily de-prioritize revenge upon the Warlocks in favor of immediate survival, as the Mongols, Turks and even the forces of the Inquisition wreaked havoc upon the Clan.

Because of the humiliation they bore because of them, the Tzimisce have never forgotten their hatred of Clan Tremere, even into the Final Nights; because of this lust for revenge, the Fiends will make almost any sacrifice in order to erase this blot upon the Clan's honor, even if it means forming alliances with outsiders. For example, when Tremere diablerized the Antediluvian Saulot and justified his transgression by having his Childer declared devil-worshipers and hunted almost to extinction, Clan Tzimisce were among the few allies the fleeing Salubri could find: despite their brief conflict with Samiel, the Fiends gladly offered them shelter in their havens, granting them nourishment under the ancient laws of hospitality, even sharing debates on medicine and philosophy with the fugitive healers. And while the highly moralistic Salubri frequently balked at the tortures inflicted on the vassals under Fiend dominion, the Tzimisce continued to extend their hospitality to the Unicorns for no other reason than to stymie the Tremere. Likewise, when the Order of Hermes discovered House Tremere's vampiric metamorphosis and the Massassa War broke out, the Tzimisce offered their services to the mages from behind the scenes - though many resented working with humans (mage or otherwise) and secretly plotted to kill them once they were finished eradicating the Tremere and no longer required to offer their hospitality.

However, some Fiends believe that the Tremere may not have escaped the Omen War as the victors after all: they claim that the Eldest allowed Goratrix to seize immortality as part of a long-running gambit to take revenge upon the invading mages and bring himself closer to Azhi Dahaka. Though they do not possess the power of Vicissitude (except in especially rare cases), the Warlocks unknowingly harbor the same shards of the Eldest's soul that the Tzimisce do. Thus, if the Eldest ever emerges from Torpor, he will be able to devour Clan Tremere from within - and events in the Final Nights suggest that this theory is more valid than the speculators could possibly imagine...

The Great Anarch Rebellion

Towards the end of the 14th century, the younger generations of Kindred across Europe begun to question the commands of their elders: many of them despised their superiors for using them as bulwarks against the forces of the Inquisition, and many more demanded that their masters take the fight to the vampire hunters instead of sacrificing their childer to hold them back. The elders ignored them. Clan Tzimisce was no exception in this regard: time and time again, the Tzimisce neonates had desperately petitioned the Voivodes of the Clan for aid against the invaders, be they Mongol, Turk, or Inquisition; on every single occasion, the elders demanded that their childer defend them and their havens, even if it meant sacrificing their lives. Thanks to the Blood Bond, the Tzimisce young had no choice but to obey.

All this changed when Brujah neonate Patricia of Bollingbroke tried one last time to petition the de facto heads of Kindred society for aid: once again refused, she responded by forming a resistance movement of her fellow Brujah and marching on the properties of those who'd rebuffed her, most prominently the Sixth-Generation Ventrue known as Hardestadt. Though it cost the lives of countless Brujah, the assault ended with Patricia successfully diablerizing Hardestadt, triggering an immense wave of uprisings across Kindred society that came to be known as the Great Anarch Rebellion. Among the most infamous of these involved Clan Lasombra, who not only rose up to conquer their elders, but actually succeeded in diablerizing their Antediluvian.

With such successes accorded to the rebels, it wasn't long before the Tzimisce followed suit. At first, this seemed impossible, for the clan's mastery of the Blood Bond ensured that the younger Fiends could not defy their elders; however, this status quo was unexpectedly broken when two Tzimisce rebels later known as Lugoj Blood-Breaker and Velya the Vivisectionist discovered a mysterious blood-red flower growing deep within a desecrated monastery. This bloom, known as the Sacred Fire-Flower of Kupala, was supposedly a creation of the dreaded demon-lord himself and possessed the power to bind demons to the will of sorcerers - but also to release them from bondage if they so desired.

