Posted by: markfender | November 13, 2013

V:tR – Ordo Dracul

It’s another Covenant book.

ordo draculThe Ordo Dracul are a covenant interested in overcoming the vampiric condition. Their outlook is purely a 19th century “natural philosopher” outlook, which is kind of cool. Unfortunately, I’m not too keen on the Dracula thing. It’s a little too cliche. Maybe if they’d been descended from Varney the Vampire instead?

The first section is the Introduction, which includes the covenant’s Title system, based on how many Coils of the Dragon you’ve mastered. This is a kind of neat idea, but isn’t something I can easily remember to do on the fly. So, neat fluff but kind of difficult to whip off in the middle of a game session.

The first chapter is the history of the covenant. This addresses some of the common myths about Dracula and his place in the Requiem world. I’d prefer to downplay that aspect though, so moving on.

Next we get the standard “what it’s like being a member” section. This is fairly interesting as one of the main covenant’s ideas is that of change and how it should be sought after. If you’ve ever read a Vampire book before, you know that this is not the sort of thing that vampires are into, giving them an immediate conflict with the majority of vampiredom. There’s also a big section on Wyrm’s Nests, which are essentially just magical areas in the world. That’s also a pretty common trope in every other World of Darkness game, except in Vampire. Vampires don’t really have any way to interact with these areas – they don’t do magic rituals, they don’t enter the Umbra, and they don’t go astral traveling. So, it’s a little odd that the Ordo is interested in them. It becomes a search for Golconda on a grand scale, which isn’t necessarily a bad hook – it’s just an odd inclusion for a “race” that can’t use them.

This section also includes a bunch of stuff on the Coils of the Dragon – the ways that the Ordo attempts to overcome their vampiric weaknesses. This works alongside their emphasis on change, as they’re constantly seeking ways to change their forms. This includes a weird idea called the Chrysalis, where the vampire goes into a hibernation-like state when they enact these physical changes on themselves. The interesting thing is that if they fail, they become “lost to the dragon” which entails losing Humanity every night until they’re completely overrun by the Beast – permanently. This is really the only system we’ve seen for a Golconda-like process and I like what it implies about that process and the difficulty of following that transcendent path. We’ve also got the three main groupings within the organization and specific titles within those.

The next chapter has an interesting Tarot mechanic to figure out a vampire’s Fate. This reliance upon spiritualism goes along with the covenant’s 19th century outlook, so I like its inclusion. We then get the same sort of breakdown from the Lancea Sanctum book about the different levels of involvement in the covenant and what that means. Thankfully, it’s not as long as the Lancea book.

Next, we get the Factions and Bloodlines of the Ordo Dracul. The first such grouping is of Methodologies – how exactly they’re going about enacting Change upon the vampiric condition. This includes the sorts of things you’d expect from early “scientists:” alchemy, mesmerism, etc. The ideas of these methodologies is neat – they’re almost transhuman, er I guess transvampire. The first example Faction are the Impaled, who have a whole “suffer in order to transcend” thing going on. They seem like a mixture of asceticism and Sun Dance rituals. Next are the Locusts who are objectivist-based vampires. Finally, we’ve got the Sworn of the Ladder, who are just sort of goody two-shoes.

For Bloodlines, we start with the Azerkatil, a Nosferatu Legacy that’s becoming a Club. They’re Turkish warriors originally designed to hunt and destroy Dracula but have sort of fallen from that purpose and now act as the Covenant’s hit squad.

The Dragolescu are next, a spiritualism-based bloodline. They’re a Ventrue Club. I’m sorry these weren’t more interesting.

The Libertinarius are a kind of cool idea. They’re morticians of a sort, dedicated to watching over vampires while they’re in torpor. Their services are in high demand because they can lessen the strain and length of torpor through their unique Discipline. Fittingly, they’re a Mekhet Club.

The Moroi are an assassin Bloodline, They’re weird because they’re descended from two clans: Gangrel and Nosferatu. As a Legacy, they gain the Weakness of the other Clan, making pretty much all of their non-combat Stats suffer massive penalties. So that’s fun.

The Tismanu are a Mekhet Club. They’re the religious Bloodline. If you think about where Dracula is from, you can probably guess that they’re the Eastern Orthodox to the Lancae Sanctum’s Catholic background.

The Vedma are essentially Baba Yaga. As a Gangrel Club, they’re keeping the pagan ideas of the area “alive.”

Next up we get new powers. These include New Coils, Apocryphal Coils, as well higher levels of the preexisting Coils. The interesting thing about these is that they haven’t actually been discovered yet. They’re more like suggestions for PCs who might want to invent their own Coils. Fittingly, there are also rules on how to do this. Next are all the Disciplines for the new Bloodlines, except they’re all missing dots. It’s not hard to figure out what their rating should be, but it’s kind of annoying. There’s also some new Merits that detail some of the more minor ways the Covenant has enacted physical change upon themselves. It’s nice to see these as it shows that their quest doesn’t just show up in the form of Coils. Lastly, we’ve got Blood Alchemy, which is mostly just a method to implant Disciplines into potions. This doesn’t seem all that useful because most of them can’t be used by someone else. So, you can use the Power you already have on yourself? Now, the ones that can be used on others have obvious uses, but I’m feeling I missed something vital here. There’s also some Wyrm Nest rituals which give some game effects. They do have a purpose after all!

Lastly is the Allies and Antagonists chapter which details some NPCs. Of particular note are the Three Draculas: The Hollywood Drac, the Gilded Fireplug, and the Romanian Terror. None are quite canonical but I like that the book at least acknowledges that the figure of Dracula varies quite a bit depending on what sources you use.

Overall, I liked this book. I like the natural philosophy take on the covenant, even if the irony of a group using two centuries-old methods to enact change is a little rich. I like the theme of transcendence and this has probably been the most detailed look we’ve gotten across two game lines on it. Granted, it’s only one group’s take on the subject but that’s still interesting.

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