Campaign of the Month: October 2017
Blood & Bourbon
Invictus Etiquette and Titles
“I dreamt that I dwelt in marble halls
With vassals and serfs at my side,
And of all who assembled within those walls,
That I was the hope and the pride.”
Alfred Bunn, Bohemian Girl
“Nobility is in the blood we take
and the blood we keep,
the blood we spill
and the blood we seek.”
Her body is a tortured wreck, her spirit splintered by the battle with the Beast, and her words chained by the harsh protocol of this mausoleum. This crypt of dead feelings and flesh. Agony within every step, and without. She just wants to give up. To die? She could invite it easily enough. But why suffer through all of this, only to surrender the last of her to them? Why give them the satisfaction of breaking her? It’s pride, that beaten thing all but whipped into the corner that keeps her going.
Caroline Malveaux-Devillers, upon being received in an Invictus domain
Etiquette and Protocol
Etiquette, protocol or simply good manners—in the First Estate, there’s very definitely a right and wrong way to behave. The covenant steeps its activities in formality, from a grand ball in the prince’s honor to a private meeting between business partners. Invictus members often show the same formality when dealing with other Kindred. The Invictus uses the other vampire’s title and insists on the same courtesy in return.
Other Kindred sometimes make fun of the First Estate’s obsession with elaborate manners. Invictus members can seem like pompous, stuffed shirts as they bow and make grandiloquent speeches. The covenant is deadly serious about its etiquette, though. Good manners alone won’t raise Kindred to eminence in the Invictus, but a vampire who will not learn the covenant’s codes of conduct will never receive any rank or respect, no matter what their achievements.
Honorifics, formal wear, the nuances of bows, curtsies and genuflections and other small social rituals are a way to show respect for another vampire. Junior members of the Invictus must acknowledge the rank and, by extension, the achievements of their superiors. The covenant does not see this as a degrading show of submission. Bowing to an elder—or even a full genuflection, in the most Tradition-bound Invictus groups—shows that you know and honor the elder’s power. Likewise, you dress your best when presented to a superior: they honor you simply by allowing you to be in the same room with them. You should show you appreciate the honor. Anyone who doesn’t show such respect would merely demonstrate their own ignorance and folly.
In the First Estate’s culture of patronage, those who show respect receive it in return. Not much, maybe—a neonate with no great achievements to their name does not deserve any deference from an elder of high rank—but enough to show that the covenant’s leaders accept their juniors as fellow members of their august company.
Customs of Address
Titles and honorifics are a close indicator of respect as well as formal rank. The greater the difference in Status between two Invictus, the more formality the lower-ranking member shows. An Invictus neonate would not speak to a prince or primogen unless commanded to do so; and then, he would address her as Your Excellency, My lady or some other honorific. Only a member of equal rank would dare even to say Sir. Any Invictus in good standing, however, can expect to be addressed as Mister, Miss or Madam, with the vampire’s surname. (Some Invictus consider Ms. to be modern barbarism.) If a higher-ranking Invictus addressed a junior by his first name, she would demonstrate a complete lack of respect—even contempt, as if the Kindred were merely a servant or a childe. Even a servant or childe would never be addressed by some abbreviation or diminution of his first name or a nickname. Any vampire who has a high-ranking Invictus address them so familiarly knows his career in the covenant is over—or at least in grave danger.
Punctilious codes of conduct help to distinguish Invictus members from non-members, establishing the Invictus as a class apart from other vampires. An insider knows when they may speak and when they must remain silent. They know the covenant’s special turns of speech and when to use them. They know what gestures of honor or submission to make and how to perform them gracefully. Most importantly, perhaps, an insider shows that they respect the covenant enough to learn its complicated rules. They reassure other members of their determination to stay in the Invictus. Other members know they can deal with the vampire without fear they’ll skip off to another covenant and abandon their commitments.
By encasing every act in rituals of courtesy, the Invictus prevents open warfare between its members—no small task in a society built on ambition. Among such proud predators, any hint of weakness might provoke a challenge, any breath of insult might provoke a vendetta. Members hide behind the dance of etiquette, so that other members see only the privileges and obligations of their rank—not that the Gangrel primogen loathes the prince, the seneschal is smitten with the sheriff’s childe and the Malkavian delegate to the Prima Invicta suffers a paranoid fear of everyone.
Etiquette also gives Invictus members a way to compete and attack each other without risking anyone’s unlives. Trying to kill another member, or seizing property such as hunting turf or a business, could lead to all-out war as the disputants call in their allies. It’s much safer for everyone to maneuver an enemy into a humiliating faux pas or into a situation in which they must grant a boon or lose face. Even the proudest elders accept their occasional losses in the social arena—because they have forever to turn the tables on their erstwhile victor.
Then again, sometimes one Invictus insults another by accident. For instance, one member’s childe might unwittingly hunt in another member’s domain. Graceful manners and scripted rites of contrition let both Kindred back away from the situation without looking weak. Once the insulting member acts out the proper formula of regret, the target must act out the proper formula of forgiveness. If they do not, they’re the one who looks weak—too uncertain of their power and reputation to let the insult drop.