Gathering the younger Tzimisce in a vast congregation on Kupala's Eve, Lugoj was able to use this Fire-Flower in a ritual to dispel the Blood Bond's hold over his fellow Fiends. Those who joined his cause swore a new pledge of allegiance, this time bonding them not to their elders but to their cause and their fellow Clan-members through use of the ritual of Vaulderie. United under the banner of the Blood-Breaker, the Tzimisce anarchs were able to cut a swathe through the ranks of their elders; eventually, with the help of Lambach Ruthven - disenfranchised Voivode and grandchilde of the Eldest himself - they were able to track down their Antediluvian founder's haven. Once they had finished eliminating the defenders, the anarchs gathered around to watch as Lugoj descended on the Eldest's slumbering form and drained it dry, bringing the revolution to successful conclusion with the diablerization of the Tzimisce Antediluvian. Declaring himself the new ruler of the clan, Lugoj then vanished from the spotlight and descended into a deep slumber of his own, promising to return on Gehenna to destroy the other Antediluvians and lead the Tzimisce in their conquest of the world.

Unfortunately, the conflict only stirred up further notice from the Inquisition, and vampires could not hope to oppose them and the entirety of humankind. So, in 1438, a coterie of surviving elders formed the Camarilla, a sect that was to gather all consenting clans under its leadership for mutual protection against external threats: insisting that Kindred should remain secret above all else, it created the Masquerade in which vampires hide to this day, and soon took to denying the existence of both the Antediluvians and Gehenna. Through the efforts of the Camarilla, the rebellion was finally brought to an end at the Convention of Thorns in 1493: there, the Brujah, Gangrel, Malkavian, Nosferatu, Toreador, Tremere and Venture Clans all agreed to become members of the Camarilla.

Those who refused became the Sabbat, opposing the ideals of secrecy and deference for humanity that the Camarilla represented: as the Lasombra had been the first to destroy their Antediluvian, they became the leaders of the Sabbat; with their old clan structure broken, the Tzimisce became priests, scholars and torturers; those among the seven clans who dissented became the first of the Antitribu, serving as the Sabbat's muscle. Though many Tzimisce were forced to flee Transylvania in pursuit of new homes, they were at least satisfied by the fact that they were now freed from the Eldest's control and nothing to fear from their Clan founder when Gehenna dawned.

By contrast, Lambach Ruthven tells another story: according to him, the body that the anarchs diablerized was not that of the Eldest at all, but a fleshcrafted body double; more to the point, the anarch leader was really the Antediluvian himself. Having ambushed and killed the real Lugoj during the confusion, the Eldest had taken on the form of his would-be-assassin, and had killed his body-double in order to put the finishing touches to his escape into obscurity. Too afraid to speak up, Lambach could only watch as the disguised Eldest warned him to "be a good lad" and keep his secret, before leaving the scene in triumph.

Furthermore, Lambach also claims that the Flower of Kupala was not a creation of the demon at all, but a piece of the Eldest himself: in reality, Lugoj had been manipulated by the Eldest all along, his discovery of the flower and the rebellion that followed having been all part of a scheme to bind the new generations of Tzimisce even deeper through the essence of the Eldest contained within the flower, ensuring that the Fiends no longer had any competing allegiances to rival Voivodes. Worse still, with the Vaudlerie being used not only by the Tzimisce but also by the Sabbat as a whole, it could spread its influence to the entire Sect - meaning that when Gehenna finally dawns, the Eldest will be able to claim every single member of the Sabbat as his fuel in his quest to attain Azhi Dahaka.

With Lambach's widely-held reputation as a coward and a fool, few Sabbat vampires are inclined to believe him - and those who come to believe his claims have an alarming tendency to vanish before they can spread the rumors any further.

