Campaign of the Month: October 2017
Blood and Bourbon
Deposed prince of Baton Rouge & riverboat casino magnate
Baton Rouge’s prince-in-exile is a tall and handsome man with rectangular features, a prominent nose, dark caramel-brown hair sculpted into a short mustache and goatee, and deep blue eyes. He smiles readily, and many non-Ventrue would say he does so more often this clanmates, but his smiles are never so wide as to be full grins—he quips that he still must maintain some decorum.
Two gold crucifix earrings hang from his ears. They were a gift from his brother Jereaux and he wears them always. His attire at most functions hovers somewhere in between formal and semiformal: tailored dark blazer, matching slacks, and white dress shirts, usually without a tie.
Marcel and Jereaux Guilbeau were born and raised on their family’s plantation in southern Louisiana. Marcel was the younger of the pair by four years and always idolized his older brother. When the Civil War broke out, Marcel enlisted along with Jereaux, hoping they would serve in the same unit. Much to his disappointment. illness kept Marcel from joining his brother when the latter was sent to Tennessee. When Marcel recovered, he was sent east, where he eventually joined Jeb Stuart’s cavalry.
Though Marcel tried to remain in contact with Jereaux, they lost touch several months before the war ended. When he returned home, hoping to find his brother, he found his parents dead and the family plantation in ruins after it had been burned by the Northern army. There was no sign of Jereaux. Marcel worked for nearly a year to rebuild his family’s holdings and discover his brother’s whereabouts. Army records told him little, however, and as his search yielded less and less useful information, Marcel’s hopes began to fade.
Finally, a little over one year after he had returned home, Marcel was awakened by the sound of hoofbeats outside his open window. Two men were riding up to the house, one of whom was his brother Jereaux. In his excitement, Marcel failed to notice anything different about his brother or anything strange about his older traveling companion. He did not question either man when they retired to their rooms, claiming fatigue from the long journey. Neither emerged until after the sun had set.
The routine continued for the next three days and might have continued much longer had Jereaux, impatient to get on with his plans, not intervened. On the third night, Jereaux went to his brother and told him what had happened during their time apart. Shortly before the war ended, Jereaux had been wounded in a skirmish in eastern Georgia. He had managed to pull himself away from the fighting and find safety in a small grove of trees. When he awoke that night, he found that the battle, and his unit, had moved on. He staggered after them, only to fall unconscious after traveling a few miles.
When he next awakened, he found himself in the home of an old man calling himself Lothar Constantine. Constantine explained that he had been watching the young man’s family for a long time, and had even followed him to war to see what he was made of. Only in the young man’s last moments, when it became clear that he would perish if something was not done, did Constantine intervene.
Jereaux’s Embrace shocked him initially and he struggled to adapt to the demands of his vampiric nature. Returning home seemed impossible at first, but the ever-growing need to know his brother’s fate soon brought him to the plantation. Jereaux told his brother that he had feared him dead, and that he never again wanted to fear such a thing. During the trip to the plantation, Jereaux had already broached the idea of Embracing Marcel, and Constantine had agreed to it. Marcel’s initial horror at the suggestion crumbled as Jereaux used what influence he had over his brother and slowly coaxed Marcel into accepting the Embrace.
Jereaux took it upon himself to train his younger brother in the ways of the Kindred and their clan, even while he was still learning at the feet of his own sire. Calamity struck, however, when a pack of Loup-Garoux attacked the isolated plantation. Constantine shouted for the brothers to flee while he held off the werewolves. They never saw him again.
Sire and childe grimly assessed that they had little hope of surviving in the wild spaces between cities. They made the arduous trek to Baton Rouge and presented themselves before its Brujah prince, Orlando de Vega, who was moved by their story and granted them permission to remain in his city. Marcel turned his attentions towards establishing a profitable domain for the pair with the Louisiana State Lottery Company. Jereaux, meanwhile, began to make connections with other prominent Kindred, including the city’s leading Nosferatu, Lawrence Meeks.
