Sect — a vampire’s political and philosophical affiliation — is ostensibly a matter of choice. If a Cainite dwells in a Sabbat city, however, she’s almost certainly a Sabbat member whether she wants to be or not, and a vampire in a Camarilla-held city had better have an exquisite explanation if he chooses not to honor the word of the Prince.
Each Sect has a dogma and an objective its members seek to attain. Being broadly distributed organizations populated by creatures as selfish as vampires makes a Sect’s nature in each city a unique thing. Some Sect dominated cities might be paragons of their organization’s virtues, while other pay only lip service to Sect creeds.
The Camarilla holds up the Traditions as the highest authority, with a figure known as the Prince acting as the ultimate authority to both interpret and enforce those laws in each domain. First and foremost, the Camarilla sees its role as maintaining the Masquerade, but in domains with accomplished Kindred, the conflicts between them regularly bring the rest of the Traditions into consideration as well. The Camarilla considers itself a well-heeled Sect of genteel vampires, and the term Kindred originates with it, in the idea that all members of the Camarilla are peers in the same august organization. Of course, the social hierarchy of the Camarilla is an elaborate construct, and vicious interpersonal politics and ancient grudges shape the nightly affairs of the “Ivory Tower.”
The Sabbat holds an apocalyptic outlook, believing that the time for Gehenna is nigh, and the Ancients will soon rise from their graves and devour their errant get. It has little regard for the Traditions other than immediate self-preservation, and its domains are hellish urban warzones where people may well have seen vampire activity but simply chalk it up to the weirdness and horror of the World of Darkness. The Masquerade (or “The Silence of the Blood,” as they call it) is tenuous in Sabbat domains, and much of its poor relationship with the Camarilla owes to its recklessness and shortsighted brand of fiery fanaticism. The Sabbat believes that ultimately, vampires must assert their place over the mortal world instead of hiding from it, if they are to survive the fangs of their creators. Part fanatical death worshippers, part millennial doomsday cult, the “Sword of Caine” is neither subtle nor tolerant.
The Anarch Movement is localized and sporadic, without any real central organization outside the individual cities where it establishes itself. In fact, the Camarilla considers the “Anarchs” under its own purview. The central tenet of the Anarchs is that rule by elders is an outmoded concept, and that Kindred domains should be governed by merit, with a fundamental respect for the individual Kindred. Effectively, the Movement seeks to redistribute the power in domains from the hands of the old elite into a more equitable arrangement. While this may seem modern and reasonable, that’s not how Kindred society works in most domains, and those who already benefit from consolidated power find the idea laughable at best and treasonous at worst. As well, many Anarchs style themselves as revolutionaries, willing to do whatever it takes to strip power from the corrupt old guard who hoard it.
These are no utopian domains of happy Kindred-kine relationships. These are petty kingdoms ruled by individual undead lords of whatever territory they can seize.
The Inconnu is an enigmatic elder Sect about which little is known. Indeed, it seems less of a cogent Sect and more of a confederation of Kindred who seek the state of Golconda, a sort of redemptive transcendence of Damnation. The Sect rarely has more than one or two Kindred in any given domain, and territory acquisitions don’t appear to be part of its agenda. A few territories belong to prominent Inconnu, and thus the Sect may be said to be dominant in that domain, but in most cases of Inconnu presence, a “Monitor” takes up residence in another Sect’s domain to watch its affairs and pursue her own salvation. What the Sect formally wants — if anything — remains unknown, and speculation runs rampant as to their origin. Some believe that they are little more than a cult of would-be gods while others suspect that they are the remnants of an ancient Roman conspiracy that pre-dates the modern idea of Sects.
The Tal’Mahe’Ra is a bizarre paranoid conspiracy of a Sect that spends little time in contact with the other factions of Kindred society. Very little is known about the “True Black Hand,” and some Kindred consider stories of its existence apocryphal. Its stronghold lies in the Underworld, the realm of the dead occupied by ghosts of things long lost to the modern world. Its mission seems to be one of shepherding and protecting the world toward an end only it understands. Their vision is similar to the First City as described in the Book of Nod. The Sect holds no cities in the physical world as its domains, though it maintains estates and other odd nexuses where it breeds ghoul servants and sends its agents forth into the world.
