Architects of the Monolith

Since the first temples were built, mankind has been fascinated with the meaning of buildings and the power of architecture. Standing stones erected to face the sun at the equinox, and palaces built to impress and cow the populace were combined with cosmology and sacred geometry to create complex and powerful forms and ideals for the glory of God, king and self. Nearly every culture has used these principles to one degree or another, shaping its world while shaping itself. The vampiric Architects of the Monolith emerged from this impulse as it coiled into the fevered torpor-dreams of the bloodline’s megalomaniac founder. From this brew of madness and art, the “Masons” have conjured a form of undead sorcery that gives them power over cities, inspiring them to consider themselves the ultimate masters of the gilded cage.

It is such vainglory that drives the vampires of the line to form a grand conspiracy that they claim spans continents and centuries, a sweeping
plot for dominion that will supposedly bring the world under their sway. The same vanity has incurred the wrath of the Lancea Sanctum and other undead to the point that the Architects have nearly been scourged from existence. Remaining Masons linger not with humility, but with an understanding that they must keep their true plans and powers concealed, lest the jealousies of “lessers” be their undoing.

In the modern nights, those few Damned who know of the Architects of the Monolith think of them as an eccentric brood of Ventrue. Those who have had any direct contact may know that the line clings to antiquated notions of architecture, following Napoleonic ideals of city planning and ritual to keep the kine pacified. An even smaller number know that the brood is actually a bloodline, begun in Paris in the late 18th century, closely linked to the Ordo Dracul and known for producing brilliant Guardians and Kogaion. Those who have had direct experience with the Architects speak of darker things, of madness and destruction, and the sensation of being looked upon as a god would a flea.

Although all of these rumors have an element of truth, the last are most accurate. Every member of the bloodline believes she can literally control the world by channeling mystical energy through the focus of looming architecture. The line’s founder even believes her lineage can make cities the focus of reality, turning both God and nature into mere trivialities banished to the shadow of her monolith. Bound by this mad and impossible vision, the bloodline works secretly and circumspectly. The result is a cult motivated by madness, backed by visions of conquest, and powered by esoteric sorcery. Though members’ insane visions of dominance are only so much torpor-delusion, the harm they can cause is very real. After all, individuals sacrificed for their plans aren’t any less dead, and communities wracked by their “progress” aren’t any less ruined.

Parent Clan: Ventrue

Nickname: Masons

Covenant: Most of the few extant Architects are affiliated with the Ordo Dracul. It was from the Order that they arose as a conspiracy and bloodline, and their ties with the covenant remain. It is even said that the line founder is a leading member of the Sworn of the Mysteries. While the Dracul see the Architects as too concerned with power and not attentive enough to personal transcendence, Masons still occupy a privileged position in the society. An unusually high proportion of Architects act as Kogaion. The fact that the Order expects and even encourages its members to conduct private investigations and occult experiments makes it a perfect home for the Architects. This hardly means that all Dragons are comfortable with the Architects, as the Order suspects the depths of the line’s madness, but the covenant is generally willing to give the Masons a chance to overcome their limitations — within reason.

Other Architects tend to be members of the Invictus. Though they often lack the formal occult teaching of Order members, Invictus Masons are still valuable to the bloodline for the political clout and connections they wield. Since conspiracies of power are the bread and butter of the First Estate, insightful Invictus Princes enjoy having Masons under their thumb in the urban night. A smart First Estate Prince or Priscus can even
ply an Architect without causing himself too much harm, so long as he’s careful to play upon the line member’s madness to keep her under control.

Very few Architects become Princes themselves; it’s too public a position. They tend to do well in a Primogen capacity and often take Regencies over domains of construction, city hall or other areas that allow them to affect urban development. The rank and file of the Invictus are leery of Masons, uncertain of their occult dealings and put off by their overt madness.

