Campaign of the Month: October 2017
Blood and Bourbon
Eternal professor & mild-handed chantry regent
“A teacher affects eternity; he can never tell where his influence stops.”
Henry B. Adams
“Those who go to college and never get out are called professors.”
“Professors simply can’t discuss a thing. Habit compels them to deliver a lecture.”
Erwin is a short, balding, and bookish-looking man with a benign smile who most kine dismiss as harmless. His once-brown mustache and goatee are streaked through with salt and pepper. His narrow brown eyes are crinkled at their edges and framed by a large pair of thick glasses; he had terrible eyesight as a mortal man. It’s unknown if he still needs the eye aids or not. Compared to most Kindred, Erwin was Embraced at a very old age. While he’ll never be able to hunt at nightclubs without looking like someone’s dad, he finds it’s more help than hindrance in academia. Older adults get taken more seriously. He speaks with a thick German accent around his fellow Kindred that disappears entirely around mortals.
Erwin still dresses like the university professor he was in life. He’s fond of tweed suits, often paired with vests, button-up shirts or wool sweaters, and checkered neckties. His closet holds at least as many bowties. His shoes are usually oxfords. Within the chantry’s walls, he’s been known to entertain allies in a smoking jacket, despite the fact that he has long since given up his pipe. Erwin’s style of dress is fairly conservative and he occasionally grouses about the dreadful evolution of modern fashion. He misses how “better-presented” everyone was in earlier decades when men wore suits as part of daily wear.
Name: Erwin Stadtler Bornemann
Date of Birth: November 11th, 1798 (Frankfurt, Germany)
Date of Embrace: December 6th, 1850 (New Orleans, Louisiana)
Apparent Age: Early 50s
Real Age: Approx. 200
Eye Color: Brown
Hair Color: Gray
Education: Erwin holds postgraduate degrees in a variety of fields from assorted New Orleans and Baltimore universities, though he’s proudest of his ones from Tulane. He’s even prouder of his original (and long since de facto unaccredited) political science degree from pre-imperial Germany.
The German Confederation of 1815—1866 was a weak government with no central executive or judiciary over its 39 member states. It was weak by design. The Holy Roman Empire that preceded it had also been weak and decentralized. In the aftermath of the Napoleonic Wars, the great powers of Europe were keen to restore the antebellum balance of power. If that came at the expense of the German states, so be it.
Erwin Bornemann was a university professor and nationalist intellectual fiercely proud of his homeland. He found it intolerable that the German states should be kept deliberately weak and used as pawns in the political games of other European powers. He was also disdainful of traditional autocratic political structures and had a vision for a modern Germany defined by national unity and freedom of press, speech, and assembly.
He was not alone in such views. Similarly-minded intellectuals and university students were at the heart of the 1848 March Revolution. Erwin claims to be one of the 94 professors elected to the professorenparlament (“professor’s parliament”) in Frankfurt, so nicknamed because 357 of the 586 delegates had a university education. Erwin joined his fellows in enthusiastically proclaiming a German Empire based on parliamentary democracy. They offered a constitutional monarchy to Prussian king Frederick William IV, who declined it: not because he didn’t want a crown, but because he believed in the divine right of kings. Receiving his crown from a people’s parliament had the “stink of revolution” to the conservative monarch.
Most German states did not recognize the new government. Frankfurt’s parliament lasted only a year before Frederick’s armies forcefully disbanded it. Leaders and radicals were executed or sentenced to long prison terms. Erwin fled the country, one of many revolutionaries to do so. He escaped first to France, and from there to Gavelston, Texas (he was fluent in English) as one of the Forty-Eighters. America’s modern system of government agreed with him, even if he was disappointed that Germany had rejected one.
Teaching was Erwin’s trade, so he returned to it. He taught at a children’s schoolhouse for several years, which the former professor found less than fulfilling. In 1851, nearby Tulane University established its first academic department (it had previously been a medical school) and Erwin eagerly bought passage on a ship to New Orleans. He obtained another job as a professor and expected to spend the rest of his life happily re-ensconced in academia.
He did, even if the remainder of that life proved shorter than he expected.
Elsbeth von Steinhäuser, then-regent of the city’s Tremere chantry, was a former noblewoman from the Holy Roman Empire. The recent wave of German immigrants to the city attracted her attention: many of them, she knew, were educated and resourceful individuals who’d participated in a revolution (even if it was largely bloodless) and briefly managed a government. She moved among her countrymen in search of promising candidates to ghoul or Embrace. She found Erwin.
Despite Elsbeth’s background as one of the aristocrats he held in contempt, the two were surprisingly sympathetic to one another’s pan-Germanic views: Elsbeth had lived through the Holy Roman Empire’s lowest point during the Thirty Years’ War and believed its weak central authority had cost the German state and people much. The two conversed at length about how to make Germany strong again. Elsbeth concluded the erudite professor could be an asset to the Tremere clan. She offered him immortality. He accepted.
