Today, we’re going to be talking a little more about the covenants, ahead of our world-building session on Sunday.
- As previously mentioned, the new chronicle will allow for you to maintain membership in multiple covenants at once. To do this we’re instituting a few rules laid out below. Keep in mind these are provisional and subject to change.
- Unless you’re the sole member (PC or NPC) of a covenant in a city, you have to be known as a member of a covenant to gain it’s benefits.
- You cannot gain benefits from Invictus and Carthian membership simultaneously. This does not infringe on roleplay- you may garner invites to a Carthian meeting as an Invictus through roleplay for example. This is a game of intrigue, after all.
- If you leave the Invictus or Carthians, you will be in XP debt for any merits you bought at discount. You may abandon those merits in exchange for a refund, or you will have to buy yourself out of debt. This will be discussed further at a later date.
- You may not leave a covenant within six months of starting a character.
- You may never gain benefits of more than two covenants, even if you leave one to join another.
- Coils, Theban Sorcery and Cruac cannot be unlearned except through torpor.
We’ve fixed some elements of each covenant, to give players a base for the world building. Those are presented below.
In service to their feudalism, the Invictus have propagated the Manorialism that represents vampiric status quo. Most Princes are Invictus, having risen through long service to their fealty chains. Power drips down slowly, accumulating until the serving Prince has a clear successor. The successor is often announced before retiring to Torpor. Power is often kept within the House, but it can be ceded if it seems they will be unable to maintain it following a transfer of power. Better to keep the covenant strong, than risk having it all be taken.
Neonates find it difficult to penetrate the ranks of the Invictus, as power is seldom shared and only the most trustworthy can join the chains of fealty. In order to prevent other covenants out-maneuvering them, the Invictus will occasionally open their ranks to bolster the establishment. Power is as addictive as vitae- even stalwart rebels can become part of the establishment by offering them a draught.
Blood contracts, oaths, formal justice and strict hierarchies protect the Invictus from any intrigues that would topple their house of cards. This elaborate etiquette helps strengthen covenant identity, with coded social rituals distancing them from outsiders.
Many guilds exist within the Invictus, each dedicated to a certain pursuit. Players may be invited to these, or court them for admission.
The Carthian Movement
Manorialism disenfranchises many. Even undead hearts can be roused to action, and the Carthian Movement is composed of those with better ideas, united in belief of collective bargaining and equivalents to social housing for the displaced and young. They are rebels and intellectuals alike, blood still hot and hearts near beating.
This gives the movement power, bolstered by neonates who find it easy to join and advance through their own merits. This does breed infighting unseen among the Invictus, making for unstable foundations. Sheer numbers offer a solid compromise to stability. Carthians dominate amongst the “second cities” such as Manchester, Birmingham and Liverpool, establishing long traditions of Carthian rule.
Carthians are not opposed to modernity, and many are fascinated with technology and science. They have married their undead nature with scientific rigour to produce Night Surgery, and protect it jealousy from other covenants.
Carthians are divided across many political beliefs, however the average member is considered middle of the road.
Collectivists believe in true democracy, with each vampire having a vote for constitutional matters, collaborating for the common good. They are- ironically- the least opposed by the Invictus, who know they can field large voting blocs that would yield political power.
Individualists are the most popular, as most kindred wish for solitude and dislike obligations of government. Few truly wish for the responsibility- and target- of the governor. Each such kindred gives what they want to the common good. They are often side-lined due to lack of involvement, yet sometimes Carthian heroes arise from unexpected self-sacrifice when collective action fails.
Anarchists are truly dedicated to the revolution. Overt or cryptic, they prefer to directly sabotage the ruling parties efforts and usher in change of leadership. The Invictus are especially wary of them, as their fiery rhetoric can destabilise a domain- to stay nothing of the tattered masquerade their vampiric wars leave behind.
The Circle of the Crone
Britain is old and bloody, power flowing through its rocks and trees to pool in sacred places. Magic is found in the birds and the rain, soaking the isle through. The Crone thrive here, reinventing themselves like snakes shedding their skin. They haunt ancient trees soaked in the vitae of high priestesses, druids, bards and shamans, dancing beneath pale moons to the beat of hungry drums. These groves are places of pilgrimage, where the Crone work their rituals and seek understanding through tribulation.
Each cult is unique to the land it inhabits, keeping records in their book of shadows. Canon is bespoke and transmitted through word of mouth, wriggling into new forms and evolving into new faiths constantly. This is how the Circle likes it- their faith is a living beast, baying in the night.
In the cities the Crone seek for magic to cherish, be that artefacts or ruins hidden beneath modern bricks. Waterways carry sacred energies into the hearts of cities, and houses hold strange energies and spirits. The Crone tend to these places, allowing others access for coin and favour.
