One of the most wondrous and terrible properties of Kindred vitae is its ability to enslave nearly any being who drinks of it three times. Each sip of a particular Kindred’s blood gives the Kindred in question a greater emotional hold over the drinker. If a being drinks three times, on three separate nights, from the same Kindred, she falls victim to a state known as the blood bond. A vampire who holds a blood bond over another being is said to be that victim’s regnant, while the being subordinate to the bond is called the thrall.
Put simply, the blood bond is one of the most potent emotional sensations known. A blood-bound victim is absolutely devoted to her regnant and will do nearly anything for him. Even the most potent uses of Dominate cannot overcome the thrall’s feelings for her regnant; only true love stands a chance against the bond, and even that is not a sure thing.
The blood bond is most commonly used to ensnare mortals and ghouls, but Kindred can bind each other as well. Such is the blood bond’s power that a mighty elder can be bound to a lowly neonate; in this respect, the blood of a Thirteenth-Generation fledgling is (presumably) as strong as that of Caine himself. As such, the blood bond forms an essential strategy in the Jyhad; some Ancients are said to hold dozens of influential Kindred in secret thrall.
• First drink: The drinker begins to experience intermittent but strong feelings about the vampire. She may dream of him, or find herself “coincidentally” frequenting places where he might show up. There is no mechanical effect at this stage, but it should be roleplayed. All childer have this level of bond toward their sires, for the Embrace itself forces one drink upon the childer; they may love their “parents,” hate them, or both, but are rarely indifferent toward them.
• Second drink: The drinker’s feelings grow strong enough to influence her behavior. Though she is by no means enslaved to the vampire, he is definitely an important figure in her life. She may act as she pleases, but might have to make a Willpower roll to take actions directly harmful to the vampire. The vampire’s influence is such that he can persuade or command her with little effort (Social rolls against the thrall are at -1 difficulty).
• Third drink: Full-scale blood bond. At this level, the drinker is more or less completely bound to the vampire. He is the most important person in her life; lovers, relatives, and even children become secondary to her all-consuming passion.
At this level, a regnant may use the Dominate Discipline on a thrall, even without the benefit of eye contact. Merely hearing the regnant’s voice is enough. Additionally, should the thrall try to resist the Dominate (or similar mental control power) for some reason, the difficulty of such resistance is increased by two. Naturally, a higher-Generation vampire still cannot use Dominate on a lower-Generation thrall. The blood bond is true love, albeit a twisted and perverse version of it. Ultimately, we can’t reduce the vagaries of love down to a simple “yes/no” system. Some thralls (particularly people with Conformist or other dependent Natures, or with Willpower 5 or less) will commit any act, including suicide or murder, for their beloved; other characters have certain core principles that they will not violate.
A full blood bond, once formed, is nearly inviolate. Once bound, a thrall is under the sway of her regnant and her regnant only. She cannot be bound again by another vampire unless the first blood bond wears away “naturally.” A vampire can experience lesser (one- and two-drink) bonds toward several individuals; indeed, many Kindred enjoy such bonds, as they create artificial passion in their dead hearts. Upon the formation of a full blood bond, though, all lesser sensations are wiped away. Vampire lovers occasionally enter into mutual blood bonds with each other; this is the closest thing the undead can feel to true love. Even this sensation can turn to disgust or hate over the centuries, though, and in any event few Kindred trust each other enough to initiate it.
A blood bond is a mighty force, but it is at its most potent when perpetually reinforced with further drinks. Feeding a thrall often reinforces the bond, while depriving a thrall of vitae may cause the bond to grow tepid over time. Like any other relationship, treatment and courtesy play a part in the dynamics of the bond. A thrall who is treated well and fed often will likely fall even more deeply in love, while a thrall who is degraded and humiliated may find resentment and anger eating away at the bond.
It is possible, though difficult, for a vampire to temporarily resist a blood bond. Doing so requires the player to make a Willpower roll (difficulty is typically 8, though this can be modified depending on the regnant’s treatment and the thrall’s Nature) and accumulate a number of successes equal to the number of times the thrall has partaken of the regnant’s blood, to a maximum of difficulty 9. The thrall must then spend a Willpower point. Upon doing so, the bond is negated for a variable amount of time: from one scene (if the thrall merely wishes to plot against the regnant, deliver confidential information to an enemy, etc.) to one turn (if the thrall wishes to attack the regnant physically). The thrall can continue to expend Willpower to extend the duration of “freedom,” but once she ceases doing so, the blood bond resumes at full force.
A blood bond can be broken, though this requires the thrall to not only avoid the regnant entirely for an extended period of time, but also spend great amounts of Willpower to overcome the addiction. As a general rule, a thrall who neither sees nor feeds from her regnant for a period of (12 - Willpower) months finds her bond reduced by one level (so, a fully bound thrall with a Willpower of 5 has her blood bond reduced to the equivalent of two drinks if she goes seven straight months without any contact with the regnant). If the bond is reduced to zero in this fashion (a feat typically accompanied by the expenditure of a great deal of Willpower on the thrall’s part, as she resists the gnawing urge to seek out her sire), it is nullified entirely. Another, though somewhat less certain, way to be rid of the bond is to kill the regnant. Such a choice is extremely perilous on many levels, and makes no guarantees that everything will go smoothly. Those who have been released by such means claim the bond shatters like spun glass upon the moment of the regnant’s Final Death.
The thrall’s Nature may play a large part in whether the control is completely ended, though, and such aftermath is best left in the hands of the Storyteller.