Philadelphia By Night
“All great truths begin as blasphemies.” – George Bernard Shaw
The 5 covenants would have you believe they are kindred civilization, that anything outside their society is something monstrous or dangerous. For the five covenants, the Brood represent what kindred might become if they allow themselves to succumb to the Beast. They forsake their humanity, fight savagely, have dealings with demons and other dark entities, and regularly endanger the masquerade. All this is true to some extent, but why? Why does the Brood persist and what drives these people? Are they really so unified and simultaneously mindless? Below reveals just a little of the Brood as they see themselves. Each section presented below assumes the voice of an insider scholar Brood, but one which attempts to speak impartially. Believe or don’t believe but perhaps it will satisfy your curiosity about who the Brood really are.
_*Special Note:* The information below is only available for characters at storyteller discretion. Even with the proper skill and merit points, please read the information with this in mind. The information on this page is not readily available, not even some of the more basic information. To the five covenants the Brood are generally the mindless monsters detailed in the core Vampire: The Requiem book. If the elders know more, they’re not letting on. If you believe your character has had the proper interactions to know the information presented herein, then speak to the storyteller to find a way to represent this on your character sheet (either through experience point discount or by spending the proper experience.) A character who wishes to know this must have one of the following:_
Occult 3 AND specialty: Brood
Politics 3 AND specialty: Brood
Brood Lore Merit 2 (1 will provide some basic information)
Brood Status 1 AND Occult 3
Characters who wish to know about Sabbat and Brood devotions, specific rituals, secret sects within the secret societies, and other extremely specific knowledge will find it even more difficult. Those with the skills or merits above may attempt to roll Intelligence + Occult + Specialty, or Brood Lore Merit minus [4-6] depending on the specificity of the knowledge. Each success allows the character to learn one piece of information.
Research, of course, allows even more information, but anyone researching this forbidden lore will be looked at with some suspicion. Even if characters are respected by the local librarian or elders, any research materials accessed from afar may alert elders in other locations and bring investigation to the characters’ local city.
The Foresworn and the Sabbat: Uncommon Bedfellows
While the five covenants don’t recognize this readily, there is a difference between the Brood and the Sabbat. The Brood usually share one common practice: pursuit of new existence as a vampire- a being with an awakened beast. In this sense, Belial’s Brood is more of philosophy, rather than an organization. The Brood lack a cohesive organization, resembling more of a loose affiliation of packs some overarching direction from within their factions. The pursuit differs substantially for different factions, but they almost unanimously accept the Beast rather than fight with it for what could be eternity. They ‘foreswear’ their humanity and instead commit to a different path of morality. Very often, the Foresworn also ‘pursue’ alternate sources of guidance for morality, leading them to serve, to worship, and/ or to study alien entities, demons, or what they call the Adversary (the opposite to God). More rarely, some Foresworn lack commitment to an elder being of some sort, and instead fixate on a universal force, such as The Void or The Abyss.
The Sabbat are a separate and distinct organization that the five covenants fail to truly recognize for a number of reasons. They began, in a concrete sense, in the 1700s, coalescing several discontent cells of the five covenants who opposed the five covenants. They realized that the five major bloodlines from which all bloodlines spring have five progenitors, and those progenitors have not abandoned their world. They rule from their sleep, using elders like pawns who deceive even younger kindred into carrying out their plans.
It is important to note that many Sabbat know little more about the Covenants than Covenant kindred know about the Brood. The general impression is that Covenant kindred are bound in blood and politics within stifling layers of servitude to more and more powerful and secretive elders ultimately in unwitting slavery to the legendary Progenitors. To the rank and file Sabbat such an existence is as unimaginable as the Covenant kindreds’ view of all Brood as mindless demon worshiping savages. Within the Sabbat there is a focus on recruiting and overthrowing the machination of the elders and their established Covenants. Those directly involved in this struggle tend to have a more developed understanding of the distinctions between the five Covenants. Below is a representation of their general views.
The Invictus are the most obvious example of kindred control and what most Sabbat refer to when they want to make the point to young Sabbat. Their simplified view of this Covenant is naïve and can lead to dangerous underestimation. They usually view Invictis as a tightly bound whole whose leadership is corrupted and ultimately pawns of elder kindred.
The Sabbat believe the Lancea Sanctum had promise with their vision to identify and explore kindred purpose but its elders lacked the courage to expand this philosophy to the necessary extremes. Additionally, their emulation of the dark angel Longinus makes most Sabbat uncomfortable. They view the Lancea Sanctum as little different from the various Brood factions with which most Sabbat have more experience.
Few in the Sabbat doubt that the Circle of the Crone is under the direct manipulations of one of the Progenitors, most likely Nosferatu or Gangrel. They may play at evil and flirt with forgotten gods but only under the watchful and patient eye of their grandmother Crone.
The Ordo Dracul inspire deep suspicion from the Sabbat who know of them. They are convinced the Ordo’s ceaseless projects are in service of one or more Progenitors and their minions. Despite these fears some in the Sabbat find themselves drawn to the Ordo Dracul fascinated by their curiosity, secrets, and grand ideas of evolution.
