The heaviest penalty for declining to rule is to be ruled by someone inferior to yourself. -Plato, The Republic
The Six Traditions
The First Tradition: the Masquerade
Thou shall not reveal thy true nature to those not of the Blood.
Doing such shall renounce thy claims of Blood.
The Second Tradition: the Domain
Thy domain is thine own concern.
All others owe thee respect while in it.
None may challenge thy word while in thy domain.
The Third Tradition: the Progeny
Thou shall Sire another only with the permission of thine Elder.
If thou createst another without thine Elder’s leave, both thou and thy Progeny shall be slain.
The Fourth Tradition: the Accounting
Those thou create are thine own children.
Until thy Progeny shall be Released, thou shall command them in all things.
Their sins are thine to endure.
The Fifth Tradition: the Hospitality
Honor one another’s domain.
When thou comest to a foreign city, thou shall present thyself to the one who ruleth there.
Without the word of acceptance, thou art nothing.
The Sixth Tradition: the 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.
Outcast (Negative Status): A member of the Camarilla judged worthy of severe punishment by the Prince but not meriting a blood hunt might be declared Outcast, wherein all status and titles are stripped until such time as the Prince chooses to lift their punishment. An Outcast kindred is still considered a member of the Camarilla, meaning only the Prince has Right of Destruction over them, but any abuse short of that is generally overlooked. (V20 Companion pg. 23)
Caitiff (Negative Status): Kindred of muddied or infamous lineage or who are disowned by their sires might be dubbed Caitiff, which literally means “contemptible” or “mistake.” If you guessed that most Caitiff and Thin-Bloods who wash up on the doorstep of the Camarilla come with this Negative Status pre-loaded, you’d be right! Generally this title is “lifted” by an edict of the Prince or when a Primogen or other Kindred of sufficient standing chooses to “adopt” a title-holder. (V20 Companion pg. 32)
Scourge (Status 1): The Camarilla views thin-bloods and Caitiff as vermin; when they grow too numerous, Scourges are dispatched to drive them off or destroy them.
Chancellor (Status 1): An official charged by the Prince to oversee the validity and satisfaction of Boons. This is seen as an extremely formal and somewhat archaic office. In many domains the Chancellor’s tasks are overseen by the Harpies, but every Prince has the right to appoint a Chancellor should they wish to.
Loremaster (Status 1): The Camarilla doesn’t tolerate the open spreading of Noddist propaganda among its ranks by eschatologists. That said, Kindred who study the histories and religious texts of the Kindred are valuable resources for Princes to draw upon.
Herald (Status 1): A chosen agent of the Prince responsible for making official announcements and spreading news of princely edicts.
Hound (Status 1): Agents of the Sheriff in a Camarilla domain.
Keeper of Elysium (Status 1): A Kindred assigned the task of operating and maintaining an Elysium site.
Court Magician (Status 1): A court magician of the Camarilla is an individual with occult talents favored by the Primogen Council and the Prince. Their official role is to advise the court on occult matters and occasionally to entertain with sorcerous displays. Court magicians are usually Tremere or Banu Haqim, but the rare other occultist does appear, such as a Samedi necromancer, Setite “renunciate” or Lasombra Antitribu, and they too can command respect as occultists, particularly in domains where the other two clans are absent. The position is not as common as it once was, but as the Tremere and Assamites compete for court favor it is beginning to see a revival. It also takes some pressure off of the Primogen of both clans, as the presence of a skilled magician or two in court allows them to focus on politics. (See the “Mystic” position, V20 Companion pg. 32)
Sheriff (Status 2): The duly appointed enforcers of the Prince’s laws and edicts, investigators of crimes and violations of the Traditions.
Alastor (Status 2): Agents of the Camarilla who hunt the Anathema of the Red List.
Harpy (Status 2): The status-mongers of the Camarilla. Harpies also arbitrate Boons unless the Prince chooses to assign a Chancellor to the task.
Whip (Status 2): A Kindred who acts as the second to a Primogen, with the duty of maintaining political unity within a clan.
Eliminator (Status 2): When infestations of horrors and predatory night-folk appear in Camarilla domains, the sect responds by training its own hunters to take out the trash. (This is the Camarilla version of a Headhunter, V20 Companion pg. 32)
Primogen (Status 3): Kindred of clout who sit on a council that represents their interests and advises the Prince. The customary model is 7 Primogen, one from each of the Camarilla’s pillar clans, but one clan may not be present in sufficient numbers to merit a primogen, or a kindred of unusual provenance such as a Lasombra Antitribu or Daughter of Cacophony may have enough power and status to claim a seat for themselves.
