Cainite Sects In The Dark Ages

Several different sects have arisen within the Cainites of the Dark Medieval era. Each sect maintains power in a different way. Some are informal groupings of convenience, while others are highly ritualized societies unto themselves. Together they compose the main political forces in Cainite society.


Silence is the most perfect expression of scorn." —George Bernard Shaw, Back To Methuselah

After centuries of bloodshed, tears, and madness, it is said that some vampires get sick of the games Kindred play against each other. These vampires want nothing more than to be free of the rat race among the younger Cainites and free of the puppeteering of the older Cainites, so they remove themselves from the scene. They avoid their own kind as much as possible and harshly discourage anyone who would disturb their peace. These vampires are known as the Inconnu and while they do not appear to work as a group per se, they do have contact with one another on occasion.

The sheer fact of the matter is that nothing about the Inconnu is clear. They appear to have some connection to one another but their group is so loosely knit that it hardly seems to be a group at all. Inconnu vampires say that they are done with the struggle known as the Jyhad and certainly no Inconnu member holds a public position of power, but vampires often lie about their intentions, especially when they are up to something. And speaking of being up to something - why do the Inconnu have members called "Monitors" stationed in many cities throughout the world? If they are done with the Jyhad, why do they need to watch it so closely?

And just what does it take to be considered Inconnu? Rumors claim that a vampire must be of low generation and of advanced age, and known Inconnu members fit that profile - but what of younger Kindred? What of higher generation Kindred who have divorced themselves from the Jyhad? Who decided the rules of the Inconnu and how often are they broken? No one dares to ask the Inconnu such questions given their power, but they remain worthwhile concerns.

The Inconnu are the remnants of the Roman era of Cainites. They are patrician in demeanor, and still have a great deal of influence over the oldr vampires of Europe. They are rumored to live beneath the ancient cities, such as Paris, Constantinople and Venice. Apparently Rome is their chief stronghold. The Inconnu are opposed by younger Cainites, who have adopted a feudal system as more appropriate to the age. Not all of the clans are associated with this group; for instance, the Toreador, Tzimisce and Brujah are never part of the Inconnu, and few in those clans speak well of it. Their memory of what the Inconnu did to Carthaage and Dacia remains vivid.

The Inconnu tend to be concerned with the ancient ways, and many of them strongly believe that humans should be treated as fairly as possible. However, they have their share of inner conflict, just as any group of Cainites would. Among the Inconnu, there is little middle ground except for their common desire to suppress those younger than they.

In Search of the Inconnu

Small references to the Inconnu are spread throughout various White Wolf books and most are deliberately vague; it seems that the authors wanted to keep the mystery of these monsters intact. The Elysium book has a small section that talks about how much terror and esteem the elders feel toward the Inconnu. It also talks about how elders dare to contact the Inconnu despite all risks. Beyond that, though, the information is general and scanty. The Vampire Player's Guide mentions several Inconnu members, namely: Mahatma, Monitor of Istanbul, Rebekah, Monitor of Chicago, and Dondinni, Monitor of Genoa. They are quoted for their viewpoints on particular bloodlines but that is all that's revealed. Yet another small section can be found in The Storyteller's Handbook and it offers more information than the other two books combined. The write-up briefly covers the Inconnu's policy of noninterference and what happens to those who mess with the methuselahs. There's even a sample Monitor for Storytellers to use in chronicles.

Beyond this, there's a mention of the Inconnu in the Vampire main book and apparently some information in A World of Darkness (since I don't own that book, I can't speak for it), but in any event, you can see how slim the pickings are. In third edition, Children of the Night gave full character write-ups for Rebekah, Mahatma, and Dondinni, the same Inconnu who were touched upon in The Vampire Player's Guide - but these stories only give away so much about the sect. Lair of the Hidden uses a splinter group that calls itself Inconnu but it is only a splinter group that does not represent the whole.

