From the earliest nights, the Tzimisce have haunted the European east, laying claim to northern marsh and southern mountain, fertile plain and trackless forest. The koldun — the clan's witch-priests and lore-keepers — have preserved the tale of how the Eldest, solitary and arcane, turned his back on the ruin his siblings' power-struggles had made of the Second City and went into the world to build a dominion of his own shaping. He came to the mountainous heart of their homeland as though called, and there he settled. He laid deep roots and forged pacts of blood and kinship with the old gods of the earth, binding his line to the land in a sacred union. God-touched through their unbreakable tie to the earth, the clan both ruled and served, offering sacrifice in the blood of the men and beasts within their domain to renew the earth, and paying the price from their own strength when that was not enough. This duality and symbiosis persisted for millennia, and the Tzimisce were unconquerable within their homeland.

All things come to their end.

In these nights, the Tzimisce are beset from all sides. From the very heart of their homeland, the sorcerous Tremere have violated both Tzimisce blood and domain and have provoked the most vicious nocturnal war since the fall of Carthage. In the north and west, Germanic Ventrue have taken the opportunity to invade territories left vulnerable by the struggle with the Tremere, assaulting pagan enclaves in Livonia and Lithuania through crusade and undermining the weak-livered Kingdom of Hungary with commerce. Worse yet, within the clan, hereditary rivalries and fresh resentments sabotage any attempt at unified action. More and more of the clan's eldest broods disintegrate amid petty struggles for power, and precious knowledge is lost with every koldun who falls.

Tzimisce pride is the red-hot goad that has blinded them to their own failings, to the undeniable fact that there are forces arrayed against them that can finally drive them to their knees. Within the most stable domains of the voivodate, unlife continues in traditional fashion — elders rule their childer, their childer scheme and serve in the hopes of earning favor, and they sire offspring of their own who do the same. Among themselves, the Tzimisce still value what they always have: respect for (and submission to) their elders, concern for personal honor, adherence to the demands of the family hierarchy and, above all else, a fierce love of and devotion to the homeland.

"No man may take what we have claimed for our own — we are the very soul of this land," Tzimisce sires whisper over the ritual graves of their childer. This is true. What is also true is that the holy ties of earth and blood are no longer enough. If the Tzimisce wish to survive, they must unite beneath a hand strong enough to shape them as they have sought to shape their world.

  • Sobriquet: Fiends. (Some koldun and more scholarly members of the clan refer to themselves as Shapers.)
  • Appearance: It is the rare Tzimisce that can be described as normal. Either derived from revenant breeding stock or modified through their flesh-sculpting Discipline of Vicissitude, Fiends tend to be shockingly beautiful or stunningly hideous, with very little middle ground. Alterations in Tzimisce directly involved in the conflict with the Tremere tend to be of utilitarian, martial nature (semi-permanent "natural armor" and the like). Adherents to the Metamorphosist change-cult twist themselves into whatever form best expresses the god within. Elders lean toward modifications that inspire awe, desire or fear.
  • Haven and Prey: The Tzimisce claim one of the largest territories in all of Europe, from the isolated hinterland of Livonia nearly to the walls of Byzantium. Their havens and herds are likewise diverse. In the pagan north, where some Tzimisce elders are still worshipped as gods, richly sculpted temples, sacred hills and groves, and blood-cults of mortal devotees are not uncommon. In the nominally Christianized south, the Fiends tend toward less blatant displays, dwelling in fortified country manses and reigning as the crudest landlords local villages have ever suffered. Consciously or otherwise, many Tzimisce place their havens near the summits of hills, one of the primal confluences of earth and sky in pagan koldun belief. Tzimisce cherish elaborate protocols of hospitality, feting those whom they invite into their domains as princes and punishing trespassers with a viciousness that earned the reputation they enjoy.
  • The Embrace: Traditionally, young Tzimisce are selected from among the clan's revenant minions and groomed for the Embrace from a young age. More rarely, a particularly gifted (or lusted-after) individual captures the attention of a prospective sire, or a koldun suggests that the auspices are right tor enlarging "the family." The war with the Tremere and other inrerlopers has added a more practical impetus to many recent Embraces, however. More warriors than "brides" or "pets" are selected in these nights and in greater haste. Even so, when at all possible, Tzimisce sires gift their fledgelings with the funeral rites believed to cement the new childe's holy bond to the earth.
  • Character Creation: Most Tzimisce are Eastern European in origin — which can be anything from a pagan Baltic tribesman to an erudite Greek monk. Mental Attributes are usually primary. Domain is the most common Background, though Mentor (in the form of one's sire and immediate family), Retainers (most often revenant underlings or Vicissitude sculpted human or animal ghouls), Herd and Resources are also popular. Most Tzimisce believe, quite simply, that they were born to rule, so the Road of Kings is popular as are the aspects of the Road of Heaven that glorify the follower. Few Tzimisce profess any open allegiance to the Road of Humanity, lest they incur the wrath of their brethren, (especially the hardcore monsters who follow the cult-like Road of Metamorphosis).
  • Clan Disciplines: Animalism, Auspex, Vicissitude
  • Weaknesses: The Tzimisce are arguably the most territorial of all the clans, sharing as they do inviolable ties of blood and spirit to the land they rule. When a Tzimisce rests, he must surround himself with at least two handfuls of earth from a place that was important to him in life — usually either the land of his birth or the soil of his grave. Failure to do so halves the player's dice pools every night that the vampire has not rested in appropriate earth. This halving continues until all actions use only one die. Eight hours' rest amid the special soil negates it.
  • Organization: The Tzimisce are hierarchical, but they do not follow the rigid feudal chain of lord and vassal. Rather, the Tzimisce are familial, nearly tribal, in nature. Most Tzimisce families consist of a sire and her brood, but each of these families is connected to many others. Therefore, many regions of the east are dominated by networks of blood relations descended from a single individual. Within the family, the elder receives great respect as the natural center of the household, while her childer compete murderously for acknowledgement, advancement and affection. Rival families often maintain running vendettas across the centuries, are similarly murderous, governed by maddeningly complex social protocols.
  • Quote: "This earth has drunk our blood for more years than your small mind can comprehend. This is my homeland, and I shall hold it or die trying."