by Larry J. Langley (29 Aug 92)
I created these creatures for an upcoming chronicle set in San Diego. If you've ever stood at the ocean's edge at night you know that there is something wonderful and terrible out there. I would appreciate any comments and criticism.
The depths of the ocean, not the world's cities, are the home of this unusual bloodline. Protected by the ocean's waters they only need emerge from the relative safety of the depths of the sea to feed, and so remain protected from many of the dangers faced by city dwelling Kindred. The origins of the Coelacanth are lost to the past, leaving only myths and speculations. Some suggest that a powerful ritual or curse corrupted their blood much like the Nosferatu or the Assamites. Others believe that they are not descended from Caine at all but are an entirely alien lineage. The Coelacanth themselves do not retain the traditions of history as the other clans, and the truth is long forgotten.
Whatever the origins of the Coelacanth, they differ from most Kindred in several respects, both inherent and acquired. Unlike other Vampires, the Coelacanth--at least until age strengthens other desires--can survive by feeding on the blood of cold-blooded creatures. This is almost entirely a matter of last resort, as Coelacanth will nearly always choose to hunt humans when they may. Secondly the blood of the Coelacanth themselves has a strange, often considered foul, taste to their land bound cousins. Kindred encountering or drinking Coelacanth blood need not face madness frenzy no matter how starved they are--it just isn't appealing enough. The blood remains nourishing despite the flavor, though Vampires will feel a bit sluggish and unpleasant after drinking much. Coelacanth, on the other hand, find Kindred blood as attractive as any other, if not more so. In fact Coelacanth are particularly susceptible to the sensations of blood and are likely go into a frenzy no matter how well fed.
Aside from physical differences, the ability to retreat beneath the seas instead of hiding among humanity has markedly affected the development of Coelacanth society. Although the availability of choice prey is limited, with sanctuary beneath the waters Coelacanth need not fear discovery or flame and find easy protection from sunlight. Having no historical reasons to preserve the masquerade, neither having experienced the inquisition nor fearing (or even in most cases being aware of) the Camarilla, Coelacanth are learn to accept their nature-- to welcome the beast. Among the clan, survival of the fittest is the only law, and Diablerie, especially with the lack of control they possess in the presence of blood, is a common practice among the Coelacanth tribes. They have no reason not to extend this practice to Kindred of the land and many an unfortunate neonate has fallen prey to a band of Coelacanth on the Hunt.
The Coelacanth originate somewhere in the south pacific, although tribes have slowly spread across the sea to Asia, Australia and the Americas. They first appeared along the coasts of Central America, and have begun to spread north and south. Their presence poses something of a threat to Kindred in the coastal cities, both because of their tendency toward Diablerie and by placing the masquerade at risk. The Coelacanth do not fear humanity. Though they do realize the difficulty humanity can present to the Hunt if organized and are somewhat careful, they follow no strict code and rarely are victims left alive. As the Coelacanth hunt off of the coasts of more populous areas, witnesses to their activities are almost inevitable.
Like the Hunt, the embrace of a Coelacanth is usually violent and cruel, often involving drowning the victim. Typically, once created the Childe is kept beneath the waters for a great length of time, fed victims by her sire. Even as the newly created Coelacanth learns to hunt her sire tends to accompany the Childe until such time as he feels the neonate has accepted her fate. Those who rebel are treated violently until such time as they submit to the ways of the tribe. Still, the procedure is by no means as methodical as the Sabbat or creative as the occasional forced madness of the Malkavian embrace. Although most end up surrendering to the violent way of life of the Coelacanth rapidly losing humanity, occasionally an individual will hang on to her sanity for some time, escaping perhaps to live a solitary life. Even given the chance to escape most remain with their Coelacanth tribe for lack of knowledge of any other choice, and, because of the likelihood of frenzy when feeding, even the strongest willed will fall to the beast eventually.
Appearance: Coelacanth tend to develop large rounded eyes and smooth hairless rubbery skin as they age. Because of their undersea existence, Coelacanth do not bother with clothes and other human trappings.
Haven: Caves under the sea, or the darkest depth of sea canyons.
Background: Coelacanth embrace when the numbers of a tribe seem low, at the command of elders, or when particularly impressed by a meal. They tend to embrace those who are athletic or physically strong, though they may embrace anyone they please. Often those who put up enough of a struggle to impress the Coelacanth are chosen. Physical attributes and talents are primary for almost every Coelacanth.
Character Creation: Coelacanth could have almost any nature, though a nature inappropriate to Coelacanth existence may result in a quick destruction. Demeanors tend toward those that can survive the violence of the tribes. In order to have survived for so long most older Coelacanth possess violent or dictatorial natures as well.
Clan Disciplines: Potence, Fortitude, Aqueous
Weaknesses: Coelacanth find blood almost impossible to resist. Coelacanth are susceptible to madness frenzy if down by more than a single blood point. Resistance rolls when hungry (three or fewer blood points) are against difficulty +3.
Organization: The Coelacanth usually exist in small tribes led by an elder who never leaves the depths of the sea. Instead he requires his brood to bring him blood or subsists on the blood of his brood. Diablerie is quite common among the Coelacanth especially in the midst of a blood frenzy. Coelacanth tribes normally exist under the laws of strongest survive.
Gaining Clan Prestige: The only way a Coalinth gains prestige among her kind is to defeat (often kill) those who are more powerful than her, and intimidate those who are weaker.
Quote: "We understand where we exist in the world. The law of the ocean is kill or be killed. The strongest and most dangerous survive."