World of Darkness - Alpha Network
In this World of Darkness, it is possible for Ghoul attributes to breed true. Ghoul characteristics can, with effort, be inherited through several generations of ghouls through the breeding efforts of their Vampire masters, resulting in a family of revenants; ghouls whose bodies naturally produce Vitae.
The word revenant as used here is technically a misnomer though, since the word literally means “undead”, even though the “revenant” ghouls are very much alive. How the word revenant came to be the English word for a member of these ghoul families is most likely a result of an earlier Tzimisce’s nascent command of the English language.
A Revenant is a kind of hybrid creature that is both like and unlike mortals, ghouls and Kindred. Some would say a revenant is halfway between a mortal and a vampire; others would call it a corruption of God’s creatures with the curse of Caine, mingling the two until they become inseparable. Nonetheless, a revenant has many qualities of both vampires and mortals, and has many characteristics of normal ghouls. Revenants can drink the blood of a vampire, but unlike a ghoul they do not need to do so, as they can produce their own vitae, which also retards their aging.
Unlike their masters, and despite their name, revenants are living creatures. Like a mortal, they need to eat, sleep and breathe. They are capable of sexual reproduction. Unlike a mortal they are tougher and have access to supernatural powers from the Mark of Caine along with the curses the Mark brings.
Unlike normal ghouls, revenants are born, not created by drinking Kindred blood. Revenants’ bodies naturally produce a weak vampire-like vitae, which sustains their bodies far beyond normal human lifespans (although not immortal, revenants can live to be hundreds of years old; they age at approximately one-quarter the rate humans do), and also gives them the ability to use Disciplines.
The Ghoul families were bred over many generations to serve the Tzimisce and, later, the Sabbat. They are not quite human; somewhere between human and vampire, they exist outside of society’s norms. Some worship vampires as gods, while others aspire to achieve that state themselves.
Ghouls are families of Thralls constantly maintained by the Tzimisce, who serve as mortal pawns and possible candidates for the Embrace. Centuries of vampiric contact, infusions of vampiric blood and inbreeding have transformed the revenants into a distinct type of supernatural creature.
In modern nights, the ghoul families are largely relics. The Tzimisce originally used them as breeding stock, but have since largely moved along from them – the only things keeping most of the families from being exterminated in the Final Nights are certain useful services they provide for the Sabbat, and the traditionalist tendencies of their Tzimisce patrons.
As it was previously stated, Ghouls are divided into families, and like vampire clans, each family has particular roles to play, specific Disciplines and weaknesses. These humans were bred over many generations, and genetically they are quite different from the average human. The aging process is slowed (but not halted as in traditional ghouls). A hundred-year-old revenant may appear to be in his or her twenties.
Ghouls produce their own blood pools at the rate of one point per day. They cannot use this blood to form blood bonds, create other ghouls (except by breeding more revenants), or Embrace. Like normal ghouls, revenants store vitae in their body to be used for healing, Disciplines, and temporarily increasing physical attributes. Like a ghoul, their flesh is preternaturally tough and they can soak lethal damage. They are not born with superhuman strength.
They can use and learn Disciplines, and have unique Disciplines and weaknesses related to their specific bloodline. Unlike vampires, they are not affected by sunlight, and can sleep in, or stay awake, whenever they choose to. They also have a heartbeat, salivate and need to use human lavatories.
Ghouls suffer a lesser form of the Mark of Caine that affects vampires, including susceptibility to frenzy and Rotschreck as a result of having their own Beast. This Beast is much weaker than that of a vampire, but its potential triggers are more numerous.
Because Ghouls do breed, because they are ghouls, with the associated emotional problems, and because the Tzimisce were heavily involved in discovering this, ghoul families are more than a little bit bent. Cannibalism, incest, necrophilia, zoophilia, and general insanity is all part of family life. The families are also insanely wealthy, however, and generally hide their more depraved members from too much public view.
Ghouls are fanatically loyal to their vampiric masters, and consider themselves superior to the average human, as well as “regular” Thralls. This, added to their treatment by the Tzimisce and their inbred, unsavory lifestyles, have shaped their mindsets into completely alien directions. Most Ghouls could never function as normal human beings. The four primary Ghoul families also provide the Tzimisce with a very diverse “breeding stock”, giving the clan a lot of flexibility in its membership. Warriors, scholars, aristocrats and freaks are all found in equal measure amongst the revenants, and this translates to them being found amongst the Tzimisce as well, once they Embrace the revenants in question.
Many of the family’s philosophies are indoctrinated into them from an early age; some revenant families even follow Paths of Enlightenment (or Roads, in the case of exceptionally old revenants). The personality of the average revenant is often freakish and alien by society’s standards, and inbreeding is not uncommon (in some families, it is all but certain).
Each family (or “ghoul family”) has been made by interbreeding a special type of ghoul, generally each with a similar set of features, outlooks and even disciplines until — generations later — something more stable and defined emerged from the mixture. At this stage, a Ghoul family has developed its own characteristics, including a set of ‘clan’ disciplines that are easier to learn as well as an often unique manifestation of the Curse of Caine. A revenant family will often retain many of the traits of the vampiric clan that bred and sustained it.
The Tzimisce are well known for breeding their ghouls, and over hundreds of generations produced the first revenants. In the modern nights of the Classic World of Darkness, they are still the clan with the highest number of such beings in their service, although there are revenant families in the service of other vampires. The four main Tzimisce families (the Bratovitches, the Obertus, the Grimaldi and the Zantosas) are the biggest and most well-established ghoul families.