Erwin proved a devout and studious childe. He was sympathetic to the Anarch ideal of building a better world, and even struck up a friendship with Coco Duquette, but never forgot where his loyalties lay: Elsbeth explained to her progeny that Kindred society was not Germany, and reform in one was not desirable in the other. Erwin accepted this. He was not a true radical and approved of the Pyramid’s political structure, which he saw as a “technocratic meritocracy of enlightened minds” where knowledge was key to advancement. There were internal politics, but Erwin was no stranger to those from academia and accepted them as inherent to any large-scale organization. He was content in the Pyramid.
Outside Camarilla society drew less of Erwin’s interest. Where his peer Jonathan North made a name for himself joining the Guard de Ville, Erwin primarily focused on his thaumaturgic and academic studies to advance within the Pyramid. He steadily worked his way up the ranks and was transferred to Baltimore in the early 1900s, where he eventually obtained the position of magister.
Baltimore proved to his liking until the 1960s, when a worsening economy and race riots among the mortal populace were mirrored in a radicalized and anti-authoritarian Anarch Movement among the city’s Kindred. Erwin found these angry neonates to have little in common with the intellectually driven revolutionary movement of his mortal days. He found even less in common with the Sabbat. The Sword of Caine came to Baltimore in force during the urban decay of the 1970s and violent clashes between Camarilla and Sabbat came to dominate the city’s nights. Erwin had little desire to make his home in a “wartime environment” and requested multiple transfers out of the city.
In 1975, he got his wish—and more besides. The former regent of New Orleans’ chantry, Matthäus Goldfeld, had been called to Vienna. Erwin was transferred back to the Crescent City and received regency over its chantry.
Erwin’s tenure proved a marked contrast to his violent-tempered sire’s. The former professor was a mild-handed regent who preferred to keep things running smoothly and with a minimum of fuss, motivating his subordinates with praise and rewards. When that approach was insufficient, however, he was happy to let clanmates like Elsbeth or Jonathan play the stick. He largely ran the chantry like an academic department with an emphasis on scholastic and thaumaturgic research, though he also supported clanmates selling their thaumaturgic skills to any Kindred who could pay in return for boons. He left his sire to prosecute her feud against the Baron and politick among the primogen while quietly pursuing his own vision for the local Pyramid.
Erwin publicly supported the Tremere alliance with Vidal and has no complaints over the prince’s rule, but neither is he a zealous follower of the Ventrue’s. Most Kindred suspect the Tremere regent is willing to keep his options open. Both of his childer, Julien Derneville and Peter Lebeaux, are known partisans of Antoine Savoy’s. While Derneville’s association with the Toreador elder is informal, Lebeaux is one of his most trusted lieutenants. It remains uncertain whether Erwin is simply indifferent to his childer’s political allegiances outside of the Pyramid or whether he is playing a deeper game, perhaps at the instigation of his sire (who could maintain plausible deniability by issuing orders through her childe). Either way, the varying loyalties of Clan Tremere’s members—a firm ally of the prince, a mild ally of the prince, and two allies of Savoy’s—serves as a reminder that the warlocks serve themselves first and foremost. Neither Vidal nor Savoy can take the clan’s support for granted.
All told, Erwin has long since achieved the revolutionary aims he desired as a mortal man. He is content with his place in the Pyramid, and the Pyramid’s place within the Camarilla. Most Kindred suspect the former professor simply wants to spend his Requiem in quiet study.
Erwin runs the city’s Tremere chantry, but holds no domain outside of its walls in the Garden District. There’s little else to interest him there anyway. The Tremere regent makes his actual domain in Riverbend, where he’s a sworn vassal to Slane Holland and formerly to Donovan before him. Both sheriffs have been disinterested in academia and content to allow him generous feeding and domain rights at Tulane University. While he’s much too old-looking to hunt alongside the student body at dorm parties, he makes it work.
Erwin’s current mask is a professor at Tulane University who teaches exclusively evening classes. He’s either too occupied with research or lets his TA handle things during the day. He’s worked at Tulane and many other colleges and universities throughout New Orleans under a variety of pseudonyms. His older age at the time of his Embrace assists in this; everyone takes older professors more seriously. Erwin stays at a given institution about a decade or so before “retiring” or accepting an “out-of-state job offer” and relocating to another New Orleans college or university under a new alias. Tulane remains his favorite one, though (it’s the city’s largest, most prestigious, and best-funded university) and he spends around half of his “academic circuit” there.
