Vampire Covenants

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Vampire Covenants
Invictus
Carthian Movement
Lancea Sanctum
Circle of the Crone
Unaligned

If the clans represent family and perhaps culture among
the Kindred, and cities are their domains, then the various
covenants represent the closest vampiric equivalent to nations,
political parties and even religions. The covenants
form a cornerstone of undead society and — as far as is possible
to determine given the Kindred’s rather hazy view of
their own history — are ancient traditions that have been
part of the vampiric world for hundreds of years. The covenants
that are (supposedly) oldest hold a more respected
“pedigree” than others, but none is truly modern. Even those
young vampires who believe that Kindred society as it exists
tonight is a relatively recent development admit that the
covenants almost certainly predate the Industrial Revolution
in some form or another.
The covenants serve as nations, for they provide the Kindred
with a sense of community that they can find nowhere
else. Kindred are Embraced into a clan, with no say of their
own. Like many mortals, even if they feel a loyalty to their
blood and their family, they often differ with one another in
their opinions and beliefs. They are, for the most part, trapped
in their home domains, and their loyalty toward the local regime
is usually purchased with fear and enforced by ambition.
Covenant allegiance, however, is something over which Kindred
have personal control. They are drawn toward factions
that espouse doctrines in which they can believe (or at least
to which they don’t object). Here, more than anywhere else,
they are likely to encounter other Kindred who share at least
some of their ideas and objectives.
The covenants serve as political parties, for they provide
ambitious Kindred with built-in support. Most covenants seek
as much influence in the local Kindred power structure as
possible, either to advance their own goals or to simply prevent
rivals from gaining power. For the most part, politically
active Kindred would rather have a fellow covenant member
in power than any other rival (though many would certainly
rather hold the power themselves, when at all possible). A
vampire with many elder allies working to aid his ascendance
has an undeniable advantage over rivals with less support.
Perhaps most strangely, the covenants even serve as a
religious body for some members. While some of the covenants—
the Lancea Sanctum and the Circle of the Crone
specifically — are overtly religious in their makeup, all of
the factions have strongly held beliefs and attitudes that
often reach the level of dogma. While some young Kindred
flit from ideology to ideology, either in search of a
place to belong or trying to figure out their own attitudes,
many other vampires cling so completely to the doctrines
of their chosen covenants that they are unable to comprehend
any other viewpoints. While only a few covenants
declare outright that their way is mandated by Longinus,
God or some other higher power, most of them claim zealots
who certainly seem to act that way.
Further distinguishing them from clans, covenants have a
fluid membership. A Kindred’s clan never changes, but a
Kindred’s covenant may. Certainly, it is difficult to forswear
one’s covenant and join a new one, but doing so is not impossible.
An expected lack of trust often accompanies such behavior,
but only the most severe members of either the renounced
or the new covenant stoop to leveling (unsubstantiated)
claims of treachery against a convert. In many cases, a
Kindred’s philosophies simply change over the course of the
Requiem. Most covenant members would rather lose a dilettante
whose heart doesn’t truly belong to the cause any longer
than have her lack of faith undermine the rest. Granted, those
who repudiate all covenants usually lose significant esteem in
the eyes of erstwhile peers, but sometimes a Kindred just
grows… away.
Such being the case, it is with raised eyebrows that the
Damned allow others of their kind to move from one covenant
to another. Oddly, neonates and under-accomplished
ancillae have the easiest time of it, as their lack of tangible
ties to covenants at low levels occasionally allow them to escape
notice. Some Kindred even count themselves as members
of multiple covenants — but only until they’re found out
and forced to stop playing all sides against the middle. More
accomplished Kindred have difficulty changing sides, usually
because of the contacts they’ve made or secret knowledge
they’ve accumulated as a member of their original covenant.
Highly visible “defections” are usually the source of much gossip,
and more than once have been the foundation for ill will
or even bloody vendetta.
The covenants are not necessarily in constant conflict. Most
cities contain members of all of the major groups (or at least a
few), and Kindred governments operate effectively with officers
and advisors from multiple factions. Like rival churches
in ages past or political parties in modern mortal government,
the covenants often manage to coexist, yet they rarely agree
on any salient points.
Still, the simple fact that these covenants exist at all inevitably
leads to discord. Even those few Kindred who don’t want
power for themselves understand why it’s in their best interests
to make sure that fellow covenant members hold as much
authority as possible. Every faction wants to be in control,
and every covenant has different views on how the Kindred
should rule (and even behave). In most cities, this conflict is covert, taking the form of political maneuvering, espionage,
sabotage, bribery, blackmail and the occasional assassination.
In select domains, this ongoing cold war heats up and covenants
engage in open conflict (as open as possible for the
Kindred). Much like mortal gang warfare, these conflicts are
usually short — the longer a war rages, the harder it becomes
to protect the Masquerade — but exceedingly bloody. Such
conflicts usually do not end so much as they simply fade out
as one or all parties involved grows too exhausted to continue.
The shaky peace that appears to result, as the covenants
are forced through attrition to coexist once more, often lasts
only until one of them regains sufficient strength to begin the
process anew.
It’s important to note that, while members of a given covenant
tend to agree on certain basic principles, and often
ally with one another against outside rivals, plenty of tension
and enmity exists between members of a single covenant.
In fact, in those cities where any given covenant dominates,
intra-covenant rivalry is actually more common than
inter-covenant rivalry. Invictus Kindred compete with others
in the Invictus, Carthians struggle with rival Carthians,
and so forth. A vampire’s covenant allegiance is a good indicator
of certain political and philosophical beliefs, but
anything else is questionable.

Vampire Covenants

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