The Giovanni are the usurpers of Clan Cappadocian and one of the youngest clans. The Giovanni has historically been both a clan and a family, and more recently a bloodline, due to the formation of Clan Hecata. They Embrace almost exclusively within their family, and are heavily focused on the goals of money and necromantic power.
The Giovanni started as merchants under the name Ioveanus (later anglicized as Jovians) in the Roman Empire. During this time, the family first attempted to call back the dead in what they called Nigrimancy, as business with the dead was not yet stigmatized and ancestor worship was quite common among the Roman population. When Rome fell, the Jovians maintained the independence of their home in Venice and furthered their own researches of what would eventually develop into newer paths of Necromancy, primarily the Sepulchre Path.
By the dawn of the 13th century, the Jovian family name had again shifted linguistically, this time to "Giovani", spelled with one N. The family name would come to adopt the more familiar "Giovanni" spelling around or before the 15th century.
In 1005, in the hollows of Erciyes and under the shadow of Cappadocius's torpid form, Augustus was brought into clan Cappadocian, directly Embraced with the blood of the Founder and under the watch of Japheth and Constancia. While the Embrace is relatively well known, what is not well known is the horse-trading before it.
The Clan of Death, the Cappadocians followed their Founder in a quest to understand the mysteries of death and God, including Cappadocius' plan to diablerize the Almighty. However, lacking knowledge about the soul (the Cappadocians' use of Necromancy focused more on the act of dying than the events afterwards), the Founder began to shop for experts.
Enter the Giovani – "the young ones" – a family of prosperous Venetian traders who had for centuries depended on Necromantic skill to provide a business edge. Interested in expanding his family's power and seeing Vampirism as the route to doing so, Augustus Giovani had been studying the clans and entertaining offers from various vampiric elders for the Embrace. The Cappadocian offer was the most attractive, providing the lowest generation (as well as the most manipulable clan).
As a result, and despite the protests of Cappadocius' eldest childer, the Antediluvian rose from torpor and provided Japheth with a small vial of his blood. Japheth reluctantly did so, draining Augustus and pouring most of Cappadocius' donated blood into the throat of a drained Giovanni (The remainder was hidden by Japheth, the True Vessel becoming a major element Giovani rumor).
Following his ascent into the blood, Augustus Giovani immediately began Embracing his own family. In the course of doing so, the Giovani became something between a bloodline and a cult within the Cappadocian clan. Acknowledged as the experts on Necromancy (and rapidly expanding the field), the Giovani maintained themselves slightly separate from the mother clan. This, as the Giovani claim, is because Augustus had planned to usurp his sire from before he was Embraced.
In 1444, these plans came to fruition. Augustus Giovanni's childe, Claudius Giovanni formed a conspiracy to diablerize Japheth, the most beloved of Cappadocius' childer. The Conspiracy of Isaac was a criminal force in itself, but ultimately a distraction – since Hardestadt and other founders of the Camarilla had turned their eye towards the diablerie of elder vampires, Augustus wanted a catspaw, an obvious plan to distract them while he went after the greater prize. In 1444, both plans were completed, with Japheth and Cappadocius dead and both leading Giovanni lowered a generation. The betrayal of Cappadocius and his childer was later called the "Bite" among Giovanni family members.
Taking advantage of the chaos of the era, Augustus began a purge of the Cappadocians that, while taking centuries to wipe out the stragglers, would be sufficiently successful that by 1528, he could negotiate a peace with the Camarilla, also known as the Promise of 1528. The Giovanni were left alone and left the Camarilla alone, exactly as the Giovanni wanted it.
The ultimate goal of the clan was outlined by Augustus Giovanni after reviewing Cappadocius' original plan. Clan Giovanni acquired the bulk of its power by the hold it maintained over wraiths, so by tearing down the Shroud, the clan of Death would be able to increase its power beyond conception. Giovanni outlined plans to do so, with the most difficult goal being the acquisition of vast numbers of souls to enact the necromantic rituals necessary.
