THE RIVALRY OF AGES
The feud between the Camarilla and the sect that will soon be known as the Sabbat begins immediately following the Convention of Thorns. The ideological differences between the two sects have divided them to such a point that each side cannot suffer the others presence in the modern World of Darkness. The previous installment of the Transylvania Chronicles covered the formation of the Camarilla in great detail, so here we will present the development of the Sabbat and the conflict that followed.
Transylvania has always been a hotbed of conflict for the Tremere and the Tzimisce, and when those clans fall onto opposite sides of the Camarilla/Sabbat division, their war takes on a new importance. Both sects use the small Carpathian nation as the first battleground in a war that will last until the end of the 17th century.
PICKING UP THE BANNER
Many anarchs did not accept surrender to the Camarilla at the Convention of Thorns in 1493. Their revolt had ended in failure. Elders still held the real power, and the younger vampires freedoms were still curtailed. Some even argued that the situation worsened under the strict Camarilla.
In two instances, this sentiment spread clan wide. The Lasombra had the added fear of harsh retribution. The had claimed to have succeeded in destroying their own Antediluvian and the elders of many other clans during the Anarch Revolt, and the Camarilla certainly would not let such a thing go unpunished. The knew the Toreador and Venture eyed their homeland of Spain hungrily, and would use any means to try to usurp Lasombra influence. Entrance into the Camarilla offered just such a means for them to do so, under the guise of punishing the Lasombra for their actions in the Anarch Revolt.
The Tzimisce also refused as a clan to join the Camarilla, but for an entirely different reason. The did not care about retribution for destroying their Antediluvian. Out of pride, the Tzimisce would never accept surrender of any sort to their hated enemies, the Tremere. Surrendering to the Ventrue was nearly as bad, adding insult to injury. Joining the Camarilla would cause the Tzimisce to lose the Transylvania they had defended for generations. The Fiends could never willingly give Transylvania to the very forces they had fought against. This was completely unacceptable to any Tzimisce worth the name, and the clan vowed to continue their fight. Additionally, many of the clans vampires saw no need for a Camarilla, and returned to governing the night with eldritch power as they always had in the past.
The Lasombra and Tzimisce brought together as many of the remaining antitribu as possible to continue where the Anarch Revolt had left off. Ironically, the Camarilla gathering at Thorns brought together all the opponents of the Convention as well as its supporters, and served as the perfect initial meeting for the future Sabbat members. Both the Lasombra and Tzimisce realized that part of the failure of the revolt was due to its disorganization; it could not stand up to the unity of the Camarilla.
The dissidents met in secret in Spain and Transylvania, where the two leading clans could guarantee a certain level of security. During these meeting the details of what would soon be a new sect were hammered out. The Lasombra championed the move to bring the antitribu into a group that could defy the Camarilla in an organized fashion. The Tzimisce helped design the structure of the sect, twisting and warping the positions of the Church to strike a symbolic blow at the Inquisition (which was in full swing throughout Europe at this time). They soon came upon the name for the organization, taken from the witchs Sabbath: The sect would be called the Sabbat.
THE GREAT WAR BEGINS
The Camarilla dropped its defenses after the Convention of Thorns, thinking the matter of the anarchs closed. The Sabbat used this window to strike brutally and unexpectedly in Spain, Hungary, and Transylvania. These were the only organized areas of resistance groups that would later be affiliated with the Sabbat revolted on their own throughout Europe. Despite a severe numerical disadvantage, the Sabbat achieved success through planning, tactics, and surprise. The Tzimisce used the Vaulderie to create unshakable morale in the packs that executed the attacks. They instituted the practice of Creation Rites, the inhuman feeding practices that distanced the Sabbat from the Camarilla and from mortals and the Embrace of mass fodder to throw against the Camarilla.
In trying to organize itself and keep itself secret from humanity, the Camarilla had created its own Achilles heel, and the Sabbat exploited this to the fullest. Breaking the Masquerade and assassinating the elders of Camarilla cities became the primary goals of Sabbat incursions. Although the Sabbat held no love for the Inquisition, at times they used it to their advantage if an attack on a Camarilla stronghold did not result in success, they insured that an Inquisitor would take notices and clean up the mess the Sabbat uncovered through breaking the Masquerade.
The Sabbat also sparked revolts, especially in Transylvania. In 1514, the peasants of Transylvania rose up against the tyranny of their mortal and Kindred masters. The Sabbat threw as much support as possible behind it. This unwillingly paved the way for Ottoman takeover of parts of Hungary, which worked to neither Camarilla nor Sabbat advantage. The conflicts with the Sabbat and the peasantry weakened Transylvania to the point that the local princes had to accept Ottoman suzerainty (the vassalage of Transylvania to the Ottoman Empire) as the Turks gradually surrounded the Carpathian nation. Ottoman presence curtailed the power of the Camarilla princes in the region, and the Assamites who came with the Turks battled their traitorous antitribu brethren with religious furor.