Dawning Of The Modern Age

The end of the rebellion and the advent of the Renaissance left the Tzimisce a shambolic mess: Lugoj had left the spotlight, Lambach was in trouble for Embracing Dracula (under duress), Velya and the other Sabbat officials were barely keeping some semblance of order, and despite the Vaudlerie, the Clan was still rent by divisions as its members grew more isolated. With the Camarilla making inroads into territories that had once been the exclusive domain of the Tzimisce and Lasombra, the Sabbat needed to find new regions in which they could recover their strength - and eventually found it in the New World. Given their territoriality and dependence on their native soil, many elder Tzimisce were reluctant to leave their havens in Eastern Europe; instead, it was once again the younger Tzimisce that took the initiative, journeying across the seas to find new hunting grounds amidst the Thirteen Colonies.

In the New World, the Tzimisce and the Sabbat both did their best to foster discord in opposition to the Camarilla, secretly supporting the revolutionaries in the war for independence just as their cousins in Europe eventually supported the French Revolution. Unfortunately, when elder Tzimisce finally joined their younger counterparts in America, the Clan was once again divided when the senior vampires attempted to lay claim to what the younger Kindred had earned; the resulting conflict allowed the Camarilla an opportunity to gain a toehold of their own in the United States, and by the time the minor civil war came to an end, they had managed to seize most of the north for themselves. Only New York remained in Sabbat hands; the rest of the Clan sought fresh territory in Canada, Mexico, and the American South, feasting upon the slave populations and remaking themselves as gods among the Native American tribes.

VictorianTzimisceEmblem

The Victorian-era clan symbol

The 19th century spelled the decline of the Tzimisce as a Clan: the technological advancements of the time granted mortals a substantial edge over Kindred, with ease of communication undermining the vampire-supremacist Clan's attempts to prey upon humanity - forcing them to abide by the hated Masquerade. Peasants who had once feared and obeyed the Fiends rose up in rebellions of their own, destroying the Clan's pretensions to the aristocracy. Finally, the novel Dracula made the Tzimisce known to the human world (albeit under an alias), establishing their popular image as anachronistic monsters clinging the relics of their past nobility.

However, this decline was not universal: though the scientific renaissance spelled the end to their reign as feudal tyrants, it represented a giant leap forward for the Clan's medical knowledge, and allowed outgoing Fiends the opportunity to recruit a new generation from the ranks of professional scientists.

Similarly, though the strength of the Clan as a group was all but gone, as individuals the Tzimisce flourished in pursuit of their own private agendas. In one especially notorious case, 9th-century black magician Landulf II joined the German Order Walvater of the Holy Grail, actively encouraging the group's belief in racial superiority and eugenics, covertly sculpting the occult society into his own private cult - a move that eventually gave rise to the infamous Thule Society.

Attempts at reclaiming their past glories did not go well. In the early 20th century, the Tzimisce attempted to seize back some of their ancestral territory from Camarilla-controlled rulers, making use of pawns among Young Bosnia to engineer the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand at Sarajevo. The result was World War I, a conflict that played a significant role in the emergence of communism in Russia, destroying the last of the Tzimisce's pawns among the Romanov dynasty and leaving a great many Tzimisce elders sealed behind the Iron Curtain. Stalin's ascension only made unlife more arduous, until only the hardiest and cleverest of Fiends could survive - most commonly by living off the gulags and profiting off the experimental programs. Meanwhile, in an ironic and distinctly insulting twist, Camarilla elders in America were able to exploit the rising fear of communism and anarchy by having many Tzimisce revenants jailed or executed as "Bolshevik anarchists."

Once again, while the strength of the Clan waned, individually, the Fiends prospered in the war that they had triggered. World War I served as a vast banquet for the more adventurous breed of Fiend, the carnage of No-Man's Land and the influx of new weaponry allowing them to feast at their leisure without having to destroy the evidence. Twenty years later, the Second World War continued this trend by proving itself a time of great experimentation and recruitment, for though Nazism was not widely accepted among the Clan, many Tzimisce gleefully exploited Hitler's rise to power and the conflict it fostered: not only did the battlefields once again prove an advantageous feeding ground, but Germany's concentration camps allowed Fiends to progress along the Path of Metamorphosis through experiments conducted upon the inmates - and occasionally, the guards. There was even an attempt to reclaim the Tzimisce territory beyond the Iron Curtain via following Hitler's attempted invasion of Russia; though the reclamation failed almost as badly as the Russian front itself, the Tzimisce were able to recruit many disillusioned Nazis from the dwindling brigades and evacuating camps: Doktor Totentanz (formerly Dr Heinrich Lundt) was Embraced at this time, setting the stage for later atrocities committed in the name of her demented beliefs.

