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 Titles and Court Positions

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PostTitles and Court Positions

TITLE, RANK AND POSITION
So who holds all the power in Kindred society? What, really, defines a Prince or a member of the Primogen or a Sheriff? Are they all the same? What do they really do? Presented here are the primary ranks and positions found throughout Kindred domains. Not every city has one of these positions — in fact, the smallest of communities might have only two or three of them — but they are common enough that all are worth discussing. Note that while each position is listed by its most common title, all of them are known by various terms throughout the world.

PRINCE
The single most important and ubiquitous figure in Kindred politics, the Prince normally rules her city with nearly absolute power. Some are weaker than others, of course, and some are mere figureheads for powerful Primogen or other elders. For the most part, however, any given Prince holds that position for no other reason than that she was strong enough to take it in some way. She might be a consummate politician who attained her post by accumulating favors from all the other elders, and who now manages her domain through diplomacy and compromise. Alternatively, she might be a veritable warlord who gained power by intimidating or “disappearing” her rivals, and now maintains power through the simple expedient of slaughtering anyone who questions her. Most Princes, of course, fall somewhere in the middle, but nearly all boast some advantage or trait that keeps them on top. Of course, a Prince must do more than bark orders and issue death sentences. Her job is not merely to govern, but to regulate. A Kindred domain is a boiling pot, full of personal and sectarian conflicts, petty grudges and endless political maneuvering, all topped with the innate and inescapable violence of a race of predators who feed on blood. The Prince’s job is to keep a lid on that pot — or, perhaps more accurately, to be the lid on that pot. The reason most Princes eventually become dictatorial is that they must keep so many powerful and easily agitated vampires in line.
Note that in some rare cities, normally those largely dominated by the unaligned and the Carthians, the Prince may attain power through means other than sheer personal ability. Such a Prince might be selected by local elders. The Carthians have even attempted open elections. Most often, such Princes are either overthrown by more powerful Kindred or themselves become tyrants to make sure they are not overthrown.

Other Titles
While Prince is the most common term by far, Kindred leaders refer to themselves as Cardinal, Bishop, Archbishop, Don, President (usually in the case of those rare elections mentioned earlier), Sultan, Lord, Duke or whatever title strikes their fancy, depending on the nature of their government. A few self-styled “Queens” exist, but most Kindred leaders avoid use of the title King.

SENESCHAL
The Prince’s right hand, the Seneschal is responsible for many of the night-to-night details of running a government. While the Prince concerns himself with conflict in the city and making certain the Masquerade goes unbroken, the Seneschal makes sure that things run smoothly in the government itself. He is responsible for keeping track of the Prince’s assets (and possibly those of the Primogen or other ruling bodies). He makes schedules and appointments and handles the many logistics required so that no elder feels that another is given preferential treatment. The Seneschal holds substantial power in the domain, for he often decides whose petitions are passed on to the Prince, who receives a court audience, and in what order. In some few but noteworthy domains, the Seneschal’s power is so complete, and he is so much better informed of happenings among the elders than the Prince himself, that it’s unclear who
the true ruler is.
Other Titles
Although Seneschal is the most frequently used term by far, the position is also sometimes referred to as Amanuensis, Chamberlain, Majordomo, Secretary and, in some of the most informal domains, simply as an assistant.

HERALD
The Herald is the Prince’s mouthpiece. When the Prince makes a decree, the Herald’s job is to make sure that all of the city’s Kindred hear of it (assuming it’s meant for all ears…). When the Prince convenes an unscheduled court, the Herald is responsible for alerting those who must attend. The Herald hands down judgment, represents the Prince in proxy when she cannot (or will not) make a personal appearance, and
otherwise serves as something of a “secretary of state.” The Herald is assumed to speak with the Prince’s voice at all times. Some treacherous or ambitious Heralds use this fact to direct other Kindred to their own liking, making suggestions that others assume carry the weight of the Prince’s orders. Some Heralds who were less subtle than they believed have been executed for this very thing, so wise Heralds remain more or less honest. The Herald position is often absent in small cities. In many such cases, the Seneschal (or less frequently the Sheriff) handles these duties in addition to his other responsibilities.
Other Titles
In addition to Herald, this position is sometimes called Minister, Runner, Mouthpiece, Spokesman or Secretary (not in the domains where the Seneschal bears that last title, of course).

