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    The World of Darkness

Imagine a world that is like our own, but darker. All the landmarks we know, all the famous people of history are there, but subtle and sometimes not so subtle forces have been guiding the hand of fate over the centuries. Vampires, werewolves, mages, and fae all exist in this world. Crime runs rampant on the street; Crime lords own almost everything, including you. Corporations run wild, discarding the environment as just another usable resource and there is no way for you or anyone else to fix it.

And you, well, you are immortal. You are forced to either watch the world utterly decay, or to help it destroy itself even faster. No matter how much you quest on the side of good, in the end, it all comes down to hunger. Hunger for the human soul, and hunger for blood. You retain your human spirit, but you are a predator on what used to be your own kind. You have powers out of a comic book, but no matter how much you try and fight the 'super-villains' in the end, you must kill.

This is the World of Darkness, and you are Kindred, the children of Cain, the outcasts, and the monsters. You are a Vampire, whether you like it or not. And this is your tale of Redemption.

Factions in the World of Darkness

The Camarilla - Sabbat Enmity

Sometime during the 13th or 14th century, Clan Lasombra and a group of anarchs and Assamites banded together, attacked the Castel d'Ombro (the Castle of Shadows), and killed the Lasombra clan founder. As the Castle fell, a young Lasombra called Gratiano, a childe of Lasombra himself, proceeded to diablerize the Ancient. What exactly happened is unclear, and stories of the event vary wildly. After seeing the success of their Lasombra brethren, the Tzimisce followed suit, and turned upon their elders. The Tzimisce anarchs found a way to break the blood bonds to their elders, and waged war upon them night, after night. A good many elders were hunted down and killed during this time, and the anarchs were getting the better of their elders. Everything came to a conclusion, as the Fiends managed to discover the haven of their clan founder. Gathering on the site, the Tzimisce anarchs attacked and, after a hard battle, committed diablerie on Tzimisce himself.

The Convention of Thorns

Following the success of the Lasombra and Tzimisce, anarchs revolted all over Europe. Elders were hunted and killed in considerable numbers, often dragging several anarchs with them, diminishing the Cainite population of Europe. As the Anarch Revolt, as it came to be called, entered its most active phase, it dawned on Kindred that they had gone too far. The Kine, seeing the strife and terror among them, discovered the existence of monsters! Humankind turned, in desperation, to Rome, begging the pope to turn the Inquisition towards searching out, and destroying this evil.

This had even more dire effects on the Cainite population than the anarch-elder wars had, as vampires now had to fear the fires of the Inquisition as well as each other. Finally, a group of powerful vampires, the feared Ventrue Hardestadt among them, claimed they had found a way to end the madness of the anarch Revolt. This written proposal, the Convention of Thorns, promised to restore order and sanctity to the race of Cainites.

Of course, this accord offered little in the way of remedying the situation that triggered the Revolt in the first place; it simply represented a way to return to how it was before, but now under the guise of an organization going by the name of the 'Camarilla'. The anarchs and the Assamites had no choice however, as they were trapped between the Inquisition and the much shrewder and more powerful elders. So the anarchs agreed to the Convention of Thorns and returned heads hung low. And so the Camarilla was born.

Not all anarchs gave up so easily however. During the following half-century, packs, or "sabbats" roamed, ravaging mortals and striking at the power base of the recently created Camarilla. During these 50 years, these rebels organized themselves into a single ideological sect, with guidelines laid out against the elders and the Antediluvians that pulled their strings. By the mid-16th century, the Sabbat was fully united, and determined to bring down the Camarilla.

 

The Camarilla

Being less monstrous by nature than the Sabbat, some may mistake the Camarilla for the 'good guys'. This however is far from the truth. The Camarillas single most important goal is to maintain the so-called 'Masquerade'; that is keeping the society of Kindred away from the eyes of mortals, that they not discover the truth. This of course makes Camarilla Cainites a little more considerate than their Sabbat counterparts, but that does not mean they actually care. In most cases the Kindred of the Camarilla would not lift a finger to save thousands of humans, unless they had something to gain. So more to the point the Camarilla interest is taking care of its members. And that is, in their opinion, best achieved through the Masquerade.

