Tzimisce, even the wilder ones, tend to enjoy periods of contemplative solitude. Their innate territoriality manifests as an extraordinary sensitivity to their surroundings. Something deep in the Tzimisce psyche demands privacy and personal space, and Tzimisce plan and maintain their havens with meticulous care.
Most vampires, aware of the Tzimisce proclivity for cruelty, imagine Tzimisce havens to be vast abattoirs, where the walls drip with the gore of violated innocents and the corridors reverberate with the screams of the immured. This is rarely the case--at least not in the main haven. An ambiance of murder and horror, pleasurable as it may be, is not conducive to rest.
Tzimisce refer to their main haven as the manse (regardless of size or opulence--Tzimisce are nothing if not wishful thinkers). It is here that a Tzimisce keeps her mementos of mortal and undead life. Tzimisce decorate their manses in a manner reflecting their attitude toward unlife. Tzimisce often sleep in coffins as a constant reminder of their separation from the world of mortals.
To circumvent their clan weakness, most Tzimisce also maintain one or more auxiliary havens. Auxiliary havens contain a supply of sleeping earth and other bare necessities of existence. They are used when a Tzimisce has a reason to believe her manse is being sought by enemies. Auxiliary havens are also where a Tzimisce usually brings her victims in order to slay and torture them, thus allowing the vampire to maintain the serenity of her primary abode.
Tzimisce are extremely sensitive about whom they admit into their havens. No one may enter without the express permission of the vampire, which is generally extended in the form of an elaborate invitation. (Ironically, this custom probably provided the basis for the Camarilla’s Second and Fifth Traditions) Likewise, Tzimisce are reluctant to enter another’s dwelling without similar permission being granted. Obviously, this custom is suspended while at war or hunting. Nonetheless, Tzimisce adherence to this tradition has led to the Camarilla’s unmasking of more than one Sabbat spy.
A few modern Tzimisce, having grown up immersed in science fiction and horror, use victims and Vicissitude to fashion quasi-organic manses. Breathing walls, venous corridors that throb and pulsate, “doors” fashioned from vicious membranes, and “bas-relief” ghouls eternally bound into the furnishings adorn such manses.
The following pages include suggestions for Merits and Flaws unique to Tzimisce characters. Feel free to adapt and use these new Traits to personalize your characters. For more information on the use of Merits and Flaws in a chronicle setting, see “The Vampire Players Guide.”
Note: You must have Callousness and Morale ratings of 3 or higher to take this Merit
Either because of personal proclivity or the rigors of Vicissitude, you have become acclimatized to pain. This affinity enables you to ignore one die of wound penalties. Thus, when you are Hurt or Injured, you suffer no penalties to actions. You suffer only a one-die penalty to actions at the Wounded and Mauled states, and even Crippling injuries subtract four dice rather than five. You are still Incapacitated normally.
Your territoriality rivals that of a Lupine. When acting on “home soil” (your main haven, not auxiliary havens), you gain an additional die to all Dice Pools. You may also home in on your haven by making an unmodified Perception roll (diff. 6 if across town, 8 if in another state or country, 9 if across the globe).
You carry the Tzimisce respect for privacy to extremes. You must make a Willpower roll (diff. 6) to enter another being’s dwelling without being invited (though you will go to fiendishly clever lengths to garner an unwitting invitation). When disturbed in your manse by an uninvited guest, you must make a Self-Control or Instincts roll (diff. 7) to avoid a frenzy.
-Arthur Machen--”The Novel of the Black Seal”
Note: Storytellers should consider carefully whether or not to allow these or any other special abilities into their chronicle. The powers that follow are included to enhance your chronicle, and should not be used as a “checklist” for players.
A vampire with this power gains more than mere sustenance from the blood she drinks. She also gains insight into and even abilities from the donor. Moreover, if the being from which the vampire drinks has recently fed, she may gain similar awareness of that creature. If that creature had also recently eaten before being consumed, the vampire may likewise acquire the powers of that victim, and so on. (Renfield wasn’t so crazy after all.....)
System: The vampire must drink the blood of her prey and make a Perception + Animal Ken roll (diff. 7). Each success allows either a memory or an Ability to be accessed; alternatively, three successes can be “converted” into one of the victim’s Disciplines, Attributes or innate powers. The vampire may choose one of the victim’s Traits or may select from anything that the victim (or victim’s victim, etc.) has eaten in the past 24 hours. The effects last until the vampire expends the creature’s Blood Points. Only one “tier” can be maintained at a time.
Tzimisce have a natural affinity for places, as their clan weakness demonstrates. This power augments that affinity, enabling the vampire to tap into the “ambiance” or “spirit” of a place and thereby gain insight into situations affiliated with the nature of that place. For example, if the vampire uses Genius Loci while in a graveyard, she might gain insight into situations dealing with death. If she uses this power amid the burned-out shell of a building, she might receive a warning of an impending fire; insight into catastrophes in general; or even awareness of the forces behind rapid, cataclysmic change.
