The Cainite Heresy is a conspiracy of hunters. Originally appearing in Requiem for Rome as a heresy of Roman vampires and their minions, the Heresy reappeared in the modern era as a conspiracy of hunters in the book Night Stalkers.
The Heresy began as a ghoul cult in imperial Rome. The Heresy turned on its undead masters and destroyed them, and subsequently became a sect of vampire-hunters. Somehow, the Heresy survived into the modern era thanks to the patronage of its mysterious Sources.
The Cainite Heresy are dedicated to revealing vampires and their powers to the rest of the world, so that the world can rise up against the blood-thirsty "Descendants of Caine" and destroy them.
Long ago, the Cainites were nomadic. They sometimes took the roles of wandering entertainers, lepers, gypsies, or wandering monks. In this age of cities where it’s easy for a person to vanish, it’s more common for Cainite groups to stay in one place for years or decades at a time. A Cainite cell in New York exists as an invitation-only encounter group for “blood disorders,” meeting every Tuesday and Thursday night. A cell in Cardiff exists around a policy think-tank based in the Welsh Assembly. In Kolkata, nearly a hundred Cainites survive across the Hindu, Muslim and Sikh communities, working under the cover of a union of small businessmen in the many markets and bazaars scattered around that vast, labyrinthine city. A Buenos Aires police detective with a penchant for obscurantism manages a small network of Cainites, some of whom have never even heard of each other—which is how it should be. It’s for their protection. The detective is getting old, however, and he’s losing his edge. He knows he’s going to have to bring others into the group. But who can he trust? And in Philly, they inhabit a basement of a church with all the intensity of the religious cult they once were.
Cainite cells don’t have any one common degree of organization. Some cells have autocratic leaders. Some operate on a democratic basis. Some have committees who choose members when they need to. Secrecy is paramount. Cainite leaders have access to the magics stolen so long ago, and for those things they don’t know, they have the “Sources,” their mysterious suppliers of lore, who provide in various media—notes, e-mails, letters, text messages, whispered messages from passersby— the means to learn more, if the Cainites ask.
Cainites don’t really divide up into factions as such, given how varied they are in practice. But certain ideologies appear again and again. The Cainites don’t always use these labels themselves as such, even though the stereotypes hold true.
Extremists want to see the vampires destroyed now. The only hope for the human race’s survival is a solution to humanity’s vampire problem. They counsel mass destruction, hoping to make the vampires public, so that they might get the world’s governments on their side. They imagine the day when the authorities will know and understand, and dream up plans for means and facilities to imprison and exterminate the undead in vast numbers.
On the other hand, Revolutionists take the view that the authorities and the large media out- lets are hopelessly compromised, and so the mass destruction of the vampires must happen at the hands of the people. They’re the ones who try to get information into mass media, out on the inter- net and in pamphlets handed out on street corners. Unlike the Extremists, who try to appear sensible and reasonable, Revolutionists sometimes come across as wild-eyed, fervent... and a little crazy.
Fatalists comprise the biggest number among the Cainites. They simply believe that although trying to alert authorities and people is all well and good, the only people who really have the tools at hand to defeat the monsters are the Cainites. The danger is that they sometimes have a tendency to take non-Cainite lives a little lightly. And that’s a slippery slope to go down.