The leaders of the Sabbat, clan Lasombra are social Darwinists, predators, elegant, and inhuman. Firm believers in the worthy ruling and the unworthy serving, the Lasombra have maintained their traditions even as they have turned the Sabbat to their own purposes.
Due to their inherent clan weakness, Lasombra vampires cast no reflections. They cannot be seen in mirrors, bodies of water, reflective windows, polished metals, photographs and security cameras, etc. This curious anomaly even extends to the clothes they wear and objects they carry. Many Kindred believe that the Lasombra have been cursed in this manner for their vanity. Additionally, due to their penchant for darkness, Lasombra take an extra level of damage from sunlight.
In Fifth Edition, Lasombra have a Bane: They are halfway drawn into the Abyss, operating on a different wavelength of reality than other vampires. Their reflections and recordings distort, flicker, or become transparent (though this does not conceal their identity with any certainty), live or otherwise. Microphones have the same difficulty with the vampire's voice as cameras have with their image, and touch technology becomes unresponsive at best. Similarly, modern technology relying on other forms of direct interaction — such as use of a stylus — tends to glitch or simply act unresponsive to Magisters, and electronic detection systems easily pick up the tell-tale signs of their passing. It’s as if they exist on a slightly different frequency to other beings, flickering in and out of light. To directly use modern technology, the Lasombra must make a Technology test at a Difficulty of 2 plus their Bane Severity. Many Lasombra have attendants to handle technology for them. Their anomalous nature makes it harder to avoid vampire detection systems, with the Lasombra suffering a penalty on those rolls equal to Bane Severity.
Clan Lasombra also have a Compulsion: Ruthlessness. To the Lasombra, failure is not an option. Their Blood urges them to increasingly ruthless measures when the Beast flares and they are faced with failure. The next action they fail after suffering this Compulsion causes all rolls to receive a two-dice penalty until a future attempt at the same action succeeds.
Several thousand years ago, a tribe of proto-Maasai people were ordered by a pale spirit to produce a child for him. This child was trained to lead by having every member of the tribe obey him, and he was trained to be loyal by extensive gifts and rewards from the Lasombra Antediluvian. The experiment failed, and Lasombra punished the tribe by wiping out half of its population. Before rerunning the experiment, Lasombra was visited by his child's playmate, Ontai. This shaman-in-training offered his life to Lasombra – in life, death, and beyond, with no price asked. Lasombra, disturbed by the offer and Ontai's already impeccable honor, tested the shaman's resolve by demanding he slaughter his tribe. Ontai obeyed, and a shaken Lasombra called off the execution and embraced Ontai, renaming him Montano, and bringing him to the Mediterranean. Thereafter, Lasombra was always uncertain whether his childe's unswerving honor had gotten the better of him.
From the very beginning, the Lasombra have been tied to the sea. Sicily, where Lasombra had his lair, was the center of the Clan, from which they inserted themselves into various seafaring cultures that arose. It is said, that after the eruption of Thera, the Lasombra Antediluvian began various lengthy travels, leaving his progeny free to discover the world around them. Reveling in piracy and the freedom of the sea, most Lasombra fought against both Greeks and Romans, refusing to accept the feeding rights of any Cainite overlords. Others traveled to Iberia and the lands of the Roman Republic. Some particular adventurous even traveled so far as China, where their broods still survive secluded and hidden away from the wrathful Cathayans. Together with the Ventrue and Malkavians, the Lasombra clan ruled over the Roman Empire until it dissolved. While the Ventrue left for the north and the Malkavians were seen with suspicion and fear now, the Lasombra remained.
- Motto: Morte Ascendō (Latin: "In Death, I Rise")
In medieval times, the Lasombra were centered around the mediterranean in the feudal realm of the Sea of Shadows as one of the High Clans, headed by their Antediluvian himself. The Lasombra were heavily involved with the religious institutions of this age, particularly the Roman Catholic Church and with Islam, leading to an internal conflict between the two factions within the Clan that resulted in the Shadow Reconquista in Spain, where both sides battled against each other for control over the peninsula. Most Lasombra had strong ties to the clerics and nobility and were able to utilize them to their own endings.
The Anarch Revolt
According to clan legend, [Lasombra]'s last childe, Gratiano de Veronese, was the one who slew the Antediluvian with the aid of a coterie of Assamites, instigating the Anarch Revolt and the resulting chaos (although many Tzimisce challenge that claim). Many Lasombra flocked behind Gratiano, hoping to overthrow their scheming sires and gain their power. Most among them refused the Convention of Thorns, seeing it as submission to the despised Ventrue and the kine without even proper negotiations.
