Campaign of the Month: October 2017
Blood and Bourbon
The Krewe of Janus
“They were here, Caroline. In this apartment. The body was a threat to their beloved Masquerade, so they disposed of it. They left these as a warning that if you continue to be a threat to the Masquerade, that they will so dispose of you.”
“They treat it like baseball. Three strikes and you’re out. Except it’s forever. No more innings. First offense, like that other, uncolored ice cube, is allowed to slide. The cube melts, leaves a little water, but no harm, no stain left. Second offense, and they go after someone or something you love. And it may be subtle, but it isn’t pretty. Third, and the ump throws you out of the game.”
“Altogether, the Krewe of Janus aren’t that bad. In fact, you might even call them selfless or even fair, if it weren’t for the fact that their vitae poisons everything they are and do.”
—Louis Fontaine to Caroline Malveaux
Perceived Goals: Protecting the Masquerade
Meeting Place: Unknown
Prerequisites to Join: A history of responsibly upholding the First Tradition
Known Members: Harlequin; many others believed
The Krewe of Janus was founded in the early 1900s by Harlequin through his connections to the mortal Mardi Gras krewes. The Malkavian originally intended the Krewe to be a vampiric continuation of his mortal social life, but the coterie’s purpose soon evolved in response to the escalating factional struggle between Vidal and his two rivals. All three Kindred leaders attempted to enforce the Traditions within their respective territories, but they refused to work together and coordinate efforts on a truly city-wide scale. Furthermore, New Orleans was a grossly overpopulated city by Kindred standards, meaning that violations of the Masquerade were already more prevalent than in cities with comparable mortal populations. Nightly maintenance of the First Tradition had long occupied much of then-Sheriff Bastien’s duties, and the heightened conflict between the three elders strained his ability to keep up.
Harlequin initially stepped forward to keep things from getting out of hand during his beloved Mardi Gras, and policing this holiday is still the Krewe’s best-known activity. As time went on, however, the Malkavian’s fascination with masks led him to branch out into other festivals. New Orleans celebrates far more holidays than Carnival and the Krewe involves itself with each one.
Harlequin acts as the Krewe’s spokesman and leader. He is the only Kindred who is widely known to be a member of the coterie, though most of the city’s older Kindred can name at least several other members. The Krewe also keeps at least a dozen “enforcement ghouls” for muscle and keeping a lid on Kindred affairs during the day. These ghouls (all of whom have backgrounds in military or law enforcement) are among the best-trained and loyal in the city, and give the Krewe a real edge against other Kindred.
The only time the Krewe acts openly is during Mardi Gras. They greet the massive influx of Kindred into the city, warning the newer and younger ones to keep their feeding discrete for the good of the Masquerade. Any threats are dealt with swiftly, and the Krewe makes it clear who was behind the retribution. Even so, all the Krewe wear masks when policing the Masquerade. This is partly done to protect the members’ identities, but also out of simple respect for tradition (members of the city’s oldest mortal krewes keep their identities strictly secret as well).
The rest of the year, the Krewe works quietly and secretly. Through Obfuscated spies, media monitoring and simple detective work, they watch for threats to the Masquerade. Few things escape their notice. Once they spot a threat, they rarely fail to find its perpetrator. Initially, they will leave mysterious warnings for the vampire to cease their activities, such as notes in their havens, “hauntings” created with Obfuscate, or messages delivered by Dominated mortal allies of the target. If the vampire does not heed these warnings, the Krewe quietly eliminates them. Few fail to listen.
The city’s elders are fond of the Krewe, because it handles the night-to-night maintenance of the Masquerade and leaves them free to focus their efforts on other pursuits. The only notable exception is Prince Vidal, who remains lukewarm to the Krewe’s efforts even a century after its inception. He would prefer the coterie to exist under his direct control, and were it not for their activities in Antoine Savoy’s and the Baron’s territories, it is probable that the Prince would have placed them under the Sheriff’s direct supervision (or forcefully disbanded them if they resisted). As it stands, the Prince grudgingly finds it preferable to let a neutral third party help enforce the Masquerade in the French Quarter than to let Savoy do so by himself. The Toreador, for his own part, is all-too aware of his rival’s tepid feelings regarding the Krewe and has made Halrequin many lucrative offers to further tie the coterie to his faction. The Malkavian has gracefully declined each such overture to date. The Krewe’s sole aim, he repeats, is to uphold the Mask.
• Harlequin (childe of Clarice Barabet, Malkavian/Lancea et Sanctum, e. late 19th or early 20th century, Camarilla Status •••)