Harsh Light of Day
In Vampire: the Requiem, there are five political factions of vampires large enough to have a presence almost everywhere in the world. These groups are called 'covenants' and joining one is a major decision for any Kindred. It's important to note that these covenants, while wide-spread, are hardly homogenous. The Invictus in California might look and act extremely different from the Invictus in Prague, with only the most broad similarities (ie: wealth, status and rigid hierarchy) left to tie them together as the same organization. Some covenants might not even have a presence in a given city at all. Furthermore, while the far-flung branches of these organizations might talk to each other or share information, they don't have a lot of influence over one another. The Circle of the Crone in Madrid, for example, cannot demand that the Circle in Vancouver perform the same rites as them. There certainly isn't world-wide leadership. Single Kindred might gain enough power and status to influence practices in a small number of close-tied cities, but such authority is hardly absolute. In fact, the reason the Council of Masks was so unprecedented was that it managed to gather together enough powerful members of each covenant to enact cohesive change on a global scale- something that had never been done before. Finally, the covenants are not (usually) in open conflict with one another. Even the more diametrically opposed covenants, such as the Invictus and the Carthians, usually at least tolerate one another. No, covenant competition in a Requiem city usually takes the form of a five-way cold war, with each side grabbing for as much influence and power as possible while keeping a smile on their face and a knife behind their back. This doesn't mean open conflict never happens, but such events tend to be short-lived skirmishes, rather than open war. Large scale conflict between covenants hurts the entire city, and most Princes wil not tolerate it. If you are familiar with Vampire: The Masquerade, a good analogy for the covenants is how the seven clans of the Camarilla interact with each other in that setting. You will find the five covenants summarized below, with appropriate page number referenced if you want more detailed information. The exception to this is the Lancea Sanctum, which has been modified from the basic write-up in V:tM to be more viable in our setting.
The Carthian Movement
Advantage: Purchase Allies, Contacts, Haven and Herd at half-cost.
About: It's called the 'Movement' for a reason. The Carthians are always striving towards tomorrow, looking for change and questioning the current establishment. They are the youngest of the covenants, only coming together as a cohesive organization around two centuries ago. 'Cohesive' might be a misnomer, however. Consisting of rebels, free-thinkers, anarchists and non-conformists of all stripes, the Carthian Movement always wants to seek a 'better way', but often has a hard time agreeing on what that better way is. When they do agree on something, however, watch out! The Firebrands are easily the most dynamic of the covenants and the one most likely to utilize true teamwork to accomplish their goals. (pg. 46-48 V:tR)
Post Reveal: By and large, the Reveal is enormous vindication for the entire Carthian Movement. They were talking about coexistence with humans long before the Masquerade started to fracture, and they were the first covenant to take that seriously as well. Consisting primarily of younger Kindred, the Movement has adapted to the changing world well, often surging ahead in influence and representation. That said, the Firebrands are also sometimes the source of information leaks or other social trouble, their zeal for change and human-Kindred unity sometimes getting ahead of their (often nonexistent) caution.
The Circle of the Crone
Advantage: Access to the blood magicks of Cruac.
About: The most eclectic of all the covenants, and possibly the oldest, the Circle isn't so much a single organization as it is dozens of different cults, religious sects, secret societies and cabals that have joined together for mutual protection and sharing of resources. Unlike the dogma of their rivals, the Lancea Sanctum (see below), who teach that Kindred are an aberration to the order of the world, the Circle of the Crone preaches that Kindred are as a natural part of the world as trees, water or blood. According to their beliefs, the Kindred were created by the Dark Mother, an ur-goddess from whom all monsters spawned. The Crone see their goddess reflected in many pantheons, claiming almost any female (or sometimes female) deity to be a reflection of the Dark Mother. Thus, the Acolytes are an incredibly accepting group, willing to welcome follower of of nearly any faith into their ranks. Despite the extreme variance in individual practices, a few common beliefs are found within all covens: Strength is found through adversity and change; Kindred have a sacred purpose in this word; and vampires are wholly different from humans, and should not pretend otherwise. (pg. 49-52 V:tR)
Post Reveal: The Reveal has been hard on the Circle. One of the central tenants of their religion is to accept their nature as monsters and celebrate it, something that the current climate of 'cozy up to the humans and play nice' makes it difficult to do. Many were against the Reveal in the first place, and many more now rankle under the limitations to their behavior it imposes. Several whole cults have vanished, gone underground, or moved to countries where it's rumored that Kindred are less 'restricted'. Those that have stayed within the Kindred Nation are trying to make the most of it, reasoning that if the Dark Mother wishes them to grow strong though change and adversity, then the Reveal is the perfect time to do so.
Nickname: First Estate
Advantage: Purchase Herd, Mentor, Retainer and Resources at half-cost.
About: According to the Invictus, they exist to safeguard and protect all Kindred, and in order to fulfill that role to the best of their ability, they need as much wealth, status and power as possible. The fact that they spend their time acquiring these things only proves their commitment to protecting Kindred. So, you see, the Invictus should always be in charge- for everyone's sake. Whether you buy the First Estate's rhetoric or not, there is no denying their influence has spread farther and stronger into the world than any other covenant. Even before the Reveal the Invictus controlled companies, cities and crime families from the shadows for centuries. This temporal success, however, leads many members to be arrogant and to ignore things they don't see the value of, such as creativity, independence and innovation. (pg. 53-56 V:tR)
Post Reveal: Invictus after the Reveal fall into two major groups: Those who have adapted to change, and those who have not. Members of the First Estate willing to shake hands with human governments and business interests find themselves flourishing. The world of big business and investing is already bloody and merciless, the perfect environment for up-and-coming Kindred. Conversely, the Invictus who can't pretend to see humans as anything but an exploitable resource find themselves flailing. Humanity, now wise to some of the Kindred's machinations, is not generally willing to invest in beings who see them as inferiors. This has lead to a strange state of affairs in the Invictus: For the first time in the covenant's history, it is innovative neonates who are rising, while their elders lag behind.
