Rust Never Sleeps
Undeniably the youngest of the major Kindred covenants, the Carthians are fire-eyed reformists, eager to bring the establishment to its knees if that’s what it takes to facilitate positive political change. If the unbound are the irritable loners and individualists, then the Carthians are their politically motivated counterparts, the Young Turks who seek to shake up the status quo with the honesty of their passion and the ingenuity of their ideas. Due to the prevalence of young Kindred in the modern age, the Carthian Movement sees quite a bit of support worldwide.
Carthians are full of ideas. They see brave new possibilities and models for Kindred self-rule that they believe were heretofore unimagined before they arrived on the scene, and they long to share those ideas with others — especially with those whom they believe keep the covenant and its ideas down. Few stop to wonder whether the existing status quo (whatever and wherever it might be) has endured for a reason. Most are content to challenge it for the sake of trying to accomplish something positive in a world as bleak as the Kindred’s.
If the Carthians have a single enemy among the Damned, it is calcification. Change is vital to all social systems. Therefore, many Carthians fear the elders of their kind. This is not because they think elders pose a direct threat, but because elders are the most stagnant members of their race, the least capable of hearing or accepting new ideas. For this reason, many sub-movements of the Carthian cause have some strict policies about who can and can’t join, as they fear their dreams might become the target of some elder’s crusade.
For the most part, they’re right. Most elder vampires have little to no interest in seeing a bunch of neonates summarily rearrange the power structure that’s been in place for centuries, and in so doing strip elders of their patiently cultivated power and influence. Vampires are nasty, predatory creatures who only grow nastier and more predatory with age, and few elders appreciate this latest “fad” among neonates. As a result, the Carthian Movement has become the scapegoat of choice for powerful elders. Were it not for the presence of some great minds within the Movement (as well as a few elders of other covenants), the faction might well collapse under the weight of tradition. All the same, the Movement has met with at least limited success in some areas, and much like a persistent union, the Carthians have begun to show some marked gains simply by remaining patient and playing the game as it must be played. Their democratic notions aren’t loved by everyone, but what the Carthians lack in wisdom and support, they tend to make up for in passion and unity (though they, too, indulge in their fair share of fractiousness and infighting).
The Carthians embody the youngest generation of Kindred, even more so than the unaligned. The vast majority of self-proclaimed Carthians are neonates, with a smattering of wily ancillae who have either achieved some measure of power or satisfaction from their efforts as part of the covenant, or who are simply too afraid to abandon the faction after so many years and relations forged (or destroyed). Once in a while, the rare elder emerges with ties to the Carthian Movement, but by and large elders simply scowl at the very idea of it all.
When a vampire comes to the Carthian cause, he typically does so out of a genuine desire to see some radical changes implemented in the secret world of the Damned. As might be expected, the most numerous (and vocal) clan in the Movement is the Mekhet, many of whom are drawn by the opportunity the covenant presents. Many consider the covenant to be the last and best chance for positive relations between Kindred and kine, and as such, a few are willing to do anything to make sure the Movement thrives and survives. While most Ventrue normally shy away from anything Carthian, a number of Nosferatu and Daeva can be found at Carthian gatherings — the former out of appreciation for a venue in which fear can motivate, and the latter out of a vampiric desire to involve themselves in the affairs of others.
The foundation of the Carthian Movement is the notion that vampires needn’t accept the status quo unthinkingly. While these Kindred recognize that they’re being Embraced into a world with its own secret history and traditions, they don’t feel that they have to accept that history and those traditions simply because someone older than them says they do. Rather, they believe that every man can and must have a voice, in death as he did in life, and that voice must be heard in order for peace or justice to prevail in the system — any system. This philosophy revolves around two core concepts that give the cause its fire.
Power To The People: The first and most important tenet of the Carthian cause is that any model of government that works for mortals is applicable to Kindred. Democracy in particular is the cornerstone of Carthian thinking, because it gives each individual a say in the affairs and administration of the people as a whole. Socialism is a popular model, too. Due to the relatively small scale of vampire society, many consider socialism more feasible for Kindred to adopt than it might be for mortals. Carthians detest the notion of rule by divine mandate (perceived or otherwise), and they strive to convince those in power that existing structures should be examined thoroughly, and then modified or torn down as necessary in order to create a better world for all Kindred. Needless to say, few vampires in positions of power are immediately agreeable. They understand vampiric nature, perhaps all too well, and know that even when Carthians “succeed,” the result is often little more than the undead equivalent of a labor union, and such artificial contrivances are inherently dangerous to Kindred society.
