In this particular iteration of the World of Darkness, Gehenna started early (on time per the metaplot), when the Ravnos Antediluvian awoke in India and raged through the Week of Nightmares before finally being extinguished, unleashing a clan-wide frenzy on its descendants. As the nightmares flowed through Kindred of all sorts, Joshua learned perhaps more than he should have about what happened by entering Morgan’s nightmarish dream-realm. There, they experienced something close to the truth of the matter.
And yet, the world hung on the brink of apocalypse for years afterward, during which time Joshua applied his more scholarly impulses to vampire lore. He read their forbidden books, learned names and legends of the ancients, and discovered why the Sabbat called themselves “Cainites” instead of the Camarilla’s “Kindred.” Much to the chagrin of those Camarilla he knew, Cainite was a term he stuck with.
It only took killing off one of the clans for them to find out how wrong the legends were.
After they left Kansas City for Seattle, playing at being a Tremere anarch was an amusing ruse for Joshua. Until the house and clan came calling. Tremere himself came to visit with an offer they could not refuse — help them destroy the Cathayans, and Joshua would be rewarded with an Embrace from the clan founder. To refuse would have simply been the end of them.
You despise a bedtime story, the old magus-turned-vampire taunted, mocking Joshua’s hatred, his force of presence too much to defy.
It took quite a compelling ruse to outdo the treacherous Tremere; a plan Joshua buried behind layers of false memories, a betrayal masked by the sacrifice of a Kuei-Jin they might have called a friend, had they not personally helped to consign her soul to eternal damnation.
But the ruse worked, helped along by Joshua’s complete trust in Morgan, putting his free will in her hands — the sort of trust that Tremere could not fathom. Together, they sabotaged the Tremere ritual intended to sacrifice the Cathayans to Hell in exchange for power. Instead, the botched ritual claimed the Tremere clan. That night, a clan died, Gehenna was kicked off in earnest, and Morgan and Joshua chose a side.
The next night, after they fled the ruins of Vienna fast becoming a gaping portal to Hell, someone else came looking for them: Saulot of Nod. Joshua pieced together, later, that Saulot must have survived diablerie somehow; indeed, Saulot might have been walking around in Tremere’s body, while the Tremere clan founder used someone else’s. Certainly it explained Tremere’s desire to sacrifice the Cathayans to regain his Antediluvian might. Before he died, Saulot explained the truth — that the Antediluvians were Caine’s grandchildren. That they slew their parents not just out of malice, but to prevent disaster; a dark fate that fell on them instead. That they were not always night-dwelling blood-drinkers, but they became such in time, under the influence of Caine’s Resonance, the resonance of the first murder.
There was one, then three, then thirteen. You will meditate on this, and understand.
And then Morgan granted Saulot’s last wish, and took his head.
There is a certain numerological correspondence to it — to the Wyrm, and its manifestations; and with Caine, and his childer and grand-childer.
Since that time, Joshua has added Garou cosmology to his studies, trying to understand what has happened to the clans. Through his scans of Cainites — even Morgan, before her transmutation — he could see their Patterns shifting, unraveling. With each battle against the elders, with each clan founder extinguished, that ancient Resonance binding the vampires in one static form faded. Even as they fight, they are changing. As they are exposed to mortals again, a Masquerade of centuries finally breached, a new generation of humanity also struggles to understand them. And in doing so, as Joshua well knows, the Consensus shifts. Caine’s malignant Resonance weakens, and the crumbling Consensus may yet change the race of vampires.
Assamites (Haqim): The assassin came looking for them in Seattle, some time after the incident in Vienna, when Morgan and Joshua finally showed up in public again. When the clan founder and his eldest warriors attacked Joshua’s fortress of Hermes, the Seattle chantry he founded, Ground Zero, the resident mages responded by broadcasting the assault to anyone on Earth who wanted a look. Instead of a battle cloaked by darkness and storms and Technocratic procedures, this one occurred on live television. And the Consensus answered. Morgan, the Ground Zero will-workers, and their old Gangrel friends held the chantry against the Assamites’ assault while Joshua went out to face Haqim and his expected demise. But Ground Zero held, the mages inside offering their inspiration to the terrified Sleepers trapped inside with them…and to the Consensus, watching it all happen on TV. Haqim’s poisonous cloud of vitriol was met with Joshua’s madness and the storm, strengthened by the will of humanity that this monster should fall — and it did. Since then, of course, the Consensus has weakened greatly as so many people have died, and society has crumbled around them. The Consensus is one weapon they will not get to use again. The toxic presence of Haqim suggests the identity of the Maeljin that possessed him.