The brothers’ greatest coup came in winning the confidences of Prince de Vega. The elder Brujah’s sire had been a diehard promethean and de Vega still bore a grudge against the Ventrue for destroying his clan’s fabled utopia. The Guilbeaus, however, had learned little of Carthage during their brief time with Constantine. They asked de Vega to tell them more about Clan Brujah’s ancient dream. They were soon regularly seen in the prince’s company.
De Vega was heavily involved in the Long political machine and believed the Kingfish was destined to spread revolution across the country through his controversial platform of “Share our Wealth.” The charismatic governor’s sudden assassination was a great blow to the elder Brujah’s spirit and he withdrew into torpor, citing disillusionment with the present age. There was little question who would succeed him, for his childe Esteve Serrano had capably served as the city’s sheriff for many years. To the surprise of many, de Vega named Jereaux and Marcel as his successors instead.
Prince of the City
Baton Rouge’s Kindred expected a power struggle between the Ventrue brothers and de Vega’s childe, but Esteve cited a lack of desire to be prince and continued to serve as sheriff. Jeureaux, too, soon appeared to have equally little interest in running Baton Rouge and left his brother-childe to manage the pair’s holdings, mediate Kindred disputes, assign hunting territories, and otherwise handle affairs of state. Sole princedom of the city effectively passed to Marcel and few Kindred raised any objection. Duumivrates had never quite caught on in broader Kindred society. As Lawrence Meeks once expressed in Elysium, they are inherently contrary to a vampire’s predatory instincts and competitive mindset: each “co-prince” faces an obvious rival for power that is absent in triumvirates or oligarchies, where a majority consensus can conveniently decide many issues. Duumivrates lack this mechanism and incentivize co-princes who disagree over something to forcefully assert their wills over one another. Indeed, some Kindred speculated whether Jereaux effectively abdicated the throne so as to preserve his relationship with his younger brother.
The next eighty years were a time of peace and prosperity for Baton Rouge. Marcel noted the burgeoning role of technology in the city’s economy and cultivated good relations with the Nosferatu, whose clan appeared to be the greatest experts in it. He even named Lawrence Meeks as his seneschal. He also maintained cordial relations with his clan and kin in New Orleans, for Lothar Constantine had resided in the Crescent City for many years and left behind multiple descendants. Vidal, meanwhile, had never gotten along with Prince de Vega and was quite pleased when control of the state capitol passed into his clan’s hands. Indeed, the strategos was impressed that Marcel had accomplished this feat without bloodshed and marked him for further advancement within the clan.
Marcel was more interested in the gambling industry than mortal politics and appeared to take the same stance towards both: if you legalize it, you can regulate it. He allowed Kindred from across the state to maintain pawns in the state legislature under his oversight, most of whom were from New Orleans. Marguerite Defallier made regular trips to the state capitol and positioned herself as a linchpin to the Big Easy’s Invictus, whose covenant Marcel had joined some decades ago. Marguerite was also a brothel madam and the two got along well, for as Marcel remarked, “gambling and prostitution go together like beans and rice.” Relations with her sire and their covenant’s then-leader Accou were also good. When Pearl Chastain rose from torpor, Marcel was largely unaffected by the turmoil that beset New Orleans’ Toreador, and continued to maintain good relationships with its Invictus. Pearl knew of him in passing from before her torpor, and found the Ventrue prince more agreeable than the “ever-contrary” De Vega. Domestically, Marcel entrusted most oversight of the state legislature to Lawrence Meeks, as the Nosferatu seemed to have a natural flair for the political dirty dealing so endemic to Louisiana. A few detractors considered Marcel a lax ruler, but he seemed content merely to cut out a slice of the pie for himself and leave those portions that didn’t interest him to others. All told, the prince ruled with a light hand and was well-liked by his subjects.
Alas, Marcel ruled with perhaps too light a hand. All of his dreams came crashing down with Katrina. Baton Rouge was relatively unaffected besides some power outages and service disruptions, but it was the opportunity Lawrence Meeks had been waiting for to stage his coup d’etat. Aiding him was Esteve Serrano, who had long concealed his bitterness over De Vega passing him over. Marcel’s allies and childer were swiftly slain in the sheriff’s and seneschal’s surprise attack. History repeated itself as Jereaux fought off their assailants and shouted for his brother to flee. Marcel took a gamble and sailed his slow riverboat casino south—towards the hurricane. Meeks’ agents were still fruitlessly scouring the northern Mississippi when Prince Vidal granted his clanmate sanctuary in New Orleans.