The Independent Clans often function like smallscale Sects themselves, with specific agendas in mind, though this is not always the case.
Traditional Strongholds: Chicago, New Orleans, Vienna, London, Paris
The Camarilla is also known as “The Ivory Tower,” and the Sect lives up to that moniker. Created in the 15th century, the Camarilla was formed to preserve and protect vampire society against the decimation brought on by the Inquisition as well as the power drain presented by the War of Princes during the Dark Ages.
The leaders of the Camarilla ruthlessly enforced the Tradition of the Masquerade, elevating it to the Sect’s highest law, a priority they continue to pursue even in modern nights. These so-called “Kindred” seek to maintain a quiet harmony between vampires and humanity — a goal constantly threatened by the Sabbat. The Camarilla considers itself to be vampire society, and there is some validity to their hubris. It is the largest Sect of Kindred, after all, and nearly any city on the globe likely has some Camarilla presence. A Kindred who walks into a new city and looks for the local vampire population will, more often than not, find a Camarilla court. This expansiveness is partially due to the fact that the Camarilla says that any vampire, regardless of Clan or bloodline, may go to a Prince and claim membership in the Camarilla. It’s also partially due to the fact that the Camarilla claims that all vampire society falls under its authority, regardless of what other vampires believe. Many Kindred find it easier to sit in the shadow of the Ivory Tower than debate the point.
Over the centuries, the Camarilla has moved to make good on its claims of global dominance, but with limited success. Vampires are territorial by nature, and there is a world of difference between a Prince supporting the idea that a Justicar claims total authority over the globe and Archons showing up at the borders of her domain and demanding total obedience. Elder vampires who remember a time before Sects scoff at what they see as “neonate audacity.” Still, the fires of the Inquisition continue to burn in many elders’ memories, and many are willing to give up a few rights to continue preserving the Masquerade and assure their safety against mortal society.
Camarilla cities are not as cosmopolitan as the Sect asserts. While Kindred of any lineage can claim membership, most come from the founding Clans of the Camarilla: the Brujah, Gangrel, Malkavians, Nosferatu, Toreador, Tremere, and Ventrue. These Clans helped to create the Camarilla, and they have a seat on the Inner Circle. Vampires of other bloodlines can attend conclave and meetings, but they are treated as minority voices or simply ignored.
After the Sabbat formed, the Camarilla opposed them as the only way to preserve and protect the Masquerade and its own Kindred. As the Sabbat threw away the Traditions and all pretenses of humanity due to their paranoia about Gehenna, the Ivory Tower stood its ground and declared the Sabbat as enemies of the Sect. Since then, the Camarilla has been in an alternating cold and hot war, trading territories like two warring nations, and anyone who does not stand with the Camarilla against the Sabbat may be considered to be aiding the enemy.
As a result of this ongoing conflict with the Sabbat, in modern nights the Ivory Tower is crumbling, losing a few bricks here and there while it proudly proclaims itself to be strong and whole. The elders cling to their power bases, growing increasingly paranoid that other Kindred are Sabbat infiltrators or Anarch sympathizers.
Neonates feel more and more like serfs to the elder nobility, asked to protect and uphold an organization in which they have little hope of advancement but plenty of opportunities for punishment. The ancillae end up in the worst position: unable to break the glass ceiling of elder dominance, but given enough scraps of power to make the younger Kindred sharpen their knives in jealousy.
The neonates and younger ancillae have an increasing advantage — modern technology. Elders find themselves unable or unwilling to master the tools and concepts of the modern nights: smartphones, tablet computers, concealable body armor, portable weaponry, social networking. They fall further and further behind in a world where even children know how to blog and media becomes increasingly fragmented.
Some young Kindred co-opt these tools and use them to further the preservation of the Masquerade, but others wonder why they can’t take the power that the elders so jealously guard — not only political power, but the very blood in their veins through the foul act of diablerie. Therefore, the elders increasingly lash out at things they don’t understand, destroying loyal servant and treacherous childer alike.
The enemies of the Camarilla have taken notice, and bide their time.
