The Blood Oath

One of the strangest properties of Cainite vitae is its ability to forge a link between the vampire and the drinker. This power is used to create ghoul servants, but it can also be used to bind other vampires to the Cainite's will. The strength of this bond depends on the number of times the victim has drunk the blood of the same Cainite, but after three such sups, the drinker is almost irrevocably bound. The person (living or unliving) who comes under this bond, called the blood oath, is known as the thrall, while the Cainite holding power over them is the regnant.

A fully bound thrall is utterly devoted to her regnant and cannot take action against her. In many cases this is like a mortal addiction or obsession. The thrall need not like her regnant (though many do) and she may even actively despise her, but she follows her orders nonetheless, even if she is dominated or otherwise manipulated by outside agencies. Many Cainites have described the oath as a compelling force, but it is not necessarily a complusion to do exactly as the regnant days. Rather the thrall is honor-bound to demonstrate loyalty, to not disobey orders or the express wishes of the regnant. The distinction between compelled obedience and loyalty is a fine line, but it allows the thrall to demonstrate some flexibility. Invariably, however, the thrall follows her master's wishes, the way of oathbound loyalty in the Dark Medieval world for mortals and Cainites alike. Going against the master's wishes is simply unconscionable.

The power of the oath is not dependent on the regnant's generation. The blood of a 12th generation neonate can bind an elder as readily as the elder binds others to her will. This is the only Cainite power that does not appear to degrade with generation. A Cainite may be fully oathbound to only one regnant, but she may have several thralls and lesser bonds (those involving one or two drinks) herself.

Taking the Oath

The blood oath is both a physical compulsion and an expression of the bonds in Cainite society. Although cautionary tales of regnants force-feeding their blood to thralls abound, very few Cainites come under the full effects of the blood oath. Most of the damned are simply too willful to surrender themselves so permanently. Nevertheless, there are vampires who were ghouls before their Embrace (and thus carry on their blood oath), and the chains of Cainie feudalism can be strengthened by the power of the oath. It's fairly common for the oaths of fealty to be accompanied by a single drink of the lord's blood, but taking steps beyond that is exceptional. The Usurpers of Clan Tremere use a similar technique to ensure the loyalty of their neonates.

The most common way to undergo the full oath or even the single drink is in a ceremony of outright fealty. This involves a gathering of a Cainite court, at which point the thrall drinks from the regnant's slit wrist and, her lips still smeared scarlet, swears loyalty to her lord. The lord also swears to protect his new vassal, as if she was of his own blood. It is from this practice that the oath gets its name.

The power of the blood oath depends on the number of drinks taken from the regnant (which must be at least a night apart). One or two drinks leaves the prospective thrall imperfectly bound. Only after the third drink is the thrall fully held by the oath.

  • First Drink: After the initial sup of the regnant's vitae (which may be as little as a single drop of blood, depending on its potency), the drinker finds herself drawn to the other Cainite. This effect has been likened to a mortal infactuation, with the vampire finding thoughts of the regnant creeping into her thoughts and dreams, and her subconscious driving her to seek out the regnant again, usually in "coincidental" encounters. There are no hard rules for this stage of the oath, but as with infatuation, the link between the two fades with separation. Suggested effects include a -1 difficulty for the regnant using Dominate, Presence and similar mind-affecting powers on the thrall. The drinker may find herself thirsting for the regnant's vitae (Willpower roll, difficulty 6, to resist).
  • Second Drink: The second drink binds the drinker to the other Cainite. She begins to take deliberate actions in her regnant's favor, and she actively seeks out further encounters. The drinker may find herself obsessed with the regnant, suffering a broad range of often conflicting emotions (simultaneous feelings of intense love and hate are not uncommon). She is not bound to the regnant but may find it difficult to act against him (requiring a Willpower roll), and she may be commanded easily by the regnant (reduce the difficulty of the vampire's Social actions against the drinker by one). The drinker often rationalizes her actions as "respect" for a worthy lord and a willingness to obey those in power. The prospective thrall continues to thirst for the regnant's blood, and she must spend a Willpower point to refuse another drink.
  • Third Drink: The third drink concludes the oath, tying the thrall to the regnant. In many cases, the intense passion of the weaker bonds fades, replaced by a strong sense of loyalty and belonging. Whether the thrall loves or hates the regnant, she has a sense that her place in the natural order is correct, that she is in harmony with her own lord and vassals. Like and dislike is irrelevant; respect and loyalty are the heart of her existence. An oathbound thrall can be dominated by her regnant without the need foe eye contact - hearing her master's voice is enough. Furthermore, the difficulty of any attempts to resist the regnant's Dominate commands increases by two. Generation does play a role here, though. A higher-generation regnant cannot Dominate a lower-generation thrall.


The degree of obedience by a thrall depends on a wide variety of factors. A weak-willed vampire (Willpower of 5 or less or with a Nature inclined to obedience) obeys any command given by her regnant, whether it is to pass a scroll, murder innocents or walk into the noonday sun. Those with greater self-image and will can attempt to resist the regnant's commands. Doing so requires the thrall's player to succeed on a Willpower roll against a difficulty of 8 (though the difficulty may increase if the regnant has treated the thrall well, or decrease if she has been mistreated). To temporarily break free of the oath requires a number of successes equal to the number of times she has drunk the regnant's blood. These successes may be accumulated over a period of time (the roll can be made once per week) representing accumulated insults and resentment, but older offenses may be forgotten. Therefore, the longest these successes can be saved is a number of weeks equal to the vampire's Willpower rating. Once the vampire has accumulated enough successes, she can spend these successes (and a Willpower point) to circumvent the provisions of the oath. This resistance may be in effect for an entire scene if the vampire merely intends to disobey the regnant (passing information to a rival, allowing a group of villagers to escape an ordered massacre) to a single turn (if she wishes to attack the regnant directly). This period of freedom can be extended by spending additional Willpower points, but once this expenditure stops, the oath resumes its full force.

The blood oath may be broken, or lapse with time, but doing so requires a long period of separation between regnant and thrall and considerable willpower. As a rough guide, if the thrall abstains from drinking the regnant's vitae for a period of 12 - Willpower months (weeks of the thrall never took the third drink) and avoids the regnant's presence during that same period, the binding power of the oath weakens by one level. If the thrall was grossly mistreated by the regnant, this time requirement may decrease at the Storyteller's discretion. If the thrall can avoid the regnant and her vitae for long enough (an act that usually involves a lot of determination and cunning), the strength of the oath decreases to nothing.

The blood oath also ends if the regnant dies, though the effect of this breaking varies from thrall to thrall. Some claim to feel a sense of great elation and joy when the bond breaks, while others liken it to a shattering blade, the fragments tearing into her soul and causing grievous wounds. Yet others, most often those with dependent Natures, feel at a loss without their regnant. These tortured souls may attempt to forge a new oath with a new regnant as a means of "completing" themseves, while others may seek out Final Death. Such matters are solely at the discretion of the Storyteller.