There are many traditions among the Circle, each constantly changing. New ones frequently emerge, but a few are more prominent tonight.
Witches, also known as Wicca or Wise Men (and women), worship their triple goddess and horned one. They claim the Ordo Dracul stole magics from them, and seek to reclaim them.
Druids and Bards hold Ceridwen in highest regard, seeking inspiration from nature. To them, creation is the highest aspiration of all kindred.
Neo-shamans seek magic held in ancient, torpid hands, undergoing spirit-quests to coax out the secrets hidden by the age of reason, or condemned by the Lancea as heretical.
The Lancea Sanctum
Once the spiritual patriarchs of vampiric society, the Lance have waned somewhat in modern nights. They still claim many freeholds and extensive libraries, to the envy of other covenants. Their obvious truths as to the Requiem are often seen as attacks on other philosophies, but their dark miracles are beyond reproach. It is hard to argue with God’s own blessings.
Their expansive territory and relative freedom within Manorialism makes them an acknowledged route to power for those uninterested in temporal politicking. Theirs is the ‘state religion’ of the damned, and their beliefs have long since soaked kindred society through. Even staunch Carthians find it difficult to truly divorce themselves from the Lance. Princes seek their counsel for spirituality and ethics both, giving them loud voices in any court.
They hold their spiritual authority in a vice-grip, prizing their status greatly. The Lance is not above intrigue and aggression to hold onto their role as spiritual advisors, no matter how bold they must become.
The Westminster Creed is most notable, though it is by no means a ‘true faith’ amongst the Lance. Their dark miracles are all the proof they need- who would gainsay them when their critics’ mouths fill with scarabs? They are the vengeful angels of the damned, rising to pass judgement on a sinful world. For many neonates, the sight of an ancient priest wielding the Theban Sorcery is deeply affecting, driving them to the faith. Those who dedicate themselves solely to the Lancea Sanctum may rise above the congregation, becoming God’s chosen amongst the damned.
The Ordo Dracul
Even behind the masquerade, secrets yet lie. The Ordo live in a world of mysteries and metaphor, occult secrets finding refuge in elaborate rites and initiations. Each city maintains their own academy, where members meet in ornate chapter houses to peer past veils and dive into mysteries unknown amongst the walking dead. Personally each dragon treads a path to enlightenment, unique to them yet founded on the occult secrets that they hoard. Though dragons’ journeys may be different, each seeks to untangle the esoteric nature of reality.
Their spiritual prowess comes from understanding the phenomenon of the world around them, most importantly the Wyrm’s Nests- places in which sacred powers pool and allow for hallowed chrysalis to be undertaken. These secretive transformations are key to the Ordo, alongside their mastery of the Coils. Temporal power comes from their mystery cults, or lodges similar to the freemasons.
The Ordo is largely uninterested in science, soulless and orthodox as it is. Their spiritual enlightenment does not mesh well with positivistic notions of empirical data and statistical modelling- true power cannot be quantified, only experienced. The great work may well be a grand research project, but it is qualitative in nature- it is art composed of the soul, as a sculpture is composed of marble. With each coil, a dragon carves themselves closer to the ideal vampiric state.
The Ordo has many paths of enlightenment, but two currently enjoy an ascendancy. Both are frequently present in academies.
Hermetics believe in self-improvement through the four elements, tarot, astrology and geomancy. Once the basics are grasped, deeper divinations begin and higher secrets- such as scrying and alchemy- are studied. Hermetic academies adopt the trappings of high magic, aping John Dee, the Tree of Life and similar ceremonial linchpins. The Circle often contests these dragons, claiming high magic is a bastardised Cruac stolen from them.
Theosophists believe in an absolute authority, from whom emanate many masters worthy of study. It bridges eastern and western esotericism in an attempt at self-actualisation, adopting freely from many religions. The Lancea Sanctum finds them highly heretical, for their bastardisation of religious traditions. Their academies are identified by adoption of quasi-religious rites into their mystery plays.
Beyond them, other paths and positions exist within the Ordo.
Mystics have no set beliefs, following Buddhist scriptures or Taoist sermons freely. While influential in the academies of England, they rarely hold them in their own right. Many Hermetics and Theosophists claim modern, Western trends have muddied these traditions in modern days.
The Sworn are those dedicated solely to the Ordo, invited to swear to a particular cause. The Grand Dragon of an academy may even designate someone to a role temporarily. Many different kinds of sworn exist within the Ordo, but they all hold responsibility for the covenant.
That’s it! Thank you all for reading, and we look forward to seeing you on Sunday.