The Camarilla Edit
The Camarilla came about in an attempt to hold vampire society together against the power of the Inquisition in the 15th century. Under its iron guidance, the Tradition of the Masquerade grew from a cautious suggestion to the guiding principle of Kindred unlife. Even today, the Camarilla concerns itself with the enforcement of the Masquerade, maintaining harmony between Kindred and kine, and battling the Sabbat, which it views as its direct opponent.
The Camarilla touts itself as the society of the Kindred, and it is partially correct. It is the largest sect of undead on the planet. Almost any vampire, regardless of lineage, may claim membership in the Camarilla. In truth, the Camarilla asserts that all vampires are already under its aegis, regardless of the wishes of the vampires in question.
Over the years, the sect has attempted to extend its influence over other areas of vampire life, and each time has had its hands roundly slapped for its insolence. Princes brook no interference in the affairs of their cities, while the ancient Methuselahs scoff at the temerity of the younglings who think they can play at Jyhad. In the end, the Camarilla's influence begins and ends with protecting the Masquerade and ensuring Kindred-kine coexistence.
Practices and Organization Edit
The Camarilla claims authority over all vampires, regardless of bloodline, but the vast majority of members represent the seven founding clans. It was their members who founded the sect, and only these clans regularly make up the Camarilla's governing Inner Circle. Other vampires of different bloodlines may attend conclaves and meetings, but their voices frequently go unheard.
After the Anarch Revolt, the Camarilla placed itself squarely against the Sabbat, seeing itself as the only means to hold the war packs at bay. The Camarilla alone upheld the Masquerade and protected its own, while the Sabbat would as soon throw away the Traditions and everything sacred to sustain its paranoid dreams of Gehenna. Dissent is a luxury that cannot be afforded during times of war, and the Camarilla believes quite firmly that those who are not with the sect must be against it. However, for the frightened elders who make up the higher echelons, the Camarilla has quite a few enemies.
In these modern nights, the Camarilla is hardly the monolith that its proponents advertise it to be. Elders cling to their positions, refusing to relinquish them to those who have reached the age of consideration. Younger vampires feel left out of an organization they are expected to uphold, but which offers little to no reward for their efforts save the threat of punishment if they fail. Ancillae are trapped in the middle, unable to turn to either the younger or older vampires; taking up with the neonates means relegation to the lower strata of power, while attempting to fall in with the elders risks the appearance of overstepping boundaries and being crushed for insolence.
Many elders in the Camarilla's upper echelons find themselves in the position of relics. A good many are unwilling or unable pick up the new technology that the young ones have mastered - cellular phones, laptop computers, Kevlar, phosphorus grenades, sun lamps, Dragonsbreath rounds - and in the modern world, being barely able to use a telephone or radio leaves these elders at a distinct disadvantage. Should they relinquish their positions and find themselves outside the halls of power, they become targets as their personal might lessens without the Camarilla behind it. A few gangs of ancillae with diablerie on their minds and the latest technology in their hands, and an elder might well find himself becoming obsolete in more ways than one. Therefore, in preemptive strikes of paranoia run rampant, the elders kill the best and brightest who could some night pose a threat. The result is an organization that is cannibalizing itself, and one night it might regret the mistake.
Inner Circle Edit
The true hub of the Camarilla, this group meets in Venice once every 13 years to plan out the business and direction of vampire society - as much as any group can presume to dictate the doings of a race of immortal predators. Every clan is permitted one representative, usually the eldest member of the clan, as only the eldest may cast the clan's vote. Others may be brought to the meeting and allowed to speak, but in the end only the elders may vote.
One of the Circle's main purposes is the appointment of justicars, one for each of the seven Camarilla clans. Appointment is a long, drawn-out process, as each clan seeks to get its best in the plum spots. Often, when the shouting is over, the losers end up with young or relatively weak justicars who are ignored for their 13-year stints. Those who are eventually appointed are most often compromise candidates, or even obscure Kindred who the Circle believes can be manipulated. These latter types sometimes display a surprising amount of initiative, and may even bite the hand that feeds them.