There are very few Architects in any of the other covenants. The Carthian mindset doesn’t sit well with the ideals of control and mystery that dominate the bloodline. The unaligned often lack the power and connections valued by the Architects. The Circle of the Crone has no Architect members, as the phallus-centric paradigm of the Masons puts them fundamentally at odds with the Crones. And yet, the Architects would very much like to seduce knowledge of Crúac away from Acolytes in order to forward their own interests.

Longstanding members of the Lancea Sanctum have a special place for the Masons in their unbeating hearts. Not just because the Architects were founded by an apostate Cardinal and carry their founder’s blood-taint, but because the bloodline was once foolish enough to pit its sorcery against the Sanctified. The Masons are nearly as loving toward the Spear, as survivors remember (or have been beaten down with stories of) the nights when the Sanctified fell upon the lineage. While Masons are smart enough to avoid open hostility with the covenant, they would dearly love to strike back for their past humiliation. Of course, should the Sanctified find out that the Architects are still fully engaged in their blasphemous plans to take God’s power as their own, history could repeat itself.

Appearance: Members of the bloodline are every inch Ventrue, though they tend to be modern rather than conservative in their personage and apparel. Most old members are of European derivation, with a preponderance of French members with that famous Gaelic nose. In the modern nights, there are increasing numbers of Hispanic and Japanese members, as well as Americans of mixed background. All Masons dress well, generally in business attire, sometimes with a French flair designed to remind them of their glory days in Paris. A very few elders yearn for the days of Worth gowns, swashbuckling cuffs and hussar boots, and take formal parties as an opportunity to revel in their golden age, but few are so out of touch to think such apparel suited for nightly wear.

Haven: As the would-be masters of urban civilization, nothing but the best can serve as a haven for one of the Masons. Sixtieth-story penthouse condos with secret rooms, safety vaults and full security are possible, designed to be impregnable while maintaining the image of powerful nonchalance. Sprawling villas or small mansions with perfect French gardens in the high style of Le Notre are popular, though Masons in young and populous cities have had to give them up to maintain the Masquerade. Other than quality and elegance, the common feature of all Architect havens is that they are in someway imposing, impressive or mystically significant. Be this a fine historical pedigree or an avant-garde sense of space, something about a haven makes it “mystically powerful” in a twisted interpretation of sacred construction. Many Architects keep truly eyecatching elements confined to the interior of a haven, so as to avoid notice, while others ensure their havens disappear into the cityscape, despite their haute couture.

Background: Being Ventrue, the Architects take only childer who seem the best to their skewed perceptions. The main traits considered desirable are a craving for personal power and control; extensive knowledge of architecture, urban studies, city planning or the occult; and the ability to exist independently and quietly. This combination of requirements leads to many members being from mixed corporate and academic backgrounds, with a preference for those who are both well-educated and successful in businesses, such as in real estate and urban development. Above and beyond all else, each prospective Architect must prove her ability to keep a secret. The Masons have a natural flair for secrecy and dissembling to rival that of the Mekhet.

Other Ventrue who meet Architect standards can be adopted into the line. An Architect most likely approaches a prospective member, and then only after the candidate has been circumspectly but thoroughly tested on his initial sanity, ability to keep secrets and compatibility with the bloodline’s goals. These tests are generally hidden in the nightly politics of the Requiem, with false alliances and information being given and fake
agents sent to trick, bribe or coerce information from the potential recruit. He is deemed of merit only if he can impress his assailant-adopters. Once a subject has been found worthy, the Architects approach obliquely, carefully sounding him out and making him take fearsome oaths before bringing him into their august ranks.

Character Creation: Chosen and groomed for mental acumen backed by social strength and secrecy, Architects tend toward high Mental and Social traits. Members have above average Resolve, Intelligence and Composure. It’s a rare Mason who doesn’t have a deep interest in and knowledge of the mysteries of sacred and mystical architecture, leading to a high level in Occult. Just after the mystical comes immersion in the theory of Academics, the practice of Crafts and the knowledge of Science as each relates to architecture, construction, gardening, demolitions and urban planning. Politics and Socialize are considered practical tools needed to impose one’s vision on the world, without being a primary focus.