The Final Nights

Following the fall of the Soviet Union and the dawn of the 21st century, Lambach Ruthven made an unpleasant discovery in New York. Unexpectedly summoned by Zantosa revenants to an underground cavern deep beneath the city, he found that Manhattan's secret underground had become an environment created entirely through mastery of Vicissitude, complete with fleshcrafted flora and fauna.

To Lambach's horror, he realized that the environment was no mere construct, but the body of the Eldest himself. Having been delivered to New York some time ago while still disguised as Lugoj, the Tzimisce Antediluvian had claimed the underground as his haven and lay in slumbering contemplation of his path to ultimate Metamorphosis. Protected by the revenants, he remained there for many years as he studied forms of Vicissitude unknown to all but himself, slowly transmuting his body into fungus that grew to consume the cavern as he transmuted himself into more advanced forms of life.

And it was here that the Eldest had found the answer to the problem that had first prompted his search for perfection: at first sustained by the blood of the Zantosa, his growing hunger then drove him to gorge himself on the local Nosferatu... but at the very moment it appeared that he was about to reach the terminal stage of his appetites, his experiments in Vicissitude taught him to feed upon the Earth itself, drawing spiritual vitae from the world around him. And with his body now several miles wide and beginning to merge with the very essence of the planet, the Eldest was on the cusp of Azhi Dahaka.

Now making final preparations before his ultimate ascension, the Tzimisce Antediluvian called upon Lambach to join him, promising him an eternity as part of his godlike being. Horror-stricken, his grandchilde refused and fled the sewers in blind panic. Unconcerned, the Eldest then began summoning Tzimisce vampires across New York to him, intent on reclaiming the essence he'd given them and absorbing their selves into his totality. Lambach tried to warn the rest of the Sabbat, but he found himself met with skepticism from every single member of Kindred society; despairing, he took to feeding off drug addicts and alcoholics in an attempt to forget what he'd seen through stolen intoxication - even as Tzimisce vampires all over the city began to vanish...

Fate of The Clan (Gehenna)

Vampire: The Masquerade canonically ends with the gamebook Gehenna, in which the prophesied vampire apocalypse finally begins, awakening the Antediluvians and bringing the world as the player characters know it to an end. As with all End Times books set in the World Of Darkness, the creators note that its inclusion is up to the players, who are free to create their own Gehenna storylines if they are so inclined. However, over the course of Gehenna, four possible End-Of-The-World scenarios are provided for players to utilize.

Though all offer a different possibility for ending the world of Vampires at varying levels of severity, a few things remain in common throughout all of them: a Red Star known as Wormwood appears in the sky (this also appears in End Times scenarios for other franchises set in the World of Darkness); a phenomena known as the Withering sets in, reducing the effectiveness of the Disciplines and gradually eroding vampiric traits, sometimes with monstrous results; in attempts to escape the effects of the Withering, Kindred resort to Diablerie - even in the Camarilla; as trust breaks down and vampire laws become increasingly ineffective, Kindred society begins to fray, then disintegrate; furthermore, the violence begins to spill over into the mortal world, and with Elders losing their ability to enforce their secrecy, the Masquerade runs the risk of being not merely broken, but completely destroyed.

Given the eldritch nature of the Tzimisce and their progenitor, the Clan has its own unique role to play in most of the scenarios that the book offers - though not necessarily all of them.

