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 The Traditions of Kindred

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Join date : 2011-06-23
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Location : Peabody, Massachusetts

PostSubject: The Traditions of Kindred   Tue Nov 29, 2011 3:43 am

THE FIRST TRADITION: THE MASQUERADE
"Do not reveal your true nature to those not of the Blood. Doing so forfeits you your claim to the Blood."
Arguably the single most important aspect of Kindred society worldwide is the first Tradition: that of the Masquerade. Without it, the existence of vampires among the Canaille would quickly come to light, putting the unlife of the entire race in jeopardy. Given Kindred feeding habits, the world of mortals would never understand or permit their continued presence. It would be a pogrom the likes of which has not been since the fiery nights of the Spanish Inquisition, when mortal witch-hunters first proved how unity and faith were a match for even the undead. Before the dawn of the modern era, this Tradition was significantly less enforced, and in some cases, even scoffed at by the more haughty (and foolish) among the undead. Vampires of old could freely roam their demesnes, flaunting their damnation before the terrified mortals who huddled in the dark at their feet. No phones existed with which the kine could call for help, with nobody to call even if there were. Once upon a time, the Damned truly were lords of the night. But it is a different time now, a different world. Mortals could not run in fear of the predators among them forever. As the living world grew and advanced, the world of the undead shrank. Tonight, it is a small world indeed, for the Damned — but only from the outside. Although the planet itself is largely unchanged, the mortals upon it are smarter, more advanced and more numerous than ever before. And now, the advent of the Internet and wireless communication has brought each mortal that much closer to the rest, putting the entire Masquerade at risk with but the touch of a button. The Damned, as powerful as they are, have never been so exposed or vulnerable. Given this precarious state of affairs, breaching the Masquerade is usually viewed as one of the most grievous transgressions one of the Kindred can commit. Depending on the Prince, more damaging breaches can be viewed as grounds for the Final Death of the transgressor, and a number of Princes have amassed no small amount of notoriety for their unwavering enforcement of this rule. This, then, has become a source of heated debate in Kindred circles, due to the subjective nature of such determinations. Some Princes are not above using the Masquerade as justification for the removal of political opponents, and those who displease a Prince must be careful about how they act in public and what company they keep.

THE SECOND TRADITION: THE PROGENY
"Sire another at the peril of both yourself and your progeny. If you create a childe, the weight is your own to bear."
The Second Tradition is the one that causes perhaps the most debate, confusion and consternation among the Kindred. According to the wording of the Tradition, no vampire may create a childe. And yet, look how many Kindred exist! It is, perhaps, the greatest paradox of the Kindred as a species (at least to those who keep faith with the Traditions).The Kindred world cannot even agree as to the origins of the Tradition itself. To this very night, no satisfactory answer has been put forth to the simple question of, “Why?” If what ever figure responsible for the creation of the undead was so adamant about ensuring the earthly lack of propagation of the Damned, why did it create one itself and give it the ability to propagate? Many speculate that the first Kindred, cursed to forever walk the night alone, grew lonely, as all creatures do, and that he took for himself a mate, as many creatures do. Some maintain that it is this mate, the world’s second vampire, who betrayed his or her sire’s wishes and created the first actual brood of the Damned. Some consider this first brood to be the true progenitors of the modern Kindred. In most cases, those who believe in various origin stories yield the principle that God (in whatever form) intended for the first Kindred to suffer in solitude, a lesson the Damned have had to learn through betrayal and loss.Whatever the Tradition’s origins are, the fact remains that its message has been corrupted in the time since. While few Kindred would deny that it is wrong (or at least complicated) to perpetuate the race of the Damned, many take issue with how the Tradition is enforced tonight. Many among the unbound (and a few members of formal covenants) believe that the Curse itself is enough to limit the numbers of new undead in the world, naturally and without need of politics or hierarchy. For their part, the Carthians generally take the stance that the issue should be one for the entirety of Kindred society to debate and decide upon, rather than be the purview of an outdated Tradition. Naturally, some in the Invictus believe in the right of the “elder” of a domain to decide upon such matters, and the Sanctified point to key passages of The Testament of Longinus as proof of their claims. The Order of the Dragon sometimes Embraces for the sake of bestowing its secrets upon an apprentice in order to perpetuate its knowledge. Of all the Kindred, followers of the Circle of the Crone are perhaps the most defiant of the Tradition, and are occasionally known to create new childer as part
of their sacred beliefs.