PRIMOGEN
If a single position can be considered nearly as ubiquitous and representative of Kindred politics as the Prince, it is the Primogen. The Primogen (singular as well as plural) officially serve as the Prince’s advisory council on matters of policy. The precise nature of that council varies from domain to domain. If the Prince is strong and especially tyrannical, the Primogen might be little more than a formality, a conclave of elders who serve to rubberstamp whatever the Prince wishes to do. In most domains, they serve as true advisors, and most wise Princes try to take that advice into account whenever possible. Some Primogen are powerful enough (or the Prince they advise is weak enough) that they can actually overrule the Prince on certain matters. A few Primogen actually rule their cities, either through a figurehead Prince or openly as a governing body.
The precise size and nature of the Primogen varies. Some are informal, meeting in shadowy back rooms when the situation requires, arguing out whatever issue brings them together. Others cleave to a schedule and procedures for speaking, often appearing much like a governing board, a congress, an old-fashioned Greco-Roman senate, an ecclesiastic council or any other form of organization imaginable. Said councils can range from a mere three or so vampires in small communities to large advisory bodies, which may consist of a dozen or more Kindred. For the most part, the Primogen consist of those local elders who have sufficient power to claim a seat. Also common are those Primogen who decide among themselves whom to admit into their ranks. More rarely, a Prince might select members of his advisory council, but this occurs only in cities where the Prince is especially strong and the Primogen especially weak. Most Primogen contain a mix of members of various clans and covenants, though some are more homogenous, depending on the domain. That is, the Primogen in a city largely dominated by Carthians is likely to have more Carthian members than any others, and the Primogen in a city where the Gangrel are persecuted is unlikely to have many Gangrel members.

Other Titles
The vast majority of these councils (and council members) go by the title Primogen, but they are sometimes known as Boards, Circles, Senates, Tribunals or simply as advisors.

PRISCUS
A Priscus (Prisci in plural) is the informal “head” of a specific clan in a domain. This position is not an official one in the local governmental structure. Rather, it evolves organically as a single powerful Kindred takes responsibility for his clanmates. This can be a choice he himself makes, to seek power, or it might result from others of his clan coming to him with problems. As an informal position, the Prisci have no institutional power or rank. That said, the position does convey a substantial amount of status, and because it’s usually powerful and well-respected Kindred who attain the position, the Prince and other elders are wise to at least consider their opinions. Many Prisci also sit on the Primogen, but the two bodies are not synonymous; not all Prisci are Primogen, and not all Primogen are Prisci. Many cities have no Prisci, and many more have Prisci for some clans and not others.

WHIP
Perhaps one of the strangest of Kindred positions, the Whip is as informal a position as the Priscus. She is responsible for “inspiring” her clanmates to present a united face on major issues and to make their voices heard on local issues, to make sure that the other clans take them seriously. She is both a leader and a taskmaster, a figurehead and a bully. Many Kindred make the mistake of thinking of the Whip as an assistant to the Priscus. In point of fact, the two positions are independent, and oftentimes at odds with each other. A Whip succeeds only as long as she has sufficient power or leverage to force her clanmates to do as she wishes. Whips exist only in those cities with fairly large populations of a given clan, and even then only if a particular member of that clan feels the need to take the position.
Other Titles
Whips are often referred to, informally and angrily, as taskmasters, slavers, headmasters and many other far less polite terms.

HARPY
Unusual in that it is both an official and unofficial position, the Harpy is, at its simplest level, a member of the “Kindred elite.” Harpies represent a who’s who of Kindred affairs, the celebrities and fad-starters. Other Kindred look to Harpies to see who’s in and who’s out, and what positions and opinions are popular this season. A well-known Harpy can sway public opinion faster with a biting comment than some Princes can with a solid decree. Harpies who attained their influence and position unofficially, through nothing more than personal power and charisma, are often more respected than those who are appointed by Prince or Primogen. An unofficial Harpy probably calls things as he truly sees them, whereas an appointed Harpy is usually considered a shill or even propagandist for the Prince.

SHERIFF
A combination police investigator, enforcer and inquisitor, the Sheriff is responsible for enforcing the Prince’s laws and dictates, for bringing outlaws before the Prince for judgment and, at times, for carrying out sentences. Some Sheriffs truly believe in the rule of law and believe that they serve their society and fellow Kindred by keeping the city as orderly as possible. Others love the position for the power it offers, as they are permitted to bully and push around other vampires, even those who would normally be too dangerous to touch. Some Sheriffs are clever, subtle investigators, while others are little more than bruisers with rank.
Other Titles
While Sheriff is the most common title, the position is also sometimes called Reeve or Constable.

HOUND
Quite simply, the Hound is the Prince’s (or Primogen’s) muscle. If the Sheriff is a policeman, the Hound is an assassin or a leg-breaker. He doesn’t investigate, he doesn’t question. His job is to punish anyone he’s told to punish. In some instances, the Hound and the Sheriff are at odds due to their overlapping responsibilities. In other cities, the two are combined into a single position. While the Hound might be asked to carry out the official and public chastisement of a lawbreaker, that duty more often falls to the Sheriff. The Hound is normally employed when the Prince wishes to skip over normal (and possibly public) procedure.
Other Titles
In addition to Hound, such an enforcer is often called Assassin, Archon, Scourge or Templar.

MASTER OF ELYSIUM
In essence a combination master of ceremonies and groundskeeper, the Master of Elysium, sometimes referred to as Keeper of Elysium, is responsible for maintaining a city’s Elysium, ensuring its readiness for court or other official functions, cleaning up afterward and making sure that word of specific Elysium-related events reaches those who must attend. The Master of Elysium is also responsible for enforcing the custom of nonviolence at such gatherings, and he often works hand-in-hand with the Sheriff or Hounds for such purposes. In many cities, the duties of Master of Elysium fall on the Seneschal or Herald. In particularly large cities, more than one Master of Elysium exists, perhaps even one for each declared Elysium.
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