The Lasombra clan has fallen from grace - and its members enjoy it. Simultaneously graceful and predatory, the Lasombra guide - and, when necessary, whip - the Sabbat into an implacable force. Turning their backs upon the humans they once were, Lasombra give themselves wholly over to the dark majesty of the Embrace. Murder, frenzy, predation: Why fear these things, many Lasombra ask, if one is meant to be a vampire? In contrast to the Tzimisce, though, Lasombra generally seek not to reject all things mortal, but to shape them for their own pleasure.
The Lasombra have been involved with the Church since its inception, and some Kindred whisper that the clan was instrumental in the spread of the Christian faith. In modern nights, however, Lasombra have turned their backs on that divine institution. There are exceptions, of course, but for the most part, Clan Lasombra bears only contempt for the notion of salvation. In fact, the Lasombra brought many of the Church's rites and rituals into the Sabbat sect, twisting them into mockeries of Christian doctrine. The Lasombra ordained many of the sect's auctoritas and ignoblis ritae, so that the vampires of the Sabbat might never forget who and what they are.
Lasombra are best known for their Discipline of Obtenebration, a means by which they call forth a tangible "living" darkness, manipulating it at their whim. Clan doctrine holds that this "darkness" is in fact the stuff of the vampiric soul, which has been simultaneously strengthened and corrupted by the Embrace. Through the Curse of Caine, some Lasombra believe, God has cast them out, and thus it is their duty to build a new order on Earth via the Sabbat. More scientific Lasombra scoff at this superstition, but even they tend to believe that, as vampires, they represent a new and more advanced breed of sentience, one unconcerned with petty human notions of ethics. Let the milksops of Clan Ventrue burn in the solar fires of martyrdom; the Lasombra are happy with what they are.
Naturally, this villainous outlook is not universal among the clan, but many newly Embraced Sabbat Lasombra take great glee in the wanton destruction and vulgar depravity that such a philosophy allows. In striking contrast, some elder Lasombra still maintain their ties to the Church, though even they seem to consider themselves "tools of the Devil." The two groups do see eye to eye on one matter: Members of Clan Lasombra, as consummate manipulators themselves, adamantly refuse to submit to the antiquated whims of the Antediluvians. They fight the Jyhad proudly, but unlike many Kindred, they firmly believe they can win.
The typical Lasombra possesses a gift for manipulation, as well as keen leadership skills. Lasombra are the most common leaders of Sabbat packs, as their motivational and Machiavellian natures make them ideal for orchestrating the movements of the sect. Unfortunately, pride goes hand in hand with this dark nobility, and very few Lasombra acknowledge other vampires as equal, let alone superior.
Nickname: Keepers (as in "my brother's...")
Sect: The Lasombra are the ruling clan of the Sabbat, as much as any clan can be said to "rule" that chaotic body. A few elder Lasombra hold membership in the Camarilla or Inconnu, but such creatures lead lonely and perilous existences.
Appearance: Many Lasombra of elder generations hail from Spanish or Italian stock, and some still show their Moorish or Berber heritage. Lasombra neonates and ancillae, however, run the gamut of cultures and ethnicities. Almost all Lasombra are reasonably attractive, with well-bred, aristocratic features - blue-collar Lasombra are rare, and one hardly sees the callused hands or broken noses of the working class among the Keepers.
Haven: Many young Lasombra disdain private havens, sleeping with the pack and maintaining communal lairs "for the good of the sect." Old habits die hard among the Keepers, though; certain elders maintain ancestral manses or other ostentatious havens.
Background: Lasombra may come from any background, but are typically professionals, politically inclined or well educated. Lasombra tend to be aggressive, both physically and socially; the clan has little interest in weaklings and does not hesitate to cull unworthy vampires from its ranks. Lasombra are universally skilled at social discourse and pulling the strings of others - coarse manners are viewed poorly, for the Lasombra are refined monsters.
Character Creation: A Lasombra may have any Demeanor (the better to hide her true Nature!). Most Lasombra favor Social Attributes, though Mental Attributes are prized almost as greatly. Many Keepers cultivate extensive Influence, Status (Sabbat) or Resources, and favor Backgrounds more than additional Disciplines or Abilities. Lasombra founded the Path of Night, and this Path has a number of followers in the Keepers' clan (though many choose to follow other Paths of Enlightenment, and some Lasombra keep vestiges of Humanity).
Clan Disciplines: Dominate, Obtenebration, Potence
Weaknesses: Lasombra vampires cast no reflections. They cannot be seen in mirrors, bodies of water, reflective windows, polished metals, photographs and security cameras, etc. This curious anomaly even extends to the clothes they wear and objects they carry. Many Kindred believe that the Lasombra have been cursed in this manner for their vanity. Additionally, due to their penchant for darkness, Lasombra take an extra level of damage from sunlight.