The splendid mansions, penthouses and castles of the Architects require a high level of Haven. Connections with urban-development offices, city government, architectural firms and construction companies require dots in Allies, Contacts, Resources and Status (among mortals). Despite social connections and Ventrue blood, few line members have Status in vampiric circles, due to their low profile and the madness that makes others shun them.

Any character who immediately starts down the path of an Architect rather than as a mere land-speculating Ventrue needs a second dot of Blood Potency.

Bloodline Disciplines: Auspex, Dominate, Gilded Cage, Resilience

Weakness: Architects are corrupted by their power even more so than their Ventrue cousins. They retain the clan weakness, suffering a –2 penalty to Humanity rolls to avoid acquiring derangements after failing a degeneration roll.

The Architects’ specific weakness is deeper seated, though no one is sure if it’s a flaw in their nature or a curse passed down from their founder. All Masons are afflicted with the Narcissism derangement upon the Embrace, and gain Megalomania as their first severe derangement. (How the latter is acquired doesn’t matter. It could be the result of a failed Humanity roll or the result of a traumatizing experience in the Danse Macabre.)
The twist to line members’ Narcissism and Megalomania is that neither focuses on the bearer alone, but extends to the line founder Ermenjart and her vision (see below) as well. That is, Architects do not just believe they are unquestionably superior, they believe their founder is as well, and that her plans for world dominion will come true. Unlike many megalomaniacs, Masons have learned to keep quiet about their certainty. The
madness drives them, it just does so silently and subtly.

Organization: The Architects of the Monolith is a group of madmen and women overseen by a demoniac. From her palatial Parisian haven, Ermenjart la Charpentière rules her childer with power, fear, oaths and blood bonds. The elder has been active and alert, avoiding torpor for the existence of the bloodline, and her grasp on it is sure. In order to maintain control of her brood and to allow her to pursue her insane goals,
she has turned the bloodline into something between a cult and a corporation, parsing out control and authority through a series of grandiosely titled subalterns.

Ermenjart herself is recognized as “The Carpenter” (“la Charpentière”) and does everything in her power to turn herself into a messianic figure for her childer. She promises them a new world based on their creations, a vampiric Zion in which all power will flow through urban channels to feed the Architects. Due to the weakness of the bloodline, almost every member accepts this goal wholeheartedly.

Under the Carpenter is the Main de Gloire, the trio of her eldest childer who govern the line when Ermenjart is too busy “bringing about the new salvation of steel, concrete and blood.” Decorated with titles and ranks, this triumvirate should have great authority, but the truth is the Main de Gloire is too divided by its own vision and madness to be effective in coordinating any united action of the line. The three are, however, extremely effective at punishing any Mason who betrays them or Ermenjart.

Beneath the Main de Gloire, the organization breaks down by location. Most cities are still beyond the reach of the bloodline’s limited numbers; many major cities are home to only a single Architect. Such a solo operative is known as a Lion de Zion. Lions work directly for the Main de Gloire, receiving bizarre and often contradictory orders that are supposed to further the great work. These representative tend to get very good at interpreting the Main de Gloire’s orders to fit their own particular madness, and spend much of their time furthering personal goals.

About a dozen of the most important cities in the world — New York, London and Moscow among them — have a cabal of Architects known as a Section d’Or. Each group is lead by a Clef de Voûte, who answers to the Main de Gloire and who ostensibly works with other cities’ Clefs de Voûte. A Clef de Voûte leads other Architects in a city, coordinating their individual projects toward the greater plan. Each member of the Section d’Or is theoretically responsible for her own domain, but in some cities the Clef de Voûte micromanages every aspect of Architects’ operations. Of course, groups and individuals have also become very good at interpreting mad orders from above to fit their individual delusions.