Wormwood

In this scenario, God himself passes judgement on all vampires, and only a handful of Kindred have the opportunity to earn redemption and escape the inevitable; as a result, the player characters become human beings again, and the mortal world survives the extinction of vampires. Tzimisce have no established role to play in this unless they are among the player characters, and the rest of the Clan - including the Eldest - are simply obliterated over the course of the scenario.

Fair Is Foul

Here, the threat facing vampires is not the Almighty, but Lilith. In this scenario, the Dark Mother is seeking vengeance against her ex-lover and former pupil, Caine: at the dawn of history, Lilith took in the wandering First Vampire and at his own request, taught him how to harness the powers she wielded; driven to ever greater excesses of pride by his newfound strength, Caine went on to refuse the offers of forgiveness made to him by the angels - and was cursed with vulnerability to sunlight, vulnerability to fire, and a hunger for blood that eventually became the Beast. According to the legend contained within this scenario, Caine blamed Lilith for his pride and abandoned her: later, he returned in the company of the thirteen Antediluvians (including Tzimisce), and in an act of petty vengeance, murdered Lilith's children, destroying what little happiness she had achieved.

As a result, Lilith wants revenge against Caine. Though many plans are carried out to ensure the downfall of her ex-lover and his offspring, Lilith's final and most important gambit involves her adopted daughter, Lyla: the last Daughter of Eve and a dhampyre, she will be the means by which the Dark Mother strikes the fatal blow against Caine. Already too powerful to be fought by any ordinary vampire or human, Caine is also protected by the Mark God placed upon him, and cannot be killed without his murderer being struck down by the Almighty. Thus, Lyla is being groomed as the only assassin who can not only best the First Vampire but also strike the blow that Lilith herself cannot. However, many of the Antediluvians also want to kill Caine, complicating matters as the schemers' designed collide - the Eldest's scheme being the most prominent.

At the beginning of this scenario, the Withering not only weakens the potency of vampire blood, but also debilitates members of the Clans in unique ways: in the case of Clan Tzimisce, Vicissitude becomes dangerously unreliable, resulting in vivid and uncontrollable displays of mutation in both themselves and their ghouls. As the scenario reaches its conclusion, this instability becomes so dramatic that some Tzimisce lose their ability to maintain a single shape for more than a few seconds.

Though the Clan itself only features in the form of possible player characters, the Tzimisce Antediluvian is one of the major players in this scenario - though he doesn't reveal himself until the very end. Salubri progenitor Saulot has been able to survive Diablerie at the hands of Tremere by taking up residence inside his attacker, gradually evicting the upstart mage's soul and claiming the abandoned body as his own; as such, the Salubri Antediluvian is now free to act on his plan to kill Lilith and ensure that Caine only dies at the hands of God, ultimately beseeching the player characters for their help in this matter. Unfortunately, Saulot is still resident in Tremere's body - and because Tremere stole immortality from the Tzimisce, this leaves the Antediluvian open to control by the Eldest.

The scenario offers differing reasons for the Eldest eventually taking control, granting players the liberty of deciding which one to use: one holds that the Tzimisce Antediluvian has been weakened by the Withering and is so crazed with hunger that it is reduced to a ravenous monstrosity bent only on feeding its own appetites for pure Vitae; another claims that the Eldest is still sane, and wants to feed on Caine in order to transcend vampirism and become a god - presumably using Saulot/Tremere's body as a shield against the Almighty's retaliation. In any case, should players attempt to support Saulot in his assassination attempt on Lilith, the mission is interrupted when the Salubri Antediluvian abruptly explodes into a massive growth of Vicissitude-warped flesh and attacks Caine head-on.

The ending of this scenario is up to the players: though options exist for the rival Antediluvians to triumph and claim godhood for themselves, the most prominent ending features Caine being killed by Lilith. As a result, the Withering accelerates: vampires all over the world die instantly as their Blood grows too weak to sustain their immortality; a few Kindred who have been vampires for less than fifty years are able to weather the storm and regain their humanity in the process, but these are rare. In any case, Clan Tzimisce is once again extinct.

