The Invictus

The Conspiracy of Silence

You always want to be on the winning side. You were powerful when you were alive. You’d rather work with the system. You’re motivated by greed. You don’t see any point in changing things. You are afraid of missing out on the big payday.

What They Do

The Invictus knows where the bodies are buried. And they know which ones are only sleeping. This is the legend: The beast that sits in the center of a huge empire, the cultured monster wearing a coronet. The old money. The Prince of Darkness.

So very often, at the heart of the vampire web lies the lord and master, the queen, the mistress. The trappings of power — regal, corporate, political, criminal, military — are just trappings. In the end, the structures are the same. Power is the means and the end, the payment for indispensable service. The vampires of the Invictus either have power and know how to keep it or want it and know how to get it. The master of an Invictus house — they often call the ruling structure a “house” — might be the CEO of a holding company, the Godfather of a sprawling crime empire, a mayor, a general, or just a King or Queen; and might maintain a variety of complex hierarchies. But it’s always a hierarchy.

Most polite and formal of the major covenants, its complex social niceties and sometimes archaic forms of behavior mask blackmail and back-stabbing more vicious than any living human could imagine. Schemes to take down rivals can take literally decades to come to fruition, relying on dizzyingly complex plans, pawns who don’t know they’re pawns, mind control, blood bonds, terrifying financial investments with long-delayed payouts, and sudden acts of horrific violence.

Every vampire in the covenant covets the job of the vampire above her; every vampire fears the one beneath. But personal advancement must not come at the cost of the establishment, or its great trust. The Invictus has maintained the traditions of the dead for longer than any vampire covenant now, longer even than its predecessor, the Camarilla itself, survived. The hierarchy must remain intact. A prince cannot be removed if his absence would put the age-old forms in danger; a subordinate cannot be disposed of if no one survives to replace him. The Invictus is the prince, her council, their henchmen, their soldiers. Like the Lancea et Sanctum, the leaders of the Invictus consider all vampires to be under their jurisdiction — unless they set themselves against it, as do the Carthians, in which case they are at best tolerated as dissidents, and at worst proscribed, with all the horror that entails.

Above all, the Invictus are the Conspiracy of Silence. The Invictus have links with the various seats of temporal power, the better to maintain the Masquerade and make the living pull the wool over their own eyes. If their rules are unwritten and often unspoken, they are no less binding. A new vampire might exist for years among the First Estate and still have trouble parsing the covenant’s complex etiquettes. He might take decades to understand fully the extent of the conspiracy’s reach in both the worlds of the living and the dead.

The Invictus’ relationship to the Masquerade is complex. On the one hand, it is the Invictus who keeps it. It is their highest tradition. No one upholds the Masquerade like they do, and, as a result, no one is better placed to be in charge. Of course, the Masquerade helps keep the Invictus on top. The Establishment is frighteningly good at using up-to-date methods of keeping in touch, of hammering down rumors and finding ways to blackmail. On the other hand, Invictus leaders get away with things that their neonates can’t, because they’re more able to contain the consequences.

How They Do It

Members of the Invictus have always understood the value of the adage: You have to change to stay the same. As human power structures have changed, the Invictus has changed with them. They recognize that in the end, the Camarilla’s final fall was its inability to accept the inevitability of Rome’s destruction. You disagree with their version of events? A shame, since their version of history is what is written in the books.

The Invictus, over the centuries, has been a court of nobles, an absolute monarchy, a dictatorship, a corporation, an organized crime family — all are, the First Estate knows, simply ways of preserving hierarchies and keeping their great secret. A man in black, a bullying middle manager, and a mob enforcer might appear to draw their authority from differing sources, but the effect is the same: The silence remains, and those who it shelters know who they owe. Invictus neonates often end up strong- arming dissidents, hiding evidence of vampiric existence from the living, serving as pawns in the byzantine schemes of the elders, and learning piece by piece how to make allies (if not friends) and influence people — one way or the other.

Every vampire in the Invictus considers himself or herself a ruler with the potential for more, from the lowliest ground-level soldier to the grayest bureaucrat. Better to be a henchman of the Invictus than not in the Invictus at all.

The Invictus maintains the Masquerade, but to do so, they must gain and demonstrate power. From time to time, an Invictus leader might commit indiscretions, but the personal connections she accumulates on the way up are eminently useful in making those indiscretions disappear. A neonate or ancilla might have to be responsible for cleaning up these messes. Power still needs its tools. A young enforcer could be anything from a dead private detective, to a musclebound legbreaker, to the manager of a team of spotter ghouls who watch the unawares vampires of the domain for infractions of local rules.

The Invictus are ancient, but they are modern. They use information technology. They watch the Internet. They use the tools of business and organized crime, changing tools to preserve the status quo, to keep us on top, and above all to keep the secret. Everything depends on their victory.