"No, I’ll never cure her, but my attention eases her suffering." "Why would you deny her that if you love her?"
Parent Clan: Mekhet
For as long as the Kindred have been aware of the existence of the Morbus, bloodline historians and vampiric genealogists have been frustrated by them. Owing largely to the rarity of extensive records cataloging Mekhet lineage over the centuries, no one can pin down exactly who the founder of this bloodline might have been or where the first niche was in which the Morbus began to thrive. The idea of constructing a truly inclusive history of the Kindred (especially as regards the Mekhet clan) from which one might solve this mystery conclusively is a pipe dream at best, but some aspire to it nonetheless. Those Morbus who choose to concern themselves with the subject consider this ongoing failure a relief and a legitimization of their entire existence. They see themselves as simply Mekhet who are afflicted or cursed with a singular variety of rarefied tastes.
The particular preference to which the Morbus are all suspect is that they must feed on the blood of the ailing and diseased in order to sustain their vital undead state. In fact, the name Morbus comes from a Latin root meaning “diseased,” which was ascribed to afflicted Mekhet by non-afflicted ones during the reign of Justinian in the sixth century AD. According to records from that period unearthed centuries later by Kindred archaeologists, the Morbus were suspected of either spreading or helping to spread a virulent plague across the Mediterranean in one domain after another. Less solvent data has linked named Morbus from Roman records with Mekhet who were active in Greece and Egypt as far back as 430 BC, a year in which plague was said to have struck Athens. The connection this data implies is tenuous as best, and possibly wholly fabricated as propaganda against the Morbus. Nonetheless, it might have been possible for the Kindred to accept the Morbus condition as just a peculiar feeding preference if it were not for records recovered from Constantinople dating back to AD 1334. At that time, one of the most widespread plagues in history swept across Europe and Asia, aided by large numbers of soldiers and captives returning from the Crusades. The records in question describe the “righteous wrath” of a Mekhet pilgrim who traveled in secret with the Christian army. He returned to his domain once the campaign was ended to find his Kindred subjects in rebellion and his mortal herds mired hopelessly in sin. To punish them, records say, he blighted his people with a wasting sickness from within him that killed everyone for miles within a matter of days. This incident blended in with concurrent reports of blight and plague that swept the continent at the time, but Kindred historians pin it down as the first known instance of the use of the Morbus Discipline known as Cachexy.
When captured and put to the question by Kindred Inquisitors for the act, this Kindred denied being the founder of a bloodline at all. He claimed that he had learned his unusual abilities from his sire, who had long since succumbed to the sleep of ages. When he awoke much later, the Kindred’s sire also denied developing the Discipline or founding a bloodline, but his memories of his own sire or brood brethren were too hazy to offer any more definitive leads. These records are the closest any historian has come to finding the bloodline's true founder or tracing its evolution. Tonight, most Morbus are not as concerned with their origins as they are with survival. Once they discover their condition and the unique power that derives from it (or they have both explained to them by an older Morbus), they must decide whether to hide it or admit what they are and try to redefine their niche. Their ability to do either varies by domain, but if nothing else, periodic outbreaks of severe infectious diseases throughout history and all over the world provide sufficient vessels on which to thrive. All they have to do is keep informed and be willing to risk travel to areas in which untreated strains of infectious disease defy the cutting edge of First-World medicine.
It is a more frequent for a Mekhet to Embrace a childer who then realizes he is a Morbus than it is for a confirmed Morbus to Embrace a childe. Most Morbus childer therefore have the same backgrounds as non-afflicted Mekhet. When the Morbus do Embrace deliberately, they tend to choose doctors (whom they vainly hope can help cure them), dying vessels to whom they’ve formed obsessive attachments, or people with influence over policymakers.
