"Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself."
A curious and often contradictory clan, the Tzimisce have a fearsome reputation as inhuman shapeshifters and fleshcrafters. At the same time, these fluid beings are deeply rooted to their land and domain - for time immemorial, the Tzimisce have been lords of lands, regions, and people, their roots growing deep even as their appearances shift and change.
Who are the Tzimisce?
The Tzimisce were once known as the indisputed lords of Eastern Europe. While feared, these voivodes presented a polite, even noble face to outsiders, with sacred hospitality being one of their most valued tenets. Their domains, however, ran under the assumption of strict hierarchy, and many young Tzimisce were amongst the first and most fervent members of the Anarch Revolt, later becoming one of the founding clans of the Sabbat. In modern nights, the Tzimisce have become an uncommon sight, and many assume the Fiends are now in decline, given the Lasombra defection to the Camarilla and the Sabbat's renewed focus on the Gehenna Crusades in the Middle East.
However, the Tzimisce are not so easily written off. This clan, more than any other, has change written into their DNA, able to adapt and shift to fit their circumstances. Many Sabbat loyalists have become eager warriors in the Crusade, others, finding their usual lifestyles under threat, have been able to make the transition to the Anarchs or even the Camarilla.
This urge to change is written deeply in Tzimisce blood. While there are those who eschew the clan's practice of Vicissitude, a variation of the Protean discipline that allows the Tzimisce to reshape flesh like clay, most members of the clan are mercurial creatures, changeable of mood and manner. New ideas are treated with fascination and deep and sustained study is encouraged, with young Tzimisce encouraged to seek out answers on their own rather than rely on old wisdom. Many are deeply spiritual, and Auspex is frequently used to strengthen their connection with the realms of the unseen and the mystical.
At the same time, the Tzimisce are inherently bound, even possessive, of their domains. In years gone by, newly-Embraced Dragons were ritually buried, having to fight their way free to begin their new unlives, birthing themselves from the land (a ritual which has since been appropriated and modified by the Sabbat, to... somewhat cruder results). Now inextricably connected to their grave soil, many will make their domains in the land they are bound to, and those who by choice or force move on often find themselves drifting until they find something else to bind themselves to.
In modern nights, with ancestral lands and lordships no longer in common practice, young Shapers seek connection with what they can, whether this be a single small domain or haven, a group of people, a collection of meaningful objects, or even an idealogy. And even this is entirely consistent with the Tzimisce raison d'etre to change - adapting to the modern nights, as they have adapted to so many changes before.
Once an artist, these Fiends have found a new medium - human flesh. Sculpting both their own and other bodies into inhumanly beautiful or simply inhuman works of art, sculptor Tzimisce see the world as their canvas. Sure, sometimes they may get a little negligent in things like asking if people actually want to be arts and crafts materials, but there's no denying their work is eye-catching! (Sometimes with actual articulated work to catch the eyes right out of the viewer's head!)
These Tzimisce exemplify the clan's intellectual side, prying into the mysteries behind their unlives and seeking to transcend their condition. The holy grail for many Tzimisce scholars would be an hour in the hallowed halls of the Library of the Forgotten, the great library assembled by an ancient Tzimisce of Constantinople; many would be drawn from the Obertus Revenant family who once protected these books, and who still work in Montreal's great Alexandrium library.
The Tzimisce often have a strong spiritual side; many pack priests within the Sabbat are members of this clan. This is no better demonstrated by the koldun, practitioners of a type of blood sorcery intrinsically tied to the spirits of the land (and, especially, those in the Carpathians). A Dragon of this inclination has a fascination for the fabric of the world they inhabit, using soil, salt, herbs, and their own blood to commune with the spirits and to make use of the abilities Koldunic sorcery can offer.
Animalism: An extension of the Tzimisce connection with the land, Animalism allows the Dragons communion and some control over the beasts that reside in their domains.
Auspex: Mystically inclined and often intellectual, Tzimisce utilise Auspex to sense the auras and intentions of those around them, and to tap into the rich spirit world of their ancestral homes. It is the use of Auspex that distinguished the Tzimisce from the Dominate-using Lasombra within the Sabbat - while the Lasombra could lead using brute strength of will, the Tzimisce would hone the Sect into a spiritual force to be reckoned with.