From 1528 onwards, the Giovanni were basically left alone to pursue their goals. By opting out from the increasingly hot Camarilla/Sabbat wars, their resources were devoted to three goals: increasing necromantic knowledge, acquiring additional financial clout, and eliminating the remaining Cappadocians and Lamia. Each of these goals tied back into their eventual plan to tear down the Shroud: Necromantic knowledge to acquire the souls, finance to increase the soul supply by buying slaves and engineering economic disasters, and eliminating Cappadocians to keep the only possible squealers tightly shut.
During this period, the Giovanni involved themselves in a variety of occult activities, primary through the clan's notorious scholar Ambrogino Giovanni. At the same time, the Giovanni made bargains with entities like the Capuchin to acquire Necromantic information.
The Giovanni used the age of discovery and colonialism to gain footholds within new states like the United States through their mortal merchant relatives. As trade got more and more important for the wealth and influence of a nation, many Giovanni were able to accumulate large financial reserves for themselves. It was during this time, that the Giovanni, despite being reviled as incestuous graverobbers, proved themselves to be one of the most influential kindred clans within mortal society and often this gave them the upper edge in Kindred politics.
The Giovanni managed to control nearly every Camarilla and Sabbat city in Italy with their vast financial resources and their wraiths servants (except for the Vatican and Malta, as both are claimed by other powerful forces). Many especially young Giovanni traveled in other states during this time in order to further the influence and finding new financial sources and some families who can expand the clans necromantic knowledge, like the Pisanob that were recruited during the seventeenth century.
During the two World Wars, the plans of Augustus Giovanni were set back, because the two Maelstroms damaged the infrastructure of the Shadowlands and cost them many of their wraith servants.
In the beginning of the twentieth century, the Giovanni were riding high. They had expanded the clan into other families (notably the Milliners, della Passaglia, Pisanob, and Ghiberti), seemingly wiped out the last of the Cappadocians and their Lamia protectors, and prepared to rend the Shroud and bring the dead to the living.
By the end of the century, things had gone pear shaped. Mysterious vampires, the Harbingers of Skulls, claimed vengeance on the clan for reasons unknown, the Sixth Great Maelstrom shredded wraith society, and the apocalyptic events of the Week of Nightmares destroyed their spiritual assets.
As the Final Nights ran out, the Giovanni began to wonder if maybe they had made a mistake. Maybe Augustus Giovanni had underestimated the Antediluvians; maybe the dead would become more potent if the Shroud were pulled down. Maybe Caine was real and in the end all of these petty plays and power moves had been nothing but a diversion until Gehenna.
By the late 2010s, Augustus Giovanni was known by some to no longer be in the picture. It is not clear what has happened to him; he may have met his Final Death, been diablerized, or simply gone into hiding. Still, a large host of Wraiths and Spectres once under his control have now been released, exacting revenge on the Giovanni.
In the wake of this, the Giovanni, Harbingers of Skulls, Lamiae, Samedi, Nagaraja, and Cappadocian remnants have merged into a single clan organization called the Hecata. The Second Inquisition took out a huge part of their elders and it is implied the Harbingers got most of the others involved in the Cappadocian genocide.
Curiously, and although it is not widely known, the Giovanni and Hecata are immune to the Beckoning.
The Giovanni are a highly organized clan, consisting of a network of interrelated families who share a common culture and fealty to the ancestral Giovanni family. As a result, despite popular conception, not all Giovanni are Italian.
The Giovanni are organized as something between a highly ruthless mafia dynasty and a highly ruthless corporation. Clan operations are overseen by a hierarchy of capos, padrones and maestros. Favors such as financial responsibilities (and rewards), ghouling, and the Embrace are dependent on performance; vicious backstabbing and cutthroat competition are the order of the day in a Giovanni household.
The Giovanni maintain their own internal Masquerade. A member of the family may be aware that his family is into some weird stuff, but beyond the relatively benign (in comparison) incest and high-finance backstabbing, be blissfully unaware that he is a catspaw for cannibalistic blood-drinking necromancers.