The last reason for Invictus etiquette remains unspoken. The stiff formality of ritual helps Invictus members act human. Elders, in particular, may have lost more of themselves to the Beast than they’d like to show. Precise rules of conduct create a mask that hides their monstrosity—from themselves, as well as other Kindred. When Invictus members no longer feel empathy for other creatures and even the prudence of the Masquerade becomes remote, at least they know one reason why they shouldn’t rip out a convenient, tasty mortal’s throat. It’s not the right time and place for such activities and one doesn’t make a mess when feeding.
In the same way, social rituals help elder Kindred hide the madness that so often comes from long torpors and the horrors of their own existence. A deranged vampire can at least go through the motions of courtesy and protocol even if they’re gibbering inside.
Order Against the Beast
Indeed, the Invictus as a whole functions to protect its members’ Humanity against the Beast. Wealth and power insulate Kindred from the brutality and degradation of their existence. A successful Invictus doesn’t have to stalk and overpower their prey; they can drink their blood from a snifter and not think of the servant opening their own veins in the kitchen. They can sit in their private box and listen to the opera, instead of screams in an alley and a victim’s death-rattle when they’ve lost control of their hunger. They can give money to fashionable charities, hobnob with politicians and celebrities and tell themselves they’re not a monster. And when they must do something terrible, they can tell themselves it isn’t their fault: it’s the rules, an obligation placed on them by their superiors or by duty. The First Estate must subject its members to the harsh winnowing of the competition for power, so that the Invictus may remain Unconquered and rule with an iron hand. Anything less would let the world slide into chaos, endangering Kindred and kine alike.
Titles and Offices
In a society of strict hierarchy and adherence to tradition such as the Invictus, it is always important that each member not only knows their place, but makes their rank clear to all who meet them so that their fellows may address them with the proper deference or authority. Announcement of personal standing, relevant relations and profession are deeply important, as they define the limits of acceptable behavior. To that end, an array of titles and terms of address have been refined, over the centuries, into a relatively comprehensive set designed to describe one’s place in the covenant as clearly and concisely as possible.
The terms of address used by the Invictus are carefully calculated to indicate the flavor of relations enjoyed between the speaker and the listener. Professional respect, formal courtesy or platonic intimacy are all codified and can have much effect on the context of any declaration.
In addition, there are three types of titles accorded to each member: titles of esteem, titles of tribute and titles of function, which describe, respectively, who you are, how important you are to the covenant and what you do. Everyone bears a title of esteem, but the only acceptable way to append a title of tribute or function to your name is to earn it.
When two Invictus vampires meet for the first time, it is considered proper for them to be introduced by a third party who makes use of both members’ full titles, helping each to understand their comparative rankings and determine how they will comport themselves. If a third party is unavailable and withdrawal is unavoidable, the vampire who has initiated the meeting (even if it is accidental) is expected to introduce themselves with full title and allow the other to respond in kind.
Titles of the Invictus are related directly to a vampire’s age, achievements, lineage and professional office and none are to be treated lightly. The bearer of an impressive set of titles earns the admiration of the Invictus and rightly so, for they must be a great citizen of the covenant to have received them. While it is theoretically possible to earn “hollow titles” through careerist manipulations, an honor poorly gained is almost always exposed and stripped away from the underhanded vampire in question, leaving them with less regard than before they partook of their foolish enterprise. If the practice of revering those who deserve accolade and deriding those who pretend to misapplied honors is maintained with absolute strictness, all members of the Invictus have confidence in their covenant and incentive to strive for recognition through genuine achievements. If, on the other hand, the practice is poorly upheld, the covenant faces the threat of dissolution by a mass of frustrated, purposeless, and disrespectful Kindred. Titles seem like such small, simple things to prop up the Invictus, but understand: in a world where money, beauty, and physical power are all too easily attained, the only real measure of a worthwhile vampire is their reputation.
Titles of Esteem
Titles of esteem are the most common in the covenant—every neonate gains one the moment the Embrace takes hold. They are also the most malleable, changing with age and with the nature of a vampire’s relationship to their local compatriots.
• Master/Miss: When a vampire is Embraced but still undergoing the instruction of their sire (and not yet officially a member of Invictus society), the neonate is referred to as Master if male and Miss if female, followed by their surname (formal) or given name (familiar).
• Mister/Madam: When the neonate enters Invictus society and for some time thereafter, the vampire is referred to as Mister if male and Madam if female, followed by their surname. If the vampire holds a title of tribute, lord or lady is substituted for mister or madam.
• Alder: When the vampire is old enough to be considered an elder, the title of esteem changes to Alder. Lord or lady is not substituted for Alder, for it assumed that all Kindred to reach such venerable age have earned a title of tribute. Kindred are usually considered elders after roughly three centuries in American domains and four centuries in European ones, but this time frame can be fluid and relative to a Kindred’s achievements: Accou Poincaré was recognized as an alder in the 1970s despite being closer to 250.
• Vetus: If the vampire is old enough to have been Embraced prior to the Invictus’ formation during the 15th century, the title of esteem is Vetus.
• Vetustus: If the vampire is old enough to have been Embraced during the Long Night (prior to the outbreak of the War of Princes in 1204), the title of esteem is Vetustus.
