The Camarilla is the largest of vampiric sects, a loose organization which ostensibly represents and protects all vampires by enforcing and promulgating the Masquerade. It is currently composed of six clans, though officially it considers all Kindred under its purview and welcomes any that obey its laws. In addition to preventing the growing mortals masses from discovering the existence of vampires, the Camarilla aims to maintain the status quo of Kindred society; as such, much of its structure and traditions mirror that of Cainite society in Europe in the Dark Ages, and places it at odds with the agenda of the Sabbat and Anarchs.
In general, much of the Camarilla's approach to maintaining order involve enacting the Traditions, which among other things means supporting a system of feudal domains and the responsibilities of sires for the conduct of their childer. The latter idea is often taken farther to mean the sire has authority over the childe, and that elder vampires are intrinsically more deserving of respect and fit for leadership than younger vampires. Whatever the merits of that position may be, it has a tendency to instill great resentment among young Kindred and in the past has driven many to the Anarchs. Older vampires naturally support the social order which they have mastered over the centuries, and in fact much of the Camarilla's policies are designed to facilitate the activities of Kindred who have long ago lost touch with the mortal world..
The Camarilla's position in regard to mortals is simply pragmatic. In the Dark Ages the Inquisition and other mortal forces were responsible for the destruction of countless vampires. Now that the mortal population is counted in billions instead of millions and have created weapons stronger than the most powerful Disciplines, they could easily destroy most of Kindred society should their existence be revealed. Thus, the Camarilla ensures that mortal populations are not unduly harmed by vampire activities in order to protect the Masquerade, not out of any good will towards humanity. Still, Kindred are encouraged to blend in with mortals as best as possible and to retain the civility and composure that comes from holding onto one's human characteristics. Almost all Camarilla members are on the "Path" of Humanity, with Paths of Enlightenment being strongly discouraged and usually only practiced by elders.
Antediluvians and Gehenna Edit
The vast majority of Kindred in the Camarilla are no older than a century or two and thus were not alive during the time when the Antediluvians were active powers in the world. Though they may be educated in the story of Caine and the creation of vampires, many regard such tales as myths having been raised in more scientific times. The leaders of the sect have long made it a strict policy to deny the existence of beings such as the Antediluvians, or at the very least state that they all perished centuries ago. Similarly, talk about Gehenna is discouraged if not punished, if only because of the very genuine concern that such ideas may cause individuals to become paranoid, irrational, and maybe even join a Gehenna cult. While very few Kindred would profess to believing in stories of the End Times, many also grow nervous upon seeing signs and portents that seem to appear with frequency in the Final Nights. The Camarilla's stance is one of the primary reasons the Sabbat claims that the Camarilla is in fact controlled by the Antediluvians and actively serving their interests. While it is perhaps unlikely that the Camarilla is directly controlled by outside forces, it does appear that even the most knowledgeable and powerful members of the Ivory Tower refuse to make any preparations for the possibility of Gehenna.
The Camarilla's birth was grounded in the growing threats of the Inquisition and the Anarch Revolt, both of which were threatening Cainite domains throughout Europe. Though there had been attempts to form alliances in the past, a meeting of elders to seriously consider the idea of forming a league of vampires was not held until 1394. Little came of it, however, until a bold attack was made on the castle of the elder Ventrue Hardestadt. The Founders-to-be recognized the need for a unified front and so banded together several of their most trusted childer and servants into a joint task force to use against the Anarchs. Though meant to illustrate what could be accomplished if elders pooled their resources together, politics and rivalries would continue to divide them even as the Founders slowly made preparations for their new alliance.
The formation of the Camarilla was announced in 1435 as the Founders began openly rallying support for a coalition to protect vampires from the dangers of roving anarchs, the invading Assamites, and the increasingly dangerous mortal mobs. War continued to rage over the next several decades and the Founders, now called justicars, fought to hold the nascent sect together. In 1486 the first national conclave was convened, during which the justicars were given broader authority to punish vampires who violated the Traditions. A new body of agents was also formed to report to the justicars and free them to further develop the sect, creating what would eventually become the position of archon.
In 1493, the Convention of Thorns marked the end of the First Anarch Revolt and the birth of the Camarilla as it is known today. The Traditions were accepted as law. Representatives for the Brujah, Gangrel, Malkavian, Nosferatu, Toreador, Tremere, and Ventrue clans officially joined the sect, while those speaking for the Lasombra and Tzimisce, who were majoritarily anarchs, rebelled against what they considered an offensive ultimatum and went on to form the Sabbat in opposition to everything the Founders intended. While the Convention of Thorns was a significant victory for the Camarilla, it set the stage for the next five centuries of conflict between the two sects.
The New World Edit
Over the next two centuries those anarchs who refused to accept the Convention of Thorns coalesced into the Sabbat and struck out against the Camarilla's power. The organization and superior numbers of the older sect gave it a distinct advantage, however, and during the 17th century the younger Sabbat vampires began migrating to the New World en masse, leaving most of Europe to the Camarilla.
For a time there was some debate as to whether to pursue their enemy to the Americas, but eventually the idea of staking out new territories was accepted as a means of placating younger Kindred. Whereas it had seemed that the Sabbat might claim all of the New World, as their enemies fell into internal conflicts over dwindling resources the Ivory Tower consolidated power in the English, Dutch, and French colonies. The War of 1812 mirrored a renewed battle for the Atlantic coast where the Camarilla gradually lost city after city throughout the first half of the 19th century. As the war expanded to the American frontier the Camarilla was barely able to hold on its domains only because of civil war within the Sabbat's ranks.
In the 20th century, the Camarilla was greatly weakened by internal disputes as Kindred took differing sides in the mortal conflicts in Europe. This was especially true during the Second World War when many elders, particularly among the Toreador, Tremere, and Ventrue, supported the Axis Powers; the Inner Circle refused to take sides, and even individual justicars ended up working against one another. However, when the bomb was dropped on Hiroshima, Japan, it became deadly apparent how important preserving the Masquerade and global peace was, for mortals now possessed the power to destroy both themselves and all Kindred.
The Final Nights Edit
- Main article: Gangrel (VTM)#Final Nights
Following the Sabbat invasion of the East Coast, the Camarilla suffered another blow with the departure of the Gangrel. The reasons for their withdrawal are unknown; it is rumored then Justicar Xaviar went before the Inner Circle, uttered a single sentence, and left. Word spread through the clan, and over the course of a month the majority of the clan abandoned the sect and became independent.
- Main article: Assamite#The Schism
Many Assamites attempt to join the Camarilla.
The Camarilla is a global organization that maintains and oversees a collection of feudal domains, particularly in North America and Europe. It is a loose alliance lacking a strong central authority or standing military. Individual Camarilla cities are almost always ruled by a prince with the assistance of the primogen, who either act as a council of advisers or hold their own measure of power. Other offices of a city include the harpy, Keeper of Elysium, seneschal, sheriff, and scourge.
Most Camarilla cities are fairly autonomous, and the broader Camarilla authority usually only becomes involved when there are concerns of a large Sabbat incursion, significant breaches of the Masquerade, or conflicts between a city's elders that could cause greater instability. In such cases one or more archons are dispatched to look into the matter and either resolve the matter or report back to their respective justicar. Whereas there are any number of archons that have been enlisted to serve the sect's leaders, there is only one justicar for each official clan in the Camarilla. These influential vampires represent the highest visible authority of the Camarilla and hold tremendous power to enforce the sect's precepts and call on its resources. They answer only to the Inner Circle, a secretive body of the Camarilla's eldest members that determines the sect's direction and policies.