Although it made for a good story in Elysium, survival was to be Marcel’s greatest victory against his treacherous seneschal. He talked matters over with Vidal, and it was plain to both princes there could be no Ventrue-backed coup to retake Baton Rouge. Vidal’s regnum (and much of the larger Gulf Coast) had been left in utter shambles by Katrina. He promised Marcel his support in the regional conclave the Camarilla would soon call, which would be presided over by his cousin-in-blood Lucinde.
Meeks, however, had already taken steps to secure his position as prince. Much of New Orleans’ Invictus had sought shelter in Baton Rouge and the covenant was in tatters when it arrived. Francesca Dumont and Dominique Toutain met final death during the journey, while Accou had never even left New Orleans when his sire stubbornly insisted she would not leave her home. Pierpont McGinn was left the senior-most Invictus in charge of an exhausted band of survivors who saw little choice when Meeks offered shelter in return for two favors: formal recognition of his praxis as legitimate, and political support in the upcoming conclave.
The Gulf Coast Conclave
Justicar Lucinde convened the conclave at Houston in early 2006. Vidal and Marcel pushed hard for the Camarilla’s support in removing Meeks during the intervening months, but found the Nosferatu prince had not been idle either. Meeks had cemented an alliance with Houston’s “First Minister” Hezekiah Rutledge, who had also deposed a Ventrue prince in Katrina’s chaos, and convinced him the blue bloods would steal back their new thrones if they did not stand together. Houston itself was the region’s largest and most prosperous city, undamaged by the hurricane, and had taken in the majority of the “Katrina refugees” from New Orleans. Rutledge could expel them too if he desired, and with no other city in the region able to take them in, his voice carried great weight at the conclave.
Meeks himself, meanwhile, had become something of a folk hero to Clan Nosferatu across the country: here was a sewer rat who would not toil and suffer beneath Ventrue contempt, but claim what was his. The fact Marcel had previously gone out of his way to court Nosferatu goodwill seemed to count for little. When other Ventrue maligned Meeks for “biting the hand that fed him,” the new prince simply retorted, “Should we not feed ourselves?” Miss Opal, a former slave, also neatly summed up her clan’s attitude with, “A kind master is still a master.” For all his new popularity, Meeks had slyly not thrown open Baton Rouge’s gates to every Nosferatu who wanted to move to a city where the clan “had it made.” Supporting extra mouths from New Orleans’ Invictus had already strained the Masquerade, and Meeks knew Vidal and Marcel would use the threat to the First Tradition as pretext to argue for his removal. Meeks wasn’t about to expel his covenant-mates from the city either, as granting them continued shelter put Accou and Pearl in his pocket. They might have preferred Marcel to a Nosferatu usurper, but with Baton Rouge still in Invictus hands, they couldn’t complain too loudly. To his clanmates, Meeks promised that Baton Rouge would be theirs: they just had to make it through the conclave. Nosferatu with an eye towards advancing their clan’s position turned out in considerable numbers, including such luminaries as his sire Stanford Warwick and Calebros of New York. Baton Rouge may not have been a large city, but there were few Nosferatu princes.
Marcel sought allies of his own. He found, however, that being the princely claimant without a city gave him rather less to bargain with. Vidal lent his support, but the elder Ventrue’s regnum was a shadow of its former self—New Orleans was still too depopulated to even host Lucinde’s conclave. Furthermore, Vidal spent much of his social capital to counter the rising influence of Antoine Savoy, who had been alarmingly successful in making outside friends since Katrina. Marcel’s efforts to cultivate allies among Houston’s powerful Ordo Dracul were frustrated by Rutledge: the Dragons saw little gain in antagonizing an influential local Kindred to support a foreign ex-prince, and they had always been less interested in temporal politics than their own inscrutable pursuits. Houston’s Invictus had been humbled by Prince Hartmaan’s own loss of his own praxis and could offer little support. They were already trying to get their prince his city back.
