Wissengeist

by Allen B. Ruch (15 May 93)

You are by just a single urge possessed;
Oh, may you never know the other!
Two souls, alas! are dwelling in my breast,
And either would be severed from its brother;
The one holds fast with joyous earthy lust
Onto the world of man with organs clinging;
The other soars impassioned from the dust,
To realms of lofty forebears winging.

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe Faust Part 1 Scene II

The Wissengeist are a loose clan of vampires that see their tortured existence as a regrettable but resolvable condition and seek to explain it through the schools of science and metaphysics. They are generally an ethical and very compassionate clan, spread throughout the world in secret coteries, aiding mortals in their quest for the understanding of the Cosmos. The Wissengeist are a very unique clan among the vampires in many respects. The most human of all the Kindred, pledged to the quest for ultimate truth, throughout their history they have worked to increase the vast wealth of knowledge of both man and Kindred. It is their hope that one day science will come up with an explanation for their existence; they believe that the so-called "supernatural" operates by laws which may eventually be understood by a combination of philosophy and physics. When these principles are finally worked out and brought to the light of reason, science will then be in a position to end the curse of vampiric existence. While many Wissengeist are scientists and philosophers, they see their role more as facilitators of mortal progress than as actual "movers and shakers." They often stake out a progressive thinker and aid him, sometimes funding his research, offering advice, or even getting involved in the scientific process themselves. They delight in metaphysics and philosophy over established religion, and pursue theory and speculation over technology - they are usually satisfied to allow humans to develop practical uses for any new discoveries. The one exception to this is their untiring quest for a cure for their supernatural "disease." The Wissengeist are one of the smallest and most obscure clans, and their origins are clouded in mystery. It would be more proper to call them a bloodline rather than a clan, but no one is really sure how they came about. Some have speculated that they were moralist refugees or exiles from the Tzimisce clan who traded magic for science, but there is a serious lack of evidence to support such a claim. A few have linked them to the Toreador, but again this is just guesswork unsupported by any real facts. It seems that the first recognizable vampires having the qualities now associated with the Wissengeist began appearing in fifteenth century Europe, specifically in the area which is now Germany and Austria; but many Wissengeist feel confident their clan has had several incarnations throughout history, such as the Pythagoreans and Alexandrian philosophers, and that their clan vanishes and reappears in cycles with human achievement. According to them, they are born where the Zeitgeist wills it. They deny a specific founder or legendary beginning, and they reject the legend of Cain and the existence of antediluvians. They suggest that there have always been vampires in the world; and like mortals, vampires, too, have their need for myths and legends.

Convinced their wretched state can be explained through logic, they refuse to consider themselves damned in any religious sense of the word - their sense of damnation stems from a private well of anguish at their loss of humanity. Most have a profound belief in the human soul and spirit, and even in God, but they tend to think of these in personal and abstract terms. They drink blood only to survive, and rarely kill their vessel. More Wissengeist exist off the blood of animals than any other bloodline or clan, and they search constantly for a way to synthesize a blood substitute. While maintaining close contact with mortals, they conform to the basic principles of the Masquerade because they realize the danger of exposure - they call it the "Frankenstein effect." It is likely that a large number of vampires burned by the Inquisition came from this clan; they contend that Giordano Bruno was one of their own.

One of the most noted traits of the Wissengeist bloodline is their virtual immunity to sunlight, a result of their Menschlichkeit discipline. While bright sunlight will still destroy a young Wissengeist, as they increase in age and power they may resist the light of day for hours at a time. While never at full strength during the day, this trait makes them the envy of all vampires who are aware of this trait. The discipline of Menschlichkeit has never been able to be learned by another clan of vampire.

Other vampires, if even aware of their existence, tend to leave them alone; indeed many just feel the Wissengeist are foolish idealists. Because their clandestine goals more or less serve the Camarilla and avoid interfering with the Sabbat, they have been left in peace by both sects. Occasionally a few Wissengeist will make themselves known to the Camarilla, and if a mutual relationship can be established, so much the better. Unfortunately for the Camarilla, Wissengeist tend to completely ignore rules of rank and privilege; they feel that petty feudal hierarchies just get in the way of true inspiration. How the Kindred feel about this ranges from amusement to open hostility. Mostly they are just left alone.

Nickname: none, but some Toreador refer to them as the "Misplaced Muses."

Appearance: Wissengeist tend to be well-dressed in the current style, tending towards conservatism and simplicity. Their discipline of Menschlichkeit makes them the hardest vampires to distinguish from humans.

Haven: As they are a solitary bloodline they tend to dwell alone, usually taking up residence in an apartment close to a university.

Background: Wissengeist only Embrace scientists and philosophers nearing the end of their productive life, whether due to old age or disease. Unfortunately, the Embrace is always a dangerous thing for the Wissengeist to bestow - there seems to be a taint in the bloodline that causes insanity in many of those who drink it. Called Der Wahnsinnflucht, or the "Curse," it is a flaw which seriously limits the potential of their clan. Simply put, a human who is Embraced often fails to undergo the Becoming and instead goes partially or fully insane, remaining a mortal. Only a quarter of those who are Embraced survive the Becoming as a Wissengeist, fully half end up deranged and mortal, and the remaining quarter are consumed in fatal madness after their first taste of human blood. These poor wretches are usually killed out of mercy; but rumors exist that some of the more "lucid" set out into the world as Malkavians.

