Fellowship of Artemis

Aristocrats enjoy hunting, and the Kindred are no exception. The First Estate, like mortal nobles throughout history, turns a necessary means of gaining sustenance into high sport. Since the covenant began, members have gathered in clubs for recreational hunting. Many cities still have hunt clubs. These groups often become important venues for Kindred to meet, schmooze, make deals and plot betrayals while they hone and flaunt their skills as predators. Some clubs are small, informal affairs — just a few Kindred who hunt together. Other clubs grow into large and elaborate organizations, with titles, bylaws, rituals and properties of their own. Large clubs give themselves fancy names like the Pursuivant Order or Los Cazadores del Noche. In the English-speaking world, the largest and most widespread hunt club calls itself the Most Noble Fellowship of Artemis. The Artemids have chapters in several American, Canadian and Australian cities, as well as their British homeland. The club began in the city of Birmingham during the 16th century. The Fellowship began with Lord Henry Tamworth, allegedly a Staffordshire viscount Embraced two centuries before. Lord Henry remained a keen huntsman after his Embrace into the Daeva. He attracted a circle of neonates who shared his passion for the chase . . . or who were willing to take up the sport to gain the patronage of the Prince’s executioner, who was been rumored to have never failed in a blood hunt. The Fellowship graduated from an informal coterie of enthusiasts to one of Birmingham’s most important factions when Lord Henry and his protégés destroyed a Lupine pack that had threatened the city’s Prince. Lord Henry became the new Prince’s chief lieutenant, perhaps even the power behind the throne. A chance to hunt with Lord Henry became one of the surest routes to the Prince’s ear, so Birmingham’s Kindred all became devotees of horse and hound. A few members of the Fellowship, or their childer, eventually moved to other English cities and carried the Fellowship with them. Long before then, however, other hunt clubs took the Fellowship’s name or slight variations upon it. Like many Kindred social clubs, the Artemids spread through imitation more rather than in the hearts of members traveling to establish new chapters. The Fellowship’s bylaws are readily available to any Kindred who want to learn them. Even though some traditions are supposed to be hidden from non-members, the Artemids are no more secretive among other Invictus Kindred than the Rotarians or the Knights of Columbus are among mortals. A Small Historical Oddity The Most Noble Fellowship’s name is somewhat unusual for its late-Renaissance origin. In the 16th century, most aristocrats knew classical mythology through Roman sources. The literature of the time refers to Diana, the Roman name for the goddess of the hunt and the moon, more often than Greek Artemis. One of Lord Henry’s protégés had an Oxford education before his Embrace, however, and was very proud of his Greek. He also argued that the Greek-derived “Artemid” sounded better than the Latin-derived “Dianan” as a term for members. On such tiny questions of taste do the details of history sometimes depend. Faction Requirements and Benefits To become a member of the Most Noble Fellowship of Artemis, a Kindred customarily needs at least Animal Ken •, Firearms • and some skill riding. The last qualification may be met with dots in Drive, interpreted to include some familiarity with horseback riding, or it might just be a Specialty of Animal Ken, depending on the character. Until a character shows she can keep her seat on a galloping horse, shoot a gun with reasonable accuracy and knows something about wildlife and the great outdoors, the Artemids are unlikely to ever consider her for membership, even though these are hardly the techniques they use when hunting mortals. The Most Noble Fellowship charges membership dues — those lodges, dogs and horses don’t come cheaply. A Kindred needs Resources ••• to afford the Fellowship’s dues. (Most of the expenses are born by very wealthy senior members.) Mere membership in the Most Noble Fellowship is a one-dot Merit. This can be the character’s first dot of Covenant Status, since the Artemids are a prestigious social club within the Invictus. Members who come from other covenants (rare, but not unheard-of) must buy a separate Merit. If the character can show her skill as a hunter (by raising the three required Skills to at least ••, with at least two more dots allocated among them in general), the esteem of her fellow hunters may allow her to raise her Covenant Status by one, to represent significant numbers of other Invictus admiring her skills. The Orion, Meleager or Atalanta of a chapter always has at least two dots of Covenant Status. Clans: Kindred of all clans join the Most Noble Fellowship of Artemis. Gangrel find the Fellowship’s hunts a civilized outlet for the savagery in their souls, bringing mortal and Beast into harmony; the Ventrue find the mastery of horses and hounds a pleasant expression of their own gift