THE THIRD TRADITION: THE AMARANTH
"You are forbidden from devouring the heartsblood of another of your kind. If you violate this commandment, the Beast calls to your own Blood."
Given the predatory and deceitful nature of the Kindred, the third and final “commandment” — the prohibition against the diablerie of other Kindred — is the one most often violated and warped to serve the interests of the individual. Indeed, this single law has been the cause of more controversy in and around the halls of power than any other, and its interpretation and administration are two of the most fiercely contested issues facing the Damned tonight.As with the Second Tradition, the phrasing of this tradition is the primary cause of complaint, as well as the primary justification for use and abuse. Many believe that the original intent of the law was to give sires the right and responsibility to destroy the childer they had made (in violation of the Second Tradition) when those childer ran afoul of those same Traditions. Destruction, however, does not necessarily entail the consumption of the destroyed Kindred’s soul. Those who destroy their enemies utterly often claim to drink their fallen foes’ essence “to be sure” that those enemies never return, though this practice is at once primitive and false, at least in the context of modern Kindred society. Mortal death is both inevitable and necessary, but only God Himself may judge those He has cursed. Therefore, the Kindred condition inhibits the finality of diablerie in all its forms. According to some versions of The Testament of Longinus, Longinus’ final words to the collected brood he left behind were a simple but sobering warning: “Teach your progeny to heed my word, and tell them to likewise teach their own. When my line can no longer contain the blood it spills — the night the broods of your broods can no longer hear their brothers’ heartsblood cry unto them from the ground — that is the night when all hope for you is lost.” As a parenthetical result of this passage, many Kindred use the words of the Testament as support for the custom of the Lextalionis — the blood hunt in modern parlance. These Princes claim the title of “elder” mentioned in the text and use it to invoke the “right” of destruction upon any Kindred who sufficiently rouses their ire. They rarely perform the deed
themselves, of course, for the act itself is damaging to the spiritual strength of a vampire. Thus has the custom of involving every Kindred in the domain in the hunt arisen (rather conveniently) over time. In many domains, all Kindred are expected to do their part in consummating a blood hunt.

THE FOURTH TRADITION: THE ELYSIUM
"To lift even a finger in violence within the honored Elysium is to invite your final death."
One of the most ancient and honored surviving Kindred customs, and one whose importance many modern neonates drastically underestimate, is that of Elysium. In essence, a Prince may declare specific locations of his city to be Elysium, places free of violence, safe for all Kindred. Most offi cial Kindred business takes place in Elysium. The Prince’s court is most frequently held in one such location, and most young vampires who need to speak with a leader or elder come to Elysium to seek them out. Politics and intrigue are as common here as rats on the street outside, with debate and negotiation heard as frequently as casual gossip. Many elders spend entire nights here, and while neonates are usually welcome, they are expected to remember their place. Though Elysium is generally a Minor Tradition, in some domains, the Elysium takes on a spiritual power akin to the Major Traditions. In such domains, even the beast is shackled within the confines of the Elysium, and only a great act of willpower on the part of an offending kindred can shatter the peace of Elysium.
Note: Manchester, at present, is such a domain, and has invoked the mystic power of the Fourth Tradition.

