The Lodge of the Undying
There are many types of immortal in the world. Some Gifted humans live far longer than normal people, with careers that can easily span centuries. Undead Vampires are also effectively unaging, although they have other problems. True Immortals are a different breed, however. People who were born with seemingly eternal life. The Lodge of the Undying is a gathering of these Immortals. For quite some time, it has served as a semiformal mutual assistance society. A place where a young Immortal can rub elbows with others of their ilk and learn the finer points of eternal life.
True Immortals are both few in number and most are fierce individualists. Even an Undying One needs friends sometimes. On occasion small groups of Immortals have banded together. Be it for protection, to share knowledge, or simply for companionship. After all, who can understand an Immortal better than one of his kind?
The Lodge of the Undying is possibly the largest of these organizations, but its numbers are still very limited. Its purpose is twofold: to understand the origins and nature of the Immortal breed, and to help and protect its members. The Lodge has amassed a great deal of wealth and influence, which they have used to study the lore of the Immortals, and to keep it secret from the rest of humanity. Most Immortals have visions and dreams of their previous lives, glimpses of a glorious past where Immortals ruled a powerful civilization, often identified with such mythical lands as Atlantis and Ultima Thule. The Lodge is trying to discover the truth about these visions. So far, it has gathered little concrete evidence.
The Lodge of the Undying is a relatively young organization, especially given its membership. The group was created in the late 18th century, by a 1,000-year old Immortal known simply as Quintus. Quintus had traveled extensively throughout the world, and had encountered and befriended several dozen Immortals. He was among the first to start gathering the Immortals’ collective lore, in an effort to discover the secrets of ‘Atlantis’. His hope was to eventually lead the way for a new, greater Renaissance, one where the lost powers of the antediluvian kingdoms would lead humanity toward a new golden age. Some Immortals who lived through that period are somewhat more cynical about Quintus’ goals, however, and they claim that Quintus wished to be the ruler of the new world his discoveries would create.
In any case, Quintus sponsored the first meeting of the Lodge. Immortals from Europe, America and the Middle East traveled to Paris in unprecedented numbers. According to the Lodge’s records, no less than forty Immortals were in attendance. After some heated discussion, during which some Immortals left in a huff, the basic rules of the group were agreed upon. For a few years, things went well. The Lodge was patterned after the Freemason societies of the time, with a complex initiation ceremony and secret signs and handshakes. A central College was established in Paris. By 1771, associated Colleges had been established in London, Vienna, and Boston.
Tragedy struck during the French Revolution and the Terror that followed it. Quintus was arrested and executed — beheaded, and his corpse completely incinerated. The way his body was disposed of revealed some knowledge of how to kill Immortals. It appears that Quintus had attracted the wrath of some powerful third party. The rest of the Lodge went underground, but managed to survive the ensuing wars and chaos. It continued recruiting Immortals, especially those who had recently discovered their abilities and desperately needed guidance.
The Lodge is particularly concerned with the legends of Atlantis. Members may disagree, sometimes violently, about the details, but all believe that some time in the world’s prehistoric past a number of great human civilizations rose to prominence and were destroyed through some still undetermined means. Although ‘the Flood’ seems to be the best candidate.
After comparing the notes of several hundred Immortals over its history, Lodge archivists have amassed a great deal of knowledge about their previous existence. Still, the information is still incomplete, and often contradictory. Some Immortals’ recollections of Atlantis/Athal depict a fairly primitive land, while others show a place of incredible beauty and power. By organizing the different accounts in a powerful computer database, scholars have sketched a tentative timeline of Atlantis. This timeline is not precise. Anywhere between 1,000 and 20,000 years may have passed between the foundation and the fall of the empire. If the latter figure is true, that would mean that Atlantis outlasted all the human civilizations that followed, combined. The accepted historical record is less than 10,000 years old. The possibility that a once-glorious civilization could vanish with little more than a trace is sobering.
Learning more about the past is a major goal of the organization. A number of Immortals have become involved in the archeological field, and have tried to uncover any physical evidence of Atlantis. So far, they have found a few ancient artifacts of dubious origin but nothing solid. These researchers have uncovered some evidence that interesting finds have been destroyed or suppressed by a shadowy organization.
Studying the past is not the only scholarly pursuit of the group. Many also study Immortal physiology, the special powers some Immortals have, and try to find ways to replicate the lost arts and crafts of Athal. Unfortunately, this line of research has produced even fewer results than the exploration of the past. Immortal physiology appears human. DNA analysis has revealed nothing unusual, although a few scientists hope the full mapping of the immortal human genome may provide more clues. The Immortal regenerative and rejuvenation powers cannot be explained through any biology or molecular biology. Some physicists claim the process works at the subatomic level, or even at the sub-quark level, which, as one wit once said, “means they don’t have a freakin’ clue.”