Decisions in the Giovanni are made by councils of elders known as the Anziani, with age, rank and competence all playing a role. Elders who are not Anziani are given the courtesy title nonno/nonna instead. Giovanni are highly family-oriented, even after the Embrace, and will spend centuries guiding their descendants for the greater good of the family (and themselves).
The Giovanni are a new clan compared to other major clans that populate the World of Darkness, and as such, there are no bloodlines originating from them. There are, however, some families that were incorporated into the Giovanni.
Of course, the "pure" Giovanni still think of themselves superior to those who were Embraced into the clan, but not born into the main branch of the family – they even have a phrase for it: Unico sangue or "single blooded", while those who come from the subordinate families are called Doppio sangue, or "double blooded". However, the doppio sangue are still considered much more meritorious than other vampires.
The major families brought into the Giovanni are:
- Dunsirn - Scottish bankers and cannibals
- Milliner - American financiers brought into the family in the 1950s
- Pisanob - Mexican necromancers
The minor families associated with the clan are:
- Della Passaglia - An Italian family focusing on the Far East
- Ghiberti - Another Italian family of necromancers with an active interest in Africa
- Puttanesca - Sicilian thugs with a nasty temper
- Rosselini - Accomplished though forceful necromancers. Considered equal to the main family
There are also lesser families related to the clan through marriage. These are:
- Beryn - Flemish traders with inroads into Africa
- Hidalgo - Another Mexican branch rumored to be wiped out by the Sabbat
- Li Weng - Chinese geomancers based out of San Francisco's Chinatown
- Koenig - German arms manufacturers and death-cultists
- St. John - Cabal of English Masons
- Rothstein - Jewish-American Kabbalists centered in Las Vegas
- Main article: Premascine
The Premascines are a sort of throwback to the vitae of the Giovanni forebears, the Cappadocians. They suffer from the ghastly corpse-like pallor of the Graverobbers, and are able to learn the Mortis Path of Necromancy without a teacher. The main Giovanni Clan, in particular the older members, are extremely suspicious of the Presmascines, particularly those who demonstrate any proficiency with Mortis.
Bloodline Abilities (V5)
As a member of Clan Hecata, a Giovanni can purchase the following abilities:
- A Cousin’s Ear: The Giovanni is entitled to ask direct questions of other Giovanni once per session, at the cost of having to answer a question in return. They are also entitled to a favor from mortal family members once per story, equivalent to 3 dots in Allies.
- Faded Glamour: The Giovanni retains some cachet in the Hecata, despite the fact that it is not wholly their clan anymore. Once per session, the Giovanni is permitted one automatic success to any social roll against another Hecata Kindred, ghoul, or Retainer.
- Petty Cash: The Giovanni is a favored childer, and has access to a substantial bank account, with 4 free dots to spread about Resources and Retainer Backgrounds. These can be revoked at any time by the elders if they are crossed by the childer.
- Spectre Servant: The Giovanni has inherited a spectre servant, which acts as a 5-dot Ally (4 dots in Effectiveness and 1 in Reliability).
- Aspiring Anziani: The Giovanni proved to be a shrewd political operator during the Family Reunion, earning 5 dots of Status among the Hecata, and can get a private audience with the Capuchin every few stories.
In many ways, the Giovanni are a Ghoul family with less visibly disgusting parts. This does not mean the Giovanni are not as warped as the Bratovitch clan; the Giovanni are repulsive and degenerate in a more subtle manner. It is said that younger generations of the Giovanni were found to be very attractive. Some even say they put on the irresistible look of a succubi pre-change. Also, some are known to be shape-shifters.
Effective Giovanni are sadistic Giovanni. Controlling wraiths means acquiring fine control over a variety of psychological levers (understanding Passions and Fetters) and then ruthlessly manipulating these tools to make a spirit do what you want. The Giovanni have been cruel, manipulative, and vicious since before the diablerie of Cappadocius, and it bleeds out into everything else they do. The outer shell of the Giovanni clan, the public face is less visibly cruel and horrid, but only because these vampires are explicitly tasked to deal with the outside world.
