Heroes of the New Day
Von Richten's Guide to Cappodocia
This ancient tome has no date upon it, nor any easy way of determining its actual age… but it quite ancient and full of Knowledge as you hold it. From context, you can guess that it was written sometime prior to the assault that leveled Cappodocia many hundreds of years ago. [Check out the Bard’s Tale section for more info on what’s up with the Von Richten’s guides in general… you may actually be holding some kind of Iounic artifact.]
The history books, if they mention Cappodocia at all, will say that it was a vile place where mortals refused to give in to Death, and decided to embrace undeath as a viable option for the continuation of existence. They will tell of the heroics of neighboring armies who banded together with dragons from the Council of Wyrms and the Exarch of the Raven Queen herself to rid the world of this blighted civilization. But they will not tell the entire story.
For you see, to speak of “Cappodocia” as a single entity is like speaking of humans as a single entity. In these nights prior to what will likely be a great assault, there exists an intricate ecosystem of political, necrological, and social interaction that allows this society to exist. I hope that these words will provide some insight to the Scholar who knows to look for them before rushing into battle.
The nation of Cappodocia has remained because of a sort of balance of immense powers. There are three large factions, each of which has its own strengths and ideologies, but none of which is strong enough to take on the other two. The basic information about each of these factions is in the following pages. Again, these are not hard-and-fast rules, but general tendencies that may save your life, if you are aware of them.
The family/clan known as the Camarilla are composed primarily of mortals, vampires, and liches. Of the three factions, they appear to have the most even-handed and, if you’ll pardon the editorialization, SANE view on the interactions between the living and the unliving. They maintain strict rules about the treatment of undead and living members, though some of the vampires among them did not attain their particular undead state by choice (see the Sabbat chapter, later on). The Camarilla value the teachings of Ioun and the pursuit of Knowledge, and most mortals in their group aspire to one day become liches. However, there are portions of their clan that know little of arcane teachings, and will settle for the vampiric embrace, so that they may continue to learn whatever their field of expertise happens to be.
There is a council that rules this group, though their nominal leader is usually the Vampire Lich Ventrue Camarilla, who was forcibly turned into a vampire against his will prior to his completion of his lichification ritual, yet nonetheless found a way to complete that ritual as well. His full powers have not been tested, and it is likely that he knows more about the metaphysics of becoming a lich than even Vecna himself. Ancient dragons have sought Ventrue’s advice as they have engaged in their own rituals to become dracoliches, so he is likely immensely wise and immensely powerful, with equally powerful allies.
In the time leading up to the current crisis, Ventrue Camarilla has been promoting a plan of stasis and hibernation, until the world at large changes and views on undeath alter to be more amenable to his clan’s methods.
If the Camarilla are paragons of law, the Sabbat are their opposites, thriving on chaos. They believe that destruction is a virtue, and many of them see undeath as a means to achieve greater power and destructive capability. Of course, they are not without their subtler members, as well, and it is likely that as many follow the tenets of Zehir as do those who follow Tiamat. The Sabbat use undeath as a weapon, as well, and have been known to insert wights, young vampires, and other “contagious” undead into bucolic towns in neighboring nations, just to watch what happens. This idea of undeath as a plague has also apparently gained some support in certain research groups as well, and it is rumored that the Sabbat have an underground facility somewhere dedicated to researching ways to turn necrotic energy itself into a plague.
The Sabbat’s leadership is difficult to determine, though it is likely a “strongest holds the throne” scenario. Many of their members operate in gangs or smaller groups, each with a leader who directs the efforts of that posse. Whether they have a larger governing body is a matter of some debate, though whenever the other two factions must discuss something, there is usually a very physically intimidating general who steps forward. His name is Gangrel, and he is a former Dragonborn barbarian who supposedly hunted a pack of Sabbat vampires, killing all but one, and demanding that the survivor (whom he deemed the strongest) change him into an immortal creature of the night.
The Sabbat are in favor of meeting any threats head-on in the coming conflict, and have sent back any peaceful messengers from other nations as undead thralls, sending a clear message to any living nation that thinks it might buy alliance with them. While there are mortals among the Sabbat, their “morals” are often worse than those of their undead brethren, and they react with a similar disdain for life, goodness, and order.
While the Camarilla seek enlightenment of the mind, and the Sabbat seek perfection of body, the Mekhet are more interested in the spiritual nature of undeath. It is said that they worship gods older than any of the current pantheons, but they also have shrines dedicated to stars and other Outer Powers that have no place in the prime material plane. For the Mekhet, transformation into an undead creature is a sacred experience. Their mortal servants are buried alive with their masters, only to rise up as skeletal or other undead servants in their afterlives. The masters are prepared with unholy wrappings to become creatures of great spiritual power, held together by their physical bindings. They are known as Mummies, and their powers are, in many ways, much worse than the more well-known liches or vampires of other undead groups. The Mekhet believe that undeath is a path to eventual ascension as a god, and it is said that they have slain dragons and their cults who have sought similar godhood. When the mortal coils of their servants’ forms fall away, they are said to become incorporeal undead (ghosts and the like), who continue their servitude indefinitely.
The Mekhet are ruled by a priesthood/royalty combination, though it is unclear exactly who holds the most power. It is also unclear which gods the priests may serve, or if they are, themselves, the gods they pray to. High Priests and Rulers such as Anuk-Sun-Amun, Imhotep, Dakhamunzu, Rahotep, and Tutankhamun have all been seen at various meetings of the faction leaders.
[The rest of the book details various social peculiarities of the groups, such as the flowers-as-messages codes of the Camarilla, or the animals that seem sacred to the Mekhet, or the favored weapons of different gangs of the Sabbat… but most of the stuff that’s actually useful for our game is detailed above.]