The Justicars Edit
These seven mighty vampires are the judges appointed by the Inner Circle to be the Camarilla's eyes, hands and, if necessary, fists. Justicars have the only true authority across the Camarilla and all Kindred, with the exception of the Inner Circle. They alone have the ultimate power to adjudicate matters regarding the Traditions. No one is considered to be above them in this. It is Justicars who decide the punishment for those who have violated the Traditions on a widespread level; the one being judged may not expect mercy. Justicars are supposed to call for a conclave when they wish to pass judgment, but over the years this lapsed as they grew in power. Justicars have the authority to call a conclave at any time, either to confirm ruling or to make certain decisions that one justicar alone does not wish to burden himself with.
A justicar serves for 13 years, and her actions may be challenged only by another justicar. If things grow heated, a conclave may be called by the combatants or by another justicar to resolve the dispute. When rival justicars decide to start battling out, few Kindred are safe from being used and abused in the ensuing struggle.
Many vampires, elders and younglings alike, resent the power the justicars wield, and certainly none care for the abuses that can come with it. However, very few would dream of openly taking them on, due to their immense age and resources. A shocking exception occurred in 1997, as the mighty Nosferatu justicar, Petrodon, was murdered by parties unknown. What movement of the Jyhad lay behind this assassination, or whether it is a precursor of further strikes against the justicars, is unknown.
The Archons Edit
Each justicar selects a number of minions, known as archons, to act in his name as suits his purposes. If the justicars are the hands of the Inner Circle, then the archons are the fingers on those hands. No justicar can be everywhere he might need, or wish, to be, and archons can often make certain his presence is felt if not seen. Archons, although they are part of the Camarilla hierarchy of power, are not so far removed from typical Kindred unlife that they cannot observe it or gain the trust of other Kindred outside the hierarchy; this makes them ideal watchers. Some Kindred attempt to gain favorable attention from an archon, in the hope that she will mention them to her master. Such attempts often backfire, as continued efforts to curry favor are more likely to encourage suspicion.
Archons are typically chosen from the upper ranks of ancillae and occasionally elders of lesser station. Such a prestigious appointment can make or break a Kindred's career in the halls of power. Justicars occasionally choose archons to carry out specific missions, and sometimes prefer political savvy, insight and skill over recognizability.
An archon's position typically lasts for as long as a justicar wishes to retain her, or the length of the justicar's tenure. It is not unheard of for a new justicar to retain an archon who served with his predecessor, provided the archon understands to whom she now owes allegiance. Most times, though, a justicar prefers to select an entirely new staff, particularly if the last one left under strange or bitter circumstances.
The Six Traditions Edit
I. The First Tradition: The Masquerade Edit
Thou shalt not reveal thy nature to those not of the Blood. Doing so shall renounce thy claims of Blood.
This has become the foundation of modem. Kindred society and the basis for the Masquerade that hides vampires from mortal eyes. To reveal vampires to the mortal world would be disastrous to both. While most people do not believe in vampires, there are enough who do that revealing vampiric existence would place all Kindred at risk.
In older nights, during the Dark Ages and more superstitious ages, this Tradition was less strictly enforced, and vampires rode through the night with few cares for the mortal eyes who saw them. The Inquisition and Burning Times changed this drastically, however, as those vampires who could be seen were slain and tortured into revealing their secrets. While the youth may prattle about Inquisition as ancient history, it is still very fresh in the minds of the elders who survived it. This is one of the greatest points of contention between the Camarilla and the Sabbat - the Sabbat sees no need to hide itself from the feeble kine, while the Camarilla knows the opposite to be true.
A breach of the Masquerade is the most serious crime a vampire can commit, and one of the easiest for a Prince to fabricate if she wishes to punish an enemy. Depending on how strictly the prince upholds the Masquerade, anything from using vampiric powers in public to having mortal friends may constitute a breach. To stave off their immortal boredom, many vampires skirt the Masquerade as closely as they can, taking thrill from the forbidden rush that places their unlives in jeopardy. The world has acknowledged many artists, poets, writers, musicians, models, club habitues, actors and fashion designers who, unbeknownst to the populace, were vampires. Of course, many of these vampires saw their unlives come to abrupt ends, as other Kindred decided that their continued existences were threats to the Children of Caine as a whole.
