The Six Traditions

“Now this is the law of the jungle—
as old and as true as the sky;
And the Wolf that shall keep it may prosper,
but the Wolf that shall break it must die.”

Rudyard Kipling, “The Law of the Jungle”

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Vampire: The Masquerade (5e) (2018)

The Six Traditions form the core framework for governance among the Kindred. While they are interpreted in wildly different ways and given various attention by individual princes and councils, they are ancient customs that no initiated Camarilla Kindred is unaware of. Even if they were, ignorance is no excuse for breaking them.

Vampire: The Requiem (2e) (2013)

Through us, you enter the society of liars and thieves. Through us, you enter the population of blood-drinkers and egos grown fat on getting away with murder. Through us, you enter the congress of corpses lacking the decency to lie still. What laws could we possibly respect?

There are rules even the dead fear to tread over. The Traditions. Recite them now—you’ll find they skip right off the tip of your tongue.

These pillars bear the weight of a culture of monsters. Where did they come from? There is no common origin story. No one remembers a time before them. Eternal they remain. Who first spoke the words? Some whisper the name “Caine,” or “Antediluvians,” but it hits the cold ear the way “Camelot” touches the warm. When we raise our heads, above the immediate keen of Beast and Blood, we might see the mystery of ages twining above in the distant dark.

The conservatives say the Traditions are written into the Blood, from the Beginning. They say these laws are mystically enforced. Certainly the Sanctified agree. Some of their number go so far as to say that Longinus himself dictated the words, his spear still slick with the blood of the messiah.

But a murmur runs through the subversives. They say the Traditions are so universal, so old, because of their common sense to Kindred. It is good sense to hide from the herd, to not overpopulate the world with predators, to discourage one’s fellows from killing him. These so-called supernatural consequences, they argue, are incidental to a vampire’s nature, and if the Traditions were so mystically enforced, what need would there be for princes to preside over them? The Cacophony and millennia of Kindred culture are enough to program these simple rules for being a monster. The debate continues, but it misses the point. There are rules. Violating them brings pain.

Vampire: The Masquerade (V20) (2011)

Vampires observe a set of customs that exists somewhere between being coded into their undead natures and a social contract that’s ratified every night among the courts of the Damned. Not every vampire affords the idea of the Traditions the respect they deserve—the Sabbat in particular make bold claims about the flaws of the Traditions and the weak wills of those who hide behind them—but in practice, most vampires observe the Traditions to some extent. This is most true of the Masquerade, for as bold as the Sabbat or Anarchs may be, even they don’t have the concentrated might to stand against a world of mortals who learn the secret that the undead walk among them.

Interpreting and enforcing the Traditions is the privilege and responsibility of the Kindred prince. In some domains, particularly those of non-Camarilla sects, both the titles and the Traditions themselves may vary, but the core principle is found everywhere: That an undead authority makes the rules and woe to any who feel that they don’t have to heed them.

Vampire: The Requiem (1e) (2004)

Vampire society, such as it is, would have fallen under its own weight long ago were it not for the ties that bind it together. Like any society, the Kindred world survives on the rules established and agreed upon by its residents. Vampire “laws” are even more essential to the society they concern because of the nature of that society. The Kindred are manipulative killers whose mutual survival depends on their ability to get along well enough to remain sufficiently hidden from the eyes of their prey. As conservative covenants are fond of saying, lawlessness among the undead is perhaps the greatest threat facing the Kindred tonight. As a result, the Kindred have a body of vampire laws known as the Traditions.

A great many of the Kindred take the Traditions to heart. Others justify them beyond “That’s how things have always been,” while still others accept them blindly as part of the Kindred condition. Kindred who have studied such things often suggest that the actual wording of the Traditions as they are understood tonight was one of the efforts of the Kindred of ancient Rome. Particularly fervent members of the Lancea et Sanctum, unsurprisingly, sometimes claim that the actual codification of these customs is part of Longinus’ original dogma. Other scriptural, quasi-religious or philosophical wordings also exist, such as those held by the members of the hoary Circle of the Crone and the Ordo Dracul, but the core ideas of the Traditions remain unchanged. True “heretics” against the laws of all Kindred were few and far between in the early nights of the Damned. Despite their differences (and they had many), most of the Kindred were in agreement about what was and was not a good idea for their kind. They might disagree on theory or implementation, or even on basic precepts, but few argued with the wisdom of such incontrovertible laws.

Guide to the Camarilla (1999)

The Traditions are the laws of the Kindred, but especially those of the Camarilla. The customs codified in the Six Traditions have been in place in some form long before the formation of the sect; some Noddist scholars believe that Caine himself handed them down to his childer. Others dispute this claim, making all sorts of arguments about linguistic structure and the like. In the end, though, it doesn’t matter. The Traditions exist, and have the weight of centuries behind them. These six laws are the universal legislation of the Camarilla. All the rest is just commentary and addenda.

All Camarilla neonates are expected to learn and understand the Traditions. Ignorance is no excuse when it comes to a violation of one of these precepts. These laws are absolute; any violation of them is met with swift and severe retribution.

Unless, of course, it isn’t— and it is those lapses in enforcement that can make unlife in the Camarilla so interesting.

Vampire: The Masquerade (Revised) (1998)

A vampire living in a prince-ruled city must accept certain responsibilities for the privileges of security and stability. This stability is maintained only when the Kindred within behave in a proper manner, one dictated by a near-universal set of rules. These rules are known by the gentle-sounding name of the Six Traditions, although they are hardly polite suggestions.

For Camarilla Kindred, and the princes who enforce them, they are the law. A vampire may be assured that wherever they travel, the Traditions will be in force. They may be interpreted differently, but they remain. It is through the enforcement of these laws, and through the laws themselves, that princes receive much of their power. Obviously, then, princes are among the most zealous of the Traditions’ enforcers.

