EL SUEÑO DE CONSTANTINOPLA
The Dream of Constantinople is well known among Kindred scholars as an ideal for a perfect Kindred society. It was a goal pursued by the three rulers of Constantinople, known as the Trinity. When they each fell from the pages of history, their followers scattered and the great hope of a generation of Kindred was lost.
Lost for all save the Nephilim.
Known to those who have encountered them or to the few who actively seek them as the Children of the Angel, the Nephilim are a society that wishes to embody perfect beauty in all things. From art and architecture, to the honing of the body, to refining and improving in whatever task they pursue. The Nephilim seek to be angelic and divine in every outward respect. Many shun them and curse them as hedonists and degenerates, some see them as a Toreador plot to subvert the iron grip of the Ventrue on the Camarilla, and others still as little more than a distraction for immortals seeking a night of pleasure. For each Kindred who turns away from their promise of perfection and pleasure, there is always one who turns back, curious and allured by the orgies and the lavish lifestyles the members of the cult pursue.
The Children of the Angel are certainly one of the most open and popular of the Kindred religions, and it is easy to see the attraction. However, the draw goes far deeper for some and the rewards can be far more life changing.
The Nephilim don’t just offer perfection; those who have served the cult the longest embody it without exception. Kindred whisper of cultists whose appearances alter as they make more and more trips to their local temple. Their skin becomes clear, soft and radiant. The color of their eyes sharpens and brightens. Their hair becomes shiny and lustrous. Moreover, they become confident and self-assured within the love of the cult and its revelers. Abandoning worldly pursuits, they turn to more aesthetic, artistic, and spiritual endeavors, often turning over their businesses and properties to the use of the society and to fund the spectacular parties their new siblings host to celebrate their great becoming.
A large, hedonistic, sex-crazed cult full of beautiful people requires very little selling to most. However, when one gets past the sheen of glory, the practices of the Nephilim are found to be far from altruistic.
The Unending Dream
The Nephilim originated in Constantinople as a hedonistic society of Toreador directly descended from Michael, the self-proclaimed Archangel. They spent their time seeking to perfect the outer beauty of the world. In the old city, they commissioned glorious monuments, renovated old buildings and laid ugly slums to waste to replace them with far more pleasing aesthetics. Their quest for perfection led to great purges of the unwashed and the unworthy from the streets of the city as they might offend the sight of the Angel.
Their philosophy of personal improvement did not entirely revolve around the pursuit of physical beauty. The childer of Michael competed among themselves to be the most pleasing to their great ancestor, to prove they were worthy of the blood of heaven. Within this selfish game, many mortals and Kindred alike were ensnared, moved as pieces on a board to enhance the image of their Toreador masters in the sight of Michael. They were forbidden to fight among themselves, though discord was invited from outside their ranks to test the strength of the Dream against alternative ideals and improve it accordingly.
However civil they were to each other in the open, their jealousy of one another was beyond compare. Many believe it was partly their hidden war that finally brought about the collapse of the great society itself. Others say the influence of malefactors from jealous clans outside of the benevolent guidance of the Trinity caused the fall. Whatever the case, the Dream was dashed to nothing and the childer of Michael fled the city in despair.
It was not until centuries later that they began, as though guided by some hidden hand, to seek each other out once more. As the modern nights cast a new darkness over the world and consigned the old to history, the Beckoning summoned still more of them together. United as one for the first time since the fall, the childer of Michael looked upon each other and knew they were the last scions and the last hope for the survival of his great plan.
All of the world would come to recognize him for the divinity he was. All would bow their heads gratefully in the sight of endless cathedrals and brazen statues of gold bearing his image. All would be reshaped in his likeness. They began to summon to themselves the first of their followers.
The Seeds of the Garden
The Children of the Angel started as an almost exclusively Toreador affair and enjoyed a relatively steady pace of growth, given their pleasurable practices. When word began to spread of how these Nephilim could alter and beautify the normally static and unchanging Kindred, many interests were piqued, particularly some of the more desperate members of Clan Nosferatu. Rumors persist that many members of that clan who fully embraced the love of the Nephilim have reverted to a more human appearance, albeit still ugly in comparison to vampires of other clans and the divinely beautiful Nephilim themselves.
