Ambassador and loyal member of the Camarilla
Oh the night in me
Floods with day
Floods as you part the darkness
As you make your way
To me again
– Marriages, “Part The Dark Again”
Autocratic and inscrutable, Karl Maximilian Strauss is a wealthy Lasombra corporate raider. After surviving a brutal Sabbat Embrace, he spent years searching for a Camarilla domain that would accept him. He emigrated from Austria to the United States and, at long last, found sanctuary in the Domain of the Rocky Mountains. One of Prince Aurora’s most loyal supporters, Karl covertly worked to secure her Praxis by financially decimating her Ventrue rivals. He also helped Vincent Van Buren and Dr. David Shepherd investigate the disappearance of Roman Montague.
At Aurora’s request, Karl “rescued” a young woman named Emily Valentine. Knowing that the frightened woman did not want to become a Vampire, Karl seduced her to make her Embrace as pleasant as possible. Their brief domesticity shattered when William Holladay sexually assaulted Emily and forced his blood on her. Karl demanded Holladay’s execution, but Aurora exiled the Tremere instead.
Karl decided to take his traumatized childe to the Domain of the Redwoods, a plan hastily executed upon discovering that Viktoria, his homicidally deranged sire, had crossed the ocean in search for him. After Aurora appointed Karl as her Ambassador, Prince Alejandro insisted that Karl and Emily join his court at the Castillo del Cielo. Karl managed to secure Alejandro’s aid in the Arizona Sabbat War with the understanding that Aurora would consider Alejandro’s proposal to unite their Domains. Amidst the cruelty of the Castillo, Karl admitted to himself that he had fallen in love with his childe. With this acceptance, a flood of memories overwhelmed Karl, memories of loving Emily in a previous life.
When Alejandro discovered that Aurora was deceiving him, the hot-headed Prince took Emily as a political prisoner and ordered Karl’s immediate expulsion from California. Secretly, some of Alejandro’s men buried Karl in a coffin and replaced him with a murderous impostor. Karl dissolved into shadow to escape his underground prison and found Emily imprisoned in Alejandro’s bedchamber. Of course, it was a trap. In an act of self-sacrifice, Karl stepped in front of Emily to shield her from Alejandro’s firing squad. Incendiary rounds ripped through his body into hers, but not before she finished an incantation to transport them to safety. Seconds after the Lasombra vanished, a massive tidal wave crashed over the Castillo, washing its inhabitants out to sea.
In a cathartic near-death experiance, Karl chose to return to Emily. Materializing at a safe house prepared for Emily by Lord Amelia, Karl gave blood to his gravely injured childe , thus sealing his blood bond over her. The Lasombra have returned to Salt Lake City, for good or ill.
Ambassador of the Rocky Mountains
Rocky Mountains (Utah, Colorado, and Idaho)
Salt Lake City
May 3, 1935
July 12, 1985 (age 35)
Aliases and Sobriquets:
Konstantin Engel (birth name), the Keeper (derisive), Señor de la Sombra (Lord of Shadow), Asesino del Oso (Bearkiller)
Taurus. Strengths: Devoted, patient, practical, reliable, responsible, sensual, and stable. Weaknesses: possessive, stubborn, and uncompromising.
A textbook autocrat, Karl is intelligent, controlling, and possesses immense self-control. He prefers to keep a low profile, often operating out of the shadows. He usually comes across as dour, dismissive, and uptight as a Ventrue. Karl’s soft spot is Emily and everyone knows it. To her, he is patient, gentle, and kind.
Darkly handsome, Karl is a deceptively large man, taller than average with a solidly muscular build born of regular workouts back from his breathing days. He appears to be in his mid-thirties, just old enough for his hair to begin to recede at the temples. He was wearing it long when he was Embraced, about shoulder length; when pulled back, his hairline reveals a prominent widow’s peak. Recently, his friend Arabella cut his hair short, and he hasn’t bothered to spend the blood to grow it back yet. His eyes are dark brown.
Karl always wears custom made, finely tailored suits, usually charcoal grey with black dress shirts and black wingtip shoes. He typically eschews ties unless he is in a formal setting. His other attirements include a very expensive black Rolex watch and a pair of modern-styled black diamond and platinum cufflinks. The cufflinks are a gift from his childe.
For many years following his Embrace, Karl functioned on a purely survival level. Even after finding a place at Aurora’s court, Karl’s need for security manifested in his relentless drive to acquire as much wealth as possible. Right now, Karl wants nothing more than to rid himself of his deranged sire, Viktoria.
Karl believes in God. In life, he was a Roman Catholic.
Karl’s sigil is an ornate, stylized cross with equidistant arms.
Karl’s native language is German. He speaks English perfectly.
In life, Karl was married to a lovely museum curator named Lorraine. He worked long hours and their marriage was strained. They had no children.
Karl’s insanely jealous sire, Viktoria, brutally murdered Lorraine on the night of his Embrace. He managed to escape her, and she lost track of him for many years. When Karl Embraced a childe of his own, Viktoria felt it. Now, she’s stalking him.
Karl is absolutely loyal to his prince and benefactor, Aurora Sophia Smith. He allowed her to enter his mind and walk the halls of his memory palace. As a result of this intimacy, she now knows things about Karl that he himself has not yet remembered.
Karl has one childe, Emily Valentine. She is also his lover and thrall. He would meet Final Death to protect her. In a previous life, Karl and Emily were married and had three children.
Karl’s retainers include:
- James Caulfield, his ghoul butler and bodyguard
- Lindsey Davenport, the Chief Operating Officer of KMS, whom he has entrusted to run his company for him
- Leon Macy, the manager of Absolution
- Eugune Belford, an IT specialist
Karl’s primary haven is his Frank Lloyd Wright-inspired mansion on Oak Forest Road, in the exclusive Federal Heights neighborhood of Salt Lake City. Karl’s extensive art collection is in storage while the mansion, having sustained recent damage, is under repair.
He maintains a private haven inside his Salt Lake City nightclub, Absolution.
In California, Karl owns an extremely private lake house on the shore of Lake Tahoe.
Karl is the owner and CEO of his own private ‘investment’ firm: KMS. KMS does business by acquiring companies in financial trouble, dismantling them and selling off the assets for a profit. It has made Karl a multi-millionaire. He can buy almost anything he wants.
His vehicles include a black 2011 high security BMW 760Li, a black 2006 Aston Martin DB9 convertable, and a black 2008 Mercedes Benz GL550 SUV. He also owns a private Lear jet and retains a pilot on stand-by.
Karl’s wallet, keys, and satellite phone are in the possession of the Redwoods Tremere.
2011 BMW 760Li
2006 Aston Martin DB9
2008 Mercedes Benz GL550 SUV