Some Kindred speak that name as a curse. Others say it with envy. To the members of this society of vampires, however, their name is the proudest boast imaginable. Empires rise and fall but they remain the Unconquered — the eternal masters of the night, ruling vampires and mortals alike.
- The Purpose of Power is Power: For the Invictus, power is both the means and the end. Every transaction made with other kindred should be a step towards increasing one’s power as well as placing the other kindred in a position of having to continue to rely on you in the future.
- The Elite Lead, the Masses Follow: The Invictus accept the responsibility of taking charge and governing other kindred. Not everyone has the ability to wield power effectively; the Invictus remove that onus from the other covenants, taking it upon themselves to mind the big picture so that others may pursue their goals. By making politics their focus, instead of matters of faith or research, the Unconquered hone their skills and offer themselves as professional leaders.
- Rank Has its Privileges: The elite of the Invictus follow different rules than the common kindred because as leaders of kindred, they are different creatures. Also, because they can. But they do follow those rules and take their duties seriously.
- Order Above All: The rules must be followed. Order must be maintained. Every Invictus has their role in kindred society and must keep in their place.
- Tradition: Nothing is new under the sun. People don’t change — kindred even less so. Fads come and go. History repeats itself. The traditions became traditions because they work. “Innovative” is a dirty word.
Etiquette and Protocol
Etiquette, protocol or simply good manners — in the First Estate, there’s very definitely a right and wrong way to behave. The covenant steeps its activities in formality, from a grand ball in the Prince’s honor to a private meeting between business partners. Invictus members often show the same formality when dealing with other Kindred. The Invictus uses the other vampire’s title, and insists on the same courtesy in return.
Other Kindred sometimes make fun of the First Estate’s obsession with elaborate manners. Invictus members can seem like pompous, stuffed shirts as they bow and make grandiloquent speeches. The covenant is deadly serious about its etiquette, though. Good manners alone won’t raise Kindred to eminence in the Invictus, but a vampire who will not learn the covenant’s codes of conduct will never receive any rank or respect, no matter what his achievements.
- Titles and honorifics are an indicator of formal rank. It is always important that each member of the First Estate not only knows his place but makes his rank clear to all who meet him so that they may address him with the proper deference or authority.
- Punctilious codes of conduct help to distinguish Invictus members from non-members and are a useful way of identifying infiltrators.
- Etiquette gives Invictus members a way to compete with each other, without risking anyone’s unlives, by providing a social arena in which to maneuver. It also provides a way to resolve accidental transgressions.
- By respecting the covenant enough to learn its complicated rules, a kindred shows that she knows her place in the hierarchy of power as well as demonstrating her commitment to the covenant. Respect given earns respect in turn.
- Social rituals help elder kindred hide the madness that comes with age and inhumane Invictus to hide their monstrosity.
It is never acceptable to be openly rude or crass in reference to another Invictus, especially in public.
Titles and Offices
In a society of strict hierarchy and adherence to tradition such as the Invictus, it is always important that each member not only knows his place, but makes his rank clear to all who meet him so that they may address him with the proper deference or authority. Announcement of personal standing, relevant relations and profession are deeply important, as they define the limits of acceptable behavior. To that end, an array of titles and terms of address have been refined, over the centuries, into a relatively comprehensive set designed to describe one’s place in the covenant as clearly and concisely as possible.
There are three types of titles accorded to each member: titles of esteem, titles of tribute and titles of function, which describe, respectively, who you are, how important you are to the covenant and what you do. Everyone bears a title of esteem, but the only acceptable way to append a title of tribute or function to your name is to earn it.
Titles of the Invictus are related directly to a vampire’s age, achievements, lineage and professional office, and none are to be treated lightly. The bearer of an impressive set of titles earns the admiration of the Invictus, and rightly so, for she must be a great citizen of the covenant to have received them. While it is theoretically possible to earn “hollow titles” through careerist manipulations, an honor poorly gained is almost always exposed and stripped away from the underhanded vampire in question, leaving him with less regard than before he partook of his foolish enterprise. If the practice of revering those who deserve accolade and deriding those who pretend to misapplied honors is maintained with absolute strictness, all members of the Invictus have confidence in their covenant and incentive to strive for recognition through genuine achievements. If, on the other hand, the practice is poorly upheld, the covenant faces the threat of dissolution by a mass of frustrated, purposeless and disrespectful Kindred. Titles seem like such small, simple things to prop up the Invictus, but understand: in a world where money, beauty and physical power are all too easily attained, the only real measure of a worthwhile vampire is her reputation.
A Guide to Invictus Titles (Download)
The Patronage System
The purpose of the Invictus’ tightly held social order is that every kindred should know exactly where she stands in the scheme of Invictus society. The patronage system reinforces this. Those Invictus with power and higher covenant standing are the patrons; clients help patrons to maintain and increase their power and in return receive largesse in form of money, titles, boons and such. Nearly every member is a client to someone else. This doesn’t remove the ability of lower ranking Invictus from pulling strings behind the scenes but does force them to play their political games with more care and subtlety.
Sires often watch prospective childer for periods of time. This gives them the opportunity to investigate their backgrounds and determine what will ensure their loyalty. While it’s rare for Invictus to Embrace in passion or for revenge, it’s not entirely unknown. A kindred without an Invictus sire looking to join the covenant needs an Invictus to stand as her sponsor. If the kindred is a member of another covenant, that Invictus must have more Invictus status than the kindred did in her previous covenant.
In both cases, kindred go through a period of training to learn the complexities of covenant etiquette and protocol. For an unaligned kindred or one coming from another covenant, this period is a year. There is no set length for training for a kindred who was embraced into the covenant, but typical training durations run from six months to a year.