Swimming Through Deep Waters: The Top Ten Ways Characters Can Gain the Special Attention of the Harpies

This essay was written for the Vampire: The Masquerade chronicle in the Mind’s Eye Society.


When walking through the halls of a formal court, Vampire the Masquerade transforms into a game of wit, manners, and etiquette. The wrong word or heretical opinion spoken aloud can ruin your reputation.

A Kindred with high standing has a great deal of privilege and responsibility. The Camarilla expects more from those that it cherishes and the harpies wait on the sidelines to drag down an elder that had forgotten how to play the game.

Scandals generate role-playing. Players should be aware of their choices. Here are the top ten most common scandals

Losing Your Temper

To lose your temper in public is to admit before your peers that your opponents have gotten the best of you. If you have to scream to make your point, you might as well wear a leather jacket and join the anarchs. Elders will quit inviting you to the secret meetings. Neonates will laugh at you.

A Kindred that frenzies in public might as well be locked away.

It is expected that neonates will blow their tops. They don’t have years of experience controlling their Beast.

Ignoring Camarilla Doctrine in Public

You might be playing an ancient Kindred who shook hands with Malkav. You might have personal knowledge of Gehenna or might have achieved Golconda.

The Camarilla denies that any of this is possible.

The Antediluvians don’t secret control the world and the Jyhad. Really, they don’t exist. They went into torpor a long time ago. Don’t be silly. Of course, they aren’t going to awaken and start eating us.

If you say something publicly that contradicts Camarilla Doctrine, the harpies must punish you lest your corruption reflect upon them.

Keep your secret rants about Golconda in the privacy of your own cults. Don’t hint to the other Kindred that you might not totally believe in the Camarilla Doctrine.

Yes, you might be on the Path of Honorable Accord, but that’s a Sabbat path. The Camarilla officially encourages Kindred to remain close to our humanity.

We’re all paranoid bastards and we don’t want to be ratted out.

The Elephant in the Room We’re Not Allowed to Talk About: Tremere Can’t be Trusted

The Tremere are the devil.

We all know this to be true.

It doesn’t matter. They are a founding member of the Camarilla. They saved the Camarilla from the Assamites and they helped us put the hurt on the Giovanni.

It doesn’t matter if you witnessed clan Tremere making out with Hitler, killing kittens, making gargoyles, or doing a conga line while Diablerizing Saulot.

If you have high standing in the Camarilla and you want to keep it, you can’t publically state you don’t trust them. You can’t trash talk the clan as a whole.

The Camarilla is more important than any previous crimes they may have committed.

You can say or do whatever you can get away with in private, just watch out that your friends don’t turn you into the harpies.

You can act against or punish individual Tremere as much you have the power and ability to get away with. Every clan has bad seeds.

Boons Are a Waste of Time

Boons are an important part of court life. A Kindred that announces he doesn’t believe in boons is in effect claiming that he will not submit to any laws, traditions, or authority. Kindred that make such claims might as well set his hair on fire, strip naked, and run around screaming. He would look less silly.

Kindred on an individual basis might not care for boons. A nomad Gangrel might not care to log every boon. Such things are never admitted in public.

If a single Kindred can live outside of the prestation system then it might be possible for all Kindred to live outside of it.

You wouldn’t want to lose your home, your savings, or your retirement, would you? Imagine how you would feel if a lifetime’s worth of work suddenly was meaningless.

== The Moon is Made of Cheese or The Weight of Standing ==

One of the reasons that standing is so coveted in Camarilla society is that it conveys a great deal of protection.

A Camarilla kindred of high standing is always right. A Malkavian elder of great standing (6 status) might proclaim that the moon is made of cheese. A Brujah ancilla (4 status) might decide to argue the point before the Harpy.

The Brujah might present photographs, moon rocks, and even a kidnapped Buzz Aldrin. It doesn’t matter.

The Malkavian wins. The Malkavian has greater standing and so he is publicly correct. (Except when a Kindred of even higher standing decides he’s wrong and decides to make a public example of him.)

Everyone else in the court might privately disagree, but will support the Malkavian.

This is why the elders fight so hard to stick to the doctrine.

Only a kindred of equal or higher standing can accuse them of crimes, bear witness against them, or correct them in public.

Arguing with a kindred of greater standing can be considered a scandal.

Speaking rudely to or about, or talking over a kindred of greater standing is an act of rebellion against the system.

Public Miscegenation

It can be quite useful for a prince to have an Assamite contact. A Setite can almost always find that special item. You have a ghost problem? Who ya gonna call?

The trick is to balance utility for propriety. You might need these clans, but they need to enter from the back door.

Open association with strange independent clans is worthy of scandal. How much can you trust the Sheriff when he is blood-lovers with that Setite?

That Giovanni can help you with a ghost, but keep him too close and suddenly your peers will wonder why you choose to associate with outsiders.

If you need to contact them in public, use your neonates. They aren’t expected to know any better and the backrooms are made for just such a circumstance.

Yes, it sucks that your best friend made an assamite and you want to hang out with your best friend in game. Or that your elder can’t openly hang out with that awesome anarch pack. There is a price ooc for being a snowflake or playing an elder. It is expected that you will go the extra effort to make the game better and will help enforce the setting.

A Snowflake Melts the Quickest

The Camarilla allows almost any clan, save for the Giovanni, to join.

There are Gargoyles, Lasombra antitribu, Setites, Assamites, or even caitiff.

These Kindred are nominally accepted within the Ivory Tower. Certainly, they are second class citizens.

The stranger the origin of your clan, the more the harpies expect from you in order for them to tolerate you.

Adopt a Caitiff

The Book of Nod refers to the caitiff as harbingers of the end times.

Officially, the Book of Nod is a heresy. And so, it has become fashionable to blame things on the caitiff.

You have a problem with the anarchs? Blame the caitiff. You lost your wallet? Blame the caitiff.

Expressing sympathy for the caitiff can lead to a backlash upon you.

The correct response is that they should seek adoption from a clan.

If you Have a Job to Do, You Better Do It Well

We’ve all seen the caitiff Prince, the Setite harpy, or the Assamite primogen.

It is a risk. Sometimes it pays off.

However, you should be aware that allowing such a thing in your city comes at a cost.

A domain and a position holder have a symbiotic relationship. The standing of one reflects the other.

If your Setite Prince starts teaching you about the Aeons, the status of your domain and those from it will be hit.

If your Assamite Harpy starts giving lessons in the Path of Blood, it will be reflected upon you. Who knows what sort of strange ideas that might have been passed along? Don’t laugh. This happened in public last chronicle.

Hiding in Plain Sight

Clan is the foundation of the Camarilla.

It isn’t surprising then that so many pretenders try to be something they aren’t. We’ve all seen the important Camarilla elder announce the arrival of his new childer and six months later it turns out to be an Assamite.

Want to know who gets punished socially? Hint it isn’t the Assamite. He already has a new name and a new identity.

Allowing someone to infiltrate your clan is a horrible scandal. Who would trust your word?

Faking Your Death

This happens every six months. No one ever believes you.

And then you come back expecting to have your old standing back.

If you don’t care enough about your name to stick around, don’t expect that others will still respect you in the morning.


Harpies all over the world are looking to make their bones. Don’t make our job any easier.

3 thoughts on “Swimming Through Deep Waters: The Top Ten Ways Characters Can Gain the Special Attention of the Harpies

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