For the first half-century of the conflict, the Sabbat enjoyed tremendous success. The Camarilla and its elders could not adapt quickly enough to the Sabbats new methods of warfare. Hardestadt and Rafael de Corazon frantically planned with the other Founders and princes of powerful Camarilla cities, trying to formulate a strategy. If the Sabbat successes continued, their newly formed Camarilla might fall after less than a century of existence.
THE TIDE TURNS
The Sabbat continued to fight viciously, but tactics and surprise could not give them an edge forever. Once the Camarilla realized it was dealing with a full-fledged war, and learned the way in which the Sabbat waged it, they began fighting back. They drew from the two advantages they had that could insure Camarilla victory: numbers and mortal influence.
Even with the mass fodder they created, the vast majority of which died during their assaults, the Sabbat simply did not have enough vampires to support a sustained conflict. As the war dragged on for a century and beyond, the Sabbat could not keep the level of engagement high enough to achieve new gains, or even to presence old ones. They also had severe problems with the mortal governments and societies in the areas they claimed. When the right Camarilla elders spoke in the right mortal ears, the Sabbat quickly lost the support of local kine leaders. Few barons or princes gave Sabbat leaders support, either in gold or troops. Trade all but ceased in Sabbat cities, and guilds and artisans moved elsewhere. Although arguably more effective in open conflict, the Sabbat eventually had to withdraw under the less violent, but far more effective, counterattacks of the Camarilla.
The Sabbat quickly found that it had no safe haven. Mortal society crumbled in the areas it took from the Camarilla. Even the original domains of its most powerful archbishops came under political and economic assault. Many Sabbat also realized that the war, with its emphasis on taking cities and defeating the Camarilla, had lost track of the ideals and reasons behind the war, which was to defeat the Antediluvians that used Cainites as their pawns. The Sabbat needed to find somewhere to retreat to and bandage its wounds, a place to reevaluate its purpose and find what its goals really were. Eventually the Sabbat leadership decided on Scandinavia, the cold, remote, and sparsely populated region in northern Europe. By the late 1600s the vast majority of the Sabbat had relocated to this region, although several outcroppings of Sabbat territory still remained in Europe. The Tzimisce, led by Vladimir Rustovitch and Count Radu Bistri, regrettably but necessarily retreated from their homeland of Transylvania. Folding under the Tremere and Ventrue onslaught. They retained close contact with the Tzimisce who remained, and made a promise to the voivodes still there that one night the Sabbat would return to retake Transylvania.
Many Sabbat also saw another option. Across the Atlantic, a new, untamed world lay open, free of Camarilla corruption and repression. Lupine presence was rumored to be fairly high, but many Sabbat preferred to face an enemy that fought out in the open rather than the duplicitous treachery of the Camarilla. The Tzimisce particularly saw the Americas as a welcome place; hadnt they cowed the werewolves in their own homeland? Thus began a mass exodus of Sabbat to the New World, and the conflict between the Camarilla and Sabbat began anew on a different shore.
THAT WHICH DOES NOT KILL US...
In reality, the Camarilla had never been in danger of totally collapsing, but the Sabbat served as a much-needed wake-up call. Hardestadts naive notion that he could gather all the clans together under one organization was proven impossible time and again during the conflict. The Setites declined to join, to the relief of many a Camarilla Kindred, and the best that could be garnered from the Giovanni was a promise in 1528 to stay out of Kindred affairs (which at least guaranteed that they would not support the Sabbat).
The Camarilla became stronger in response. Princes learned the tactics of the Sabbat, and strengthened their leadership and protective measures against crusades. The overall structure of the Camarilla was solidified by the Founders; it is at this time that the practice of having Conclaves, justicars, and archons develops. Positions such as seneschal, keeper of the Elysium, and sheriff were institutionalized in all Camarilla cities, and some princes even instituted the ancient office of the scourge. Many anarchs (and Sabbat) would argue that this made the Camarilla even more oppressive, but it did make the organization more capable of withstanding eternity, the vampires greatest asset - and enemy.
UNLIFE IN TRANSYLVANIA
As the advantage swung from the Sabbat to the Camarilla in Transylvania toward the end of the 16th century, the princes in the region began working to end the Ottoman suzerainty that constrained both their Kindred and mortal influence. Unfortunately the continuing Sabbat skirmishes, the chaos that the antitribu left in their wake, and the feuds between the Camarilla princes made those efforts largely futile.
