Daggers in the Darkness – Clan Banu Haqim from “Vampire: The Masquerade”

This is the first in a series of essays covering the 13 vampire clans found within White Wolf’s Vampire: The Masquerade TTRPG.

Within the World of Darkness that the Vampires of Vampire: The Masquerade inhabit, there are many creatures that can be considered the “boogeyman”. Among these creatures are the clan known as the Banu Haqim (translated as “Sons of Haqim”), otherwise known as the Assamite Clan. One of the original thirteen vampire clans to emerge from the diaspora of the Second City, the Banu Haqim are seen by the other clans as assassins and diablerists. In point of fact, they are scholars, warriors, and the original practitioners of blood magic in the World of Darkness.

As with most things in Vampire: The Masquerade, there are a number of conflicting ideas put forth by White Wolf over the years, which makes describing the Banu Haqim’s origins difficult to parse out. The clan’s progenitor Haqim was one of the 3rd generation vampires embraced during the period known as the Second City (before the Flood). Haqim is said to have stood for protecting the mortal herd rather than subjecting humans to the depredations of his kin. And in that capacity, Haqim and his blood stood in judgment of the other Kindred and the mortals of the Second City.

After the flood, the Banu Haqim ventured into what would become the Middle East, setting up their mountain retreat of Alamut. The clan quickly divided into three castes: the Viziers were responsible for tending to the mortals that surrounded Alamut, ensuring they were not abused, as well as keeping the clans records; the Judges (later to be known as the Warriors), who acted as the defensive force for the clan’s interests; and lastly, the Sorcerors, who studied the mysteries of blood magic and other arcane arts. As all clans have a weakness inherent to their bloodline, the Banu Haqim are no different, although their clan’s weakness differs based on the Caste a person is Embraced into. For the Viziers, they suffer from an obsessive/compulsive mental illness related to pursuing knowledge or creative endeavors. For the Sorcerers, their Aura reveals that they practice blood magic, meaning they are unable to hide their affiliation with magic. For the Warriors, their aura shows black veins (a sign of diablerie), even if the Warrior has never consumed the soul of another vampire.

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For much of the Banu Haqim’s early history, they had fairly little to do with the other vampire clans, with the exception of their frequent collaboration with the Salubri clan in hunting down and destroying the Baali (a “clan” of vampires that made pacts with demonic entities). It was the Baali who used the power of a demon to lay a curse on the Warrior Caste of the Banu Haqim, making the Warriors addicting to consuming other vampire blood (including becoming addicted to the act of diablerie, which is to consume the soul of a vampire after draining the victim of all of their blood). This curse would later become the stereotype the other clans would use when referring to the Banu Haqim.

As history marched forward, the Banu Haqim largely kept to themselves, even during the height of the Roman Empire (when vampires used the expanding empire to migrate and claim new dominions for themselves). The only major role the Banu Haqim played during this time was assisting in the destruction of Carthage, a real historical city that stood as the shining beacon of the Brujah Clan’s attempt to recreate the Second City (a place where humans and vampires could peacefully co-exist). While the Banu Haqim had little love for the Brujah or the other vampire clans, the reality of Carthage from their perspective is that it became a haven for the Baali, their ancient enemy. With that in mind, the Banu Haqim felt honor-bound to assist in destroying the city and the Baali infestation that had turned into a garden of suffering.

It is in the Dark Ages that the first major shift in the Banu Haqim began to emerge. Due to Alamut’s proximity to the Middle East nations, many members of the Banu Haqim began to convert to Islam, at that time a nascent religious movement. A split occurred between the Banu Haqim who would not follow the tenets of Islam and those who would. The threat of the Baali brought the Clan together, focusing their attention on their ancient enemy. By the end of their latest conflict, the vast majority of the clan were of the Muslim faith.

It was also during this time that the Banu Haqim began to earn their reputation as the assassins of the supernatural world. Taking payment in favors and blood, the Warrior Caste of the Banu Haqim cut a bloody swath through Europe, bringing them into conflict with most of the major clans. Due to the location of Alamut being a secret, it proved difficult for the other clans to make a move against the Banu Haqim. That changed when a lone member of Clan Nosferatu discovered the path to Alamut and relayed that information to the nascent Camarilla. Besieged by an alliance of Clans, the Banu Haqim agreed to the Treaty of Tyre (which signaled the truce between the Camarilla and the Banu Haqim). As further humiliation, the Clan submitted to a blood curse levied against them by Clan Tremere, an upstart group of mortal mages who had become vampires through mystical means. The blood curse laid upon the Banu Haqim made Kindred blood poisonous to them, taking away the Banu Haqim’s ability to feed on other Kindred and commit diablerie. This curse would remain effect for centuries, nearly driving the clan’s Warrior Caste mad due to their hunger for vampiric blood.

Over the subsequent centuries, the Warrior Caste became the prominent members of the Clan, selling themselves as mercenary assassins and receiving vampire blood as payment. This blood would then be provided to the Sorcerer Caste, who had devised a means to distill the Kindred vitae into a potion that could increase the potency of a Banu Haqim’s blood. Some members of the Clan, angered beyond reason by the Treaty of Tyre and the Blood Curse, joined the Sabbat as antitribu (meaning anti-clan) choosing to slake their blood-thirst by fighting against the Camarilla directly.

Everything changed, though, when Ur-Shulgi awakened from millennia of torpor. As one of the oldest practitioners of blood sorcery, Ur-Shulgi destroyed the Blood Curse laid down by the Tremere as if it were a simple band-aid. But the arrival of the ancient vampire also caused a vast divide to occur within the Clan, referred to as the Schism. As a direct childer of Haqim, Ur-Shulgi viewed the pervasive adherence to Islam as an affront to the Clan’s founder and demanded all members of the clan cast off their worship of other gods in favor of reverence for Haqim. Those members of the Clan who would not cast aside their faith were given the Final Death, including the leader of the Warrior Caste, Jamal. Those members who would not cast aside their faith opted to leave the Clan entirely. Some Viziers and Sorcerers joined the Camarilla, seeking safe harbor among their ancient oppressors. Many Warriors, now free of the Blood Curse, joined the Sabbat.

In the 21st century, those members of the Banu Haqim who continued to follow the tenets of Islam became known as the Ashirra. They attempted to create an alliance with the Camarilla, reasoning that association with the largest and arguably most powerful sect of vampires would grant them protection from the loyalists of Alamut (who follow the edicts of Ur-Shulgi). The divide between the Clan has led to a form of cold war, with neither side moving directly against the other. With the recent departure of Clan Brujah and the fracturing of Clan Tremere, the addition of combat-capable and magic-capable vampires was too enticing a possibility for the Camarilla. The Banu Haqim have undergone a significant change since their inception in Vampire: The Masquerade. Originally portrayed as bloodthirsty assassins, the subsequent editions and sourcebooks fleshed out the clan, adding nuance to an admittingly one-dimensional group. What appears now is a collection of warriors, scholars, and sorcerers, fang-deep in blood and filled with possibilities for interesting stories.

My book series The Atalante Chronicles is now live on Amazon for Kindle, Paperback, and Hardcover Print-On-Demand. Your support is greatly appreciated.
Blood And Stone, Book One in my series, is also available on Smashwords (Affiliate Link)
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