Brujah (Troile): Legend has it that Troile diablerized his Sire, the unnamed founder of the clan. Then again, Troile supposedly was lost, trapped under the salted ground of Carthage. But the activity of enraged Brujah Cainites on the battlefields of Europe, and a trio of clan founders fighting the Garou nation there, hints at the presence of a risen Brujah clan founder. And who would lead the armies of Beast-of-War, if not the Maeljin Hellbringer?
Followers of Set (Set, or Sutekh): Joshua’s ritual of resurrection included the sacred geometry of the soul, knowledge gleaned from the ancient writings of the Amenti, or Egyptian mummies. An old adversary called Kenemti had become an ally in time, and shared his knowledge with Joshua in return for a favor. And when the Shroud blanketing the Shadowlands weakened, and the demons were loosed, and spectres lashed out at the living for sheer spite, Kenemti called in his debt. The Amenti sought to solve many problems at once by making the Shroud strong again — at the price of their immortal souls. Morgan and Joshua assisted them in this, turning the tide of battle in Egypt between Setites and Amenti through Joshua’s mad magick. During the hunt, Joshua and their erstwhile ally Ghost-Shadow found packs of Silent Striders in Luxor, Garou who had been called by the spirits to join in the great Leech hunt. By the end of one long hunt by day, many Setites were ashed by Joshua and the Striders, and their assault shielded the Amenti, permitting them to finish their ritual. As for the Setites, the legends say their clan founder, their god, was dead. And their ritual in turn, intended to bring him back from the Shadowlands, failed to pierce the strengthened Shroud. Trapped on the other side, Set — and his Maeljin possessor — punished the Followers of Set for their failure, charging the Setites with the urge to join Set in the Shadowlands — in Final Death.
Gangrel (Ennoia): According to the last words of Saulot, their grandfather promised his thirteen descendants that only one of them could find redemption from his curse. Saulot claimed that it was a ruse, that in their striving, many of the clan founders only damned themselves. Ennoia, of all of them, may have found a way out. So Morgan believes. After Saulot’s death, she had a dream of her clan’s founder, reminding Morgan of the Gangrel way, the way of survival. Not struggle, not war, not mystic lore or apotheosis or anything else; just withdrawal from the world, not to beat Caine’s curse but to survive it. Morgan doesn’t, can’t know for certain, if her dream had something more to it. But the Gangrel clan has not suffered the same keen blood-thirst brought on by Gehenna, and no Gangrel-Maeljin obscenity has arisen to fight them.
Giovanni (Augustus Giovanni): The Giovanni clan was one of three most damaged by the successful Amenti ritual in Egypt. At the time, Kenemti told Morgan and Joshua that three of the clan founders were in the Shadowlands, and so three clans could be beaten by the ritual. None of them knew just what Augustus was doing there — chasing down some fragment of Cappadocius’ soul that escaped diablerie, perhaps, or some secret of the death-clan’s for achieving apotheosis. It was a moot point — the ritual worked, the Shroud was reinforced, and with it the Giovanni paths of Necromancy were broken. That didn’t stop the Giovanni from trying to foil Joshua’s ritual to resurrect Morgan, however; when the time came, the necromancers came in force to Glastonbury, and nearly ruined it for them.
Lasombra (Lasombra, or Typhon, or Lambech, or Lucian, or…) La Sombra is Spanish for “the shadow,” an appropriate name but perhaps not one of a suitably ancient pedigree. Supposedly the clan founder of the Lasombra was diablerized, killed by the early Sabbat at the turn of the 15th century. And yet, what creature so much a part of the demonic Abyss could have been so easily destroyed? The Amenti were certain that the Clan of Night was one of three that would be crippled by their ritual. Certainly no Lasombra have been seen in force on the side of the Antediluvians in this Gehenna. Then again, the Sabbat always did mean to fight the clan founders. As it turns out, they may have been right about that.