The Lancea Sanctum
Advantage: Access to the dark miracles of Theban Sorcery.
About: [[OOC: The Lancea Sanctum in Harsh Light is a bit different than as written, so the material here supplements and replaces what is found on pg. 57-61 of V:tR]] A church of mono-theistic vampires who believe that the Kindred are Damned, and must earn their way back into God's good graces, the Sanctified are comprised primarily of Christian faiths, but also includes member of Judaism and Muslim beliefs. In the early days of the covenant, the Lancea Sanctum taught its member to embrace their monstrous nature, using their abilities to harry mortals from the shadows into turning to God out of fear and desperation. Those who actively engaged in this practice were known as 'the Wolves of God'. As the Sanctified grew and spread, however, another school of thought began to rise within the church: The Kindred might be Damned, but do they not have free will, just as humans do? Thus, should they not be judged by their actions, rather than their nature? These 'Shepherds', as they came to be known, preached that the only sins carried by vampires were those that they chose to enact themselves, and furthermore, that driving humans to embrace God out of terror and despair was an insult to His love. The Wolves and Shepherds inevitably came into conflict, nearly tearing the Lancea Sanctum apart several times. Ironically, it was the prosecution of the Inquisition that finally forged these two disparate halves into a stronger whole: forced to rely on each other for survival the Wolves and Shepherds were forced to acknowledge each other as equals. When the fires of the Inquisition finally guttered out, the Sanctified emerged lesser in number but stronger for the culling. Now, the majority of the Lancea are Shepherds, preaching the word of God, carrying out good works in His name and doing their best to earn a place for the Kindred at His side. The Wolves serve as the militant arm of the church, protecting it from outside threats- they now use their 'conversion through fear' tactics on enemies of the Sanctum as an alternative to killing them. As one prominent Wolf put it: "Why make a corpse when you can make a convert?"
Even reformed, the Lancea Sanctum often finds itself in direct opposition with the Circle of the Crone, seeing their 'goddess' as a blasphemous demon who corrupts Kindred away from the One True God.
Post Reveal: One of the only common threads between the beliefs of the Lancea Sanctum and the Circle of the Crone is that Kindred should be apart from humans. In the Sanctum's case it is because humans tempt Kindred to sin, and Kindred have a corrupting influence on mortals, pulling both farther away from God. Thus, the majority of the Sanctified opposed the Reveal and, just like the Crone, several groups have disappeared since its inception- especially among the Wolves. Those that support the Reveal, however, claim that is a momentous opportunity. For the first time, Kindred will be able to work with (and preach to) humans directly, as equals. Surely, this state of affairs must be part of God's plan to draw all of his children, mortal and not, closer together. Even these enthusiastic Sanctified must be cautious however, as the Kindred Nation is actively suppressing knowledge of the more mystical aspects of vampire culture, which definitely includes Theban Sorcery. Still, the remaining Shepherds are doing their best to connect with human religious leaders and some Kindred have found surprising acceptance within local church communities (especially when it was proven that the whole 'repelled by crosses and holy water' thing was rubbish).
The Ordo Dracul
Advantage: Access to the mysterious Coils of the Dragon.
About: Probably the least understood of the covenants from the outside, the Ordo Dracul is also the only one with a clearly defined, universal goal: Improve the Kindred condition. For all their power, vampires suffer many debilitating weaknesses, not the least of which is missing half of their immortal lives while they sleep the days away. The Ordo Dracul seeks to better understand their curse in order to cure it, but individual members often have a hard time agreeing on the best way of finding said cure, or what it would even look like when they found it. Is the 'cure' being human again? Perfecting the vampiric state? Or moving past Kindred into some new, as of yet undiscovered, form of existence? Dracul laboratories and lecture halls abound with debate on these subjects and more. Still, despite their general lack of cohesion, the Dragons have made some progress over the centuries. The Coils have been definitively proven to at least mitigate the weaknesses of the Kindred, if not remove them entirely. However, in their zeal for results, the Ordo Dracul often winds up looking quite mad- their willingness to attempt any practice in the name of progress makes other Kindred leery of them. (pg. 62-66 V:tR)
Post Reveal: The Ordo Dracul presents a frustrating conundrum to the Kindred Nation: On the one hand, the Dragons are the best equipped to translate the Kindred condition into something palatable to the science-and-reason obsessed humans. Plus, they are the only covenant with nearly universal support for the Reveal. On the other hand, most Dacul, with their collection of quirks, eccentricities and detachments, are the last people you want representing the Kindred as a whole. Often a compromise is struck, with Oro findings being presented by a more 'agreeable' spokes-person from another covenant. Socially competent Dragons are prized, and usually pressured into becoming liaisons for the mortal scientific community. As the for the Dragons themselves, they continue much as they did before, except now they can openly advertise for studies, apply for grant money, gain access to the most advanced equipment and collaborate with human colleagues. Suddenly, it doesn't seem so strange that the entire covenant jumped at the chance to do away with the Masquerade.