System: The vampire must meditate in a certain location for at least an hour. The place must be symbolic of a give force or have been the site of strong passions or trauma (i.e., a shopping mall is not likely to give much valuable insight, but a shopping mall where a mass murderer killed 23 victims with an assault rifle might well provide insight into situations involving violence or mass panic). The vampire must then roll Perception + Empathy (diff. 8). Each success provides a clearer less nebulous understanding. Obviously, this power is extremely subjective. The Storyteller must use discretion when adjudicating its use.
Many Tzimisce have learned to tolerate and even appreciate the sensation of pain, but a vampire with this power has far transcended others’ understanding. Her nerves still register pain, but perceive it as pleasurable, even spiritually uplifting.
System: A vampire with this power adds wound penalties to her Dice Pools. Thus, the more injured the vampire is, the more effectively she functions. A vampire in the Crippled state adds five dice to all Dice Pools! Obviously, if injuries entail the loss of body parts, the vampire may not perform actions necessitating those body parts. Furthermore, a vampire who reaches the Incapacitated state is still Incapacitated. This power is continuously in effect.
This power enable the vampire to slough off a layer of his epidermis and use it as a fleshy snare. Victims may be bound, blinded or even suffocated in the skin-sac.
System: The vampire may automatically shed a layer of skin, but must make a Stamina + Firearms roll (use normal firearms complications) to target his victim. If the vampire hits, the victim is trapped in the folds of flesh and may take no action until she frees herself (Strength, diff. 7; victim must score a number of successes equal to the vampire’s Stamina). Additionally, if the vampire scores three or more successes on the attack roll, he has targeted the victim’s face, blinding her and (if the victim breathes) cutting off her oxygen supply.
Each time this power is used, the vampire’s soak Dice Pool decreases by one until he spends a Blood Point to regenerate the skin layer. If this power is used three times in succession without spending Blood Points, the vampire’s skin becomes paper-thin. Each time the vampire moves suddenly or violently in this state, he must make a Stamina roll (diff. 7) or suffer one Health Level of damage as cracks and lesions riddle his skin.
This power was first manifested by the Black Hand Dominion Lars Svengard during the Siege of Barcelona. With this power, the vampire can warp the skin, cartilage and bone of her face, elongating it and resolidifying it into a 1o’-long tentacle similar to that of a squid. This tentacle can be used to grasp and constrict foes; moreover, in place of a squid’s suckers are rows and rows of fanged, drooling mouths, permitting incredibly rapid blood drain.
System: The vampire spends a Willpower point and rolls Stamina + Body Alteration (diff. 8). Success enables formation of the tentacle with no loss of sensory abilities. The tentacle can be used in melee (diff. 5; Strength +2 damage). A successful hit indicates a grab; for each success scored on the attack roll, one additional Blood Point can be drained from the victim each turn, as dozens of mouths bite and suck. To break the grip, the victim must score three more successes than the vampire in an extended contest of Strength.
It should be noted that the tentacle is as vulnerable to attack as the vampire is and may be attacked anywhere along its length; moreover, a tentacle in the process of feeding is a stationary target. If the tentacle takes three or more Health Levels of damage from an edged weapon, it is severed, and the vampire is effectively deprived of all senses (save touch) until she regenerates her face.
The most famous member not only of his clan but also of his species, Dracula is regarded by both Kindred and kine as the embodiment of evil. In life he was a tyrannical warlord; in death he has risen in power and notoriety to surpass vampires 10 times his age.
The Tzimisce have mixed feelings about Dracula. Some whisper that perhaps Dracula’s vast power represents the culmination of Tzimisce strivings and the solution to vampiric stagnation; others feel that he is an aberration and should be destroyed as expediently as possible.
Tzimisce speak with reverential dread of Velya, dubbed the Vivisectionist for his numerous contributions to Tzimisce science. Velya was one of the founders of the Sabbat and now serves as a cardinal in that sect. He has never accepted the title of Voivode, though all Voivodes give his opinion a great deal of consideration. Rumor has it that Velya is an actual childe of the Tzimisce Antediluvian, though on this matter Velya remains silent.
Velya, despite his great age, is a newlywed of sorts. During the 19th Century, on a sojourn through New England, the vampire lord met little Elaine Cassidy, 10-year-old scion of a monied Boston family. Enamored by Elaine’s exquisite beauty and even more exquisite evil, Velya Embraced her and united with her in a mutual Blood Bond. To ensure that she would never leave his side, Velya amputated her legs and grafted the tiny childe to his back, where she sprouts to this night (though she may briefly separate by exercising Vicissitude to detach herself and form a snail-like appendage from the stumps of her thighs). Even other Sabbat are unnerved to hear the lilting child-voice breathlessly detailing the next torture Elaine wishes to see her “husband” perform.
