|Nicknames:||Assassins, Saracens (in the Dark Ages), Children of Haqim (their own term for themselves)|
The Assamites are one of the thirteen vampire clans of the Classic World of Darkness. Based in their hidden fortress Alamut in the Middle East, they are traditionally seen by Western Kindred as dangerous assassins and diablerists, but in truth they are guardians, warriors, and scholars who seek to distance themselves from the Jyhad. Throughout their history, they have remained a self-sufficient and independent clan.
Due to their inherent clan weakness, Assamites grow darker with age.
Warrior Caste Weakness: The Warrior Caste suffers from an addiction to vampire vitae and an aura stained by diablerie. Even if they have never actually engaged in diablerie, their aura shows their blood lust clearly.
Sorcerer Caste Weakness: Any use of Aura Perception on the Sorcerer Caste reveals that he practices blood magic, even if the character has no knowledge of Thaumaturgy or Assamite Sorcery and even if the observer fails on the static mental challenge required to read the Sorcerer's emotional state.
Vizier Caste Weakness: The Vizier Caste has an Obsessive/Compulsive derangement that is related to the creative or intellectual ability in which he has the most Ability traits.
From the beginning, the Assamites were an isolated lot, centered around Alamut and the Middle East. Lacking competition for certain roles due to the relative absence of other Clans, the clan thus maintained its separation of duties over the millennia rather than becoming specialized to one particular mode of existence. The Viziers tended to the mortal herds, the judges (now the Warriors) tended to the clan's defense, and the Sorcerers pursued their secrets. This division of labor allowed the Assamites to succeed on their own where a clan priding itself on its specialization, such as the noble Ventrue or the socialite Toreador, would have failed. They associated rarely with other Cainites, notably lending assistance to the Salubri during the Baali Wars and paying homage to the Brujah city of Carthage. This was, in no small place, attributed to the presence of the Antediluvian himself, who saw the squabbling over territory and mortal herds as reminders of the ill-fated Second City and tried to withdraw himself and his brood as good as he could from it. Nevertheless, small cabals supported various mortal nations, entangling themselves within the Jyhad, and this enraged their founder so greatly that he left Alamut, occasionally visiting it, but never staying for long, until he disappeared completely.
The rise of Western civilization brought the Children of Haqim into close contact with the rest of the Cainite world again. During the time of the Greek city-states and the height of Persian dominance, few clans other than the Brujah, Ravnos, Setites, and the Tzimisce had enjoyed more than sporadic encounters with the Children. However, as Rome expanded and, later, as Byzantium rose, those kingdoms' Cainite parasites moved with them, struggling in vain to control the first mortal institutions that were more complex than they could comprehend. The Children of Haqim never had an extensive role in the Roman Empire’s life or death. Scattered members of all three castes moved through Roman society, particularly in the eastern and southern regions of the empire, and no few Warriors found mercenary employment as bodyguards or household troop commanders for wealthy Ventrue and Malkavians.
After the destruction of Carthage and the growing expansion of the Empire into the Middle East, however, most Assamites abandoned the city and its festering web. Rome was never a place of particular interest for the Children, but the Parthian empire began to become one. Arising in Iran a century before Rome's ascent began. Parthia spread through the Mesopotamian region in the wake of the crumbling Seleucid dynasty. Many Children encouraged the Parthian expansion, save for those who had maintained close ties to the Seleucids. Some saw Parthia as a rich ground on which to sate their particular hungers, whether for vitae, battle, or learning, while others simply welcomed an end to the chaotic infighting that surrounded their homes. Following the destruction of Carthage and the subsequent Roman expansion west, Parthia quickly became all too significant to the Children as the force holding the Roman Cainites at bay. All three castes devoted themselves to reinforcing the mortals who could fend off their undead adversaries.
The Assamites of the Dark Ages are strongly unified, following a tumultuous period where the clan was split by those who followed Islam and those who chose not to. Some Assamites even renounced their clan membership, becoming Dispossessed. It took the threat of the Baali destroying the clan entirely for them to come together again. In 636 CE, the demon-worshippers had once again reformed and the Assamites were ready to strike them down. It was during their siege on the tainted acropolis of Chorazin that the Baali unleashed their curse of hunger upon the Warriors, arising an insatiable thirst for vitae within them. Neonate and methuselah alike fell prey to a dreadful hunger that could be satisfied only by the vitae of other Cainites. As the curse spread across the castes, the Sorcerers and Viziers searched in vain for a way to break it. By the end of the 14th century, the entire Warrior caste and no few Sorcerers and Viziers were afflicted. The vast majority of the Assamites became Muslim, but some still followed other faiths.