The earlier materials from second edition portray the Inconnu as mysterious watchers who sometimes dabble in the affairs of others. Overall, though, the Inconnu refrain from meddling and are most threatening if they are trifled with. It is repeatedly said that many Inconnu have managed to attain Golconda and a link of sympathy is established between the Inconnu and the Salubri. As time went on, the reputation of the Inconnu was painted in darker tones, as were the reputations of Saulot and the Salubri. This gives Storytellers different versions to choose from, if indeed the Inconnu are going to make an appearance at all.

The Furores

This sect's members have a reputation for being the outlaws of the Cainites. Condemned by most princes as thieves and troublemakers, they exist on the fringes of vampire society, scratching out a meager existence like their mortal counterparts.

The Furores are considered chaotic, disorganize and ignorant of even the base rules that govern all Cainites. Such talk comes from those not familiar with the sect's internal workings. Many Furores are quite familiar with the Six Traditions, but have chosen to throw their lots in with those who walk on the shadow's edge. They are frequently second or third childer, unable to compete with their elder siblings for their sires' attention, and so they set out to make their own ways. In Furores, vampires may shine based on their own merits, not those of their sires, and they need not worry about elder siblings crowding them out.

Furores may be found among cathedral-builders and city burghers, as well as merchant caravans. Most city-based coteries are considered by default to be Furores, unless one or more of them has some standing with the local prince. Indeed, the Furores tend to Embrace those who function outside the rigid structure of the Church or feudal state: thieves, merchants, artisans, performers and laborers. Though few would admit it, there are some coteries of Furores who pay tithes to local princes in exchange for autonomy.

Though they shun the hierarchy of princes and vassals, the Furores have a certain structure to their society. They have arranged themselves much like a guild, and any who pass their initiation rites are welcomed, regardless of clan. Most of the cities currently emerging into prominence are, for all intents and purposes, their Domains. The Toreador and Brujah among them often view merchants, scholars and guildsman as the promise of a brighter future, a time when learning and knowledge will again reign supreme.

Granted, the Furors do have few scruples about theft - the Ravnos among them have taught them some of their worse habits. Many of them spend as much time practicing sleight of hand and stealth as they do collecting "rent" from their merchant vassals.

The Furores generally have heavily shuttered meeting places, where they discuss issues of mutual concern (attacks by the Lupines, political maneuverings of foreign princes). Violence thee is generally frowned upon as a distraction. The cities they govern tend to have more artisans and merchants than most, and they eagerly accept new ideas, rather than shun them as the work of Satan. Their rule is not one of fear, but of subtlety, and they take pride in their ablitity to get things done quietly. They insinuate themselves into the ranks of burghers, guildmasters and merchants, as a means of exerting tighter control over growing cities.

The Order of the Bitter Ashes

Legends speak of these mighty yet mysterious vampires, saying that they began as a band of mortal crusaders sent to the Holy Land. During their journey, they were set upon by a powerful vampire bearing a strange mark on his forehead. He embraced them to a man and sent them on a quest for the cup of Christ, the Holy Grail. Their mysterious sire told them that one draught from the true Grail would purify their blood of Caine's curs, and could become the salvation for all Caine's childer.

Many of the Order are said to have fought strange creatures of the night and to have overcome much opposition - even from within their own ranks - to find the sacred cup, whereupon they all partook of the vitae of Christ. It is said that all those who drank of the cup underwent a strange, miraculous transformation, of which they have become reluctant to discuss. Now their bodies gleam like the moon, and their blades unerringly strike down those who follow the creatures of hell. The Baali have become some of their most hated foes, and enmity which the Baali return a thousandfold.

The Order is known for its mighty horses, fleet with Celerity from their masters' blood. Each newly made sword is quenched in its maker's blood and purified with incense before it may be wielded. The knights' strange luminesence is frequently masked by their armor, creating an eerie glow beneath their helms, and nod oubt giving rise to some strange tales of phantom warriors.

Although the band has supposedly been scattered since the days of the Second Crusade, some have been known to allow other vampires to drink of their pure blood (rumored to replenish without the need to feed on humans). Those who do drink of the order are said to gain their luminescence and potent powers in destroying the Baali and other Infernalists, for a span of one moon cycle.