It is a popular Camarilla conceit that a sire recite the Traditions to their childe before that childe is recognized as a neonate. Some princes stage grand spectacles to honor new childer’s transition from fledgling to neonate, while others need not even witness the release, trusting the sire with the proper execution. Almost all childer learn the Traditions well before this recitation, but the act is accorded great symbolism and gravity in Camarilla affairs. Staunch supporters of the Camarilla and the Traditions maintain that a newly Embraced Kindred has not truly become a vampire until their sire speaks the Traditions to them. Obviously, the Traditions are quite a serious matter, and the sire is held accountable for the childe until, by speaking the Traditions to them, the sire makes the childe responsible for upholding the code themselves.

Origins

The Six Traditions that form the laws of vampire society are believed to have been passed down since the wars that slew the Second Generation. They are rarely written down, but they have never been forgotten, and they are known by all Kindred in some form. Even vampires who scorn the Traditions know them; though their specific wordings may vary, the intent behind them never falters.

Some vampires believe that Caine himself created the Traditions when he sired his childer, and that what modem vampires follow are their progenitor’s original wishes for his descendants. Others, however, think that the Antediluvians created them to maintain control over their childer, or that they were simply a set of common-sense ideas that were upheld over the millennia because they worked. The Tradition of the Masquerade, for example, is thought to have existed in some form since the nights of the First City, but it changed in response to the Inquisition.

Tonight

A number of young vampires, children of the modem world, see the Traditions as being merely a tool of the elders to maintain their stranglehold on Kindred society, and an antique tool at that. The times that produced the need for the Masquerade are over and done, ancient history. Caine, Gehenna, the Antediluvians—all myths with about as much substance as the Flood or the Tower of Babel, and all for the sake of controlling the younger generations. It’s time to drop the Traditions and live in the modem age. The vampires of the Sabbat rabidly adhere to this reasoning, and their scorn for the Traditions is one of the primary motivations behind their constant attacks on the ancient power structures.

Most elders see the young as temperamental adolescents who think they know everything but who lack the wisdom and experience of age. As many of the rebels are Anarchs and neonates, mostly powerless and without voice in Kindred society, it should come as no great surprise that they are so wild. However, not every elder takes such an indulgent viewpoint. Many feel that the reckless whelps who demand the Traditions be dropped may get their wish when they bring mortal society down on their heads. Natural selection takes care of a few of these, but such selection has occasionally been “assisted” by a prince exasperated beyond patience with a particularly recalcitrant young vampire.

What follows is the most common wording of the Traditions. Bear in mind that this is the phrasing used by elders and on formal occasions. The wording may change according to the clan, the age of the vampire speaking, or simple circumstance. During a childe’s presentation to the prince, they may be required to recite the Traditions as proof that their sire has taught them the basic laws of their kind.

Vampire: The Masquerade (2e) (1992)

The Traditions are the age-old laws of the Kindred, passed down from the early nights following the great kin-slaying. They are not formally written down, but they are known by all Kindred nevertheless. There are many variations, based on what part of the world one is in when one hears them spoken. The words may vary, but the intent endures.

When the Traditions are recalled at conclaves of the Camarilla, they are recited as if spoken by a sire to a fledgling. Indeed, it has become something of a tradition for them to be the final words a sire speaks to their progeny before they are released. In the moments before they are to be presented to the prince the sire speaks of these things to the fledgling. Though the neonate may know of the Traditions already, the words are still spoken. It is an important element of the ritual.

Many elders maintain that these Traditions were originally conceived by Caine himself when he sired the Second Generation of Kindred. Thus, it is possible that these words are those of the ancient one himself, as he spoke them to his own progeny. However, it is far more likely that they were created by the Antediluvians, as they attempted to restrict their own progeny in the ways they themselves were not controlled. The Tradition of Masquerade is likely to have existed for some time, though in much more diluted form. It was not until the Inquisition that it was reaffirmed and its wording and intent strength­ened.

It should be pointed out that many of the Traditions below are couched in fairly formal terms. These are the words and phrases of the elders, and not necessarily how they would be expressed by the Anarchs. The younger Kindred see these “Traditions” in an entirely different light. The few sections following are the most common versions of the Traditions known:


The First Tradition: Masquerade


Thou shalt not reveal thy true nature to those not of the Blood.
Doing such shall renounce thy claims of Blood.

Vampire: The Masquerade (5e) (2018)

The First Tradition is the only one universally respected, but also the one that is broken most often. A sloppy feeding with witnesses, a vulgar display of undead might, a confession to a beloved mortal. These things happen, but Kindred are expected to clean up after themselves, or there will be hell to pay. The crime-world code “snitches get stitches” doesn’t even begin to describe how seriously both the Camarilla and the Anarchs take the Masquerade. In the age of MeVid dares, clickbait, and fake news, a Masquerade breach is easily overlooked by the masses, but any transgression can end with a black ops team kicking in a haven door. Only the craziest of Cainite superiority fanatics dream of an age where they can rule openly; the rest have faced reality—the undead fare better as parasitic powers behind the throne than as great predators or infernal lords of human dominions.

Vampire: The Requiem (2e) (2013)

The zebra knows lions exist, but the zebra forgets, just long enough to take a drink or go to sleep. So it goes with the Masquerade. This is no grand conspiracy, but a guideline for Kindred interaction with the mortal world. This is not about fooling the global community, but making sure the upstairs neighbor does not suspect.

The Masquerade is a source of conflict in the All-Night Society. What constitutes a breach? What is the proper response? The answers are not definitive and vary from domain to domain. That finagling room, between the gaps of interpretation, is where the opportunists can bury their rivals.

The Kindred protect the here and the now, tonight, block by bloody block. They keep the locals from getting wise — the crusading cop, the determined reporter. The Masquerade is a local issue. It means you choose, through willful act or gross negligence, to shit where you and yours eat.

Belief does not come into it. People can believe in the supernatural. They can even believe in vampires. Knowledge is the key. So long as the paranoid man does not suspect the bartender, the one he tells all his crazy theories to, is Kindred, his beliefs do not matter.

This is not about vampires needing to quake and hide, but about the fear humans have of what is hidden from them—just past the truth of Santa Claus and all the horrible adult revelations—the fear that if they shake even the most mundane structure, crawling things will fall out.