Erwin likes to change subjects and departments with every alias. It’s harder for mortals to connect his identities and better for the Masquerade. Even if it wasn’t, Erwin enjoys keeping abreast of changing fields. He’s collected postgraduate degrees in political science, physics, literature, biology, medicine, psychology, and numerous other subjects, with a slight preference for the humanities over the hard sciences. He continues to teach classes, conduct research, and publish books and peer-reviewed articles under pseudonyms. More than one New Orleans professor would be startled to realize just how many local academic writings are the work of a single author. Erwin loves academia and believes having an eternity to pursue knowledge is the Requiem’s greatest gift.
The halls of academia are where Erwin’s influence lies. He’s a mentor to many grad students who’ve gone on to obtain professorships and other academic jobs throughout New Orleans, many of them thanks to strings Erwin pulls—it’s probable they’d have left the city if he hadn’t. While other scholarly-minded Kindred have interests in the city’s universities, including such luminaries as Philip Maldonato and (formerly) Coco Duquette, none of them have devoted as much effort to cultivating influence there as Erwin has. He also has a range of contacts among students who’ve gone on to other professional fields, though his chief interest lies in academia.
Erwin is a rarity among vampires: he works for a living. Being a professor at a prestigious university gives him an ample salary, and he isn’t above using his powers to make the payroll department give him an even fatter one. In Erwin’s eyes, this is only fair. Is there any mortal professor whose qualifications compare to his? Tulane is simply paying their employee a salary commensurate to his incomparable expertise. If anything, he grouses, they’re still getting him at a discount: it would be too suspicious if he made more than Tulane’s president.
Erwin also collects royalties from the many books he’s written and bends publishers’ minds to ensure he receives favorable rates. He’s happy to pontificate about how much publishers take advantage of academics: did you know they’re not even paid to write articles for peer-reviewed journals?
All told, Erwin considers his finances a model for other Kindred to emulate. All of his income comes from legitimate sources and he even pays a mortal accountant to do his taxes. Another mortal banker handles his investments. Erwin likes to boast that he’s never needed a ghoul to manage money—there’s nothing suspicious for mortals to find.
Erwin is the regent of New Orleans’ chantry and a long-established and dependable member of the Tremere clan. Due to his sire’s responsibilities in Texas, he enjoys a fair amount of autonomy in how he runs a chantry (largely like a university department, he jokes) that his superior is based in. Most warlocks would rather talk to Bornemann than his notoriously short-tempered and violent sire. (Tremere Status •••)
In the larger Camarilla, where Erwin has devoted less effort, he is a figure of moderate influence and respect. He’s known for being the Tremere clan whip and his sire’s right hand man. (Camarilla Status ••)
Erwin has some friends among the Anarchs. He’s not a member of the Movement himself, and has no particular desire to reform the larger Camarilla, but he and Coco Duquette were known to greatly enjoy one another’s company. Anarchs generally feel that if they must deal with a Tremere, they could do much worse than the mild-mannered college professor. (Anarch Status •)
• Antoine Savoy: Erwin regards the French Quarter lord’s populist rhetoric with dry amusement, but all things told, he thinks Savoy could probably run a city just as conductive to Tremere interests as Vidal could. It’s primarily his sire and Philip Maldonato that have kept him from pursuing any serious association with the Toreador elder.
• Augusto Vidal: Erwin sees Vidal as a tyrant in the same vein as Frederick William—autocratic and old-fashioned, but gets the job done. Autocracy offends him far less than it once did. Erwin believes Clan Tremere can work with the prince and that is enough for him.
• Baron Cimitière: Erwin does not share his sire’s hatred for the Baron, but considers him the least desirable of the three princely contenders. He respects the Samedi houngan for his sorcerous power and also looks down upon him for his followers lack of education. He’s made several sarcastic quips that one can probably count on one hand the number who have “even seen ze inside of a university—vizout also scrubbing its toilets.”
• Coco Duquette: Erwin greatly respected the late Brujah primogen and considered her a genuine friend. The two spent many nights together discussing political theory and philosophy, and even had a private “game” going to see who could collect more degrees from the city’s universities. He’s been greatly dismayed by her final death and hasn’t spoken a word to Miss Opal in Elysium ever since.
• Jacob Grunewald: Jacob stood as one of the most notable examples of Erwin’s genial policies after he helped bring the decades-long renegade back into Clan Tremere’s bold. Erwin seemed quite pleased with success, until Grunewald’s execution in 2015 for violations of the Masquerade.
• Jonas Petrowski: Erwin believes the Gangrel environmental studies professor has great potential for a neonate. He’s invited Petrowski to the chantry as a guest and the two have even collaborated on some academic papers.
