The Order of Saulot

HistoryThe history of the Order of Saulot begins with the story of a young woman named Francesca Alvarez. Born the daughter of a Spanish Duke and a Moorish Jew, she began her life as a pariah. Her mother was a commoner, and worse, an unrepentant heretic in both the minds of the Moors and the Spaniards. Her father, however, steadfastly refused to leave his new wife, despite promises from Rome that the marriage would be annulled. For his pains, he was excommunicated and his lands and wealth seized. Taking his wife, who was nine months pregnant, he tried to flee Spain, hoping to make it to the relative safety of France. A trusted servant that they brought with them in their escape attempt, however, turned out to be a spy for one of the Duke's rivals, and he betrayed them to the king's men. The Duke was burned as a heretic and his wife was imprisoned to wait a similar fate. Francesca was born in a Spanish dungeon, her mother dying in child birth. Had it not been for the midwife who helped bring her into the world, Francesca would have shared her parents' fate. The woman had recently lost her only child and knowing she was too old to bear another, she stole the baby for her own.

Unfortunately, Francesca's troubles were just beginning. Her adopted mother died of the plague when she was 12, leaving her orphaned on the streets of Madrid. She lived from day to day, stealing what she could and begging for the rest. Eventually, she met an Egyptian who, claiming his god required him to give alms to the poor, took her in. He saw a spark of exotic beauty in the emaciated urchin and took it upon himself to fan that feeble light into a bonfire. Unfortunately for Francesca this was her first contact with a Follower of Set. He did as he promised, gave her food and fine clothes, but at a price. He forced her to sell her body, billing her as "The Christian Moor," and capitalizing on the curiosity of his customers. In despair, she soon wished to be back on the streets where she had at least been free. The Egyptian, who was so kind to her before, turned into a cruel task master whose magical force of will was too great for her to resist.

Her salvation finally arrived when an oddly pale woman arrived at the Egyptian's brothel. Francesca was in the lounge, diseased and listless from her labors, when she arrived. The newcomer walked past the Egyptian's massive ghoul guards as if they weren't there and confronted their master. His response was immediate and horrifying -- his eyes became snake-like and he hissed at the woman with a forked tongue. He angrily commanded her to leave, his speech difficult to understand past the fangs he had sprouted. Francesca was terrified and though her every instinct told her to run, all she could do was curl into a ball and whimper. Then the pale woman did something extraordinary -- a small, horizontal scar on her forehead opened, revealing a third eye. At first, Francesca's fear intensified, but then she found herself overcome by a feeling of peace -- she suddenly knew that everything would be all right. The Setite was not as moved by the woman's power, and ordered his ghouls to attack. They too were under the woman's spell, however, leaving only the Egyptian himself to deal with his opponent. For a moment, he considered fighting her, but something about her made him realize that it would likely bring him Final Death.

"What do you want?" the Egyptian finally said, his fangs gone, his eyes their normal shade of brownish black.

"Just one thing," the Salubri replied. She turned her gaze to Francesca, and said, "Her."

For a moment, the Setite seemed poised to resist, but then his shoulders slumped and he said, "Be my guest. The customers were losing interest anyway."

Francesca's life took a notable upswing from there, though not without cost. Her savior, a Salubri named Beatrice and a follower of Saulot, Embraced her, making her one of the Damned. At first, Francesca reveled in what she had become and disregarded her sire's teaching. The Baali (c.f. Casca's work), fearful that the philosophy of Saulot would spread to the other kindred, weakening the entire breed, spread lies about the Salubri, greatly demoralizing the clan and preventing Beatrice from properly exerting her influence on her childe. Francesca was determined to make up for the years she had lost, indulging in all the pleasures unlife could give her. However, as the years passed, she began to feel the pang of regret as humanitas slipped away from her. She returned to Beatrice to resume her studies, but before long, the Tremere made their move against the unprepared Salubri. To disguise their thirst for blood, the Tremere played upon the lies of the Baali in justifying their massacre of Saulot and his progeny. The rise of the Avengers of Diedne (c.f. Dark Whisper's bloodline) also worked against the Salubri, as the Tremere claimed the atrocities committed by that bloodline were in fact the work of the Salubri. The clan was decimated. Beatrice fell to the hungry fangs of the Tremere before she could impart much of her knowledge on to her childe. Francesca fled east, at once hoping to evade her enemies and also to unearth whatever enlightenment Saulot had found.