for Animalism. Daeva likewise find themselves attracted to the drama and passion of the chase and the kill. Mekhet tend to approach sport hunts more as a test of skill, and Nosferatu are not immune to the lure of pursuit and the prey’s terror as the hunt reaches its conclusion. Nickname: Artemids Covenant: Like other hunt clubs, the Fellowship says it’s purely recreational — an escape from duty and politics for members of the First Estate. For one night, the Danse Macabre is replaced by the wilder music of hunting horns and belling hounds. Of course, that’s a big, fat lie. Members of the Fellowship do enjoy their hunts, but these outings also serve as opportunities for members and their guests to scheme where other Invictus members cannot watch them. As much deal-making, covert inquiry, one-upsmanship and social warfare goes on during a Fellowship hunt as at any Elysium. In some cities, all the most important discussions and decisions happen during hunting parties. Everyone who is anyone joins the club, and anyone who isn’t a member has a real hole in her power — even if she has a fine title such as Primogen or Seneschal. The Invictus has no problem with hiding the real power structure in this way. Anyone who can’t figure out the real nexus of power is too feeble or too stupid to matter. Hunt clubs often invite movers-and-shakers in other covenants to join, too, or at least become the club’s guests at hunts. Other Kindred enjoy civilized, ritualized hunts as well, and the Invictus likes to keep all power close to itself. Kindred who would stay suspicious during an Elysium or other formal meeting might let down their guards and talk more freely in the excitement of the chase and the relaxation later. After all, they’re just being social, right? Appearance: Hunt clubs often adopt a uniform. Members of the Most Noble Fellowship used to wear a short-skirted, frogged coat of green velvet with a leather belt bearing a crescent moon on the buckle. The left breast of the coat carries a badge of a rearing stag within a crescent moon, surrounded by a laurel wreath. Sturdy brown trousers with green piping (or a divided riding skirt of brown satin for female members), cavalry boots, soft leather gloves, an Elizabethan pleated ruff and a cavalier’s plumed hat completed the ensemble. Of course, this outfit is terribly conspicuous for urban hunts. The Fellowship restricts this outfit’s use for grand hunting parties in the country. During any sport hunt, though, Artemids identify themselves through a stagand- moon badge somewhere on their clothing. Haven: A large Artemid chapter owns multiple buildings, including a stable and kennel. The grand hunts require some place to train ghoul horses and hounds; this usually consists of a few acres on the fringe of small towns outside the city proper. A chapter also needs a clubhouse in town where the members can plan their hunts, socialize and discuss prospective new members or guests. A chapter’s pride, however, rests with a hunting lodge well outside the city. Such a lodge has space for all the members to sleep comfortably and perhaps enjoy a blood feast after the hunt, plus room for servants, dogs and horses. Hunting lodges tend to be magnificent structures. The usual cover story given to people in any nearby small town is that an out-of-state tycoon owns the lodge and visits a few times a year to hunt. A privileged ghoul gets to drive through town and be seen during the day, playing the role of the visiting tycoon. In fact, the ghoul may shoot some deer or ducks during the day, in case any mortals should pass by. The lodge is remote enough, however, that the local mortals are not likely to notice the much larger hunt that happens at night. Background: Hunting may not be a necessary part of life in the developed world anymore, but remains a popular hobby. Any Kindred community numbering more than several dozen probably includes a few sport hunters of various ages. These can form the start of a hunt club (though not every city’s Kindred have such a club). Building up a full-scale Fellowship chapter may take decades: acquiring kennels, stables and a country lodge take a lot of time and money. By then, the club becomes as much about backroom (or backwoods?) politics as about hunting. Every club begins, however, with a few genuine sportsmen: the Kindred have easier ways to conduct private meetings. Once a club forms, Kindred who hunted when they were mortals obviously have an easier time joining. Vampires who have never hunted before may want to join for the social benefits, but this may not be easy. Some clubs merely ask members to pay their dues and let them learn the art of venery after they join. The Most Noble Fellowship takes a stricter course. Members must already have some skill at hunting and riding. Anyone who wants to join the Artemids needs a sponsor willing to vouch for his abilities. Neonates who don’t yet know how to ride and shoot have to find someone willing to teach them — which usually means a vampire who’s already a member. The Artemids do allow members to invite guests on hunts or to use their