Vampire the Requiem: Court and Commonwealth
The Ordo Dracul
The curse of vampirism is but an obstacle, a hurdle before achieving true power. Granted, it’s a daunting hurdle, and one that most Kindred are ill equipped to even see as surmountable. For those with the necessary devotion, tenacity and intelligence, the Ordo Dracul, the Order of the Dragon, can provide the means. The vampires of the Ordo Dracul run the gamut from dogged fundamentalists with just as much zeal as any fanatic to coldly secular theosophists simply seeking the means to destroy an enemy. The covenant as a whole welcomes both mentalities, for both have much to teach.
This faction claims an infamous founder — Vlad Tepes, Dracula himself. Dracula is noteworthy because he acknowledges no sire. According to Dracula’s account of becoming a vampire, God turned His back on him, and in order to punish him for his wicked acts, God cursed him with undeath. The most widely accepted story of Dracula’s origin is that God punished Vlad Tepes for his abuse of faith in mortal life. According to certain historical records, Tepes was appointed as a “defender of Christianity,” a charge he then used as a means of advancing his own political agendas and as an excuse for atrocities. In addition to all his crimes against humanity, Dracula ultimately put his own desires before his holy oath, the act that Damned him.
The Ordo Dracul reveres its founder, but in a very different way than, say, the Lancea Sanctum honors Longinus. The Dragons believe that the curse of vampirism can and should be surpassed, that the Embrace is a judgment that can be overturned and even exceeded. Nothing, nothing, is permanent, the Order argues, not even the lingering undeath that all
Kindred experience. Of course, no known vampire has ever escaped the Requiem through the Order’s rites (at least not in a manner that others would find satisfactory; it’s quite possible to reduce oneself to a pile of ash or a torpid wretch through an ill-performed observance).
Regardless, Kindred are perfectly willing to admit that such things take centuries, if not millennia. Some crucial piece of knowledge must yet be missing, and with the world growing smaller and more integrated as technology uncovers more of it, that knowledge won’t be long in coming. The search for knowledge is a commonly stated goal of the Order, but it’s deliberately vague. Members of the Ordo Dracul are interested in knowledge, true, but that has more to do with the kind of personality the covenant attracts than with its actual goals.
The Dragons seek information about the truth of the vampiric condition, and to that end, they enjoy talking to other Kindred about their experiences, their feelings upon receiving the Embrace, how their bodies have changed, and how their attitudes toward morals have progressed. (The Gangrel in particular interest the Order, and those Savages who join the covenant quickly become some of their most respected members.) The Dragons seek to establish patterns in God’s plan, in the curse of undeath and in any other facet of the Requiem that will lead them to the answer they seek — how to transcend the limits of vampirism.
To the uninitiated, the philosophy of the Ordo Dracul is a mire of theosophical and even neo-Victorian postulation. Some Kindred liken the order to a secret society such as the Masons or the Golden Dawn, and such speculation isn’t far from the truth. One cannot argue the facts, though — those who achieve rank in the Order certainly gain benefits and are able to perform acts that other vampires cannot. The main tenets of the Order of the Dragon are as follows.
Nothing Is Permanent
Members of the Ordo Dracul know better than to consider themselves “immortal.” Vampires do indeed die, and without benefit of plotting enemies or slavering werewolves. All it takes is a fire burning out of control or a miscalculation in determining the exact time of sunrise, and centuries of unlife and experience can come to an end. But the Dragons don’t look at this fragility as a vulnerability. They regard their condition as mutable. After all, they reason, if God had truly wished for vampires never to change, He wouldn’t have made the means of their destruction so readily available, and He certainly wouldn’t have given any of them ability to change their forms. As such, the Order looks at sweeping change, even change that seems to harm more than it helps, as ultimately beneficial. A building burns, a plane crashes, the Prince of a city falls, covenants scheme, werewolves attack, and the Ordo Dracul simply reminds its members that nothing lasts forever. This isn’t a bleak, fatalistic lament so much as a challenge. “What can we take away from this change?” If nothing else, every change is a reminder that change is possible.
Change Must Have a Purpose
Central to transcending the vampiric condition is an understanding of why it is necessary to do so. The Order looks at the Requiem as a challenge more than a curse, but its members never forget or deny that it is a curse. In researching and realizing the Coils of the Dragon, and thus changing themselves on a fundamental, mystical level, the Dragons work toward their ultimate goal of leaving their vampiric shells behind. This tenet has a broader application, as well. 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. This lesson is reflected most keenly in the Order’s spiritual power.
The Coils of the Dragon distinguish members from their peers very quickly, providing a superb object lesson in the nature of causality. The more power you gain, the less power you understand. Young members of thecovenant, eager for the benefits that the Coils can grant them and enthralled with the notion of going beyond the limits of their state, don’t usually understand that paradox. Many Ordo Dracul mentors regard it as the harshest, but most necessary lesson of the Requiem. If every action isn’t guided by purpose, it soon spirals into entropy and eventually destruction. The Order doesn’t believe in causing foolish chaos and then shirking responsibility for its actions by saying, “Change is good.”
The Ordo Dracul in the DMV
Since the Schism much of the Ordo has gone underground. The Lancea Sanctum hunted the Dragons with more fervor than any other group. While the Circle of the Crone also saw much punishment, the secrecy that surrounded the Dragons only hunting them out that much more of a priority for the previous Cardinal. To that end, most of the Dragons had been hunted almost to complete extinction, those that survived fled to Baltimore where they found an almost as zealous regent looking for them. When the Carthians decided to rebel, the Dragons threw their weight behind them and never looked back.
In modern nights, most Ordo members in the DMV can be found in Baltimore. A few have returned to DC, but remain very quiet about their activities. They now meet in secret and only when completely necessary. It is still not impossible however. The metro system offers many places suitable for secret meetings in small access tunnels. The Ordo Dracul lives on and with its survival a hopeful eye continues to gaze at transcending the negative aspects of the vampiric state.