The Ordo Dracul believe that Dracula was cursed by God to unlife as a vampire. The members of this covenant wish to transcend vampirism like their supposed creator did - to this end they have developed powerful quasi-Disciplines which they call 'Coils' which serve to defeat the curse of vampirism, and depending on the nature of the particular flaw being overcome the coil is either of a permanent never fail effect to providing a modifier during a roll (frenzying, for example) to changing you for a short time (making the user look alive for a Scene.)
An Ordo Dracul Prince is known as a Master or Voivode.
The Ordo Dracul claims descent from Dracula, who, according to the Rites of the Dragon, had been cursed by God with immortality and thirst for blood, after he was cornered by assassins in 1476. The Rites of the Dragon state that Dracula and his three childer formed the Ordo Dracul, which was then placed under his childers' care. The early Covenant faced persecution within Kindred society, most vehemently from the Lancea et Sanctum, who would not tolerate the blasphemous experiments of the Dragons. Additionally, the Ordo had problems with continuing their founder's cause. Ordo Dracul historians theorize that until the scientific method became prevalent, the Dragons had to rely on incomplete notes, word of mouth, and sheer luck in experimenting with the Coils.
In the 19th century, the Ordo Dracul experienced its greatest boom in membership and progress, as well as its greatest threat. The covenant emerged in the new century confused and on the verge of collapse. Most Kindred of other covenants know little about the Ordo Dracul’s activities during much of the 19th century. For the Ordo, it was a time of rebirth. Surges in membership, innovations among mortals and a elaborate charade of rites mimicked after the Freemasons to keep the unworthy outside, the Order lived through the century in solitude and study, until Bram Stoker published his book.
Dracula popularized the vampire the Ordo claimed as their founder and soon they could not save themselves from prying vampires, who remembered that there had been a covenant that used this name. The Ordo Dracul realized that wasting energy hiding was no longer useful, so the Dragons simply declared their allegiance formally. Thus the Ordo Dracul transformed, in many domains, from a secret society within the hidden world of the Kindred into a covenant of its own.
The early years of the 20th century saw science progress faster than ever. In 1916, blood was first refrigerated for transfusion purposes. Meanwhile, the Great War in Europe brought with it advances of a different kind. New weapons and new tactics brought a body count of unprecedented proportions. When Hitler rose to power in Germany, the Ordo Dracul faced legal persecution, as all secret societies had been outlawed, and the Ordo was forced to abandon many of its Wyrm's Nests in the following war. After the war, the Ordo Dracul in Europe took to secrecy once again; while the members in the United States lived openly, claiming domain as any other vampire.
There is perhaps no covenant more tightly organized than the Ordo Dracul. With titles almost as elaborate as the Invictus and a hierarchy more rigid than the Lancea Sanctum, navigating the nuances of Dragon authority can be confusing and overwhelming. Internally, this is referred to as the Dragon's Tongue, a forked line of progression, through which covenant members progress as they learn more secrets and master greater aspects of their condition. While comprehension of the hierarchy by those outside the covenant is cloudy at best, it appears that all members follow a single path of progression up until a certain point, after which the member chooses a specialty to follow.
The Dragons seek to overcome their vampiric nature through the Coils of the Dragon, thus a key part of title reflects that. The official formula for title is (Dragon's name), (rank) of (decorations, if any) (domain) (additional decorations).
For every coil power a member knows, their rank increases. These powers can be all in the same coil or in as many powers the Dragon knows. Titles are to the right.
The Dragons have many decorations to indicate a secondary domain, or particular coil (Blood, Banes, Beast, Flesh and Soul) the Dragon knows second best. There are always two different ways to express this use of decoration.
Title also reveals which domain the Dragon is most adept in. See the sidebar above.
Thus, a Dragon that calls herself "Scholar of Hunger" knows all three tiers of the Coil of Blood. An "Initiate of the Wild Hunger" knows all three tiers of Blood and a tier of Beast.
Decorations may also be used to convey secret messages. For example, using the decoration "Terrible" indicates the Dragon is here against his will. "Invincible" means enemies are listening.
Determining who's in charge of whom is a process dependent on three factors: rank, Sworn standing and politics. Rank is very straightforward. Higher ranks means more authority over lower ranks, just like any military chain of command. A Sworn Dragon, however, is always in charge of unsworn, no matter the rank. Thus, a Sworn slave can give orders to an unsworn Initiate.
Politics isn't so clear cut. While officially a Dragon's personality or perception doesn't matter, the reality is a well respected Scribe can have just as much Status as an ill-percieved and untrusted Master. Even then, the Master is in charge, but he'll have to be really nice about how he gives his orders if he expects anyone to follow them. Despite that, Status and rank generally move in concert.