facilities, so the barriers to membership are not very high. Faction Disciplines: Animalism, of course, is the most useful of all Disciplines for a hunter. The Artemids consider it rank and shameful cheating to use Animalism upon the quarry, but the Discipline is acceptable for locating suitable game. Artemids also use Animalism to train their horses and hounds, and to direct them during a hunt. Being able to control your horse and dogs without the need for bridle, spurs, horn or voice brings great prestige to an Artemid. Auspex is the other favored Discipline among the Fellowship. At the basic level, keener senses help reveal signs of likely quarry and help follow the prey through the night. Master huntsmen use the Spirit’s Touch to learn exactly what animal left a footprint or bit of dung, and how recently. Other Disciplines are not much use for sport hunters — though on some hunts, a few of the “hounds” may actually hunters in wolf-shape, using Protean. Organization: Each chapter of the Most Noble Fellowship has up to three officers. The senior male member takes the title of Orion and bears principle responsibility for organizing hunts. He is also the member the Prince calls onto the carpet if hunters endanger the Masquerade. The next-most senior male member receives the title of Meleager. He typically handles the chapter’s finances and sees to the upkeep of properties. The senior female member (for most Kindred hunt clubs accepted women long before their mortal counterparts) is addressed as Atalanta. Though some chapters foist post-hunt party duties on their Atalantas, the faction has no strong traditions about this. An Atalanta can choose her own role in the chapter without much trouble. Fellowship chapters seldom bother with other offices, or they invent their own, such as Master of Hounds (in charge of selecting or breeding dogs) or Secretary (keeping the records for the club). The Fellowship shares one old tradition with many mortal hunt clubs: the blooding of the novice. On his first hunt, a guest or new recruit has his cheeks and forehead smeared with the blood of the kill. Fellowship members call this the “baptism of Artemis” (a name not used by other hunt clubs). A full-scale hunt may take two or three nights. The hunters may schedule a full night just to reach the lodge: the actual trip may take just a few hours’ drive, with dogs and horses carried in trailers, but the cautious Kindred like to plan lots of extra time for safety, in case a car breaks down or some other unforeseen emergency crops up. Some cities, however, are close enough to deep wilderness that the Artemids can drive out to their lodge, hunt for four or five hours and drive back to the city before dawn. Especially dedicated hunters may turn their dogs and horses into ghouls for the hunt, so they become as strong, fierce and tireless as the Kindred themselves. Given such animals, ordinary prey may not present enough of a challenge. Some hunt clubs prefer to ghoul the prey as well. For instance, every year a Washington chapter of the Most Noble Fellowship sends ghoul hunters to capture a bear or cougar. A senior member infuses the animal with his blood to turn it into a ghoul, then sends it back to the woods. A few nights later, the hunters arrive to chase a beast that’s stronger, quicker or tougher than any mortal animal. If their ghoul beast should happen to slay a merely mortal hunter or wander out of the Cascade Mountains and attack a child — well, such things happen without vampires, too. For “the most dangerous game,” thrill-seeking hunters pursue other supernatural creatures. In the Most Noble Fellowship, a chapter hasn’t really attained bragging rights until it’s collected a werewolf “pelt” — even if that opportunity to kill is given to them in treaty by other werewolves. The Fellowship, though it has a somewhat self-important view regarding itself and Lupines, isn’t about to go breaking peace with werewolves just for sport. Sometimes, however, Fellowship members become the willing participants in plots of one werewolf pack against another. Hunt clubs trade stories about spectacular and deadly hunts against other supernatural creatures, too. Some stories go around the world and become part of Kindred legend. Supernatural prey may also include other vampires. Clubs like the Artemids always strive to take the lead when the Prince calls a blood hunt. The Most Noble Fellowship also sometimes conducts an “Actaeon” hunt, named after a mythical hunter whom Artemis turned into a stag so he was slain by his own dogs. In this deadly game, a Kindred volunteers to become the Fellowship’s quarry for one night. If the Actaeon can run from a release- point to a pre-set terminus before the hunters catch him, the club members grant him a boon — a big boon, something only possible for a group of fabulously rich, politically connected Invictus members. If the hunters catch the Actaeon, of course, his unlife ends rather quickly. Actaeon hunts are forbidden in many Kindred domains, but Princes often wink at them. After all, the quarry is at least nominally a volunteer. (If the