THE MINOR TRADITIONS:
DOMAIN:
In nights past, when they were more spread out than they are now, Kindred staked claims to vast amounts of territory. When disputes arose, the results were often bloody, as the undead squabbled with one another over slights both real and perceived. Over time, civility demanded that the notion of domain become a universally respected aspect of Kindred society. Vampires needed to come to some basic accord, if for no other reason than to avoid infi ghting and unnecessary destruction of their fellows. The accord that was reached (informally and over time) was the right of domain. According to the tradition, a vampire may claim a given area — one that is not already under the purview of another Kindred — as his personal domain. Within that domain, his word is law among the undead, and he can expect not to be challenged. If another vampire wishes to stake a claim to some part or all of the domain, he must either negotiate the terms under which the owner will cede control or else take the entire domain by force. This situation was the norm for centuries upon centuries of Kindred existence, and though it, too, often led to infighting and kinslaying, the custom itself was largely respected. Come the modern era, the old ways have seen a significant pattern shift. As the Kindred huddle together in increasingly more claustrophobic environs, the concept of domain has split and polarized into two extremes. Tonight, the Kindred recognize only two definitions of domain (as per the traditional sense). First is the notion of domain in the larger sense — the domain of a Prince, for example, which generally includes one city or metropolitan area. The Prince is the final arbiter of all issues arising within this area, including who will and will not receive feeding grounds and official protection. Within the larger domain, however, exists the smaller “individual” domain, the modern remnant of the old ways. Each vampire’s personal haven benefi ts, as per custom, from the protections established by this tradition. Therefore, even though a given Kindred’s haven may be situated within the larger domain of the Prince, that Kindred might still invoke the customary protections of tradition. A vampire’s home is his castle — even if that castle sits on the lands of a powerful elder liege. Only in the most savage domains will a Prince attempt to claim one of his subjects’ personal havens once those havens have been granted and established.
TUTELAGE:
A societal by-product of the Second Tradition, the tradition of tutelage has its roots in antiq-uity, when the Kindred’s numbers were fewer and the social system more rigid. In such times, if a vampire was going to violate Kindred physiology by propagating the numbers of the Damned, he was expected to make sure that his progeny understood all the rules and customs of the Requiem (not the least of which was the Second Tradition, itself). Siring progeny is merely the bestowal of responsibility, granting one vampire the right to take a considerable burden upon his own shoulders. Until such time as the new vampire is released from his sire’s tutelage, his education (or miseducation) is the responsibility of the sire. There is no “village” among the Damned. It takes an individual to raise a neonate, and any mistakes the young one makes until he reaches the time at which his sire releases him need not be forgiven by society at large. Otherwise, what would be the point of releasing him in the first place? This same rationale is often abused by controlling sires as justification for the excessive periods of indenture or servitude they require of their progeny: “I can keep you safe only as long as I don’t release you.” Needless to say, some childer would rather take their chances with the Prince.From the moment of his release, a childe’s sins are his own to endure. No ill may befall the sire as a result of the childe’s deeds (except in a looser social sense). As such, the childe no longer benefits from the sire’s protection, at least not in any official societal capacity. He is his own Kindred and must stand as such. Such, however, is also the benefi t of release. Once a childe is on his own, he is no longer beholden to the whim, desire or name of his sire. For good or ill, he is now free.
DEFERENCE:
A natural outgrowth of this tradition is the custom of vampiric respect. When the race as a whole endeavored to bring itself up from savagery with the notion of domain (and the rights granted therefrom), the next step was to ingrain the idea that every aspect of the existence of Kindred domains must be respected. From this effort arose the notion that a vampire should present himself whenever he travels into the domain of another vampire. After all, one doesn’t really respect the tradition of domain if one hunts on another’s land without permission. One does not have to actively challenge the rightful claim of another vampire in order to disrespect both the domain and its owner. Of course, even this seemingly well-intentioned tradition has its controversy. Modern Princes invoke this code as a means by which to keep track of who is and who is not within their demesnes at all times, by asking that each visitor or would-be resident present himself upon entering. Once the visitor does, the Prince either acknowledges him — in which case he may remain in the domain (under the Prince’s protection) — or refuses to acknowledge him — in which case, he is expected to depart the domain immediately. As a result, this tradition has come to be ignored the most by young Kindred, many of whom don’t even know of its existence (usually because they were not properly educated after their Embrace). One of the most common reasons for these violations is the gray area that defi nes visi-tors and would-be residents. Kindred who just pass through often feel no obligation to stop just so they can potentially put themselves at risk by coming before the local Prince. Only those who intend to remain for any length of time are required to present themselves, and some feel that it is up to personal interpretation just what a “length of time” might involve. Some Princes have been known to specify a duration (in terms of nights), so that there is no confusion when the Prince’s Scourge or Sheriff brings newcomers forward for questioning. As a result, this practice tends to complicate already complex social dynamics while further widening the gulf between elder and neonate. Technically, this tradition applies to only those who intend to hunt within a domain. If a vampire can establish that he’ll not be a drain on the domain’s resources (by demonstrating
access to a private blood supply, for example), then he could argue that the tradition doesn't apply to him on any practical level and that presentation before the Prince is merely a social courtesy. Obviously, this situation does not arise very often, and when it does, most Princes aren't thrilled with the idea of being snubbed by the letter of the law. To them, it is better to just present one’s case during rather than instead of presentation.

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"Monsters are real, and ghosts are real too. They live inside us, and sometimes, they win."
"We make up horrors to help us cope with the real ones."
"The world is indeed comic, but the joke is on mankind."
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