However, by siding with Lilith, player characters can earn a reprieve from the Dark Mother: as a reward for their loyalty, they are fed Lilith's blood and allowed to join her Apostates in the Garden, eventually transforming them into Lilin - allowing Tzimisce characters to live on in new forms with new powers.

Nightshade

In this scenario, Gehenna is brought about through the direct intervention of the Antediluvians and their destruction of the Masquerade. Here, the Tzimisce plays an immediately evident role, for the incident that finally reveals the existence of vampires to mortal is prompted by the sudden awakening of the Eldest's body under New York. At this point in time, the Eldest exists mainly in spirit, possessing those who possess his essence and using them to further his sinister goals; as such, when his miles-long body in Manhattan awakes from its slumber, it has no sentience of its own - only blind hunger.

In a frenzied search for Kindred Vitae, the Tzimisce-Thing tears itself out of the sewers and begins rampaging across the city streets, assimilating anyone within reach via Vicissitude and drawing instant media attention. At the behest of Jan Pieterzoon, player characters are quickly sent in to stop the monster before it causes too much damage; along the way, they can actually be joined by Lambach Ruthven, along with the Tzimisce Methuselah Cyscek. In any case, players are able to drive the Tzimisce monster to retreat into the sea, though Cyscek is fatally wounded in the process; just before he dies, the Methuselah warns the players that "The Dragon" is rising and that they must seek answers from Sascha Vykos. Upon leaving the area, players find that the battle has been witnessed by several thousand people, and thanks to the presence of several camera crews in the area, it's been broadcast to millions more. As a result, the public is now irrevocably aware of the vampires in their midst.

With the discovery of Antediluvians prompting widespread unrest within the Camarilla and Kindred resorting to Diablerie in desperate attempts to hold off the Withering, players are encouraged by Pieterzoon to strike out on their own in pursuit of their objectives. Eventually, this leads the character to a fork in the road in which they must either investigate the activities of the Tzimisce Antediluvian, or err on the side of caution and avoid tangling with the Eldest again: should they choose the former, they make contact with Etrius of the Tremere Clan in London, where it's revealed that the body of Tremere has once again been usurped - but not by Saulot. This time, the Eldest has claimed the body of the Arch-Usurper early in the storyline, and used it to enact a genocidal massacre of any Tremere in its path, beginning with the Clan headquarters in Vienna and ending with the long-abandoned tower of Ceoris in Transylvania. Now calling himself the Dragon, the Eldest summons all those of his blood to him, intent on devouring their Vitae and assimilating their flesh. As a result, the population of both the Tremere and Tzimisce Clans plummet, forcing the survivors to devise rituals that can allow them to resist the summoning.

Etrius offers a solution: in the years since his ascension, the Dragon has made an enemy of Kupala; with the Tzimisce Antediluvian having defied his bargain with the demon and reputedly stolen a great deal of power from him, the entity resting under the Carpathian Mountains now despises the Eldest. If the players can fully release Kupala from his prison, he might be able to stop the Dragon. This quest eventually leads the player characters into an encounter with Tremere - now in the body of Goratrix - who claims that he will help them stop the Eldest if it means escaping assimilation. By the time the party arrives in Transylvania, the Tzimisce Antediluvian has laid waste to the entire region, and everything from Bucharest to Krakow lies in ruins; but despite the devastation, players are eventually able to reach Ceoris and allow Tremere to enact the ritual to free Kupala.

The ensuing brawl lasts two full nights, mostly underground, with the Eldest having taken the form of a living, breathing mountain, and Kupala in the form of a nightmarish dragon in mimicry of the Tzimisce Clan's symbol: despite strong opposition, the Eldest is eventually able to destroy Kupala, but is left so exhausted by the fight that Tremere is able to Diablerize him on the spot. Gloating over his victory, Tremere reveals that he only joined the players so he could claim ultimate power from an Antediluvian; then, just as he's about to eliminate the players, the Withering causes his powers to fail - allowing the players to kill him instantly.