In the early renaissance, the Lasombra had just become the leaders of the Sabbat. Their political and commercial power had weakened and they have turned to more brutal practices, such as piracy, even shifting their focuses from the dwindling Spanish kingdoms to Dutch pirates and opportunities in the New World. Their main focuses have been the eradication of the Camarilla, particularly their Lasombra antitribu clansmen.
During this time the influence of the Church upon people's lives declined. As a result, Lasombra influence became more indirect as the years progressed. Like many other clans, the Lasombra began to influence the bourgeoisie, where most of the world's finances now flowed from. Unlike other Clans who had previously infested religious organizations, the Lasombra did not turn away from churches – indeed, the Lasombra are infamous even in the modern nights for their powerful grasp in religious circles, particularly the Catholic Church.
During this Age, many Lasombra sat down to codify the ancient Roads and clan-specific traditions into proper Paths of Enlightenment to create substitutes to Humanity within the Black Monastery. In the New World, various Sabbat Civil Wars threatened the rule of the Clan over the Sabbat and forced them to restructure the sect several times. The Purchase Pact defined the enemies of the sect to end various infightings (Antediluvian catspaws, Infernalists and Camarilla pawns) while the revised version of the Code of Milan formalized a more structured approach to intern control. In both cases, the Clan were heavily involved into these revisions.
Whether they approve or not, Clan Lasombra has changed with the times. Where once the elitist ideals saw that only those of certain lineages, ethnicities or religions were Embraced, the Clan now recruits from all walks of life. Financial influence is now increasingly important to them due to the establishment of global economy, and the Lasombra are the clan mainly responsible for bankrolling much of the Sabbat's operations in modern nights.
The Lasombra still hunt their hated antitribu, although fewer and fewer exist each night. The fervour with which their brothers are hunted has brought about a Darwinism of its own – those antitribu surviving are generally the oldest and wiliest Keepers to still walk the earth.
Perhaps most embarrassing for the Clan was the defection of Gian Galeazzo Visconti. A former Cardinal, he was a signatory on the Code of Milan, one of the Sabbat's most important documents. At the end of the 20th century, Giangaleazzo gathered all of Milan's Cainites to his castle. From the balcony of his haven, he announced that he would no longer be a part of the Sabbat. With that, he tore up the original Code of Milan and sealed the courtyard. Burning his former sect mates to death, he announced himself Prince of Milan and a member of the Camarilla. As a result, Gian Galeazzo is particularly hated throughout the Clan, but too well supported by the surrounding Italian Camarilla to destroy.
After the rise of the Second Inquisition, and the start of the Gehenna Crusade in the Middle East, Amici Noctis reached out to trusted Keepers, those with reputations for clan over sect loyalty, and the Friends arranged diplomatic missions by these same Keepers to the Anarchs and the Camarilla. At first these representatives are to make solitary offerings of fealty to the Ivory Tower, before petitioning for the entry of the entire clan. Probably at least half the Lasombra will remain in the Sabbat, but will lack central authority or direction if the Amici Noctis is going full Ivory Tower. Those of Lasombra who held titles of Archbishop in the Sabbat, now attempt to do so in the Camarilla, bringing with them their manipulation of the Catholic Church. Any Lasombra ranked Cardinal are put to the torch as a gesture of good faith.
Lasombra naturally seek positions of power and authority, as a result they form the bulk of the Sabbat's administrative offices – ducti, prisci, and the like. Tzimisce are more likely to be pack priests, while the Lasombra focus on the practical matters of administration and leadership. The Lasombra operate under the metaphor of "shadows". They do not stand in the limelight, preferring to manipulate others to their own ends while doing as little as possible to make themselves a target. This is not done solely out of fear, but because many Lasombra have domineering and superior personalities that necessitates having someone beneath them. This role is usually filled by mortals; though they are not quite as adept at manipulating the living world as the Ventrue are, those cultures that still revere the Catholic Church often have several generations of Lasombra pulling their strings. Those who find themselves under the control of a Lasombra can expect a demanding and unrewarding experience. Their domitor will use any and all tools available to ensure loyalty, such as the Blood Bond, coercion, physical intimidation, and unapologetic use of Dominate. The wise Lasombra will judge just how much of this force is necessary; too little and the servant is untrustworthy, too much and the servant is spineless and afraid to act when they need to act.
