From Unofficial Handbook of the Virtue Universe
n. (fem. -ue) unknown person; stranger.
The Inconnu is a fictional sect of vampires in the World of Darkness, the setting of White Wolf's role-playing series of vampire games. The Inconnu is composed of Kindred elders who have shunned the Jyhad of the Camarilla and Sabbat, instead focusing their attentions to the attainment of enlightenment.
Origins of the Inconnu
Long ago, as the peoples of the Adriatic began to organize themselves into small city-states, a coalition of the vampiric clans Ventrue, Lasombra, Malkavian and True Brujah infiltrated the sanctity of the world of mortal men. Throughout the Greek-speaking world, this coalition of the Undead secretly backed the ruling democracies which came to dominate the eastern Mediterranean, both militarily and culturally. Within a few brief decades, the league of Undead had come to manipulate the Greek peoples, the Phoenicians, and the Etruscans.
It was with the success of the Greek world’s prosperity fresh in their eternal memories, that the coalition turned its attentions to these Etruscans, the adventurous sea-fearing merchants of the Mediterranean. In this tribe, the Undead found their new seat of power, behind which they would secretly rule the whole of the civilized world.
Upon the founding of the Seven Cities on the Hills, the coalition fractured into a loose federation, each clan backing the oligarchies of particular cities. The men of these cities, in their mortal ignorance, made war with one another, but the Undead puppeteers’ coalition continued in the shadows. It was not until the founding of the city of Rome that the coalition once again reunited and in time, by the guidance of these immortal statesmen, the city of Rome grew to be a great seat of power, the capital of one of the world’s greatest domains. The coalition of the Undead controlled the great Senate of Rome, and in that, controlled all of Rome itself.
It was during this era of great power in Rome that an enemy faction for both the Undead coalition and mortal men alike, arose from the cosseted northern coast of the African continent. Carthage, a city founded by a people long ago neglected and forgotten by the Roman coalition, was rising to a state of power which threatened the absolute dominance of Rome, backed by a vampire clan called Brujah. When the coalition had long ago moved their interests to the Etruscans, who in turn later became the Romans, they lost concern for another people, The Phoenicians of the East. The Brujah embraced this tribe and under their patronage, the city flourished.
The Brujah, in hopes of re-founding the First City, welcomed into their city a handful of immortals from the clan Toreador, and under their new masters the Carthaginians’ society was cultivated to a state of high civilization.
Rumors that the people of Carthage sacrificed their children to the Brujah, who drank their blood and deceived their people under the guise of the deity [Baal], quickly spread to the coalition of Rome. In a series of wars, now known to history as the Punic Wars, the Roman coalition destroyed Carthage, and the Brujah and their few Toreador guests fled to barbarian lands.
After the fall of Carthage, however, many of clan Toreador flocked to Rome which resulted in a period of true artistic enlightenment, while the Lasombra clan lost interest in the coalition and moved west into the Iberian lands. Clan Ventrue, having been the driving force of the Republic, settled into the position of benefactor.
The exact date has been lost in the void of time, but sometime after the reign of Caesar Augustus, the Toreador allied with the Malkavians and overthrew the Ventrue, wresting control of the Empire. It was during this period in history that the Toreador-Malkavian coalition led Rome to conquer to Tzimisce-controlled territories of Dacia and Ventrue, meanwhile, had traveled north, into the lands of the Germanic barbarians, and in time aided by the Tzimisce, pushed these barbarians under the leadership of Alaric to attack the Roman Empire, which had been steadily crumbling since the ousting.
The coalition was reformed after the fall of the Empire, consisting of Ventrue, Malkavian and Tzimisce, though the Toreador refused, holding a childish grudge against the Ventrue for toppling their toy empire.
Time passed and the Dark Ages were ushered in by pious monks claiming impending apocalypse. The coalition yearned for the glory of the days of the Republic, and attempted to back several potential replacements, including the French Merovingian dynasty. It was, however, in the Roman Catholic Church that they found their future. In every shadow throughout the Papal lands the undead lurked and schemed at a frantic pace, often finding that their manipulations had cross those of another. “The Order” as they now called themselves, worked secretly and silently, becoming more of a sect of hermits that anything else. It was because of this new secretive demeanor that other Undead christened them “Ignoti,” meaning “The Unknown.”
There have been several explanations for The Order’s self-seclusion; the fear which resulted from the diablerizations of Saulot of Clan Salubri by the newly formed Tremere, the diablerization of Brujah, and the Anarch Revolt. Amongst the Elder vampires of The Order, the terrifying fear of diablerization became an ever-present threat to their immortality, as diablerie was now a viable way for younger, more zealous Neonates to gain instantaneous power. The agents of The Order withdrew from the pursuit of material matters in favor of seeking higher truths, an enlightened state known to the Undead as Golconda.
