Konklav

Konklaver är de enskilt viktigaste tillställningarna inom invigd politik. Åtminstone när det gäller den sortens politik som gemene vampyr inkluderas i. Konklaver fungerar som högsta domstol, lagstiftande instans och policyskapande arena där det beslutas om Camarillans position i både det mäskliga och det vampyriska samhället. Såväl neonater som äldre är konklaver ett tillfälle att träffa jämlikar från utomsocknes, utbyta tjänster, skvaller och samla stöd för sin sak. Konklaver tjänar även till att stärka tron på Camarillan som en dynamisk och öppen sekt, som lyssnar på sina medlemmar oberoende av status, med förhoppningar om att stävja missnöje och förhindra avhopp till Anarkerna (eller värre: Sabbaten).

Deltagande

En konklav utlyses normalt till alla i en stads Elysium och informationen om evenemanget förs sedan vidare via djungeltelegraf till kotterimedlemmar och bekanta eller släktingar. Alla Camarillamedlemmar brukar välkomnas och förväntas delta vid konklaver, men även vänligt inställda sektlösa kan ges rätt att närvara. Enbart en Justicar får utlysa en konklav, varför kallelsen sällan tas med en klackspark - det finns alltid en god anledning, såsom utbrett hot mot maskeraden eller mot Camarillan som helhet. Sammankomsten annonseras god tid i förväg så att de mer upptagna eller försiktiga får tid att planera för den eventuella resan.

Exempel på konklaver

  • Konklaven i Santa Cruz de la Sierra, 2001 — Frågan om västra Sydamerikas Camarillas fortlevnad.
  • Annual conclave of 1994 — Frågan om internet diskuterades i relation till Maskeraden.
  • Minneapolis Conclave of 1887 — Rättegång rörande Furst Cyril Ximenes maktmissbruk.

Justicars only call conclaves to deal with dire circumstances - individuals or situations that threaten or regard the Camarilla as a whole. The logistics of travel, accommodations and the Masquerade make this a requirement. In addition, a conclave frequently makes rulings regarding the Traditions, taking the opportunity that having such an assembly to discuss issues presents. At the annual conclave of Ф94, the matter of the Internet was discussed with regard to the Masquerade, along with the Second Tradition as it related to Web sites. A number of elders saw an advantage in including the great many attending neonates and ancillae who were more versed in the technology in the discussion; certain of the younger Ventrue acquired tremendous prestige as a result of their performances.

Some conclaves are called as trials of powerful Kindred, to contain destructive quarrels between elder Kindred or to depose corrupt princes, such as the Minneapolis Conclave of 1887 when the despotic Prince Cyril Ximenes was brought to trial for his unrealistic demands regarding the Masquerade and even more outrageous means of enforcing such.

Not all who attend conclave are strictly regarding business, though - many vampires attend conclave in order to meet others of their clan and sect, both for business and pleasure. The hustle and bustle of a conclave with so many vampires in attendance makes it an ideal place to meet contacts for back-room deals, or for groups of elders to gather for meetings that do not look any more suspicious than their usual social soirees.

For young vampires, the conclave is one of the few benefits that Camarilla membership can offer. The opportunities to socialize and network at a conclave can boggle the mind, and for a number of neonates, this becomes their first look at the much greater world to which they belong. Not a few sires bring their childer here to introduce them to more of the clan, perhaps grandsires and great-grandsires, or to give them a firsthand lesson in the political structure of the Camarilla. Young vampires may speak in assembly and voice their opinions, and a well-spoken neonate with a sharp mind can impress potential mentors while buttressing her own sire's reputation. The young ones may vote, and by this believe that they have some small amount of control over their destiny in a society that limits their benefits according to their vampiric age. Most ancillae and elders agree that by these small things (and they are small indeed by comparison to the larger scope of vampiric society) the young ones are kept a little more content, are made less likely to start another Anarch Revolt, and may be carefully guided into becoming the next generations to carry on tradition (and Tradition).