Malkavians (Malkav) Malkav has not been found, yet, in the midst of this apocalypse. Some legends say he was destroyed, or that over time he became the madness that afflicts his namesake clan. What if he was? Would they expect the founder to remain this way…or was it just a way to lay dormant, to pass the time until the end? Another of the Antediluvians’ methods of escaping Caine’s curse? Perhaps another attempt that failed?
Nosferatu (Absimiliard): Morgan and Joshua met this clan founder quite recently in one of the battles of the apocalypse. One of three clans most active in fighting the Garou Nation assembled by Margrave Konietzko in Europe, the Nosferatu were also actively hunting Morgan and Joshua. When they went to Rome, seeking out a shard of Morgan’s broken Avatar, one of the Nictuku nearly killed them. Later, when they crossed Europe looking for a once-fallen House of the Silver Fang tribe, another Nictuku found them — and that stalled them long enough for Absimiliard to catch up with them. Possessed by Lord Steel, the Maeljin lord of Hatred, it became clear that the interest was personal: after all, they’d met Lord Steel before. The battle impressed the Silver Fangs of House Austere Howl, though. Whatever stories the wolves tell about Scarred-Arm and Whiptongue, he stood with them to face the Maeljin, and in their warship, she burned Lord Steel to cinders with the power of the sun.
Ravnos (known as Zapathasura, or Dracian by the Ravnos of India, called Churka by the Gangrel): The Ravnos clan founder was the first to appear, and the first to fall. Which of the Maeljin Incarna awoke him before his time? Joshua does not know, as they missed the battle in India, having witnessed it from afar through the cryptic metaphors of nightmares. Still, that baffling vista was enough to inspire his weapon of choice, later.
Tremere (Tremere/Saulot): The tangled web of Tremere’s schemes ended in one night in Vienna, the night that really kick-started Gehenna. The Tremere bloodline, having transformed themselves from Awakened magi to undead sorcerers, chose to make a formal clan of themselves by usurping another clan’s power. After carving a path of diablerie down through the generations to Methuselah status, Tremere sought out and diablerized Saulot. This was not the end of Saulot, however. Although they do not know the precise details, Joshua deduced from the available evidence that Saulot ‘awoke’ in Tremere’s body at some point, and Tremere’s spirit was forced to occupy someone else’s corpse; they never learned who, exactly. But the blood couldn’t lie. The Tremere they met was of the 4th generation (again), and he sought to regain his Antediluvian might through the damnation of the Cathayans, a sacrifice to the powers of Hell. This was the ritual that Morgan and Joshua spoiled through treachery: a betrayal that hid behind layers of true magick, false memories, and ultimately Joshua’s trust in Morgan. For his part, Joshua is proud of having outsmarted the Tremere — and for bringing the Massasa wars to a definitive end.
Tzimisce (Tzimisce, sometimes called Mekhet) Another supposed kill for the soon to be Sabbat, and apparently another of their failures as well; the clan founder of the Shapers has been sighted in Russia, or rather, he found Morgan and Joshua flying by in the Defiant on their way into Russia and attacked them. This fight isn’t over yet, but they already know the Tzimisce Antediluvian possesses great power over radiation, enough to attack them with it — suggesting the Maeljin they face in him is Lord Kerne. And this Maeljin lord is not spoiling for a fight so much as to face them alone, or with few retainers. No, the Tzimisce travel in force, with a cloud of balefire Banes, fomori and vozhd (or perhaps vozhd-fomori!) and enough Nephandi in tow to stop them from easily blazing the vampires down with their sunlight-powered weapons. Naturally, the Defiant fled, although they hope to come back for the Tzimisce founder with an army of Silver Fangs backing them up.
Ventrue (Ventrue, sometimes called Nergal) There has been no sign of the Ventrue clan founder, and by rights there should be none. Curiously, although the legends say the Ventrue’s founder was destroyed by that of the Brujah, no one ever thought to question the right of this apparent bloodline to go on calling itself a clan. As for his true fate, Saulot of Nod told Morgan and Joshua that the father of the Ventrue line killed himself in response to Caine’s curse. They may never know the truth of the matter, but perhaps there is some notion of an honorable death to it. In any case, during the time of Gehenna this may deprive the enemy of another Antediluvian vessel, and one of the Maeljin Incarna lacks a shell to possess…or perhaps it will choose another, if it can.