• Senex: If the vampire is old enough to have been Embraced during the time of the Roman Camarilla (prior to approximately the 5th century), the title of esteem is Senex, followed by their given name. There are almost no vampires this old who remain active within the Invictus.
Of course, these simple titles do not usually paint a complete enough picture on their own, so they are subject to a number of variations based on clan relations and blood ties to the speaker.
If the vampire happens to be related by blood to the introducing speaker, a title to explain the relationship is appended to the name. For instance, in the example above, if the speaker introducing Vivian were her grandchilde, the proper introduction would be “May I present the Alder Lady Vivian, Speaker—my grandsire.” Likewise, sire, childe, sibling, aunt and uncle are common terms.
When speaking of a sibling or cousin, it is sometimes convenient to indicate the relative order of Embrace. Generally, sibling major is the accepted term for an elder sibling, sibling minor for a younger one.
It is exceedingly offensive to append an incorrect age discriminator onto a title of esteem. In fact, sire minor is a deeply derogatory term, suggesting that one’s sire is more a burden than an example to be followed, while childe major refers to an upstart with pretensions to superiority over their betters.
Members of the same clan who are not close blood relatives may customarily be referred to as cousin. Once again, the rules of relative age apply, so one may refer to a cousin major or cousin minor if the distinction seems necessary.
Those who share a bloodline with the speaker but are somehow not close blood relatives are sometimes referred to as a close cousin or blooded brethren whenever it seems appropriate to reveal the nature of their relationship.
Titles of Tribute
Officially deeded to Invictus vampires who distinguish themselves in service to the covenant, titles of tribute are the rarest and most sought after of all awards. It is a rare achievement to impress the Prima Invicta of one’s city and rarer still for them to acknowledge their appreciation with tribute.
Some titles of tribute follow. Note that “prince” is not a title of tribute—it is an office, held in vampire society at large. It is possible (and quite expected) for a prince to hold one of the titles listed below.
• Lord/Lady: Bestowed upon a vampire for honorable service to the Invictus, normally marking an achievement of some merit. The measure of merit differs from city to city and has a lot to do with the power level enjoyed by the covenant in the domain, as well as the standing and relations of the Kindred in question. Some vampires earn the title merely by being the inoffensive childer of an extremely prestigious sire, while less fortunate vampires spend decades fighting tooth and claw to climb so high.
• Baron/Baroness: Bestowed upon a lord or lady vampire who has distinguished themselves on several occasions, with honor and valor above and beyond the call of duty. Unlike lord/lady, this title is never given purely based on lineage and is considered (by the haughtier members of the covenant) the lowest “true” title of tribute.
• Viscount: Bestowed upon a vampire who is given permanent domain within the territories of the Invictus. The vampire so titled appends the name of their domain to the title (for example, The Viscount of Soho). If the vampire loses control of the domain in question for any reason, they remain a viscount, but the domain is no longer acknowledged in the name. The Good precedes the viscount’s name in introductions. No more than one vampire may hold this title for a domain at a time. Only final death or a declaration of the Prima Invicta can free the title to be conferred upon another.
• Earl: Bestowed upon a vampire who conquers a domain, adding it to the territories of the Invictus and earning the right to rule it (as determined by the Prima Invicta). The vampire so titled appends the name of their domain to the title (for example, The Earl of Montmartre). As with a viscount, an earl who loses control of their domain must remove it from their title. The Honorable precedes the earl’s name in introductions. No more than one vampire may hold this title for a domain at a time. Only final death or a declaration of the Prima Invicta can free the title to be conferred upon another.
Losing a Title of Tribute
Just as gaining titles of tribute should be rare and momentous for a character, losing one should be almost unheard of. Just receiving the title in the first place tends to take accomplishments of great note and its conferment indicates a position of permanent adulation. Nobody should be stripped of a tribute without having committed a truly devastating crime against the covenant. When a vampire is stripped of tribute, a public (or at least embarrassingly witnessed) ceremony of humiliation and punishment is often held. The Prima Invicta makes an open declaration of disappointment, officially removing the title forever after. It is not entirely unheard of for this ceremony to end with the disgraced vampire’s exile, defection or self-destruction.
• Marquis/Marquise: Bestowed upon a vampire who is given permanent place on the Prima Invicta of a city. This is an extremely high honor, suggesting that no fault or mishap could ever diminish the influence this vampire has within the Invictus. This title is normally given to one who has clearly altered the course of history within the city to the covenant’s advantage and without whom (it is acknowledged), all would have been lost. The name of the city in question is appended to the title (for example, The Marquis of Florence). No more than one vampire may hold this title in a city at a time. Traditionally, only final death or permanent exile can free the title to be conferred upon another. The Right Honorable precedes the name of a marquis or marquise in introduction.
• Duke/Duchess: Bestowed upon a vampire who is held responsible for conquering a city and establishing a strong base of power for lasting rule by the Invictus. A duke or duchess is customarily given a permanent place in the Prima Invicta of the city they have secured, as well as permanent personal rule over a domain within the city. The name of the city in question is appended to the title (for example, The Duke of Sydney). No more than one Invictus vampire may traditionally hold this title in a city’s history. Even final death does not free the title for conferring upon another, though in modern nights this practice is relaxed somewhat if the Invictus are forced to re-conquer a city following a prolonged period of absence. Thus, a few cities hold Kindred with titles such as “the Second Duke of Glasgow.” His Grace or Her Grace precedes the name of a duke or duchess in introduction.