The Lost Visage

A vampire does not lack a reflection. You just never see her in the mirror. The Beast knows precisely where to stand. A vampire is not a blurred mess in a photograph, but for some reason, never seems to look at the camera, or the flash smears the image, or it goes over- or under-exposed.

Frustrating, yes, but hardly supernatural. Unless you are a rogue statistics professor, manically analyzing vampire sightings and… what was that in the mirror? Surely nothing. Surely too much caffeine. Surely.

It’s a defense mechanism. The vampire rolls in lies until they soak into her skin. Kindred lie about their origins, lie to each other, secrete lies to mortar their honeycomb society, lie to themselves, lie to make themselves seem bigger and scarier, to seem smaller and less threatening, to seem fuckable when they should be creepy. Lies collect on a vampire like remora on a shark.

Vampire: The Masquerade (V20) (2011)

This is the most important Tradition, for its observance protects the race of Caine from discovery by a mortal world that would unite against them in fear and hatred. Many princes and other Kindred authorities spend a great deal of time using their influence or wealth to cover up breaches of the Masquerade, for the greater good of the Damned who may not even understand the peril in which they place themselves when they breach it. The Camarilla tends to err on the side of the pragmatic, cultivating its power from the shadows, but the Sabbat longs for a time when the Masquerade is no longer necessary, when mortals are little more than blood-thralls born into the shackles of their vampiric masters.

Vampire: The Requiem (1e) (2004)

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 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.

Guide to the Camarilla (1999)

The Masquerade is at the heart of the Camarilla’s very existence. The fact that vampires are real must be hidden from mortal eyes. Violations of this Tradition are usually punishable by death, if not worse. Every Camarilla vampire is suppose to be on watch for violations of the Masquerade, and to stop any breach they might come across. Failure to halt a violation of the Masquerade, or to report such to the appropriate authorities, is almost as bad as breaking the Tradition itself; the Camarilla takes the Masquerade very seriously. As a result, sheriffs and their deputies constantly scan the rack and the barrens for even the slightest errors in upholding the Tradition. While the other laws of the Camarilla are occasionally subject to looser interpretation, the First Tradition remains inviolable.

Vampire: The Masquerade (Revised) (1998)

This has become the foundation of modern Kindred society and the basis for the Masquerade that hides vampires from mortal eyes. To reveal vampires to the mortal world would be disastrous to both. While most people do not believe in vampires, there are enough who do that revealing vampiric existence would place all Kindred at risk. In older nights, during the Dark Ages and more superstitious ages, this Tradition was less strictly enforced, and vampires rode through the night with few cares for the mortal eyes who saw them. The Inquisition and Burning Times changed this drastically, however, as those vampires who could be seen were slain and tortured into revealing their secrets. While the youth may prattle about the Inquisition as ancient history, it is still very fresh in the minds of the elders who survived it. This is one of the greatest points of contention between the Camarilla and the Sabbat—the Sabbat sees no need to hide itself from the feeble kine, while the Camarilla knows the opposite to be true.

A breach of the Masquerade is the most serious crime a vampire can commit, and one of the easiest for a prince to fabricate if she wishes to punish an enemy. Depending on how strictly the prince upholds the Masquerade, anything from using vampiric powers in public to having mortal friends may constitute a breach.

To stave off their immortal boredom, many vampires skirt the Masquerade as closely as they can, taking thrill from the forbidden rush that places their unlives in jeopardy. The world has acknowledged many artists, poets, writers, musicians, models, club habitues, actors and fashion designers who, unbeknownst to the populace, were vampires. Of course, many of these vampires saw their unlives come to abrupt ends, as other Kindred decided that their continued existences were threats to the Children of Caine as a whole.

The Masquerade is a dangerous balance; ironically enough, the elders who support it most strongly are sometimes the ones who threaten it (albeit indirectly and without their recognition). An apocryphal story tells of a pair of vampire-hunters—a new recruit and her patron—on vigil in a nightclub. The patron said to his charge, “There is a vampire in this establishment. Find him,” whereupon the charge immediately selected the thin, pale gentleman in 18th-century velvet and brocade. Sure enough, that was the vampire—a Ventrue envoy from a neighboring city.

Vampire: The Masquerade (2e) (1992)

The First Tradition is the heart of what has become known as the Masquerade. Age-old law demands that the knowledge of the existence of true vampires be kept from mortal man. To reveal such to them would place the Kindred in dire jeopardy.

Violation of this tradition is the most serious offense a vampire can commit. The strengths and resources of humanity in the modern age are such that were human and Kindred to war, the survival of the Kindred would be in question. In more superstitious times, this tradition was less revered.

To violate this tradition is to risk one’s own destruction and the destruction of all the Kindred.


The Second Tradition: Domain


Thy domain is thine own concern.
All others owe thee respect while in it.
None may challenge thy word while in thy domain.

Further information: The Second Tradition and Kindred Feudalism.

Vampire: The Masquerade (5e) (2018)

A prince’s domain is the whole city, but they may grant rights to those who have served them, allowing others to rule over a district or a city block in their stead. This creates an elaborate hierarchy of liege lords and lieges, reminiscent of the feudalism of the late Middle Ages. Knowing the lay of the land and who has the claim to its use is vital to navigating the urban labyrinths of the night.

Vampire: The Masquerade (V20) (2011)

Of all the Traditions, princes often employ the widest range of interpretations when it comes to the Second Tradition. Some princes maintain that the Second Tradition applies only to those of their station, that a given city is entirely a prince’s domain and that everyone in it owes them fealty and perhaps tribute. Other princes are much more liberal, granting each (acknowledged) Kindred in their domain the power of sovereignty over their own territory. Most princes fall somewhere in the middle, acknowledging that each Kindred makes their own fortune and has a right to authority in areas accepted as theirs, but not complete autonomy.

Vampire: The Requiem (1e) (2004)

Another long-standing Tradition is the right of 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 infighting 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 their personal domain. Within that domain, their word is law among the undead, and they can expect not to be challenged. If another vampire wishes to stake a claim to some part or all of the domain, they 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, there 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 benefits, 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 their 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 their subjects’ personal havens once those havens have been granted and established.

