|Disciplines:||Auspex, Obfuscate, Nightmare, Vigor|
" Listen to me, cabron. I know what you did. I know where the bodies are buried, and I know what they’d do to you if they found out. By the way, your wife says hello. "
The Calacas are bloodline of the Nosferatu based in Mexico.
On el Día de los Muertos in Mexico City in 1902, a chapter house of the Ordo Dracul embarked on a bizarre experiment in an attempt to understand the Day of the Dead and its occult origins. The Mexico City Dragons had a theory that, to a limited extent, the laws of life and death worked backwards during the Day of the Dead. They held that the shades of the dead did not want to return to the world of the living, but that some compelling force drew them back from the Underworld just as surely as it normally drew the souls of the deceased to their eternal rest. The Dragons further hypothesized that, just as some souls were able to resist that force by remaining on the earthly plane after death, some souls might also be able to resist the spiritual “low tide” and remain in the afterlife through the Day of the Dead. By studying both those ghosts who remained in the material realm and those who clung to the Underworld, the Dragons thought to achieve a greater understanding of the forces that anchored the Kindred soul in its state of perpetual stasis.
The Dragons gathered in their chapter house shortly before midnight on November 2, 1902. There were five researchers present to catalog the results of the experiment, which was to be conducted principally by Hector Luíz Guerrera, a Nosferatu elder who had been a medium in his breathing days, and another whose identity was never recorded — popular theory holds that this other was a mortal necromancer. At precisely midnight, when tradition dictated that the souls of the departed began to return to the world, Guerrera and his associate conducted a ritual that was supposed to conjure a ghost from the Underworld, which would be channeled into Guerrera and use the Nosferatu as a mouthpiece. The ritual appeared to work, but the ghost’s strength of will proved stronger than the Dragons had expected. Guerrera, apparently under the ghost’s control, killed his associate and three of the researchers, then fled the chapter house. The surviving Dragons reported that Guerrera’s previously unremarkable face had been transformed into the likeness of a skull, giving him the appearance of a living calaca mask.
Hector Guerrera disappeared from Kindred society after that unfortunate event, and popular consensus was that the possessing ghost, not realizing its new body was that of a vampire, did not seek shelter from the sun and was killed a second time the next dawn. Then, in 1928, a Kindred with a face like a calaca mask presented herself at the Mexico City chapter house of the Ordo Dracul. She claimed to be the childe of Hector Luíz Guerrera, and said that her sire had mastered the ghost that possessed him and learned much about the “tidal forces of life and death.” His childe, Rosa, had been sent to guarantee that no retribution would come upon Guerrera for the deaths of the three Dragons more than a quarter of a century before. Rosa was assured that Guerrera would be welcomed back with open arms, as long as he would share his insights with the order.
On el Día de los Muertos in 1928, Hector himself returned to Mexico City, bringing with him a brood of eight childer, each with the same skull-like face as their sire. True to Guerrera’s word, the Calacas bloodline brought with it a new understanding of the strange forces of life and death that caused el Día de los Muertos. Guerrera and most of his childer still dwell in Mexico City, continuing their studies of ghosts and the Underworld. Thanks largely to the Calacas, the Dragons of Mexico City are acknowledged as some of the leading experts on the subjects in all Mexico.
Most Calacas belong to the Ordo Dracul. In fact, the bulk of Calacas in modern nights have no direct blood lineage with Hector Luíz Guerrera at all, having been inducted instead by Guerrera or one of his childer acting as Avus. Those Calacas who leave the order usually remain Unbound, but some have been known to fall in with the Circle of the Crone. Less mystically inclined Calacas tend to favor the Carthian Movement over the Invictus. To date, there has been no verifiable record of a Calaca joining the Lancea Sanctum, but that is likely due more to the Ordo Dracul’s prejudice against the Sanctified being fed to fledgling Calacas rather than any specific disinclination toward the teachings of Longinus.
Most Calacas are of Mexican heritage, but they range across the spectrum from almost-pure Spanish blood to 100% Zapotec. They tend to dress in reserved, subdued clothing befitting an academic, though some young Calacas deliberately take an opposite tack, dressing in brightly colored, elaborately decorated traditional dress, making themselves look like the calaca decorations mortals put up for el Día de los Muertos.
