Campaign of the Month: August 2014
The Concord of Ashes
The Magnus Orthodox Lasombra
(modified from Constantinople by Night, pp. 66-67)
Before the arrival of Michael the Patriarch and his lovers, the Lasombra ran Byzantium under the guise of a pagan cult dedicated to the Greek goddess Aphrodite. While they claimed to be the city’s eldest clan, the Lasombra were known among the Cainites to have merely stepped in after the disappearance of the majority of the ruling Cappadocians. Only Alexia Theusa remained to trouble them, and that potent elder appeared to be far more interested in merely being left alone to continue her studies.
Ectoris and his Lasombra brood ruled the Roman colony for a brief period before the more powerful Methuselah Triumverate arrived. In an ill-managed ploy to maintain power, Ectoris lost everything to Michael, the Dracon and Antonius, who were uninterested in bargaining for control and short on patience for the intrigues of their lessers. When the Triumverate began excising those vampires not affiliated with their three nascent families, Magnus, Ectoris’ eldest childe, betrayed his own sire. In a show of allegiance and solidarity with the new ruling families, Magnus presented the staked body of Ectoris to the Triumverate and asked for recognition of a family of his own creation. As part of the deal, the Lasombra, as former cult leaders, would assist in the evangelisation of the pagans of the new Roman capital. The Michaelite followers accepted the Lasombra as their wards and awarded the Magnus family Scion status at the Second Council of AD 475.
Under the new banner of Christianity, Magnus noticed that while the Dracon’s Obertus family controlled the reclusive monastic orders, they left the ecclesiastic powers of the eastern church unattended. Into this religious vacuum stepped the Lasombra, changing affiliations from the Cult of Aphrodite to the Church of Eastern Orthodoxy. It was at their behest that ties with the Church of Rome were weakened and eventually sundered, thereby securing their power base away from the Lasombra of Rome.
The intrigues between Magnus and his Latin clan-mates culminated in the Great Schism between the eastern and western churches in AD 1054. The Church split along doctrinal, theological, linguistic, political, and geographical lines, and the fundamental breach has never been healed, with each side accusing the other of having fallen into heresy and of having initiated the division. Magnus’ jealous attempts to keep his more numerous Latin clan-mates out of the Byzantine ecclesiastical sphere has exacerbated these tensions, which could have been healed but for his manipulations.
The Church of Eirene, Headquarters of the Magnus Orthodox Lasombra
The Magnus Lasombra officially number three members at all times. The Patriarch insisted that they not deviate from that count, and when Magnus betrayed his own sire, he destroyed all of his consanguineous siblings as well, choosing to Embrace new family members rather than contend with those who considered themselves his equal. Obeying Michael’s edict, Magnus Embraced two new childer in AD 402 and 407, and the Magnus family has never deviated (at least, officially) from that number.
However, on various journeys to shore up his control of the Orthodox church Magnus has in fact Embraced many hidden Lasombra over the centuries, most of whom have been sent to important ecclesiastical centres throughout the empire. He also managed to make alliances with provincial Lasombra who also used the Orthodox church as their medium for influence and status. By virtue of his control over the Patriarch of Constantinople, he also gained their recognition as the custodian of the faith. He has sought to retain the favour and service of both his descendants and allies, for the most part unsuccessfully, by issuing edicts and manipulating church hierarchy appointments to reward those who support his authority in the capital. In truth, however, his grasp of ecclesiastical politics in the provinces has always been rather less comprehensive than he assumed, and so his influence over his descendants has likewise been stymied by his own incompetence and their resentment of his overbearing meddling.
Magnus, who is charged personally by the Patriarch with tending to the church’s wealth and organisation, still leads the family. His childer, Sarah the Chaste and Peter the Humble, oversee the daily rigours of church operations and worship while he concentrates on figures in positions of leadership. In addition, Sarah is responsible for cultivating the cult worship of Michael the Archangel among mortals.
Finally, in the last few years Magnus has once more decided to do away with the decidedly underwhelming service of Peter. Calling upon debts owed him by Quaesitor Petronius, he Embraced a promising church Prelate called Libanius in AD 1201. Libanius is not yet officially a member of the family, and Magnus has kept his fledgeling’s profile quite low thus far outside of the Cult of the Archangel, as he is technically breaking his word to Michael in this matter.
A ROSTER OF THE MAGNUS ORTHODOX LASOMBRA
- Magnus, Custodian of Orthodoxy (8th gen. Childe of Ectoris [d], e. late 1st century CE); the leader of the family and secret puppet-master of the Orthodox Patriarchy of Constantinople, Magnus insists on being called patéras (father) not just by his progeny but by his mortal cronies. He literally sees himself as the father of the church, rather than a mere priest or bishop like his Latin brethren. Jealous of his power, he tyranically rules the family to protect his rights.
- Sarah the Chaste, Leader of the Cult of the Archangel (9th gen. Childe of Magnus, e. early 5th century CE); responsible for a good deal of the ecclesiastical oversight within the capital, Sarah shines as a church administrator and puppet-master. She also manages the growth of the Cult of the Archangel. Unknown to her sire, her favour is sought by many of the family Cainites, and her influence and reputation is now equal to that of her sire.