Making Arrangements

For as quickly as they can be called, conclaves can be logistical nightmares for even the most experienced hosts. Few vampires attending rarely have any idea of the scrambling that went on behind the scenes to reach the point wherein the conclave is actually a working event.

Security

When a justicar calls for conclave, he usually publicly announces the location a month before the event proper. Princes and harpies in cities around the nation often have news of the event before it is officially named, but announcing things before the justicar does so rouses righteous ire, both for the breach in protocol and because of the potential for alerting enemies. This is primarily due to concerns regarding Sabbat and anarch attacks - the less time the enemy has to prepare, the less likely they are to mount anything organized enough to succeed. The news of a conclave is typically given first in Elysium and spread along the lines of gossip (of which there are many in any city). Those who might not attend Elysium can still receive the news from friends, clanmates and childer, and only the most isolated Kindred (or demented Malkavians) are unlikely to hear the call. In years when the Sabbat have been excessively active, double bluffs regarding location are not uncommon, but this can be tricky and dangerous for those attendees who miss the latest news (along with the Sabbat packs) and end up walking into a large-scale trap as a result. One such disaster occurred in 1957 when a conclave was called for Rotterdam, then revealed to be taking place in Brussels a little too late and a little too secretly for a collection of visiting American elders. These unfortunate tourists learned too late that the Sabbat in Europe are just as vicious as their American counterparts, and that they don't take well to being tricked.

Some have debated (under the guise of security concerns) changing tradition so that only those invited may attend conclave. This notion has been vetoed as often as it has come up, primarily because tradition demands that any who hear the call may attend (and changing tradition is considered to be slightly easier than stopping Niagara Falls), and secondly because of the concerns over putting out enough invitations. Someone would be forgotten, insults would be perceived, and things would inevitably and rapidly deteriorate from there. Those who support the younger vampires also fear that the conclaves would lose some of their liveliness without the young ones' debating and partying. If nothing else, the parties and clan meetings assure the elders that the "children" are kept constructively busy.

In the modern nights, security at conclaves has become steadily tighter in every way possible. With the Sabbat's attacks becoming more frenzied, and more outside threats to worry about, the Camarilla is naturally concerned about the potential for catastrophe so inherent in having so many potent-blooded elders sitting in one place. Not a few like-minded Kindred have made jokes about this, ranging from "Ground Zero" to "the meat market" to "accident waiting to happen." Such jokes are not spoken too loudly when a city is in conclave. A sheriff in a city neighboring one hosting conclave heard a group of neonates making similar remarks, and decided to take no chances; the group was staked and put in storage until conclave had passed without incident.

The head of security detail is often hand-picked by the justicar who calls for the conclave. The individual thus chosen may be an archon, an elder or the sheriff of the hosting city. She is responsible for making certain that the wrong people don't get in, that those people who are in don't cause trouble and that everything runs safely and without incident from Sabbat, anarchs, Lupines or anyone else. Running security can be one of the most important tasks of conclave, and the justicar chooses carefully, well-aware that the deaths of dozens of high-ranking elders will look bad on even her record. Those who have served previously as security tell stories that border on grim comedies of errors about trying to contain a threat without breaking the Masquerade or alerting those within as to the bubbling crisis.

A chief of security may choose deputies to assist him, usually selecting to have a broad range of skills at his disposal. Multi-talented individuals are more likely to be picked than "one-hit wonders"; a Brujah who can fight decently and who has a good grasp of Kindred society while being an excellent investigator is considered a much better choice than one whose greatest and only talent is hitting things and making them fall down. A wise chief also chooses from several different clans to avoid too much conflict over "persecution." People are more disposed to obey a request from those like them, and a Malkavian can make a clanmate understand that his ravings are attracting too much attention in a way that a Tremere or Gangrel never could. Security chiefs recruit from both their own towns and across their networks of contacts in various cities, dependent on the circumstances of the conclave. If the conclave is strictly for trial purposes in the city, the chief chooses only locals, but a national or international conclave requires a more diverse palette. Many times, security procures the services of a harpy to assist with certain matters of etiquette to ensure that things go quietly.