• Joseph Doyle: There is no Tremere within the city who arouses Erwin’s condescension quite like Joseph Doyle. He blames the working-class stevedore’s lack of education for his inability to learn thaumaturgy, and considers him both stupid and lazy. Some say the only reason Erwin hasn’t transferred Doyle to another chantry is that he believes he would owe a favor to whatever regent took such a poor Tremere off his hands. As it stands, Erwin thinks Doyle serves some use to the New Orleans chantry as head of security. He doesn’t foist Doyle with dangerous or humiliating duties—Erwin’s character isn’t malicious. But everyone knows he has no respect for Doyle whatsoever.
• Kyrstin Grey: Since her sire Jon’s departure from New Orleans, Erwin has served as a mentor figure to the chantry’s most recent addition. He’s been pleased by her quick mind and has encouraged her to pursue a postgraduate degree at Tulane.
• Micheal Kelly: Erwin had nothing but disdain for Micheal, who he viewed as a stupid, bumbling oaf emblematic of Clan Brujah’s decline from a clan of philosopher-kings to bat-swinging hoodlums. Kelly had one of the most intellectually accomplished sires in the city and failed her utterly, as Erwin sees it, nor even showed her a childe’s respect. He has shed no tears over the Brujah’s final death in the 2016 Battle of Mid-City.
• Peter Lebeaux: Erwin met his childe at a community college night class he was teaching and was impressed by the blue-collar police officer’s inquisitive mind and desire to better himself. Erwin’s encouraged Lebeaux to pursue further higher education and couldn’t be more pleased by his childe’s academic and social accomplishments—he’s become one of an elder’s must trusted lieutenants and has acquired further postgraduate degrees. The two maintain a cordial if not affectionate relationship.
• Philip Maldonato: Erwin immensely respects the seneschal’s scholarly accomplishments and has a higher opinion of him than both Vidal and Savoy. He’s probably the second anchor, after Erwin’s sire, who keeps the Tremere regent mostly committed to his clan’s alliance with the prince.
• Roderick Durant: Erwin and Roderick knew one another through the latter’s sire and maintained a cordial association. Erwin considered the young attorney to be of good stock and a worthy inheritor of Clan Brujah’s legacy as the Learned Clan. He was disappointed by the neonate’s death in the 2016 Battle of Mid-City and thought it was a sad waste of potential.
• 3. Tremere (e. 11th century)
• 4. Etrius (e. 11th century)
Lotharius (e. 11th century, d. early 16th century)
• 6. Karl Schrekt (e. 13th century)
• 7. Elsbeth von Steinhäuser (e. mid 17th century)
Magdalena Schönborn (e. mid 18th century, d. early 19th century)
• 9. Abigail Wood (e. late 18th century)
• 10+. (Abigail’s descendants) (e. varies)
• 8. Reuben Berkemeyer (e. early 19th century)
• 9+. (Reuben’s descendants) (e. varies)
• 8. Erwin Bornemann (e. mid 19th century)
Julien Derneville (e. early 20th century, d. 2015)
• 9. Peter Lebeaux (e. early 21st century)
Erwin Bornemann is the childe of Elsbeth von von Steinhäuser, the clan’s local primogen and the high regent of Texas, Arkansas, and Louisiana. Elsbeth is believed to be the childe of Karl Schrekt, a former mortal demon hunter and one of the longest-serving justicars for his clan. All manner of incredible rumors surround Schrekt from having diablerized Lupines to meeting Caine himself. True or not, the retired justicar is one of the most feared Kindred in his clan, and sat on the Justicarate during a number of turbulent periods including the Napoleonic Wars and World War II. Schrekt is childe to Lotharius, the prince of Vienna during the Middle Ages, a former member of the Council of Seven, and one of the first Tremere Embraced into the clan outside of the founder and his original seven followers. His rule laid much of the groundwork that enabled Vienna to become the bastion of Tremere strength it is tonight. He was slain by the future Banu Haqim caliph Thetmes during the 1529 Ottoman siege of Vienna. Lotharius was childe to Etrius, the councilor of Eastern Europe, first among equals on the Council of Seven due to his long association with the clan’s near-mythical founder, and one of the driving forces behind Clan Tremere’s rise from a band of mortal magi to the pillar of the Camarilla they are tonight. Etrius is the nominal childe of Tremere.
Erwin’s sister-in-blood and eldest broodmate Magdalena Schönborn was regent of the now-defunct Louisiana Chantry until her destruction in 1811. Erwin’s brother-in-blood and next-elder broodmate Reuben Berkemeyer is the prince of Fort Worth in all but name; their sire Elsbeth remains disappointed he does not rule openly in his own right.
Erwin’s older childe Julien Derneville was a civil rights lawyer of middling accomplishment in the Pyramid. He was destroyed in 2015 at the presumed hands of the Baron’s followers. Erwin’s younger childe Peter Lebeaux is a homicide detective who served as warden of the French Quarter and is one of Antoine Savoy’s most trusted lieutenants.