|Disciplines:||Obfuscate, Presence, Serpentis|
|Parent clan:||Followers of Set|
Like their parent clan, the Serpents of the Light are extremely susceptible to sunlight, and experience great discomfort when exposed to bright lights.
The Serpents of the Light began as a Caribbean branch of the West African Setites. According to the Cobras’ oral tradition, the first Setites came to the West Indies more than 300 years ago, in the heyday of the slave trade. They say that a mortal cultist, captured and sold as a slave, became a sailor and returned to Africa.
He pleaded with his undead masters to succor his fellow tribesmen who were suffering and dying on the sugar plantations and mills. The elders of the cult agreed that the cause was just. One vampire-priest smuggled himself across the Atlantic on a slave ship; it arrived in Hispaniola with the slaves freed and the white men in chains.
The great priest led a furious slave revolt. The Europeans crushed the revolt - but not the cult that led the revolt, nor the vampire priest. The great priest now sleeps in the earth, but when he awakens he will lead all the faithful back to Africa.
His lineage preserves the cult until that night. Their modern incarnation originated in the 1960s when a group of independent Setites in Haiti formed an alliance with the newly-arrived Sabbat, ignoring orders from senior Setites to have nothing to do with the sect.
The Serpents (or "Cobras") are committed to combating the Antediluvians, and believe Set to be among their enemies; they are considered traitors by other Setites, and maintain an attitude of "fight fire with fire" when it comes to foiling the plans of their parent clan and, to a lesser degree, the Camarilla. Apart from their ideological and spiritual beliefs, however, there are few significant differences between Cobras and their parent clan, while most of them learn the same Disciplines, and share the same weakness to light (except for those of Damballan descent).
They believe in a supreme Creator deity, but (like other African and Voodoo faiths) also believe that the Supreme Deity does not interact with the world in any way. The bloodline-cult’s leaders have no problem with the myth of Caine. They recognize him as the king from their own origin myth, in a strange syncretism with the Book of Nod and other santeria elements.
The Cobras interpret other Antediluvians as brothers and sisters of the king, who persuaded him to share his stolen power but now seek his death and fight amongst themselves. The Cobras accept that the Antediluvians really exist and will devour all their descendants when they awaken. Since they do not want to become an ancient vampire’s dinner, they help the Sabbat hunt the Antediluvians and their presumed minions, including their parent clan.
Manipulation by seduction is the tool of choice for the Serpents of the Light, who play a dangerous game of attack and counterattack against their Setite rivals with mortal pawns. Members of the bloodline wield weapons of addiction and decay. They are expert at discovering a target's weakness and using that tool -- be it drugs, sex, power or whatever -- to gain control of the target.
These vampires relish the opportunity to bring down a prince's city from the inside out, like any dedicated Sabbat. A few Serpents set loose in a major metropolis can magnify the drug-trade substantially, entice many innocent victims into prostitution and much more. They prefer to operate behind the scenes, extending their control through human and Cainite underlings, without becoming an obvious target themselves. Rooting out a Serpent of the Light from a city is much like peeling an onion - you must slice away many layers before you get to the core.
The Serpents of the Light are known blood magicians, and as a general name for their magic they use the Haitian term Wanga - but the Cobras may also call their spells Bilongo, Ebbo or Malice. Amulets and talismans are called Paquets Congo or Hands. A Wangateur also employs dozens of herbs, spices and mysterious powders. Other common paraphernalia include rum, candles, rattles, drumming, designs of sprinkled flour called Vevers — and blood sacrifice to appease the loa.
Spirit Manipulation is far and away the most popular path among Serpent of the Light magicians. Those Cobras who practice actual Necromancy favor the Sepulcher Path and seldom learn any other. The Wangateurs remember the ancient Setite Paths of Corruption, the Dry Nile and the Serpent Within, but give them different names. The Path of the Dry Nile becomes "Blinding Chango", for instance, while The Serpent Within becomes "Zarabanda’s Malice". The Cobras value these three Paths for their use in cursing opponents.
The Serpents of the Light often embrace Haitian or North African individuals as clan members, if it is practical. Otherwise, anyone can serve the Serpents of Light, as long as they exhibit high intelligence, an aggressive bent and willingness to learn. All Serpents of the Light must study and practice voodoo theology, or some form of occultism. The clan has been growing in strength and number, due to its desire to become a power-player in the Sabbat.
Elder Cobras instill a great loyalty in their childer from the night of their embrace. The Serpents of the Light compare their struggle to the split from the Followers of Set to the history of their West Indian roots. Much of their speech when conversing with each other occurs in Haitian patois and Voodoo references.
Knowledge is strength, and the Cobras recognize their principle. They participate in all Sabbat pack meetings and ritae, sometimes organizing pack actions, especially War Parties and scouting sorties. They also maintain a loose communications network among their clan members, to stay informed about Sabbat and personal clan activities.
The four elders who hold the highest initiation within the bloodline are called the empereurs; the last three initiations within the line come only with the consent of all the empereurs together. The leader of a Cobra cell is called the president, while a member in good standing is called a bête sereine or “Serene Beast.”
A single cell is called a shanpwel. When a new cell forms, an empereur sends a miniature coffin emblazoned with a silver serpent encircling a golden star, the madouk d’estoile, for their shrine. Often, Sabbat packs with vampires of other lineages under Cobra guidance come to accept their branch of Noddism as doctrine.
While they take a sybaritic pleasure in the Jyhad between Sabbat and Camarilla and make superb espionage agents for the Sabbat, their loyalty remains with their patron cult above all. A Serpent of the Light serves the needs of her particular chapter of the cult she belonged to before her embrace above the needs of the Sabbat.
V20 Lore of the Clans allows the Children of Damballah, the African forefathers of the Serpents of the Light, to be presented as a bloodline with an alternate Discipline, switching Obfuscate for Auspex. In addition, like their counterparts, these Cobras descended from Damballans have to present offerings to the spirits in a ritual that lasts at least ten minutes. If they fail to do this for any reason, the character suffers from the Haunted flaw. Of course, only Cobras that can trace their lineage back to the Children have this alternate Discpline and weakness, while those descended from regular Setites or have joined the Sabbat continue to suffer the weakness of their parent clan.
- Vampire: The Masquerade 20th Anniversary Edition, p. 432
- Clanbook: Followers of Set Revised, p. 34, 70, 48-50
- Guide to the Sabbat, p. 74-75
- Lore of the Clans, p. 63, 70, 281
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