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CHAPTER THREE
SUBCULTURE

around the comer of a filthy sewer tunnel to discover a pristine, elaborately carved architectural masterpiece. Nosferatu are builders without peer and have recently gone to great trouble to Embrace architects and engineers. Indeed, other clans have begun to. whisper that the entire Nosferatu clan is preparing for some vast, world-spanning feat of construction, and they speculate as to the purpose of such an endeavor.

The end result of Nosferatu labor is a trackless, lightless, multileveled, subterranean maze, branches of which honeycomb the entire city. The Nosferatu ensure that nearly every important building, industrial park, etc. can be reached via their “warren.” Particularly in older cities, these warrens are gigantic structures.

Centuries-old corridors connect with abandoned subway tunnels and disused bomb shelters. Entire sublevels of buildings lie empty and gaping. Secret shafts lead from the cellars of the elite to the Nosferatu’s chambers. Crypts the size of rooms or even houses lie directly beneath the glittering skyscrapers of the wealthy. Flooded sewer pipes provide watery transport for the vampires, who build crude skiffs from plastic and lumber.

Certain adventurous vampires of other clans have descended into the Nosferatu warrens, but few – suspiciously few – have ever reemerged. Those who did return have spread such dark warnings that the lords of the Camarilla have begun to grow concerned. If the Nosferatu’s demesnes are indeed as vast as reports claim, the Justicars reason, any sort of lawbreaking could take place down there.

In particular, the Camarilla elders are concerned about the possible violation of the Third Tradition. Looking down from their lofty aeries, the Ventrue lords see the squalid masses of the poor and homeless, whom they have largely ignored and left under the aegis of the Nosferatu. Such an enormous population of potential progeny – such an expansive space in which to conceal them – who knows how many Nosferatu are down there?

Ironically, the Toreador wholeheartedly support the Nosferatu’s kingdoms, espousing the truth of the proverb, “Out of sight, out of mind.” “Let the beasts rot in their holes,” they sniff. “Better there than on the carpet at the Waldorf.” It is equally ironic that the Nosferatu are usually no more than 10 feet beneath the Toreador who say this, listening to every word and laughing gleefully.

THE ANTECHAMBER

This is the way – step inside.
              – Joy Division, “Atrocity Exhibition”

Most Nosferatu warrens have an area that serves as a combination of reception room and guard post. This area is generally dubbed the Antechamber, although it is not necessary confined to one chamber per se and in fact is often a maze of connected corridors, dead ends and rooms.

The Antechamber is where the clan’s rare visitors enter the Nosferatu’s subterranean kingdom. One of the area’s primary purposes is to disorient visitors – both physically and psychologically. This is done partially out of common sense (the Nosferatu have no desire to reveal the layout of their domain to spies) and partially from perversity (the Nosferatu get kicked around on the surface, and anyone who enters their realm can expect equivalent treatment).

Thus, the Antechamber is designed to promote maximum discomfort, paranoia and confusion. The area is blisteringly hot in the summer and frigid in the winter. Each room in the Antechamber usually has several tunnels leading elsewhere (some of these are illusions created via high-level Obfuscate powers).

The tunnels (the real ones) are often cramped, requiring visitors to kneel, crawl or even slither through them (poetic justice in the Nosferatu’s eyes). The tunnels are also generally choked with filth, slime and sewage. As if this weren’t revolting enough, the Nosferatu use their Animalism Discipline to stock these areas with swarms of rats, bats, roaches, worms, slugs, centipedes, spiders and other harmless but disgusting vermin.

The Nosferatu consider the Antechamber an object lesson and delight when some unsuspecting Toreador prima donna decides to enter the clan’s domain to bargain for information. A “guest” must often endure several hours of laborious crawling, backtracking from one dead end to the next amid foulness and vermin. By the time visitors reach the other side of the Antechamber, where their requests will be heard, they are utterly lost and psychologically frazzled. The rare visitor who stoically endures the ordeal of the Antechamber without complaint usually gains favor in the clan’s eyes.

If a visitor is deemed legitimate and/or harmless, the clan uses Obfuscate to conceal the sections of the Antechamber where the real, lethal traps are laid. This is notthe case for enemies or particularly obnoxious Toreador....

THE CHAMBER OF HORRORS

What sounds were heard,
What scenes appeared,
O’er all the dreary coasts!
Dreadful gleams,
Dismal screams,
Fires that glow,
Shrieks of woe,
Sullen
moans,
Hollow groans,
And cries of tortured ghosts!

– Alexander Pope, translation of The Aeneid

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