Separate from Sabbat organization, the Lasombra maintain a clan-specific organization, the Friends of the Night, usually called les amies noires (amici noctis during the Dark Ages). While a Lasombra can be in the clan and not a Friend of the Night, all Lasombra who matter are part of the organization. The Friends are something of a formalized favor network within the Lasombra - they grant prestige and prestation, but the most notable feature of the friends are the Courts of Blood which regulate diablerie.
The Lasombra are a clan driven by ambition, and consequently they accept diablerie as a necessary facet of their existence; from the Lasombra perspective, the only tragedy in diablerie is that such an unworthy vampire as the vessel was sired in the first place. The courts regulate diablerie by accepting petitions to diablerize other Lasombra and authorize hunts - these hunts usually have conditions attached because the target must be guilty of something before the hunt is authorized. The court system ensures that diablerie is managed – Lasombra are allowed, if not flat-out encouraged to cannibalize appropriate targets, but those targets must be judged worthy of this attention by a court before the attack can take place.
Lasombra consensus holds that overly rigid structures turn on their creators. Thus the institutions within the clan operate flexibly and with substantial local autonomy. These informal distinctions are just as deadly earnest as anything chartered and codified, but they are much more lethal for being open to interpretation like any Court of Blood can prove. Most of the Lasombra subcultures have no organization or even a well-known name. They are outlooks rather than institutions. A group that became organized enough to challenge the courts would be co-opted and folded into the Friends themselves or destroyed, depending upon how well the group's leaders pled their case.
- Corsairs – The Corsairs are Lasombra that have answered the call of the sea that seems to be inherent to their blood. They spend most of their time on the waves, often masquerading as pirates, and some never come on dry land.
- Crusaders - The Crusaders view the Sabbat as a religious and military organization almost to the exclusion of the Sabbat as an ideology of freedom. They often have strong ties with the Ultra-Conservatives within the Sabbat.
- Faithful - The Faithful draw their traditions from the once strong hold of the Lasombra within the Catholic Church. Ardent followers of God and believers in their own damnation alike, these individuals seek to fulfill the will of God in this world.
- Kings and Queens of Shadow - The Kings and Queens of Shadow take part in mortal institutions, exerting influence, gathering resources and in general keeping the mortal population unaware of the vampires among them. Most have distanced themselves from regular Sabbat activities to maintain their Humanity.
- Children of the Abyss – The Children of the Abyss follow the ancient traditions of Abyss Mysticism, often paying only lip service to the Sabbat, but staying in line, as the sect provides them with the means to pursue their arcane art.
- Transhumanists - Transhumanists revel in their predatory nature and seek to perfect their undead state. Transhumanists quantify their various powers, work out taxonomies and otherwise seek to reduce vampirism to data. Many have a keen interest in mortal technology, particular in those that augment the human body, while others seek a perfect state without reliance on external tools.
- Fatalists - Fatalists are those Lasombra that have stopped believing in freedom of Will. Many claim that their blood ties them directly to the elders and methuselahs of their Clan and these beings are in charge of the destinies of their progeny.
- Doomed - The Doomed are an exhibitionist lot among the Clan that do not believe in the value of secrecy and aim to gain immediate and direct control of their environment, often without concerns to the kine. Many Lasombra kill those Clan mates on sight.
- Black Angels - Also called Angellis Ater (possibly in remembrance from a bloodline originating from the Dark Ages), these Lasombra revel in their state as servants of Satan and enemies of God, practicing Satanism and other socially repulsive things.
- Factionless - The Factionless are those Lasombra that have not yet found an overlying purpose within the history of the Clan and give more regards to their sect than their heritage.
Angellis AterThe Angellis Ater are an odd bloodline that crosses boundaries between Baali and Lasombra. They have the same weakness as other Lasombra – they do not cast reflections.
The bloodline has been around since a least the Middle Ages, descended in part from a powerful Baali called Azaneal. (See also the Azaneali) This monstrous vampire acted as a leader within the Baali line for a time, and twisted the orthodoxy of some Kindred enough to create a kind of heresy, one that was all too attractive to the Lasombra.
The Clan of Shadows' power base traditionally included the Catholic Church, and over time the Angellis Ater made at least some inroad with these pious (or pious-seeming) Lasombra. How much influence in the Church they were able to wield is not known, but they did survive the Inquisition.
Angellis Ater are rare in modern nights, but they do exist.