In the Dark Ages, the Children of Haqim are kept quite busy because of the Western vampire clans. The Crusades enabled the Western Cainites to invade the lands of the Assamites. In addition, their greedy and corrupting ways had hurt and diminished the herds the Assamites had so carefully developed and tended to, as well as the mortal families of the Assamites that many of the clan still held in some regard. In response, the Assamites worked to rid themselves of these invaders and restore their own power.
For centuries, the Children of Haqim also refused to officially Embrace women, although this policy seems to have changed by the time of the War of Princes. Another split had taken place by this time: that of the creation of the three castes of Assamite: Warrior, Vizier, and Sorcerers. Although the Assamites consider themselves noble, the Western vampires saw them as little more than meddling, corrupt, heretic foreigners and placed them among the Low Clans.
The Clan called themselves the Banu Haqim, or Children of Haqim, especially in the Middle East and North Africa. Superior in numbers to the other bay't in the area, many of the Banu Haqim worked hand-in-hand with the Ashirra to keep the Europeans out, especially since the majority of the clan was Muslim.
The Inquisition never really touched the Holy Land, nor did it extend into the Ottoman Empire or parts farther east. While the Assamites regained their strength from the battles of the Crusades and the aftershock of the Baali curse, the European elders sacrificed their childer for the hope of another night's survival. Too many of those intended victims fled east, preferring to take their chances with the dread Saracens than with their sires' betrayals and the Church's flame-lit crosses. When the sentiments among the childer boiled up and the Anarch Revolt began, the Assamites followed, slaying many Cainites and gaining their reputation as a clan of cannibalistic assassins and murderers, a sentiment that many Assamite Warriors encouraged to flourish.
When the Camarilla was founded, many Anarchs chose to ally with them instead of continuing their struggles. This enraged many Children operating in Europe who saw their erstwhile allies deserting them for the promise of sanctuary that they could have earned for themselves anyway if they had possessed the strength to continue their fight. They turned their attention to the Camarilla with a fury born of betrayal. It was only after a lone Nosferatu discovered the location of Alamut that the Assamites yielded and submitted to the Treaty of Tyre and the blood curse of the Tremere.
In the eyes of many Cainites, however, the Assamite threat was barely contained. This showed itself, when the Ottomans marched against the rest of Europe and the Assamites followed the Turks, hoping to direct them against Vienna to smite the Inner Council of Seven and force them to rescind the curse. The Viziers and Sorcerers hid themselves in Alamut and began to work furiously to break the curse on their own, using alchemical potions made of vitae to simulate the effects of Diablerie. In order to obtain this blood, many Warriors were forced to sell themselves as assassins, further strengthening the picture of the fanatic killer. Many Assamite Warriors began to invent stories over their Clan and Haqim, further concealing the other two Castes.
The Assamites did not fare well during the Victorian Age. Still suffering the effects of the curse leveled upon them by the Tremere after the Convention of Thorns and the Treaty of Tyre, the Assamite presence in the larger Cainite community was negligible. Most Assamites stayed on or near Alamut, husbanding their strength for the day when they could travel with impunity through the lands of the brood of Caine once again.
European colonialism had little direct effect on the Assamites themselves, but resulted in significant portions of their mortal herd being dominated by one Western power or another. Egypt, in particular, was hit hard when the British assumed control. The sole good thing to come from Victorian-era imperialism was that disquieted, fanatic humans with a motivation to study the arts of killing were easy to find and recruit. At least the Assamites always had the Ravnos to look down upon, for that Clan weathered the Victorian Age even worse than the childer of Haqim, subject as they were to British domination of India.
The awakening of ur-Shulgi, one of the first Assamite Sorcerers and childe of Haqim himself, brought rapid changes on the Clan as a whole. The ancient methuselah used his tremendous power to break the curse laid upon the Clan, succeeding where other Sorcerers had worked for hundreds of years without success. His harsh views and interpretations of the Laws of Haquim, however, triggered various struggles and discomforts, especially with his own childe, al-Ashrad, which resulted in what is commonly called the Schism.