Many Carriers find it difficult to make a respected name or to carve out a fruitful place among the undead of the Invictus or the Lancea Sanctum once their affliction becomes known. Kindred consider them threats to the Traditions and claim that hundred-fold damnation awaits any Morbus who breaks the Third Tradition. Princes of the Invictus simply don't want Carriers polluting their domains and weakening the mortal pillars of their power structure with careless feeding. Some Morbus take perverse pleasure in testing the limits of Carthian egalitarian tolerance, but most would just as soon cultivate as much power and influence as they can and tell the Carthians to go to hell. Repentant or remorseful Carriers turn to members of the Circle of the Crone in hopes of finding some way to undo the curse they've wrought upon themselves, but no member of the bloodline or the covenant in general has yet uncovered any hope that such is possible. Others join the Ordo Dracul in an attempt to progress beyond the weakness that their blood inflicts, but no Morbus has yet achieved the true transcendence that the Order espouses. The rest of the bloodline hide out among the Kindred of the Invictus or the Lancea Sanctum — guarding the secret of their heritage for all their unlives are worth— or go it alone among the unaligned.
Most Morbus adopt attire based on how they intend to interact with Kindred society vis-à-vis their condition. Those who try to pass as "normal" often play to the stereotypes that they feel are expected of their clan in their chosen covenant and domain. Infact, they often overdo said stereotypes and give themselves away. Those whose nature is fairly common knowledge try to keep a low profile in "urban camouflage" (i.e. plain, baggy, off-brand clothes in neutral colors), so as to not stand out and risk being social lightning rods. Those who are outright cavalier about their bloodline — and have found acceptance in a Prince's domain — often play to Mekhet stereotypes. They do so out of a desire to show how successful they can be despite their condition.
Whether they're covert or open about what they are, Morbus make just as much of an effort to make their havens a reflection of their personal purposes as other Mekhet do. The only way in which they choose havens that differs is they look for ones among or offering easy access to diseased mortal vessels.
Character Creation Edit
The priority assigned to Physical Attributes and Skills is largely a matter of personal taste, as these vampires do not necessarily need sterner constitutions to balance the diseases they carry. The choice between Mental and Social Attributes and Skills should depend on how open a character is to revealing his lineage and how he intends to adapt to his condition. It is also wise to buy up or sell off Humanity dots based on how cavalier uses of Cachexy will be, or how humane a function he considers feeding from the sick and infirm to be. Also, don’t forget to buy a second dot of Blood Potency since a character can’t officially join the bloodline before then.
The Morbus are slaves to a highly rarefied palate. Only the blood of diseased and dying mortals sustains them, while healthy blood turns to ash in their mouths (though they may take Kindred Vitae and be nourished by it as normal). They can feed from other vessels only when frenzying, but doing so does not replenish their Vitae to any degree whatsoever. Some Morbus feel compelled to drink blood infected with only one specific disease, but this restriction is only a matter of taste or a psychological limitation. Should such a member be brave or desperate enough to drink from a victim with a different affliction than his preferred one, he suffers no penalty. While these diseases don't adversely affect the Morbus themselves (usually), they can occasionally be transmitted when the Kindred feed, share blood with their ghouls or have sex.
The Morbus bloodline is a shameful aberration in the eyes of most Mekhet, which makes it all but impossible for a confirmed Morbus to gain any Status Merit or clan offices among the non-afflicted. What's more, a surviving descendent of a confirmed Morbus who is not a member of the bloodline stands to lose standing by association, both from Mekhet who expect him to follow in his ancestor’s footsteps and from other Morbus who wonder why he’s afraid to do so.
The tradition among certain elders and Kindred genealogists of tracking descent and lineage both informs and works against the Morbus. A few members trace lineage and determine intra-bloodline status based on the relative fame or notoriety of sires and grandsires. Some consider the achievements of only their confirmed Morbus forebears worthy of consideration, while others uphold any Mekhet ancestors’ accomplishments. Morbus who manage to keep their membership in this bloodline a secret, and earn status and respect from other Mekhet, earn the same again (and more) from their Morbus peers for their cleverness.
Angel of mercy, cult leader, demon of retribution, doctor, hospice manager, medical researcher, New-Age holistic healer, plague dog, retirement home orderly, seemingly philanthropic political activist