The Agoge

No matter how many mortal years might have passed before their Embrace, newly created Ventrue are no more than babes in the woods, compared to the history of the clan. The responsibility for preparing a neonate for his release falls squarely upon the sire's shoulders, but the local body of the clan often plays a role. Siring a competent, confident and proper Ventrue means learning for everyone, not just parroitng the sire's instructions - or prejudices. The Ventrue term this training period the agoge, after the anient Spartan education system. Renowned in nights long gone as the most comprehensive and demanding means for schooling youth in the world, the aoge is a fine metaphor; Ventrue relish drawing the comparison between it and their own strict teaching style. Althought young Ventrue do not sleep on straw mats or train constantly for warfare like hte Spartan youths did, they do face mental and emotional challenges that are every bit as trying. They must learn the ins and outs of Ventrue etiquette and traditions quickly, all while learning to master their undead potential and discover their place within Camarilla and Kindred society.

Note that the agoge does not always take place. In the tumultuous modern nights, many would-be sires simply lack the time to introduce a new childe to the intricaties of her legacy. These "latchkey" progeny often have difficult times adjusting to their grim fates.

The Newly Reborn

Unless a give childer was a ghoul ro had some other association with Kindred, become and undying parasite can be quite a shock. Most Ventrue give their offspring a few nights to adjust to their new state, feeding them either their own blood or some from their private herds. During this time, the Ventrue explains the situation as he or she sees best. This indoctrination is a matter of personal preference, and the agoge traditions do not proscribe a particular approach. Howerver, sires are encouraged to empahsize to the child that he has become a part of a very exclusive, very noble, very responsible family. Great opportunities are available to them, but they come with important obligations.

The Choice

After a few nights, once the childe has grown accustomed (however minimally) to her new existence and has a body full of precious vitae, the time has come for her to choose her preferrred blood type. Traditionally, the sire escorts the childe among the kine for an evening, althought this tradition has become less prevalent in the modern nights. The childe looks over the massed humanity and listers to her heart and palate. She eventually finds a kine who calls to her, whose aroma she cannot resist. Sometimes with the sire's help, the childe feeds. In so doing, she chooses the blood that will sustain her for all time.

The Training Begins

The honeymoon period is now over. The new vampire embarks upon her jounrey into the bloody world of the Kindred and Ventrue. For at least a week, sometimes much longer, sire and childe closet themselves away from the wordl The sire lectures, presents books to be read and trains the child in all the basics including how to use blood to heal or to increase physcial attributes, how to feed without leaving a mark, what the Traditions are, the history of the Camarilla, clan history, heirarchy and so on. The agoge demands that the sire test her childe constantly, quizzing her on facts and challenging her understanding. Many sires prefer Socratic tests, as well, teaching their childer more as they assimilate previous knowledge. Failure or missteps result in withering insults and even physcial pain. All told, this experience is not pleasant; a single omission in reciting one's ancestry may result in a week's denial of vitae.

Presentation

The first training phase ends when the sire feels that the childe has learned enough not to be an embarrassment to him in public. In accordance with Camarilla tradition, the sire presents the childe to the city's prince, formally inaugurating her into Kindred society. Every available Ventrue in the city attends the presentation ceremony and watches the neonate closely. Afterward, the Ventrue gather alone and praise or criticize the child's performance. The neonate meets the restr of her clanmates here, probably for the first time.

The Training Continues

At this point, most sires would cut their childer loose, since they are no longer accountable for the neonate's actions, according to Camarilla traditions. Not so for the Ventrue. For them, the process has just begun. The peerage holds its sires responsible for its childer for quite a while, until the neonate has completed the agoge, in fact. During this extended training session, the neonate often dweels with the sire or in a haven the sire provides. A few promising individuals do strike out on their own, but even they find themselves under what feels like constant supervision.

Even as the sire continues to test and train her childe, other clan members may well step in to "help". The new Ventrue often spends at least some time with many lcoal members of the clan. Even fellow Ventrue who feel personal emnity toward the neonate's sire join in shcooling the fledgling occasionally. Each lectures and then tests the neonate, who must receive the Blue Bloods' approval befroe moving on. This process usually takes several months, and sometimes years (depending upon how many Ventrue participate and how thorough they are), but it gives the neonate a broad perspective of the clan and a basic understanding of the "corporation's" holdings and influence within the city. At this pooint, the Ventrue is still excluded from Board meetings and other clan gatherings, but thier sires often apprise them of clan business.

The Test


Finally, the sire poses a challenge to the neonate. The young Kindred must go forth on her own and establish a domain of influence within the city without the assistance of any other Ventrue. Doing so can mean setting up a moneymaking arrangement with some industry or corporation; it can entail establishing contacts and influences within some political or governmental institution or for the turly daring; it can also mean earning a boon from another Kindred in the city.

The neonate has total freedom as long as she operates within the Traditions and, queally importantly, does no impinge upon any other Ventrue's sphere of influence (unless said Ventrue chooses not to participate in the agoge, in which case the neonate doesn't really need his approval). This last restriction can make the final test quite difficult, especially in cities where other clan members have already claimed many of the choice opportunities. When the neonate is finished, she delcares her victore to her sire. The sire judges for herself whether the neonate has succeeded. Only if she agrees does she recomment eh neonate to the praetor or Gerousia. She is then schedules to appear before the entire clan at the next full Board meeting.

Coming Out

Finally, the neonate stands before the assembled clanmates and tutors. She then gives a full accounting of herself, clan traditions, history and how she met the final challenge. Ritual then has the assembled clan vote on whether the neonate should be accepted into the clan. In reality, only the dullest sire places a childe before the Board without first making sure that the Gerousia finds her acceptable. The assembled clan then assents to the Kindred's acceptance unanimously (those still strongly opposed may remain silent if they wish). The praetor then asks the neonate a series of ritual questions devised by any Ventrue who cared to proffer one. In answering them, the neonate also recites her linage and promises to uphold the traditions of both the clan and the Camarilla.

Once the formalites are finished, the celebration can begin. The acceptance of a new Kindred into the clan is a cause for great rejoicing among the Ventrue. Since the agoge practically guarantees that the new member has abilities and talens that can benefit the clan's accounts, it means that the Ventrue as a whole have just grown that much stronger. They have one more committed (albeit young) ally to turn to when times grow dangerous. The celebration, complete with rare blood of the neonate's preferacne as well as other entertainments, usually lasts through the rest of the night. These parties are, as one might expect, usually Ventrue only affairs, held in the most exclusive venues and attended under high security. Surrounded by such opulence, wealth and power, the newly accepted clan member cannot help byt feel she is now part of something very special indeed. Surrounded by so much blood and so many walking corpses, most cannot help but feel that are also part of something very malignant.

On Their Own

Once the party concludes, the neonate returns to her temporary haven for one last day. From the next night forward, her fate is her own. The other Ventrue no longer hold her sire responsbile for her actions and mistakes. Although many develop strong ties to their sires, neonates may now deal and compete with anyone, inside or out of the clan. Having passed the final test, she has domain to call her own, a base upon which to build both her dignitas and holdings. It is a heady, wonderful feeling for a short while.

Then reality sets in. She soon begins to realize that the pleasantries and camaraderie of the coming-out party have disappeared and that the cruel, hard facts of Ventrue internal politics now predominate. Nightly, the unquenchable thirst for vitae rises in her gorge. As a neonate, she has no power and no rank. She needs allies, connections and arrangements to help get ahead. The struggle that was unlife in the agoge suddenly pales compared to the firece freedom that surrounds her. But she is up to the challenge; she no doubt relishes it. After all, it is in her blood. She is Ventrue.