The organization of the Camarilla

The ruling organ of the Camarilla is called the Inner Circle. Once every 13 year one representative from each Camarilla clan meets in Venice, to plan and discus the future goals of the Camarilla and the appointment of new Justicars. Unquestionably their most important assignment is the appointment of new Justicars. They are the ones who will be the Circles eyes, ears and hands for the next 13 years.

  • The Justicars
    Disregarding the Inner Circle, the Justicars are, without doubt, the most powerful and influential members of the Camarilla. They are the enforcers of the Masquerade, and noone inside the Camarilla dare oppose them. With one word they can have a Prince permanently removed from his office (read: terminated), and with the help of their servants, the Archons, they do not even have to be there in person. The Justicar is the sole judge and jury in all matters related to the Traditions.
  • The Archons
    If the Justicars are the eyes, ears and hands of the Inner Circle, then the Archons are the eyes, ears and hands of the Justicars. They act in the name of their masters, and are often treated with the same amount of respect as their Justicar.
  • The Prince
    The Camarilla overseer of a city is called 'the Prince', although many Princes would disagree with that term. Many rule their City with an iron fist, seeking to control all aspects of the Kindred society within. To tell the truth, their ultimate concern is maintaining the Masquerade. Even though many regard this more as a burden, and instead concentrate on increasing their own power and status.

Conclaves

Called together by the Justicars, this gathering of the Kindred is the greatest event within the Camarilla. The Conclave is never called over trifles. When a call to a Conclave goes out, serious matters are at hand. It can be a threat to the Masquerade, the entire Camarilla or just a situation, which the Justicar wants to acquire backup to resolve. This is one of the very few times where the younger Kindred may actually have some influence. All attending Kindred have a chance of being heard and everybody get to vote on the matter at hand. With this the Camarilla elders keep their Neonates and Ancillae a little more content, and less likely to start another anarch revolt.

Camarilla law - the Traditions

This is the written accord that the elders proposed in the days of the Anarch Revolt. It has faced little change since, and is rigorously upheld by the Camarilla.

- The First Tradition: The Masquerade -

Thou shalt not reveal thy true nature to those not of the Blood. Doing so shall renounce thy claims of Blood.

- The Second Tradition: The Domain -

Thy Domain is thy concern. All other owe thee respect while in it. None may challenge thy word in thy domain.

- The Third Tradition: The Progeny -

Thou shalt sire another only with permisson of thine elder. If thou createst another without thine elder's leave, both thou and thy progeny shalt be slain.

- The Fourth Tradition: The Accounting -

Those thou create are thine own childer. Until thy progeny shall be released, thou shalt command them in all things. Their sins are thine to endure.

- The Fifth Tradition: Hospitality -

Honour one another's domain. When thou comest to a foreign city, thou shalt present thyself to the one who ruleth there. Without the word of acceptance, thou art nothing.

- The Sixth Tradition: Destruction -

Thou art forbidden to destroy another of thy kind. The right of destruction belongeth only to thine elder. Only the eldest among thee shall call the blood hunt.

 

The Sabbat

The Sabbat, or the Sword of Caine as they sometime call themselves, is the antithesis of the Camarilla. Developed from the remnant of the anarch movement that just would not accept defeat, they revel in their immortality, celebrating it with rituals of courage, and games that often leave mortal casualties. The Sabbats overall goal is to overthrow the stale structure of the Camarilla, destroying the Antediluvians great Jyhad, and granting freedom to all Cainites under the moon. The Sabbat is a harsh lot, where weakness is not tolerated, and those faint of heart quickly perish. To ensure that they get only the strongest recruits, the Sabbat arrange ordeals to test their members, and cull the weak from their ranks. As the Sabbat indulges in their Cainite nature, the mystic Disciplines are more abundant within the Sabbat than the Camarilla, and most Sabbat are also more than adept at physical combat. So why is the Sabbat not crushing the meagre Camarilla opposition?