At the heart of the Camarilla lie the Traditions, and at the heart of the Traditions lies the Prince. Whether in name or deed, the Prince enforces the Traditions within their domains and punishes those who violate their law. Many Princes hold a regular court, which function as a combination of social affair and legal proceeding. At court, vampires gossip, politick, and gain favor with the Prince, and the Prince and his officers handle matters of the law and render judgment or enact policies.
When a vampire is found guilty of high crimes (such as an egregious breach of the Masquerade, the diablerie of another Kindred, or offending the Prince), the Prince can call for the Lextalionis – the dreaded blood hunt. The Prince declares the hunt in his court, and the word filters down through his Primogen to the Clans. All who hear the call must participate (although “participation” can simply mean staying out of the way when the hunters come through). Once in a while such a hunt is called to hound the criminal Kindred into exile outside the city’s borders, but more often than not the hunt only ends when the hunted suffers the Final Death. Some Princes even turn a blind eye to the act of Amaranth during such a hunt.
But not all legality centers around discipline and punishment. The currency of the Camarilla (and many other independent vampires that deal with the Camarilla) is a system of favors and debts. Such debts (or “boons”) are not only given and incurred, but are also traded between vampires in a healthy, invisible economy. The boon you owe to the Brujah Primogen might ultimately be paid off to an elder of the Malkavian Clan, so vampires are always careful about whom they owe favors to. Because ignoring a boon can threaten this entire economy, any hint of rebellion against the system is met with an overwhelming response by the Harpy and the rest of the local vampires.
Conclaves are the center of global Camarilla politics, serving as the highest court of Camarilla legislation, a high-level session of Sect-wide policy, and a political rally all rolled into one. Only called by a Justicar, all Kindred that the Camarilla claims authority over can attend a conclave, and the proceedings can be over in a few hours or stretch on for many weeks. Given the open-door policy of conclaves, security is an issue, and the location of a particular conclave might not be announced until a few days beforehand.
Generally, conclaves are called because of the actions of a powerful individual (such as a Prince) or due to a serious breach of the Traditions, but once called, any Kindred may bring a grievance to the conclave and have it addressed. Entire domains have been reshaped by conclaves: wars declared, blood hunts called, and Princes politely encouraged to suddenly retire. The Traditions are also interpreted here, and amendments or precedents might be added. Princes might be given emergency powers or special dispensation to deal with particularly unruly problems (such as a local Sabbat infestation).
Not all conclaves are convened due to a problem, however. Some Justicars schedule regular conclaves to allow for more long-term policy discussions and to handle less immediate but still pressing cases that have accumulated over the year. Many Camarilla Kindred use the opportunity to fraternize with others of their position or lineage, and some view as a chance to blow off some steam and party. Over the years, however, security has become tighter and tighter due to concerns about the Camarilla’s enemies, and more and more only key elders seem to be able to attend and have their voices heard.
The View from Without
The world has spun ever closer to Gehenna, and these so-called “Kindred” are woefully unprepared for the final nights. They will be torn apart, the whole time bleating their delusions of superiority.
I don’t hate them because they’re in charge. I hate them because they’re a bunch of psychotic, power-hungry assholes surrounded by mindless sycophants that hope that political power comes from the end of a dick.
They say they rule over all Kindred? The Romans had something similar going, and things will end up the same for the Camarilla. I only deal with them because they’re the largest pool of clients.
Traditional Strongholds: Detroit, Miami, Mexico City, Montreal, Madrid
Opposite the Camarilla stand the Sect of inhuman vampires known as the Sabbat. Most of the vampiric factions believe that the so-called “Sword of Caine” is a collection of mindless barbarians and ultraviolent fiends, or even demon worshippers bent on bringing Satan to earth. As such, the Sabbat are vilified all throughout vampire society. They’re right to fear the Sabbat, but not for those reasons.
While the “Kindred” (a term the Sabbat despise) of the Ivory Tower cower among mortals and cling to outdated Traditions, the Sabbat prefer to indulge in their vampiric nature. They refuse to wear the tattered rags of humanity or to act as slaves and cattle to their elders. Besides, vampires are clearly and openly superior to mortals — do humans lie down with cows and call them brother? As such, Sabbat vampires consider mortals to be tools and food at best, and have little tolerance for “Cainites” who pretend to be human. They are inherently alien and literally inhumane.
