Long ago, in what would one day be the Akan city states and, even later, Africa’s Ivory Coast, a young hunter strayed far from home. He hailed from the Akan ancestors and lived in a small village plagued by famine, as all animals in the area had died. Venturing out far to seek prey, he instead found an ancient darkness. Born before the universe was formed, the darkness hid under the earth in an effort to escape the hateful light.
Now the hunter came across the cave where the darkness lay and, lured by its song, explored inside. Eager to find a host made of flesh and bone and hoping that this would yield protection from the sun, the darkness poured into him. But it was too eager, too fast, too much, and the hunter died.
The next night, animated by a darkness that acknowledged neither life nor death, the hunter rose again. Confused, he returned to his village, but as the darkness saw the hated sun-dwellers, its rage rose like bile. When the hunter returned to his senses, his people lay slaughtered at his feet.
The hunter, horrified by what he had done, fled far inland never to return.
The first Bonsam claims never to have shared his curse. It’s possible that he extended the Embrace in the throes of darkness and does not remember, or maybe he is lying. But if he is telling the truth, that opens some interesting, and concerning, possibilities about the Bonsam’s origins.
A Bonsam is typically a loner, and highly territorial at that. He is not inherently violent (though very capable of it if provoked) but does demand that any Laibon or Cainite trespassers move on immediately. Those who do not comply will find themselves dead before they even know they were targeted; the Bonsam is a supremely stealthy hunter. A Bonsam is more tolerant towards others of his kind, since he knows that none of them would willingly linger in a territory marked by another, and thus the trespasser’s stay is temporary.
The Bonsam lineage has spread inland over the African continent, avoiding the Kingdoms of Ghana and Kanem and instead claiming the equatorial forest as territory. A few years ago though, the Bonsam began to emerge from the
forest to push into the coastal territories and even venture North, which put them in conflict with the Laibon and Cainites already controlling those regions. Nevertheless, the Bonsam refuse to turn back and, on the very few occasions that they have spoken about their exodus, tell of a great horror from beyond the continent’s near-impassable forest barrier.
Modern Nights: The great Bonsam elder refused to enrich its lineage with gifts of blood and, in its madness, tried to devour its own line. Those who escaped decided to thicken their blood with transfusions from other lineages. In South Africa, they utilized blood from a Tzimisce explorer, founding the Nagloper lineage. West African Bonsam founded the Akunanse line with the help of an unknown source of ancient blood. Few of the original Bonsam remain, and vampires who adopt the name are either making a statement against the superstition and doom that follows the line, or are believed to be fools begging for their predecessor’s curse. Lineages descended from the Bonsam often Embrace wily, hardy survivors.
Sobriquet: Unseen, Stalkers
Appearance: A hunter or warrior during his life, a Bonsam is usually lean and well-muscled. Sires recognize that experience is invaluable, and the Embrace cures most mortal ails; a prospective childe might be middle-aged or older. He cares little for material possessions and owns only what he can carry. His lineage has mastered an art of shapeshifting and a Bonsam, living in the abandoned regions where no one ever sees him, may exhibit some animal features.
Haven and Prey: A Bonsam prefers to carve out his habitat far from other vampires, though this territory usually includes a handful of mortal villages. He might have learned to meld into the natural terrain so he can sleep anywhere from the forest floor to the canopy. A spot high enough to keep an overview, yet low enough to grab prey is liked best. A Bonsam who has not yet mastered this power must make do by digging underground tunnels or crafting cocoon-like nests that block the sunlight.
Very rarely does a Bonsam fledgling stay in his sire’s shelter, as Bonsam are not the hand-holding type.
A Bonsam feeds on animals as easily as he does on humans. Some Bonsam hunt for human prey on the trade routes spreading out from the inland Kingdoms, or their more remote villages. In such cases, he rarely has moral qualms about grabbing man, woman, or child.
The Embrace: A Bonsam sire prefers to Embrace skilled hunters and sometimes warriors. Gender does not matter to him, but a talent for stalking and killing does. A sire usually chooses a hunter who is skilled, experienced, and careful without being cowardly. He might have little patience for foolhardy bravery; he considers this a sign of inexperience and bad judgment, though he can understand bravery born of desperation.
A Bonsam is usually Embraced and abandoned, as sires believe the early nights to be a test of mettle; if the young Bonsam does not survive, then he wasn’t worth the trouble. Not until he has mastered the basics on his own does his sire, or sometimes another elder, approach to teach him more.
Weaknesses: Possessed by a darkness before time, a Bonsam inspires primordial terror in mortals. Mortals who fail at a Courage roll (difficulty 7) when seeing a Bonsam in his true form either flee in terror or gather up weapons to kill the monster, depending on the size of the mortal group and the Nature of its leader.
This fear can be overcome however, and a mortal who has succeeded at this check need not roll again upon meeting the same Bonsam (or at Storyteller’s discretion, any Bonsam).
Organization: Spread out and territorial, the Bonsam is not beholden to a greater organization. However, he speaks a communal language of bat-like shrieks and whistles that allows him to communicate with other Bonsam in a radius of roughly one mile, depending on terrain and wind conditions. He might also form a temporary pack with others of his kind to track down and kill a threat to their combined territories. These packs are utterly terrifying in their efficiency and, fortunately, usually disband after the deed is done.
Cainites: Intruders claiming territory that is not theirs and that they cannot hold.
Brujah: I remember you. Where is your city now? Perhaps you will learn to stand on your own, rather than rely on walls.
Followers of Set: Impressive, turning into a snake like that. Can you do other creatures?
Gangrel: These lone hunters are more like me than my Laibon brethren.
Impundulu: There is power here and they are not afraid to use it. Tread with caution.
Nosferatu: Did the Hunter in the Dark touch you, too?
Ramanga: Leave the Ramanga to their shadow games; they don’t know what real darkness is.