The so-called "black angels" believe that vampires are the instrument of Satan, and they worship sin and the darkness of the soul. Their Lasombra blood lets them reach into the blackness, pull it forth and manipulate it, and the black angels become dependent upon and addicted to use of the Obtenebration Discipline over time.
The Angellis Ater have lacked organisation since their fall during the Dark Ages. After Namtaru's Tomb rampage when Azaneal almost killed all of them, they started to slowly decrease in number, until around fifty remained during the 20th century. In fact, when the Baali rose again, Angelis Ater started to work with the Inquisition again, searching for those infernalists and trying to eradicate them with their knowledge about Demons. In fact, an Angelis Ater can achieve Demonhood for many reasons, including eradicating cultists and other infernalists.
Qabilat al-KhayalThe Arabian Lasombra, or Qabilat al-Khayal were notable among their Islamic Kindred counterparts in that they were one of the few bay't to be majority Christian. Islam took hold in a few places in the clan, especially Iberia, and caused major rifts in the bay't. Those Christian Lasombra in Qabilat al-Khayal lands felt trapped and torn by refusing to adapt to the Islamic religion there. The Islamic ones, however, were some of the most devoted to Islam's cause. The Qabilat al-Khayal even had their own representatives among the Amici Noctis, named the Asdiqa' al-Lail.
Even in the Final Nights, there are Lasombra that eschew contact with the Sabbat and remain part of the Ashirra. The collective stance of the Clan to them is not known, but some are protected by edicts from the Friends of the Night themselves, while others have strong allies among the local Kindred.
Lasombra antitribuThere are no Lasombra antitribu, at least, not according to the Lasombra themselves. The Sabbat Lasombra deny that "traitors" exist, while the so-called antitribu see themselves as Lasombra — nothing more, nothing less. Not all Lasombra who disagree with the clan's stance within the Sabbat join the Camarilla – a significant percentage of this relatively small number simply go independent and absent themselves from vampiric politics entirely. The remainder, however, seize for themselves positions of respect and authority – if not prominence – in the Camarilla.
Philosophically, Camarilla Lasombra differ little from their Sabbat compatriots on a basic level. The antitribu still fully expect to win the Jyhad; they just see the Camarilla as a more efficient and effective tool for doing so than the Sabbat is. Distaste for the rabble the Sabbat is encased in shows clearly in the attitudes of the Camarilla Lasombra, as they regard the Sabbat tactic of mass Embraces as wasteful and insulting. Indeed, even the supporters of antitribu inclusion in the Camarilla see these vampires as haughty, arrogant and impatient. Few suffer fools or incompetent underlings to live, and the penalty for failing an assignment set by a Lasombra antitribu is often death. The position occupied by these few self-exiled Kindred is an ambiguous one. On one hand, these vampires are Lasombra, the core of the dreaded Sabbat, and no Camarilla vampire is ever completely certain than the defection is a real one. On the other hand, essentially all Lasombra antitribu are creatures of undeniable power and presence, and are devoted to the destruction of the Sabbat in a way that few other Kindred are. The Camarilla cannot afford to waste these Cainites' talents, powers and knowledge of the enemy but cannot afford to trust them entirely, either.
Lasombra are fiercely predatory creatures, and the Lasombra mindset is defined by an enthusiastic embrace of social darwinism. The Lasombra firmly believe that power is best held by the most worthy, and that the primary test of worthiness is acquiring said power. As a result, they are predatory, backstabbing, power-hungry and unapologetically arrogant about their position. Needless to say, the Lasombra and Ventrue despise each other. Historically, the two clans have sought out parallel dominions – the Lasombra focused on the Mediterranean, the Ventrue on Germany. The Lasombra went to the Church, the Ventrue went to the state. The Lasombra went to the Sabbat, the Ventrue to the Camarilla. And finally, the Ventrue deduce their claim of rulership over all Cainites through their lineage from the first of the Third Generation, while the Lasombra claim leadership over them as the Clan who first managed to slay their Antediluvian founder. That stated, as the ruling clans of their respective sects, they are naturally prone to come to loggerheads.
Lasombra pride themselves on doing things with style and elegance. That does not mean they all dress alike, act alike or furnish their havens the same way. Almost anything can be elegant. One of the classic Lasombra virtues is the gift of exposition, allowing one vampire to explain to others why this particular choice is in fact elegant. The clan favors its members who can articulate their preferences in persuasive manner. The clan frowns on efforts to shock – unless they work. Managing to introduce something so unfamiliar that it tramples on existing assumptions and yet, with explanation, manages to fit clan imperatives is one way to win a great deal of honor.