The Assamite castes split apart during the Schism. Ur-Shulgi demanded that other Assamites give up the worship of other gods and only revere Haqim. This resulted in many Assamites being killed, and many more opting to leave Alamut. Ur-Shulgi was particularly vicious towards Muslim Assamites, and killed several elders for refusing to renounce their faith, including Jamal, the head of the Warrior caste.
Some Assamites joined the Camarilla. Most of those that joined the Camarilla were Viziers and Sorcerers. Warriors that joined the Camarilla are generally seen as loose cannons who must be supervised by their more restrained (and non-vitae addicted) clanmates. Sorcerers in the Camarilla find their skills in high demand as an alternative to dealing with the Tremere.
A small number of Assamites, mostly Warriors, joined the Sabbat. While the Assamite antitribu who had been with the Sabbat for the last 500 years were entirely from Warrior stock, the Warriors opting to join the Sabbat were not entirely welcomed with open arms. Many of the Assamite antitribu elders, particularly in the Black Hand, had defected and left the Sabbat to return to the main clan. This meant the Sabbat was not entirely welcoming because of the recent betrayal. Few Sorcerers or Viziers joined the Sabbat.
Some Assamites chose to go completely independent and avoid all the sects. They also drew away from the main clan, primarily for religious reasons. Few Warriors chose this option. Most Dispossessed Assamites are Viziers or Sorcerers.
Many Assamites stayed with the main clan. Most of these were Warriors and Sorcerers. Most Assamites on the Path of Blood chose to stay with the main clan.
Until recent events, the main Clan was strongly unified, based on their ancestral home base Alamut. Traditionally headed by the Eldest, and supported by the Du'at, the Clan focused inward, sending its assassins out to gather blood for the alchemical potions the experiments of the sorcerers need to break the blood curse.
The Council of Scrolls was responsible for introducing new technology into the Clan and investigating recent developments outside Alamut, while the Council of Du'at formulated clan policy, and was composed of the representatives of each Caste:
The protection of the Eldest and the Du'at Council lay in the hands of the Silsila.
The three Assamite castes may be considered separate clan variants for the purposes of sire-childe relations – a Warrior will always sire Warrior childer, and a Vizier will always beget Viziers and so on – but all three castes are Assamites. Their vitae is indistinguishable except under the most acute thaumaturgical observation. Arguably, the Assamites have no one caste that is "more Assamite" or "more Haqim's" than the others, at least in matters of descent. Whatever the factors were that first defined the castes, they arose during the time of the Second City, perhaps due to differences between Haqim's broods and the Eldest mastery over his own blood via Quietus. All Assamites are childer of their Ancestor, born of his heart and cursed with his wrath.
By default, Assamite characters are assumed to be of the Warrior Caste; all mechanics given for the Assamite Clan as a whole (Clan Disciplines, weakness, etc.) are those of the Warrior Caste.
Sorcerer Caste Edit
|Nicknames:||Magi (singular, "Magus")|
|Disciplines:||Dur-An-Ki (Assamite Sorcery), Obfuscate (Auspex in Dark Ages), Quietus (Celerity in V20DA)|
Sorcerers are the smallest caste, but the second most recognizable. They claim to have practiced sorcery since the time of the Second City and to have been created to counter the dark magic of the Baali.
Their magic was originally based off ancient Mesopotamian priestly rituals and the Persian cult of Mithras, but modern Sorcerers now incorporate the ecstatic Hindu devotion to Kali and Shiva, Chinese feng shui, and Islamic alchemy and astrology as well. Sorcerers usually need to send themselves into some sort of altered state of consciousness in order to focus their magics. This may involve consuming drugs, whirling themselves into a trance, ritually wounding themselves, or even more exotic methods.
Their weakness comes from their lust for magical power. A Sorcerer's aura is so stained with magic that there is little way to mistake him for anything else. They also have trouble using powers to hide themselves due to their blazing auras.
Vizier Caste Edit
|Nicknames:||Scholars or Artisans|
|Disciplines:||Auspex, Celerity (Presence in V20DA), Quietus|
Viziers are the least known caste of the Assamite clan, however, they are the oldest (according to themselves). Viziers are the scholars and artisans of the clan. In many ways, they are similar to the Toreador, but where the Toreador become lost in contemplation, the viziers explode in frenzied creative activity.