Guide to the Camarilla (1999)

The meaning of this Tradition has changed in the modern era. Once domain meant territory, pure and simple. That was all well and good in nights when the Kindred were scarce and each could claim a city as her own, but things have changed. Now cities host, in extreme cases, up to a hundred Kindred. Modern metropolises have sprawled beyond the capability of any individual vampire to control directly. And so, the meaning of domain has been forced to change to meet the challenges the modern Camarilla faces.

In theory, the prince still holds domain over their entire city. They then have the option of parcelling out areas of control—from city blocks to whole neighborhoods or boroughs—to be held by the Kindred of their choice. While the prince still holds ultimate authority, these smaller areas are a combination of fiefdom and controlled hunting preserve for the vampires lucky enough to receive them. Of course, those Kindred are also responsible for enforcing the city’s laws within their domains, so domain comes with responsibility as well authority.

The concept of domain, however, is one of the most misunderstood in the Camarilla. Old and powerful vampires often stake out their own claims of domain, and unless the prince is willing to risk war to dislodge them, such claims are often allowed to stand in exchange for token favors. Neonates and Anarchs claim their havens and the areas around them as domain, when really they just have squatter’s rights. Usually a prince is content to let these petty claims pass and ignore the matter. It’s not worth her time and energy, after all, to persecute every piss-ant Anarch for misusing the term. So the prince still holds domain over the city, grants lesser domain to trusted servants or potential allies, and accepts claims by those strong enough to hold them or too weak to worry about.

Recently, the concept of domain has undergone something of an alteration. The term used to refer strictly to real estate, but within the past hundred years the word “domain” has been applied to industries as well. Hundreds of Kindred claim local software, steel, heavy manufacturing, export and other businesses as domain, setting themselves up to rule both the physical plants appropriate companies possess and their business dealings as well. A similar concept saw experimentation during the nights of the Italian merchant states, but ultimately failed. Since the beginnings of the ‘90s, the idea has been resurrected and seems to be gaining momentum. Now, an ambitious young Ventrue lobbies the prince for domain over the local software or telecomm industries, not a dozen-block holding on the north side of town. Most elders are content to let the childer chase such ephemera, but a few worry as to what sort of power the younger Kindred are actually accruing for themselves.

Vampire: The Masquerade (Revised) (1998)

Once, vampires staked claims to specific areas to use as hunting grounds, bases of power, or because they wished to take care of them. This Tradition was then used to enforce the idea of “domain,” and a vampire could be justified in killing another because their domain was violated. Over the years, as societies changed, this became unacceptable. For the past 200 or so years, a city or region ruled by a prince became the domain of the prince upon their taking the throne, or at least in theory. The truth is, a number of vampires maintain domain, many times from the sheer weight of custom (“The sewers have always been the domain of the Nosferatu,” or “A Ventrue has ruled this bank since its founding”). Of course, in modem nights, with some cities hosting vampire populations of 30,50, even 100 or more, concessions must be made. As such, many vampires hunt where they will, in the communal hunting grounds of the city’s bars, theaters and nightclubs, which are known collectively as “The Rack” in Kindred slang.

Younger vampires, and a number of older ones, often still attempt to hold bits of territory, protecting and using them as private feeding grounds. Some Anarchs claim that these mini- fiefdoms are granted by the prince as reward, proof that only the lapdogs get the treats. This is incorrect—the Kindred who hold their bits of turf are violating the Second Tradition, and the prince need not stand for it. He often lets violations go, however, in the name of expediency; there are more important concerns than chasing after every petty would-be Anarch who stakes out turf. He may entrust certain trusted allies with guardianship of particular areas, and grant them a few privileges for the burden of the job, but in the end, they holds domain over the city. This allows him to keep order, for they may, by the Second Tradition, punish interlopers with impunity.

For solitary vampires or small groups staking out their territory, domain holds immense value to them, even if the territory is an urban wasteland. Few princes actually grant territory, but they occasionally allow “squatters,” provided the vampires there support them and uphold the law there. The downside to this is the turf battles that can arise between gangs of Anarchs or coteries. These can spill over into the mortal world and threaten the Masquerade. Some princes have gone so far as to encourage such conflict, regardless of the danger, in order to set the troublemakers at each other’s throats and distract them from the business of the city.

If nothing else, each Kindred may claim their haven as domain, making their responsible for the activity in and around the area.

Some vampires take an active interest in their environment to ensure a secure haven, while others merely want a room where they can get away from the sun and to hell with the rest.

The question of what exactly constitutes domain is debated nightly. Does domain mean the physical territory and its concerns (such as hunting and haven), or does a domain also grant a vampire access to and influence over the mortal spheres within ? Most princes argue that domain is strictly an issue of physical “turf,” but wisely realize that influence over mortal affairs comes with the territory, no matter how they might attempt to curb it otherwise. A vampire who keeps up domain at the docks cannot help but become involved in the nightly mortal business of shipping and unions, if for no other reason than to keep their haven secure (after all, a labor strike could be very inconvenient, particularly if their bolthole is on the other side of the picket line). Very few vampires stake a domain encompassing mortals they cannot affect in some way, which can be a help or a headache to their princes. A prince does, however, become inclined to step in when a particular vampire’s power within and stemming from their domain threatens to eclipse their own.

As the nights progress and omens of Gehenna permeate Kindred society, more and more vampires fortify individual domains, holing themselves away in spite of princely prohibition. Only in this manner, these paranoid creatures reason, do they have a chance of surviving the Jyhad.

Vampire: The Masquerade (2e) (1992)

This Tradition has faded in importance as the population of the cities has risen so dramatically. Individual vampires no longer claim domain, but leave the rights of such to the prince.

Now, only the most powerful vampires in a city can claim domain over it. They do so according to the Tradition, and
pretend that all others live there only at the pleasure of the prince. Princes claim they possess the cities, and in most ways, they do. This Tradition is used by them to support their claims. This Tradition is what gives a vampire the right to claim princedom.