But the Sword of Caine isn’t just a collection of gorestreaked psychotics running around shopping malls with chainsaws. They reject humanity as a moral basis for their lives, so they have turned to other alternatives. They adhere to a wide variety of Paths of Enlightenment, philosophical tenets that force the Beast into a narrow channel and allow the Cainite to maintain a day-to-day existence that resembles stability (if not sanity). Further, the Sabbat not only rebel against morality, but also against their own inclinations towards solitude. They frequently join together into packs that act as one part religious cult, one part political faction, and one part combat unit.
Between moral devotion, pack loyalty, and the need to rebel, Sabbat cities are devoid of the calm, quiet society of the Camarilla court. Tensions are always high in Sabbat “dioceses,” and the Cainite’s surroundings often reflect their explosive natures. In cities controlled by Sabbat, murder, robberies, rape, and assault are commonplace.
The Sword of Caine threatens every city it possesses, insinuating itself into urban landscapes until they become nothing but raw resources for the eternal crusade. Although the Sabbat might not be any more “evil” than some of the elders of the Camarilla, they are certainly more overt with their acts of destruction and elaborate games of terror.
Because of these tensions, the Sabbat is hardly a unified entity, and the Sect is home to numerous factions of vampires united under the Sabbat’s banner. One of the most feared is the Black Hand, a special militia hidden within the packs of the Sword of Caine. All members of the Black Hand bear a distinguishing mark — a permanent, mystical sigil on the palms of their right hands. Although this brand may be concealed or made over, it may never be removed — once you’re in the Hand, you’re a member until Final Death. The Sabbat also has its own Inquisition, a small faction of Cainites charged with rooting out heretics and infernalists. If it labels someone as an infernalist, the accusation is unlikely to be denied, and the faction uses torturous tactics to gain the confessions it needs.
The Loyalist faction believes that it is the “true” Sabbat, claiming that each vampire is his own master. They preach that the freedom to do whatever you want belongs to all vampires, and they tend to act against their leaders’ orders just because they feel they should.
There is also the Status Quo faction, who accepts the nature of vampires and knows that shaking the foundations of the Sabbat serves only to distract it from its greater goal. The Moderates oppose the encroachment of rules and guidelines that have no place among such creatures as vampires, resting between Loyalist dogma and Status Quo conservatism. Finally, the eldest members of the Sabbat belong to the Ultra-Conservatives, those who favor centralization and authoritarianism in order to turn the Sabbat into a military force against the Antediluvians and the Camarilla.
The thread that holds the Sabbat together is a religious zeal to tear down the Antediluvians. When packs or ideologies threaten to explode into all-out civil war, the Sabbat manage to pull together around their common hatred for the Camarilla (who they view as puppets of the Antediluvians). The entire Sect claims that Gehenna is coming, and that they must prepare for those end times when the Antediluvians awake and destroy the world. When the time comes, the Sword of Caine will save the world and take their rightful places as the vampiric lords of the night.
And the Sabbat has proven to be a serious threat to the Camarilla. Neonates disgusted with staring at the same elders every night dangling power eternally out of their reach have openly joined the Sabbat. Every Prince grows increasingly terrified that one night the Sabbat will show up in his Elysium and murder him.
Various cities that have stood as Camarilla strongholds for years are contested or have fallen into Sabbat control. As the nights roll on, the Camarilla has been forced into harsh measures, killing vampires with known (or even suspected) Sabbat affiliation outright. Some Kindred use this increasingly hard-line stance to help remove rivals or better themselves in the eyes of their sires, but for every Sabbat Cainite killed, more join their ranks.
Everything in the Sabbat points back to two key (and often conflicting) principles: freedom and loyalty. Their set of laws, the Code of Milan, reinforces these two points. Cainites are free to do what they wish, but they must always remain loyal to the Sword, because only the Sect can protect free vampires from manipulative elders, especially the Antediluvians.