Titles of Function
Many vampires in the Invictus prefers to declare a profession, underscoring the value of their contributions to the covenant in the city and ensuring that nobody ever needs to ask that tedious question, what do you do?
Following is a comprehensive list of acknowledged “professions of worth” in many Invictus domains. It is possible to create a new or unusual title of function, but a vampire who chooses to do so must be careful: anything too strange or modern (by local standards) may raise eyebrows and undermine confidence in one’s ability to play a “worthwhile” role. In fact, there are cities where the Prima Invicta even considers some of the positions in this list unacceptable—it’s all a matter of the upper crust’s tastes.
None of these titles are self-declared. Ordinarily, a vampire either completes Guild schooling in subjects relevant to the profession, earning the title upon graduation, or (in the absence of a skilled mentor) demonstrates their ability before the Prima Invicta, earning the right to append the title if and only if the Council gives leave.
Normally, formal rules of address dictate that a vampire is referred to by their title of esteem, then title of function. For example: Mister Secretary, Madam Interpreter, Alder Reeve. Common exceptions to this rule are noted in the list below.
Note that the titles of function that refer to offices of the city are used only to describe Invictus vampires who hold those offices. One would not refer to a hound who is not a member of the covenant as “archon,” for example, unless the prince so dictated.
It is possible for a vampire to hold multiple titles of function. Some titles supersede all others (as noted below), but most do not. In matters of formal address, vampires with multiple titles of function are referred to by the title that most applies to the situation at hand, or the one for which they are most famous.
• Advisor: An Invictus title for a member of the primogen. There are Advisors’ Guilds, involving courses of study in politics, academic debate, expression and emotional manipulation, among others. Many vampires who are thus schooled never actually take on the title, but the skills offered are so valuable, especially when taught by a meister, that they may prove indispensable anyway. Of course, when offered the choice between a schooled Advisor and an amateur, most princes pick the latter for their table.
• Advocate: A specialist in public relations or activism to promote the interests of the covenant. Advocates may be called upon to make public speeches at city gatherings to help sway the general opinion of local vampires to favor the Invictus or to recruit outsiders to the covenant. Some advocates are charming and well-spoken, representing the ideal of the Invictus to outsiders, while other advocates are social chameleons, respected for their ability to address outsiders on their own terms, in their own language. Many advocates, of course, double as spies for the covenant.
• Almoner: A vampire who makes it a profession to care for the less fortunate, either in Kindred or mortal society or both. While dedication to this task attracts genuinely charitable vampires, it can be undertaken with some cynicism as well. At best, a good almoner strengthens the domain and ensures that no one is driven to desperation by their circumstances, if possible. At worst, a skilled almoner chooses the timing of their “kindness” with devilish precision, using their caring to manipulate the affections of the downtrodden and direct them according to the almoner’s whim.
• Au Pair: A specialist in elementary training for neonates: basic vampire survival and etiquette, Discipline use and Masquerade preservation skills. Au Pairs are often called upon to verify that an Invictus childe is ready to be considered a responsible member of the community and, if necessary, to “work out” any unacceptable opinions or habits the neonate has accumulated in their mortal life.
• Commissioner: A vampire trained in the judicious distribution of resources. Generally, a commissioner is called upon to administer plans that require the co-ordination of several vampires’ material goods or contacts. Deals involving a sizable transfer of resources from the Invictus to outsider Kindred are almost always brokered by a professional commissioner. It is also a commissioner’s duty to ensure the stability of the covenant’s investments in a city.
• Councilor: A member of the Prima Invicta. This title supersedes any other title of function the vampire may possess except, of course, prince. The eldest councilor on the Prima Invicta is referred to as Primus, while the second-eldest is referred to as Secundus.
• Groom: A keeper of herds. This may refer to mortals or animals. Note that the function of a groom is very different from an almoner; a groom is expected to keep the herd in superior condition and may be called upon to provide herds with specific qualities and training. This, as can well be imagined, is not always to the benefit of the members of the herd. If an elder vampire (or, really, anyone with sufficient influence) wishes to secure a “pedigree” mortal or creature for private purposes, a good groom can be relied upon to produce a qualified candidate. Some grooms even specialize in finding or preparing promising candidates for Embrace. Interpreter:* A translator and specialist in matters of subterfuge. An Interpreter must be able to interpret the motives of their subject as well as the language spoken. Many Interpreters work in conjunction with Speakers. It is worthwhile to note that Interpreter is the respectable cover a good number of dilettante vampires take on, especially since the education is easily misapplied to gambling, confidence schemes and other distasteful activities.
• Hound: The city position of hound. Hounds may be trained in tactical strategy, investigative techniques and practical criminal skills. It is said that the hounds of the Invictus are unparalleled in dedication, experience and tenacious resolve.