Security has considerable clout due to the immense danger that surrounds a conclave. They have the right to detain nearly anyone who is causing a disturbance or who is threatening the proceedings. Many justicars grant security license to use deadly force against any enemies of the conclave, which can include anarchs, Sabbat, Lupines, any other supernatural threats and even overly rambunctious young Camarilla Kindred. Security's powers are occasionally stymied by the elders, but if the chief has a legitimate concern and voices it to the hosting justicar, he can expect that the grievance will be addressed and dealt with. Often, the prince loans security the use of certain of his powers, such as contacts in the police force and city administration, to assist during the conclave.

During these nights, younger vampires have brought security up to date from the days when a couple of burly Brujah with swords stood guard at the door with the Tremere reading auras. Discreetly placed metal detectors, heat sensors, infrared cameras and closed-circuit cameras are stock in trade now for any security director worth his salt. While the elders are disturbed by such technological toys, they find it difficult to argue their effectiveness in keeping out weapons and hunters. Some have grumbled that these devices place the elders at the mercy of their younger counterparts, but a few princes have actually told the more paranoid ones to stay home if they don't like the electronics. Such measures have the harpies scrambling to figure out the new ramifications and matters of etiquette, such as the propriety of asking an elder to submit to a wand search after he's set off one of the threshold detectors or where to place certain cameras.

Travel

Vampires traveling to conclave come by literally every means available to them. Those still able to mingle with mortal society may fly in coach class, take trains, book passage on ocean liners (a frequent means of travel for European elders who have never quite adjusted to planes), drive or even hitchhike on occasion. Packs of Brujah and Gangrel arriving on motorcycles can make the highways look like biker conventions, while well-preserved vintage autos and limousines ferry Ventrue and Toreador. Malkavians may carjack their transportation, Dominate unfortunate mortals into hauling them, or simply take Greyhound buses (which offer the added bonus of allowing them to frighten their fellow passengers).

A Comedy of Errors

One such tale is told by Allen Two-Timer, a Gangrel from Milwaukee, regarding a conclave in that city in 1932. The hotel chosen to host one of the conclave's sessions had also been chosen by a collective of rumrunners to discuss their business and sample a few wares. The barrels of rotgut and an elder's private vintage became confused on the loading docks, and were only discovered after Allen licked some leaking vintage off his hand that turned out to be bathtub gin. Realizing the error, he dispatched two deputies to retrieve the missing vitae while he stalled the session. The deputies, both Brujah, recall going through several different ideas, including disguising themselves as waiters, bum-rushing the door and setting off a fire alarm. Finally, the deputies decided to tip off their police contacts to arrest the rumrunners, and walked themselves into the fray and out with the necessary casks. While the elder was very perturbed about the delay and gave Allen a proper tongue-lashing, none except Allen and the deputies were the wiser about the near-miss to the Masquerade. Furthermore, three of the rumrunners who proved particularly resistant to arrest later ended up working for Allen, and one eventually became his childe.

Those with special travel needs (such as largely inhuman Kindred, monstrous Gangrel, some Nosferatu) need to plan a little more thoroughly. Many Gangrel choose to travel in mist or animal form to spare themselves the worry about commingling with mortals. Nosferatu and other Kindred who cannot travel by conventional means arrange to have themselves shipped to their destination and having retainers meet their boxes at the docks to prevent any accidental openings. A keeper of Elysium in a conclave city can find herself signing for a great many large packages during the nights just prior to the first meetings.

Retainers can be invaluable during travel, always a difficult proposition at best and often more so during a conclave. A ghoul can see to securing ground transportation after a flight, or lead her morning-groggy companion out of the sun while ushering her to a limo or taxi. Other ghouls pack their masters into boxes to be shipped and meet them on the loading docks. Competent ghouled limo drivers are worth their weight in gold, while a single mortal or ghouled companion who can take daylight shifts of driving can be invaluable for those who need to use less luxurious means of travel.