That stated, the Lasombra embrace of the Mediterranean and the Church has left odd marks on their clan culture. Many Lasombra are drawn to the sea, and the majority of antitribu are sailors. Even now, the Lasombra are prone to some ancestral Catholicism, notable figures such as Archbishop Ambrosio Luis Monçada still view the world in Catholic terms - they believe in God and their own damnation with equal certainty. Elder Lasombra in particular place a strong emphasis on confession, although without redemption.
Since their beginning, the Clan has extremely strong ties to the sea; some speculate that this fascination stems from the Antediluvian's experience of the Deluge and marks his beginning of fascination with the Abyss. The compulsion to spend time around dark tides comes even at many generations remove from the Antediluvian. It is not uncommon for Elder Lasombra to resettle to the coastlines and one day to venture into the flood and to never re-emerge from it.
The Lasombra are also noted for a strong fascination with chess; the game serves as a metaphor for Vampiric existence (or at least, as the Lasombra see it), and consequently any Lasombra who plans to get anywhere in the clan is proficient in the game.
Finally, something must be said about the impact that the lost visage has on the Lasombra. The clan weakness makes it impossible for a Lasombra to ever see his own image again – mirrors, photography, and other reflective media fail, and the Lasombra react to this problem in a variety of ways. Clan culture places a strong emphasis on not overreacting to this problem – it is generally acceptable to sit for a portrait every few years, but extreme reactions (such as hiring a Tzimisce to flesh sculpt a ghoul) is considered a breach of good taste and grounds for diablerie.
The Lasombra Embrace is notably sadistic. The clan generally has traits that they are looking for: strength of will, ability to manipulate events, self-control, and an ability to evade the limelight for positions of power. When a candidate is identified, the sire will usually "test" the candidate.
Testing, in this case, generally means totally destroying the target's life and seeing how the target reacts. If the candidate falls apart, then he was obviously unworthy of the Embrace. If he can continue to survive and even overcome the challenges, then these challenges tend to become more extreme, until the sire decides that the candidate has demonstrated enough merit and is taken into the night.
Relationship with Ghouls
The Lasombra, as a rule, loathe ghouls with a passion. To them, a mortal in the world of Cainites is as absurd as a poodle putting on a tutu and walking around on its hind legs. Due to their command of Potence and Dominate, mortals are laughably easy to control, both physically and mentally; how could the Lasombra possibly respect or value such a pathetically weak and frail thing? As a consequence, the ghoul of a Lasombra is typically a sniveling and timid wretch, living in terror of a single mistake which could end their lives.
Lasombra ghouls fall into two broad categories. The first are the raft of accountants, lawyers, and bankers that the Lasombra need to keep the finances rolling in, and perhaps these are the luckier of the two groups – as long as the books balance at the end of the day, they will live to see another one. The second group cater to the Lasombra's difficulty with their own image. Some Lasombra keep an army of personal attendants – scores of ghouls to brush the mistress' hair, do her makeup, and dress her. Such attendants are punished severely for infractions. If the hair is not brushed with exactly one hundred strokes the ghoul might find themselves on the wrong side of the hairbrush, a Potence fuelled hand wielding it. Also due to the Lasombra's curse, ghouls of either stripe might have their faces reduced to identical spiderwebs of scar tissue, or be forced to wear featureless white masks.
- When they originally appeared in Second Edition (Players Guide to the Sabbat, Storytellers Handbook to the Sabbat, Clanbook: Lasombra) the Lasombra symbol was simply a letter L in a wax imprint design.
- On the Vampire: The Masquerade Pin Display set, which included all the major bloodlines as well as the clans, the antitribu pins were displayed as a white symbol on top of a black "antitribu shield". The single exception was the Lasombra antitribu pin, which was displayed as a black symbol on a white shield – perhaps because they were the only antitribu clan which was notable for having joined the Camarilla rather than the Sabbat (and since the antitribu shield is derived from the Sabbat ankh, it may have symbolized being "out of the Sabbat"). All subsequent books presented the white-on-black logo with which we are familiar, however.
- - "Book One: Magisters - The Lasombra"
Banu Haqim (Assamites) · Brujah · Gangrel · Hecata (Cappadocians, Giovanni) · Lasombra · Malkavian · Ministry (Followers of Set) · Nosferatu · Ravnos · Salubri · Toreador · Tremere · Tzimisce · Ventrue