The Order is named for a number of legends about how Caine was cursed to "eat only bitter ashes." The Order has little overall organization, although there are rumors that it has formed a strange alliance with the Knights Templar. Humanity in general is regarded with disinterest, although some of the Order look upon the devout with pity, that they will never know the blessing of the Cup.

While it was the Grail that gave the Order its miraculous powers, the cup is no longer in the knights' possession. Circumstances surrounding this are vague at best. Speculations suggest that knights entombed it somewhere in the Middle East, with one remaining to guard it, while others muttert hat it was stolen, perhaps by the very vampire who Embraced the group.

For more information on the Order of the Bitter Ashes, refer to its title page.


The Autarkis are young vampires who have declared open rebellion against the Inconnu and the withdrawn elders of the clans. Most are usually found among neonates and malcontents within Cainite society. The seek freedom, plain and simple, and rebel against authority of their elders and the rule of any prince. They are often derisively known as "plague flies", for it is whispered that they travel from outbreak to outbreak of plagues and feed upon the dead and dying. Many of them are rumored to travel in large ravenous packs, looting and destroying all in their path.

The Promethians

It is said that in Carthage, Cainites lived alongside humanity in peace. In the Dark Ages, those days are only a distant memory, and most think that such a society would be an affront to God and Caine. Others argue that such a thing is possible; indeed, that it may be necessary if vampires are to survive. They fear that the ancients now think of themselves as gods, and view mortals and younger cainites alike as their slaves and vessels. It is thought that only by living in peace and unity with mortals will the vampires of the current age survive the manipulations and wars of the Inconnu.

This group has taken its name from Prometheus, who braved the wrath of the gods to bring fire to humanity. These vampires claim that the Inconnu ignore the potential of the Via Humanitas for allowing self-restraint, and claim further that the Traditions have been corrupted by the Inconnu. The Promethians speak of Caine's wickedness, of how they tire of listening to the commands of the Inconnu, and teach that to overthow the hidden elders is the only road to true security. Some speak of founding a society based on valuing mortals as their near-equals, as was hoped for in Carthage.

Still, the Promethians are in the minority now, their voices often reduced to whispers, and their dream of a peaceful vampire and human society is only a dream. For the time being, their pleas for humanity fall on deaf ears, but others predict that their day will come, if not now then in the future.

The Magnus Nigrum

There is one sect so secretive that some Cainites are unaware of its existence. Its members call themselves the magnus nigrum.

From its origins as a mortal death cult in the ancient world, the magnus nigrum went on to discover the secret of immortal life from vampires. Hundreds of years ago, the magnus nigrum split over disargeements regarding the future of the sect. Since then, the two halves, while not at war, have kept an uncommunitive peace. The Eastern Hand, known only in whispers as the Tal'mahe'Ra, devotes its energies to the study of Hell and Purgatory, where the souls of the unholy go after death. The western half of the magnus nigrum, however, has taken a keen interest in medieval politics. Those few elders who know of the magnus nigrum say that they work to destroy the Baali, though apparently some members of Clan Tzimisce have somehow offended this sect. The more passive purpose of observation leads to the long-range goal of the magnus nigrum.

The magnus nigrum believes that the existence of so many vampires in the Dark Medieval age is detrimental, and seeks to thin out the undead ranks. To this end, they have begun compiling information about every Cainite they encounter, in the hopes of making their elimination as complete as possible. The magnus may be instrumental in the death of certain among the Antediluvians. In the meantime, any upheaval that allows them to destroy elders will be used to the utmost, and they frequently attach themselves to the Autarkis for this purpose.

The magnus nigrum are compiling a sort of Domesday Book, a record of names and havens of every known Cainite. Once assembled, the book will be laid aside and presented to the Antediluvians when the Ancients awaken, that they may know where to seek their childer. If a member of the magnus nigrum is captured, he explains that he is nothing but a shadow of the coming darkness… and dies saying nothing more.