The Lodge also provides a support network for Immortals. Any member who needs help, such as establishing a new identity after outliving an old one, need only make a phone call and the Lodge will use its considerable resources to assist him. In the past, the Lodge has helped cover the tracks of dozens of Immortals, even engineering a number of prison breaks. Lodge members are expected to help any new Immortal they encounter. The first experience of a young Undying is likely to be traumatic, and ideally a more experienced person should be nearby to provide guidance.
The Lodge has few rules governing the conduct of its members, but they are followed very strictly. Immortals found guilty of murder, as opposed to killing in self-defense, of trying to set themselves up as rulers or celebrities, or of betraying the Lodge’s confidences to outsiders, face expulsion from the Lodge. An expelled member can expect no help whatsoever from the Lodge, and in this age, knowledge of the expulsion is quickly known by everyone.
The main reason for those restrictions is more pragmatic than altruistic. Immortals need their secrecy to survive. Wanton killing, self-glorification and publicity threaten their safety by risking discovery. Should their existence become publicly known, Immortals would be persecuted, haunted, and possibly vivisected to discover the secret of their eternal youth. The worst part is, since there is no scientific explanation for their powers, an Immortal in that position would suffer for no good cause.
The Lodge is organized along geographical lines. The Undying maintain some thirty “Colleges”, facilities that combine the characteristics of social clubs, libraries, and meeting places. The size and features of these Colleges vary from place to place. Typically, they include at least three or four guest rooms for visiting or hiding Immortals, live-in facilities for the Dean of the College and his assistants, and a decent library, which in also includes several high-power computers with fast Internet connections. Getting some of the older Immortals to use them is often impossible though. Each College has a Dean, an Immortal who assumes the responsibility to maintain and administer the area. The Deans are selected by the Lodge Masters, a group of twelve Immortals, all of whom participated in the creation of the Covenant.
Currently, the Lodge maintains twenty-nine Colleges around the world. Most of them are in the West: five Colleges in the U.S., another six in Canada and South America, ten in Europe, one in Africa (Egypt), one in the Middle East (Jerusalem), one in Australia and the rest in Asia.
The Lodge presently has some three hundred and fifty “charter” members. Less than one fifth of the members are really active in the organization; they are the ones who maintain the Colleges, conduct research, and manage the funds of the Covenant
Most charter members are Immortals, but, over the years, other beings have been accepted into the ranks of the Lodge. Almost all of them are unaging or long-lived people. This includes a couple of Magicians, former Rosicrucians, with large Essence capacities, some Seers who have learned how to stop the aging process, and even a couple of Vampires. To qualify under those circumstances, however, the nonImmortal must have performed some great service for either the Covenant or an influential Immortal, and the application requires the approval of the Lodge Masters themselves.
In addition to the full members, the Lodge employs a small army of research assistants, servants, bodyguards and security officers, secretaries and so forth. Most of them are wholly ignorant of the true nature and purpose of the Lodge, but many know the truth. They couldn’t perform their duties otherwise. Many of the more loyal servants are given Ambrosia as a gift, greatly extending their life spans. Several employees are in their late fifties and sixties, but look half as old.
Although all Lodge Members are required never to reveal themselves to humanity, this prohibition does not fully extend to other secret organizations. All of which must also hide from the mundane world. Generally, however, Immortals prefer not to get involved with these groups unless absolutely necessary.
The Sentinels are avoided like the plague. To most Lodge members, they embody their greatest fear, hunters of the supernatural who may target Immortals simply because they are different. Fortunately, since most Immortals do not prey on human beings, they rarely have reason to fear the Sentinels’wrath.
Some Undying have encountered both the Templar Order and its mortal enemies. Immortals who try to set themselves up as rulers of nations and peoples have almost always come to grief at the hands of either or both of these groups. The Lodge Masters realize that if their existence becomes public, these will become the Lodge’s worst enemy. So they do their best to keep a low profile.
Typically contacts are limited and sporadic with other factions. Some Immortals belong to the House of Thanatos and scholars from both groups have on occasion corresponded, but most members have no idea that the other Lodge exists.
Skills and Abilities
Any skill combination is possible, since the Undying have the time, and usually the resources, to pursue any occupation. Long-lived Immortals should spend at least some points on archaic skills, to represent their past accomplishments. Those archaic skills do not have to be at high levels, however (representing “rusting” through lack of practice).
All members of the Lodge are immortals. Supernatural humans who cannot be killed easily or by any less than violent means.
Younger Immortals can belong to any profession. The older ones tend to have enough wealth to make jobs superfluous. Although others own their own businesses or work as artists or in similar freelance occupations.