Protean: Much like the Gangrel, Tzimisce can use Protean to take the form of the animals living in their domains, and to connect intimately with the soil they are connected to. Much unlike the Gangrel, the Shapers can combine these simple shifts with the deep insight into their own forms that Auspex offers to practice the art of Vicissitude, a method to transcend their own flesh and reach the epitome of change - shaping themselves (and others) like wet clay.
Vicissitude: The signature ability of the Tzimisce, Vicissitude allows the user to literally craft flesh like clay - both theirs and others. While some can use this ability to create living artworks of themself and others, many within the clan use it to monstrous effect. Vicissitude can be used to change the user or subject's appearance (ranging from the superficial to the extreme), add organic armour or weapons out of densely woven tissues, cartilage, or bone, or redistribute physical statistics, such as shifting the position of muscles to add strength or dexterity. Fiends uncaring of the Masquerade can shape themselves or others to dramatic effect.
While Vicissitude is largely unused by other clans, a bloodline of Toreador antitribu known as the Volgirre also have access to it, replacing their usual Presence with Protean. This bloodline has now largely defected from the Sabbat and reintegrated with the larger clan in the Camarilla, receiving false identities in exchange for sharing centuries of beautiful, twisted art with the jaded main clan.
Old Clan: Dominate: Known as the Old Clan to younger Tzimisce, this cohort of Tzimisce are generally old, predating the modern sects, still hold domain throughout Eastern Europe, and, most notably, eschew the use of Vicissitude. Calling themselves the Dracul, the Old Clan remember the nights when they ruled the Carpathians and its surrounding regions, using blood bonds to maintain order amongst their childer, largely isolating themselves but remaining connected through the Oradea League. The Old Clan, befitting their rejection of Vicissitude, replace Protean with Dominate, using it and the blood bond to maintain perfect control.
Koldunic Sorcery: A form of Blood Sorcery practiced by the Tzimisce, always learned at an out-of-clan cost. Koldunic sorcery is largely practiced by the Old Clan, although practitioners amongst the main clan exist as well - indeed, the combined achievement of reaching one's Zulo form, learning at least one path of Koldunic sorcery, and demonstrating wisdom and loyalty to the clan can grant the practitioner the title of zhupan, an honourary but highly respected title that offers great influence amongst other Tzimisce.
To use Koldunic sorcery, the practitioner requires great willpower, a sense of inner balance, and deep spirituality, conditions that make it... somewhat of a rarity in modern nights amongst the Sabbat. Koldunic sorcery largely involves the invoking of spirits, making it more similar to the Banu Haqim practice of Dur-An-Ki than Tremere Thaumaturgy. Consisting of five Ways (Earth, Fire, Wind, Water, and Spirit), a koldun with a high level of ability in their Way may find their personality adjusting to fit - a Way of Fire practitioner becoming quick-witted and passionate but also hot-headed and impulsive, or a Way of Earth user becoming grounded and practical but finding their ability to change and improvise suffering.
Grounded: The contradictory nature of the Tzimisce becomes apparent with their bane. The fluid, shifting Shapers are inextricably connected to their land, historically meaning their literal grave soil but also able to be interpreted as an innate connection to something that represents Home or Domain to them. This can be a physical location (often a place of great significance in their breathing years), an individual or group of people, an organisation, a deeply significant collection, anything the Tzimisce sees as representing Home. For every day the Tzimisce does not sleep within the vicinity of their Home, they sustain aggravated Willpower damage equal to their Bane Severity upon waking the following night.
Clan Compulsion: Instability
A Tzimisce suffering from a Compulsion becomes fixated on changing or shifting in some manner, whether this be physically changing their appearance, changing their viewpoint on something they previously believed or expressed, or enacting some other radical change of circumstance. Any action not taken towards this purpose incurs a two-dice penalty, and actively attempting to remain the same causes Willpower damage. The Compulsion persists until some significant change is made (the Storyteller decides what constitutes as 'significant').
Other Credits: ElmerG for Vicissitude discipline details.