Followers of the Road of Kings trace their origins back to the days of Caine, believing that they spring from his oath to God that it is “better to rule in darkness than to humble [himself] falsely in the light.” As such, some believe they are mandated by God to rule over mankind. Others do not see their origin as such a clear mandate, but rather a power granted by their vampiric state which they must use to take control of the lesser beings around them.
To most Cainites it is obvious that they are naturally capable of bending mortals to their will. Luminaries, those who follow the Road of Kings, see this capability as their right as Cainites. Beyond that, those who follow this Road believe that they are kings, rulers of both mortal society, themselves and all those around them. Luminaries are concerned with nobility, chivalry, and seizing holdings just as any mortal noble would. In fact, the Luminaries often war with each other over Cainite domains using lesser vampires and mortals as pawns in their games.
Many Cainites believe that the followers of the Road of Kings are simply grasping for temporal power, using whatever means necessary to attain their goals. This could not be further from the truth. Luminaries understand that the true height of leadership is not only control over material wealth, but also the minds and hearts of those they rule. They hold themselves to a strict code of honor and ethics, and practice diplomacy and patience to gain their just rewards.
The first lesson a Luminary learns is how to control their own Beast, knowing that this is the greatest weakness as a vampire. For if one cannot be their own master, how can they hope to be a master of others? An uncontrolled Beast could tempt a ruler down a dark path that leads to betrayal and ruin. Control over these passions gives one the edge needed to crush one’s enemies and defend one’s lands. As such, Luminaries strive to bring their Beasts to heel, thereby learning the bitter truths for dealing with the most difficult of subordinates.
This initial tenet leads to a more complicated code in which Luminaries learn to master lesser beings while respecting those that follow them. In addition, they are expected to defer to those of higher station while aspiring to move up within the ranks. They must exhibit extreme control over a delicate balance of command, aspiration, and respect. Luminaries know that a leader is only as powerful as the constituency under them and as stable as their allies and those above them.
- To rule others, you must first become your own master, taming the Beast within
- Your word is your honour and your life. Do not break it.
- There are only two roles in the world: master and servant
- Power does not hand itself to you. You must seize it and hold it.
|Level of Sin||Description|
|1*||Forgoing your duty; treating a peer with disrespect|
|1||Placing personal desires over duty|
|2||Treating an inferior as an equal; Killing without purpose|
|3||Showing weakness in front of inferiors; Failing to answer a challenge to your honour|
|4||Treating your superior with disrespect|
|5||Giving into your Beast, such as frenzy; breaking your word or oath|
*: only for someone with Road rating of 6
Initiates of the Road are chosen by their mentors, serving as apprentices and training until they earn the right to follow the Road on their own. Some are chosen specifically to be groomed for the Road, even Embraced by their liege for the purpose. Others work to join, striving to impress a possible patron with outstanding deeds. Either way, the initiate serves their mentor for some time, training in the beginning stages of the Road. Some remain in service, working their way up, and others leave quickly, their own aspirations driving them to greater heights.
The Road of Kings boasts a highly organized structure with each Luminary being sworn to the service of those above them, and their lesser sworn to them in turn in an elaborate chain of vassal and lord. The highest ranked Luminary is called a Lord, and in most domains is the Prince, provided the Prince walks the Road of Kings. Below them comes an entire structure of lesser nobles, such as dukes, barons, marquesses, knights and the like, followed by lesser followers of the Road to the basic initiates. The names and structures of the Luminary’s noble lines vary by geographical location, but all follow the vassalage chain faithfully.
Until, that is, the Anarch Revolt. Now dozens of “Barons” claim independence from their former lieges, hoping to seize and hold the power their old masters would never give them. But of course these Luminaries still seek to exert control over those around them – and it is these revised chains of vassalage that determine who speaks for the Road.
Rituals and Observances
One of the most sacred rituals to the adherents on the Road of Kings is oath swearing. From start to finish, oaths rule the life of a Luminary, and all other observances revolve around the oath. Oath ceremonies can be elaborate functions with Luminaries from all over coming to witness the oath, or they can be simple affairs between a new initiate and his mentor. Any time a Luminary gains a new liege, gains a new rank through promotion or conquest, or renews his vows to his current liege is marked by oath swearing ceremony. Few other rituals are as widely practiced beyond the oath swearing. Some Luminaries practice courtly affairs common to their region and others observe religious rites as a form of leading by example, though these practices are not widely adopted.
While Anarchs eschew the Blood Oath, many Luminaries like to add an air of formality to Vaulderie rituals by building oath-swearing into the rite.
Command. Luminaries are self-possessed and confident in their right to rule. Others can feel their commanding presence like a chain placed around the neck.