The Strix

Information on this organisation is presented here as IC world background information, not OC fact. All the information on their page should be considered rumour and speculation at best.

The Birds of Dis

They’ve always been here.

Ever since humanity learned to be afraid of the dark, it has been plagued by shadow beings jealously hungering for life. The Kindred hear stories of corpses clawing their way out of graves, tearing flesh and thirsting for blood; and the younger and more foolish among them imagine that they’re stories about draugr, or revenants, or debased Kindred. The Kindred are the only true vampires. The fiends, the corpse-stealing smoke-shadows, don’t exist.

Those Kindred are wrong. And if the Strix ever hear them voice such opinions, they might just make an example of them.

The Strix are counterparts, shadows, and — according to old legends from the nights of the Camarilla — relatives of the Kindred. Where vampires are people brought back from death by the power of the Embrace, hungering for blood as their connection to Humanity fades, the Strix were never human. Shades of darkness and omens of doom, they steal life without needing the medium of blood, and force their shadowy forms into the bodies of the dead to experience the feelings of flesh. They are the monstrous vampires of legend, the ones with no Humanity but not given over to the Beast’s insanity. The Strix are coldly, calculatingly evil. They hunger for the life they’ve never known, and hate the living for having it. They see the Kindred — like them, but masquerading as human — as perversions in need of a harsh lesson in inhumanity.

The Strix embody themselves in corpses. The Kindred are corpses.

What They Do

In its natural state, a Strix is an owl-like shape made of smoke and pooled shadows in defiance of any nearby source of light. It retains coherent form only when perched, still, surveying everything around it for prey. When in motion, a Strix half-flies, half-flows, a blur of shadow accompanied by a telltale chill. Even this is only a convenience — a Strix can lose all of its owl-shape entirely to flow through any crack or gap visible to the naked eye, reforming on the other side as soon as there’s space.

The Strix are vampires, just as much as the Kindred are. They feed by perching on the living, absorbing the victim’s breath as Vitae. Some prey on sleeping victims, but Strix are quite capable of incapacitating someone before draining the terrified unfortunate. Kindred legends tell of Strix feasting en masse in the aftermath of battles and carnage, gorging themselves on the injured and dying.

Without physical form, the Strix laugh mockingly at injuries that would drive a vampire into torpor. Blows, hurled objects, and weapons pass harmlessly through them, but every Strix has weaknesses. The Owls share the Kindred’s aversion to sunlight and fire, hinting at their shared past, but the two great banes don’t burn the Strix. Instead, fire and sunlight become impenetrable barriers, forcing the Strix into concealing darkness. Every Strix has additional banes, too, which force them away like sunlight or even injure them.

The Strix are jealous of all aspects of life, and bitterly hate all living beings for that vital force. They steal Vitae when they feed, but many Strix want to take things further. Some wish to experience what is denied to them — to eat, fuck, fight, and feel injury. Some want to punish the living by ripping their comfortable existences apart. Some want to show the Kindred that there’s really no difference between them at all. The most powerful Strix can become solid, material, even in their normal form — they’re still made of shadow and stolen life, but their claws are wickedly sharp and their beaks tear flesh. The majority of Strix wishing to experience embodiment do so the same way the Strix do anything. They steal it.

The Strix perches on a corpse, as though it were about to feed from a living victim. Instead of drawing breath out, the Owl forces itself in, flowing into the mouth and nostrils, down the throat and into the body. It settles, its shadowy half-real substance suffusing the bones and viscera. And then it opens its new eyes.

Once possessing a corpse, all the delights of the flesh are open to the Strix. If it knows how, it may still feed by drawing breath even when embodied; but most Strix use the opportunity to take life in more violent, bloody ways. Strix-possessed corpses rip and consume the flesh of victims, the Vitae gain almost incidental to the sheer fun of slaughter. Other, calmer Strix feed the way the Kindred do, by drinking blood. Their rotting hosts lack a vampire’s fangs or the Kiss, though, so they must draw blood in other, more obvious ways.

Unfortunately for the Kindred, the Strix aren’t impeded by the fact that some corpses in the World of Darkness are still walking and talking. Other vampires make excellent hosts for the Strix — their bodies don’t decay, they have more efficient means of feeding, the more powerful are full of Vitae the eager Strix can use, and, frankly, the Kindred have it coming to them. They deserve it, with their pathetic Masquerade and — most damningly — their denial of kinship with the Strix.

Not every domain has suffered a Strix attack; and although rumour passes on warnings about yellow-eyed demons and malevolent shadows, not all Kindred even know that the Nemeses exist. Those who do tell horror stories of Strix attacks, of hungry dead rampaging through the city leaving the Kindred terrified and desperately scrabbling to recover the Masquerade. More knowledgeable Kindred know that the violent, id-crazed Strix are actually the minority — most of the Birds of Dis are patient in their contempt for the living and the pretenders. The Owls’ hatred is cold, not the abandon of Kindred frenzy. They possess Kindred and infiltrate their courts, laying their plans to destroy the pretence of society the Kindred cling to. Even so, the Strix are rare. Paranoid Kindred accuse rivals of being Strix in far greater numbers than the Owls usually gather, tearing divisions in Elysium without a Strix having to lift a talon.

Kindred scholars know two sure tests, however, for a vampire suspected of being a Strix — one subtle, and one extremely dangerous. The subtle tell is in the eyes. When the light catches them in just the right way, the eyes of the Strix glow yellow no matter what form they’re in. The more violent way is sunlight. Possession sends the Kindred soul into dormancy, so the banes of the possessed are those of the Strix, not the Kindred whose face it is wearing — and hiding within a corpse means the Strix isn’t in contact with those banes. Fire still burns, insofar as it burns any corpse; but a vampire who can walk uninjured in the sun harbors an Owl. Once discovered, or just strongly suspected, the Kindred know one way to kill a possessing Strix. If the body it possesses is destroyed while also completely surrounded by one of the Strix’s banes, the Bird has nowhere to go and dies. For most cases, that means incineration. Only burning a body to ash, without leaving a single body part exposed, is certain to prevent the Strix from escaping.

In the absence of knowledgeable vampires who remember some Strix-lore, a domain aware of Strix infiltrating the All Night Society is a desperate, paranoid place. Kindred expecting their persecutors to behave like Kindred face a rude awakening, as the Birds laugh off deadly banes and treat their hosts as disposable puppets. Eventually, through trial and error, the Kindred sometimes learn effective methods and expel the Shadows from their domain. The survivors pass warnings and stories out through the Cacophony.

The Strix suffer from additional banes as they age, resembling the banes suffered by calloused Kindred, and it’s the knowledge of these methods that Strix-afflicted domains try to spread. Many young Kindred have wondered, at one time or another, why mortal legends of vampires contain so many inaccuracies and weaknesses the Kindred don’t generally suffer — crosses, running water, silver, certain herbs, the thresholds of homes and more. Some of these were spread by Masquerade-minded vampires as misinformation. Others are stories of calloused Kindred. Most, though, are the results of the Cacophony. These legends don’t describe Kindred — they describe the Strix; they are desperate attempts by besieged domains to warn and arm other vampires against the Nemeses.

Some Princes consult Mekhet sages, hoping to find some easier way of telling the Strix apart by scrutinizing suspected hosts with Auspex, but no such method exists — to the Mekhet Discipline, the aura of a Strix in a vampire host is exactly — disturbingly — like that of a vampire who has committed diablerie.

Most Mekhet sages don’t like to think about that one too hard.