As no Sabbat vampire will recognise authority, as that would be resigning some of your personal freedom, the problem was developing a guiding body to direct their war effort. This problem led to what is known as the First, Second and Third Sabbat Civil War. Finally, after loosing a lot of territory to the Camarilla, the Sabbat managed to get their act together, and is now striving towards their goals with almost religious zeal.

The organization of the Sabbat:

  • The Regent
    The regent of the Sabbat is responsible for the large-scale master plan, and strategy of the sect. A council of powerful vampires, called the consistory, supports him. Being a rather hypocritical icon of the Sabbat, he has little real power over the sect as a whole, and is often scorned by younger vampires as an authority figure (and therefore representing exactly what the Sabbat fights against). Among the Regents responsibilities are deciding what tactics to use, reviewing reports, entertaining Cainites of importance, and plotting against foes within and without of the sect. The current Regent is Melinda Galbraith of clan Toreador.
  • The Cardinals
    Cardinals are responsible for Sabbat affairs in vast regions. Under them they have the archbishops, who take care of matters on a more regional level. The Cardinals' task is to further the cause of the Sabbat and to account for the advancement of the crusades. It is their responsibility to bring new areas and cities under the Sabbat's sway. Taking over a city is a quite difficult; the acquisition of a new city may take several years to plan, and prepare. The cardinal also have to make sure that the newly acquired cities aren't turned into hellholes, by the 'zealous' Sabbat masses, as this would diminish their worth.
  • The Prisci
    The prisci are selected by the consistory, and are powerful vampires who have proven themselves to be of invaluable to the sect. Although many prisci attain some degree of political influence, the prisci are not ultimately responsible for the maintenance of any domain, or the coordination of strikes and war efforts. The prisci are instead are the advisors of the Sabbat, sharing their wisdom with the cardinals, regent and archbishops. Most of the prisci hail from the Lasombra, the Tzimisce, or the Toreador antitribu, and many were strategists, lords and conquerors in life. There are no prisci younger than 200 years, which reflects the difficulty of attaining such a position.
  • The Archbishops
    The archbishops are appointed by the cardinal to serve as the leader of a specific city or region. Archbishops bear the responsibility of all under him, and also must maintain the city in the Sabbat's best interest. Most archbishop upholds a 'Masquerade' of sorts, although less strict than that of the Camarilla. After all, the Sabbat is not stupid. They may disdain the mortals, but they are recognized as a serious threat should they ever rise united against the Cainite population. The archbishop is also the spiritual leader of a given city, and most of them have a history as pack priests before attaining archbishopry. Archbishops therefore preside over, or actively participate in many auctoritas ritae within their city, and may be responsible for local ignoblis ritae as well.
  • The Bishops
    If a city has no archbishop, it generally houses a council of 3 to 5 bishops. Bishops are generally younger than archbishops, and might have a more limited are of expertise. Therefore they are gathered in this council, where one's abilities make up for another's flaws. Although the idea is for the bishops to complement each other, the induction of several headstrong leaders into a council leads to a certain amount of friction. Because of this, bishops are directly answerable to cardinals, who have no problem beating troublesome bishops into their place. Like the archbishops, the bishops are responsible for the spiritual growth of the Cainites within (besides the purely administrative duties). Also like the archbishops, bishops were often previously pack priests, but many bishops also come from the ranks of the ducti.
  • The Ducti
    The ducti are pack leaders of the Sabbat, and as such are in charge of the day-to-day management and goals of the individual packs. They assign tasks pack members, and judge the progress of the pack. The ductus also organize regular Esbats (a Sabbat pack meeting), to keep the pack focused, and partake in ritae.
  • The Pack Priests
    The pack priest is the spiritual leader of the pack. He presides over the packs ritae, and keeps the pack members of the road to infernalism. The pack priest is also second in command, and if the ductus gets killed, he becomes the temporary leader of the pack, until a new ductus can be appointed. The ritae the pack priest arrange are intended to increase pack loyalty towards each other and the sect. Ritae may differ from pack to pack, as the pack priest adopt different set of ritae, or create their own. There are those ritae that all pack priest knows and uses. The most common is the Vaulderie (see the Lexicon).
  • The Templars
    The Templars are a group of deadly bodyguards that serve the elders of the Sabbat. They do not have any organization as such, making it more a title than anything else. Being bestowed the title of Templar is a great honour, and names you a strong and capable vampire of great fighting skill. A Templar is forbidden membership in the Black Hand, since this is seen as a conflict of interest.
  • The Black Hand
    The Black Hand is an elite military force at the disposal of the elders of the Sabbat. They are the 'Black Op' team of the Sabbat. They specialize in methods of warfare such as assassination, intrigue, intelligence, terror and breaking the Masquerade, as well as hand to hand combat. Black Hand units are only called upon when there is great need, or the objective is of great importance, and usually in small teams, who never remain active for long periods of time. Although the Black Hand has served the Sabbat with unwavering loyalty, some elders fear that if the Black Hand were ever to be called upon as a whole, they would try to take power away from the elders.
  • The Sabbat Inquisition
    The Sabbat Inquisition is a group of dedicated to finding and punishing infernalists in the ranks of the Sabbat. It was founded when the Sabbat noticed an increase of member following the Path of Evil Revelations (thereby communing with, and serving demons). The inquisitors wield a large amount of power, being free to go as they please, usually arriving unannounced, so as not to give the guilty the chance to prepare. A vampire accused of being an infernalist can count on being branded, rendered lib from lib, beaten, burnt and generally tortured. On the other hand, a vampire who admits to being guilty will experience an infinitely slow, and excruciatingly painful Final Death.