Accomodations

The amount of time a city has to prepare for conclave varies according to the kind of event planned. A small conclave called for a trial or regarding a single city is usually announced only a month or so in advance. Since the event is concerned with a smaller audience, it needs less preparation. On the other hand, a regional, national or international conclave that is intended as one of the annual events is usually announced to the public approximately three to four months before the conclave's opening date. A select few in the city, however, have most likely learned the date at least six months before. Some even claim that annual conclave sites are chosen a full three years in advance to allow the prince time to have new hotels built and ensure that there are no conflicting mortal events on the calendar. The hosts of annual conclaves usually inform the prince themselves via formal letter, which requires an equally formal reply. Smaller events receive notice via an archon's visit, which heralds the justicar's arrival. It is an honor for a prince's city to be chosen for conclave, as it reflects the prince's work in keeping the peace and defending against enemies like the Sabbat. Cities under siege or at war are too busy with other concerns to host a conclave, besides being terribly unsafe.

It might seem ideal to host conclave in a city already bustling with other mortal events. After all, the feeding supply is ample, there are enough strangers in town that suspicions cannot be roused by a few more, and another event in an busy town won't attract the attention of hunters or other enemies. However, in a town cramped for living space, such quarters can rapidly become too close. A city's resources become strained to the limit, and the prince of the hosting city is the one who feels the pinch later. Should a mortal visitor or two go missing, the hosting city's tourism and commerce suffers. If one is looking for protective camouflage, a careful balance must be struck between too many mortals and not enough.

A prince who's just been informed that his city is about play host to the world promptly goes into a flurry of activity. Hotels are evaluated for such things as defensibility, staff and room quality with regard to lightproofing (as well as pliability of staff). On occasion, those with influence in the chamber of commerce and tourism industries are requested to have new hotels built. The problem of feeding so many vampires is scrutinized, particularly with consideration of the number of Kindred entering the city and straining resources. Current safety and security are put under the microscope, with troublemakers either put on ice or bribed to stay out of the way. Much in the same way that a city's chamber of commerce puts together a sheet for mortal conventioneers, so does the prince's staff (the keeper of Elysium and sheriff) inform the prince of the city's resources so that he may inform the justicar.

It is rare, but some cities do refuse the honor of hosting conclave. The concern most often cited is sheer numbers. If the city cannot safely support so many visiting vampires' feeding habits without risking the Masquerade, the justicars - who are the bastions of the Traditions - often accept the explanation. Lupine and Sabbat incursions or otherwise compromised security is another troubling matter. If a justicar believes that the prince is refusing on the grounds that there is some potentially dangerous (and illegal) business afoot, however, he may choose to investigate the refusal personally. If the excuses of Lupines and feeding problems show themselves to be without substance, the justicar may then rephrase his request as a command. After all, nothing is out of order for hosting a conclave - why should the prince continue to balk? The prince now has the unpleasant choice of either refusing the command (and thus putting himself and his city hard under suspicion) or allowing the conclave to take place, swallowing whatever happens and finding new living arrangements afterward.

Robert's Rules of Order

Conclave follows a very specific order, based on ancient judicial and monarchical court systems, with Greek democracy, modern developments and vampiric tradition grafted onto the existing frame. The result is a somewhat staid and slow, but effective, administration in action. Those who were members of legislative bodies in life often claim that they feel quite at home in the midst of conclave. As a general rule, vampires are reminded that conclave is to be treated like Elysium, with all the privileges and responsibilities therein.

