Clan is what you’re born to be, covenant is what you choose. They’re AA circles and halfway houses and street gangs and philosophies all rolled up together – mutual support, shared ideology. They’re ways to approach being a dead addict and they’re ways to survive being a dead addict.
There’s been a lot more covenants then there have been clans. They come and go; some are more local, some make a better stab at the eternal. If you’ve got a gang and an idea and some pretensions you can pull a covenant together. So you don’t need to know shit about the Order or the Choir or the Accord or whatever. Around here there’s four you need to know about right off, all part of something fairly big: the Estate, the Church, the Movement, and the Circle.
The Estate – as in the “first” estate (she rolled her eyes) – call themselves the Invictus. Means the Unconquered. They’re a syndicate – a mafia with long-cherished pretensions of being nobility. They care about oaths, relationships, resources, stability. Manners are big with them, and expectations. They care about quality over quantity. Even when they’re not officially in charge of something they tend to stick their noses into trying to run it anyway. They wouldn’t be the oldest covenant standing if they didn’t have a way of making that work out.
The Church are the dark mirror to mortal Christians – they follow the Lord in their own way. They have their own scripture, the Testament of Longinus – that’s their own thing to explain and I can’t do it justice. If you hear someone talking about the Sanctum, or the Spear, or the Lance, or the Lancea et Sanctum, or God’s Wolves – those are all names for the church.
The Movement – the Carthian Movement, it’s called – is the political radicals. Vampires who talk about unions and democracies and republics and communes – hell even just the mob as it is and not as it pretends to be – as modern models for society. Something other then neofeudalism. They care about favors, ideas, change. networks, innovation. They’re the youngest of the major covenants, the lasting new thing from the modern era.
The Circle is…fucking weird. They formed in a reaction to the Church, right? They started as a resistance movement of old pagan-ish sorta local spiritual groups that were getting backed up against the wall when the Church started really spreading aggressively – this was centuries ago, medieval shit. A network of blood sorcerers from dozens of traditions, united mostly by a fuck-off attitude. Now they’re something else – half all these old cults, half a unified occult counterculture. Plus some new cults, just to keep shit unpredictable. I think they’d hate to be predictable, but it’s hard to say – some conservative old-line cult that’s been around three times as long as the rest of the Circle doesn’t bend to fashion like a hipster blood-witch does.
Around here, the Invictus have been in control forever. The guy who built the ten towns into the Aventine, Remus, he was their leader as well as everyone’s, and then his childe was when he was asleep. Thing is, he could only maintain that empire because of the Wardens, the Rangers – as the Woods kept getting thicker, the Weird more dangerous, he was more reliant on them. When they decided they were doing too much for too little, they dragged him out into the Woods and left him to die the hard way. Now their leaders split up his throne – the Council of Four. That’s who will be sitting over Court – the two of ’em who care the most, anyway.
The Movement and the Circle are kept out of real power but they’re around. The Church is nominally privileged by the Court but they don’t care for ‘em much. The Four don’t really care a bunch about anybody but themselves and their own, anyway; clan has been a bigger deal these past three years, especially for savages.
But nobody can recruit you to a clan; they can recruit you to a covenant. If you show the slightest sign of usefulness they’ll start angling for you from the moment you’re introduced at Court. Everybody can put fresh blood to use.