Viziers lust after knowledge or artistic perfection. They suffer from an obsessive-compulsive derangement that causes them to pursue their art with the tenacity of a pit bull. A Vizier in the throes of his derangement will pursue it to the exclusion of all other activities. His aura will blaze with madness. Vampires with Auspex may be able to discern exactly what it is he so doggedly pursues.
The Viziers' "caste culture" may be best described as a very loose affiliation of individualists. Most of the caste is as disunited as the sorcerers, but without that body's resources for magical communication and coordination. Viziers tend to keep to themselves unless involved in a mentor-protégé arrangement or conducting some cooperative venture. This is a product of both the caste's shared psychological tendencies and the need for secrecy during the Long Night and later periods. However, the Schism and the schismatics' subsequent alliance with the Camarilla has allowed many Viziers to exist relatively openly among the other Cainites, and no few have chosen to enter social and political arenas – with varying degrees of success.
Assamite antitribu Edit
|Nicknames:||Angels of Caine|
|Disciplines:||Celerity, Obfuscate, and Quietus|
The Assamite antitribu are almost identical to their non-Sabbat counterparts, except that they accept all races into their clan, granting membership to anyone with a warrior's heart. Also, most importantly, they were never subjected to the Curse of the Tremere. The Assamites of the Sabbat are free to drink the blood of all vampires. Because of this, they may be considered a separate bloodline from all other Assamites. Sorcerer Caste antitribu refer to themselves as al-Aziz.
The Assamites of the Sabbat, acting on the request of the sect's leaders, severed all direct association to the Assamite clan. The Sabbat Assamites have since that time made peace with their former clan. Assamite antitribu will not battle non-Sabbat Assamites, and Assamites have never warred against the Sabbat Assamites. This unspoken understanding is at least recognized by Sabbat leaders. The antitribu regard themselves as "true Assamites", while the Sorcerers of Alamut believe that the reason the antitribu are free of the Tremere curse lies in the ruins of Chorazin and has something to do with the Baali.
The Assamite antitribu are the primary assassins of the Sabbat. However, they do not ask for blood from the leaders of the sect. Instead, they ritually slay the eldest of their own clan every 100 years through a special diablerie ceremony. This elder has some of the blood of the Lasombra founder, a Third Generation vampire, running through his veins. The elder exists for a century as the closest Assamite antitribu to Caine himself, ruling under the title Hulul. At the end of the 100-year reign, the next in line drinks the precious vitae from the previous ruler, and so it passes it through history.
With the breaking of the Tremere Curse by ur-Shulgi, many Elders, including the current Hulul, of the antitribu, who have joined the sect to escape the humiliation of submitting to the blood wizards, have returned to Alamut and joined the Loyalist forces. Conversely, many young Assamites have fled to the Sabbat in order to escape the harsh laws under the new Eldest.
Banu Haqim Edit
Banu Haqim is the name by which the "Sons of Haqim" were known by the Islamic population during the medieval times. Many of the Banu Haqim worked hand-in-hand with the Ashirra to keep the Europeans out, especially since the majority of the clan was Muslim.
The Bedouins are a small, nomadic bloodline of the Warrior Caste native to North Africa that practices Animalism and makes extensive use of ghoul predators and warhorses to maintain their dominion over the thinly populated wastelands that they call home. They come primarily from mortal Bedouin and Berber stock. These individuals hold no sectarian allegiance and are only nominally loyal to Alamut, preferring to be left alone.
The Courtiers began with a group from the Vizier Caste who involved themselves in Byzantine politics during the heyday of that empire, and came to favor Presence over Celerity, a preference they passed on to their descendants. About two dozen members of the bloodline currently exist, most of whom reside in the Middle East, pursuing their own agendas among the Ashirra.
As a whole, the Children of Haqim hold themselves apart from the political squabbles of other Cainites. This is due in part to geography, at least before the advent of mechanized transportation, but mainly to a subtle sense of superiority. The Children like to feel that they have no need to resort to politics to achieve their aims. This is not to say that no member of the line is incapable of subtlety – indeed, many viziers have achieved great success in the political arena – but rather that the clan culture, such as it is, is predisposed toward more direct solutions. Of course, this political isolation has also had its drawbacks. Absence from the intrigues of the Damned means lack of enemies, but also of allies, which resulted in the isolated stance of the Clan after the formation of the Camarilla. Also, most Assamites are inexperienced in the games of power and Prestation other Kindred have played for millenium.
