The Traditions of the Camarilla are the set of six major rules that compose the supreme law of the Camarilla, the major organization of Vampire society for most of human history. Supposedly handed down by Caine himself, in reality they were only codified in the late middle ages, when the birth of the Inquisition and the first major campaigns of the Roman Catholic Church to exterminate Vampires drove Vampire society into hiding.
The Traditions Themselves
There are six major traditions:
- Masquerade: Hide the existence of Vampires. Don't let yourself be discovered by mortals, don't expose other vampires to Mortals as a weapon in our internal squabbles.
- Domain: A city is a Prince's territory, and he rules it in company with the Clan Elders of his city. An individual vampire's hunting ground within that city is his territory, and he rules it absolutely.
- Progeny: Embrace a new Childe only with the permission of your Clan Elders and the Prince of your city. Do not let our numbers threaten the Masquerade or the Domain of others.
- Accounting: Until Childer are released by their sire, the Sire is responsible for the actions of the Childe, and the Childe owes absolute obedience to their Sire.
- Hospitality: Honor the Domains of others, and formally present yourself to the ruler of any domain or city you visit. Protect and honor visitors within your own domain, lest their inexperience with the local conditions lead to a breaking of the Masquerade.
- Destruction: The right to kill Vampires is reserved for the Eldest of each clan in a city, or the the Prince of a city. Only an Elder can call a Blood Hunt, and order the final death of a vampire who has broken the traditions.
The Camarilla enforced these traditions in the centuries leading up to Gehenna, and was mostly successful in keeping the peace between the various clans, and in keeping mortal society ignorant of the existence of Vampires. Anarchs and the Sabbat chafed under these restrictions, and either sought to separate themselves from Vampire society in order to live freely, or to overthrow Vampire society in order to have the power to rewrite the rules themselves. The Sabbat especially flouted the traditions whenever they thought they could get away with it, but mostly kept to the Masquerade at least, depending on the Masquerade's efficacy to protect them from the wrath of the far more numerous mortals.
Gehenna shattered the Masquerade, and with it the foundation of the Traditions. Once everyone knew that Vampires existed, it became difficult to maintain one's domain or keep track of one's Childer. But the Masquerade, broken though it was, became even more important than ever. Keeping the existence of Vampires in general a secret was no longer an option, but keeping the identity and location of individual vampires and their safehouses a secret became even more vital than before. Those vampires who remained in mortal society, rather than retreat to the Wraithlands or move to the Kingdom of Enoch, mostly became masters of hiding in the shadows and underworld of human society. Even when vampires became numerous enough and powerful enough to exert powerful control over mortal society from behind the scenes, as they often did on Wilke's Star, whenever that influence became strong enough to be noticed, the Tech Infantry would arrive in force to cleanse the system of the undead. As incomplete as those campaigns tended to be, they nevertheless killed thousands or millions of vampires each time, disrupting organizations and hierarchies, and leading to decades of internal conflict as the vampiric power structure was re-established. Even in the Kingdom of Enoch, the Camarilla enforced most of the Traditions, partly out of force of habit, partly out of practical necessity. The humans in Enoch needed to be kept from rebelling, and to be seen by their fellow humans in the Federation as well enough treated to not have their liberation be seen as an urgent excuse for war.
Once the Enoch system was destroyed and the rest of the Kingdom absorbed into the Federation, Vampires were driven underground once more. With the last of the Antediluvians seemingly dead, the Sabbat became the most powerful force in Vampiric Society...but they found themselves forced by necessity to observe the spirit if not the letter of the law of the Traditions, lest Crusader Teams wipe them out entirely. The Ascension War and its aftermath solidified the Sabbat's position as the new organized core of undead society, and the Purchase Pact and Code of Milan replaced the Traditions as the formal legal framework for Vampire Society, but the new Masquerade is still the core of their survival strategy.