The Storm Dragons are a secret society dedicated to fighting supernatural evil. Although similar to the Sentinels in this respect, the Dragons depend on their inner strength to confront inhuman entities. They are the descendants of an ancient order of martial artists, masters of Chi, who use their powers in an eons-long secret war. Said to be the disciples of an ancient dragon, the members of this organization come from all over the world and all walks of life. Their only common denominator is extraordinary physical and mental abilities and a willingness to confront mind-boggling creatures and conspiracies.
Almost every martial arts style in the world has legends about masters who can perform superhuman feats as a result of their dedication and strength of spirit. After decades of movies and television shows depicting such feats, the general public has become jaded to those so called “kung fu tricks” and no longer finds any wonderment in the martial arts. There are Gifted martial artist who can outdo the most dazzling special effects of the movies. A gathering of these masters, the Storm Dragons, use their powers not for self-aggrandizement but to keep at bay the unspeakable beings known as the Mad Gods and to hunt down all supernatural predators.
The traditions of the Storm Dragons, as taught to members of the Society, claim that their origins predate the oldest Chinese dynasty. These legends tell of an ancient dragon who chose a number of worthy humans throughout Asia to instruct in the ways of Chi. The Celestial Dragon taught his disciples that the potential for god-like power resides in every human and showed them how to develop this power. The teachings imparted to these disciples are known as the Truths, which are the most dearly held secrets of the Society. It is believed that among those secrets are the true origins of the universe. Since only the highest ranked Adepts have access to the Truths, few are privy to this information.
The students eventually became teachers and were sent out into the world, going as far west as India in search of promising students. Schools were founded in small monasteries, removed from all other habitations to avoid interference. Total isolation was never encouraged, however. Adepts often went on long sojourns, often lasting years, into the wider world outside. Some became Renegades and chose not to return.
In time, remote uninhabited areas become harder to find. New schools were built in villages and cities, but their true purpose was kept hidden from the population. The new learning centers were disguised as stores, plantations, or temples of any appropriate religion. When the first large groups of Asian emigrants arrived in the U.S. in the 19th Century, a number of Storm Dragons traveled with them. The first school in the New World appeared in San Francisco’s Chinatown, built beneath a general store. Others soon followed suit.
In China, the Storm Dragons or former students were active among many secret societies. Known by such colorful names as the Yellow Turbans, the Harmonious Fists, or the Red Spears, these organizations often protected peasants from abusive landlords, attacked bandits ravaging the countryside, and sometimes started rebellions against oppressive governments. The Storm Dragons are suspected to have played an important role in the Boxer Rebellion in 1899-1900, which led to the fall of the Chinese imperial government, although Dragon historians blame the disastrous uprising on the Red Lotus adepts, who had long tried to bring down the Manchu Dynasty. Members of the Storm Dragons tried to bring order to the chaotic state of early 20th century China, and later fought the Japanese invaders, who brought their own secret mystic martial artists along with their troops. Today, the Chinese Communist regime persecutes and hounds the Dragons and all other secret societies. Nonetheless, the Dragons have managed to survive and continue to work secretly throughout the country.
In more recent times, the Dragons have encouraged the spread of the martial arts in the West, hoping to enlighten more people. Unfortunately many people, and not only those in the West, have concentrated exclusively on the physical and combative aspects of the martial arts, eschewing the philosophical side. These people are unsuitable recruits for the Dragons. Even so, the Dragons’ promotion efforts have increased the pool of possible candidates for recruitment.
Humankind, the Storm Dragons are taught, is a young and immature species. Even after millions of years of evolution, humans are very far from developing their spiritual and intellectual potential. The Storm Dragons consider themselves to be on the path of advancement and enlightenment. By developing their bodies and minds, they try to reach wisdom and strength. The process is believed to take several lifetimes. Reincarnation is a major tenet in the Society’s philosophy-religion, and occasionally people believed to have been members in past lives are actively sought out and recruited.
The Storm Dragons seek to help the Unenlightened, the teeming masses of humankind who are still far from attaining the perfection the Dragons seek. Their enemies are those who would enslave or destroy them, and they include such groups as the Cabal, the Combine, the Followers of the Darkness, and the Red Lotus Society. The Dragons often hunt Vampires (commonly known as Gaki in Japan), evil ghosts and spirits, and a number of Fey creatures such as Fox Spirits and the Tengu Bird People. The Society believes the Cabal is behind the tyranny that has oppressed China throughout most of its history. They maintain that this shadow organization has pulled the strings of both the old Emperors and the more recent Communist regime.
