The Camazotz

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Ancient Mayan legend speaks of Camazotz, the death bat, the god who smote the head from one of the hero twins in Xibalba, the underworld. During the heights of the Mayan civilization, around 700 A.D, one group of Mayan priests took that legend and made it a horrifying reality... after a fashion.

Parent Clan: Gangrel

Bloodline Disciplines: Animalism, Potence, Protean, Resilience

Nicknames: Bats, Death Bats

History and Culture

The Camazotz are an artificially created vampire bloodline, originally shaped from the pre-Columbian Gangrel inhabitants of the Yucatan basin by a cabal of blood sorcerers that the modern bloodline refers to as the Nameless Priests. Over the centuries, the bloodline has destroyed every record of their creators that they can find, but oral tradition holds that the Nameless Priests were worshippers of the death god, Camazotz, who somehow learned to adapt the sacrificial rites of the Mayan religion into magical rituals of considerable power. The priests, rulers of a small but wealthy city-state that has long since been lost to the jungle, were brilliant researchers in a grisly way. Over the course of a couple of centuries, they managed to develop a powerful blood bathing ritual that would not only keep them ageless, but granted them greatly accelerated powers of healing and would even restore their bodies to life, provided that the remains were interred in the ritual blood baths within a few days of death. For all their age and power, however, they ruled a small state that was surrounded by larger and more powerful rivals. To survive and prosper, they needed a terror weapon to deter any would-be conquerors.

They used their blood magic to capture and alter several Gangrel, endowing them with greatly increased strength and the ability to assume the very form of the bat god. To ensure the loyalty of such powerful and dangerous servants, they tried to make the Catazotz incapable of feeding from any vessel other than those that the priest who created them had ritually blessed - giving the vampires a stark choice between obedience and starvation. As an added fail-safe, their vitae was rendered infertile unless ritually "activated" by their priest, meaning that they could only Embrace with the priest's blessing.

For several hundred years, the plan worked well. In 963 A.D, however, a succession of drought-induced crop-failures led the population of the city to revolt against their rulers. Two of the priests were killed, their bodies dismembered and scattered to prevent any possibility of resurrection, and their Camazotz bodyguards were forced to flee from the torches of the rebels and the light of the impending dawn.

Gradually, the former bodyguards discovered that many of the previous restrictions on them had died with their erstwhile masters. They could feed from whomever they liked, and Embrace without a priest's blessing. Over the course of the next few years, they allied themselves with the mortal rebels, eventually staging a bloody revolution, killing the vast majority of the Nameless Priests and razing their temples. The priests, arrogantly secure in their belief that their Camazotz slaves would protect them, were horrified (in most cases, fairly briefly), to find them siding with the rebels. Only a few of them managed to escape the slaughter and flee the city.

In the aftermath of the battle, however, it quickly became clear that those Camazotz who had slaughtered their own masters were still subject to all the limitations the priests had imposed on them. Those unfortunate vampires starved into torpor over the next few weeks, unable to feed. Only those Camazotz whose masters had been slain by mortal rebels were now free. The bloodline learned a bitter lesson; they could never free themselves, only be freed by others.

The overthrow of its rulers ultimately accelerated the city's long-term decline, and the Camazotz gradually abandoned it over the course of the next couple of centuries, spreading out throughout South America. The few remaining Nameless Priests also scattered, pursuing their own individual schemes to seize power in other Mayan city-states, and slowly recruiting new acolytes. They didn't forget their traitorous servants, however. Eventually, they discovered that if a Camazotz were to drink from a human victim who had been ritually blessed in advance, then that Camazotz would be re-enslaved until the priest who had performed the blessing were dead. A subtle, slow motion shadow war erupted between the Camazotz and the Nameless Priests, which was still going on when the Spanish conquistadors arrived in the 16th century.

Although they wiped out the native Mexican culture and much of the native Mexican population, the arrival of the Spaniards turned out to be something of a blessing for the Camazotz, albeit a mixed one. The conquistadors targeted the native religion relentlessly, and many of the priests were slaughtered in their pogrom. The survivors were forced to go deep underground, since the Spaniards had obliterated the sacrificial religion that had supplied victims to the blood baths for centuries. The Nameless Priests adapted to the new dominance of Christianity by involving themselves with wars, banditry, and in the modern era, organized crime - anything that would provide a steady flow of bodies that wouldn't be missed.

