Elysium: The Elder War
"You will serve me, as your mongrel people serve my kinsmen. As it was in life, so shall it be now and forever. This is the truth."
His face could be kind, if there was any trace of human kindness in it. He is generous and gregarious, but these traits do not balance his gluttony or his wrath. This is not a man, but a monument to man's excess. And when he smiles, he is terrible to behold.
Masters of the Inconnu, lords over the dead, witnesses to a stumbling Empire's final fall, the Ventrue are synonymous with Rome's lofty nobility and enduring strength. So long as Rome stands above, the Ventrue rule below.
The Masquerade, an invention of the Ventrue, is common practice in the Inconnu. Even when the clan was at its most numerous and the city was the Ventrue's alone, they engaged in it, and when others came, they taught them to participate. The Ventrue Masquerade, however, is not that of the Egyptian Malkavians, who keep their very existence hidden from human minds. The Kindred of Rome simply disguise their nature, moving among the living in an approximation of life. Many follow the tradition of Julius Senex himself, first among them, shepherding mortal families and being venerated as family gods or appeased as malign ghosts.
The Ventrue practice their Masquerade among the dead as well. The Ventrue well know that the city of Rome belongs to the living, that the underworld is a thin shadow of the glory above. Each night, the Ventrue work to prove otherwise. They throw feasts and grant favors, jockeying amongst each other for the tiniest threads of influence within the mortal skein. Once a year, the Ventrue rise into the Flavian Amphitheater, to celebrate the games as if they still lived. Monsters of the wilds are unchained to battle the monsters of the underworld, and mortal slaves recreate the most brutal myths of a hundred lands. Blood and Vitae stain the sand that night, and by torchlight they both run black.
In the final nights of Rome, the dead rise at night to fill the abandoned blocks and temples of the city. They claim the townhouses and villas of great men gone for their own, and march in grand processions down streets that once felt the feet of Emperors. The Ventrue seek to show themselves the peers of the people the Ventrue once were, the masters of the city and the bloody, righteous lords of all that outlasts the living.
The Tale of the Ventrue
The history of the Inconnu's ruling clan is entwined with that of their mortal family, the ancestors of Caesar. If, in these nights, few Ventrue can claim close blood ties to the greatest of the Romans, then they are no worse than the living, for whom "Caesar" has become just another word for "prince." Julius Caesar once wept at the foot of Alexander's statue, despairing his impotence compared to the conqueror; the Ventrue look upon the living Caesar with the same awe and envy.
This envy has driven the Propinqui throughout their history. They were spawned by Remus, who could neither take the city from his brother Romulus nor wrest it from the wilderness from his foster kin. Instead, Remus made a pact with spirits of hunger and frenzy, becoming their servant in exchange for the title of Lord over the Night. As all titles worth having, it had to be earned, and so Remus took an heir, Julius, who would later be called Senex. Julius opened the veins of Rome and created the dynasty of monsters who walk the city to this day. As Rome rose to greatness, so did the clan that was fueled by its blood, drawn from the greatest of its noble lines.
His descendants have done well for themselves, walking as the Founders of the Necropolis. Even as Rome's fortunes dwindle, they sleep comfortably in the underworld and drink more than their share of Roman blood. Yet, some can feel that their glory, too, is fading. The eldest fall to long torpor or plot to devour their childer, and many whisper that the Ventrue grow more deranged by the night. Once-great Kindred give themselves to sloth and lust, spending their nights as torpid as their days or heaped among Toreador consorts. The Ventrue remain, fed only because of the fading loyalty of their ancillae, who rise into the city not only to hunt but to hear the words of mad Vaticinators and gaze in fascinated horror upon the new rituals of the Sanctified. Long-serving ghouls taste something thick and wrong in the blood they sup, even if they are content to take it a little more often in their masters' senility.
