Greetings Interloper!Oh, don't mind Johann, he's just taking your coat.
You see, you shant be needing it anymore.
Why is that you ask me?
That is because your trespass has violated the
sanctity of my haven and the punishment for that is...
Clan BackgroundThe Tzimisce clan is a venerable clan, stepped in tradition and lore. They are renowned within the Kindred community for its evil. Among the most renowned of this line is Vlad Tepes, the Impaler, who split centuries ago not only from the clan, but the sect as well. Tepes is especially infamous for his cruelty, but this trait is common among the members of the Tzimisce.
From time immemorial, the Tzimisce clan has stretched across the Baltic regions of Eastern Europe, haunting the region beyond the Elbe, along the Oder and Danube rivers, through the Pripet marshes, amid the peaks of the Carpathian Mountains. It established a great uncontested power base there until the Tremere, then a house of mortal magi, established covens in what later became northern Bulgaria. The two factions, Kindred and Magi, coexisted for a time, not intruding upon the domains of one another. But eventually, the power-mad magi of the Tremere captured some Tzimisce Elders, experimented on them and used them in perverse rituals, aimed at extracting the essence of their immortality from them. This experimentation on the stolen members of the Tzimisce clan was the end of the House Tremere and the beginning of the Clan Tremere.
A rival group of magi known as the House Tytalus, uncovered the Tremere activities and began maneuvering against that order with the aid of other Magi. The Tremere had seen this coming and were prepared, gathering additional magical support from an unrevealed source. House Tytalus met with defeat and the early efforts of the Inquisition curtailed its activities. The Tzimisce also suffered greatly at the hands of the new Clan Tremere by the end of the war between the magi orders.
Seeking revenge against the Clan Tremere, the Tzimisce offered to aid the House Tytalus. The Tzimisce offered support and, in exchange, House Tytalus promised to ensure that no mages encroached any further into the clan's territory. The two groups began working together against the Tremere. The uneasy alliance between the Tzimisce Kindred and the Tytalus Magi lasted for centuries. Even long after the need for the alliance passed, the two groups continued to aid one another as contacts and as occasional supporters. This was all kept very quiet as the the alliance continued. In fact, the Tzimisce still have connections with certain magi, which the clan keeps very secret to avoid censure by the leaders of other Kindred clans.
During the time of the Inquisition, Tzimisce anarchs went to great extremes to destroying the Elders of their clan, but in time, gave up in their efforts to destroy the remaining few. Most of the remaining Elders live as Inconnu in Bulgaria, Romania, Austria and Hungary, sitting alone in their cold dark mansions and castle havens. Over the centuries, they have accumulated so much magical and political power that they have no fear of their former clan, and fear the Camarilla even less.
Of all the clans, the Tzimisce are among the most educated and have a strong appreciation for learning. They have long been among the most knowledgeable and erudite Cainites. For millennia, other Kindred have made the perilous journey into the Carpathian mountains in search of Tzimisce wisdom (the fact that many of these vampires did not return deters other little) They are scholarly and are some of the most brilliant and enlightened beings on the earth. They seek to understand magic, as well as science, but have not quite reached the level of the Tremere in this understanding. But their studies (and experimentation with their Vicissitude discipline) have led them to the unequivocal conclusion that as vampires are more superior and more evolved than humans, so the Tzimisce are more advanced that other Kindred. The "best" (by Tzimisce standards) humans are to elevated; the rest are fodder. Unlike most Kindred, Tzimisce do not consider themselves cursed or damned, but a higher form of life.
A millennia of defending their domains from all sides has made the Tzimisce extremely vicious, and Tzimisce cruelty is infamous, even among the Kindred. While they are inhuman, they do not show it as overtly as do the Toreador Antitribu, for instance, but any significant time spent with a Tzimisce will eventually reveal their demented and twisted soul. Most Tzimisce tend to be grim and serious, and are noted for their twisted and warped sense of humor (or a lack of one in some cases). They are also known for the high value they place on their privacy and are very territorial, about their domains and especially their havens.
The Tzimisce is the second most powerful and numerous clan of the Sabbat. The Lasombra hold the top position in both categories. However, the Tzimisce are a driving force behind most of the Sabbat's ideology, goals and planning. The Tzimisce clan appears happy to let the Lasombra believe that the hold the reins of power in the sect.