Their first attempt was by far the most successful. Playing on the discontent brought by Ottoman rule in the peasantry, a mortal leader named Michael the brave sought to unite the lands of Transylvania, Tara Romaneasca, and Moldavia under one rule. His efforts did not gain Kindred notice at first, but when Michael brought the three regions together and won his first victories against the Turks in 1595, the Ventrue of Transylvania saw the mortal general as a possible solutions to their Ottoman problems.
With the subtle backing of Ventrue capital and political support, Michael achieved what he sought with incredible swiftness. By 1599, he had solidly united the three regions under his rule and largely eliminated Turkish influence in Transylvania. The Ventrue princes admired their handiwork, bloated with the combined ego of defeating the Sabbat, expelling the Turks, and uniting Transylvania under a powerful ruler whose ear they had. That is, they admired it until in almost immediately began to collapse.
The Assamites, furious at the Ventrue victory, began working to restore Turkish domination by undermining the princedoms of the Camarilla in the Carpathians. The Tremere saw the Ventrue actions as an attempt to shut them out of Transylvania, a treacherous move given the two clans historical alliance in the area. The Warlocks spared no expense supporting the Habsburg kingdoms from Vienna as they attempted to take Transylvania for their own. Even the Ventrue in Transylvania began squabbling among themselves, and Ventrue princes as far away as Germany and Poland tried to steal the rich, newly independent nation to add to their own demesnes.
Michael the Brave was assassinated by German agents in 1601, just two years after his historic achievement. The Ventrue spent the next 60 years vying among each other for influence, each sponsoring different mortals for the kine government of Transylvania. It became a game of prestige and power to see who backed the mortal who would ascend to the Transylvanian throne. Faced with Tremere-supported Habsburg aggression on one side and Assamite-supported Ottoman aggression on the other, these mortal rulers fought a losing battle to hold the princedom together. Wars and shifting alliances wracked the small nation, and finally, in 1659, Transylvania again fell under Ottoman suzerainty, this time stronger than it had been before Michael the Brave.
ATTACK, COUNTERATTACK, AND REBELLION
Again in control of Transylvania, the Ottoman Empire turned its eyes toward the prize of Vienna. It had always been a goal of the Turks to take Vienna, the most powerful city in Eastern Europe, and the Assamites now had added incentive to urge the invasion on. From 1660 until 1683, Transylvania served as little more than the staging area for a massive Turkish attack on Vienna. In July of 1683, Sultan Mehmed IV himself led his troops from Transylvania to the walls of Vienna and seiged the city.
The Tremere were frantic. Etrius had moved the chantry to Vienna specifically because it was safer than Ceoris, and now the Turks were at the citys doorstep. Many Ventrue refused to send aid because of Tremere takeover attempts earlier in the century, and few other clans had enough political might in the area to do anything. In desperation, Etrius began making plans on how to escape from the city with the sleeping body of Tremere so he could preserve the clan.
Ultimately, the siege ended without the aid of any other Camarilla clan. The pope in Italy, seeing an Ottoman takeover of Vienna as a grave blow to an already schism-weakened Catholic Church, gathered a holy alliance of the papacy, Italy, and Poland to come to Viennas aid. The combined force defeated the Ottomans by September, and the sultan retreated with heavy losses. To this night no Tremere knows (or will say) what Kindred, if any, came to their aid in the situation. If a specific Cainite, or even a clan, spurred the popes assistance in the matter, the Tremere would owe them a great debt. The Ventrue whisper among themselves that the masterful Fabrizio Ulfila may have orchestrated the affair, but that august individual has yet to step forward and claim any laurels.
The Tremere took full advantage of their salvation, however, and spurred their Habsburg allies into action. The Habsburgs chased the retreating Ottoman army thought Hungary and into Transylvania. By 1687, the Turks had been completely expulsed from the region, and the Habsburg dynasty was firmly in control. Finally the Tremere had regained a measure of control in their Eastern Europe.
The Habsburg dynasty rid Transylvania of any outside influence by stripping Transylvania of its autonomy and selling Transylvanian titles to loyal nobles (including a number of Tremere- and Ventrue-backed puppets). This decreased the personal power of the nobles already in the region, and sparked a series of rebellions in the 18th century. The most important one, begun in 1703, was led by a man named Ferencz Rakoczi II. Claiming that local leaders were working with a secret Camarilla fin Vienna, he fought to end Habsburg rule. His claims, cutting far too close to secrets the Camarilla Kindred wished to keep secret, convinced many Cainites that he was Sabbat, or had Sabbat support. The revolt was defeated in 1711, but it was not the last one; revolts again tore through Transylvania in 1737, 1744, 1759, and 1784.