Storm Dragons recruit members from many different places. Although they emerged in Asia, they have expanded to other parts of the world, often following communities of Asian emigrants through all five continents. Storm Dragons recruit not only martial arts enthusiasts but also thinkers and philosophers, psychic sensitives, and anybody who seems a good candidate for enlightenment. The new members are taught the secrets of Storm Fist, a system of physical and spiritual enlightenment that combines breathing exercises, philosophical teachings and intensive gymnastics and combat training. The Dragons have been taught to think as well as to fight, and to combine ancient teachings with modern technology. The Gifted among them also learn the metaphysical arts of Tao-Chi, which significantly enhances their already advanced physical abilities.
The Storm Dragons are ranked according to their level of enlightenment and skill. Rank changes require the permission of a member at least two ranks higher than the desired level. Also, promotion depends as much on the disposition of the Dragon as on reaching the prerequisite Skills and Powers. Many powerful and skilled Dragons do not rise above First or Second Level for years because they are believed to lack the wisdom necessary for the additional responsibilities. When a group of Dragons assembles, the highest ranked Adept in the group assumes leadership. Generally, missions are assigned and planned by Second to Fourth Level Adepts.
This Covenant has had its share of problems, however. Many former students have abandoned the teachings of the Covenant. Over the centuries, some of these renegades founded their own schools of martial arts. If one believes the more militant Storm Dragons, every martial arts clan in Asia, from the Shaolin Temple to the Ninja, is the creation of a former Dragon who went astray. More recently, some members have started to show off their abilities in public, attracting unwanted interest and endangering their lives as well as the safety of the entire group.
The Storm Dragons have often come into contact with other supernatural societies or organizations. They are willing to work with anybody to protect Humankind from its true enemies.
Magic and psychic powers are viewed by the Storm Dragons as legitimate paths of enlightenment, so long as the Gifted does not become a slave to the spirits and elementals he deals with, or obsessed with accumulating more power. In earlier times, most contact with European Magicians was through Rosicrucians who traveled to remote parts of Asia seeking enlightenment. A few were enthralled enough to join the Storm Dragons, leaving behind their former affiliations. Others offended the Asian mystics with their arrogance and racism. Currently, while there are no formal treaties between these groups, Storm Dragons in a city or county are usually in contact with local Wicce and Rosicrucians, and will offer or accept aid during a crisis. The Psychic Network has a similar relationship with the Dragons. There is even an informal “student exchange” program where psychics discovered by the Dragons are sent to be trained in Network schools, and vice versa.
The Storm Dragons and the Society of Sentinels share many goals, but have some major philosophical differences. The Sentinels’ relentless monotheism puts off many Storm Dragons, who prefer to rely on their own inner strength instead of faith in a greater power. The Sentinels are in turn suspicious of the “pagan” practices of the Storm Dragons. As a result, the two groups rarely work together, and often interfere with each other.
Skills and Abilities
All Gifted Storm Dragons are trained in the secrets of Tao-Chi, the Way of the Soul, which allows practitioners to channel their Essence through their bodies. Gifted and Lesser Gifted members should have both Chi Mastery (a Special skill) and at least one Tao-Chi power (see Chapter Five: Metaphysics). The second most common Gifted power among the Storm Dragons is the Second Sight. Members with psychic potential are encouraged to cultivate and develop this power. Magic and Necromancy are rare: the secrets of magic are not taught by the organization, but may be acquired elsewhere.
Other powers are almost never found among the society. The Disciplines of the Flesh, being the result of mental suffering and a symptom of tortured souls, are considered to be more of a disease than a power. Finally, the world-view of the Storm Dragons is incompatible with Divine Inspiration.
Acolytes are those deemed worthy of joining. Likely candidates include dedicated martial artists, people with quick minds and wits, and accomplished and dedicated artists. All signs of people with the potential for development. The Students are taught the Storm Fist Style, although they are encouraged to explore other styles as well. They are also taught meditation, breathing techniques, and the philosophy necessary to advance. They are also taught discipline.
First Level Adepts will have martial arts at rank 3, Occult Knowledge, Philosophy, Will, and at least one chi skill. They must demonstrate ability in physical skills by undergoing a number of mock combat trials, followed by philosophical dissertation on the principles of the Storm Dragons, and culminating with the successful use of the chi skill they know.
Second Level Adepts will have martial arts at rank 4, all the previous requirements, and three chi skills.
Third Level Adepts have the previous requirements, plus four chi skills.
Fourth Level Adepts require martial arts, philosophy, and occult knowledge at 4. They also need five chi skills.
Fifth Level Adepts have martial arts, philosophy, and occult knowledge at 5.
Teacher is the only higher rank and is only granted to the those who become a master of one of the temples. They must prove they can master any chi power and the rank is only given at the secret mother temple where they are taught the Truths of the order.
Storm Dragons belong to a variety of professions. Many are self-employed, either as artists or sportsmen, which allows them to set their own hours and perform jobs for the society when necessary. The Storm Dragons fund a number of martial arts schools across the world, and many members are employed as instructors.