The clan disciplines of the Tzimisce include Animalism, Auspex and vicissitude.
About the Clan WeaknessTzimisce are inexplictedly tied to the land, either of their birth or Embrace. When a Tzimisce sleeps, he must surround himself with at least two handfuls of earth from a land important to him as a mortal (the land of his birth, the soil of his demense, the earth of his grave, etc). Failure to do this leaves the Tzimisce weakened, more with each day, until this is rectified by a night's rest in this sacred earth. Tzimisce are also very territorial about their domains and especially their havens. Extremely brave (or foolish) are those who trespass on a Tzimisce's haven. However, those lucky visitors a Tzimisce invites into his haven are treated like royalty, but should take care to display extreme courtesy in return.
Old Clan TzimisceThe majority of Tzimisce Elders met the Final Death when the clan joined the Sabbat, but a fair number escaped the wrath of their vindictive progeny. Securing their demenes against the ravages of the Sabbat, these vampires continued to exist much as they had for centuries, albeit more warily.
Though some refer to these Tzimisce Elders as the "Old Clan," that is a misnomer. These hoary vampires have little use for sect, clan or other ties. They remember well the nights of old, when each vampire was a law unto itself and any other vampire was a potential enemy. (Note that Old Clan Tzimisce do not call themselves "Antitribu", as do the surviving non-Sabbat Lasombra).
The Tzimisce EmbraceGiven that the clan as a whole holds the Tradition of Progeny in contempt, Tzimisce are notoriously selective about whom they Embrace. Tzimisce are not human, and seek to Embrace people who have in some way deviated from their species -- socially, mentally, or emotionally. Such deviation, however, must not preclude adherence to the clan's precepts or the capacity for wit, honor and charm. Tzimisce infinitely prefer a Hannibal Lector to a Jeffrey Dahmer.
Tzimisce prize intelligence and insight, but intelligence of a particular variety -- the ability to perceive new ways of looking at things rather than the conventional problem-solving or logical sort. In many ways this approach resembles that of the Malkavians, but Tzimisce do not respect insanity for its own sake. A catatonic vegetable or dysfunctional schizophrenic is a manifestation of frailty, not proto-vampiric insight. A Tzimisce must be able to shape their madness rather than be shaped by it.
Even expedience rarely excuses a hasty Embrace. Tzimisce often hang back during wartime Creation Rites, allowing their Brujah and Pander comrades-in-arms to sully themselves with the animation of cannon fodder. A fiend in need of muscle would much rather construct a dozen ghouls than transmit precious Tzimisce vitae to an unworthy being.
Tzimisce Views on Vicissitude
It is this readily apparent that the Tzimisce's possession and use of the Discipline Vicissitude, makes them unique among the clans in many ways. The other clans generally find the Tzimisce to be strange and unsettling at the least and often disturbing, demented and twisted. While the other Kindred remain chained to the form of mankind, the Tzimisce have thrown of these shackles. The other clans choose to continue looking like the Kine, speaking and walking like them. Many Kindred lack the insight to realize that they are no longer Kine and do not need to continue to mimic mankind in all that they do. Rather, they should seek to use their obviously superior form and abilities to seek a higher level of existance. Most Kindred are sadly content to cling to their fading humanity and go mad as it inevitably slips away. Fools.
The power of Vicissitude has allowed the Clan Tzimisce to reflect outwardly what is known inwardly, that Tzimsice are not Kine and are not meant to be like Kine. They feel the faster one removes the chains binding one to that larval form, the faster one can achieve something far more wonderous. Each Tzimisce has a different and unique vision of beauty and perfection, for such is the nature of the Chaos which rules us all. Each Tzimisce is granted the capacity to perhaps achieve that vision, and to, as they feel, wear it for the enlightenment of all. The lovliest of Toreador cannot hope to match or even approach the unearthy beauty which Vicissitude allows the Tzimisce, and the most hideous of Nosferatu and most bestial of Gangrel are as ordinary as the leaves on a tree, when compared to the forms assumed by those Tzimisce whose vision deviates from what others considered the "norm." The Tzimsce ghouls the szlachta have forever been their playthings and living sculptures to fulfill both the artistic expressions of their twisted inner natures and explorations into the warped realms beyond.