Two of the most influential Clans of the Sect, the Lasombra and the Tzimisce, are believed to have destroyed their Antediluvian progenitors and diablerized them, setting the example for the other Sabbat vampire Clans to follow.
But principles and fervor don’t always hold the Beast at bay. Just like the Camarilla, the Sect contains its own rivalries and political maneuvers, as well as religious and philosophical conflicts that can become just as bloody. These conflicts constantly tear at the Sword, often setting them back from their goals as much (or more) than their enemies do. Although the Sect has organization and structure, each Cainite has too many conflicting loyalties to support a rigid structure. The Sabbat is constantly struggling against itself, only coming together when an enemy appears.
The core of the Sabbat is the pack, a collection of vampires bound by Vinculum and common interest. Packs are such an integral part of Sabbat society that Cainites without a pack are often viewed with suspicion and distrust. Each pack usually fights within itself until some authority rises to the top, such as a priest to conduct rituals and a Ductus to lead in secular matters. Higher positions exist, but unlike the Camarilla where all power stems from the Prince, in the Sabbat positions tend to build upon the packs.
Some dioceses forego higher positions entirely, choosing to have the packs manage and police themselves (often with very mixed results).
Outside of the Lasombra and Tzimisce, most Sabbat vampires consider themselves to be the “anti-Clans” or antitribu of their parent Clans. Some pervert the expectations of their Clans, while others take the core ideas of their lineage to their most monstrous extreme. A few have even become new bloodlines, manifesting different Disciplines because of their place within the Sabbat.
(Antitribu are covered in The Variations of the Blood)
Unless they are hasty war-time “shovelheads” that are Embraced, hit over the head with a shovel, and forced to dig their way out of their own grave, most Sabbat vampires go through Creation Rites designed to prove themselves True Sabbat. The rite forces the vampire to prove himself to his new sire or pack, often in a way that strips away much of his Humanity, turning the fledgling from a weak, pathetic human into a proper monster worth of the Sect.
Out of mockery of human religious belief, many of the rituals (or “ritae”) and conventions of the Sabbat are perversions of those of the Catholic Church. One of the most notable is the Vaulderie a corruption of the Eucharist in which Cainites pour their blood into a chalice and then each drinks the commingled vitae in order to strengthen their loyalty to each other. They also participate in a wide variety of other rituals. Fire, blood, and violence are common themes in their “ritae,” and the rituals involved range from fire dances to ceremonial killing to the corruption of existing games and sports into excuses for violent, bloody slaughter. Their unlives are tense and hostile, and ritae allow Cainites to blow off some steam and reconnect with other vampires before heading back down a road towards mistrust and internal conflict. The goal of these rituals is not only to help create solidarity among Sabbat vampires, but also to push the boundaries of their vampiric bodies and test their capabilities for war.
Some example ritae are available in Ritae.
The View from Without
A Sabbat city is like a third-world country run by demon worshippers. Trust me – we’re doing the right thing hunting those bastards down.
They dress up blood bonds and religious fanaticism as “freedom.” Some of the newer recruits dig the violence and the bad boy attitude, but I see what’s really going on.
One day they’re your friend, and the next they’re trying to rip your face off because you said the wrong thing. If you have play ball with the Sabbat, play hard or go home.
The Anarch Movement
Traditional Strongholds: Los Angeles, San Diego, San Francisco
Nominally a faction within the Camarilla, most “Anarchs” are still under the authority of the Ivory Tower. The Camarilla would say that the Anarchs are under the protection of the Sect, while the Anarchs would likely call it oppression. Still, many in the Anarch Movement understand the usefulness of the structure, with only the most radical calling for total withdrawal from the Camarilla. The Anarchs seek to change the Ivory Tower from within, turning it into the benevolent Kindred society it so often claims to be.
What needs to change? Ask twelve Anarchs, and you’ll get thirteen different answers. They agree that change needs to happen, but they aren’t collectively committed to any particular plan. Common threads pop up, such as the redistribution of power from the elders to all vampires, and for political authority to be based on merit rather than age. Whether those changes come through passionate debate in Elysium or guerrilla action against specific elders, however, depends on the Anarch in question. Unlike the Sabbat who rebel because vampires should be superior, the Movement’s goals are at least nominally egalitarian.