Towards the Carthians the Sabbat feel kinship. They recognize the benefit of having a faction of dissidents among the Covenants to distract and foil the agendas of the elders. However many feel the Movement has turned from its revolutionary roots and is now a part of the machine, serving as a convenient steam valve for the Covenants. Seeing echoes of their ideals in the Carthians the Sabbat believe the Movement should be prime recruiting grounds for them. Strangely they often find the Carthians more distrustful of them than most furthering their suspicions that the good intentioned Movement has been compromised somehow.
Sabbat in Focus
Since its formation, the Sabbat has organized under an organization similar to the Lancea Sanctum or religious organization of Europe in the 1700s. (For more information as to why, see the Sabbat Player’s Guide, White Wolf.) It holds freedom in the highest regard- necessary to pursue the kindred existence unfettered by remnants of mortal philosophies of humanity. It fights against the five covenants when it can, but recognizes it is weak in numbers, especially given its several civil wars. Originally it worked with the Foresworn because of their mutual opposition of the five covenants, and for a brief time, both grew in power quickly, but eventually the Sabbat grew to fear the Foresworn when they learned of their true ambitions. Many Sabbat also originally found the philosophical beliefs of the Foresworn to be insightful for pursuing alternatives to humanity that did not degenerate to uncontrolled madness. Some of this influence still exists today.
Eventually, though, in the mid-1800s the Sabbat realized its ultimate aims of freedom from elder or alien machinations and personal pursuit fundamentally conflicted with the Brood and made cohesive work impossible in the long run. Thus began the Sabbat-Brood civil war. The five covenants have very few who know of this, and fewer still who care about the distinction or know the outcome. To the five covenants, the Brood and the Sabbat behave similarly at the immediate level, oppose the five covenants, endanger The Masquerade, and so are essentially to arms of the same body. For the past hundred fifty years, both groups have been steadily growing, and growing apart from one another, though. Sabbat packs and Brood coveys occasionally communicate between one another, especially when trying to destabilize a Covenant city, but the two invariably end up betraying one another.
Belial’s Brood Uncovered: Shared Practices and Beliefs
Some Brood venerate a figure known as Belial or other demon, and these are more properly called Foresworn, as they ‘foreswear’ their prior existence in favor of service to this entity. What they believe of Belial differs just as much. Some believe “Belial was a mortal man, sent by the Adversary to bring its word and will to its errant children, the race of vampires, who wallowed in ignorance, struggling to accept their own natures until his arrival.” Some believe he is no less than a messiah, an anti-Christ. Some believe Belial was the progenitor as well as the messiah or the mortal leader, and see all kindred as Brood in this respect. Some believe pay their respects to Belial, the demon-spirit, second only to the Adversary and some even believe Belial to be the Adversary. These last groups, while still considered Foresworn, are more properly called Belial’s Brood because of the prominence that the figure Belial holds for them, as distinct from other groups which devote themselves to the Adversary or another entity. There are many Foresworn who worship or pursue otherworldly beings who go by other names other than ‘Belial.’
Foresworn vary from covey to covey, depending on how they come into the fold. They learn about and sometimes serve alien and ancient beings- some say a god, some say a powerful spirit known as a maeljin. Others seek to learn of these creatures or spirits so that they might serve the proper master when the time arrives- effectively agnostics unwilling to choose the side for lack of knowledge and perhaps fear of being wrong. And finally, some Foresworn have committed themselves to understanding the Abyss and knowing of it so that they might survive the coming end of this world or simply come to understand it, allowing the world to start anew without them. Perhaps with them. Perhaps to transcend this age and this form.
Brood mainly organize in ‘coveys’ or coteries, and very often nomadic coveys. Further direction is provided through faction leaders and different factions have varying degrees of formal organization and extent of transnational communication. With all of these competing visions one might wonder how it is that the Brood is still known as the Brood by the five covenants. How do they stay unified? While intra-faction fighting does occur, generally the Brood recognize each other as working to a similar end, even if they think the others is misguided. Some Foresworn actively oppose other Brood at times, seeing the other factions as directly opposing the work of their chosen lord. But whether a given Brood member is a Belial’s Brood and believes in Belial’s second-coming or the she is Foresworn and seeks to do the work of a Mother of All Kindred, all of them see the five covenants as delusional and weak in their ignorance, denial of the lords, and devotion to humanity.
The Pursuit in its Many Forms
“The Hidden” believe Belial is the mortal prophet who had mortal children serving
The Roaring Serpent:
“The Archons” are Foresworn who believe in a Father of all kindred as a servant of the Adversary.
“The Animonians” believe in the coming of an alien spirit being who brings
a new age.
The Mercy Seat:
“The Faustians” test the souls of humanity as a blacksmith tests metal to temper
it, in the effort to temper the souls for a new existence after ‘the end.’
Throne of the Smokeless Fire:
“Djinn” serve the Adversary through the intermediary, Belial and
maintain that all kindred are Brood whose natures bind them in servitude to the Adversary.
The Scarlet Rite:
The “Hyletics” place little importance on worship or service. Instead they
pursue knowledge of the kindred condition, much like the Ordo Dracul. They view humanity as an obstacle, instead, and believe their freedom is paramount.
The Corpus Delecti:
Seek to know their condition and the coming Abyss more fully to transcend
the limitations of this form. “The Body Criminal” Sometimes have joint membership in the Sabbat.
The Horned Hand:
Brood faction who believe the coming of an elder female kindred. “The Alpdrueke”
Teeth of Yamatu: Seek the destruction of everything by the void- not a demiurge or Adversary in a real sense. “The Eaten”