The Architects are most powerful in Europe and on the American East Coast. European Masons still rebuild from the carnage that the world wars inflicted, which has allowed American members in Chicago and New York to catch up. In the last 30 years, a few radical Lions have managed to gain the approval of the Main de Gloire with daring work in developing nations in South American and southeast Asia, taking credit for achievements such as the Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur (which they in fact had very little to do with). The bloodline also has aspirations of
expanding into Japan, where megacity and neocity research and development promises massive rewards.

Concepts: Ruthless real-estate mogul, urban studies or geology professor, demolition expert, creepy architect, necropolis designer, urban-renewal politician, science-fiction writer/futurist (specializing in super-cities and arcologies), public-works engineer, master of traffic and transit, feng-shui mystic, ley-line tracker, urban spiritualist, landscaper/gardener, Napoleonic throwback


In the late 17th century, Ermenjart la Charpentière was a heretic against the Lancea Sanctum. She was newly risen from torpor and tormented with half-understood memories of building Louis IX’s Parisian Sainte-Chapelle, and working with great mystics in Prague. Her quest for
comprehension brought her to the Ordo Dracul and they taught her about ley lines and mystical correspondence. Synchronicity brought her in contact, however briefly, with André Le Norte, architect and gardener for Louis XIV, and from that meeting Ermenjart gained vision.

Her newly inspired dream was of necropoli that would channel and control energy, using it to provide sustenance for the vampiric condition. For nearly a century she influenced and was influenced by mortal necrographers, resulting in mystical influence over the Pêre Lachaise cemetery in Paris. Upon the opening of the cemetery in 1804, Ermenjart realized that not only did construction of the place affect interior ley lines, it warped the flow in the surrounding city, changing the behavior of kine in surrounding neighborhoods.

This realization brought Ermenjart to her full vision: the manipulation of ley lines through sacred architecture to control cities, turning them into the center of reality. It was a megalomaniacal dream of nightmarish proportions, and Ermenjart knew she could neither accomplish it alone nor trust outsiders with the plan. (It’s also possible that some deep-seated part of her knew her vision was impossible, and she would not share it for fear of being confronted with the truth.) So it was that a bloodline emerged from la Charpentière’s efforts to see her plan to fruition, yet to keep it secret among trusted childer.

The early Architects used their Ventrue ties to gain influence and standing with the builders, planners, contractors and mystics of Paris. When Georges Haussmann began his renovation of Paris under Napoleon III, the bloodline was behind the scenes, learning and manipulating. Members were convinced that they had mastered the ley lines of Paris when they unlocked the secret sorcery of the Gilded Cage. That marked the golden age of the line, when the most members were Embraced and inducted, a time that elders now remember with nostalgia bordering on idolatry. To this day, the Paris of the Napoleons is upheld as an example of what the Architects can do, and of the world the Carpenter would create. Glittering, decadent, beautiful and utterly corrupt.

The golden age came to a crashing end when Ermenjart and the Main de Gloire overreached themselves and used sorcery to destroy a handful of Lancea Sanctum Bishops whom they felt opposed their plans. This outrage led to a backlash that shattered the Architects in London and Vienna, and left even the Paris faction decimated. The Carpenter learned her lesson and slunk into the shadows, letting the Sanctified think they had put and end to her machinations.

After years in hiding, the Masons spread slowly and quietly through many of Europe and America’s greatest cities. The dangers of travel and the still-angry Sanctified claimed several of the less cautious, but Section d’Or were soon established once more in London, New York, Chicago and Vienna. Meanwhile, young Lions established themselves in any city where they felt they could make a mark. With every new Gilded Cage ritual discovered, the bloodline was convinced it moved that much closer to world domination, and so continued plotting. The brood weathered the world wars and “great enemies” such as Daniel Burnham (who probably never knew the Architects existed), and moved into the age of skyscrapers and urban development with a grace that few other Ventrue could match.