Further events, such as the diablerization of Ashur (Cappadocius) by his progeny, The Giovanni, a family of Necromancers and gouls, led members of The Order into a final retreat to Hunedoara Castle, in Eastern Europe. Fearing incursion, The Order even went so far as to summon a demonic spirit which shielded Hunedoara Castle by means of dark incantation.
The Order formed The Council of Twelve, which ruled on matters of judicial importance. As a final step in protecting themselves, The Council of Twelve devised a code of conduct in which all members were expected to abide. These restrictions outraged many members, the most noted being Mithras, the Prince of London, who temporarily left the order in protest.
Over the course of history, many from all clans grew weary of the Jyhad between the Sabbat and the Camarilla, and have forsaken their Blood Bonds to each, finding a home in the protection of the Inconnu.
Responsibilities of the Inconnu
Agents of the Inconnu have very few rules by which they are expected to abide, and even those they are expected to follow are rarely enforced. There is, however, one rule which must never been broken; agents of the Inconnu must remain apart from the Jyhad. Even such mundane activities as congenial contact with non-Inconnu Childer is expected to be brief and disinterested.
Though the Inconnu have pledged their unending support to the preservation of the vampiric species, members are not forbidden from destroying vampires in self defense, or any other reason. Killing Inconnu brethren, however, is treated with the highest degree of severity, and the offender is hunted down and himself destroyed.
Heirarchy of the Inconnu
The Council of Twelve
- The Council of Twelve is the ruling assembly of the Inconnu, headed by the Councilor, Cret, who is also the Monitor of the Tremere, and eleven others. Councilors retain their position and title for the duration of their unlifespan. New members are never elected to the position of Councilor, rather chosen from a list drawn up by the Councilors themselves. This list is in a constant state of revision.
- The Council’s duties, at present, comprise collecting and correlating reports from the various Monitors, as well as administering justice. The Council could potentially serve in a greater capacity, but chooses to maintain a weak role in the lives of its members.
- Any city, state, province or region which houses fifty Kindred or more, is appointed a Monitor whose duty it is to report and unusual activity concerning the various factions of the Jyhad. This is generally thought to mean the appearance of new bloodlines, super or preternatural incursion, or drastic shifts in Kindred society and politics.
- Many Monitors are seen by those outside the Inconnu as omnipotent, tyrannical individuals, who have deposited spies everywhere. This is only true in a few instances, as the style of each Monitor varies greatly. Some Monitors even take little to no interest at all in their domain.
- The Inconnu also maintain Monitors for the varied Kindred clans, whose duty it is to study their history, politics, etc.
- The Agents of the Inconnu serve in a variety of capacities, ranging from the Monitor’s assistants, to spies or historians. The title of Agent is truly the most versatile position a member of the Inconnu can carry.
Membership within the Inconnu
One cannot simply join the ranks of the Inconnu by asking; when one has expressed a true desire to exempt himself from the Jyhad, as well as displayed the wisdom and power to make the separation from one’s previous unlife, the Inconnu shall extend an invitation.
Generational age (The proximity in generation to Caine) is one of the deciding qualifications for membership within The Order. (A generation of six or older has been set.) Should diablerie have been used in order to gain rank, The Order considers the number of years ago the act occurred, as well as whether or not said act should be considered a “youthful indiscretion.” Closeness to Caine is essentially paramount.
Potentials are met privately by two members of the Inconnu, who extend invitation. Before embarking on membership, all bonds made before inception to The Order are severed and considered null and void.
Factions of the Inconnu
Like most sects in Kindred society, the Inconnu has been split amongst its members several times. Unlike the sects of the Sabbat or the Camarilla, however, because the Inconnu are so decentralized, such differences in ideologies do not cause schisms. Most factions surface and disappear, taking little effect on Inconnu society as a whole, however, there have been two factions which have survived the centuries and pursue their own agendas into the present age. These two factions are the Seekers and the Purifiers.
Hundreds of years ago, at the time of the factional formations, membership was nearly equal in numbers, though through the ages, The Purifiers have become the more numerous. It is against the nature of the Inconnu to suppress others or their ideologies, so The Seekers, albeit few in numbers, enjoy the same rights and privileges as their counterparts, The Purifiers.
The Seekers are a faction whom strives to achieve Golconda, (Vampiric ‘Nirvana,’ if you will.) as the highest form enlightenment. Seekers who have attained Golconda already, or those who do not devote their sole existence to the attainment, often take it upon themselves to seek out and find others attempting Golconda, and aid in their way. To the Seekers, the true fulfillment of the Kindred species will manifest itself when all have achieved Golconda and accepted their nature.
