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These are words that cannot be denied. What is a vampire but an animate corpse? What are the undead but dead that walk? What is our king but a vampire?

A rotting corpse sits on the throne of Malleus – a rotting corpse to whom we bow and scrape! We have allowed the dictates of King Wilhelm and his vampire children to dominate the lives of living men and women for centuries. We have allowed him to make not mere slaves of us, but cattle. We have allowed our so-called nobility to feed on the lifeblood of our sons and daughters for far too long.

In signing this declaration, we commit ourselves to the fight against injustice and tyranny. We commit ourselves to the overthrow of the vampire King Wilhelm and all his brood. We commit ourselves to raising a new government by the living, for the living.

from The Declaration of the Illuminated,
May 1st, 1776


The island nation of Malleus is in the throes of revolution. An artistic revolution flowers as the people embrace periwigs and hoop skirts, symphonies and comic operas. An economic revolution looms as the steam engine changes industry and the wealth from the colonies invigorates the middle class. An intellectual revolution boils as scholars study science and philosophy, galvanism and the social contract. And a political revolution threatens as the people of Malleus conspire to take their nation back from the bloodsucking ruling class that treats them like cattle.

Throughout Malleus, revolutionaries are at work. In the dark forests that line the king’s roads, highwaymen in masks and greatcoats ambush nobles’ coaches and plunder their wealth. In the streets of the capital city Hammerstadt, radicals risk their lives to spread the call to rebellion amongst the people. In secret rooms, conspirators gather to destroy the old government and forge a new one. And in the palaces of the vampires, libertines in lace and silk become assassins and strike the first blows for freedom.

But that is not all. On mountain heights, scientists harness the lightning to create weapons capable of incinerating the dead. Amongst standing stones and cromlechs, highland warriors pledge on their swords to defeat the king. In towns and villages across Malleus, a generation born with strange powers hides their gifts. Amid the libraries and hidden work rooms of lawyers and merchants, would-be sorcerers seek the secrets of alchemy. In the bedrooms of the vampires’ mansions, disenfranchised wives and daughters hone their minds and wills to strike with the power of the second sight. And by native campfires and in the fencing halls of Hammerstadt, martial artists hone their bodies and souls into weapons.

The King is Dead is a setting of revolution in a Gothic 18th century that never was.

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