Seating is traditionally based on age, with the gathered harpies assigned to monitor the proceedings. Clans, especially the Nosferatu and Gangrel, find strength in numbers and arrange themselves as a clan, grabbing a block of seats and filling as members arrive. The youngest vampires are seated in the "cheap seats," which usually have a terrible view of proceedings and make it difficult for the neonates to be seen and heard (which is how many elders claim they like it). Coteries do their best to stay together, but one that has mixed ages may find itself being broken up due to the age-related seating. The only time a younger vampire may be seated with an older one is if she is being escorted by an elder or is herself a particularly noteworthy ancillae, and then she had better be on her best behavior. Neonates and ancillae fill in the "second tier" seating, and a younger vampire is expected to give way to an older one if a seat is in contention. Fighting over a chair is not viewed with humor, and the disagreeing parties are likely to be barred from the session for such bad behavior. Guests - such as ancillae and neonates making presentations - are usually seated near the elders, but not too closely, lest someone take offense. Elders and archons typically sit in front with the best view of the proceedings. The hosting justicar and any others of his standing usually face the assembly, seated and perhaps behind a long table. Ghouls are almost never permitted in during assembly, and never during a trial except for reasons of security or testimony.

For a young vampire, entering conclave session without an experienced guide can be a nerve-wracking experience. Sitting in the section reserved for the elders can be potentially fatal if a touchy elder takes great offense at the mistake, while the harpies watch and make catty comments without offering much help. Most often, a lone vampire who wishes to ensure she makes no howling gaffes watches others seat themselves first and follows their example, taking note of any sidelong looks or facial expressions to gauge her progress. Certainly, any blunders made come back to haunt the young one later in the form of harpy barbs, or perhaps in unwelcome attention from elders in and out of clan.

Mistakes in seating and sundry other etiquette sound like trivial offenses, and not a few ancillae and neonates find the matter utterly ridiculous in relation to the business of conclave itself. Others point out that the conclave and Elysium are events in Kindred society that have true pedigrees, and that these procedures carry the weight of tradition with them. As Elysium has so mutated over the years until it is only somewhat recognizable as a descendant of its original form, there is a sense that at least the conclave must be preserved as closely as possible to its old form. Not a few elders impress on their childer and grandchilder that a conclave is truly like living history. When one considers that a vampire might meet his ancestral line up to the clan's founders, debate in session or clan meetings with brethren Embraced before his mortal great-grandparents were born, or encounter luminaries from history, the notion gains credibility.

The hosting justicar opens proceedings and addresses the assembly, informing them of the business at hand and what must be accomplished at conclave. Any vampires who wish to speak may do so, provided that at least two other members of the assembly support them. This is perhaps the strongest reason for clans and coteries to sit together, as it provides any would-be speaker with supporters at hand; on the other hand, it can easily become a monumental embarrassment if no one chooses to recognize the speaker (and harpies do note those elders and ancillae who have been so snubbed by their peers; neonates so embarrassed are usually let off lightly with just the experience itself as their punishment). That even young vampires may address the conclave (if they have the courage and support to do so) is something that many Camarilla advocates have fought fang and talon to keep; the perks for the young ones are few enough, and those elders who think to take such away from the "children" may risk those children turning their backs on the Camarilla and siding with the anarchs or Sabbat.

Speakers are expected to talk in a reasonable tone and not interrupt one another. An elder may occasionally override a young one, though, and few argue the matter. Arguments may become passionate, but violence is not tolerated. When fisticuffs (or worse) break out, the head of security himself usually arrives to escort the combatants outside or to the brig and waiting stakes. If someone takes passionate offense to a speaker's remarks and the argument is not a productive rebuttal, the two are requested to table any arguments for later or remove themselves from proceedings. Occasionally duels have been fought between Kindred whose disagreements started in conclave session.

Disruptions are not looked on kindly. When the doors to the chambers are closed and business gets underway, the security chief usually finds a good seat that allows him to monitor the entirety of the proceedings. At the first signs of a scuffle, argument or other potential interruption, the chief immediately inserts himself into the matter to ensure that things are either cooled down without incident or the combatants are shown the way to the door. Hecklers are another matter. A heckler who is annoying everyone in general is bounced without mercy, while a heckler who is playing Devil's Advocate is usually requested (with icy politeness) to make his opinions on the floor. Such people either shut up immediately or accept the challenge and are promptly set up to fall on their faces. Those with merit to their arguments who impress the right people and survive their abrupt call to debate get off lightly for disrupting things and a guarantee that they will be watched in the future by a number of factions; a particularly quick-witted heckler can even gain status through his grandstanding.