Sabbat law - the Code of Milan

This is the revised version of the Code of Milan, anno December 21, 1933.

I - The Sabbat shall remain united in its support of the sects Regent. If necessary, a new Regent shall be elected. The Regent shall support relief from tyranny, granting all Sabbat freedom.

II - All Sabbat shall do their best to serve their leaders as long as said leaders serve will of the Regent.

III - All Sabbat shall faithfully observe all the Auctoritas Ritae.

IV - All Sabbat shall keep their word of honour to one another.

V - All Sabbat shall treat their peers fairly and equally, upholding the strength and unity of the Sabbat. If necessary, they shall provide for the needs of their brethren.

VI - All Sabbat must put the good of the sect and the race of Cainites before their own personal needs, despite all costs.

VII - Those who are not honourable under this code will be considered less than equal and therefore unworthy of assistance.

VIII - As it has always been, so shall it always be. The Lextalionis shall be the model for undying justice by which all Sabbat shall abide.

IX - All Sabbat shall protect one another from the enemies of the sect. Personal enemies shall remain a personal responsibility, unless they undermine sect security.

X - All sect members shall protect Sabbat territory from all other powers.

XI - The spirit of freedom shall be the fundamental principle of the sect. All Sabbat shall expect and demand freedom from their leaders.

XII - The Ritus of Monomacy shall be used to settle disputes among all Sabbat.

XIII - All Sabbat shall support the Black Hand.

Addenda to the Code of Milan - anno December 21, 1933

XIV - All Sabbat have the right to monitor the behaviour and activities of their fellow sect members in order to maintain freedom and security.

XV - All Sabbat possess the right to call a council of their peers and immediate leaders.

XVI - All Sabbat shall act against sect members who use the powers and authority the Sabbat has given them for personal gain at the expense of the Sabbat. Action shall be taken only through accepted means, approved by a quorum of prisci.


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