After years of fruitless searching, her soul was still not at rest. Then, one night, shortly before the dawn, they found her. They appeared in her haven, their heads shaved and dressed in long flowing robes -- there to talk but clearly ready for worse. They claimed they had been watching her for many years and had chosen to offer her membership to their order, the Children of Osiris. They spoke well into the afternoon, The ascetic Children seemingly unaffected by the drowsing effects of the day. Marvelled, she believed she had finally found what she had so long been seeking and eagerly accepted their offer.

The teachings of the Children of Osiris were more of an answer than she had ever dreamed. Though their methods were difficult, she was able to quash the Beast, pushing it down so deep that it was no longer the immense thunderhead that had haunted her for over two hundred years. Though, in the back of her mind, she knew that she was a ticking bomb, as long as she maintained the strict discipline of the order, it was not a problem she had to deal with. Her rise within the Children of Osiris was meteoric -- within a century, she was called upon to establish her own temple. So, she and a number of hand-picked followers, left the Grand Temple in Nepal, and established a new temple in Central China.

For a time, the temple blossomed, and Francesca herself became a master of both Bardo and Obeah. The temple attracted numerous kindred from the various Asian lines, including Dakini, Hibakusha, Gaki and even a Shreh Ren. It was during this time that Francesca stumbled upon some of the writings of Saulot. The work, an extensive tome written in a bizarre combination of code and dead languages, had been found by a Sanatan, who claimed it was transcribed from a copy of the original text. Few realized the significance of the find and none could fathom the arcane language in which it was written. Not to be easily defeated, however, Francesca and her Sanatan assistant struggled with the text, researching for years, trying to unlock its secrets. The entire temple became involved and nearly two centuries later, their hard work paid off. They learned of Saulot's rebirth as a vampire, of his fall from grace and eventual triumph over the Beast. They also read of his offspring, Shaitan, and of the Baali. It was only when messengers from the Grand Temple arrived, wondering what happened to them, that they realized they had devoured decades of existence in the study of Saulot's writings. They also knew that something about themselves had changed in those years. Though they treated the messengers from the Grand Temple cordially, they understood that a gulf had opened between the Children of Osiris and whatever it was they had become.

The members of the Chinese temple, led by Francesca, began to experiment with the codes that had been set down by Khetamon millennia before. The Children of Osiris had always rejected the possibility of Golconda, believing that the only way to retain humanity was to deny and suppress the Beast. The Order of Saulot, as they began to call themselves, felt that this was not entirely true. They felt that retaining one's humanity had to be redefined as a means, rather than the end in and of itself, and that Golconda had to be the ultimate goal of vampiric existence. It was not long before the rest of the Children of Osiris learned of their brethren's activities, and after an intense, but civil exchange between the two groups, it was agreed that it would be best if they parted ways. There was surprisingly little friction between them; they even cooperated on occasion. However, both the Order of Saulot and the Children of Osiris knew that the subtle, yet important differences between them amounted to a divide too wide to be easily crossed. Because of this fact, when the two groups do work together, they rarely discuss philosophy.

In the years since its creation, the Order of Saulot has spread out of the Far East and across the planet, though they still have a vastly greater presence in Asia than in the West. More than seventy-five percent of the members of the sect are of Eastern bloodlines, though in recent years, more Western kindred have been accepted.

