The dawn of an Empire
Hierarchy of the Damned
Blood binds all vampires together, but it is age that determines their standing and position in Kindred society. Although a vampire’s undead pedigree (their lineage, potential Sire and bloodline) is important, real respect comes with age. Vampires who have survived for centuries, have amassed great power and faced countless challenges are the dominant powers in Kindred society. However, age is not everything. A complacent Elder can easily be destroyed by an ambitious neonate, and only the foolish lose sight of this harsh reality. Age might mean power and influence, but a vampire stagnates without action and purpose, making him easy pickings for the young, ambitious and cunning.
Those that lose their link to Gaia without the aid of another Kindred, these unfortunate creatures often lack formal training in the intricate machinations of Kindred society. Like their embraced cousins, they are on the lowest steps in the vampire hierarchy.
Purposefully Embraced, these childer as they are often called share the bottom of the barrel with their Severed cousins. And they also have a leg up on them, many of them having served as ghouls prior to their Embrace. Nevertheless, once a fledgling vampire has completed whatever training his Sire or Lector has put upon him, he is put before his Elders to either be accepted into Kindred society or destroyed.
Fledglings is the term used for any vampire that is still under tutelage from either their Sire or a Lector. Also used on those that are not recognised members of Kindred society. Depending on the Sire or Lector, a vampire may be a few years or a few decades as a fledgling.
Considered full vampires, neonates are young and eager to make a name for themselves. They are the young knights of the feudal atmosphere of Kindred society. Most young neonates understand the present far better than their Elders, giving them a distinct advantage. They move through the cultural landscape with ease, navigating busy streets and cross countries without fear. They may lack the power of age, but immortality has not tainted most neonates like it has paralyzed some of their Elders.
While all Kindred form somewhat lose relations with others if their kind in any given area, as with normal mortals there are those whom a Kindred would consider their closest allies. The term friendship is seldom used, for vampires these alliegances are arrangements of convenience. When Kindred band together for a common goal these groups are referred to as Coteries.
A vampire becomes an ancillae after his first 100 or 200 years of unlife. Although they are not yet Elders, ancillae have proven themselves in Kindred society and established themselves as powers to be reckoned with. They are respected and granted prestigious positions such as advisers and men-at-arms to older Kindred. Many ancillae shine brightly as ascending Elders, but many burn out just as quickly, overstepping their limits while blinded by their own pride.
Elders are the regal authorities of Kindred society. Many of them are centuries old, remembering times that most think of as a bygone era. They rule cities and large domains, uphold Kindred laws and keep younger vampires in line and subservient. They have become entrenched in their power, and they will do everything to maintain it. Scheeming and backstabbing, Elders have grown comfortable with immortality, and they fiercely defend the status quo.
Although it is not tied to age, the title of Prince is nonetheless one of singular importance to Kindred. A Prince is a vampire who has claimed a large domain (a city, county, or even kingdom) as his own, forcing other Kindred to bow before his rule. In times of yore, the title of Prince went to the oldest Kindred in an area, but in more recent times a Kindred claims and enforces a princedom through political savvy and force. Many Princes are Elders, but it is not uncommon for ancillae or even neonates to stake their claims as Princes as new cities and towns emerge. Proclaiming oneself a Prince is easy, but maintaining and supporting such a claim against other Kindred is much harder.
Like Princes, the rank of Lord is accorded not by age, but by influence and power. A Lord is simply a Prince of Princes – a potent Elder or something even older – who claims influence over a number of Princes and their domain. Much of this arrangement is feudal in nature, the Lord parceling out his domain to younger Kindred in return for their oaths of fealty and support.
Mythical beings of terrible power, the Progenitors are the most powerful Kindred of the night. They are ancient beyond count, their motives are unfathomable and they are the undisputed masters of the undead. Of their respective bloodlines they are recognized as the first to emerge. From their hidden lairs they plot and scheme, pulling the strings of Elders and Princes alike.