Voting on issues is a simple matter - each member of the assembly gets one vote. Voting may be accomplished either by raising one's hand at the right time or marking one's vote on a sheet of paper and placing it in a ballot box. This is another of the perks frequently proffered to the young, one which wise leaders do not try to take away. For all the powerlessness that may plague them otherwise, the youth receive (or believe they receive) some measure of control in shaping their futures, which is one of the surest ways to entice anyone. Most of the elders, however, are well-aware that for every neonate or ancilla who votes as she chooses, there are a dozen who are voting to further an agenda, curry favor or save their skins; in fact, most of the elders present are probably watching certain pawns to ensure they follow previously laid plans and vote as they have been instructed.

A conclave called for purposes of trial or a single matter is usually accomplished relatively swiftly and dispersed without too much fanfare. What the attendees do out of chambers is largely up to their own devices. Those conclaves called as annual events or to discuss multiple matters take time to work through a docket of business, then may open the floor for any matters that Kindred may wish to address. Not a few Kindred take this time to bring up problems in their cities and regions that have stymied them, such as abusive elders, growing interference from Setites or Giovanni, or mortals who are proving too powerful and visible for just one city to deal with. Speaking may then be limited by the hosting justicars based on the matter. A call to force a destructive or powerful prince's abdication may result in a request that those who dwell in the prince's city first discuss the matter in chambers, while a prince who is requesting assistance in dealing with particularly troublesome enemies may receive a bevy of interested responses from old and young alike.

Quiet, Please
The right to speak is not the right to speak interminably. The host retains the right to inform a long-winded speaker that she must either conclude or be seated. And, with debate time in such short supply (especially during summer conclaves), filibustering is frowned on as a waste of precious minutes.

Conclaves as Trials

A conclave called for the purposes of a trial is focused sharply on the business at hand, and the justicar presiding allows nothing to interrupt that business. Such is far less about granting the accused a speedy trial and more about getting things done and over with, as such trials can gobble up a great deal of a justicar's valuable time. Because of the problems with security and the time involved, a justicar who finds out his time has been wasted by a frivolous charge can be extremely harsh in his dealings with the accusers; most times they are punished severely, occasionally with Final Death if the justicar is angry enough.

There is nothing in the Traditions body of law that grants a Kindred the right to a trial. Likewise, when trials are permitted, there is nothing particularly modern about the forms. The defendant is automatically assumed to be guilty, and the burden of proof rests with her and any legal defense she is permitted. Only after the charges have all been presented may she begin the arduous task of proving her innocence. In truth, many conclave trials end up being show trials for the Camarilla's mighty fist of justice. Those on trial at conclaves are most often abusive, despotic princes and elders, or Camarilla traitors whose guilt has been conclusively proven in the field. A trial where there is actually doubt in the minds of attendees regarding guilt of the accused is a rare and exciting event.

During a trial, any who have something to contribute to the matter at hand, who have support from at least one other person, and who have sufficient courage may speak up either for or against the defendant. Of course, supporting an unpopular defendant is a risky business, and those who do are usually well-aware of the need to seek out other living arrangements in the event that the defendant is found guilty. It has been known to happen that someone with particularly damning evidence in a case may step up to speak, but certain powers-that-be (such as a prince, powerful elders or a concerted clan's efforts) threaten any who would support her. The justicars frown on witness intimidation, and if they believe that a witness is being threatened, they will stand for her support to speak and may even offer her protection. Such protection, however, is usually only good for as long as the justicars and their agents are in a city, and tends to be conveniently forgotten once the justicars have left.

Trials involving ritual combat or ordeals are frequently very ritualistic, very flashy in a somber manner and very much focused on finding a suitable fate for the accused. Those accused who have chosen to challenge a court's ruling are either desperate or too angry to care, and they will drag as much as they can out of the spectacle. Sometimes, the best they can hope for is a spectacular death that leaves many questions in the minds of its viewers.

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