• Interpreter: A translator and specialist in matters of subterfuge. An interpreter must be able to interpret the motives of their subject as well as the language spoken. Many interpreters work in conjunction with Speakers. It is worthwhile to note that interpreter is the respectable cover a good number of dilettante vampires take on, especially since the education is easily misapplied to gambling, confidence schemes and other distasteful activities.
• Judex: A professional judge and settler of disputes within the covenant. Advocates, interpreters, notaries and senators are most likely to take on the position of judex, but the Prima Invicta is by no means restricted in its choice. Any fair-minded vampire with a reputation for honesty and a distinct lack of questionable associations could easily fill the role. If one takes this position, the title of judex supersedes one’s previous title of function until the title of judex is relinquished.
• Knight: An oathsworn soldier. Distinguished from a soldier by membership in an established Order of Knighthood with its own traditions and oaths of conduct. Orders of Knighthood replace titles of esteem with Sir or Dame, for male and female knights, respectively. Formal address is Sir knight or Dame knight.
• Librettist: A professional connoisseur of arts and entertainments. A librettist may be called upon to arrange entertainment for Invictus events or to advise covenant members on the quality and authenticity of valuable works of art. A librettist will often work in close company with a steward, overseeing and verifying the undiluted quality of their collection. Of course, librettists must be educated in processes of forgery to ensure that their discerning eyes cannot be fooled. This education may be put to more practical (but less honest) uses, if one is so inclined—but a librettist caught trying to pass a forgery off as a legitimate piece will lose their professional title and may suffer irreparable damage to their reputation.
• Meister: An acknowledged expert and instructor in any field of study who oversees a Guild. The formal mode of address is simply meister for both male and female vampires. The title of esteem is not used if this is the only title of function the vampire possesses. One may become a meister of a single, specific subject, a number of subjects or a collection of related courses of study (for example, meister of Medicine, meister of Medicine and Education or meister of grooms). Meister is the only title of function that appends to all other titles instead of being superseded. For instance, a vampire who is both an Advisor and a meister would bear the two titles. In many English-speaking domains, this title is replaced with Master, though that term is often also used to refer to one’s sire, grandsires or mentors as well.
• Minister: The Invictus title for a herald. The ideal Invictus minister is multilingual, capable of delivering a personal oral or written message to any member of the city’s Kindred community on demand. Ministers are often schooled as interpreters or Speakers before taking on this position. If one takes this position, the title of minister supersedes one’s previous title of function until the title of minister is relinquished.
• Notary: A professional witness to declarations and recitations of oaths. A notary may be called upon to authenticate both the content and context of any vow or oath he has borne witness to. A notary must have a reputation for strict honesty and will also find themselves relied upon for general reportage. Many notaries thus become the oral “journalists” of the Invictus, reporting events of note to their compatriots in regular sessions. Some become Harpies, but many shy away from such a clearly political position, preferring to maintain the appearance of neutrality.
• Player: A professional artist or performer. The term refers to creative arts as well, so a painter is still formally referred to as a player. A good number of Invictus vampires who choose not to involve themselves in the workings of society take refuge in the solitary pursuit of the arts, allowing them to maintain respectability without requiring dedication to extroverted behavior. Players seeking the accolades of the Invictus would be well advised to befriend a recognized librettist.
• Prince: The city position of prince.
• Secretary: The governor of Guilds in a city. Without acknowledgement from the secretary, a Guild may not officially exist. Secretaries are also academics by profession, but are distinguished from senators and au pairs by their administration of the Invictus schools in a city. A secretary may be called upon to advise a meister in methods of discipline and instruction. Each secretary also keeps a list of the recognized Invictus professionals in a city and can be called upon to verify one’s claim to a title of function. Because Secretaries hold the power to officially recognize or disband a Guild, they are often extremely influential. They may, after all, determine what is or is not “proper” for neonates to learn in a given domain.
• Senator: A professional philosopher and advisor; may be called upon to give counsel on spiritual matters or interpret occult occurrences. Senators are nearly always dedicated specialists, obsessed (or very nearly so) with the minutiae of their chosen field of study. It is quite difficult to gain the title of senator—while there are many Guilds of Philosophy, the Prima Invicta of a given city is only likely to bestow this title on a vampire they truly believe to be wise and capable of valuable insights.
• Seneschal: The city position of seneschal. Most Invictus seneschals are schooled as speakers, notaries, or stewards. If one takes this position, the title of seneschal supersedes one’s previous title of function until the title of seneschal is relinquished.
• Sheriff: The city position of sheriff. Sheriffs are customarily trained as a hound, rising to this position by dint of impeccable service after the position is vacated (or, occasionally, by demonstrating superiority to the current holder of the title). As with hounds, Invictus sheriffs bear a formidable reputation for steadiness and efficiency. If one takes this position, the title of sheriff supersedes one’s previous title of function until the title of sheriff is relinquished.
• Soldier: A professional warrior who is not sworn to an Order of Knights. Since soldiers are not bound by the detailed Oaths of Knighthood, many become mercenary warriors and assassins. While they may not be viewed with the same admiration, soldiers are no less skilled than knights and many prefer to trade a lower reputation for relative autonomy.