PhilosophyOnly someone very familiar with the workings of both sects could pick out the differences between the Children of Osiris and the Order of Saulot. They both lead highly ascetic lifestyles and like the Children, members of the order shave their heads and prefer long, flowing robes. However, the Order of Saulot embraces Taoist and Buddhist philosophies much more broadly than do the Children. They believe that they must open their eyes to their place in the universe and they understand, painfully, that by denying the Beast that lives within them, they are also denying the truth. To this end, they have supplemented Bardo with two other disciplines -- Obeah and Zen. While they feel that Bardo very effectively treats the symptoms of their vampiric existence, it also allows them to forget that the disease itself has not been cured. Some members of the order eschew the use of Bardo, as they believe it is only hindering their way to ultimate enlightenment. They feel the discipline enforces a regimen too static to allow any possibility for Golconda. That only a very few have ever reached that exalted state supports this claim, but on the other hand, few members have ever fallen from the Path either. For most, Bardo is a means for them to explore the deepest levels of their Humanity. It is the powerful tether that prevents them from succumbing to the Beast.

The order, despite its austerity and discipline, has strong connections with the outside world. Members feel that it is impossible to retain their humanity unless they actually have some contact with humans. They do maintain their distance from the less "pure" aspects of humanity, notably pop culture and materialism in general. However, they will help the downtrodden and the weak, both physically and spiritually, using their powers of Obeah. They will extend this service to vampires and other supernaturals, but with considerably more caution. Through their understanding of Obeah, they recognize that to heal, they must confront the pain. They see the Beast as the ultimate source of their pain, and redirect their agony into a powerful force to heal others. Likewise, as they learn how to help others, they better understand how to heal themselves.

The Order developed Zen as it became more integrated in the spiritual and supernatural communities of the East. Zen provides them a strong anchor to reality, giving them a strong sense of place and belonging. As masters of Zen, members of the Order of Saulot can be formidable opponents. However, they are also extremely reluctant to harm other beings, including their enemies. They will never start a fight, and even if forced into combat, they will try to end it as quickly and bloodlessly as possible. It would be incorrect to call them passive, however, though in many respects, that is how they appear. Because they see themselves as travelers on a difficult path, they see themselves as very active. Thus, while they would never initiate a murderous raid on the local Baali coven, they work in other, more subtle ways that make their opponents see them as a real threat.

Like the Children of Osiris, the Order of Saulot holds the Setites in great contempt. However, the Baali and other infernalists are figuring more prominently as their enemies of choice. Francesca, who still presides as the leader of the order, ultimately blames them for the fall of the Salubri and fears that if the Baali are allowed to grow unchecked, they may jeopardize the world itself. They also revile the Sabbat and the Black Hand, largely because both sects have consciously forsaken their humanity.

While the differences between the philosophies of the Order of Saulot and the Children of Osiris are important, so are their similarities. Members Order of Saulot refuse to sacrifice their humanity to achieve their goals. They believe that the only way to reach Golconda is by developing a transcendent understanding of their own humanity. They reject the Paths of Enlightenment, even the Path of Harmony, and will never accept as a member, a follower of any path other than Humanity. They are highly ascetic, perhaps even more so than the Children, spending the majority of their unlives in contemplative meditation.

Sect InitiationLike the Children of Osiris, they will not even consider for membership any vampire with a Humanity rating of less than 8. Potential members are closely watched for years, often decades, before they are even approached. Once a kindred agrees to join, she undergoes a harrowing trial of self-denial and strict discipline. She is indoctrinated in the beliefs of the order and is allowed only minimal access to the outside world. The length of this period depends greatly on the individual, varying from a few months (rare) to decades (not uncommon). Only when she has completed this first step is the kindred offically admitted into the Order of Saulot. This extended initiation so changes the nature of a new member that the very blood of the vampire changes. Though bloodline weaknesses remain, most other clan aspects are eliminated. The vampire has become, heart and soul, a member of the Order of Saulot, leading some to suggest that the it is more of a bloodline than a sect.

Sect StricturesEmbracing a mortal is strictly forbidden. In fact, the initiation so drums in this rule that it is virtually impossible for a member of the Order to even try to Embrace someone. To drain a sentient being of more than two points of blood (assuming the mortal was at full blood pool to begin with) requires an expenditure of willpower on a point per point basis. To actually complete the Embrace requires an additional cost of *two* willpower. This willpower expenditure is not necessary if the vampire is frenzying, but a frenzy will not alleviate any of the consequences of completing the Embrace. If a member ever manages to go this far, her blood immediately reverts back to the nature of her former clan. She is no longer a part of the sect and all of the Order of Saulot she meets will instinctively know this.