The Sworn of Dracula
Allegedly founded by the three brides of Dracula himself, three different branches exist that conduct the order's research for an optimized approach. Each is given specific areas of authority as well as duties so that those Dragons best suited for one type of service to the Order are put to that use and not wasted on occupations they are ill-fit to assume. Only Elders and similar experienced Kindred are allowed to join the Sworn of Dracula.
- The Sworn of the Axe, the protectors of the lore of the Ordo Dracul
- The Sworn of the Dying Light, the researchers and librarians of the Ordo Dracul
- The Sworn of Mysteries, the political organ of the Ordo Dracul
Local Dragons are subjects to a Kogaion, who acts as the local keeper of Ordo activities and Wyrm Nests. Kogaions are supported by Commanders, Dragons who have reached a status of at least 4 and who act as arbiters for Juris Draconis, the jurisdiction within the Ordo. Many of them a part of the Sworn and are thus bound to their specific oaths.
Below them are the bulk of the local Dragons, who seek to master the Coils and continue their Requiem, as well as the Slaves that still have to find mentors.
Much of the Ordo Dracul is centered around traditional Mentor-Protégé duos. Mentoring is a serious concern among the Dragons and the practice of the Paths of Fate, a tarot-like divination based on the Virtue and Vice of the aspirant, is often used to determine productive partnerships. It is the duty of the student to be respectful of her mentor, to listen to her words and observe her actions, and to learn something from the experience. The mentor’s role is to act in a way deserving of respect, to show the student something enlightening and explain it in a way that will ensure that the lesson will be learned. This is true in an isolated cell of the Ordo as well is in a large metropolis with several rival factions.
Several variants of the Rites have risen, reacting to breakthroughs in study, cultural traditions among the Kine and geographical position. Most of these were very minor and easily dealt with, but some were more troublesome, and the stubbornness of various Dragons in the Ordo Dracul’s earlier years resulted in deadlocks that could not be reconciled. This could have led to serious fractures in the covenant that might have spelled its doom, but instead the eldest Dragons turned to their roots for a solution. Change could be tolerated so long as it was with purpose, and so, with purpose, the most egregious differences were dealt with by codifying them as various forms or Rites by which the covenant could organize itself. While some animosity remains between the different Rites even still, most are able to work together if necessary for the greater good of the Ordo Dracul. Several more still exist, but are usually junctions of one of the major rites.
The most popular rites are:
- The Damascene Rite, a rite centered around the Mediterranean that stresses obedience and servility to one's superiors.
- The Oriental Rite, a rite centered around East Asia that focuses on mysticism and the concept of transcendence.
- The Palatine Rite, a rite centered around Middle Europe that focuses on the study of dark arts (namely Blood Sorcery) and is vehemently opposed to the Circle of the Crone.
- The Philadelphian Rite, a rite centered around the United States that focuses on a more public representation in Kindred circles and a more active participation in the Danse Macabre.
- The Wallachian Rite, a rite centered around Eastern Europe that stresses "orthodoxy" and the authority of the "Rites of the Dragon".
Method and Goal
The Ordo Dracul believes in purposeful change and the non-existence of permanence. Everything is in motion and transition, regardless how enduring or protected it seems to the untrained eye. Every action has a reaction, and until a Dragon can understand the reactions that a given course causes, she is discouraged from taking action at all. To this end, mystical studies of the condition of vampirism itself are conducted, to learn it limits and expand them. The Ordo Dracul takes great pains to train its members that they avoid thinking in categories and instead are able to perceive things from multiple angles.
Furthermore, the Ordo Dracul emphasizes the Solitude Paradox to its aspirants: Observation is interaction, and therefore has an effect on what is being observed, even if that effect is immeasurable. A member of the Ordo Dracul seeks to change themselves and must thus turn their focus inward, but must take for granted that they are never truly alone or unnoticed. Something is always watching in the night, whether this is another vampire, one of the Strix or God Himself. No matter what they do or discover, someone will eventually discover it, so it's better to disclose their findings to someone they know and trust (referring to the Order, of course).
As a Dragon is trained, they are expected to expand beyond the basic five senses to broaden their viewpoint. The Discipline of Auspex is very helpful in this case, but exposure to a Wyrm's Nest also helps. If the mentor is sure that the aspirant has learned enough, they are allowed to take action themselves. The aspirant is then advised to watch the domino effect of this particular change he brought to the world (a favourite is the killing of a mortal, to see how it ripples through their entourage, society, the supernatural and on the killer themselves). This process is described as "following the Dragon's Tail". The same principle is then continued with every other practice of the Dragon, from their involvement in the Danse Macabre to their own studies in the Coils of the Dragon.
This directed and observed change is not random, but seeks a specified goal of transformation of the vampire into something unhindered by the Banes of its existence. This, the Great Work, is the raison d'être of the Ordo, in which all Lesser Works eventually enter.