Naturally, it’s that very sense of equality that makes the Anarch Movement so dangerous to vampire society. This resistance to change isn’t unique to the Camarilla; elders in the Sabbat or the independent Clans have just as little desire to relinquish their power, and ancillae have worked equally hard to be next in line for the elders’ station. If the Anarch rhetoric takes hold, all that work will have been for nothing. So it’s not surprising that Anarchs spend much of their time frustrated, and they tend to adopt a siege mentality.
Despite their integration within the Camarilla, the Anarch Movement is essentially a Sect, although they don’t have the level of organization that would keep them from being on the same level as the Camarilla, Sabbat, or the independent Clans. The only thing that unifies them is that they know what they don’t want to be. That’s helpful as a rallying call, but doesn’t work well as an organizational chart. Moreover, structure quickly leads to stagnation, and that’s exactly what the Anarchs are against.
That doesn’t meant that Anarchs are against organization, however. Despite their name, not all Anarchs are actually anarchists; many seek to change the Camarilla or the Sabbat into some sort of new structure, usually based on mortal governmental ideas. Most of these structures tend to revolve around some form of democracy, but variations of neo-feudalism and even fascism have been tried (with varying success) throughout the Movement. One of the few things that Anarchs seem to agree on is that at some point there needs to be someone at the top, and that vampire is commonly called the Baron.
But it’s only been recently that the Anarchs have been able to have any kind of common identity. After the Second Anarch Revolt in 1944 that led to the creation of the Anarch Free State in California, the Revolutionary Council decided to adopt a set of principles of self-governance for the Free State before dissolving itself — the “Status Perfectus,” or “The Perfect State.”
This was a revolutionary document, the first to state the Anarch dream clearly and unequivocally in modern times. It called on Anarchs everywhere to protect one another, regardless of Clan affiliation. It promised a Kindred nation free of political oppression and elder prejudice, and swore to extend that freedom to all Kindred everywhere. They declared that free will, or “libertas,” is an inherent part of Kindred spiritual nature, and that all vampires must work to free themselves from the forces that would rob them of their libertas.
Some Anarchs disagree with parts or the whole of the Status Perfectus, but it has proved to be a massively influential document for the Movement, and the closest the Sect has had to a unifying set of principles.
Regardless, what the Anarchs lack in organization, they more than make up in passion. From the most in-your-face angry neonate punk to the most eloquent and soft-spoken intellectual, Anarchs are collectively driven, which provides a momentum that most Kindred simply aren’t used to. Even more terrifying to most vampires, the Anarchs appear to actually believe in what they say. Elders try to pass it off as naiveté or inexperience with the Jyhad, but these young vampires seem to accomplish things that centuries of manipulation and power couldn’t do. And change terrifies those in power.
The Anarch Revolt from centuries ago is flaring back up in the modern nights, and many Anarchs think the time has come for them to take the night back.
Some Kindred mistakenly think of the Anarch Movement as just a collection of newly-Embraced Brujah raging against their betters. They are often surprised to learn just how cosmopolitan the Sect really is. For every loud, brash neonate that wants to tear everything down, there’s a sober, thoughtful ancilla committed to the Movement’s ideals. The Anarchs wouldn’t have lasted as long as they have if they were all rebels without a clue, or if they were only a handful of Clans wrapped up in their passions. Diversity, the very thing that causes such disorganization, is also one of the greatest strengths of the Movement.
Unfortunately vampires often default to establishing dominance among themselves, and such a diverse collection of Cainites needs something to help show the pecking order. For Kindred bent on proving that merit should be the guiding principle of vampire governance, status is not only an incompatible concept, but actively offensive to some Anarchs. Instead, Anarchs rely on whether they have personally heard of another Anarch, instead of what some other vampire said was important. As a result, the Status Background for Anarchs relies on reputation: a combination of self-promotion, word-of-mouth, and outright braggadocio that gets the Anarch recognized both inside and out of his own barony. It doesn’t correspond to a political title or a measure of authority — there are untitled vampires (such as the notorious prankster Smiling Jack) with a universally higher reputation than Kindred who claim the title of Baron. Whether this recognition confers respect or disdain is a secondary concern; as Oscar Wilde said, “There is only one thing in life worse than being talked about, and that is not being talked about.”
