To start, everyone should read the section on Elysium from Invite Only. It is the best place to go for a discussion on Elysium and how the Fourth Tradition takes effect. Other books referenced are Coteries, Danse Macabre, Requiem Chronicler’s Guide, and Damnation City.
What is Elysium?
Any location or event that is deemed to be neutral ground where violent behavior is not acceptable is functionally an Elysium, whether it is formally stated to be “Elysium” or not.
Americans can generally feel safe when they attend church, go to a play or movie at the theatre, and visit a museum. These places aren’t sacrosanct, but we just don’t associate violence with these places. When violence does occur, we are usually amazed by such aberrant behavior. Such places in the Vampire society within the Requiem game are called Elysium.
By law, judicial courts, political meeting halls, and other locations are also supposed to be considered safe-havens. Though, in many cases this safety is enforced by the level of security at the door to these locations, because it is expected that someone is willing to break with the law in order to make a point. Once past the door, we don’t expect to encounter violent behavior. So, when a witness attacks a lawyer and uses a pen to stab his eye out, we are usually quite freaked out; and the offender is then given a substantial punishment.
So too in Vampire: The Requiem, there are both functional and legal locations of Elysium.
The Requiem books have three dominant uses of the word Elysium.
1) A neutral ground location deemed a place of no violence.
2) Meetings of Kindred society hosted by the Master of Elysium. In some cities the specific location varies, but the rule of non-violence is expected to be followed.
3) Any time a character is expected to interact with other Kindred it usually occurs at/in/during Elysium.
There are three dominant developments of Elysium locations.
1) Locations declared to be Elysium by the Prince. These locations are enforced by law, and are maintained by the Master of Elysium. The Requiem and New Orleans City of the Damned both discuss how Elysium is used in controlling groups that rival the Prince. Edicts by this Prince give the Master greater authority than is normally experienced. Elysium as discussed in The Requiem MET and the authority of the Master of Elysium to strip Status is specifically discussing this form of Elysium.
2) Locations that are treated as Elysium by the Kindred society whether the Prince has declared it or not. I am able to cite two specific examples of this type of Elysium. Though these locations are not always official, the people respect the concept of peace so much that those that fail to observe the sanctity of these locations will lose respect, if not directly striped of status. Dale Wycliffe’s local joint, the Sticking Point (Danse Macabre) and Drover’s Park (Damnation City) are two examples.
3) Locations that a coterie, covenant, or other social construct has deemed to be Elysium, but not legally declared as such by the Prince. Usually enforced by those that have control of that location in some way. Sometimes, these are established despite a Prince declaring that there are no Elysium save for those that he declares. Gardeners and Arbiters (Coteries) and an Elysium within a city ruled by the Chieftain prince (Damnation City) are two examples.
The Fourth Tradition
Invite Only p. 22: Sometimes Elysium draws literal power from the will of the people. In these instances, the most commonly recognized Elysium in the city is supernaturally enforced; Kindred find themselves almost incapable of bringing disgrace to the tradition.
This is the development of the Fourth Tradition. So, in a city where Elysium is respected, locations that are able to obtain a history of safety and a tradition of respect then gain their own supernatural enforcement.
A comment regarding a location of peace becoming a genuine Elysium may be referencing it being protected by the Fourth Tradition rather than a location protected by the law of the Prince. [The term “genuine Elysium” is mentioned in Gardeners section of Coteries.] Any location, official Elysium or simply publicly accepted places of peace can develop this mystical protection.
What Elysium is not
Misconception one, the idea that Elysium is a place that neonates and rabble can behave rudely and not expect to have repercussions. This was described with similar respect to internet courage, Elysium courage would give someone the liberating feeling they could misbehave and expect to remain safe. This is wrong. First, in most places of Elysium it is a location of safety only in law and mutual respect. Violence can – and does – occur in these locations. When it is legally enforced, it is the Master of Elysium that has authority to remove Status from those breaking such traditional ways. With a properly played boon; an agreement with the Sherriff, Scourge, or Prince; or simply the Master’s choosing a vampire can have the attacked be considered guilty of “breaking Elysium” rather than the aggressor. Second, the Prince can easily remove the safety of Elysium. As stated in Requiem Chronicler’s guide, an enemy of the Prince should not expect him to respect his own edicts when entering Elysium.
So, bad behavior and those that are blood hunted will not last long on Elysium. Violence that is brought upon these individuals will most likely be blamed on the targets rather than aggressors in such situations.
Misconception number two. Elysium as a location that loses its mystical properties without the most strict of adherence to the Tradition. Though violence on Elysium is commonly called “breaking Elysium,” it is simply the laws that are being broken. As stated before, Elysium that is enforced by the mystic force of the Fourth Tradition is a location that is supported by the will of the people as a place of peace. Such a location might lose the mystical enforcement only after a significant situation that makes the Kindred society forget its place in their society. An attack by hunters, or similar significant event might be the start of such a lowering of this most revered place. Even then, it would take further degradation of the people’s will to lose its effect.
So, with these two misconceptions out of the way. It is hoped that in the second MES chronicle that Elysium is considered a common place site of meetings and gatherings of Kindred. Downtime roleplay scenes should be encouraged to occur at places deemed Elysium, either declared by the Prince or simply respected by those that frequent such locations.
Master/Mistress of Elysium
The Master of Elysium is a title that varies in its authority as well as with its responsibilities.
First, Master of Elysium has the authority to strip Status (even the last level) from anyone who breaks the rules of nonviolence. This is a universal authority granted by the rules of the game. In most Domains, this authority extends to aggressive use of Disciplines. However, when aggressive powers are used to diffuse tense situations and avoid violence, they should be considered acceptable exceptions to this law.
Second, Master of Elysium has secondary authorities and responsibilities according to how the Prince and social order deem is appropriate.
- The Master of Elysium example from New Orleans of The Masquerade is granted authority, by edict of the Prince, to travel to all Elysium locations to inspect them. In doing so, the Master is given unparalleled access to other coteries within the city.
- Damnation City describes the Master of Elysium as being no better than the innkeeper publican of the Dark Ages that hosts a Magistrate’s court, but has no further legal authority than is extended in protecting his property.
- Invite Only describes the Master of Elysium as an essential part of many city’s identity. This being a title of respect as the host of major city events and parties.
In some cities, each location that is declared Elysium may be assigned a different person that is assigned as the Master of that location.
One book describes the Mistress of Elysium as a character that is constantly looking to keep order in a city where tensions are continually getting higher and higher. In her city, Elysium is wherever she hosts a gathering of Kindred, and she is responsible for keeping them occupied in a way that keeps rivalries from becoming out and out war.
So, as the Prince seems fit, the Master of Elysium can be a token title, or it can be one of the most influential positions within the city. Other than the Prince himself, only the Master of Elysium can strip the last level of Status from any of the city’s residents. Beyond that, the Master of Elysium could be a title that is passed from person to person according to whomever is the host of the gathering that night. Or, the Master of Elysium can be an upstart on his first rung of the chain of command. The title could be one shared amidst several Kindred that each maintain a location, and is expected to observe and adhere to the laws of nonviolence.