Assamites are divided into three castes, which often have a semi-antagonistic relationship with each other. While all Assamites grow dark with age, have access to Quietus as a clan Discipline, and have a weakness related to some form of lust so powerful that it stains their aura, the different castes also have different Disciplines and weaknesses. The castes are all hereditary, that is a warrior Assamite will always sire warrior caste childer and never sorcerers or viziers. Despite this, the three castes are considered equally close to the Antediluvian Haqim who is said to have sired Assamites of all three types in the Second City. Among themselves, Assamites use the tradition of the diwa'khana from Kurdistan to settle in the last few hours before the sun rises, exchanging news and discussing events that affect them to form a sense of community. Outsiders are not welcome and to be invited to a diwa'khana is a sign of great respect.
Warrior Assamites are the primary fighters of the clan. They are the Assamites most likely to take assassination contracts and most likely to adhere to the Path of Blood. When other vampires think of Assamites, they are most likely to picture a Warrior.
Younger Warriors typically came from Islamic countries, and may mix the tenants of the Path of Blood with Islamic ideas about holy war. They are often fanatical and ready to die for the cause. Elder Warriors may come from other religions entirely, and see themselves more as judges (and executioners) than as holy warriors or assassins.
The clan tends to watch potential neonates before allowing an Assamite to sire progeny. Although necessity sometimes demands that a new childe be sired quickly, the Assamites prefer making time for an apprenticeship. The Assamite antitribu are strict in choosing recruits. If a newly created Assamite antitribu survives his first experience in combat, he becomes a mustajib, or "deserving one." Mortals never serve the Assamites before being chosen to become one. Only after becoming Vampires do they get the chance for acceptance. For a period of seven years, the Vampire must serve the Assamite antitribu who created him. If the mustajib fails in any of his tasks, he is destroyed. If he succeeds, he becomes a fidais, or "one who sacrifices himself", for seven more years as he serves his creator.
Assamites typically try to Embrace someone who will be "useful" to the clan as a whole. This most often means someone who be willing to fight and die for the clan's (or at least their sire's) goals. However, during the long period that the clan labored under the Tremere blood curse, people may also have been Embraced for knowledge in a specific (often obscure) area. Typically this had something to do with sorcery or medical research involving blood, but may also have included more obscure areas of research as well.
Assamites typically choose people with somewhat obsessive personalities for the Embrace. As they are typically involved with either hunting down miscreants or conducting obscure research, they tend to be highly motivated individuals. This often results in Assamites picking individuals who are fanatically devoted to a cause, religion, theory, or activity. The various caste flaws and the training they undergo after the Embrace tends to accentuate this even more. Thus Assamites can be said to select childer that will be eager to chase down their prey no matter how long it takes or how far they must go. That prey may be a physical target, an obscure piece of knowledge, or even pursuing the perfection of an art form.
The Assamites draw most of their childer from the Middle East, North Africa and surrounding areas, but this does not mean they are all Arab. They also Embrace childer from the Indian subcontinent, Persians, Turks, Malays, Central Asia groups such as the Uzbeks and Kazaks, and various Mediterranean groups. Assamites from European or far Eastern ethnic groups are not unheard of, but are not common.
When thinking of the Assamites, most other vampires assume they will be Muslim. While they do draw the majority of their childer from the Middle East and other Muslim countries, this does not mean all Assamites are Muslims. While most are, and some Assamites from pre-Islamic times converted, it is not considered the official Assamite religion by any stretch of the imagination. Many elder Assamites come from pre-Islamic cultures practicing some form of animism or ancestor worship. Some are Jews, Christians, or Zoroastrians, as these were also common in the area before the coming of Islam, and are still present in the modern era, though to a lesser extent. Virtually any religious background is acceptable for an Assamite, being a Muslim is just most likely.
Assamites tend to Embrace more men than women overall. In 1st edition sources, it was even indicated that they did not Embrace women at all until roughly 200 years ago. Later editions refuted this. They still tend to embrace more men than women. The exact ratios have varied with time and depend on caste.
