There is one thing that elder Kindred dread even more than fire or the light of the sun. This is the sin known as diablerie, or the Amaranth. Among Camarilla society, diablerie is the ultimate crime; those who practice it are subject to the harshest punishments imaginable. It is as loathed and feared as cannibalism is among mortal society. The vampires of the Sabbat, as well as the warriors of Clan Assamite, are said to indulge in diablerie freely, which is yet another reason why the elders hate them so.
Quite simply, diablerie is the act of feeding on a vampire in the way that a vampire feeds on a mortal. In so doing, not only does the murderer consume the victim's blood (and vampire blood is far, far sweeter than even the tastiest mortal's), but the victim's power as well. By stealing the life of a vampire closer to Caine, the vampire can permanently enrich his own vitae. In this manner can even the youngest vampire gain the power of the elders, should he have the strength and daring to wrest it from them.
Elders know the crime as the Amaranth; in olden nights, it is said, an amaranth flower was presented to the victim a week before he was to be hunted. Kindred legend tells many dark tales of murderous childer betraying and cannibalizing their own sires, and it is for this reason more than any other that elder Kindred harbor such distrust for the neonates among them. Indeed, the great Jyhad itself may well have its roots in this eternal and savage struggle for ultimate power.
A vampire seeking to commit diablerie must drain all the blood from his Kindred victim. Following this act, the vampire must continue to suck, for (according to Kindred legend) the very soul is withdrawn from the victim's body and taken into the diablerist's. The effort involved in diablerie is monumental, for the vampiric soul is a greedy thing and clings tenaciously to unlife, hoping to regenerate its body and rise once again.
Once a vampire's body has been drained of all blood, the true struggle begins. The diablerist's player makes an extended Strength roll (difficulty 9). Each success inflicts one automatic health level on the victim (the victim cannot soak, and damage is considered aggravated). When all the victim's health levels have been drained, the victim's essence is taken into the attacker and the emptied body begins decaying immediately.
A vampire committing diablerie is quite vulnerable to attack. Total concentration goes into the struggle to draw forth the essence of the victim, and stopping for even a moment ruins the chance of capturing the spirit. All attacks against a vampire attempting diablerie are made versus a difficulty of 2.
The Rewards of Diablerie
Upon successful completion of diablerie, the diablerist is overwhelmed by euphoria, and a Self-Control roll is necessary (difficulty 10 minus the character's Humanity) to avoid frenzy. The sensation is akin to orgasm, but much more powerful – so powerful, in fact, that certain Kindred are addicted to the sensation. All other Kindred fear these vampires, known as "rogues," for their addiction to the pleasures of Amaranth makes them a threat to everyone. Even vampires too weak to provide additional power are devoured for the simple pleasure of the act.
The true benefit of diablerie becomes evident if the diablerist feeds on the vitae of a vampire of lower generation (e.g., if a ninth-generation vampire commits diablerie on a seventh-generation vampire). The diablerist literally steals the power and potency of the victim's own blood, and thus permanently lowers her own generation by one, bringing her closer to the mythical power of Caine. All benefits of the lowered generation – a larger and more potent blood pool, the ability to Dominate more Kindred and, in some cases, the ability to increase Traits above 5 – are bestowed upon the vampire.
If the victim was of much greater power (five or more generation levels) than the diablerist, the Storyteller may rule that the predator lowers her generation by more than one step. This is particularly likely if the victim was ancient (2000+ years of age). It would not be unreasonable for a 12th-generation neonate who drank the blood of a 3000-year-old member of the Fifth Generation to advance three or even more generation steps. Ultimately, this decision rests in the Storyteller's hands.
Moreover, drinking the vitae of elder vampires can induce a temporary increase in the diablerist's Discipline levels (by one, two or even more dots), as the potent blood augments the predator's own mystic arts. If the elder vampire was several generations removed from the diablerist's own generation, the effects can seem miraculous, even if they are short lived. These increased powers last for a single scene, unless the Storyteller decides otherwise.
To commit diablerie, the diablerist must take blood directly and immediately from the victim; the blood may not be stored and used later. Moreover, only one diablerist may commit the act on a given victim; a pack of neonates cannot swarm around an elder like hungry sharks, no matter how potent the victim's blood. The Tremere and Assamite clans are rumored to have developed mystic means of bypassing one or both of these prohibitions.
The Perils of Diablerie
Committing diablerie seems like the perfect crime to many power-hungry neonates. There is no body left when the deed is done, as most vampires over a decade old quickly rot into unrecognizable mounds of carrion. Without solid evidence, it's difficult for even the most despotic prince to make an outright accusation of murder. But those who commit the atrocity soon learn that diablerists wear the evidence of their crime on their very souls. Vampires with the Auspex Discipline can detect a diablerist by using Aura Perception. The stolen energies of the victim mingle with the energies of the diablerist, leaving thick black marks running across the diablerist's aura. These marks stand out as clearly as motor oil on a crystal-clear pond, covering the sorter colors of the vampire's own aura and betraying the crime beyond question.
Not all vampires know of diablerie or the stains it leaves behind. Many younger Kindred might simply question the odd discoloration on the vampire's aura. Most elder vampires understand what the stains mean, though, and could well call for the diablerist's immediate punishment or use the information as blackmail at a later date.
These marks remain in evidence a number of years equal to the difference between the victim's generation and the diablerist's original generation (minimum one year, even if the victim was higher generation). In example, if a 12th-generation vampire drinks the blood of a ninth-generation vampire (becoming 11th generation in the process), the evidence remains on his aura for three years. Additionally, practitioners of Thaumaturgy can use the Path of Blood to detect the diablerist's sin, even centuries after the crime was committed. For that reason, and for many others, practitioners of the Amaranth fear the Tremere.
Even those without special perceptions often sense a "taint" about the diablerist. For one month per generation removed from the victim, a diablerist gives off a "vibe" that leaves more sensitive Kindred unsettled. The Kindred in question may not actually know what the diablerist did, but they'll feel uncomfortable around him just the same. A player whose vampire comes in contact with a diablerist may make a Perception roll (difficulty of 12 minus the sensing vampire's Humanity rating – vampires with high Humanity are more aware of such things) to notice that something about the diablerist just "doesn't feel right." Followers of alternate paths of morality (see the Appendix) generally fail to notice the unusual sensation, as they are no longer attuned to their emotions in the same way. The Storyteller has final say in these matters.
A few rumors speak of diablerists displaying certain mannerisms of their late victims, particularly if the victims were of great psychic fortitude (Willpower 10) and of much stronger blood than their murderers. If this is true, and the soul of a particularly mighty undead can manifest in the body of its killer, the implications are frightening, particularly in light of the Jyhad.
Such is the horror of diablerie that, according to most elders, even a blood hunt is no grounds for its practice. Hunters may drink a victim's blood, even to the last drop, but may not continue the process of diablerie once the victim is drained. Indeed, by decree of the Inner Circle, only a sire is permitted to diablerize her childe, and then only during a blood hunt. In practice, many younger Kindred take the opportunity of a blood hunt's chaos for kinslaying, and princes often look the other way if the criminal was heinous enough.
Lastly, for Camarilla vampires and others who adhere to the way of Humanity, there is the loss of Humanity to consider. Diablerie is worse than murder: The Amaranth literally absorbs the victim's soul, destroying any chance of the victim finding peace in the afterlife. Such a heinous crime strips a minimum of one Humanity from the character's Humanity rating. Additionally, for extremely vicious attacks, the Storyteller might require a Conscience roll (difficulty 8). Failure means the loss of an additional Humanity point, while a botch could well mean the loss of even more.