There is a prevalent misconception among Anarchs that princes give different portions of their domain to favored associates as “turf.” Though a prince only allows certain trusted Kindred to watch over portions of the city, this has only increased the cry for the rights of domain. Increasing numbers of Kindred are claiming “turf” within the city and treating it as their own private hunting grounds. Broods or even solitary Kindred stake claim to certain prime areas of the city (such as slum areas) and attempt to prevent other Kindred from feeding there. Though the city is vast enough that such claims have little value, they seem to have a special worth to these downtrodden Anarchs. Few if any princes actually grant territory, but that is not enough to prevent the Anarchs from taking it for themselves.

Some of the younger Kindred have made attempts to revive the Tradition of domain, seeing in it a similarity to some of the mechanics of organized crime. Small gangs will often attempt to establish turf within a city, often in opposition to the other Kindred of the city. This often becomes a difficult situation, with the fear of strife looming over everyone’s heads. Because of this, gang problems within a city can easily endanger the Masquerade. If the gang supports the prince, its members may be tolerated, or they may have the power to resist all attempts to dislodge them. Elders do not like to confront gangs of Anarchs. Though the elders possess superior power, there is still too much risk of final death.

The Anarchs primarily fight among themselves over turf, and usually do not attempt to prevent elders from feeding on their turf. Their activities are frowned upon by the prince, but as long as they do not threaten the Masquerade and do not get out of control, the Anarchs are allowed to continue their battles. Indeed, many princes view it as a means of using the Anarchs to suppress themselves, and will seek to provoke internecine conflict.

In cities where the prince does not have a firm grasp on power, certain elders may claim domain on an area within the city. Their power may be respected by other primogen, and they may be tolerated by the prince if they in turn support the prince. The establishment of one or more domains within a city can create powerful political dynamics, as those domains, intentionally or not, create rival power bases. In fact, occasionally a prince is only the first among a group of equals, the chairman of a committee of elders who each stake their own claim to a domain within the city.

Regardless of whether they have claimed domain or not, each Kindred is to some degree responsible for the area around their haven or the area which they frequent. Although the Kindred rarely involve themselves in mortal concerns, the affairs of the supernatural are another story. Kindred are expected to report details of strange events that occur in the vicinity of their territory to the prince.


The Third Tradition: Progeny


Thou shall only sire another with the permission of thine elder.
If thou createst another without thine elder’s leave, both thou and thy progeny shall be slain.

Vampire: The Masquerade (5e) (2018)

Overpopulation can quickly become a serious threat to the Masquerade, and having to ask the prince for permission to make a childe is the best way to avoid it anyone has come up with. A companion of one’s own Blood is one of the things most desired by Kindred, and a thing they cannot freely have. Thus, it is a coveted gift and a powerful tool in securing alliances.

Vampire populations used to hover around one per 50,000 mortals, but tonight—who can say? Some cities are almost empty after Second Inquisition crackdowns and others are hives of thin-blood activity.

Vampire: The Masquerade (V20) (2011)

Many if not most princes require that prospective sires seek their permission before performing the Embrace to create fledglings. However, some domains interpret “thine elder” to signify either the elder of one’s own clan, or even one’s own sire. Note that such liberal domains are often the ones with the greatest Kindred populations, and often ones that come closest to jeopardizing the Masquerade due to Kindred overpopulation.

Vampire: The Requiem (1e) (2004)

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 Anarchs 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.

Guide to the Camarilla (1999)

One of the most difficult problems facing the Camarilla is that of numbers. Vampires beget more vampires, and population control is a far more serious matter than among mortals. Having too many vampires in a city threatens the Masquerade and makes hunting difficult. On the other hand, having too few Kindred leaves the city open to attack. As a result, princes naturally want to know how many Kindred are in their cities, and to whom they putatively owe allegiance. Hence, the rise of the Third Tradition.

In the Camarilla, the right to create progeny is one of the most fiercely sought-after boons a prince can offer. So long as they control the right to bring mortals into the blood, the prince has a never-ending stream of Kindred currying for their favor. The dispensation to create is one of the most powerful tools a prince has in their arsenal for buying the loyalty of their subjects.

Wise princes enforce the Third Tradition ruthlessly. Strict adherence to the custom means that the prince knows how many Kindred are in his city, who sired them and what clan they belong to. Not only does this give the prince an accurate assessment of the resources available to them, but also gives them a picture of city demographics (and if things are becoming too unbalanced in someone’s favor).

In recent years, the Third Tradition has been advanced by some princes to cover the creation of ghouls as well, primarily in America (European princes still see ghouls as not worth worrying about in this fashion). While unofficial tabs have always been kept on precisely how many retainers a given Kindred might have, the Camarilla’s increasing reliance on its mortal servants has sparked a more serious interest in ghoul demographics as well. The debate still rages as to whether ghouls can and should be included under the Third Tradition, but in cities where princes choose to do so, the penalties for unauthorized ghoul creation can be as great as those for unauthorized Embraces.

Vampire: The Masquerade (Revised) (1998)

Most princes insist that they are the “elder” of this Tradition’s wording and, as such, require that any vampire wishing to create a childe obtain their permission before the creation. Most vampires obey more out of fear than respect; after all, the unlife of a childe is at risk. If a childe has already been created without permission, the prince may claim the childe to be of their brood, declare sire and childe outcast and throw them out of the city, or have both slain outright. At the prince’s discretion, childer who are created and abandoned without being taught of their existence may be “adopted” by other vampires, who accept full responsibility no differently than if they had created the childer themselves. The Camarilla recognizes the prince’s right to restrict creation, out of concern for overpopulation. Indeed, such is the Camarilla’s concern for the increasingly strained vampiric population that, at a recent conclave, its leaders resurrected the institution of the scourge. Scourges patrol princely domains, finding Kindred created without permission and either expelling or destroying them.

In the Old World, this Tradition has several corollaries. The would-be sire’s sire must be consulted, as must the prince who holds domain over the sire’s haven (if there is one). European Kindred are noted for their complete lack of tolerance for those who transgress against this Tradition. Failure to gain the permission of any of these undead can result in the outright slaying of the childe, and possibly the sire as well. Disregard and lack of respect may be appropriate for American rabble, but they certainly do not belong in the Old World.