• Speaker: A specialist in matters of etiquette and diplomacy. Speakers can expect to be called upon to handle delicate negotiations with members of other covenants. Speakers are also trained in expressive, formal styles of writing and may be hired to write official letters for any number of purposes (including a petition for Guild membership, a formal challenge to monomacy or almost any communication with an elder). Almost every Invictus harpy is a speaker.
• Steward: A preserver of valuable artifacts. A steward may also be an individual who has taken responsibility for an elder vampire in torpor, ensuring that all arrangements are made to welcome them back when they wakes and caring for them, if necessary. There is training for both types of stewards—the former is likely to focus on the practical application of academic knowledge (for instance, the construction and upkeep of a display case for a priceless ancient document), while the latter will learn the skills necessary to arrange an estate and ease a sleep-addled vampire into the modern nights. Stewards of this latter sort are often derided by their compatriots for performing duties normally assigned to a servant—but the gratitude of a recently risen elder can be more than worth the sacrifice.
• Technologist: An expert in the study and application of disciplines, including the experimental development of new Devotions, categorization of bloodline specific powers and observations of other “foreign” abilities (such as Theban Sorcery or Crúac). Technologists are expected to fully understand at least one Discipline in all its varied functions and may be called upon to identify its use or attempt to track an effect back to its origin. Naturally, technologists must double as skilled investigators and occultists. Many Old World cities will not acknowledge this as a legitimate profession, often because the studies required can involve a dangerously selfish pursuit of power. That lesson was learned after a catastrophic coup attempt by members of a Technologist’s Guild in the south of Spain some centuries ago; news of that event has been spreading slowly ever since. However, technologists’ skills are appreciated by the more intelligent Invictus.
• Whip: The city position of whip. Ideal whips are trained as interpreters or grooms. If one takes this position, the title of whip supersedes one’s previous title of function until the title of whip is relinquished.
Terms of Address
The manner in which one chooses to address a fellow member of the covenant is no less important than the title of the vampire in question. To that end, there are several options available in discussion: the submissive, the formal, the familiar, the intimate and the disparaging.
One must be careful with terms of address. More than one judex has authorized the expulsion or execution of a hapless vampire who felt safe using inappropriate terminology in reference to a powerful member of the covenant. A single slip of the tongue can lead to a demand for embarrassing apologies or the taking on of crippling boons just to repair the damage done.
For the sake of illustration, let us imagine a discussion about three individuals, whose full titles are The Right Honorable Alder Dolores, Marquise of Seattle and Meister Interpreter, The Alder Lady Vivian, Speaker and Mister Jeffrey Wright.
• Submissive: To refer to an individual in the submissive voice, one precedes the name with Most, an ingratiating (and complimentary) term and the title of tribute (if there is one—the title of esteem if there is not), followed by the vampire’s name, if and only if the title of tribute is not unique. For example, our three Kindred mentioned above might be spoken of as The Most Magnificent Marquise of Seattle, The Most Eloquent Lady Vivian and The Most Admirable Mister Wright. If addressing the vampire directly, the “The” and any specific details of title are dropped from the phrase and only the last name is used (i.e., “Most Magnificent Marquise, I beg you” or “Most Admirable Mister Wright, I must protest”).
Speech in the submissive tone is recommended for any one who wishes to underscore their own inferiority to the vampire in question, most especially in attempts to ingratiate themselves. The submissive tone speaks volumes when used in a public discussion: this tone may indicate, among other things, an oath of servitude to the individual named, a genuine admission of chaste admiration, or a cowering fear. Note that making use of the submissive voice can be dangerous—if the slightest hint of sarcasm is suspected, the address becomes an insult. But, of course, some powerful members of the covenant will tolerate no other form of address from their lessers.
• Formal: An address in the formal tone is a simple combination of the titles of esteem and function. If the vampire being addressed has no title of function, then their last name will suffice. For example: Alder Meister, Alder Speaker or Mister Wright. If a vampire bears more than one title of function, the one that most applies to the discussion at hand is chosen. This is generally the safest and most common mode of address in the Invictus. This mode of address is entirely neutral.
• Familiar: To speak in the familiar voice, one combines the title of esteem and the vampire’s first name. Our two vampires in the example would be referred to as Alder Dolores, Alder Vivian and Mister Jeffrey respectively.
It is respectful to use the familiar tone when speaking of close blood relatives, whereas using formal address would indicate a certain coldness in one’s family relations. One also tends to refer to one’s coterie-mates in this mode unless special circumstances apply.
Using the familiar tone in reference to a distinct superior can invite a wrathful response. Of course, if it does not, then the rest of the members of the covenant will know you are being allowed to do so. This, in itself, can speak volumes about one’s social standing.
• Intimate: To refer to a vampire in the intimate voice, one simply states their name. In our example: Dolores, Vivian and Jeffrey, respectively.
Intimate references are only meant to be made to those who are (or have been) lovers. Misapplication of this mode of address can have disastrous results—or hilarious ones, depending on whether or not one is capable of weathering scandal. After all, in the halls of the Invictus, a quick throwaway reference to another vampire by their first name only will be taken as the public announcement of a romantic affair.