Games and Pranks
Unlike the blood-splattered games that the Sabbat use as part of their ritae or the forced civility of Elysium, the Anarchs genuinely like to have fun and joke with each other. They believe that Kindred existence shouldn’t be all backstabbing and bloodletting, but rather about enjoying each night to the fullest. Sabbat fiends consider this idea to be a disgusting show of humanity while Camarilla cynics believe it to be the folly of youth, but the Anarchs don’t care. They frequently play games and pull pranks on each other (and on other unsuspecting Kindred), both as tests of courage and as a way to blow off some steam.
Some Anarchs disapprove of the games and the pranks. They say it brings down the level of the discourse. They say it makes it harder for the Movement to be taken seriously. They say that these games and pranks are dangerous, and that they threaten the Masquerade. Worst of all, they say that they’re all just a waste of time, time better suited for bringing about the glorious revolution of vampire society. And sure, playing tag with 9mm pistols is pretty dangerous, even if you tell everyone not to aim for the head. Baiting elders in Elysium into frenzy probably is making it harder for the Baron to conduct his debate with the local Prince. Staging accidents and pretending to be a corpse around a mortal likely is a hair away from breaking the Masquerade.
But the young Anarchs say “Fuck it; eternity’s too short.” And so the games continue.
The View from Without
They, at least, understand that their place is within the Ivory Tower, but their destabilizing influence can be a problem. Best to keep them quiet, one way or another.
They have the right idea, but they aren’t willing to give up their comfortable Humanity in order to go to the next step. There’s some potential recruitment material there, but they break easy.
We should all hold hands and be brothers? Hardly, young Cainite. My Clan had fought hard to stay outside of your Jyhad, and I will not give it up because you tell me I am not fair.
Traditional Strongholds: Alamut (Assamites), Cairo (Followers of Set), Venice (Giovanni), Kolkata (Ravnos)
Over the past few centuries, the fatal dance between the Camarilla and the Sabbat has changed vampire society. Their bloody Jyhad has shaped the secret history of the world, destroying millions of mortal lives in the process. However, there are some Clans who witness both Sects tear at each other’s throats in the name of their ancient feud and decide that they would prefer to watch from the sidelines.
These four lineages can claim their place as proper Clans, but share a strong disinterest in getting involved in the war between the Camarilla and the Sabbat. Granted, individual members of these Clans (usually younger Kindred) show up in the ranks of both Sects from time to time, but the elders of the independent Clans have their own goals in mind, goals that would conflict with allegiance or loyalty to a Sect.
Of course, independent Kindred are vampires first and Clan members second; they don’t all possess mindless, unwavering devotion to the ideals of their Clan. Most of them focus on their personal goals first, whether or not they coincide with their Clan’s goals. This has the side-benefit of confusing outside Kindred even more, since it’s never clear whether a particular independent will act with their Clan’s interests in mind, their personal interests, or some hybrid of the two. (She may even pretend to serve one set of interests while secretly serving another). Individual independents are always wildcards, with no set of laws or politics forcing them into a clear, defined path.
At least, that’s the outside perspective.
It’s believed that the elders of the independent Clans are active in greater numbers than those that dominate the Sects. One Clan has an Antediluvian that has been actively assisting their goals for centuries. Another seems to benefit from murdering other Kindred. The terrifying Methuselahs of a third are rumored to be waking and possibly organizing their childer for some terrible purpose. As for the fourth….
Regardless of the rumors, the independents continue as if nothing is wrong, working with and against their Clans in the same measure as any Sect vampire. If they are indeed the pawns of their ancient masters, they act as if they are ignorant of it.
The independent Clans have almost nothing in common except their unwillingness to join a Sect en masse. Each Clan has a different role in the Jyhad, and each pursues its own goals. Standing apart even from each other, they keep their own laws outside of those of the Sects.