Drinking blood from sentient beings, while not forbidden, is strongly discouraged, especially by those skilled in Bardo. Likewise, frenzies are to be avoided at *all* costs and any who do frenzy are required to meditate and purge themselves of the frenzy's taint. Creating ghouls, blood bonding and submitting to blood bonds are also forbidden. Members are expected to meditate every night for a *minimum* of an hour, regardless of the circumstances, and are encouraged to remain active in the day whenever possible. Perhaps most importantly, a member is expected to keep her humanity as high as possible, never dropping below 7 and ideally keeping it at 8, 9 or 10. Breaking the rules results in the disciplining of the offending vampire, sometimes initiated by a higher ranking member of the order, but usually self-administered.

If a member crosses over the line too often, she may be subject to expulsion from the order. When a kindred is ejected from the Order of Saulot, her memory is thoroughly scoured to prevent her from revealing the sect's secrets. If a former member proves herself, she may be readmitted to the order, but this is rare and would require a truly extraordinary feat. Usually, this involves the kindred sacrificing herself, resulting in a posthumous readmission.

NicknameThe Children of Osiris occasionally refer to them as the "Wayward Flock." The Shreh Ren, who regard them with extreme hostility for managing to steal one of their own, react violently to an even oblique reference to them. Otherwise, they really don't have a nickname.

AppearanceThey come from every culture on the globe, but they will always have shaved heads and often dress in long, flowing robes -- especially when at Temple. Most, but not all, are of Asian heritage.

HavenLike the Children of Osiris, the unlife of the members surrounds the Temple. Temples will vary from the grandiose, like the original temple in China, to a simple altar for a lone individual. They are very particular about where they locate their havens and move only infrequently. In the East, large temples are the rule, but in the West and especially North America, it is not uncommon for an individual to inhabit a haven by herself. Only in the largest American cities will there be a temple with more than five members.

BackgroundAll are vampires before they join. However, once they become part of the sect, their former clans lose much of their importance. Under no circumstances do they ever sire progeny once they have joined the order. Natures and Demeanors tend to be passive and are often, but not always the same.

Character GenerationMental are primary as are knowledges. Common backgrounds are Mentor, Contacts and Allies. They may also take Order of Saulot Sect Status but only take Status in another sect or clan prestige if they are acting as spies. They may also take the Mage backgound, Arcane.

DisciplinesZen , Bardo , Obeah . Once a vampire joins the Order of Saulot, former clan disciplines must be purchased at out of clan costs. Former Caitiffs pay in-clan rates for the sect discipline and for all others, pay out-of-clan rates. Note that the form of Obeah taught by the Order is slightly different than that known by the Salubri and the Sanatan. The main difference is that except in rare cases, the third eye is spiritual rather than physical. When the discipline is in use, bright light suffuses from the vampire, originating from the center of the user's forehead. However, looking at the vampire's aura, whether the discipline is being used or not, *will* reveal the Third Eye, as will peaking at the vampire from the Umbra.

Occasionally, Zen and rarely, Obeah, will be taught to kindred who are not members of the Order. They will not teach just anyone, however -- a potential student must have a Humanity score of at least a 7 and must demonstrate their trustworthiness. Bardo is never taught to those outside the order. Any vampire not belonging to the Order who is taught Obeah, will develop a physical Third Eye unless they have first mastered Zen.

WeaknessesThey retain their clan weaknesses, and also, if their existence is ever uncovered, Setites, Baali and Shreh Ren will do all in their power to insure their swift demise. Their relationships with the Sabbat, the Black Hand, the Tremere and the Avengers of Diedne are not much better. Former Caitiffs, for unknown reasons, gain the flaw, Infertile Vitae and must spend double normal willpower to drain a mortal. Tremere, whether they were formerly Camarilla or Sabbat, are recognized by other Tremere as being alien. They are also treated with great mistrust among other members of the sect. While it is theoretically possible for Baali and Setites to join, none have been admitted.