• Disparaging: If one wishes to make a disparaging reference to an Invictus vampire, one precedes the title of tribute (if there is one) with the word My, and appends the vampire’s given name (if the title of tribute is not unique). So for our examples: My Marquise, My Lady Vivian and My Mister Wright, respectively. The effect is one of belittlement and thus this mode of address is appropriate in only two situations: to assert one’s superiority over the Kindred in question or to issue a challenge intended to provoke an angry response. Woe to the vampire who opts for the latter choice and fails to back their words up with power and poise.
Titles and terms of address are not the only ways in which Invictus vampires make their opinions and aspirations known in public society. Although to outsiders the subtleties of etiquette within the covenant seem complex and layered, in truth, there are a few simple rules of communication that hold true. The basis of all public statements of the Invictus is context and that is what renders the intentions of the Invictus opaque to all outside the covenant but crystal clear to all within.
Walking the Line
Following the rules of Invictus etiquette is a sure way to avoid ruffling feathers and can impress vampires in high places. Then again, not everybody wants to avoid notoriety and too much approval from above can lead to suspicion of toadying.
A clever vampire may make calculated forays into impolitic behavior just to make sure they’re noticed. It’s a dangerous game but can be charming if well played. It’s all a matter of gauging the local scene and figuring out how far you can go without losing control of the situation. Many a roguish youngster can step into the spotlight through inadvisable conduct—but only those who carry themselves with aplomb when all eyes are turned their way will survive.
There is a saying among the Toreador of the Invictus: “A lovable rascal is just a reject with good timing.”
• Precedence: This is a simple rule. No superior must ever be made to wait for an inferior. If a party is thrown, the most prestigious attendee should be the last to arrive. Thus, it is expected that everyone responds to an invitation to verify their attendance—so that the host knows not to let the event officially begin until the most superior guest arrives.
If everyone adheres carefully to this rule, then superior Kindred will always speak before inferiors, will always be the first served in matters of gift-giving and other procedures and will always be called upon to perform, demonstrate or act before inferiors.
Breaking this order of precedence implies a direct challenge of authority and is an acceptable lead-in to a duel of monomacy (even if it were unintentional—but not if it were directly caused by the superior).
• Gifting: Among Invictus Kindred, the giving of gifts is a remarkable statement. Any gift given, whether in public or private, may imply affection, support or deference. What is most important is that the gift demonstrates significance, effectively saying that the gift-giver believes the recipient is worthy of notice. The giving of any gift allows the recipient some small power, because they are free to refuse it. Refusal of a gift is, of course, an insult proportional to the sacrifice the gift represents. A refusal can lead to a duel, if the parties involved are hot-headed enough, or to a long-lasting animosity, if they are not.
Many Invictus vampires give small gifts of jewelry to one another as a bonding exercise, simply to acknowledge ties of blood or friendship (and to make sure that anybody who sees the exchange understands that the participants are on good terms with one another).
It is customary, upon settling a dispute in a manner that is to the satisfaction of both parties, to exchange a paltry gift as an indicator that all is well. Some Kindred insist that the signing of contracts is always followed by a trade of pens, while one South American prince is known to require monomacy duelists to exchange gloves upon resolving their challenge.
• Display: To accept a gift is one thing. To wear or display it is something entirely different and provides yet another subtle avenue of statement to the members of the covenant. Wearing an accepted gift in public implies a return of affection or support for the one who gave the gift: it essentially means that the recipient wishes to be associated with the giver. Not such a big deal in some cases, but when you’re talking about a vampire who’s making a bid for praxis (or one who is somehow scandalous), wearing a gift in public can provoke quite a reaction from those who notice.
Beyond gifts, the rule of display applies also to the self. Where one chooses to make appearances and how one positions oneself are equally important. Standing at the shoulder of another vampire indicates associative support again, while taking their arm is a declaration of affection. Facing another vampire without bowing the head indicates a formal indifference, while bowing the head is a display of subjugation.
Simply attending an event indicates support for the host. Thus, it is expected that all Invictus Kindred attend every official covenant event (unless they want to bring their loyalty into question). Even making an appearance within the bounds of another vampire’s domain can be considered a declaration of association, assuming the visit is peaceful.
Displaying a weapon carries no special significance among the Invictus. However, touching the hilt of the weapon, even lightly, indicates a wish to do battle with the vampire one is facing. Invictus Kindred who are presented with such a demonstration must either rise to the challenge or respond with a submissive gesture.
Finally, displays of wealth are considered virtuous among Invictus Kindred. Ostentation can help solidify the covenant’s power base in a city, indicating a lack of fear and dangling an alluring way of unlife to the outsiders in the domain. This flaunting of material goods extends beyond human bounds, though—members of the Invictus are expected to be flush with vitae at any public event (demonstrating the covenant’s ample resources in more ways than one); blood is often provided in ample supply at Invictus hostings.
• Respect: While it cannot be expected that members of the covenant will be able to avoid dispute with one another at all times, it is never acceptable to be openly rude or crass in reference to a compatriot in any venue. Invictus Kindred are beholden to one another in bonds of respect—choosing to be a member of the covenant means accepting a responsibility to uphold its tenets and serving as a part of a greater whole. Every vampire who makes that choice deserves the esteem of both their peers and their betters.
