A clan is a vampiric lineage. The Kindred acknowledge five clans, and all Kindred belong to one clan or another. The most widely accepted theory regarding clans is that they are like “families” of vampires. Members of clans all inherit certain mystical commonalities, from acumen with certain Disciplines to traditional shortcomings for their particular type. One of the failings of the “families” theory is that none of the clan progenitors are reliably known, and only a few are guessed at with any degree of confidence. Certainly, the clans came from somewhere — but where? In a modern context, only two Kindred are known to have no clan, and they haven’t reliably demonstrated that they’ve been able to Embrace over the course of their Requiems. These vampires, the legendary Dracula and the Roman centurion Longinus are responsible for the creation of certain covenants, not clans, but might they be on a path toward clan creation themselves? And if the origin of clans doesn’t lie with certain progenitor vampires, from what source do clans originate? If Longinus and Dracula have no clan, who’s to say that other, more secretive Kindred haven’t also suffered the curse in the same way?
Tonight, the influence of the clans is felt almost everywhere. The five clans have a presence throughout the Western world, or so it is believed. The Kindred definitely came to the New World along with the early colonists, suggesting that these vampires are European in origin, or that they grew out of the civilizations that first populated the world and followed the movements of mortal men. Oral histories and sparse records indicate that some vampiric presence existed among the tribal cultures of North America before its colonization, but whether these creatures were members of clans or solitary, unique beings — or even if they were truly vampires at all — cannot be determined. While information on the Far East is fleeting, members of the five clans are known to be active there, as they are in Africa, South America and much of the Middle East. Still, little is known about how indigenous culture shapes the understanding of clans in all these regions, and anyone attempting to study the phenomenon is probably wise to take no presuppositions with him.