Vampire: The Masquerade (2e) (1992)

Throughout most of vampiric history, the “elder” of this Tradition was one’s sire, though a looser interpretation has evolved in recent times. Many princes have stipulated that they are the elder referred to in this Tradition and refuse all who dwell within their domain the right of creation without permission. They insist on their approval before any mortal is Embraced and often kill those who disobey. Most Kindred obey, but more out of fear than respect. In situations where a neonate has already been created, the prince may claim the individual as their own, may declare said neonate and their sire outcast, or may even put them both to death. The Camarilla officially supports the right of a prince to restrict the creation of new vampires, understanding that it is the only way to control the population of Anarchs.

Those of the Old World, the Europeans, are even stricter on this point than the upstart Americans. One’s own sire must be consulted, and if a prince has claimed domain over the area where one has one’s haven, permission must be sought from her as well. No amount of tolerance is given to those who do not do so.


The Fourth Tradition: 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.

Vampire: The Masquerade (5e) (2018)

Tonight, release into the Camarilla is more a question of initiation than anything else. If a childe does not have what it takes to join the elite, they are thrown to the Anarchs, to be hunted and stepped on like the rest of the unbound, if not destroyed outright. Childer who are accepted, but escape from oppressive sires are still their responsibility, so the maker better find their wayward progeny fast. And punish them.

Vampire: The Masquerade (V20) (2011)

This Tradition imposes a twofold rule. First, a sire effectively owns their progeny until such a time as they deem them fit to face Kindred society on their own. Second, a wayward childe brings trouble upon their sire’s head, for the sire is responsible for the actions and consequences of their childe until the point at which they are emancipated. This Tradition is simultaneously at the center of some Kindred’s policy of making their childer earn their freedom through a long and arduous process, and other Kindred’s policy of, “Fuck it; you’re a vampire now. Don’t ruin it for the rest of us or I’ll tear your heart out myself. Good luck.”

Vampire: The Requiem (1e) (2004)

A societal by-product of the Third Tradition, the Tradition of tutelage has its roots in antiquity, 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, they was expected to make sure that their progeny understood all the rules and customs of the Requiem (not the least of which was the Third Tradition, itself). Siring progeny is merely the bestowal of responsibility, granting one vampire the right to take a considerable burden upon their own shoulders. Until such time as the new vampire is released from their sire’s tutelage, their 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 they reaches the time at which their sire releases them need not be forgiven by society at large. Otherwise, what would be the point of releasing them 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 their release, a childe’s sins are their 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. They are their own Kindred and must stand as such. Such, however, is also the benefit of release. Once a childe is on their own, they are no longer beholden to the whim, desire or name of their sire. For good or ill, they are now free.

Guide to the Camarilla (1999)

Bringing a mortal into the world of the Camarilla is a tremendous risk. Any neonate has the potential to blunder spectacularly, and thus to bring down the Masquerade. As a result, a new vampire’s sire is held responsible for that child’s actions—all of them. Any penalty the child’s behaviour earns, the sire faces in full. Older princes in particular take this Tradition seriously, feeling that the accounting forces young Kindred to take the Embrace seriously and choose their progeny carefully.

A sire is responsible for their child’s actions until such time as the neonate is presented, that is to say, officially introduced to the prince as a fully fledged member of the Kindred community. After that presentation (and assuming the prince accepts the neonate as being worthy of dwelling in their city), the new vampire is treated as an adult in Camarilla society. They are responsible for their own actions, and their sire no longer has to worry about being staked because of their errors.

Because of the risk attendant in siring a childe, some Kindred try to rush the presentation process as much as possible. To counter that ploy, many princes have resorted to giving a sort of oral examination of the neonate, making certain they are well-versed enough to take his place properly in Camarilla society. If the neonate fails, the consequences for both them and their sire are severe; exile is the most common punishment.

In rare cases, a neonate who has been presented to the prince and turned loose proves to be a work in process. If the neonate’s incompetence can be laid at the feet of a sire who didn’t train them properly, princely wrath is apt to fall on all the concerned parties.

Vampire: The Masquerade (Revised) (1998)

If a vampire creates a childe, they are responsible for that childe, no differently than a mortal parent is for their child. If the childe cannot handle the burdens of vampirism, the sire must take care of the matter one way or another. If the childe threatens the Masquerade, either through ignorance or malice, the sire must prevent it. The sire must ensure that the childe is taught the Traditions and the ensuing responsibilities, and see to it that the childe will not constitute a threat to themselves or the Masquerade upon their release. The sire is also responsible for protecting the childe. A prince is under no obligation to recognize a childe, and other vampires may kill or feed from a childe with impunity.

Before siring, a wise vampire considers the maturity of the childe-to-be. Will they be able to endure the changes to their body and soul? Will they understand what is being asked of their when the Traditions are recited? No sire wishes to be responsible for a childe forever (although a long childehood is not unknown), but releasing a childe before they is ready courts destruction.

Releasing a childe typically involves the sire introducing the childe to the prince who holds domain where the sire and childe live. The childe may be asked to recite the Traditions or provide other proof that they have been taught and understand the laws of their kind. If the prince, for whatever reasons, does not accept a childe, then the childe must find a new city. On occasion, a sire must also introduce the childe to their own sire, but this is not always required.

After release, the childe (now a neonate) is permitted to live in the city with full rights as accorded by the prince’s law and the Traditions. The release is considered a major rite of passage, much like a coming of age for mortals, for the neonate is responsible for their own actions. They will be watched carefully in the coming months; their actions determine whether they will be considered an “adult” and treated as one.

Vampire: The Masquerade (2e) (1992)

One who sires a childe assumes responsibility for that childe’s existence. If the childe is unable to endure the burden of its new existence, it is the sire’s responsibility to take care of the matter. If the childe attempts to betray the Kindred and threaten the Masquerade, it is up to the sire to prevent him. While still a childe, under the direct care of one’s sire, a vampire has no rights.

If a childe takes actions which threaten the security of other Kindred, they hold the sire responsible. The sire must carefully weigh the maturity of the childe they have spawned. They do not want to remain responsible for the childe forever (though extremely long childehoods are not unknown), but at the same time they do not want to release the childe before it is ready.