In truth, to outsiders, the respect Invictus vampires pay to one another is one of the covenant’s most appealing features. A neonate thrust alone into the cruel world of the Requiem can find surprising solace in simple politeness.
Because of this rule, disparaging or insulting statements or demonstrations always need to be veiled from observers. Within the Invictus, it is best if one can completely humiliate one’s enemies without ever failing to show common courtesy.
Addressing Local Unconquered
All but the most uneducated Kindred within the Invictus knows how to address their fellow covenant members. Non-members of the Invictus can make an Intelligence + (Politics or Socialize) roll, with every success revealing one of the Unconquered’s relevant titles.
In cities where the Invictus is the ruling covenant, Kindred may be expected to refer to one another by the First Estate’s modes of address (which has the effect of making non-members of the covenant, who hold no titles among it, sound far less grandiose). In New Orleans, this is obviously not so, though addressing the Unconquered by their proper titles is a helpful way to make a good impression.
• Introductory: “The Right Honorable Vetustus Pearl Chastain, Marquise of New Orleans, Primus of the Prima Invicta, Judex, Librettist, Speaker, Primogen of Clan Toreador, Regent of the Lower Garden District and Master of the Guild of Plutus.”
• Formal: “Vetustus Primus.”
• Familiar: “Vetustus Pearl.”
• Intimate: “Pearl.”
• Introductory (to non-Ventrue): “The Honorable Sir John Harley Matheson, Alder, Earl, Secundus, Commissioner, Interpreter, Senator, Steward, Solitary of Die Nachteulen, Officer of the Most Noble Fellowship of Artemis, Knight Banneret of the Order of the Silver Wyrm and Whip emeritus.”
• Introductory (to Ventrue): “The Honorable Sir John Harley Matheson, Alder, Earl, Secundus, Commissioner, Interpreter, Senator, Steward, Solitary of Die Nachteulen, Officer of the Most Noble Fellowship of Artemis, Knight Banneret of the Order of the Silver Wyrm, Whip emeritus, Gerousiastis, Blue Consul of the Assembly of Colors, Brother of the Order of the Crescent Moon, Member First Class of the Order of the Hawk Royale, and Knight Banneret of the Order of the White Cross.”
• Formal: “Alder Secundus” or “Sir Knight.”
• Familiar: “Alder John” or “Sir John.”
• Intimate: “John.”
• Introductory: “The Good Alder Accou Poincaré, Viscount of the Lower Garden District, Councilor of the Prima Invicta, Librettist, Player, Secretary, Speaker, Whip and Master of the Guild of Apollo.”
• Formal: “Alder Councilor.”
• Familiar: “Alder Accou.”
• Intimate: “Accou.”
• Introductory: “The Good Lady Adelais Seyrès, Viscountess of Magazine Street, Councilor of the Prima Invicta, Librettist, Notary, Speaker, Harpy and Journeywoman of the Guild of Nemesis.”
• Formal: “Lady Councilor.”
• Familiar: “Lady Adelais.”
• Intimate: “Adelais.”
• Introductory (to non-Ventrue): “His Grace Marcel Guilbeau, Duke of Baton Rouge, Interpreter and Librettist.”
• Introductory (to Ventrue): “His Grace Marcel Guilbeau, Duke of Baton Rouge, Interpreter, Librettist, Gerousiastis and Gold Consul of the Assembly of Colors.”
• Formal: “Lord Interpreter” or “Lord Librettist.”
• Familiar: “Lord Marcel.”
• Intimate: “Marcel.”
• Introductory (to non-Ventrue): “The Honorable Lord Pierpont McGinn, Earl and Regent of Uptown, Councilor of the Prima Invicta and Commissioner."
• Introductory (to Ventrue): “The Honorable Lord Pierpont McGinn, Earl and Regent of Uptown, Councilor of the Prima Invicta, Commissioner, Gerousiastis of Clan Ventrue, Brother of the Order of the Crescent Moon, and Knight Bachelor of the Knights of the Blood.”
• Formal: “Lord Councilor.”
• Familiar: “Lord Pierpont.”
• Intimate: “Pierpont.”
• Introductory: “Lady Natasha Preston, Commissioner and Steward of the French Quarter.”
• Formal: “Lady Commissioner.”
• Familiar: “Lady Natasha.”
• Intimate: “Natasha.”
• Introductory: “Lord Randolph Cartwright, Almoner and Groom.”
• Formal: “Lord Almoner” or “Lord Groom.”
• Familiar: “Lord Randolph.”
• Intimate: “Randolph.”
• Introductory: “Lady Elyse Benson, Interpreter and Player.”
• Formal: “Lady Interpreter” or “Lady Player.”
• Familiar: “Lady Elyse.”
• Intimate: “Elyse.”
• Introductory (to non-Ventrue): “Lady Rebecca Lynne Adler, Advocate and Speaker.”
• Introductory (to Ventrue): “Lady Rebecca Lynne Adler, Advocate, Speaker and Questor.”
• Formal: “Lady Advocate” or “Lady Speaker.”
• Familiar: “Lady Rebecca.”
• Intimate: “Becky Lynne.”