In Baton Rouge, meanwhile, Meeks had used his clan’s intelligence network to diligently root out Marcel’s remaining influence base and pockets of support. He’d had decades of experience running the city by the Ventrue’s side and stepped into the role of prince without a hitch. Lucinde had little basis to accuse Meeks of poorly managing his regnum and was faced with the uncomfortable prospect of deposing him seemingly because the Ventrue wanted one of “their” cities back. The other clans had little interest in that fight. Furthermore, the Camarilla’s presence in the Gulf Coast was already at risk. Strix had descended upon the region’s cities en masse. The strained Masquerade had drawn equally many hunters. Lupines were agitated by so many vampires moving across their lands, and the uncomfortably close Mexican Sabbat gnawed the edges of everything. Lucinde judged that removing Meeks lacked convenient pretext and would further contribute to the region’s instability. The Camarilla’s interests came before her clan’s as she tacitly acknowledged the Nosferatu’s praxis over Baton Rouge: Marcel had officially lost his city. The best she could offer was her warning to the new prince that she and Vidal would know precisely who to blame if any harm befell his predecessor.
Since the Storm
Ten years later, Marcel continues to reside in New Orleans as Prince Vidal’s honored guest. His elder clanmate remains sympathetic to his plight and has granted him a seat on the local Gerousia, as well as permission to sire two childer. He’s known among the larger Camarilla for the lavish parties he throws on the Alystra, the same riverboat casino he sailed in to the city on. He styles himself as “royalty in exile” and one of the easiest ways for any Kindred to get on his good side is by addressing him as “Prince Guilbeau” or “my prince.” Lawrence Meeks, by his reckoning, remains a usurper despite Lucinde’s recognition of the Nosferatu’s praxis. Marcel has made a comfortable Requiem in New Orleans, but everyone knows he still dreams of reclaiming his city. Eternity is a long time for things to change.
Unfortunately for the former prince, such an event is currently unlikely. Short of support from a justicar, Vidal’s backing represents the best odds he has of retaking Baton Rouge. New Orleans has largely recovered from Katrina and the senior prince is in a vastly stronger position than when Marcel came to him for help ten years ago. Unfortunately, the storm appears to have taken a heavy toll on Vidal personally. While most Kindred imagine he would be pleased to see Baton Rouge in Ventrue hands again, the prince now exhibits few interests besides waging as bitter a feud against Savoy and Cimitière as he can without plunging his city into open war. The resources and personnel required to seriously challenge the now decade-entrenched Meeks cannot be withdrawn without weakening Vidal on the “home front,” and even if they were, the Nosferatu prince might well seek an alliance with either or both of Vidal’s rivals.
Until the Big Easy’s or Baton Rouge’s political situations change, a comfortable Requiem in New Orleans may have to be enough for Marcel.
Marcel makes his domain aboard the Alystra, which he keeps moored in the Central Business District. The casino generates income and draws plenty of kine who make for easy feeding, though it’s unknown whether Marcel partakes of them himself—like all Ventrue, he doesn’t speak of his feeding preferences. He can often be found on the Alystra’s top-story lounge playing baccarat, his favorite game. He enjoys gambling information and assorted other minor favors with Kindred visitors. The Alystra isn’t Elysium, but Marcel still hosts semi-regular private fetes on weeknights.
Marcel used to have a great deal of influence in Louisiana’s state legislature. This has atrophied in the ten years since he’s left Baton Rouge, and Lawrence Meeks has doubtlessly taken pains to eliminate whatever he had left. There are politicos in New Orleans, though, who still recognize him and court his favor as a campaign donor.
Marcel has a reputation as a “player” thanks to the many Kindred lovers he’s taken. He prefers them young (in Kindred years) and comely: anything else is negotiable. Ones who catch his eye are invited to live with him aboard the Alystra in a communal relationship with his other current favorites. When Marcel ruled over Baton Rouge, neonates vied for the privilege, as sharing intimate relations with the prince was an obvious path to a comfortable Requiem. Marcel’s company is less coveted in New Orleans, but the larger city also gives him a broader selection of would-be paramours to choose from. His current lovers are the Toreador Josua Cambridge and the Tremere Marie Richet.