Aside from the Tzimisce's philosophical standpoint on it, the art of fleshcrafting has a multitude of more mundane uses. In times of war the Tzimisce can be devastating indeed, as they fleshcraft their warriors into forms not limited to the chance shapes of birth. Grotesque masques, the granting of spines and chitonous armour, and the crafting together of two or even a dozen ghouls to create a more powerful and versatile creature, the vozhd held the borders of our lands for millenia. In situations truely dire the voivode himself might assume the Zulo or Horrid Form shape to lead the armies -- a form horrendous and powerful, seven and sometimes eight feet tall, massive, strong, weaponed with spines and talons, protected by a thick layer of viscous green-black slime. Little enough has been found which may withstand the fury of a Tzimisce wearing the skin of the zulo and fighting to protect his demesne.
In quieter times, Vicissitude has quieter uses. The pursuit of knowledge has always been its most common application, as the Tzimisce seek to become more enlightened by studying the inner workings of living (and unliving) creatures. The Tzimisce have also found that their aptitude at interrogation increased with the application of Vicissitude on occasion.
Unfortunately, Vicissitude has drawbacks. Vicissitude may give, but it also takes. Those Tzimisce who have gained much skill in it, occasionally find that they cannot hold a shape. There are also darker rumors of Tzimisce who took altering themselves through the use of Vicissitude too fast or went a bit far, and then began to lose hold of their sanity. Still other rumors exist of Tzimisce strong in Vicissitude suddenly disappearing for no discernable reason, often shortly after being observed to exhibit signs of Vicissitude madness. However, there are hidden pitfalls in any gainable power, and those who have not the patience to learn them properly are, quite naturally, doomed to find such impatience lethal.
Tzimisce MagicIt is widely acknowledged that for most of recorded history the Tzimisce were vampiric sorcerers possessing great magical power. Although outdone by mortal magi, none among the Undead could match or even approach the magical skills of the Tzimisce. It is believed this was due to the Tzimisce clan founder, commonly known as Mekhet, being an Awakened mage himself before his Embrace by one of Caine's childer.
But all this changed with the metamorphosis of the mage house called Tremere into the Kindred clan Tremere. The Tzimisce soon found a rival for their role as undisputed Kindred masters of magic. Over the centuries the Tremere have ursurped this role away from the Tzimisce. While many Tzimisce are very accomplished sorcerers, the clan as a whole now lacks the Tremere's progress in the magical arts.
Tzimisce who practice Thaumaturgy are known as koldun and earn respect from their peers. Paths commonly practiced by Tzimisce include Lure of Flames, Spirit Thaumaturgy, Elemental Mastery and Conjuring. Surprisingly, Tzimisce rarely practice the Path of Corruption, preferring to rely on Blood Bonds to achieve similar results.
Tzimisce magical practices differ from those of their Tremere rivals. Tzimisce emphasize the spiritual and the reverential as opposed to the Tremere's occult pragmatism. Chants, litanies and paeans to all manner of entities accompany Tzimisce rituals. Many parties, including Magi, Tremere, Lasombra and the Sabbat Inquisition, would be very interested in obtaining information about the specifics of Tzimisce magic.
The Body Eclectic
Tzimisce GhoulsThe Sabbat as a whole spurns ghouls, but the Tzimisce clan are a noted exception. No other clan is so skilled at the creation and use of its ghouls. The Tzimisce use its powers of Vicissitude to sculpt servitors to their needs and specifications, creating legions of terrifying and powerful minions. Tzimisce ghouls fall into one of four categories, revenants (bred ghouls), "normal" ghouls, szlachta, or guardian ghouls, and the vozhd, or war ghoul.
The clan makes extensive use of ghoul servitors, reshaping them with Vicissitude to perform desired functions. Rarely are ghouls left in an unaltered state, even a ghoul whom the master has no need to deform is often disfigured in some way, simply to satisfy the master's aesthetic whim or scientific curiosity.
The szlachta, or guardian ghoul, are deemed superior to "standard" ghouls. Monstrous, shark-mawed Tzimisce hell-hounds, some nearly as large as ponies, often prowl the grounds of their master's haven. Squadrons of formerly human ghouls, their very bones and flesh warped into weapons of war, beckon to their master's call and descend upon his enemies.
The rarest and most terrifying creations are beasts of legend, the vozhd, or war ghoul: huge elephantine horrors, created by the fusion of a dozen or more ghouls, often both human and animal, into a multi-limbed composite monster.