They always present themselves to their intended progeny and ask permission to bestow the Dark Gift, explaining fully its risks and consequences. Mortals who refuse are Dominated to forget. Wissengeist do not Embrace many, and unsurprisingly a large amount of their prospective progeny elect to remain mortal and die a quiet, sane, and natural death.

Character Creation: Wissengeist are almost always scientists or philosophers of some kind, and they tend to be physically older than many other Kindred. Mental attributes and Knowledge Abilities are very important, and Backgrounds may include Resources, Contacts and maybe Fame. Secondary Abilities are important, obviously heavy in science and metaphysics.

Clan Disciplines: Auspex, Domination, Menschlichkeit.

Weaknesses: As mentioned above, the Wissengeist bloodline is tainted by the Wahnsinnflucht, and many do not transform into vampires after their Embrace. Their abundance of Humanity and their overly-logical Weltanschauung can also work against them, and they cannot rise above level five in any discipline.

Organization: There is no real organization to the Wissengeist. They are solitary, and when they meet each other it is often to pass along information. Rumors exist of clandestine meetings held in Sweden and of the existence of a secret trade journal, but the Wissengeist aren't telling.

Gaining Clan Prestige: They are completely unconcerned about Prestige.

Quote: "As Goethe so eloquently stated, 'Zwei Seelen wohnen ach! In meiner Brust.' It is our responsibility to bring to light the soul which makes us worthy of grace; our greatest gift is to understand the Cosmos and our place in it. Like Horatio, we still have much room in our philosophy. We will master our condition; and upon mastery will resolve it."

Stereotypes:

Nosferatu:
Ventrue:
Toreador:
Gangrel:
Brujah:
Tremere:
Malkavian:
Ravnos:
Assamite, Setite:
Giovanni:
Lasombra:
Tzimisce:

A Few Words to the Storyteller

Obviously, the Wissengeist are a Germanic Clan. Given their origins, their connection to figures such as Kant, Hegel, Schopenhauer, Nietzsche, Planck, Heisenberg, Einstein, Schrodinger, etc should be obvious. Many of these gentlemen had friends, and it wouldn't take a stretch of the imagination to postulate the existence of a Wissengeist frie nd. . . . The Wahnsinnflucht may also be of particular interest. Many philosophers and scientists were a bit eccentric - Nikola Tesla and Einstein come readily to mind - and as a point of interest, it has been suggested that the mere presence of a Wissengeist has a slight destablizing effect on her subject, causing him to lose a bit of his grip on reality. Most Wissengeist emphatically deny this, but that denial may easily have it's sources in fear of the truth. . . . As for the Wahnsinnflucht itself, think on the fact that Nietzsche's last days were spent quite mad, and Newton had two nervous breakdowns. . . . Hmmm...?

Pronunciation and meaning:

Wissengeist: (VISS - en - geist): roughly means the "Spirit (or soul) of Knowledge." Wissenschaft is science, and geist is a metaphysical translation of "ghost" in terms of spirit or soul. Poltergeist means "noisy ghost", but the Hegelian concept of Zeitgeist means "the spirit of the age." (Zeit is pronounced TSEIT, the "Z" being spoken like a TS, such as the sound a t the end of "spits" or "spats.") A German may sugstitute the x letter for the double ss, so it may be written Wixengeist.

Weltanschauung: (VELT-an-shauw-uhng): usually translated as "World-outlook"

Wahnsinnflucht: (VAHN - zin - FLOOCHT): translated loosely as "Madness-Curse." The German "ch" sound is pronounced in the throat, like the Scottish "Loch," the Greek X "Chi", or the Hebrew "L'Chaim." (sorry for the spelling, guys, I don't speak Hebrew!)

Blutflucht: (BLOOT - FLOOCHT): means Blood-Curse.

Menschlichkeit: (MENSH - lich - KITE): literally, "Humanity."

Atmenkraft: (ATMEN-krahft): "Breathing-power"

Herzkraft: (HAIRTZ-krahft): "Heart-power"

Essenkraft: (ESSEN-krahft): "Eating-power" (Also E xenkraft)

Der Sonnemantel: (DARE ZON - uh - MAHN - tel): "The Sun-cloak"

Untergehen: (UHN-ter-gay-in): A Nietzschean concept, means "to go under." In his book Also Sprach Zarathustra, he used it to signify the death of man and the birth of the ubermensch, or the "over-man." (usually translated as "super-man.") It really is a bit of a pun (unter-uber), but I've twisted it even further by using it to describe a vampire "becoming" human again to die fufilled. So Nietzsche may be upset; he's dead, so sue me.


IMPORTANT NOTE:
I hope you enjoy this clan, and it is my intention to eventually submit it to those great individuals over at White Wolf, so if you pass it along, please leave it intact. I claim all rights, so please don't publish any of it without my permission. Enjoy, and beware the Illuminati!

Lord Arioch (Allen B. Ruch)
2141 Apt. A-3  King Arthur's Court, 
Harrisburg, PA 17110

lordarioch@aol.com