The scenario ultimately leads the players to uncover a child reincarnation of Saulot, destined to be judged in Caine's stead and bring an end to vampirism.

Should players choose not to follow Etrius to Transylvania, their path eventually leads them to Saulot anyway, and they will meet the Eldest with the rest of the awoken Antediluvians in the valley of Gehenna, where they have gathered to rule over all other vampires. Once Saulot has been forced to drink the vial of Caine's blood, he is then granted Caine's status and granted the authority to accept the punishment of God, bringing down holy judgement upon all the assembled Antediluvians, killing them instantly - including Tzimisce (or so it appears). The Curse of Caine finally comes to an end, with vampires throughout the world either disintegrating, dying of old age, or simply becoming human again.

However, in the optional ending to this scenario, the newly-human players hear of an individual still manifesting functional vampirism and even working Disciplines: reports mention sightings of hideous mutations, with the vampire's flesh constantly erupting into growths of bone and cartilage. Somehow, perhaps due to his ascension, the Tzimisce Antediluvian has managed to survive divine judgement and the end of the Curse of Caine; somehow, the Eldest still plagues the world...

The Crucible Of God

In many ways, this final scenario is the reverse of Nightshade: instead of the Antediluvians bringing about the end of the Masquerade, here, the collapse of the Masquerade and the mortal backlash against vampires result in the awakening of the Antediluvians. Here, the Tzimisce Antediluvian does not reveal his hand until much later in the story, ultimately emerging as the true villain of Gehenna.

Following the discovery of vampires by humanity and the failed attempts at a cover-up, initially cordial relationships between Kindred and kine sour once the Camarilla's less-than-savory activities are brought to light: behind the scenes, high-ranking elders have been forcing dissident Kindred into prison camps and feeding on the inmates in order to fortify themselves against the Withering. Distrust gives way to open conflict: martial law is declared, vampires are either imprisoned or executed on sight, and hunters armed with flamethrowers become distressingly common. Already aware that an entire planet of humans would have been able to wipe them out even while they were at full strength, the weakness they suffer by this stages forces the Clans to begin uniting under one banner for mutual protection while they attempt to retaliate. The Tzimisce, being individualistic to the point of ridiculousness, do not factor into this new government. However, the strictly hierarchical Tremere also remain absent from the peace tables: investigation reveals that over the course of the last few weeks, members of the Clan have been leaving their chantries and havens en mass, never to be seen again - presumably the result of the Eldest beginning to assimilate those who share his blood.

As Kindred attempts to retaliate degenerate into terrorist attacks on vital infrastructure, the planet begins to degenerate into a post-apocalyptic disaster area. Worse still, each vampire death brings the Antediluvians closer to awakening, and the sudden mass-extinction of the Setites at Ombos ultimately triggers their rise; though the Withering means they cannot utilize the same power that the Ravnos Antediluvian possessed during the Week of Nightmares, the collapse of mortal civilization puts them at an extreme advantage, granting them all the opportunities they need to dominate the younger generations into serving them and reduce humanity to slaves.

The first of the Antediluvians to rise is the Eldest. With his ascension having slipped through his fingers as a result of the Withering, he now requires vast quantities of human and vampire blood in order to enact the next stage of his masterplan: reclaiming his vast body under Manhattan, he takes the massive blob of flesh on a rampage through town, assimilating any form of life he encounters in his path and growing until he encompasses most of the city. In desperation, the President of the United States orders a nuclear strike launched on Manhattan, but the Eldest has already absorbed enough life to make the transition to his next objective; the nukes only end up obliterating New York - for by then, the sun has already risen and destroyed the Antediluvian's vacant body.

From then on, the Eldest exists as a spirit travelling between bodies of those who possess his blood, possessing them to do his will: sustaining his potency through Diablerie-by-proxy, he uses these borrowed vessels to alter the world around him ever-so-slightly, warping various forms of life through use of Vitae and Vicissitude to create revenant monsters. As time goes on, players cannot help but notice the effects of this terraforming program, nor can they fail to notice the fact that the Eldest is clearly spying on them through these same chimera. However, he does not attack - yet. The ultimate goal of this project is to infect everyone and everything on the planet with his essence, absorbing them into his totality and allowing him biological apotheosis.