Organization: Clan Lasombra's structure is simultaneously formal and open. Respect and homage are afforded to the elder warriors who helped found the Sabbat, but younger members operate with almost no guidance from the clan as an entity. Quarterly meetings, known as conventicles, serve to keep the Lasombra informed as to each other's status, and blood-drinking rituals are performed at these meetings. While no Lasombra is ever told "You may not do that" (at least not publicly), almost all Keepers have a profound respect for tradition. A secret Lasombra coterie known as Les Amies Noir is rumored to hand down "death sentences" on those Keepers who bring undue shame, attention or ignominy to the clan or its members.
Bloodlines: Lasombra antitribu are among the staunchest supporters of the Camarilla, though the sect largely distrusts them. Some of the eldest members of Clan Lasombra hold the Sabbat Lasombra in contempt. Naturally, the Sabbat Lasombra greatly fear these powerful Kindred who oppose them, and nothing rallies rival Lasombra like the rumor of an antitribu in their midst.
Quote: Shadows? Hah! I wield Darkness itself, not mere shadows! Tell me - could a shadow do this?
Clan Lasombra of the Victorian Age
To many, the Lasombra are nightmare given form, a black scourge upon the worlds of Cainites and kine alike. The clan possesses a twisted nobility, though it upholds a strange chivalry if that is indeed the case. True, the Lasombra cause pain and inflict terror, but is a refined pain and a svory terror, not the coarse axe of a headsman or the hysterical butchery of a Whitechapel murderer. The Lasombra pefer to hurt their rivals by striking at the ones they hold dear.
Crafty in the extreme, the Lasombra are the metaphorical spiders inviting the fly to tea in the parlor. The best advice to consider when meeting a Lasombra is never to trust one, for these vampires never have anyone's interests but their own at heart. The only problem with that advice is following it - the Keepers speak with such sincerity that they don't even need to rely on their Cainite powers to bring a listener around to their point of view.
As leaders of the Sabbat, one could do little more foolish than give short shrift to the members of this clan. Brutally efficient, the Lasombra let their passions boil and their hostilities fester. While the Ventrue might suggest thatthe best revenge against an enemy is to otlive him, the Lasombra espouse that revenge is a dish best served cold.
The movements of the Lasombra reveal a queer composite of the overt and the subtle. For a Keeper, foiling a rival isn't enough - he must be destroyed. At the same time, if anyone actually sees the Lasombra destroy that rival, well, the Lasombra will have failed because no one will trust her or underestimate her in the future. Popular opinion regarding the Lasombra can be confusing. Some consider them master manipulators, while others consider them overzealous tyrants. If asked, the Lasombra would probably prefer the latter, even though they are truly the former - but if everyone knows them to be manipulators, how good can they possibly be?
An initial look atthe Lasombra leads one to believe that they have aristocratic origins. Whether this rings true or not depends upon the individual Lasombra, and many favor the advice of Machiavelli, believing that fear is a better motivation than love. In this, certain Cainites see the Lasombra as a grim reflection of the Ventrue - an opinion with striking resonance, given that the Lasombra do not cast reflections themselves.
In the Victorian era, the Lasombra stillremain entrenched in the institutions that have served them so well over the past centuries, the aristocracy and the Church. Of course, they face the same problem as the Ventrue, in that aristocracy not only shrinks nightly, it also wields progressively less power, as mortal trends move the world away from feudalism. The Church remains powerful, but its power is also on the wane, what with Christianity being largely a middle-class faith at this time and even a significant proportion of those individuals being largley secular or interested in an alternative spirituality.
Now is a time of tests for the Lasombra. If they continue to indulge their wanton wickedness, they will call down a righteous wrath with the potential to remove them from the world forever. At the same time, their old ways become increasingly outdated each night, and they must come up with a viable alternative if they are to remain relevant to Victoria's world and what comes after it.
Members of Clan Lasombra choose their domainscarefully, as they favor territories that exhibit their refined tastes and flair for the ostentatious, but they also require that the wickednesses they indulge in while present not have them dug up during the day and staked for the sun by a righteous Inquisition. As such, they favor neighborhoods in decline or on the rise, churches where they can commit their evils while convincing the flock that is God's will or havens so withdrawn from the rest of the world that they might literally leave a drained vessel on the parlor floor for a week and no one would bat an eye.
Indeed, haven is a greater concern for the Lasombra than domain, as few Keepers want to bother with all of the petty details (such as dealing with mortals) concomitant to maintaining a domain. In this matter, Lasombra favor grandiose mansions, well-kept estates, Classical structures in which they may juztapose the beauty of the setting with the ugliness of their work on earth or houses of God, to remind the Creator that He putthem here for a purpose.
Influence is a different matter, of course, and described below, but it is unwise to associate the Lasombra ambivalence toward domain with an inability to exert power in a given area. LAsombra strength runs as deep as ant Ventrue's in his chosen domain, though those domains are fewer and further between, mostly owing to the fact that the Ventrue likely outnumber the Lasombra.