The tale of the Ventrue is the tale of Rome. The Founders have known triumphs and glories unprecedented in their part of the world, and they have grown fat on them. The Republic of the living gave way to Empire, and now teeters on the brink of collapse. The confederacy of the dead gave way to the undisputed rule of the Senex under the guidance of the Ventrue, and now the clan is poised on the edge of degradation and shame.
Wings: Most Ventrue participate to some extent in the Senex, among whose members the Ventrue sit by right of blood. That same inheritance earns them the mistrust of the Peregrine Collegia, so few bother to join with it, and work to employ it instead.
Some Ventrue neonates serve at least one lifetime in the Legion of the Dead, for however better to assert the right to rule than to be the instrument of ruler-ship? And while the Cult of Augurs was founded by the work of the Founders, the Cult has since been overtaken by other clans and all but abandoned by the Ventrue.
The Lancea et Sanctum embodies an implicit challenge to Ventrue privilege, and thus, all who join the Sanctified are enemies of the clan. The blood of Mars means nothing is Mars is a false God, and lordship over Necropolis is meaningless if the true God means vampires afflict the living. Most of the Ventrue take an oath, handed down from their sires, to see the Chapel and the Spear destroyed forever. None join it unless they intend to break with their noble promise and earn the eternal hatred of their own kind.
Nickname: The Founders
Appearance: The Ventrue are the Roman dead, and they dress the part. More than any other clan, the Founders make an effort to clothe and arrange themselves exactly like the mortal nobility of Rome. Members of the Senex wear the robes of power, and even those who seek prominence in the other Wings take care to maintain the semblance of mortal nobility. It is the Ventrue who conceived of the Masquerade as a mockery of life — they value the ability to move through the ranks of the living without drawing undue attention, and they revel in human festival, joining their descendants in open celebration whenever possible.
Havens: The Ventrue almost exclusively keep their apartments in Necropolis. They favor the middle levels, where the Noseratu Worms are relatively few but the sun is still far above. They usually sleep near but not alongside their sires and childer; avenues and aisles of the mid-levels are often named for the brood who nest there, forming something halfway between a city block and a family tomb. Battles for physical space are rare; the Ventrue are often enough involved in the Senex that their problems are handled as problems of state, and their property is designated by law. The Founders often collect the remains of their mortal families and keep them in their own crypts.
Background: There was a time when the Ventrue embraced purely from their mortal family, birthing a pantheon of ghosts to serve the Senex. That time is long gone, and only a few elders share the blood that flows through Caesar's veins. They are all still proud, though, and share the Blood exclusively with Roman citizens. All of the Ventrue, without exception, are Roman by birth.
A childe of the Ventrue is not merely a tool or an heir; she is a prize and an adornment, an illustration in flesh of her master's greatness and good judgment. Good breeding, though, is more important than mere surface; it doesn't matter if the statue is ugly or fragile, so long as it embodies the tradition and honor of Rome.
Roman Ventrue Families
The Line of Remus: Remus (Ventrue), Julia Antasia Sabina (Ventrue), Aurus Julius Senex (Ventrue), Titus Venturus Camillus (Ventrue), Regulus (Ventrue), Evarchus (Ventrue), Lazverinus (Ventrue), Titus (Ventrue), Marius (Ventrue)
The Line of Alexander: Alexander (Ventrue), Demetrius (Ventrue), Gaius Marcellus (Ventrue)
The Line of Mithras: Mithras (Ventrue), Cretheus (Ventrue), Hilderic (Ventrue), Severus (Ventrue), Nefer-Meri-Isis (Ventrue), Dominus (Ventrue)
The Line of the Hidden: Aelia (Ventrue), Elias Andronicus (Ventrue), Gaius Fabricius (Ventrue), Michaelis (Ventrue), Ulfila (Ventrue), Rebekah (Ventrue), Datura (Ventrue), Democritus (Ventrue), Sabinus (Ventrue), Placus (Brujah), Crispus (Ventrue)