As of the 21st century, the Main de Gloire estimates that the “great work” still has 450 years left until its completion, putting it slightly ahead of its original A.D. 2600 projection. Ermenjart herself wonders if she may have been overly conservative, however. With “triumphs” such as the Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur and the possibilities they open in developing Third World nations, perhaps the plan can be accomplished sooner. In these nights, the founder dreams of a world with cities as reality itself, wilderness reduced to mist and ash, and all the power of ley lines flowing into her hands. Perhaps it can all be accomplished before the turn of the next century! From her, the force of these dreams spreads
through the bloodline, urging members to further madness and power, demanding that they become masters of their cities, no matter how much blood must be used as mortar for the bricks.

Society and Culture

Ermenjart is the undisputed master of the Architects. Elders are blood bound to her, giving her a tight grip on the most powerful Clefs de Voûte. They, in turn, often blood bond their childer to make sure that the line’s mission proceeds without dissension in the ranks. A few young members see no need for such draconian measures, as they find the carrot of power, coupled with their own inherent madness, more than sufficient to keep their ambition in order. The selectivity with which new members are initiated also contributes to making the Architects a tight lineage. While it bears all of the usual rivalries of undead existence, each member knows where he stands. No matter how intense hatred from within becomes, anyone on the outside is automatically an enemy and potential inquisitor.

Nightly activity is mostly occupied with the politicking and hunting that dominates vampiric existence. Members also work toward the fulfillment of their great, deluded dream, building their imagined monolith brick by brick. How exactly an individual answers this call depends on her place and roll in the line. A Clef de Voûte’s time is occupied with keeping her Section d’Or coordinated. Members of a Section d’Or focus on their individual areas of talent, attempting to interweave the mortal, mystical and vampiric through all levels of their portfolio. They also spend a great deal of their time politicking, as they are the Architects most likely to battle over esteem and territorial disputes with other vampires. Not to mention that they often have their eyes on the Clef de Voûte’s position, either in their own city or in another. Lions de Zion have to do all of the
above, acting as both Clef and Section for a city, without the direct backing of others. It’s a rare Lion who can actually advance his plans, as it takes both great subtly and vast aggression.

The types of projects that receive the nightly attention of Lions and members of the Section are wide and variable. Members of the Ordo Dracul focus on causing, dealing with and tracking ley-line shifts. That can include anything from studying the effects of wind dispersion from a new skyscraper to the energy created by a sewer or subway line. It also means playing shadow games with mortal mystics or Crone witches, and devising new, more complex and bloodier rituals. Members of the Invictus focus on playing power politics with other vampires, manipulating city resources and fiefs to manage both vampiric and mortal zones of influence, and keeping Mason activities beneath the notice of Prince and Primogen. In addition, there is any number of seeming illogical and random demands thrown into the mix, driven by the particular focus of any Mason’s madness.

Every bloodline member is involved in architecture and city planning in some way, though it need not be a directly obvious connection. Some
specialize in coercing and bribing city planners into rezoning areas for development, or to allow construction of buildings that violate zoning laws. Others focus on gaining resources and funding for such construction, or stirring up fear and paranoia in neighborhoods so as to make them easier to rezone and keep the herd’s focus off encroaching expansion. Others put on architectural fares and exhibitions, trying to pick mortal minds for new ideas, or they infiltrate college faculties to gain access to the newest and brightest as potential blood members.

Others focus on less obvious endeavors, such as using origami to find more efficient building models, doing studies on how various materials channel mystical energy, or inquiring into how television shows influence the mental terrain of a city. How much respect Architects are given for such enigmatic pursuits depends on their ability to convince others of their utility. If a member can convince peers that her study of eggshells will yield great results 200 years down the line, she garners almost as much respect as the Mason who influences the construction of a 110-story skyscraper. If she can’t convince anyone of her purpose, she may quickly be reduced to obsolescence.

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