The seeds of this rite lie in the Blood Bond to a true Nephilim, a descendant of Michael. Imbibing the vitae of a Kindred separated from the Angel by no more than three Embraces will beautify the drinker, subtly altering their physical appearance to an angelic form. Their skin softens and takes on a glow, their eyes glisten and imperfections and blemishes fade. Their teeth become the purest white and gleam in the light, and their bodies become toned and lean. While this is a poetic way of saying that, essentially, “it makes you look nicer,” the fact that it can even make the usually monstrous Nosferatu appear more like they did as mortals is a great attraction, and the clan does its best to stifle such rumors.
Due to the price of each drink, the Nephilim and their servants keep the secret power of their vitae hidden from outsiders. Those who submit themselves willingly to the Nephilim are certain to become little more than adoring slaves in their great plan. It is not just their faces and bodies that change; they lose all thought of their own personal pursuits and become almost mindlessly obsessed with pursuing the goals and desires of their Nephilim overlords. Unlike other Blood Bonds, it seems to be a servitude that cannot be broken by the mere passage of time and many who have been forcibly separated from their masters for even years at a time continue to cry out in the night and beg to be returned to their side, often calling out the name of Michael or Mary.
The thought of their entire clan falling prey to this predation disgusts and terrifies any Nosferatu who becomes aware of it, though Clan Toreador remain, perhaps not so strangely, aloof on the matter.
With word of these glorious miracles spreading, the Nephilim have gone from a petty underground orgy society to a well-established religion in their own right
HIJOS E HIJAS DE HELENA
The essence of a methuselah cult dedicated to the accumulation of wealth and influence, the Sons and Daughters of Helena pay tribute to their legendary icon, the vampire known variously as Helena, Helen, Helene, or — to those few who know her modern-nights Mask — Portia, in exchange for her blessings, direction, and supernatural aid. Structured as a pyramid of worship, adherents are lured in with tales of Helena being the undead Helen of Troy: a figure of supreme beauty, intellect, and wit. They’re told tales of how she’s survived for millennia, manipulated armies to further her goals, orchestrated the fall of Carthage, and is now the most powerful vampire in the USA. How much of this is true is debatable, but the Sons and Daughters use their Presence to attract recruits, make their words believable, and foster adoration from fresh initiates.
Helena is indeed the individual prominent in the tales of the Trojan Wars, and she is the schemer and beauty icon her cult purports her to be. She’s even present in the United States and influences a small army of followers. However, these followers are not the Sons and Daughters, over whom she has minimal control and about whom she has little interest. Elders of Clans Ventrue, Toreador, and Brujah with no attachment to Helena formed this cult in her name to exploit the myths surrounding her and profit from fledgling gullibility.
A vampire pyramid scheme, the Sons and Daughters’ elder council sends abstract messages and puzzles to the lower level adherents, requesting they perform tasks on the cult’s behalf while intimating that by performing well, they’ll please Helena and earn her favor. The missions they set usually center on eliminating the cult’s enemies, obtaining or laundering money, seizing territory for higher ranking members, or expanding the cult. The initiates at the bottom are expected to dedicate their time to serving Helena, send tribute up the chain, and in return — if they please “her” — a nice bauble comes back down. Usually this takes the form of the elder council recruiting other initiates to perform a task for the previous group, or more rarely, the elders might send down a vial of treated, potent vitae with the message to “use this only in times of extreme duress.” The vitae usually comes from the body of another captured vampire from outside the cult.
To the Sons and Daughters, their religion is a mystery cult from which they obtain more wisdom and enlightenment the more they dedicate themselves. To anyone who delves deeper into the cult’s inner workings, it’s about as mundane a cult as vampires could form. Yet, as with many con jobs, as long as the marks don’t realize they’re being milked for all they’re worth, the sense of belonging, purpose, and belief is enough to keep them from slipping to the Beast. The cult’s dissolution would lead to many vampires greeting the dawn in humiliation and despair.
What little Helena knows of this cult amuses her, so she’s content to let it persist at least until it tarnishes her reputation. If that time comes, she’ll make a grand show of annihilating the elder council and stepping in to address the Sons and Daughters as their grateful goddess, picking up the cult’s devoted scraps