Lasombra rarely sire broods, and if an area serves as domain to many Lasombra residents, they probably come from different sires. Much of the Lasombra sense of accomplishment inspires fledglings to leave the nest as early as possible and make their own way in the world. True, prestigious childer do contribute positively to a sire's own reputation, but only in the case of a sire with a genuine reluctance to part with his progeny do consanguineous lines linger in one place.
Centers of Lasombra power include much of Spain, with Madrid and Toledo in particular shining as jewels in the clan's symbolic crown. Italy also plays host to more than its fair share of Lasombra, and where the Sabbat holds sway, Lasombra may outnumber their fellow clans in that sect by as manyas two to one, Tzimisce included. Minor Lasombra domains exsist along the Eastern European border, but these exsist more as anomalies than true representatives of Lasombra range. Of late, the Lasombra have turned their eyes towards England, reasoning that, having been able to lay low low their own progenitor, they could easily do so with London's Methuselah prince. Still, they are not so foolish as to face Mithras in a frontal assault - rather, they slowly secrete their clanmates within the English fiefs in hopes of slowly building an presence there, so that one night the Methuselah might rise to find himself surrounded the hungry fangs of zealous Keepers.
What the Lasombra lack in true nobility, they make up for in commitment. Many Lasombra pledge fealty to elders of their clan or to scions of the Sabbat. Purpose drives the majority of the clan, and if they have difficulty finding purpose for themselves, they rally to one whom they see as their superior. Lasombra culture makes much of this mentor relationship, and when a Lasombra leaves his sire's tutelafe, he may act as a "squire" to another Lasombra - some are even assigned to mentors by their own sires.
As few Lasombra prefer to keep their childer about them (perhaps out if mistrust?), they occasionally send their get to serve as emissaries to other Lasombra domains or Sabbat cities. Of course, no one os fooled by this - Victorian diplomacy is no stranger to the concept of spies - but the Lasombra go about it all with great shows of nobility and even concern for other Cainites. A Keeper's childe can serve as an advisor or a confidant, providing another Cainite with an outlook she may not have considered for herself. All the while, of course, the childe sends letters or telegrams back to his sire explaining the local interests in this company's ships or that Cainite's diamond mines.
Lasombra also find great purpose in the Sabbat, and their positions as leaders of that sect allow them to occasionally turn the entirety of the Sword of Caine to ther own purposes. On an individual level, what Lasombra wouldn't want a legion of fanatical soldiers ready to face the Final Death in order to do his bidding, so long as he makes bidding seem like the greater good of the sect? Vendetta translates easily to "striking against powerful Camarilla elders," laying a rival low quickly becomes "rooting out traitors to the sect," and removing a prince whose interests in the same venture present an obstacle to one's own ambitions goes so much smoothly when described as "liberating a city from the domineering presence of the Ivory Tower." Many Lasombra rise to great heights in the Sabbat, acquiring titles such as bishop, archbishop and cardinal. Few aspire to the ranks of prisci (whose power isn't as formal as the Lasombra prefer) or the priests (as the Keepers serve the cause so much more admirably as ducti of the packs), though many join the paladins and templars and attach themselves to the entourages of other powerful Cainites.
As with many Sabbat, the Lasombra have developed their own code of morality. The Path of Night owes much to the Judeo-Christian outlook, though it venerates many opposite principles. Some Keepers turn to this Path in hopes of running amok, but the true adherents to it know that it is just as difficult to uphold the Path's tenets as it is to follow God's Word. Indeed, the two are one in the same, for, according to the Path of Night's creators, God made vampires in order to commit evil upon the world, to commit wickedness in order to show mortals what lay in wait for them if their own souls inclined them towards evil. This issue remains a significant bone of contention among Lasombra. Less rigorous followers of the Path seem content to commit "evil" for its own sake, leaving random atrocity and senseless violence in their wake. In the opinion of stuanch observers of the Path, these "black angels" are even worse for the world than the Camarilla because they have no purpose at all other than to gratify their own perverted urges towards mayhem. The true believers seem to have facts on their side - the less observant followers of the Path tend to fall to the Beast rather quickly, so recklessly do they throw themselves into their malevolent ways. Anyone can be destructive, argue the faithful; what's difficult is to do it and mean it. If all it takes is wildness to be a vampire, then the Inquisition was right, and vampires are a scourge that must be eliminated. And the Inquisition was not right.
You do not know the depths to which a Cainite can sink before finding the essence of what she truly is. We come from the night, turned away by the very God who created us. I ask you, if you believe that God had planned for us to do something other the evil of which we are capable, why would he have cast us out instead of simply destroying us? That's not intended to be a haunting question. It's a call to action. - Pablo Ortiz, Paladin of the Sabbat