Warriors typically embrace far more men than women, and may be the source of the rumor that the Assamites actually banned embracing women. Women are less likely to have the skills that warriors favor. They also tend to be physically smaller and less aggressive than men. That they were typically married off young and were raising children also limited the number embraced as Warriors. Female warriors thus tend to have unusual skills or backgrounds that lead to their Embrace. Some may have disguised themselves as men to fight, be skilled with more subtle means of assassination (such as poison), or less physical aspects of warfare (such as diplomacy).
Viziers and Sorcerers are less focused on the physical skills of their childer, and thus more likely to embrace women. The number of women embraced waxed and waned based on the overall attitude towards educating women. In periods where women were rarely taught to read or write, they naturally took fewer women. However, even in periods where few people were educated, a vizier might take someone for their skill with art or social acumen, even if they were a total illiterate. Similarly, a sorcerer might embrace someone who showed some innate knack for magic, even if they could not write their own name. Childer could be taught to read and write after the Embrace, after all. Men typically had a head start on education however, making them a more likely choice.
Age wise, Embraces were also skewed by caste. With their emphasis on physical pursuits, Assamite warriors typical favor the young and fit. Thus most warriors with an older physical appearance were probably embraced for their skills with leadership or tactics, rather than raw physical might. Older warriors may also have been embraced for skill in an area that takes a lifetime to master, such as blacksmithing, constructing siege weapons, or more obscure weapons and fighting styles. It is unlikely that a warrior would Embrace anyone with a severe physical problem.
Viziers and Sorcerers typically place greater emphasis on learning and mental skills. While an exceptionally smart or artistically talented individual may catch their eye while still young, they are more likely to select someone who has spent a lifetime learning or perfecting their skills. Thus many sorcerers and viziers may be of an advanced physical age reflecting years of study before their embrace. As Auspex can also help compensate for the slow loss of hearing or sight with age, viziers in particular may consider embracing an individual with a sound mind but infirm body.
The Assamites have gone through many revisions. In 1st edition, they were generally presented as an all male fanatical sect of Muslim assassins. In 2nd edition, sorcerers started to make an appearance, but they were poorly defined and a tiny section of the clan, so it was an all male fanatical sect of Muslim assassins with mysterious blood sorcery, to boot.
Vampire: The Dark Ages initially presented them in much the same light as 2nd edition Vampire: The Masquerade. Libellus Sanguinis 3: Wolves at the Door originally introduced the concept of the three Assamite castes. This was the time when the clan started gaining some depth and variance in character.
Vampire: The Masquerade Revised presented the Assamites of consisting of the Warriors and the "Viziers". In that context, the Viziers were actually the Sorcerers. The three caste system was introduced as optional in Clanbook: Assamite Revised.
Dark Ages: Vampire presented the Assamites as three separate castes without the disclaimer that the castes are optional.
With the version changes, there were also several changes in clan weakness. 1st and 2nd edition Assamites all suffered from an allergy to vitae due to the Tremere curse and had to tithe vitae to the clan. Revised and Vampire: The Dark Ages Assamites suffered from the Warrior weakness, addiction to vitae. Revised edition Viziers (sorcerers) had to pay an additional blood point to use Thaumaturgy. Assamites in Libellus Sanguinis, Dark Ages Vampire, and the Revised Assamite clan book have the standard three caste flaws.
In Libellus Sanguinis and Dark Ages: Vampire, Sorcerers get Dur-An-Ki (Assamite blood magic), Auspex, and Quietus as their primary Discipline. In the Revised edition Assamite clan book (for modern nights) they get Dur-An-Ki, Obfuscate, and Quietus. The Viziers and Warriors have the same Disciplines in the Dark Ages and modern era.
Vampire Twentieth Anniversary Edition: The Dark Ages showed extensive changes. The Vizier caste is assumed to be the default caste instead of the Warrior, Viziers have Presence instead of Celerity, and Sorcerers have Auspex and Celerity in addition to the Dur-An-Ki. Additionally, Quietus is broken into two "paths" much like blood magic or Dark Age Valeren. Viziers have Quietus (Hematus) while Warriors get Quietus (Cruscitus). The Warrior caste flaw is also changed once again; all Warriors now appear as diablerists to supernatural senses regardless if they have ever committed diablerie or even tasted another vampire's blood.
In all versions, Assamites grow darker with age.