The ghouls are first forced to drink each other's blood in a Vaulderie-esque ceremony. A team of skilled Tzimisce then employ Vicissitude and Thaumaturgical rituals to meld the ghouls into one composite entity. Such a creature is enormous (some ambitious Tzimisce have created dinosaur-sized vozhd) and with it's multiple limbs and organs, is capable of unleashing a maelstrom of destruction. Excess tissue, bone and cartilage can be molded to bestow carapaces, spines, claws, tusks, mandibles, fanged maws or whatever else the devious creators envision. The process of becoming a vozhd invariably drives the component subject beings mad; to circumvent this, the creature is usually lobotomized via Vicissitude (such a creature is then also immune to Dominate, Presence and Animalism).
The end result is the biological equivalent of a tank; huge, slow, stupid and devastatingly powerful (manifesting the disciplines Potence and Fortitude). The creation ritual irrevocably bonds the vozhd to a single master; this master alone can "command" the creature, though the vozhd rarely comprehends more than a handful of words. Vozhd are often starved prior to a battle and when the time is right, pointed in the general direction of the juicy, crunchable Camarilla Kindred.
Vozhd are extremely rare in this modern era. Creating a vozhd requires vast amounts of time, raw materials and labor, and the return is rarely worth the effort in this age of LAW rockets and shaped charges. Vozhd are nearly as dangerous to their creator as they are to their enemies. Moreover, the very size and ferocity of these creatures often work to the Sabbat's detriment: few things can convince Camarilla Elders, anarchs, Inconnu and neutral clans to surrender to the Sabbat so readily as seeing their city's Prince torn to shreds and greedily devoured by a rampaging vozhd.
Tzimisce's use of TortureIt is an unpleasant fact to some Kindred, that a large portion of the Tzimisce culture revolves around ways and means of hurting other beings. Many Kindred would understandably prefer to ignore or gloss over this aspect of the clan. Still, Tzimisce are dubbed Fiends for a good reason, and information from that perceived evil that is the Clan Tzimisce, may be particularly useful to those used to a more benevolent Camarilla perspective.
Psychological preparation is vital for any torture session and Tzimisce disciplines are admirably suited to this. Vicissitude allows the torturer to assume a shape appropriate for the situation. Perhaps an incredibly beautiful member of the gender to which the victim is attracted, to heighten their shame; or an impossibly hideous one, to heighten the revulsion and terror; or even the form of the victim's worst enemy, or closest friend. Auspex allows the Tzimisce to discover the victim's phobias and dirty little secrets, and to discern which areas of the victim's body are particularly sensitive.
Tzimisce disciplines also vastly aid in the actual torture session. Vicissitude allows the torturer to become his own tool kit, reforming his extremities (or the victim's extremities) into a variety of intrusive implements, perfectly shaped to fit the victim (or, not quite fit, as the case may be...). Then, too, the sight of one's bones heaving of their own accord through one's skin is always disconcerting --- and it becomes difficult to find release in a scream when one's tongue has been grafted to the roof of one's mouth.... Animalism allows for a variety of noxious creatures (particularly those inspiring panic in the victim) to be summoned and precisely directed around, on top of, or even into the victim.
Of course, as is commonly physical torture has it's limits and this is particularly true concerning Kindred. Most Elders worthy of that title have experienced massive body trauma at least once during their unlife and thus, are somewhat numb to the standard concept pain. Moreover, Kindred scoff at threats that would break many mortals, such as amputation or castration, given their regenerative capabilities. And how does one threaten a Nosferatu with disfigurement? Sometimes even mortals display surprising resilience.
Unfortunately for such victims, Tzimisce are equally skilled at emotional torture. Centuries of unlife have given Tzimisce torturers an uncanny degree of psychological insight into the way the human, and Kindred mind operate. Furthermore, Tzimisce control over the Blood Bond provides torturer's with a variety of fiendish new ways to hurt their victims. For example, two Kindred may be forcibly Blood Bound to one another and then one painstakingly disfigured before the other's eyes. Alternatively, the Tzimisce may break one victim's Bond, while leaving the other still Bound; then the un-Bound victim may then be re-Bound to the torturer and induced to inflict physical or emotional pain on the other remaining victim. Tzimisce may also, through rituals, can cause already Bound beings to feel emotions other than love. A victim capable of bearing the most atrocious wounds without flinching may be utterly broken by a contemptuous slap from the hand of the now hostile love (or childer).