Preferred PathsHumanity is the only path that is acceptable. Following another path invariably results in immediate expulsion from the order.

OrganizationTheir organization is strikingly similar to the Children of Osiris. Members of the order possess a group loyalty that greatly surpasses the Camarilla and rivals, without the need for blood bonds or the vaulderie, the unity of the Tremere and the Sabbat. Their common goal of Humane Golconda seems to hold them together very strongly.

Gaining Sect StatusAchieving Golconda is the best way to achive recognition within the order. However, even among a sect as dedicated as the Order of Saulot, only a handful have ever achieved it. Other means to achieve status are maintaining high humanity without repeated use of Bardo, completely abstaining from drinking human blood, thwarting Baali and Setite plots, and solving problems without resorting to violence. Frenzying, repeatedly feeding off of humans, creating a blood bond and losing humanity very rapidly diminish a member's sect status and are grounds for expulsion.

Quote: It has been said that there are many paths to Golconda, but it is only by understanding the Beast within the Man that true enlightenment may be attained.

StereotypesThe Order of Saulot, like the Children of Osiris is a highly secretive group. In the West, there are more who know of the True Hand and the Illuminati than are aware of the Order of Saulot. In The East, the story is more complex: many know of them, but primarily as a legend and typically as a clause in the story of Saulot. The Order, on the other hand, has a great deal of knowledge about the other powerful entities of the World of Darkness, though much of information on each group may be held by only a few individuals. For these reasons, many of the following are the words of those voicing them rather than the group they represent. However, more often than not, that person will be the *only* one who knows of the Order and is the only opinion available. The views of the Order are more universal, but it must be emphasized that much of what they know about these factions comes from limited sources.

The Children of Osiris: For them, humanity is the means, the method and the goal. It is a long, cold road they walk and one with no destination.

"Purity can never be attained if the Beast plays any role in our existence." - Romanov, Child of Osiris and former Ventrue.

Camarilla: They are blinded by self-denial, but at least they have not consciously forsaken their humanity like the others.

"It is said they were founded by a Salubri. They cannot be trusted. - Laertes Krantz, Tremere

Sabbat: They are correct; they aren't human -- they are senseless beasts.

"How can they be so 'Zen,' if they don't even realize they are above the mortals?" - Alphonso, Lasombra pack-leader

The True Hand: How can they claim to protect humanity when they consider themselves the army of the most inhuman beasts of all. At least we have become aware of them, though we dearly would like to know more.

"We have tried to manipulate their hatred of the Baali, but the agent we sent to infiltrate them converted to their cause! As unpleasant and incredible as it may sound, I believe they know much more about us than we know of them. - Ishmael, True Brujah

Inconnu and the Salubri: Our brothers have misjudged them. Their journey towards Golconda is worthy, even if the some of the paths they take are not.

"The path they have chosen is narrow, but do they follow it in earnest" - Swift Eagle, Salubri

"I find it difficult to believe that they can achieve Golconda without sacrificing some humanity. You can't have your cake and eat it too." - Rosencrantz, Monitor of Macau

The Setites: They viciously exploit man's desire to hide himself from the reality of the world.

"The Children are not incorruptible -- neither is their wayward flock." - Morgan LaBleue, Follower of Set.

The Baali: An even darker blotch than the Setites. They do more than corrupt -- they will be happy with nothing less than Oblivion.

"They wallow in their own weakness. We must stop them before they spread it to the rest of us." - The Quasit, Baali Infernalist.

The Eastern Kindred: They -- we -- are mysterious and reclusive because our "brothers" in the West cannot accept that their Caine theory is not without many holes. "[Frigid Silence]" - Any Shreh Ren you ask

"They are not as bizarre and alien as the vampires of the west, but they are an unknown quantity that I am not entirely comfortable with. - Kyuketsuki, Onyudu

Mummies: They fight an immortal war against the Followers of Set that even we cannot begin to fathom.