As part of assuming the Calaca bloodline, all members’ faces become exceptionally pale and distorted, with small eyes sunken in deep sockets, vestigial noses and thin lips that show the prominent outlines of their teeth. Their appearance is not blatantly supernatural, and most humans who see them assume that they suffer from some deformity or birth defect, but a Calaca’s bizarre appearance will certainly draw attention.
Most of the Calacas in Mexico City lair at the Ordo Dracul’s chapter house in that city rather than maintaining havens of their own. Those who do maintain havens, or members traveling abroad, often claim cemeteries or old, abandoned mortuaries as havens. Others prefer the traditional Nosferatu standby and lair in the sewers or storm tunnels.
When a Calaca Embraces, she almost always chooses a mortal with some sort of psychic affinity for ghosts. Whether this is simply out of respect for their founder or because mediums have some ineffable quality that survives the Embrace and makes the bloodline’s studies of the afterlife easier has never been revealed outside the bloodline. Naturally, as members of the Ordo Dracul, Calacas also look for a keen intelligence and a desire to question and ultimately understand the world around them.
Currently, however, the bulk of the Calacas bloodline comprises ancillae and, rarely, particularly gifted neonates who were not Embraced into the bloodline, but who have spent years studying ghosts and mapping Haunts and have advanced the order’s understanding of these subjects sufficiently to impress Hector Guerrera, or one of his childer. These notable scholars are offered membership in the bloodline, with one of Guerrera’s original childer (or, in rare cases, Guerrera himself) serving as the prospective member’s Avus. Some Nosferatu have traveled from as far as Yucatán or even the United States to receive this honor.
Most Calacas are of a scholarly bent, and not terribly well adapted in social situations (unsurprising, given their parentage). Ghosts don’t always congregate in easily accessed public places, and Calacas must sometimes investigate crumbling Aztec ruins or hazardous mountain passes to conduct their research; as such, Mental Attributes tend to be primary, with Physical secondary and Social lagging behind. Likewise, Calacas tend to focus on Mental Skills and Merits, with Occult and Eidetic Memory being the most common, respectively. Physical Skills are useful for exploration and self-defense, but many Calacas prefer to make Social Skills their secondary category in order to have a broader palette to draw from when dealing with recalcitrant ghosts. Buying a second dot of Blood Potency is a good idea, or else the character is just a Nosferatu applicant hoping to be chosen for the bloodline.
Ghost hunter, Kindred medium, ley-line mapper, Ordo Dracul troubleshooter, Underworld-obsessed researcher.
The Calacas are not a pretty bunch. Their parent clan’s flaw manifests in a unique and specific manner, making them resemble the calacas decorations popular on the Day of the Dead. As for all Nosferatu, Calacas do not gain the benefit of the 10-again rule on Presence- and Manipulation-based rolls, and any 1’s rolled in those situations subtract from the character’s total successes.
Furthermore, the Calacas’ frequent close proximity to ghosts and haunted Dragon’s Nests (and, if rumor is to be believed, the unique circumstances of the bloodline’s creation) means that ghostly phenomena are drawn to these vampires like iron filings to a magnet. This typically manifests as random cold spots, ethereal breezes or faint, barely audible whispers around the character. This effect is deeply unnerving, even to those accustomed to it, and seems to get worse as the Calaca’s Humanity erodes. For this reason, Humanity acts as a cap on all the Calacas’ dice pools for social interaction (not including Intimidation or rolls to activate Nightmare powers), and not just when they interact with mortals.
The Calacas are still a fairly small bloodline, and though they are mostly centrally located, they are surprisingly loosely organized. Individual members are free to pursue whatever line of research they feel is relevant, as long as they share their findings with the rest of the bloodline and, ostensibly, the Ordo Dracul (in reality, Hector Guerrera decides which of the bloodline’s findings are passed on to the Order at large). If a member’s work is considered frivolous, dangerous or otherwise detrimental, a simple majority vote of Guerrera’s childer can proscribe a Kindred from continuing. Guerrera himself can veto his childer on these votes, and occasionally does so.
Acteius · Adroanzi · Azerkatil · Baddacelli · Burakumin · Calacas · Caporetti · Cimitiere · The Cockscomb Society · Galloi · Gethsemani · Licinii · Lygos · Mayarap · Moroi · Morotrophians · Noctuku · Order of Sir Martin · Rakshasa · Telamones · Usiri · Yagnatia