Marcel Guilbeau conversed with George Smith during the meeting of the Gerousia Smith called to uncover the identity of his would-be assassin. After some back and forth, the exiled prince supported Smith’s plan to individually interview their clan’s members.
Louis Fontaine eavesdropped upon an altercation between Christopher Guilbeau and Anthony Brodowski where he heard the neonates “discussing” several matters relevant to their sire. Marcel had interceded on the behalf of an illegally Embraced fledgling named Josua, successfully petitioning Vidal to let his agents hunt for the neonate’s vanished sire. Brodowski also said that Marcel believed Setites had used some power or ritual to prolong his lover Marie’s torpor, and was now hunting for those responsible.
Marcel spoke as to John Harley Matheson’s good character during his elder clanmate’s trial.
George Smith spoke with Marcel over the fact he had invited an old Kindred friend to testify in his defense during his own trial: Winston Paulson, the Nosferatu co-sheriff of Baton Rouge, and a trusted subordinate to Lawrence Meeks. Smith requested that Marcel take no hostile actions against Paulson without offering him anything in return. The ex-prince amiably agreed to this. Several nights later, Paulson met final death on the return trip to Baton Rouge. Marcel has denied culpability and blamed Loup-Garoux or other dangers of the road.
Rocco Agnello interviewed Marcel during his investigation into Evan Bourelle’s disappearance, who he discovered had been one of Marcel’s former lovers. The ex-prince confirmed as much and stated they had ended their relationship on amiable terms after Evan’s new lover Roxanne grew jealous. Evan offered Marcel a boon in apology, which the ex-prince declined, remarking that “Lovers are like chips in a casino. They come and go. If all you do is hoard them, you’ll never get to play.”
In light of the scandal over John Harley Matheson’s feeding habits, Marcel grew more circumspect over the fact he preferred taking neonates as his lovers.
Caroline Malveaux-Devillers met Marcel as part of her agoge. The ex-prince taught her to play baccarat, told her more of their clan’s ways, and appeared to hit off with her amiably. Caroline was disappointed, however, to learn that Marcel had supported the elevation of Father Malveaux (who she detested) to the Gerousia to replace Smith. Furthermore, Marcel required that she make peace with her elder clanmate before he would be willing to conduct business with her law firm and make introductions among the Invictus. As Marcel explained, the Ventrue operated by consensus and reward, and had no interest in punishing younger clanmates for not abiding by the clan hierarchy. Nevertheless, it was plain no rewards would be hers if she did not play things the elders’ way…
Marcel was present during the apology and offered reparations Caroline made to Father Malveaux for her prior behavior. He appeared satisfied with the meeting’s outcome.
Marcel attended Caroline’s subsequent induction into Clan Ventrue. He joined the other gerousiastes in delegating his vote to Father Malveaux, for the priest to cast as he willed, in an apparent show of solidarity. During the clan’s celebration of Caroline’s acceptance into their ranks, he made a gift to her on the Gerousia’s collective behalf of her now-ghoul Nerea Ericson.
When Caroline next met with Marcel, she witnessed two Nosferatu leaving his office on the Alystra. Neither sewer rat spoke with her, but both looked distinctly displeased.
The younger Ventrue was there on her own business, however, and came to Marcel with word of Masquerade-endangering activities she believed the work of Father Malveaux, but framed as that of a rogue ghoul. Marcel cited the damage the ghoul’s actions could do to his fellow gerousiastis’ reputation (if true) and pointedly observed that some might still believe Caroline to desire them true. His idea of a solution, then, was for the three of them to quietly clean up the entire matter. The priest would suffer no loss of dignitas, Caroline would prove her desire to turn over a new leaf with her elder clanmate, and Marcel of course would be known as the architect of it all. Every clanmate would maintain or increase their dignitas. Caroline, of course, desired no such outcome: she believed the “rogue ghoul” Father Malveaux’s knowing servant and sought to undermine his influence within the clan. Marcel’s tone grew suddenly dangerous when Caroline appeared to insinuate as much, and she quickly backpedaled to “clarify” her words. She also acceded to Marcel’s request to turn over some potentially damaging materials she possessed on Father Malveaux’s prized mortal pawns. It was plain that for all his affability, Marcel considered Caroline’s feud over with and placed his fellow elder’s fortunes above a rank neonate’s.