Long ago, release involved introducing the childe to one’s own sire, but that has since changed; now, the sire introduces the childe to the prince in whose domain sire and childe dwell. Until that time, the prince is under no obligation, unless they choose otherwise, to recognize the childe as one of the Blood. Unless the sire protects the childe, any may kill or feed from it.

Following the release, the childe-no-more is allowed to dwell in the city with full rights. This introduction process is similar to that of the Tradition of Hospitality mentioned below. If the prince does not accept the childe, they must leave and find some other city in which to live.

The release is a great rite of passage, for the sire no longer retains any responsibility for the childe. It is the activity of the childe-no-more that determines if they are accepted as a full member of the community and considered a neonate. If they continues to be rash and foolish, they remain a childe in the eyes of all. If they show the wisdom their new existence demands, others will accord them the respect given to an “adult.”


The Fifth Tradition: 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.

Vampire: The Masquerade (5e) (2018)

In an age of spy games and isolated city domains this tradition is becoming polarized in its enforcement. Keeping track of who is in your city is a daunting task in the era of the refugee and the global citizen, and some princes are actively backing harsh immigration policies, building walls, or infiltrating border controls just to keep up. Princes usually either give up on enforcing this law or do it draconically with mortal assistance.

Vampire: The Masquerade (V20) (2011)

A prince has the right to dictate who may stay in their domain and who must leave or suffer punishment. This Tradition also imposes the responsibility on a traveling or relocating Kindred to present themselves to the local Kindred authority and make themselves known and accountable for any missteps. Again, this Tradition’s enforcement falls to the whim of individual princes. Some are iron-fisted dictators who demand to know the comings and goings of all the Kindred in their cities, while others don’t mind so much as everyone heeds the other Traditions and doesn’t disturb the social order.

Vampire: The Requiem (1e) (2004)

When the Kindred endeavored to bring themselves 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 themselves whenever they travel 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 doesn’t 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 Tradition 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 themselves upon entering. Once the visitor does, the prince either acknowledges them—in which case they may remain in the domain (under the prince’s protection)—or refuses to acknowledge them—in which case, they are expected to depart the domain at their earliest possible convenience and sometimes sooner. As a result, it is this Tradition that has come to be ignored the most by young Kindred. Some may not 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 defines visitors 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 they’ll not be a drain on the domain’s resources (by demonstrating access to a private blood supply, for example), then they could argue that the Tradition doesn’t apply to them 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.

Guide to the Camarilla (1999)

Predators are always very polite with one another. Social graces keep them from tearing into one another on sight, and allow them to establish relationships other than kill-or-be-killed. The Fifth Tradition is a perfect example of this sort of social buffering, as it allows Kindred to move in one another’s territory without immediately coming into conflict.

At its simplest level, the Fifth Tradition is simple a mandate for all strangers entering a city to present themselves to the prince. The presentation can take many forms, from a simple greeting to a recitation of one’s lineage (British and Dutch princes often insist on the latter, much to the annoyance of their visitors, who frequently attempt to insert spurious ancestors into their lineages to see if someone’s napping) to a demand for service while in the city. Princes who demand the latter generally don’t last long, though it is technically within their rights to do so.

By accepting a vampire who presents themselves, a prince grants that Kindred permission to stay, dwell and hunt within their city. By presenting themselves, the vampire acknowledges the prince’s authority and ensures that they aren’t immediately brought down by a scourge who doesn’t know them on sight.

More and more vampires are circumventing or ignoring the Fifth Tradition these nights. Some feel that any sort of mandatory appearance at the prince’s behest might be a trap or a sell-out. Others simply don’t wish to recognize princely authority in any way, shape, or form (elder Kindred—particularly if the prince in question is younger than they—and many Anarchs and some independents see things thusly). However, by refusing to present themselves, a vampire becomes an outlaw, and they move from the prince’s jurisdiction to the sheriff’s—or the scourge’s.

Vampire: The Masquerade (Revised) (1998)

Some call this the Tradition of “politeness”: Knock before entering. This was done even before princes ruled cities, and continues to be done even if there is only one other Kindred in a domain. Simply put, a vampire traveling to a new city should present themselves to the prince or other elder in charge in that city. This process can be frightfully formal, with a prince demanding some form of surety regarding the newcomer’s status, politics, and lineage, or as casual as meeting at Elysium and introducing oneself politely. Some princes require guests to announce their arrivals immediately, while others accept presentations weekly or within the lunar month. Certain very liberal princes even permit visitors to come and go unannounced as they please, requiring that a guest present themselves only if they wishes to take up permanent residence in a city.

Those who choose not to present themselves take dangerous chances. If a city is currently facing Jyhad, a newcomer risks being mistaken for an enemy. A prince may invoke the Second Tradition to punish an unintroduced vampire with impunity.

By the Fifth Tradition, a prince’s right to question all who enter their domain is unchallenged, even if their power to expel may be thwarted occasionally. A prince also has the right to refuse entry to any who enter, particularly in the case of newcomers whose poor reputations precede them or who bring cumbersome baggage in the form of blood hunts, enemies, or other potential threats to the city and Masquerade.

Such individual denials have become quite common in the modern nights, as princes grow paranoid and xenophobic in light of fears of Gehenna. Some princes, when presented with a group of Kindred visitors, permit entry to certain members of the coterie while denying it to others, reasoning that, if the group is on some sort of sinister errand, its potential to harm will be lessened by dividing its numbers. Certain notorious Kindred may also find themselves unwelcome in some cities, while their companions are welcomed without reservation.

Not every vampire chooses to present themselves. Ancient or arrogant enough elders refuse on the grounds that they do not acknowledge the prince’s right and power over them, even if they are in the prince’s domain. Vampires of independent clans (such as the Ravnos or Giovannini) may prefer not to have a prince’s eye scrutinizing them. Autarkis and Anarchs simply sneer at the prince; they aren’t part of the party, so why should they bother knocking? And vampires who were made, then abandoned—an increasingly common phenomenon—may be unaware of the necessity.