Certain Tzimisce actually eschew supernatural means of torture, considering such practices effete. The Sabbat priest Stefan Kostas still speaks with great pride of how he extracted vital military information from a Gangrel, using nothing but a 50 cent disposable razor blade, three needles, a pack of Holiday Inn matches, a rubber tube and a gallon of Clorax.
Tzimisce Blood BondsAccording to Kindred legend, the Tzimisce Antediluvian was the first of Caine's childer to discover the Blood Bond, and it is fact that his progeny were the first vampires to break such a Bond en masse. In any event, Tzimisce are far more adept at the creation, maintenance and dissolution of Blood Bonds than are any other Kindred clan.
Most Blood Bonds create a strong, but rather nebulous feeling of affection on the part of the Thrall. The Regnant, while fairly certain that the Thrall will act in her best interests, has little specific control over the Thrall's precise emotions. Tzimisce, however, have discovered rituals and alchemical techniques that vastly increase their control over Blood Bonds.
Specific emotions can be evoked in the Thrall: filial love, romantic love, lust, loyalty, reverence, etc. Nor are the emotions induced by a Tzimisce-manipulated Blood Bond limited to "positive" ones. One being can be made to feel unremitting hatred toward or paralyzing fear of another. Moreover, certain Tzimisce may even create Blood Bonds between beings other than vampires -- provided the appropriate blood is drunk -- and may manipulate the emotions of both parties.
Some Camarilla Kindred whisper that powerful Tzimisce may set up a Blood Bond and delay it's effects until a "trigger" (a condition, word, phrase, gesture, etc.) occurs. These Kindred claim that such delayed Blood Bonds, combined with Dominate-induced forgetfulness on the part of the Bound parties, have riddled the Camarilla with "undead time bombs" waiting to explode in ways beneficial to the Sabbat. Most Camarilla Justicars dismiss these rumors as Anarch-created paranoia.
Enter at your own risk, as the saying goes.
Tzimisce, even the wilder ones, tend to enjoy periods of contemplative solitude. Their innate territoriality manifests as an extraordinary sensitivity to their surroundings. Something deep in the Tzimisce psyche demands privacy and personal space, and Tzimisce plan and maintain their havens with meticulous care.
Most Kindred, aware of the Tzimisce proclivity for cruelty and torture, imagine Tzimisce havens to be vast haunting abattoirs, where the very walls drip with the gore of violated innocents and the corridors reverberate with the screams of the unfortunate. This is rarely the case -- at least not in the main haven. An ambiance of murder and horror, pleasurable as it may be, is not conducive to rest.
Tzimisce refer to their main haven as the manse (regardless of size or opulence -- Tzimisce are nothing if not wishful thinkers). It is here that a Tzimisce keeps her mementos of mortal and undead life. Tzimisce decorate their manses in a manner reflecting their attitude toward unlife. Tzimisce often sleep in coffins as a constant reminder of their separation from the world of mortals.
To circumvent their clan weakness, most Tzimisce also maintain one or more auxiliary havens. Auxiliary havens contain a supply of sleeping earth and other bare necessities of existence. They are generally used when a Tzimisce has reason to believe her manse is being sought by enemies. Auxiliary havens are also where a Tzimisce usually brings her victims in order to torture and slay them, thus allowing the Tzimisce to maintain the serenity of the primary abode.
Tzimisce are extremely sensitive about whom they admit into their havens. No one may enter without the express permission of the master, which is generally extended in the form of an elaborate invitation. (Ironically, this custom probably provided the basis for the Camarilla's Second and Fifth Traditions). Likewise, Tzimisce are reluctant to enter another's dwelling without similar permission being granted. Obviously, this custom is suspended while at war or hunting. Nonetheless, Tzimisce adherence to this tradition has led to the Camarilla's unmasking of more than one Sabbat spy.
A few modern Tzimisce, having grown up immersed in the genre of science fiction and horror, have taken to using their discipline of Vicissitude on unfortunate victims to fashion their manses into quasi-organic creations. Breathing walls, venous corridors that throb and pulse, "doors" fashioned with vicious membranes, and "bas-relief" ghouls, all eternally bound into the furnishings, adorn such manses.