Consul (Status 3): The Camarilla’s diplomacy with the Sabbat and Anarchs tends to be a tense affair. A Camarilla diplomat must be tough enough to speak the same language as more violent Kindred, but also eloquent and conciliatory enough to avoid being sent home in a box. The Anarchs generally acknowledge a diplomat as long as he’s not a prick, and Lasombra, Tzimisce, and Ventrue Antitribu tend to consider the role of the Consul something sacred – it’s dishonorable to kill the messenger, after all – so if they send a Consul back home to the prince in a box, it’s usually in one piece. (V20 Companion pg. 32)
Transcendant (Status 3): The sect openly disavows the existence of Golconda; it smacks of Noddism, after all. However, gurus of Humanity are something the sect desperately needs, and even if they sniff publically, many members of the Ivory Tower accord a moral exemplar great respect on the quiet.
Archon (Status 4): The hand-picked enforcers and agents of the Justicars.
Josian Archon (Status 4): A secretive, elite group of Archons who root out diabolism and other malign influences within the Ivory Tower. Many consider the Josians a myth.
Dux Bellorum (Status 4): A general selected to lead the forces of the Ivory Tower when it goes to open war. For instance, when the Camarilla moved to take New York from the Sabbat, the Nosferatu Calebros was chosen as Dux Bellorum.
Seneschal (Status 4): The chief assistant and advisor to a Prince.
Prince (Status 5): Something between a landed noble and a self-declared magistrate, Princes are the executive authority of the Camarilla and have (theoretically) unlimited power within their domains.
Justicar (Status 5): Magistrates who pursue tasks set to them by the Inner Circle and represent the Inner Circle’s authority over the Princes of the Camarilla. Each of the Pillar Clans names one Justicar. The current Justicars as of the 2011 Conclave are Juliet Parr (Malkavian), Manuela Cardozo Pinto (Brujah), Tegyrius (Banu Haqim), Molly MacDonald (Nosferatu), Diana Idanza (Toreador), Ian Carfax (Tremere), and Lucinde (Ventrue).
Imperator (Status 6): The Camarilla’s “Justicar of Justicars” and supreme war leader. Held for centuries by the gangrel Karsh, until presumably killed in battle with the traitor Xaviar. Currently this office stands empty, and is likely to remain so until and unless a clear and present danger threatens the entirety of the Ivory Tower.
Inner Circle (Status 7): The cabal of elders who, together, determine policy for the entire Camarilla. Some say it has 7 members, others more. Commonly suspected members include Hardestadt (Ventrue), Meerlinda (Tremere), al-Ashrad (Banu Haqim), Rafael de Corazon (Toreador), Adana de Sforza (Brujah), Josef von Bauren (Nosferatu), and Lutz von Hohenzollern (Malkavian), though no one is sure if this lineup is correct or even if it would be limited to seven Kindred.
The backbone currency of the Camarilla is the boon trade. Boons are formalized, registered favors traded by Kindred, used as currency in political disputes, and traded for future favors. Giving and receiving boons is a part of un-life in the Camarilla. A kindred who collects boons but avoids owing them is often derided as stingy, a kindred who winds up in boon debt is in trouble.
Prestation begins when one Kindred asks for assistance from another, offering a boon in exchange. For instance, if assistance is needed to clean up a breach of the masquerade before the Sheriff and his Hounds come knocking, a Brujah might (begrudgingly) approach a Ventrue who he knows has the power to doctor memories. In exchange for the Ventrue’s help, the Brujah would offer a boon. Assuming the Ventrue accepts, then they would help the Brujah take care of the situation and then together the two would contact the city’s boon registrar (see Harpies and the Chancellor, above) and declare the boon.
Later on, if the Ventrue needed help dealing with a physical threat, they could then call in the boon, and once the situation was dealt with they would then report to the registrar that the boon had been discharged to their satisfaction. If the Brujah did not honor the boon when called in, it would at the very least earn the scorn of the harpies, negatively affecting their status. It would also call into question the validity of all boons owed to and by the Brujah. Attempting to cash in a boon and then not discharging it is even worse, and can get a Kindred an unasked-for audience with the Primogen Council, or even the Prince. For more information on trying to welch on a boon, see the V20 Companion pg. 42.
The Camarilla deals in various levels of boons:
Trivial Boon: A boon offered in exchange for a small assistance. Examples include allowing a Kindred to hunt in one’s domain or assisting them in attaining blood, providing temporary haven space when they cannot reach home before sunrise, getting a Kindred who isn’t “on the list” into a happening night-spot.
Minor Boon: Minor boons are offered when a Kindred’s assistance is not dire but is materially inconvenient. Examples include backing another Kindred’s political gambit, providing food to a starving Kindred, or intervening when a Kindred is in imminent danger from an enemy that is a threat to them but not to you.