II. The Second Tradition: Domain Edit
Thy domain is thy concern. All others owe thee respect while in it. None may challenge thy word in thy domain.
Once, vampires staked claims to specific areas to use as hunting grounds, bases of power, or because they wished to take care of them. This Tradition was then used to enforce the idea of "domain," and a vampire could be justified in killing another because her domain was violated. Over the years, as societies changed, this became unacceptable. For the past 200 or so years, a city or region ruled by a prince became the domain of the Prince upon his taking the throne, or at least in theory.
The truth is, a number of vampires maintain domain, many times from the sheer weight of custom ("The sewers have always been the domain of the Nosferatu," or "A Ventrue has ruled this bank since its founding"). Of course, in modem nights, with some cities hosting vampire populations of 30,50, even 100 or more, concessions must be made. As such, many vampires hunt where they will, in the communal hunting grounds of the city's bars, theaters and nightclubs, which are known collectively as "The Rack" in Kindred slang.
Younger vampires, and a number of older ones, often still attempt to hold bits of territory, protecting and using them as private feeding grounds. Some Anarchs claim that these mini- fiefdoms are granted by the Prince as reward, proof that only the lapdogs get the treats. This is incorrect - the Kindred who hold their bits of turf are violating the Second Tradition, and the Prince need not stand for it. He often lets violations go, however, in the name of expediency; there are more important concerns than chasing after every petty would-be Anarch who stakes out turf. He may entrust certain trusted allies with guardianship of particular areas, and grant them a few privileges for the burden of the job, but in the end, he holds domain over the city. This allows him to keep order, for he may, by the Second Tradition, punish interlopers with impunity.
For solitary vampires or small groups staking out their territory, domain holds immense value to them, even if the territory is an urban wasteland. Few princes actually grant territory, but they occasionally allow "squatters," provided the vampires there support them and uphold the law there. The downside to this is the turf battles that can arise between gangs of Anarchs or coteries. These can spill over into the mortal world and threaten the Masquerade. Some princes have gone so far as to encourage such conflict, regardless of the danger, in order to set the troublemakers at each others throats and distract them from the business of the city.
If nothing else, each Kindred may claim her haven as domain, making her responsible for the activity in and around the area. Some vampires take an active interest in their environment to ensure a secure haven, while others merely want a room where they can get away from the sun and to hell with the rest.
III. The Third Tradition: The Progeny Edit
Thou shalt sire another only with permission of thine elder. If thou createst another without thine elder's leave, both thou and thy progeny shalt be slain.
Most Princes insist that they are the "elder" of this Tradition's wording and, as such, require that any vampire wishing to create a childe obtain their permission before the creation. Most vampires obey more out of fear than respect; after all, the unlife of a childe is at risk. If a childe has already been created without permission, the prince may claim the childe to be of his brood, declare sire and childe outcast and throw them out of the city, or have both slain outright.
At the Prince's discretion, childer who are created and abandoned without being taught of their existence may be "adopted" by other vampires, who accept full responsibility no differently than if they had created the childer themselves. The Camarilla recognizes the prince's right to restrict creation, out of concern for overpopulation. Indeed, such is the Camarilla's concern for the increasingly strained vampiric population that, at a recent conclave, its leaders resurrected the institution of the Scourge. Scourges patrol princely domains, finding Kindred created without permission and either expelling or destroying them.
In the Old World, this Tradition has several corollaries. The would-be sire's sire must be consulted, as must the Prince who holds domain over the sire's haven (if there is one). European Kindred are noted for their complete lack of tolerance for those who transgress against this Tradition. Failure to gain the permission of any of these undead can result in the outright slaying of the childe, and possibly the sire as well. Disregard and lack of respect may be appropriate for American rabble, but they certainly do not belong in the Old World.
