The Seneschal

During medieval times the seneschal was the keeper of the keys in a noble house, the minder of the affairs, the one who always knew what was happening and who was closest to the master's ear. It was the seneschal who was in charge when the master was away, and who took care of the estate in time of disaster. In the vampire world, the position has not changed much from its original inception. The seneschal is chosen to be the prince's personal assistant, the one who knows what's going on at any given moment, and (according to some wags) the one you really have to deal with to get things done. At any time, he may be asked to step into the prince's place if she leaves town on business, abdicates or is slain.

While a prince may wish to have final authority on the choice, a number of primogen councils have fought to ensure a seneschal candidate to their liking is installed. If the prince is seen as weak or is not well-linked, the fight becomes even fiercer. After all, accidents do happen, the primogen insist, and it were best that the next in line is someone worth having to avoid entanglements at such times. Princes insist that the choice is theirs to make, particularly when the seneschal is in such a sensitive position. They point to certain disasters in Kindred history regarding the seneschal, most often the Nuremberg Incident of 1836, when a Sabbat spy managed to achieve the post and the city narrowly avoided being completely overrun after he handed over the secrets he had learned to his cohorts.

For most seneschals, the job can be a completely thankless one. It may be seen as a stepping-stone up the ladder to greater things, but the rewards aren't always commensurate with the tedium and danger. A seneschal can be called on to be a secretary, clearinghouse of information, prince pro tem, advisor, sounding-board, recipient of vitriol, ambassador, or point of contact for any new Kindred entering the city. Some princes may have other uses for their seneschals, such as sitting in on certain meetings as the prince's voice when the prince must be absent, or even to deal with certain matters which princes deem not worthy of their attention. For a prince busy with other concerns (such as hunters, Setites, or Sabbat), a capable seneschal who can take care of all the nitpicky details of running a city ca be a godsend. If the seneschal is incompetent, however, he can be a nightmare. A seneschal unaware of the movements of new Kindred in the city may be in fact inadvertently holding the door for Sabbat troops, or one who has closed down a church on suspicion of harboring hunters may have just alienated the Nosferatu who made use of the place as well.


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