During this time, Lambach Ruthven can become a member of the party. Though he betrayed his grandsire, the Eldest has spared him so that he can serve as a witness to the Antediluvian's final ascension, so that when Tzimisce becomes a god, Lambach will become his first and only worshiper - before he too is consumed. Because of this, the Antediluvian's grandchilde is under constant protection, and any attacks on him will be met with immediate violence (most commonly via Animalism). Believing that there is no hope of stopping the Eldest, the fallen nobleman carries a tank of gasoline and a light with him at all times. All the same, he still abides by the Tzimisce tradition of guest right: if the players provide him with food and shelter, Lambach will be compelled to help them in return.

Following the reign of numerous Antediluvians across the Earth, players are abruptly contacted by Lord Tremere (once again in Goratrix's body), who has finally hit upon what he believes to be the only way of ending the conflict between humans and vampires. Through a combination of the Human Genome Project and the Mormon Genealogy Project, the Arch-Usurper has divined the true name of all humanity, allowing him to devise a magical ritual for controlling every Son of Adam or Daughter of Eve on the planet - including vampires. With this, he intends to simply command humanity to walk into the sunrise, guaranteeing the death of all Kindred on the planet, but for this he needs the help of the player characters in order to carry out the ritual; in return, they will be spared destruction and allowed to continue their unlives.

Should they agree, the players are transported to Salt Lake City, where the ritual is carried out without a hitch - or so it seems: at very moment Tremere is about to issue his command, the Eldest seizes control of him, and uses the ritual to spread his essence to everyone on the planet. Instantly, every single human and vampire is transformed into a monstrous zulo form, and - as the only individuals spared the effects of the ritual - players are forced to flee the scene. For the time being, it appears that the Eldest has won the war and will soon leverage his possession of all life on Earth into true godhood.

At the moment their defeat appears certain, Saulot chooses that moment to appear before the players, offering them one last means of saving the world: once again, Divine wrath must be called down upon the enemy. Players have the option of refusing, though this will result in Saulot and the players being consumed by the Eldest, who then goes on to fuse with the biosphere and become a living planet ruling over itself for all eternity. Should they agree to cooperate with Saulot and are able to withstand the rigors of the sacrifices they must make, the Almighty will descend upon the Earth, obliterating the Eldest from existence and freeing all who were possessed by him.

Awakening to find themselves human once more, players discover that Caine is dead, most of the Antediluvians are either dead, the few survivors have transcended physical existence altogether, vampirism has ended and humanity is free to begin rebuilding. Unfortunately, the post-apocalyptic world is immensely dangerous, and though Kindred are dead, their creations live on: in the case of the Tzimisce, the revenant monsters create by the Eldest still exist, and many of his human victims possess the power of Vicissitude - along with many of the alien perspectives treasured by the Clan. As a result, a new race of unearthly beings has formed to take its place in the mythology of the new world.

However, the alternate ending "Here We Go Again" features a different fate for Clan Tzimisce: in this case, the Eldest is destroyed as before, but Caine is allowed to go on living as punishment for his sins, and players awake to discover that they have become vampires of the second generation; cleansed of their weaknesses and freed of the Withering, they can now begin the cycle of Kindred history all over again - allowing Lambach and any Tzimisce left alive a fresh start.

Gallery

Trivia

  • All Clans in Vampire: The Masquerade draw influence from some particular depiction of vampires in popular culture, and the Tzimisce are no exception: with their old world traditions and decaying nobility, they are naturally inspired by the original Dracula - ironic considering that within the World of Darkness, Dracula was inspired by them. However, their alien natures and shapeshifting abilities draw influence from the Wamphyri of Brian Lumley's Necroscope series.