Actaeon has been maneuvered into some impossible situation, where “volunteering” for a hunt is the only way to escape utter disgrace or to save mortal loved ones, well, that’s the Danse Macabre for you.) Desperate mortals can also be recruited for an Actaeon hunt. The club finds some mortal who would do anything for money, a transplant for a sick relative or some other great prize. The Artemids feed their Actaeon some Vitae and invest him with a ghoul’s strength, speed or toughness (depending on the donor Kindred’ clan), then release him into the woods with a one-hour head start to make the chase more sporting. As might be expected, the Invictus frowns on mortal Actaeons because this breaks the Masquerade, so a mortal Actaeon who survives to win his prize remains watched by the Invictus forever after. The Prince may order an Artemid to place the mortal under a Vinculum or take him as a permanent ghoul Retainer. Sometimes, the Prince simply orders the mortal’s execution — but not by the Most Noble Fellowship. The Artemids made a deal and offered patronage; honor demands they keep their deal and protect their mortal client. Some of the more degenerate hunt clubs chase human prey without seeking a volunteer — by kidnapping a mortal no one’s likely to miss. Unlike in an Actaeon hunt, the mortal has no finishing line to offer safety: the Kindred hunt him until they catch him or dawn forces them to break off the hunt. These hunters do not turn their victim into a ghoul, however. Even when the prey is a vicious mortal criminal, however, hunting a mortal to his death like an animal is an appalling surrender to the Beast. If the Invictus finds a hunt club playing such games, the club might not last very long. The members are probably spiraling into complete degeneration and becoming a danger to other Kindred and the Masquerade. Of course, sufficiently influential hunters can probably get away with anything. Grand hunts in the country are not the only club activities. In fact, full-scale hunting parties seldom take place more than once or twice a year. The lodge doesn’t stay vacant the rest of the time, though. Throughout the year, club members visit the lodge in ones, twos or threes. These smaller excursions are more like the hunting vacations of modern mortals. The hunters go on foot, not on horses, and they bring one or two dogs, not a whole pack. The hunters’ rifles or shotguns are quite ordinary. These smaller parties are opportunities for a few Invictus members to talk very privately — but these parties usually happen because the participants do, in fact, want to hunt and take a vacation from the Danse Macabre. For one night, they can forget about politics and duty and just kill a goddamn deer. Private hunts do not completely escape the Danse Macabre, of course. Sometimes a hunter doesn’t come back. When two or three set out and one doesn’t return with them, any story they offer — mortal witch-hunters, a werewolf, simple accidents in the dark or hazards of travel — come under intense scrutiny from other Invictus. Maybe the survivors are telling the truth — or maybe the hunt was a setup for a murder. If the Sheriff’s investigation leads to a verdict of Final Death by innocent misadventure, some Kindred will conclude the murder was especially clever or that the survivors have the Sheriff in their pocket. Clearly, the survivors are worth watching — if only for one’s own protection. Sometimes a lone hunter never returns. In these cases, the Kindred can only speculate. Misadventure? Did the Prince order an out-of-the-way execution? Did the lost vampire have an enemy who can’t account for her actions during the hunting trip? Then again, Kindred sometimes want to disappear. A popular ancilla in the York chapter of the Artemids disappeared during a hunting trip in 1979. The other York Artemids suspected a plot by the ancilla’s enemies in the Circle of the Crone. The recriminations and denials almost escalated into a civil war. Two years later, the ancilla, suing another name, turned up in Manchester. He said he was hiding because he knew about the Mekhet Primogen of York’s Vitae addiction; the Primogen accused the ancilla of various other crimes. Correspondence between the officers of the two cities has been cool ever since. Most hunt clubs also sponsor low-key hunts in their cities. In this case, the hunt is a test of Kindred skill at finding, stalking and feeding from mortals; see Chapter Five for information about this sort of sport hunting. Every year, most Artemid groups sponsor a “scavenger hunt” open to all Kindred, in which the contestants have a week to try to find and feed from all the sorts of mortals on the list. The vampire who achieves the highest score wins a trophy and the acclaim of the city’s Kindred. (No cash, though. That would be bourgeois.) Concepts: Kennelmaster, stablemaster, murderous dandy, grizzled sportsman, fanatical hobbyist, Great White Hunter, Lupine expert, master tracker “Don’t fall off your horse, childe! We won’t come back to find you!”

Fellowship of Artemis

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