A World of Darkness
The Antediluvians are vampires of incalculable power, each of whom are said to have survived the Biblical Deluge and are usually considered to be the founders of the thirteen clans.
Technically, since “Antediluvian” literally means “before the flood”, the term Antediluvian can be applied to any Cainite who predates the Great Flood, such as Caine or the Second Generation, but it is almost always used to specifically refer to the Third Generation, from whom the thirteen clans are descended.
Most believe these god-like beings to be either in torpor, manipulating the Jyhad, or dead, but there are a large number of myths and prophecies surrounding the clan founders, many of which are contradictory and suspect. However, certain beliefs have prevailed throughout vampiric history, particularly in regards to their actions in Gehenna.
While some clans regard their progenitor favorably, as a whole the Antediluvians are often portrayed as boogeymen that will one day rise and devour their descendants. There are rarely reasons given for this, but clan-wide purges have occurred in the past and Gehenna is seen as a time of blood and reckoning for Cainites.
Presumably the Antediluvians are of such age and potency of blood that they possess nearly god-like power, and in fact some of them may be deities. Very few records of such power being used exist, but legends typically portray them as undefeatable. Some even theorize that the only way for such creatures to be killed is if they desire it or if it is at the hands of another Antediluvian. Whether that’s true or not, they seem to suffer from at least some of the traditional curses of vampirism, namely the thirst for blood, the ravages of the Beast, and vulnerability to sunlight, although their mastery of the Disciplines may have mitigated these weaknesses to some degree.
If the Antediluvians survive in the modern nights they must possess sufficient abilities to hide their existence and activities from the world, particularly considering the monumental effort that has been put into locating their havens by Cainites of many different factions. As they are commonly believed to be directing the Jyhad, they must also possess an incredible level of influence or knowledge, and perhaps even the ability to manipulate those who bear their blood. In fact, blood lineage is often cited as a factor in an Antediluvian’s power, and most assume that each is concerned most of all with their own clan. There are also some examples of ancient vampires bestowing portions of their power to other vampires, and while few of the ancients are described as being actual thaumaturgists, they seem to possess a great deal of versatility, which is evident in the various artifacts said to have been created by the clan founders. Otherwise, members of the Third Generation are often attributed to having complete mastery over their clan disciplines, though this may not be true for the youngest of the Antediluvians, and it is difficult to state clearly which disciplines apply when considering bloodlines and clans that have changed disciplines over the millennia.
According to Noddist lore, the thirteen original members of the Third Generation were Embraced in the First City. Their sires were the Second Generation, the three childer of Caine: Enoch, Irad, and Zillah. After the First City was destroyed in the Deluge, they came to be known as the Antediluvians.
As Caine had left his childer and grandchilder shortly before the Flood, the Second and Third Generations were left untended. The Third Generation rose up and slew their sires in rebellion. They then sired their own childer, the Fourth Generation, beginning the lineage of the thirteen clans. The clans built up the Second City, but it fell to infighting and rebellion. The most prominent casualty of this revolt was the founder of the Brujah, who was killed by his own childe, Troile; those Brujah already Embraced by that point, and their childer, became the “True Brujah” bloodline, while the descendants of Troile took on the mantle of the Brujah clan.
Millennia later, the Antediluvian Saulot, founder of the Salubri, was slain by Tremere, a mage-turned-vampire. His bloodline, the Tremere, were thus elevated to the status of clan, while the Salubri, like the True Brujah before them, became a mere bloodline. Several centuries later, in the early years of the Anarch Revolt, the Antediluvians of the rebellious clans Lasombra and Tzimisce were destroyed by their childer. Not long after, the Giovanni, a bloodline of the Cappadocian clan, elevated themselves to clan status when their own founder, Augustus Giovanni, slew the Cappadocian founder Cappadocius.
Other tales describing the supposed final fates of the more secretive Antediluvians have bubbled up over the years. For example, many Ventrue believe that their clan founder was slain by one of his own brethren (likely Brujah or Set); this tale has diminished into obscurity over the past several centuries, as acknowledging the very existence of the Antediluvians is anathema to the Camarilla.
Modern perspective on the Antediluvians
Individual opinions regarding the Antediluvians vary widely, but are largely divided along sect lines between the Camarilla and Sabbat.
The Camarilla asserts that the Antediluvians are dead or never even existed, and actively persecutes those who publicly say otherwise. This is part propaganda and part genuine belief on their half. Those Kindred who believe the Antediluvians are alive rarely have any real information regarding them and are prone to act rashly and with paranoia, such as by joining the Sabbat or a Gehenna cult. Furthermore, very few of the sect’s members are over five centuries old and have thus missed the last period during which the Antediluvians were visibly active. As secular knowledge becomes prevalent, more and more Kindred view the story of Caine and the Antediluvians as creation myths, nothing more.
The Sabbat adheres to a pseudo-religious creed claiming it as their duty to destroy the Antediluvians and their servants. Most believe they are in a war for their very survival and that if the ancients are not stopped all vampires will be enslaved or devoured by them during Gehenna. The sect preaches that the Antediluvians manipulate all Cainites through the Jyhad, and that the Camarilla and surviving Methuselah are their pawns. While generally accepting of the Antediluvians’ existence, the knowledge of the average member is not necessarily much greater than their Camarilla counterparts as much of what they are taught is meant to ensure their fanaticism in going to war. Despite the theoretically god-like power of the Antediluvians, the Sabbat claims the noble heritage of having slain two during the Anarch Revolt and most members truly believe they can be defeated.
