The usurpers of clan Cappadocian and the youngest clan of Caine, the Giovanni are both a clan and a family. They Embrace exclusively within their family (one of many things kept within the family), and are heavily focused on two goals: money and (necromantic) power.
The clan weakness of Giovanni dictate that when a Giovanni bites a living being, they deal more damage than normal making it difficult to keep people alive after feeding from them.
The Giovanni started as merchants under the name 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 Giovanni, now with their modern surname, maintained the independence of their home Venice and furthered their own researches of what would eventually develop into Necromancy.
In 1005, in the hollows of Erciyes and under the shadow of Cappadocius' torpid form, Augustus Giovanni 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' signature discipline of Mortis focused more on the act of dying then the events afterwards), the Founder began to shop for experts.
Enter the Giovanni, a family of prosperous Venetian traders who had for centuries depended on Necromatic skill to provide a business edge. Interested in expanding his family's power and seeing Vampirism as the route to doing so, Augustus Giovanni had been studying the clans and entertaining offers from various vampiric elders for the Embrace. The Cappadocian offer was the most attractive, providing the highest 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 Giovanni rumor).
Following his ascent into the blood, Augustus Giovanni immediately began embracing his own family. In the course of doing so, the Giovanni became something between a bloodline and a cult within the Cappadocian clan. Acknowledged as the experts on Necromancy (and rapidly expanding the field), the Giovanni maintained themselves slightly separate from the mother clan. This, as the Giovanni 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 came to fruition, with Japheth dead, Cappadocius dead and both Giovanni raised a generation.
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. 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 incestous graverobbers, proved themselves to be one of the most influencial kindred clans within mortal society and often this gave them the upper edge in kindred politics.
Clan Giovanni in the Victorian AgeAdded by IanWatsonThe 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 costed them many of their wraithly servants.
In the beginning of the twentieth century, the Giovanni were riding high. They expanded the clan into other families (notably the Milliners, della Pasaglia, Pisanob and Ghiberti), 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 the wraiths' 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'd 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.
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 major families include:
- Ghiberti Italian necromancers with an active interest in Africa.
- Della Pasaglia Another Italian family focusing on the Middle East.
- Dunsirn Scottish bankers and cannibals.
- Milliner American financiers brought into the family in the 1950's
- Pisanob South American necromancers.
Minor families are spread across the globe, and include:
- 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.
- Rosselini: Accomplished though forceful necromancers. Considered near equal to the main family.
- Putanesca: Sicilian thugs with a nasty temper.
- Santiago: Small vein of ambitious necromancers in Spain.
- St John: Cabal of English Masons.
- Rothstein: Jewish-American Kabbalists centered in Las Vegas.
The Giovanni are organized as something between a highly ruthless mafia dynasty and a highly ruthless corporation. 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's a catspaw for cannibalistic blood-drinking necromancers.
Decisions in the Giovanni are made by councils of elders knwon as the Anziani, with age, rank and competence all playing a role. 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).
In many ways, the Giovanni are a Ghoul Family with less visibly disgusting parts. This doesn't mean the Giovanni aren't as warped as the Bratovitch clan; the Giovanni are repulsive and degenerate in a more subtle manner. It is said that younger generations o 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 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 sadistic, 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.
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 under-handed 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.
In 1444, Claudius Giovanni embraced a peasant girl named Marianna into the clan as a distraction. For 500 years Marianna was a constant for the clan. Marianna is also the only non-Giovanni to be embraced by the clan and to survive longer than about a month. The Giovanni do not embrace outside of the family; they do not embrace without permission. Not if they know what's good for them at least.
Like everything else in the family, the Embrace is a reward. Promotion for good service, and more than other clans, the Giovanni actively consider factors like 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. For example, while Agatha Milliner might put her own grandson forward for the Embrace, it is much more likely that Stefano Giovanni does the deed. Even better for the Clan if Agatha and Stefano are rivals - 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.
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