I don’t really have a favorite non-Camarilla clan either… okay, maybe I do. I’ve played all of them, at least as Storyteller minor characters. But there are those I’ve rarely used – Giovanni almost never appear in our chronicle – and some (Followers of Set, Salubri) who are rare or legendary (at least so far…) – and those who have featured one or two notable members (Ravnos, Assamite). The “bloodlines” almost never appear (hey, I did say almost), because the whole point of a ‘rare’ bloodline is that it should be, well, rare. (And in fact, at least one of them is probably lying about his identity.)
And then there are the ones we have seen the most often: the Lasombra and Tzimisce, who form the backbone, brains, unbeating heart and soul (plus teeth and claws) of the Sabbat.
Some of my most memorable characters have been Lasombra. The first Dark Ages character I created was Lasombra (they were a clan of rulership back then, vying with the Ventrue and Toreador and Tzimisce for power in different parts of medieval Europe). And so the Contessa Alianora dell’Aquila, and her descendants (and her notorious sire), became, over years of storytelling, a dynasty that stretches from the 12th century into the 21st, whose paths have crossed those of other long-running characters again and again. Proud, ambitious, fierce as the Roman eagle they took as their house sigil, the Lasombra of House dell’Aquila ruled Milan—or stood behind the throne of the prince who did—for centuries. They helped found the Sabbat, and they defied the Camarilla—and they were shattered and crushed as a ruling house and as a political force as a result, their surviving members scattered across Europe, to fall into the shadows of history. But some of them did survive…
The Lasombra are the dark princes of the eternal night; arrogant over-achievers par excellence, highly competitive, ruthless in pursuit of their goals, manipulative and calculating, cloaked in their trademarked shadows. They are the masters of conspiracies and plotting behind the scenes—or behind the throne. I like the political machinations, the pride and self-assurance that is as much a cloak as their manipulation of the shadows, and the darkness that curls inside every Lasombra’s soul (even the relatively sane and humane ones). And their elegance—from the Dark Ages to the modern Sabbat, Lasombra remember that appearances, poise, and charisma matter when making the appropriate impression on those unfortunates (unfortunate in that they are not Lasombra, not truly their equals) around them. And also (looking down their long aristocratic noses at their Tzimisce associates) there are times that draped entrails are simply not appropriate to use for haven décor.
To be fair, I do like the Tzimisce too. They’re just as proud, ruthless and competitive as the Lasombra, tightly clannish to their own blood-family (however dysfunctional their relationships within it), wielding their flesh-molding gifts with sometimes indiscriminate abandon—and sometimes very precisely, to great purpose. What the Tzimisce are NOT, however, is subtle.
“I really wasn’t kidding about the draped entrails. And he’d even twined Christmas tree lights around them. You know, for the holidays….” –Sebastian Marlowe, Nosferatu primogen
When a Tzimisce has a grudge against you, you know it. He wants you to know it, he will certainly never forget it, nor will his childer or grandchilder. And when he comes after you, it will be pretty much in a straight line, right at your heart. A Lasombra will come at you sideways, slowly peel away and destroy all you cherish or control right out from under you, and you may not know until the very last who is responsible for your destruction. The Tzimisce, though… you’ll see him coming a mile away. That won’t help once he’s battered down your doors and is melting your bones into goo and measuring your guts for garters. But at least your horrible final death won’t come as a surprise.
So yeah. Lasombra. Because without darkness and shadow, light doesn’t mean very much, does it?