- Peter the Humble, ecclesiastic bureaucrat (9th gen. Childe of Magnus, e. early 5th century CE); a bungling incompetent and eternal dilettante, Peter has never truly proven himself despite his 800 odd years of opportunities. At this point, he is effectively excluded from family matters.
- Libanius, enthusiastic fledgeling (9th gen. Childe of Magnus, e. 1201 CE); a handsome, promising church prelate who has rocketed through the hierarchy with his sire’s backing, Libanius is Magnus’ latest attempt to replace Peter the Humble. He is competent enough, but thought to be a little unbalanced in his fervour for the Cult of the Archangel.
Magnus, Father of the Orthodox Magnus Lasombra
Magnus and his childer revel in the Cult of the Archangel, seeing it as an important extension of their power not just along mortal lines, but Cainite as well. Some wonder at whether the jaded Magnus actually believes his own party line, but at the very least, he has gone on record as saying that even if Michael is not, in fact, the Archangel Michael, then the devotion of the cult should make it so. In contrast to him, Sarah’s piety and willingness to listen is undoubted, and the latter elder is often sought out for discussion on the implications of the purpose of the Cult of the Archangel.
In support of his own growing power, Magnus helps Petronius keep the Michaelite house in order and protect Michael’s position as Patriarch, while Sarah the Chaste and Libanius supervise the growth of the archangel’s faithful. Peter the Humble is largely ostracised from the family at this point, and Libanius is already receiving instruction from both his sire and his sister-in-blood one how best to subsume Peter’s fragile influence base among the clerical bureaucrats.
RELATIONS WITH OTHER FAMILIES
The Magnus Lasombra are an introverted clan, preferring their own counsel (and that of the often easily swayed Toreador) above all others. They guide the Michaelites through advice and by manipulating mortal thralls. The Magnus are generally distrusted, and the despise the Malachite and the Narsene families as deeply as they themselves are despised. Otherwise, the Magnus Orthodox Lasombra regularly discourse with the Antonians and Obertus families in an effort to keep the Michaelites’ spheres of influence alive.
It is also noteworthy that where the Cult of the Archangel is concerned, the Magnus Orthodox Lasombra welcome new devotees. Sarah the Chaste has become particularly prominent in making rounds of the Cainite social circles in hopes of finding new recruits to the cult, and as such she has become far more accessible than her sire.
Sarah, faithful daughter of the Magnus Orthodox Lasombra
RELATIONS WITH OUTSIDERS
The Magnus Orthodox Lasombra are deeply committed to preserving the authority and autonomy of the Orthodox Byzantine church against that of Rome. Prince Constantius of Rome and his influential childe, Claudius Euginio have both offered generous rewards for Magnus’ head in the past. It is well known that their relationship with their Latin clan-mates could be called acrimonious at best, and they also avidly work to destroy the growing influence of the Cainite Heresy in the Byzantine provinces. This has prompted Prince Narses of Venice, Archbishop of Nod, to offer a reward for Magnus’ destruction as well.
The family does have allies within the empire, though, and are not so easily displaced. Prince Marcus Licinius of Adrianople supports the independent Orthodox Church, if only for his own machinations against his enemies in the western clan. Prince Basilio of Sophia is also a pious adherent of the Orthodox religion, and Nikomedes, the Cappadocian Prince of Smyrna, supports the eastern church as well. Together with Magnus the three of these elders can weave a potent web of influence and allies to see their goals realised- when they can be bothered.
Peter, Prodigal Son of the Magnus Orthodox Lasombra
As a rule, the Magnus Orthodox Lasombra are too disparate in their interests to indoctrinate a foreign Cainite through general consensus. Sarah is too busy with her duties, Libanius too new to them, and Peter altogether too self-absorbed and incompetent. Magnus, however, might become interested in the “right” (meaning Orthodox) people, and tends to approach newcomers for a one-on-one discourse to feel out their sympathies.
If Magnus is unsuccessful in his attempts to curry favour, he has a reputation for spreading vicious rumours and otherwise “bad-mouthing” those who spurned his overtures. While this has earned him few allies and a poor reputation himself, his influence with the Orthodox Church and Quaesitor Petronius is strong, and he has made more than one Cainite’s life an unliving hell with his manipulations.
Libanius, the new hope…
Magnus could best be described a vicious, self-serving tyrant in his administration of his family. He mercilessly micro-manages the portfolios of his progeny to the point where he can actually get in their way (and frequently does). Sarah learned centuries ago how best to deflect his interest in her doings, but Peter never has, which has contributed to his generally indecisive and incompetent personality. The Embrace of Libanius has all but sealed Peter’s fate and it is only a matter of time before he is closed out of family affairs once and for all. For his part, the fledgeling is simply too new to night (and perhaps too psychologically flawed himself) to understand the shortcomings of his sire, so he tends to worshipfully follow Magnus’ every order.