Camarilla in Gotham

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How the Camarilla Works in World of Darkness: Gotham

As you may have noticed by now views of how things work vary from Storyteller to Storyteller, Chronicle to Chronicle, and source to source. Avid readers of White Wolf material will also notice that often, depending on what book you read, you can get a completely different answer to the same question. What we decided to do is to outline the way the Camarilla works in WoD: Gotham, so at least players would know what our views are and how the Camarilla is run in the setting where their player characters exist.

There are things that you will need to forget from other games and re-learn, as you may have noticed by now, we run the Camarilla a bit differently than other Chronicles you might have been in and our interpretations are pretty strict - following a more feudal model of the Camarilla. What you do somewhere else and get away with as a character, could get you whacked here - so please read.

Not a Representative Government

The Primogen is not a Legislative body and the Prince is not an Executive body. That is, the Primogen is not necessarily made up of representatives of each clan who have veto power over the Prince. That is completely wrong. Whoever started that notion must have been tweaking hard in their American Government class and thought that for some reason the Camarilla was a democratic institution. Don't make that mistake in WoDG. The Camarilla is a tough sect that manipulates Kindred and Kine pawns alike and in a world with bad guys like the Sabbat around they can't afford to be whiny whimps like Louis from Interview with the Vampire. Throw all that nonsense out and imagine something way darker. A sect that has its fingers in everything and can, with a phone call, have your character's haven bulldozed in broad daylight and clean it all up without anyone the wiser if she crosses the wrong people.

I Vote Aye!
Democracy as we know it is a very modern institution. It has only truly been around since the founding of United States. Yes the principles are ancient, rooted in Ancient Greece. However that was the exception and not the norm. Even then, there were no notions of individual rights, civil liberties, etc. the way we understand them. Most societies throughout the ages have been governed by dynastic empires, monarchs, oligarchs, tribal elders, religious leaders, etc. Prior to the Enlightenment, there was not a concept of individual rights. So understand that elders are holdovers from the past. They do not change easily. The majority of them come from societies where democracy is completely unnatural. Therefore, do not expect the Camarilla to observe any democratic processes or adopt any democratic principles. To do that would be to set a dangerous precedent that no elder would dare set.

Most commonly it works with the elders becoming Primogen members for supporting the Prince and having the influence and power, that to bar them from membership would be foolhardy from a tactical position. You can better keep an eye on who is close to you than an elder you snub. Think of the monarchies of Europe when you think of the Camarilla and its rulers in a city. The Prince is akin to a king and the Primogen is a body of his most loyal and powerful nobles who he has rewarded with lands and title. Nobles can usurp the king or the king can strip a noble of his title and lands. It is in this way that a Prince rules by consent of the elders. However, most often times the way to remove a Prince is by violence and duplicity. It is up to the Prince and the Primogen to define what their relationship will be like. This varies from city to city and determined by past and present relations among the parties involved.

Because of all this and the fact that most elders come from feudal society and/or have had more exposure to it, the Camarilla looks more like a feudal body. Therefore, an elder with little humanity, bored off his ass, sadistic, deranged, monstrous, and more in tune with the past would not conceive of an institution that is democratic and fair in nature. The mere notion of "fairness" went out right about at Humanity 9. The word is known as it is written in Webster's, but the concept is completely alien. An elder's morals are not like that of human's or neonate's. Their sense of justice is perverse by our politically correct standards today. The Camarilla is feudal and oppressive to those who do not rule, those who do enjoy a double standard.

As the old saying goes, "Might makes right!"

Roles of Princes

In World of Darkness: Gotham, the Traditional role of the Prince is as follows...

  • He upholds the Traditions of the Camarilla
  • He doles out Domains
  • He Interprets the Traditions. This is VERY important as how a Prince chooses to view the Traditions varies immensely. For example, take the Right to Progeny. Princes have been known to view Progeny to include not only the Embrace, but have also applied it to extend to Retainers. This would mean that to have another ghoul servant one would have to ask permission. This is extreme, but there are instances of this interpretation.
  • He enforces the Traditions

Princely Rewards

For this service the elders consent to giving him the following:

  • The right to dole out hunting grounds and Domains
  • The right to create Childer
  • The right to Destruction
  • Their support

Positions from Later Editions and LARP

Newer positions that have cropped up over later editions of VtM may or may not be present in title. For instance, characters might recognize the role of Keeper being played out by a member of the Prince’s brood. However, that brood member may not have an actual title. It really varies from city to city based on the political landscape and the need. Do not go in automatically expecting to see a small army of Whips, a Sheriff, Seneschal, Scourge, etc. Elders consent to give the Right to Progeny to Princes and entrust them with doling out the Right to others based on merit (in theory) because they expect him to use it to create a brood that will be responsible for maintaining a strong and stable Camarilla city. If the Prince did not serve a purpose and fulfill it well, then they would not agree to support his claim to such power. Elders never give power to each other or to any Kindred unnecessarily.

Likewise, few Princes would entrust their Domain to those outside their own brood. Sharing power is not in their natures. They typically keep a tight watch on their broods and use the Blood Bond to ensure loyalty. If a Prince relied on too many outsiders with titles, that’s a sign that a Prince’s power is eroding and ripe to have his rule contested.

Focus on Core Concepts Not Metaplot

Understand that while later editions of Vampire: the Masquerade focused its energy on the end of the world and Gehenna that is not the focus on this Chronicle. There are a number of reasons for that and they are as follows:

  • The official metaplot ended in 2004. We don’t have to adhere to it. The year of WoDG is 2011. In honor of the 20th Anniversary, conditions in the World of Darkness of WoDG’s setting are pretty much like they were just prior to revised coming out.
  • Players are all playing neonate characters. Doing anything about Gehenna is well out of their reach, if they even know about it at all.
  • We want to focus on the local struggles of Kindred. We’d like to run neonates trying to make it in the big city. We think that’s challenging enough in a harsh and competitive setting like WoDG’s New York City. NPCs and PCs need to be at the top of their games to survive and thrive among the best.
  • We rather tell our own stories and not the stories told by the game publisher. We dig their core concepts and we're using those. We're just not totally down with adhering to every god damned stupid twist and turn in the god damned official metaplot. Fuck Sam Haight.
  • If you can let go of the old metaplot and instead focus on the core concepts of being a Kindred of the Camarilla, then you'll be ok.
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