THE WINDS OF CHANGE
Nearly everything has changed by the end of the 17th century. The Renaissance is history now, rather than a new way of thinking. Leonardo da Vinci, Shakespeare, Galileo, Copernicus, and Machiavelli have already lived, changed how we look at the world, and died. Martin Luther nailed his theses to the cathedral door over a century ago, and the consequences of the Reformation and Counter-Reformation that followed still resound through Europe. The Inquisition has evolved from a reaction to an institution. Feudalism has collapsed, monarchies are going out of style, and the cannon has become the weapon of power in the western world.
Not all of these changes directly affect Cainite unlife. However, a few undoubtedly do. The schism between the vampire sects is a major change that alters the course of Kindred history, but there are other products of that division that are more subtle but no less relevant. Also, shifts in kine society make unlife even more difficult for a vampire looking to make his mark in the world.
RULING WITH AND IRON FIST
Kindred of the 17th and 18th century are faced with a host of stumbling blocks to prominence. In the Middle Ages, ruling was simple. You defeated, killed, or forced into vassalage a local ruler whose domain you wanted to usurp. You then waltzed into the surrounding towns, proclaimed yourself prince of the region, and threatened the very powers of hell upon anyone that did not pay taxes and submit to your rule. It was so... easy.
Not anymore. Now that the Camarilla yokes seven of the 13 clans, there are rules to play by. Its bad form to actively and openly undermine the authority of a prince in the same sect; such aggressions are better directed against the dreaded Sabbat. You have to by sly, tricky, and follow the complex advice of that bastard Machiavelli. With only the precarious veil of the Masquerade protecting the undead from the Inquisitions witch-fires, no longer can you play the trump card of Im a vampire; serve me or die that worked so well in ages past.
Its no easier in the Sabbat, either. Its not that you dont want hat Lasombras bishopric for your own, its just that you happen to have a Vinculum with her, and hell, youre practically in love with her because of it. And if you decide to crusade that nearby Camarilla city and take it for yourself, its almost a guarantee that society itself will fall apart the minute you succeed, and the Inquisition will probably be close behind to clean up. The Camarilla doesnt like you, the Giovanni dont like you, the Setites dont like you, and youre retreating to Scandinavia and over the ocean to the New World. Times definitely could be better.
The feudal way of governing has largely disappeared in the last two centuries. Guilds, traders, and artisans have taken a position of importance in the economy, and though agriculture is still a major commodity, it is no longer under the strict controls that feudalism was able to keep it under. Influence over money and trade is rapidly shifting from European leaders to European traders and guilds. The monarchic system of government still hangs on, which is the last bastion of old-style Kindred leadership, but it is besieged on all sides by constant peasant revolts and uprisings. Soon, with the French Revolution, the ideas of democracy and liberty will sweep away the monarchies of Europe.
Cainites of the Renaissance and pre-Renaissance ages have to change the way the think in the very arenas that give them the ability to weather the passage of eternity: politics and government. The whole system they are used to is unraveling, and by the 19th century will be all but gone. The Kindred who manage to remain in power through this period are adaptable and influential indeed. Gone are the nights of heavy-handed rulership from craggy castles - these are the nights of subtle influence and actions by catspaw - and they will be forever afterward.
THE ART OF WAR
Kindred are used to being the lords of the battlefield. No mortal weapon, save a well-aimed sword blow, can hope to end their unlife, and potent ghouls bolster their legions of mercenaries. An army fielded by and undead leader sweeps through the medieval battlefield, and nothing can stop it.
War, as everything else, has changed drastically from this picture. Although Cainites are still formidable, rifles and cannon have made their existence much more tenuous. The same weapons dispatch a ghoul nearly as fast as a mortal soldier, and mercenaries have become more unreliable as time goes on. Now you have to command armies of loyal subjects and militias, which means you have to be popular with those mortals you influence. And you must do it from the shadows, lest the commoners learn your sanguinary secrets.
Armor has practically disappeared from the battlefield. Broad, slashing swords have given way to thrusting weapons, which can slip though the plates of any suit of armor. Rifle shot pierces most armor with ease, and armor of proof is so heavy and cumbersome that it is good for nothing but novelty. Bow and arrow are gone, as well. Matchlocks, rapiers, muskets, and cannon are the weapons of choice on the battlefield of the late-17th century and beyond. In fact, one of the only holdovers from ages past is the horse, still an effective instrument in post-medieval warfare. It will take the machine gun and tank in World War I - almost 200 years in the future - to end cavalrys use as an instrument of combat.