Righteous Endeavor Clay was one of the most strident voices of the New England witch hysteria. From his Congregationalist pulpit Clay directed the ire of New England’s elect, personally rooting out the limbs of Satan in the Colonies’ midst. Denunciations from among the condemned alleging Clay’s personal participation in the vilest of the Black Mass orgies were dismissed as lies engendered by Beelzebub Himself. Merciful Righteous, undismayed by such blasphemy, spent long hours with the witches in their dungeons, exhorting the nubile young sinners’ redemption through means oratorical and physical.
Perhaps it was the dying hex of his victims; perhaps it was an act of God. In any event, shortly after the last witch was cast under unhallowed ground, Righteous fell ill with a strange wasting malady and passed into the grace of his Maker. Soon thereafter, the first Sabbat landed in New England. Their actions were dismissed as Indian raids by New England’s otherwise vigilant witch-hunters, who spared neither Camarilla or Lupine.
Righteous Endeavor (he has dropped his surname along with his humanity) is now a priscus in the Sabbat and personally oversees many of the North American branch’s Ritae. His gaunt figure, still dressed in the somber Puritan garb of his youth, is often seen at major Sabbat festivals. He hates the Nosferatu Prudence Stone with a passion; she is one of the few to have escaped his scourge.
Among the world’s fashion designers, few are so revered as Corine Marcon. From her Manhattan penthouse, Marcon sets trends that turn heads worldwide. The rich and famous, including a large number of Toreador, have paid astronomical sums for a Marcon original.
What the rich and famous do not realize about Marcon originals is that they are woven from the flesh of living (or undead) creatures. Marcon has refined her control of the Vicissitude Discipline to such an extent that she may unravel a victim’s skin, sinew and bone into a mesh of fibrous strands; she may then reweave this thread into a cloth-like material. With proper alchemical preparation, a victim may even survive the process. (She prefers to work from kidnapped derelicts, relishing in the irony of the upper crust garbing themselves in the viscera of street beggars).
Marcon uses these “ghoul garments” in the service of the Sabbat. She specifically tailors her living clothes to her Camarilla customers--and she always knows who these are. Marcon’s ghouls not only batten on their hosts (Marcon has developed special rituals to ensure her Blood Bond is not broken in the process), but also telepathically transmit information to the seamstress.
Though there are more powerful vampires on the Black Hand, few are so feared as the German Dominion who calls herself Doktor Totentanz. Infamous even among the Hand for the brutality, magnitude and sheer audacity of her slayings, Totentanz often spearheads European Sabbat War Parties into heavily fortified Camarilla fiefdoms. She is rumored to lament the fact that Pol Pot still exceeds her record for sheer number of people murdered.
In life, Totentanz is believed to have been Dr. Heinrich Lundt, an SS race biologist whose enthusiasm for his work attracted the attention of a Tzimisce. Changing both name and gender to suit her proclivities, Totentanz has served the Sabbat as fanatically as she once served the Third Reich. Still, old loyalties die hard; her personal pack, the Sonderkommando (“squadron of the living dead”), utilizes much Nazi paraphernalia in its Ignoblis Ritae. She has even founded an offshoot of the Path of Caine; the tenets of this often self- contradicting path state, among other things, that Caine was the First Aryan, but that his blood was stolen by the treacherous Antediluvians of Mesopotamia, the ancestors of the Jews.
Doktor Totentanz is certainly an up-and-coming Sabbat vampire (though more than one archbishop has expressed concern that her personal crusades could supersede her loyalty to the sect if allowed to go unchecked). She has personally slain two Italian princes, and their potent vitae has endowed her with a level of power far vaster than her years of unlife would indicate. She makes no secret of her lust for a seat on the Seraphim and has attracted a large following among the lower ranks of the Black Hand, who strive to emulate her zeal and ferocity.
One of the most powerful and enigmatic Tzimisce is the mysterious Indian Methuselah named Kartarirya. Also called the Many- Armed because of its peculiar extrapolation of the Vicissitude Discipline, Kartarirya reputedly emigrated to the Indian subcontinent millennia ago in search of solitude, worship and easy prey. Its centuries-long feud with a Nosferatu Methuselah who sought the same things inspired entire cycles of myth among the region’s indigenous people.
Kartarirya, the victor of that war, now dwells in its ancient foe’s sanctum on the isle of Sri Lanka. Kartarirya fanatically defends it privacy and considers all of India its personal hunting ground. No vampires save those of its line, or those who submit to a Blood Bond, are welcome in India. Trespassers are often attacked by formidably powerful ghouls that have been fleshcrafted to resemble enormous apes or monkeys.