Camarilla

The Camarilla

"The Ivory Tower"

Strongholds:

Chicago, New Orleans, Vienna, London, Paris

Description:

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.

Practices

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

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 Sabbat: 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.
  • The Anarchs: 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.
  • The Independents: 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.
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