Vampire: The Masquerade (2e) (1992)

Though vampires are loath to travel (the risks are tremendous), they occasionally do. Ancient custom dictates that when entering a new domain, a city claimed by an elder, the newcomers must present themselves to the elder. This was so even before there were princes, in a time where there was only one Kindred in each city. It was simply a tradition (and Tradition) of politeness; one knocks before entering.

The procedure varies in formality from location to location, and even from prince to prince. Some require formal presentation and the recital of one’s lineage, such as it is known. Others are happy if simple contact is made with an underling. Those who do not bother to present themselves had better have the power to withstand the prince’s anger.

The prince has the right to refuse acceptance in their domain to any they choose. This rarely occurs, except when the newcomer has a poor reputation or many enemies. Even those who do not present themselves at all, but are later discovered, are not often chased from the city. They are roughly presented to the prince, shown their place, and released into the streets once again.

Over time, this Tradition has become a primary means for the prince to maintain power, for it gives them the right to question all who enter their domain. They may not have the power to expel the more formidable interlopers, but their right to examine all is unquestioned.

Some Kindred bristle at the thought of having to “present” themselves for acceptance. Many are too proud and have a strong independent streak. The Anarchs have too little respect for the Traditions, while the methuselahs have too little respect for the princes. The methuselahs see themselves as demigods towering above mortal and Kindred alike and needing to bow to none. To them, abasing oneself before another is unthinkable. They existed long before the princes ruled, and can see beyond the prince, knowing who pulls the strings.

Many Kindred never present themselves, choosing instead to live in darkest obscurity. They hide in the cold, quiet places and rarely venture forth. They are tolerated as long as they remain unobtrusive. The Nosferatu are the best at this, for their powers augment such activities. These reclusive Kindred are known as the autarkis, for they refuse to become a part of vampire society.


The Sixth Tradition: 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.

Vampire: The Masquerade (V20) (2011)

The blood hunt—the lextalionis—is the princely decree that declares another vampire persona non grata. The right of princes (or “elders,” depending upon the interpretation of the Tradition) to call the blood hunt effectively forfeits the hunted Kindred’s unlife; it is the ultimate punishment levied for the most grievous of crimes. Indeed, it is used so sparing and so severely in most domains that many princes will even pardon those Kindred who perform diablerie on a vampire under the lextalionis.

Vampire: The Requiem (1e) (2004)

Given the predatory and deceitful nature of the Kindred, this final “commandment”—the prohibition against the murder 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. 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 Fourth Tradition) when those childer ran afoul of those same Traditions.

Guide to the Camarilla (1999)

According to the oldest known readings of this Tradition, the Sixth grants a sire the right to destroy any and all of their progeny. Under the Camarilla’s auspices, that right has been usurped by the prince, who now holds the right of life and death over all of their subjects. They cannot exercise that right too cavalierly, lest they risk a coup to deprive them of their power, but through the office of the blood hunt, a prince can sentence any Kindred in their domain to death.

Part and parcel with this princely power is the restriction of that power to the prince, and only the prince. Sires are still allowed to destroy their childer before presentation, but otherwise kin-slaying is strictly outlawed in Camarilla domains. Any Kindred who seeks to usurp the prince’s privilege and end another vampire’s life more often than not find themselves on the receiving end of a blood hunt. Even sires attempting to reclaim what was once their deathright find their ancient right denied them; once a neonate has been presented, they are the city’s and not the sire’s. Creation and destruction are the two most potent weapons in a prince’s arsenal, and they guard those weapons jealously.

Vampire: The Masquerade (Revised) (1998)

The Tradition of Destruction is perhaps the most easily abused and the most hotly contested aspect of Caine’s code. Few other laws have caused so much controversy in the halls of power, and this Tradition is forever under reinterpretation.

Most believe that the original meaning gave a sire right of destruction over their progeny (which is upheld by Kindred law). However, if “elder” is interpreted to mean “prince,” the Tradition covers its modem meaning, and one many princes claim gladly: Only the prince may call for the destruction of another Kindred in the city. The Camarilla has upheld this claim for the extra security it provides a prince’s reign. It is a right which many princes cling to, and they enforce it with brutal strength if need be.

Murder of another Kindred by one who is not granted the Right of Destruction is not tolerated. If the vampire is caught in the act, it usually means the destruction of the murderer themselves. Investigation of such murder is usually swift and thorough, although the status of the victim does have some impact on this. Generally, the higher the rank of the victim, the swifter and more thorough the investigation. While the murder of two neonates may cause consternation in a community, it might take the death of an elder before the wheels turn in a more timely fashion. Some ancillae have taken this to mean that Anarchs may be slaughtered with impunity. This is dangerous to assume; if nothing else, the prince may order the murderer slain for attempting to usurp their Tradition-given right.

Turmoil in the streets is considered by many to be one of the best covers for kinslaying, but the punishment for getting caught is still severe. The only time when a vampire ranked lower than an elder might receive sanctioning to kill another is during a blood hunt.

Vampire: The Masquerade (2e) (1992)

This Tradition has caused more controversy than any other, and reinterpretations are continually being discussed. It seems to imply that the right of destruction is limited to one’s own bloodline. Only the sire has the right to destroy his progeny.

However, the shift in meaning of the word “elder” has resulted in most princes claiming this right over all those who dwell within their domains. They claim that only they have the power of life and death, and for the most part this interpretation has been supported by the Camarilla. The veracity of this claim is the source of much of the conflict between many of the older and younger vampires.

Most princes strictly enforce their monopoly on the Tradition of extinguishment. All others are forbidden to destroy other Kindred. If a vampire is ever caught in such an act of “murder,” then no punishment may be considered too severe. Often the perpetrator of such a deed will be destroyed themselves. The prince will usually investigate the deaths of those who have been destroyed in order to find the killer. Of course, the greater the social status of the destroyed vampire, the more thorough the search for their murderer will be.

Only in times of great strife do younger vampires dare slay each other, though the elders are said to do so all the time. A would-be kinslayer had best step carefully.

Most often, the prince enforces their right of destruction by calling a blood hunt, which is discussed below. Only if a prince openly calls a blood hunt are they allowed to slay one of the Kindred.

The Six Traditions

Blood and Bourbon False_Epiphany False_Epiphany