The Assamites (who call themselves the Children of Haqim) are a Clan of murderous vampires. For many years they acted as independent assassins, contracted by the Sects (or anyone who gave them blood) to murder targets. Of all the independents, the Assamites are the most feared, both for their role as assassins and the rumors of their thirst for the blood of elders.
Although they have traditionally acted as mercenary assassins, in the modern nights some of the Children of Haqim question whether an allegiance with one of the Sects might not be more beneficial for them. Ultimately, however, most Assamites follow the will and the orders of Alamut, their ancestral stronghold, as well as their own internal laws, known collectively as the Laws of Haqim. The most loyal of the Assamites believe that other vampires are a plague that needs to be exterminated, while others claim that individual Kindred need to be judged (and perhaps killed) based on their own sins, not merely because they are vampires. For more on the Assamites.
The Followers of Set
The Followers of Set have different reasons for refusing to join a Sect. They consider themselves to be part of something much older than either the Camarilla or the Sabbat, and dismiss the idea that goals established since antiquity should be cast aside merely because some vampires started calling themselves by a new name a few centuries ago. They claim that their faith dates back to the very start of civilization, and that this ancient trust is far more important than politics.
That doesn’t mean that the Setites aren’t above playing the mercenary between the Sects. Their Clan lives and worships in secret places, and this gives them access to dark favors and a wealth of knowledge that they can offer to any vampire willing to pay the right price. Many Kindred know the trap that dealing with the Setites entails, and yet time and again Cainites come to them, each time swearing that it will be the last. Each favor traded or addiction fulfilled brings the Setites one step closer to their ultimate goal: the resurrection of Set himself. For more on the Followers of Set.
The Giovanni are a Clan in multiple senses — not only do they share common vampiric blood, but most of their new Embraces come from the mortal descendants of other Clan members as well. The Necromancers are known to pursue two goals — learning the secrets of the dead and acquiring mortal power and wealth — both of which help their Clan as a whole. Only a few trusted elders know that their founder, Augustus Giovanni, seeks to use the knowledge and power of the Clan to destroy the Shroud that separates the realm of the dead from this world.
As such, the Giovanni don’t have any need for Sects. They survived the past several centuries all on their own; they don’t need protection from the mortals through any flimsy Masquerade. They have their own family to act as allies, resources, and internal enforcement, so they don’t need help. What can membership in a Sect give to them that they can’t already get through deals, trading, and occasional espionage?
They have a Promise that keeps them from interfering in the affairs of the Camarilla (and vice versa), but overall the Giovanni are extremely self-sufficient and stand totally outside the authority of the Sects. That, combined with their mastery of Necromancy, makes many vampires very, very nervous. For more on the Giovanni.
The Ravnos are masters of illusion, compelled by their blood to indulge in vice. Their primary allegiance is to themselves, though some consider their Clan to be almost as important. Compared to the other independent Clans they are very loosely organized: partially due to their diaspora all over the world, and partially due to a very un-vampire like wanderlust that pervades the Ravnos. They travel to Camarilla and Sabbat cities alike, where most Princes and Archbishops have learned that it is better to let them pass through than to deal with the headaches that come from trying to prevent them from entering. As such, the Ravnos are completely indifferent to the politics of the Sects, or indeed to politics of any kind.
Many outside observers consider the Ravnos to be too chaotic to have a meaningful impact on the Jyhad as a whole – and the Ravnos nod their heads and continue doing what they want. The Clan believes that one day their Clan founder will awaken and destroy all of the other Antediluvians. Until that day, they wander without allegiance, and see no reason to change. For more on the Ravnos.
The View from Without
They are clearly up to something. A trickle of these “independent” Kindred end up joining the Ivory Tower, but too many more do as they will, with no laws or society to contain them. They cannot stand up to us on their own, but they are powerful enough to shift the balance of things.
These Clans claim that they’re free? Bullshit. They’re just as much the puppets of the Antediluvians as the Camarilla. No point trying to kill a Giovanni in his mansion or a Setite in his temple, but when the world ends, they’ll fall just like everyone else.
These guys get it. They can stand outside the Jyhad, make their own plans, and people listen. That’s freedom, man. Too bad I can’t trust any of these fuckers as far as I could throw them.