Change Is Necessary: If part of the curse of undeath is stagnation and stasis, then the Kindred must be willing to change and adapt to the times if they are to endure. Dismissing new ideas out of hand simply because they are not what has been done before is the folly of ignorance, and such folly drives the Carthians to bloody tears. If they, at so young an age, can recognize the truth of vampiric existence, then why can’t the elders of their kind? Or is it that those elders have long since forgotten? Whatever the case, the Carthians take it upon themselves to remind their hoary sires and grandsires that no kingdom is forever, and that in time, change comes to every thing in every system — whether it’s desired or not.
Rituals And Observances
While the Carthians are considerably less ritualistic than either the Lancea Sanctum or the Circle of the Crone, they still have their share of sacred practices. More often than not, Carthian “rites” revolve around politics, and what starts as a debate can easily turn into a ritual depending on the Kindred involved.
The Chain: At almost every Carthian gathering, at some point in the evening, some Kindred (usually the Prefect) steps forward and requests that everyone present take part in a long-standing custom that Carthians call the Chain. The entire rite (such as it is) is over in a matter of moments, so even the most turbulent of Kindred usually acquiesce to their involvement. The idea is simple. All the Carthians present gather in a circle, and following a few inspirational words from the Prefect, each passes a single artifact that is esteemed by the local Carthians to the Kindred beside him, thus forming a symbolic chain representing that what one Kindred does affects all others. The symbolism is blunt but effective. Each vampire in the circle is beholden to the next and responsible for another, but not directly. In this way do the Carthians remind themselves of their outlook, common goals and objectives. Artifacts can be anything, such as a relic of a fallen Carthian leader, an effigy of an enemy or a personal possession of someone soon to be drawn into the Carthian ranks.
Independence Day: The Carthians, being fans of democracy in all its forms, hold a special fondness for Independence Day. The term can be misleading, however, seeing how the celebration day itself is not always on the American holiday, the fourth of July. In countries other than the United States, such as Mexico and France, Carthian vampires typically celebrate on the same date mortals do, so the fifth of May is nearly as common a date of observance, for example. In actual Carthian-dominated domains, the Kindred celebrate the night their dream of a new world came to pass. The victory of an alternate political model is both rare and wondrous in the world of the Damned, and the Carthians revel in remembering the night of its advent. When free to do so, Carthians can get quite rowdy, and their parties are truly legendary.
Titles And Duties
Unlike the other covenants, whose titles often coincide with those of standard positions of authority, the titles of important figures in the Carthian Movement denote levels of responsibility and respect, rather than true authority.
Prefect: The Kindred in charge of much of the night-to-night running of Carthian operations in a given city is known as the Prefect. In most every case, the Prefect is elected (in whatever form that takes) by a majority of other Carthians, with the exception of any active Myrmidon, who traditionally abstains from such voting. The Prefect is at once the spokesperson for the Movement in his domain, the “chair” and organizer of Carthian events, and the one responsible for making sure that no single faction member’s actions jeopardize the others. The Prefect must therefore have some public relations savvy, as it is to him that the Prince inevitably turns when a Carthian is suspected of some wrongdoing. While the Prefect carries considerable sway among his confederates, he is not their leader in either name or truth, and most prefer the relationship that way
Myrmidon: The majority of incarnations of the Carthian experiment involve Kindred getting together and democratically parceling out both feeding rights and potential dispute resolutions. As such, the need quickly arises for an entirely “neutral party” to help maintain order and restore peaceable negotiations to the table, when necessary. A Carthian known as a Myrmidon fills this role. Although the Myrmidon works very closely with the Prefect, he is not the Prefect’s “right-hand man,” despite appearances to the contrary. Rather, he is the one who often acts as intermediary between two quarreling Carthians or between a Carthian and a non-Carthian of no political importance. Given the Prefect’s duties to the cause, the Myrmidon can and often does end up acting as the one enforcing the Prefect’s duties, simply by virtue of the fact that nobody else could do it without cry of foul.
Stereotypes Of Others
Circle Of The Crone: Detached from reality
Invictus: Viciously anachronistic
Lancea Sanctum: Blind fanatics
Ordo Dracul: Hiding something malignant
Unaligned: Selfish and without cause