Kindred of the East

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Kindred of the East is a spin-off of Vampire: The Masquerade dealing with, well, the Kindred of the East. Asia was always a forbidden land to Western Vampires. Those who went there and were fortunate enough to return would tell stories of the bizarre abilities and practices of the "Cathayans" (Cathay is an archaic name for China). It was almost as if they weren't really Cainite vampires at all but something totally different. They had no idea...

This book was the flagship project of White Wolf's Year of the Lotus event, which focused on the Asian side of the Old World of Darkness. KOTE was intended as an offshoot of Vampire but the Kuei-Jin, as Eastern vampires are called, share only superficial similarities with the Western variety. Because it introduces several new mechanics and has its own Splats, KOTE is often treated as a standalone game, though some knowledge of Vampire and Wraith: The Oblivion will help.

Our Vampires Are Different indeed. Kuei-Jin are humans who died violently and are sent to Yomi, from which they escape back into their bodies and must sustain on Chi to survive. At first, they can only obtain chi from human blood and/or flesh, but at higher levels of spiritual enlightenment (read: centuries), they can draw it from a person's breath or even directly from the earth itself. Like Western Vampires, Kuei-Jin are allergic to sunlight, vulnerable to staking, and subject to beastly frenzies of anger or fear. However, they can't embrace: all damned souls have to make their own way out of Hell; and they can't make Ghouls or blood bonds: their curse is theirs to bear alone. As former Wraiths, Kuei-Jin also have to contend with their Shadows and Oblivion (see Wraith: The Oblivion for details) and strive to Transcend the mortal plane.

The game's new mechanics rework Vampire's concepts of Virtues and Paths of Enlightenment and Wraith's concept of dual-mind. There are 5 Virtues to keep track of and the first four are paired off. Yin and Yang deal with the type of Chi a Vampire consumes. Yin chi is dead, like from a blood bank, corpse, or another Vampire. Yang chi comes from living targets or Kuei-Jin with an overabundance of Yang chi themselves. Too much of the former turns the Vampire into a shambling zombie while the latter turns her into a raging hedonist who can bear children if not careful. Hun and P'o respectively deal with a vampire's higher mind and base instincts. The classic angel on one shoulder, devil on another. The fifth virtue is Balance, as keeping those two sliding scales towards the middle has its own benefits.

Clans and Paths of Enlightenment are both featured here, but Vampire players will notice that priorities are reversed. Clans are not as important and are mostly geographic. A vampire in Hong Kong will most likely belong to the Quincunx clan the same way a Changeling from Atlanta will be part of the Kingdom of Willows. It's the Dharmic Paths upon which social lines are drawn and the game's splats are based. There are five mainstream Dharmas each based on one of the Virtues:

  • Thrashing Dragons: Yang; hedonists and thrill-seakers
  • Bone Flowers (The Song of Shadow): Yin; necromancers
  • Resplendent Cranes: Hun; redeemers
  • Devil Tigers: P'o; sadists
  • The Thousand Whispers: Balance; travellers who take on new identities every 50 years or so.
Tropes used in Kindred of the East include:
  • Chinese Vampire: What Kuei-Jin resemble if they have an imbalance of Yin chi. High skill in Bone Shintai allows for the creation of zombie minions.
  • Dhampyr: Were first introduced to the World of Darkness through this game. Asian Dhampyrs are the offspring of Yang-imbalanced vampires. They have limited access to Disciplines, but their main power is that they're Born Lucky, a spiritual side-effect of their unlikely birth.
  • Friendly Local Chinatown: The larger ones have a healthy number of Kuei-Jin. San Francisco in particular is considered neutral ground between Eastern and Western Vampires.
  • Immortality Begins At Twenty: Dhampyrs age normally until the reach their physical prime, after which they age at the rate of one year for every five.
  • Hollywood Atlas: The game generally portrays "The Middle Kingdom" as a combination of Animeland, Far East, Land of Dragons, Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo... basically the place has more in common with a John Woo movie than the real world.
  • Recycled in Space: Right there in the title: Kindred OF THE EAST!
  • Retcon: The first edition of Vampire included Asian bloodlines that were later retconned into Japanese Kuei-Jin factions.
  • Spotlight-Stealing Squad: Other Asian supernaturals like the Hengeyokai and Shih are defined by their relationship with the Kuei-Jin.
  • To Hell and Back: That's you, bucko.
  • Triad/Yakuza: As one can imagine, the Kuei-Jin occupy all levels of organized crime in Asia.
  • Weirdness Censor: The Masquerade isn't enforced as strongly, as Muggles in Asia are generally more superstitious and ask fewer questions.
    • Oddly, Clanbook Lasombra mentions that Asian people are more prone to forming angry witch-hunting mobs.
      • Its easier to ignore a vampire just hanging out at a bar then it is a vampire actively trying to eat your family. While they may not deal with the average vampire, if the vamp crosses the line, they're pretty much screwed