Almost all Dragons follow purviews that are different from their peers. Individualism is a vital part for a Covenant of scholars and as long as a Dragon observes the Principia Draconis and adheres to the scientific method, the precise way in which she approaches the Great Work matters little. Some resort to using alchemical means or practice Theosophy or Mesmerism, while others use scientific (or pseudo-scientific) methods to unlock the secrets of their unnatural condition.
That's not to say that these different Methodologies accept or even respect each other. Transylvania is wrecked in the struggle between the the Wallachian, the Palatine and the Oriental Rites, and lesser Rites vie for supremacy in Conclaves.
Known factions are:
- Sworn of the Locust: Adepts of Mara, Dracula's first childe, the original goal of the Locusts was to rail against the God who had cursed Dracula originally. In later nights, with the growing scepticism among the mortals, these goals were abandoned. Their goal became to escape the snares and toils of the Kindred condition by any means necessary. Instead of acting in deliberate opposition to the morality of the Church and mortals, they would become amoral and perform any action - good, evil or indifferent - that would exalt them personally and improve their individual state.
- Sworn of the Ladder: Adepts of Anoushka, Dracula's second childe, the Sworn of the Ladder seek to mitigate the curse through selfless deeds that would counter the cravings of the Beast.
- The Impaled: The sub-culture of the Dragons that calls itself the Impaled has coiled the Dracula legend back onto itself with a gruesome ceremony of torture and exaltation, cruelty and remorse, that casts the followers of Dracula as both tyrant and subject, monster and victim. In the eyes of the Order, the rite of the Impaled feeds the dragon its own tail. The Impaled use the strengths and weaknesses of their undead bodies to experience both perspectives of Dracula's atrocities. They subject themselves to his own torture to better understand him and themselves.
Camps are ideologies of what will be the end result of the Great Work, once the Curse is transcended and the vampire has mastered itself.
- Angelics: Also called the Nephilim, they believe they must eliminate the stigmata of spiritual imperfection that is the source of their physical weaknesses and psychological torment. In doing so, they will attain Gnosis, which will transform them into semi-divine beings. They believe that only achieving omniscience will conquer the curse.
- Arahats: Arahats believe their state is a form of karmic punishment that will be left behind when the vampire ends the Great Work with his transcendence, achieved by attaining the pinnacle in a chosen field of study and gaining a Bodhisattva-like state of omniscience .
- Cthonians: Their belief is that once a vampire has shed the curse, he will become one of the entities beyond existence, Lovecraftian horrors dwelling behind the stars and under the sea. Most of their Requiems is dedicated to learning more about these entities and how to join them.
- Devourer Worms: Drawing upon the image of the serpent Apophis, the Devourer Worms seek to become perfect predators, honing and training their Beast, so that it can one day replace the Man in a proper fashion. For the Devourers, they have achieved this state when no creature, regardless of its power, skill or intelligence, can challenge them.
- Eleusians: Eleusians believe that undeath is an exalted state. Mortality is an illusion that limits the potential of an individual, constricting her ability to perceive truths and act accordingly. As even vampirism has its drawback, they seek the perfect "death", that will allow them to extinguish their form beyond any hopes of return.
- Liches: They believe that transcendence is all about control; over one's own body and soul as well as over all other creatures. The only limitation for a lich will be imagination and desire. To this end, they study the occult physics behind the world, in addition to the mundane sciences.
The Ordo Dracul is known for its sundry supernatural pursuits and connections to all manner of strange powers. Kindred of all sorts may come to the Order of the Dragon in search of personal change, power, escape or shelter.
- Architects of the Monolith, a Ventrue-based bloodline that is highly territorial and is rumored to practice a special form of Blood Sorcery
- Azerkatil, a Nosferatu-dominated bloodline dedicated to Dracula's destruction, who are tolerated as foils to the Ordo to enable change
- Dragolescu, a Ventrue-dominated bloodline that deals with ghosts and how their essence can be harvested by vampires
- Libitinarius, a Mekhet-based bloodline that focuses on staving off the effects of the Fog of Eternity
- Moroi, an ancient bloodline of the Nosferatu that acts as assassins of the Ordo
- Mystikoi, a Gangrel-dominated bloodline that seek nothing less than the reunification of all life with the godhead.
- Tismanu, an order of "Dragon Monks" originating among the Mekhet, that strives to create safe refuges where vampires can recover from the wounds inflicted by a harsh world and better resist the strenuous pull of the Beast.
- Vedma, a Gangrel-based bloodline that are rumored to have roots farther back than the Clan they belong to, and who deal in witchcraft and hexes.
- , p.44-46
Carthian Movement · Circle of the Crone · Invictus · Lancea Sanctum · Ordo Dracul