The Ventrue offer a very simple boast: They win. They always win.
Other Kindred often despise the Lords, but they seldom dispute the clan’s boast. All too often, a Kindred works and schemes to win some prize, only to find that a Ventrue owned it all along. The officers who lead a city’s Kindred almost always include several highly placed Ventrue. The Lords acknowledge no defeats, only setbacks. The clan shares a ruthless will to power and the power to enforce its will.
Their favored Disciplines account for some of their success. The Ventrue learn to command the thoughts of other beings almost by instinct. Their mastery of lesser animals harks back to nights of domains in which the Lord was a master of beasts as well as men. Although they do not especially cultivate the arts of combat, they often prove remarkably hard to kill. Ventrue regard their supernatural gifts, however, as merely a tool to begin the acquisition of real power — the power of money, property, corporate stock, political contacts, rank in Kindred society and large numbers of mortals, at every level of society, begging to lick their boots and fulfill their commands.
The Ventrue take the feudal nature of Kindred society very seriously. Every sire tells her childe that some people rule, and some are ruled. As Lords, they should strive to place themselves among the rulers. Most Ventrue neonates already believed this before their Embrace. Throughout the clan’s history, the Ventrue have sought power in whatever forms mortals offered. Kindred historians say that in ancient Rome the clan Embraced senators and patricians. In the Middle Ages, they brought knights and churchmen into the fold. As commerce became an avenue to power, they cultivated merchant princes, bankers and magnates. When states grew more bureaucratic, the Lords Embraced high-ranking civil servants. The rise of organized crime brought mob bosses and drug kingpins into the clan. At the start of the 21st century, Ventrue elders ponder the merits of Embracing scientists, engineers and computer wizards. No matter where in society the power lies, the Ventrue vow to exploit it before other Kindred even know it exists.
Many Kindred see the Ventrue as almost synonymous with the Invictus. Indeed, Ventrue tend to rise to leadership positions within that covenant. Almost as many find a place in the Ordo Dracul, acquiring immediate power of a different stripe, which the Lords ultimately turn toward the same ends. They also rise to leadership among the Sanctified, however, and some Ventrue find the power they crave within the Carthians, the Circle of the Crone or even amid the ranks of the unbound. Some Ventrue neonates hardly bother to hide their intent to use a gang of unaligned Kindred as a stepping-stone to power within another covenant.
Ventrue often adopt a conservative, lowkey appearance that expresses high status without being flashy. Young Lords sometimes favor a “preppy” look, the timeless suit-and-tie uniform of business, or (for female Lords) elegant gowns or business skirt-suits, with unobtrusive jewelry. Ventrue elders might keep the styles of long ago, at least in their own havens, and in public they still tend to look decades out of date. Even rebellious young Ventrue wear their metal-studded jackets like a uniform, asserting their dominance. A Lord surrounds himself with other trappings of wealth and status, too, from the big, fancy car in the garage to the wine cellar full of vintages he will never again have the opportunity to enjoy.
If a Ventrue did not possess great wealth before the Embrace, she often becomes rich afterward. Ventrue select their havens to reflect their wealth and power. Many Lords dwell in mansions or actual walled estates. Few would settle for anything less than a classic townhouse or penthouse apartment (with secure curtains, of course). Clan tradition holds that any Ventrue may claim sanctuary from the sun at any other Lord’s haven and not be refused, but few Lords ever invoke this right. Not only do proud Lords hate to beg another Kindred’s aid, a supplicant henceforth owes a debt of honor to the Ventrue who provided refuge. Great shame would befall any Lord who denied a clanmate or who could not provide a comfortable rest, however, so a prudent Ventrue makes sure his haven can accommodate a Kindred guest or two.
The Ventrue most often seek childer among the ranks of professionals or the cream of high society. Some Lords prefer childer from “old money” families or political dynasties, as the closest the modern world comes to feudal nobility. Other Lords prefer self-made leaders such as millionaire entrepreneurs, politicians, military officers or even crime bosses. As new professions and new forms of power arise, the Ventrue bring them into the clan. The rise of the computer industry, for instance, has prompted a wave of tech-sector childer.
Ventrue favor Social Attributes and Skills — the traits needed for leadership — though they also value Mental Attributes and Skills such as Politics and Academics. The clan excels at Social Merits such as Resources, Contacts and Status. Most Lords possessed great social influence in life, and they acquire more in undeath.
Presence or Resolve
Animalism, Dominate, Resilience
Power corrupts, and among the Ventrue, even the thirst for power can corrode an ambitious Kindred’s moral bearings. Over time, some Ventrue grow paranoid, ever more wary of rivals’ desires (real or imagined) for their own holdings. Others become willing to do whatever it takes to acquire the smallest iota of additional power. Still others turn inward, delude themselves as to their ability and importance, or trouble their minds with other maladies. Ventrue Kindred suffer a -2 penalty to Humanity rolls to avoid acquiring derangements after a failed degeneration roll.
The Lords track their ties of blood and obligation through an old-boy network that extends across generations, bloodlines and continents. A respectable Ventrue knows his fellow Lords’ ancestors, their broodmates, allies, enemies and Kindred owed and owing favors (though the information might be a century out of date). Two Ventrue often compare lineages and acquaintances when they first meet. Thus do they establish their relationships and status within the clan.
The Ventrue also take clan offices very seriously. Ventrue Whips, Prisci and other clan leaders often try to hold monthly meetings of all clanmates, regardless of covenant. The Lords use these meetings as opportunities to brag, size up the competition, cut deals and chide clanmates who seem to show insufficient ambition. After all, the Ventrue have a reputation for steel-fisted power to uphold. One does not want other Kindred thinking that any Lord might go soft.
Much of the clan consists of lineages that claim descent from famous Ventrue of the distant past, such as the great Cassius. These “bloodlines” merely express pride in ancestry: A Cassian Ventrue, for instance, does not differ greatly from other Lords. Other prestigious lineages include the Licinii, the Beni Murrahim and the Rötgrafen. The comparatively new Malkovian lineage suffers even more debilitating madness than the parent clan.
Corporate CEO, crooked cop, gang chief, military officer, old-time ward boss, patron of the arts, political consultant, rave promoter, realtor, society matron, technical wizard