Caroline attended the next arranged meeting with Marcel and the recently-promoted Bishop Malveaux. It went largely as Marcel hoped, with Caroline again proving her desire for peace. When Caroline dressed as Bishop Malveaux’s dead sister to unsettle him, Marcel appeared somewhat concerned by the priest’s behavior. He still took no visible against his fellow gerousiastis during the meeting, nor during any of the months afterwards. He did, however, remain true to his prior word of making introductions among his covenant-mates. Caroline was glad for that much, but concluded no amount of leverage (at least from her) would ever get Marcel to move against Bishop Malveaux, leading to her own decision to ambush and diablerize the other gerousiastis some months later.
Ventrue (e. prehistory, d. millennia ago)
Alexander (e. millennia ago, d. 13th century)
Gaius Pedius Marcellus (e. 2nd century BCE, d. 15th century?)
Dominic de Valois-Burgundy (e. 15th century, d. late 18th century?)
Lothar Constantine (e. centuries ago, d. mid 19th century)
Robert Bastien (e. early 19th century, d. early 20th century)
René Baristheaut (e. late 19th century, d. 2015)
Dominique Toutain (e. early 19th century, d. 2005)
• 9. Slane Holland (e. late 19th century)
Jacopo “Walter” Andretti (e. mid 20th century, d. 2005)
John Polk (e. mid 20th century, d. 2016)
Roxanne Gerlette (e. early 21st century, d. 2016)
Sebastian Baptiste (e. late 20th century, d. 2005)
Jereaux Guilbeau (e. mid 19th century, d. 2005)
• 9. Marcel Guilbeau (e. mid 19th century)
Stanley Dupeux (e. early 20th century, d. 2005)
Glen Hubel (e. mid 20th century, d. 2005)
Stella Maisonnat (e. mid 20th century, d. 2005)
Bryan Caldwell (e. late 20th century, d. 2005)
• 10. Christopher Guilbeau (e. early 21st century)
• 10. Anthony Brodowski (e. early 21st century)
Marcel is the childe of Jereaux Guilbeau, his mortal brother and de facto abdicated co-prince of Baton Rouge. He was the childe of Lothar Constantine, the first of the Lancea et Sanctum’s bishops in New Orleans, and a former member of the city’s Gerousia and Cabildo. Constantine was childe to Dominic de Valois-Burgundy, an orator, diplomat, and philosopher of no small renown. He has not been heard from since the French Revolution and is presumed to have been destroyed in that conflict. Dominic was the childe of Gaius Pedius Marcellus, a Roman tribune Embraced during the Punic Wars. Marcellus was a patron of the Carolingian Renaissance and an even more revered philosopher than his childe who did much preserve the Roman Camarilla’s history and customs following its collapse. He has not been seen since the Anarch Revolt and is believed to have met final death in that conflict. Marcellus was the childe of Alexander, the long-time prince of Paris, founder of the Grand Court, patron of Charlemagne, and architect of the ties between the Ventrue and Toreador clans. He was deposed as prince during the 13th century, went into exile, and subsequently destroyed in battle against the Mongol Gangrel Qarakh. Some unsubstantiated stories claim he was the famed Macedonian conqueror of the same name. Alexander was a childe of Ventrue. The Kingship Clan believes their founder was destroyed millennia ago, making them the only clan free of an Antediluvian’s manipulations.
None known. Jereaux showed little interest in Embracing childer besides his brother and largely treated Marcel’s progeny as his own.
Marcel Embraced three childer as prince of Baton Rouge: Stanley Dupeux, Stella Maisonnat, and Bryan Caldwell. He also granted his eldest permission to Embrace a grandchilde, Glen Hubel. All of Marcel’s brood was slain by Lawrence Meeks and his allies during their 2005 coup—one of many reasons for which he curses his traitorous seneschal. Since arriving in New Orleans, Marcel has Embraced Christopher Guilbeau, an ill-behaved descendant of his mortal family who has turned out to be less than he had hoped. Marcel’s next childe Anthony Brodowski has better met his expectations, even if there is little love lost between him and Christopher.