Though their title would imply a sinister nature, the Purifiers are a faction as benign as their Seeker counterparts. The Purifiers, however, are the more rational of the two factions, embracing the modern age rather than shunning it. This faction boldly holds that through the implementation of modern sciences and arcane magic, Kindred society will overcome their limitations.
The Eternal Blight: Diablerie
Due to the lack of an internal policing body, like the Sabbat’s Inquisition, the threat of diablerie is a constant fear for members of the Order. Most within view this action as a barbaric, immoral means to attaining their chosen path to Golconda, and some even hold that diablerie is a backwards step to vampiric enlightenment. However, percentages of diabolists within the Inconnu are higher than any other sect, and this is a direct result of the relaxed decentralized governing environment. The bonds of friendship formed by members are often strong enough to provide an intricate system of defense, in case of diabolist incursion
The Demon Bahoumet
When the Anarch Revolt swept across Kindred society, Cret and the Council of Twelve, in a desperate measure for self-preservation, initiated a magical ritual and summoned a demonic being who called himself Bahoumet. Bahoumet promised the Council that he would cast a great incantation over Hunedoara, keeping it isolated for eternity, in return for a mass human sacrifice. One year after the casting of the incantation, however, Bahoumet appeared to Cret, and informed him that his magical trick could not maintain for eternity, but rather was only powerful enough to last the span of one year. Since this time, the Council of Twelve has been bound to perform the rite of sacrifice every year, in an isolated chamber deep within Hunedoara.
Key Locations of the Inconnu
From the time of the group’s conception, long before they were even known as “Inconnu,” the catacombs beneath Roman cities were used as meeting grounds by members of the Order. Rome, Paris, and Constantinople were all widely used, and so too was Venice until members were forced to abandon it due to severe flooding. Many have charged that the flooding was simply an excuse to evacuate, and the true reason for the abandonment was due to the increased presence of the Giovanni, though Cret, a Nosferatu and Monitor of Clan Giovanni, still inhabits one of the remaining waterless tunnels. The catacombs under the city of Rome are still a valuable location to the Inconnu, partially because there are so few Kindred within the city itself, and because those that do inhabit Rome, namely Clan Nosferatu, are often valued scholars within the ranks of the Inconnu.
Hunedoara Castle has come to be known as the unofficial headquarters of the Inconnu sect. Even before the Inconnu adopted the policy of removing themselves from Kindred politics, Hunedoara Castle had been a key location, proving members of the Order a comfortable resting place, nestled deep in the Carpathian. Shortly after the Anarch revolt, when the fear of diablerization and Final Death swept through the ranks of Inconnu society, the Council of Twelve gathered upon Hunedoara and initiated a dark, magical ritual, in which they summoned a demonic being who called himself Bahoumet. In exchange for the sacrifice of human blood, Bahoumet created a miasmatic barrier that shielded Hunedoara from worldly incursions.
Shalkamense, also sometimes called Shalkamain, is the name of the great hidden archives of the Inconnu. Few know the true location of this massive library, but many have alleged that its location is somewhere on the bottom of the ocean; which ocean, however, is never specified. It is said to be a complex vast beyond the imaginations of even those most inspired. Shalkamense houses an incalculable wealth of books and manuscripts, most dating back to the time of the First and Second Cities, and even boasts the complete text of the Book of Nod. In recent years, members of the Kindred community have charged that Shalkamense is also the resting place of Caine, Set, and countless other Antediluvians. When confronted with this accusation, members of the Inconnu will simply offer a smile and nothing more, guarding the secrets of Shalkamense with their immortal lives. Those within the community who have connected the name Shalkamense with a place called “Zemergad,” claim that according to Rabbinical lore, it is actually Lilith who lives within the library complex. No one, not even the Inconnu themselves, truly know whose presence is felt within the archives, but all agree that there is, undeniably, a powerful entity in residence.
Geneva, as well as Zurich, are the cities in which Guilliame, Price of Switzerland and Liechtenstein, has invited the Kindred of the Inconnu community, to freely gather in. Many Inconnu who feel Hunedoara is far too remote a location in which to travel to, instead favor Guilliame’s residence as the location for socializing and the propagation of information.
The Rouge Isles
Though it is only recently that Kindred have begun to settle in the small, independent nation off the coast of the American north-eastern seaboard, known simply as “The Rouge Isles,” the Jyhad has quickly erupted here. As the Sabbat and Camarilla infiltrate society in this island nation, so too have the Inconnu taken interest; The Agents of the Inconnu are everywhere, lurking within the shadows, all the while chronicling the particulars of the immortals’ conflict