Major Boon: Major boons are offered when the favor bestowed is of significant material, physical or political expense. Examples include persuading an Primogen to declare a troublesome Kindred persona non grata to his entire clan, a revocation or bestowment of choice domain, covering up a minor breach or making a sudden political reversal on a debated issue, even if the reversal goes against the voter’s interests.
Life or Blood Boon: Sworn on the Kindred’s life or “on the Blood” in the archaic, a Life Boon is a boon offered when intervention would save the Kindred from death or otherwise utter ruin. Examples include saving the life of an imperiled Kindred at serious risk to yourself, intervention to protect another Kindred’s beloved mortal from death, or providing an alibi to a suspect of a capital crime no questions asked (sure to raise some eyebrows, but ancient Kindred custom declares that a registered boon is not admissible as evidence of guilt).
While they are not really traded in on the level of individual Kindred, one final level of boon exists.
Extremis Boon: Sworn when the intervention of another party would save a domain or even a significant body of another clan from imminent destruction when they would not otherwise do so. An example would include a Prince swearing an Extremis boon to a Giovanni don who uses his smuggling resources to evacuate the Kindred of a city that is falling to the Sabbat to a safe domain, at significant cost and peril to his own family and operations. The Extremis boon puts the debtor in a seriously disadvantaged position to the recipient, as only a like act could discharge the boon.
The Camarilla does acknowledge and register boons sworn to and from Anarchs, members of the Independent clans, and even members of the Sabbat who dare to dabble. After all, all vampires are under authority of the Camarilla, even if they claim otherwise. Though, a boon traded between a Prince and a Sabbat Archbishop will invariably be accompanied by a boon from the Prince to the Harpy or Chancellor to keep their mouth shut.
Boons can also be traded. To do this, all the current recpient needs to do is advise the registrar that they’re trading the boon. This might be done in exchange for an equivalent boon from the recipient or other consideration. An example: Ancilla Arnie annoys the Prince, but owes a Major boon to Tremere Terry. The Prince, deciding he wants to make Arnie sweat, offers Terry a juicy piece of domain in exchange for the boon. How fortunate that the Chancellor is right over there! The Chancellor dispatches a note to be delivered to Arnie advising of the change in his prestation. Uh-oh, Arnie…
Boons can also be offered on a level above that of the individual Kindred. For instance, rumor has it that the Inner Circle of the Camarilla owes a Life Boon to the Followers of Set in exchange for critical assistance offered in the Ivory Tower’s war against the Banu Haqim – and that this boon is why the sect has a broad tolerance for the Setites’ presence in its domains.
The Seven Pillar Clans of the Camarilla:
While the Camarilla claims dominion over all Kindred everywhere – even those in rebellion against it – seven clans compose the greater body of its membership. Each of these clans has a seat on the Inner Circle and a Justicar, giving them a vote in sect affairs and a share of the duties and privileges that come from enforcing the Ivory Tower’s laws. Members of these clans tend to be given priority of place in a city’s Primogen council with the ‘traditional’ arrangement being seven Primogen, one from each pillar clan, though no actual sect law restricts a council to seven seats or members of a pillar clan. As of 2020 the seven Pillar Clans are:
The Gangrel abandoned their seat two decades ago, and while there are still a decent number of Gangrel within the sect, the majority of them have decamped, declaring themselves Independent or joining the Sabbat. The Brujah grow increasingly restive, and rumors persist that they will decamp from the sect as of the 2024 meeting of the Inner Circle if the clan’s grievances are not addressed.
In addition to the Pillar Clans, a number of other bloodlines call the Camarilla home. As the 21st millenium plods on and the Ivory Tower has conducted something of a census of its own resources, the numbers of these bloodlines have turned out to be greater than some assumed, though they are not so common and more esoteric than the Pillar Clans. When present in a domain members of these bloodlines will usually align themselves to another clan on an individual or group basis in order to gain its patronage. More rarely, their personal power and prestige are such that they earn a seat on the council themselves.
Daughters of Cacophony
Gangrel (Primarily ‘Country’ Gangrel)
In theory any Kindred may claim membership in the Camarilla, but politics make members of some lineages… unwelcome in practice. For instance, any Salubri who tried to claim their theoretical right of membership would be an instant priority for elimination by the Tremere. Tzimisce likewise find the Ivory Tower unsuitable. Other bloodlines simply don’t exist in the Camarilla in numbers significant enough to be counted as naught but the most extreme of outliers. For instance the Kiasyd have no philosophical objection to joining the Camarilla and the founder of their bloodline, Marconius, is the Prince of Strasbourg. But habit, politics, and long-standing arrangements with the Friends of the Night keep most Weirdlings in the Sabbat. Still, all a vampire needs to claim a seat at the table is the Acknowledgement of a Prince, and so for the individual Kindred membership in the Camarilla is waiting to be claimed.