The majority of the Assamites and Followers of Set not only believe in their clan founders but are indoctrinated to be loyal and even worship the mythical figures. They tend to disagree with traditional Noddist lore, however; some Assamites claim Haqim is a member of the Second Generation, while the Setites believe they are not descended from Caine but from the god Set of Egyptian mythology, with some even going so far as to state all the other clans are descended from him as well.
Number of Antediluvians
Canonical Noddist lore holds that there are thirteen Antediluvians of the Third Generation — one for each of the clans — and that each was Embraced by a member of the Second Generation, meaning that they are all nominally siblings or cousins. Some of the clans believe in very different creation myths, however, particularly those that originated outside Europe.
While most assume Caine had only three childer and thirteen grandchilder, this may not be the case. Several sources have offered different accounts, including:
- The Erciyes Fragments states that there were more Cainites at the time of the Great Flood, but presumably few survived during the time which they had to feed on one another for blood. In particular, it cites the childer of Caine to be Enoch, Zyllah, Jabal, Adah, Tubal, and Mehujael. It also suggests that the differences in generation came from a curse levied by Caine and did not appear until after his own childer were slain.
- In a letter from Vlad Tepes to Mina Harker, Vlad stated that, in his research, he has come across various writings which state that the Third Generation numbered at 9, 27, 100, and 0. He wasn’t sure which one was correct.
- Ravnos lore claims that their founder, Zapathasura, was created by the gods and sired five childer: Black Mother, the Rakshasa, Chandraputra, Ravana, and Ramessu. Since this tale is incompatible with traditional Noddist lore, these childer may be members of the Third or Fourth Generation (likely childer of [Ravnos] himself), or they may all be faces of the same individual.
- One Setite legend holds that Set became a vampire on his own, and that the Egyptian gods (actually the Gnostic Aeons) created the Antediluvians of the other twelve clans to thwart him.
- Angra Mainyu, a Baali High Priest, claimed to have visions revealing that Caine had five childer, not three.
-One branch of the Path of Lilith, the Path of Awakening, believes that Arikel and Malkav were twins, children of Lilith, and that they had a younger sister, Nahema, who also received the Embrace. According to legend, Nahema descended into Hell, but never lost touch with her siblings, her spirit forever bound to them and their childer – it is Nahema’s spirit that whispers in the Malkavian Madness Network, that burns in the hearts of the Toreador. Some of her worshippers call her the Dark Muse, the Anti-Muse, and the Demon Queen of Madness, and she is said to be patron saint of serial killers and torturers.
- The tale of the Iryi, or Watchers, says there were ten members of the Second Generation, anti-divine entities that cannot be easily classified by sorcerer-theologians, created by Azazel-Caine (the Dark Father in his aspect as Abel’s murderer) and Lilith from the substance of the Qlippoth, anti-being and deception. When the Antediluvians killed the Watchers, their spirits returned to the Qlippoth whence they came, from where they seek to regain a foothold in the material world through the Disciplines stolen from them.
- The cult known as the Adoptive Childer of Malakai believe that while Caine may have been a vampiric founder, he was not the only one, or even the first. They are dedicated to the worship and study of the Antediluvian Malakai, spoken of in scriptures referencing Lilith’s orphans as Malkav’s twin sister, even more unstable and dangerous than her brother, her madness able to warp reality. She is said to be imprisoned deep within the Shadowlands, never a sire to childer.
Traditionally, Antediluvians are simply referred to as the (clan) Antediluvian, such as the Gangrel Antediluvian, Tzimisce Antediluvian, and so on. An alternate usage is to describe the name in square brackets (i.e., [Tzimisce]), both to denote the fact that the names of the Antediluvians are unknown and as a precaution against drawing their ire by using their real names. That said, Noddist scholars in the past have arbitrarily derived names from the clan name, such as Malkav from Malkavian, which have since come to be accepted as the common sobriquets for the Antediluvians in question. Some records do exist of names believed to have been used by Antediluvians, though it is well known that they have gone by many aliases in their travels and it may be impossible to ever know their original names. Regardless, several names are commonly accepted as valid and are listed below:
Clan Assamite: Haqim
Clan Brujah: Troile
Clan Followers of Set: Set; sometimes Sutekh or Typhon
Clan Gangrel: Ennoia
Clan Giovanni: Augustus Giovanni
Clan Lasombra: [Lasombra]
Clan Malkavian: Malkav
Clan Nosferatu: Absimiliard
Clan Ravnos: Ravana, Zapathasura
Clan Toreador: Arikel or Ishtar
Clan Tremere: Tremere
Clan Tzimisce: [Tzimisce]
Clan Ventrue: Veddhartha or Ventru
Also, for the former clans-turned-bloodlines:
Clan Cappadocian: Cappadocius
Clan Salubri: Saulot
Clan True Brujah: [Brujah], Ilyes, Troile the Elder
Other names mentioned as possible Antediluvians (or as aliases of other Antediluvians) include:
King and Queen of Enoch
These are presumably other names for the clan progenitors, though they may be Antediluvians who opted not to sire clans.
Fallen and Risen Antediluvians
Despite legends of their immortality, several Antediluvians are believed to have fallen through diablerie, including four within the last millennium alone:
The Ventrue claim their Founder was ambushed and killed by one of his brethren (likely the Brujah Founder or Set) on the outskirts of the Second City.
[Brujah]: Diablerized by Troile in the Second City.
Saulot: Diablerized by Tremere in 1133.
[Lasombra]: Diablerized by Gratiano de Veronese at the start of the Anarch Revolt.
[Tzimisce]: Diablerized by Lugoj at the start of the Anarch Revolt.
Cappadocius: Diablerized by Augustus Giovanni in 1444.