The most notorious example of this bleed off is the Giovanni Proxy Kiss. Giovanni make an art out of ghouling, since ghouling is a rite of passage for the Giovanni – ghouling means that the Giovanni is now part of the people who make the family work. Not necessarily a mover and shaker, but something akin to a made man: the Masquerade is pulled back and the truth about vampires is revealed. Giovanni tend to make Proxy Kisses aesthetic efforts, and take a point in pride in producing especially memorable or mind-destroying ones – blood received via fellatio, blasphemous masses and the like are all popular choices. In a similar vein, to be made into one of the undead is a great deal, celebrated in a semi-public event within the family to allow the childe-to-be the last pleasures of the mortal world. The Bacio della Morte, the "Kiss of Death", is conducted in a ritual matter, with the mortal childe wearing its best clothes before disrobing itself before the sire, offering himself to the undead being before him. Afterwards, the fledgling Giovanni is first inducted into the art of feeding in a formal dinner, likely making its first official alliances with its kind.
The sadism and weirdness of Giovanni internal culture is enhanced by its incestuous nature. Giovanni can spend the majority of their lives interacting with nobody except other Giovanni, and the resulting insularity breeds additional problems. The Giovanni are, in particular, arrogant and prone to underestimating the world around them.
The Giovanni are, if anything, severely lapsed Catholics. Due to their practice of Necromancy, they have seen what "the other side" and "life beyond death" really mean, which tends to completely eradicate any faith in a benevolent deity. Giovanni, in a ways similar to the Lasombra Clan, often present the appearance of Catholicism in ritual and Family culture, but have twisted the vestments all around to better fit a vampiric frame. They may attend a certain kind of Mass, where the holy water is blood and the priest a Family elder, but these sorts of ceremonies tend to devolve into orgies, massacres, or other kinds of deviant practices behind closed doors.
The Giovanni relationship to the spirit world means that they have a very casual attitude towards such things as torture, dismemberment, and death. After all, if your victim dies in the chair, you can always yank his spirit back from Hell and get information out of him another way. What the Giovanni are really focused on is efficiency: bribery, seduction, and all other sorts of underhanded means are taught to new members of the Clan as a matter of course. If all other methods fail, then killing off the competition becomes a very viable alternative.
The Giovanni do not Embrace outside of the family; they do not Embrace without permission. Not if they know what is good for them at least. In 1444, Claudius Giovanni Embraced a non-Giovanni peasant girl named Marianna into the clan as a distraction. For 500 years Marianna was a constant embarrassment for the clan. She is also the only family outsider to have been Embraced and to survive longer than a month.
Recent information from the 20th Anniversary Edition contradicts this hardline stance against Embracing outside the family or its auxiliary families. For example, Lore of the Clans states that it is extremely rare for non-Giovanni who do not belong to one of the satellite families to be Embraced and the chances are slim but "it has happened before and it will happen again". In either case the numbers are very small.
Like everything else in the family, the Embrace is treated as a reward, a promotion for good service. More than any other clan, the Giovanni actively consider factors of generation in the Embrace – being Embraced by a lower-generation clan member is considered a performance bonus.
While not uncommon, it is frowned upon to Embrace another of your own mortal family. This would encourage nepotism, and Giovanni much prefer to have the loyalty of their neonates as divided as possible within the family. When a Giovanni puts one of his own grandsons forward for the Embrace, it is much more likely that a Giovanni from another family branch will execute the deed. Even better for the clan if those Giovanni are rivals – since the neonate now has loyalty to his own grandmother and his own sire, which forces (somewhat) the two elders to avoid plotting against the other, lest the new childe betray either of them.
The clan weakness of Giovanni causes that they deal more damage than normal when biting a living being, making it difficult to keep people alive after feeding from them.
- Of the independent clans introduced in The Players Guide, the Giovanni changed the least. This is particularly interesting because out of these clans, the Giovanni had the most ink spilled over them.
- Unpublished material written for Ascension indicates that the reason the Giovanni ultimately want to tear down the Shroud between worlds is because the concept of Necromancy was memetically poisoned by Voormas to help break the Cycle of creation.
|Vampire: The Masquerade Clans|
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