The Camazotz, meanwhile, had proved surprisingly adaptable, carving out a variety of niches for themselves in mortal and Kindred society - as bodyguards, Councillors, scouts, messengers, and Ambassadors. In the closing decades of the twentieth century, they started to suborn the Mexican drug cartels, which brought them into contact - and inevitably, conflict - with the Nameless Priests. With the rising tide of purely mortal violence in Mexico providing a cover for their conflicts, violence between the two factions has escalated alarmingly in recent years.

Weakness: The Camazotz were created as slaves, and a mechanism for enslaving them is imprinted in their vitae. The Nameless Priests designed a simple ritual blessing that involves painting the skin of a mortal with a glyph drawn in blood. If the Camazotz drinks from a vessel who has been subjected to that rite within the last 24 hours, he immediately becomes unable to feed from, or Embrace, any vessel who has not received the same ritual blessing from the same priest. The restriction ends if the priest is killed - but only if the killer desires the priest's death for his own reasons. If he is acting solely on behalf of the Camazotz - or if the Camazotz does the deed himself - then the binding will remain, and without the priest to bless his vessels, the Camazotz will quickly starve into torpor.

Covenant: Many Camazotz elders belong to the Lancea Sanctum, a holdover from the days when they used the Christian Conquistadors as weapons against the Mayan and Aztec priesthoods. A few of the very oldest of the bloodline, survivors from the pre-Columbian era, belong to distinctively Mesoamerican sects of the Circle of the Crone. The younger Camazotz, particularly those involved with the South American drug cartels, tend to gravitate towards the Invictus. A coterie of three academically-minded ancillae joined the Ordo Dracul just over a century ago, hoping to find a way to remove or mitigate their bloodline weakness. A scant handful of Camazotz, all neonates of European origin, have thrown in their lot with the Carthians. About a third of the bloodline is Autarkis, focussing on their feud with the Nameless Priests rather than Kindred affairs.

Appearance: The majority of the bloodline comes from South American stock. The eldest bear the elongated features characteristic of traditional Mayan facial mutilation. A plurality are of European descent, mostly from Mediterranean stock, including a few elders who remember the glory days of the Conquistadors. The Camazotz are a diverse line, however, and there are even a couple of blonde Norwegian neonates amongst their latest recruits. Their dress varies wildly according to their cultural and Covenant affiliation. The only common thread is that they tend to wear whatever looks impressive in the mortal subculture they're interacting with at the time.

Haven: The Camazotz are, by and large, a wealthy bloodline, and their havens typically reflect that. They often favour penthouse suites in high tower blocks, or isolated fortresses deep in the South American jungles - locations that are relatively isolated and defensible, yet luxurious.

Character Creation: Social Attributes and Skills are almost always primary, and Resources, Retainers and Influence are common backgrounds. The bloodline has brawlers, schemers and scholars in its ranks, so broad generalizations don't really apply beyond that. The bloodline prefers to recruit wealthy, charismatic individuals with a lot of social connections.

Organization: The Camazotz are united by a common enemy and little else. They co-operate and share information where hunting down their creators is concerned, but otherwise tend to their own fiefs. Bloodline prestige comes from killing a priest and freeing any Camazotz who he has succeeded in enslaving.

Concepts: Drug smuggler, scholar of pre-Conquest Mesoamerica, former Jesuit missionary, South American Trust-fund brat.

Bloodline Devotions

Image of the God (Potence 4, Protean 4)

This grants the bloodline's signature power, the ability to assume the gigantic man/bat combat form

System: The character expends three blood points to assume the man/bat form. The form grants Strength +3, Stamina +3, Size +2 and Health +3, along with the ability to fly at up to Speed 26 (c 35 mph), but deprives the vampire of the power of speech and causes an automatic fail on almost any non-Intimidation related Social roll.