"My contacts within the Children of Osiris at once slander and speak of them highly. I believe I will schedule time to look into them in a century or two. - Taharka, Mummy

Garou: The Children of Gaia and the Stargazers are very near to our beliefs, but the lack of respect a few tribes show for humanity is inexcusable.

"A most enlightened and noble group -- Gaia be with them." - Counts-the-Moons, Stargazer Philodox.

"They do not smell of the Wyrm, but they are leeches and will feel my Rage when I meet them." - Hand-of-Thor, Get of Fenris Ahroun (Lupus)

"Our Infernalist allies are correct about them. They only bring weakness to this world. - Wasted Plains, Black Spiral Dancer Theurge.

Mages: They fight for Ascension, which may be a more lofty goal than even Golconda. However, I fear that many of them are far less human than any vampire.

"Never have I come upon a collection of vampires who have hit as close to the truth as these." - Imiko, Akashic Sister

"They are scheduled for complete elimination from the Paradigm sometime next century, why?" - Maxwell Schmidt, New World Order

"By the time these fools attain their pathetic little Golconda, the world will be oozing in the depths of True Ascension! - [Unpronounceable], Nephandus

"Order? ORDER! Bwa-hahahahahahah! orderorderorderorderorderorderorder..." - Anonymous Marauder

Wraiths: The Restless wage a greater battle than we will ever fight. They deserve our pity as well as our respect.

"They gave me some hope -- for a little while." - Diana, Wraith

Changelings: Bizarre and wonderful creatures whose time, alas, is not long for this world.

"Hah! I do my best do avoid being human!" - Snarltooth, Unseelie Fae

Immortals: A rather barbaric way to achieve something of as obvious metaphysical importance as this 'Prize,' don't you think?

"Just as long as they don't get in the way of the Prize, I really don't give a damn." - Ramses, Immortal

Gypsies: We know of their kind primarily from the Ravnos Shilmulo who have joined our Order. They must not let their xenophobia erode their humanity.

"One of my family was seduced by the prospect of immortality, and he quickly became a monster. One of these helped him and put him on a better path." - Vaclav of the Ravnos Family

The Illuminati: We found one of their tomes, and using the knowledge we gained translating the work of Saulot, we learned a great deal about this enigmatic group. I suspect that much we have "learned" is smoke and mirrors -- we have not sought any of their "Mystical Secrets." There is much we do not know, but it is apparent that they are more interested in dominating the world rather than saving it. We have hindered some of their efforts in the East, but we haven't the power to affect them elsewhere.

"If anyone were to find out what we have done, the Righteous Fury would be on our heads, but oh how we have made the Pantheon bleed in the East! Allowing the Pax Concordat (edited, of course) to fall into their hands was a stroke of genius! - Robards of Jupiter, Blood Covenant

"They are a nuisance, this enigmatic group of Abominations!" - Father Lodovico, Rook of the Pantheon

Pentex: It is the nexus of evil and materialism in this world.

"In the last quarter, their actions caused Project Iliad to suffer nearly ten million dollars in lost Fomori potential. A small price to pay overall, and their deprogramming methods merit further study. - Harold Zettler, Pentex board member

The Inquisition: While some of our kind deserve the stake, is it really worth losing your own humanity?

"They are beasts, no matter how they try to hide it." - Caiaphas Smith

Church Knights: We have worked with them on occasion. They have turned over to us kindred they deemed salvageable.

"Sometimes you must sleep with the enemy, and surely the Children of Osiris and the Order of Saulot are more trustworthy than the Assamites ever were. - Jean-Pierre Olivier, Knight Lieutenant, Order of the Temple.

Scanners and other psychics: We have taught a few of them basic meditation techniques that has helped them to control their powers.

"I studied under one of their kind for a time and now the Voices do not speak so loud in my mind. - Ashley Schwab, Scanner.

The Arcanum: There are rumors that they have the original text of Saulot under their very noses and do not know what it is!

"Ah yes, the Order of Saulot...hmmm...I do believe we have traded information on occasion." - Professor Reinhold Schmidt, Boston chapter