IV. The Fourth Tradition: The Accounting Edit
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.
If a vampire creates a childe, she is responsible for that childe, no differently than a mortal parent is for her child. If the childe cannot handle the burdens of vampirism, the sire must take care of the matter one way or another. If the childe threatens the Masquerade, either through ignorance or malice, the sire must prevent it. The sire must ensure that the childe is taught the Traditions and the ensuing responsibilities, and see to it that the childe will not constitute a threat to herself or the Masquerade upon her release. The sire is also responsible for protecting the childe. A Prince is under no obligation to recognize a childe, and other vampires may kill or feed from a childe with impunity.
Releasing a childe typically involves the sire introducing the childe to the prince who holds domain where the sire and childe live. The childe may be asked to recite the Traditions or provide other proof that she has been taught and understands them. If the Prince, for whatever reasons, does not accept a childe, then the childe must find a new city. On occasion, a sire must also introduce the childe to his own sire, but this is not always required.
After release, the childe (now a neonate) is permitted to live in the city with full rights as accorded by the prince's law and the Traditions. The release is considered a major rite of passage, much like a coming of age for mortals, for the neonate is responsible for his own actions. He will be watched carefully in the coming months; his actions determine whether he will be considered an "adult" and treated as one.
V. The Fifth Tradition: Hospitality Edit
Honor 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.
Some call this the Tradition of "politeness": Knock before entering. This was done even before Princes ruled cities, and continues to be done even if there is only one other Kindred in a domain. Simply put, a vampire traveling to a new city should present herself to the prince or other elder in charge in that city. This process can be frightfully formal, with a Prince demanding some form of surety regarding the newcomer's status, politics and lineage, or as casual as meeting at Elysium and introducing oneself politely. Some princes require guests to announce their arrivals immediately, while others accept presentations weekly or within the lunar month. Certain very liberal princes even permit visitors to come and go unannounced as they please, requiring that a guest present herself only if she wishes to take up permanent residence in a city.
Those who choose not to present themselves take dangerous chances. If a city is currently facing Jyhad, a newcomer risks being mistaken for an enemy. A Prince may invoke the Second Tradition to punish an un-introduced vampire with impunity.
By the Fifth Tradition, a prince's right to question all who enter her domain is unchallenged, even if her power to expel may be thwarted occasionally. A prince also has the right to refuse entry to any who enter, particularly in the case of newcomers whose poor reputations precede them or who bring cumbersome baggage in the form of blood hunts, enemies or other potential threats to the city and Masquerade.
VI. The Sixth Tradition: Destruction Edit
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 Tradition of Destruction is perhaps the most easily abused and the most hotly contested aspect of Caine's code. Few other laws have caused so much controversy in the halls of power, and this Tradition is forever under reinterpretation. Most believe that the original meaning gave a sire right of destruction over his progeny (which is upheld by Kindred law).
However, if "elder" is interpreted to mean "prince," the Tradition covers its modem meaning, and one many princes claim gladly: Only the prince may call for the destruction of another Kindred in the city. The Camarilla has upheld this claim for the extra security it provides a prince's reign. It is a right which many princes cling to, and they enforce it with brutal strength if need be.
Murder of another Kindred by one who is not granted the Right of Destruction is not tolerated. If the vampire is caught in the act, it usually means the destruction of the murderer herself. Investigation of such murder is usually swift and thorough, although the status of the victim does have some impact on this. Generally, the higher the rank of the victim, the swifter and more thorough the investigation. While the murder of two neonates may cause consternation in a community, it might take the death of an elder before the wheels turn in a more timely fashion. Some ancillae have taken this to mean that anarchs may be slaughtered with impunity. This is dangerous to assume; if nothing else, the Prince may order the murderer slain for attempting to usurp her Tradition-given right.
Turmoil in the streets is considered by many to be one of the best covers for kinslaying, but the punishment for getting caught is still severe. The only time when a vampire ranked lower than an elder might receive sanctioning to kill another is during a blood hunt.