Campaign of the Month: October 2017
Blood & Bourbon
Hardline Sanctified Overview
The Lancea et Sanctum is undeniably the single greatest Kindred power in New Orleans. In addition to claiming both the prince and his most potent political rival, a majority of New Orleans’ Damned population count themselves nominally among the Lancea et Sanctum. Because they believe in the same God, even if their views toward Him differ, members of the covenant often bear a resemblance to the faithful of the various Abrahamic faiths. This overlap is even more pronounced in New Orleans than in many other domains, as Prince Vidal is a devout and practicing Catholic and has been so for longer than he’s been a vampire (this is actually somewhat unusual, as the Lancea et Sanctum consider themselves a distinct branch of Christianity from Catholicism). The trappings of the Lancea et Sanctum in the Crescent City are thus even more heavily influenced by Catholicism than they are elsewhere.
It’s an unmistakable presence to any Kindred who have been in New Orleans for more than a few nights. Signs of such Sanctified Catholic ideology are everywhere, if one knows how to look. A great many Kindred offer regular prayers or devotionals, and it’s not even terribly uncommon (circumstances permitting) to see a vampire offer a prayer of thanks over a vessel. For those Kindred not averse to the symbols of the divine, churches and cathedrals are sources of many herds, contacts and retainers, as the Kindred feel most at home among those who share some aspects (if certainly not the specifics) of their faith. Many of New Orleans’ Kindred pride themselves on their knowledge of scripture, from The Testament of Longinus to the Bible. One’s familiarity with the tenets of those holy texts and the various interpretations of the Traditions is actually a mark of status in some of the diocese’s parishes. It surprises many Kindred visitors (and discomfits many secular or superstitious Kindred) to learn that crucifixes, rosaries and pendants with the faces of saints are not uncommon accouterments for many of the city’s vampires.
The religious influence is even more obvious in gatherings of the court and formal Elysium affairs. Vidal chose the secular title of prince, rather than archbishop as is common in Sanctified dioceses, because he did not feel he had earned the right to an ecclesiastical title. Nevertheless, every formal affair begins with a solemn religious ceremony. This is sometimes as simple as a brief prayer but more frequently involves a number of traditional Lancea et Sanctum rites performed by multiple priests and, on occasion, the prince himself. Any Kindred who attend are expected to participate in the rituals, as an enthusiastic audience if not as actual contributors. No exceptions are made for Kindred of differing beliefs. They participate or they depart. This is particularly true on Catholic holidays, which the prince insists be honored with both Latin mass and Kindred rites.
Perhaps the single largest sign of the Lancea et Sanctum’s dominance in New Orleans is the makeup of, for lack of a better term, the ruling class. Prince Vidal is fanatic about granting territories to only his allies. Doing so has always been a major concern with him, and he has grown more restrictive since the rise of Antoine Savoy. While it is not unheard of for him to grant a territory to an Invictus or even Anarch ally, a majority of regents in New Orleans are Sanctified Kindred in general, and loyal to Vidal specifically. Given that even the normally opposed followers of Vidal and Savoy often cooperate to make sure that a non-Sanctified Kindred fails to obtain any true authority, it seems unlikely that the balance of power will shift any time soon.
Augusto Vidal’s Faction
Vidal and his court, known as the Hardline Sanctified or simply the Hardliners (in contrast to the Bourbon Sanctified who follow Antoine Savoy), still hold the largest amount of power in the city. The greater portion of New Orleans is Vidal’s domain. Certainly, he has divided the parishes up among his favored and most faithful vassals, but he exerts ultimate authority. Only in the French Quarter and the poor (and predominantly black) neighborhoods does the prince’s reach falter.
It certainly appears that Vidal has little to worry about, as his efforts to date have prevented both Antoine Savoy and Baron Cimitière from swiftly expanding their own territories. In recent years, however, Vidal has grown almost fanatical about retaking those portions of his city he has lost. As his attention focuses ever more closely on his rivals, much of the night-to-night duties of managing the archdiocese fall to his seneschal, Philip Maldonato, and the Cabildo. All efforts by his allies to encourage the prince to seek some sort of accommodation with Savoy and/or Baron Cimitière have been violently rebuffed. For whatever reasons, known perhaps only to him, Vidal has determined that Savoy and Baron Cimitière must be eliminated. He has put no specific plans in motion in recent years, but all who work with him know it is only a matter of time. If something isn’t done, the prince could plunge his own city into open Kindred war.
Augusto Vidal: The Prince
As a devout Catholic and a devout Sanctified, Vidal sees the maintenance and growth of the Lancea et Sanctum’s rule as one of his primary duties. He selects his vassals and grants territories based on personal allegiance, certainly, but also on covenant affiliation. Vidal is canny enough to elevate an allied member of the Invictus or Anarchs over a Sanctified loyal to Savoy, but this circumstance is practically the only one under which he would aid in the ascension of a non-Sanctified Kindred to a position of power.
Despite his claims of loyalty to the Lancea et Sanctum’s beliefs and ideals, Vidal is not above using his authority among the Kindred to further his personal goals and to execute his own vendettas. For decades, Vidal supported first the institution of slavery, and then the persecution of freed slaves in his diocese. This was due partly to his own archaic ideals regarding class and social status, but also due to his utter hatred for the religion of Vodoun, brought to America by Haitian and Caribbean slaves. Vidal considers the faith an abomination, not merely because of its “pagan” aspects, but because its practitioners often incorporate Catholic saints into the pantheon of loa.
The Lancea et Sanctum of New Orleans devotes substantial energy to maintaining its position of dominance. Members of other covenants are required to participate in the rites conducted at formal gatherings and to adhere to the laws and traditions of the covenant. Lancea et Sanctum Kindred often work together to harass non-Sanctified vampires who attempt to claim or enforce domain rights over parishes that were not formally granted them by Vidal (or, in some instances, Savoy). Vidal himself uses these activities as a cover for his own personal crusade against Baron Cimitière, his supporters and the Vodouisants community in general. Vidal is a great believer in letting the masses of the kine do his work for him. Through his ties to the Catholic Church, he spreads messages of intolerance toward Vodoun, denouncing the religion’s “usurpation” of the saints. Through subtle messages and willful ignorance of their parishioners’ actions, those priests over whom Vidal holds sway encourage harassment and even violence against Vodouisants.
The prince makes similar use of his influence in local government circles, a task made unfortunately all the easier by the fact that a majority of Vodoun practitioners—followers of Baron Cimitière or not—are among both the poor and minority populations of the city. Local police are encouraged to raid hounfours (Vodoun temples) and arrest practitioners on trumped-up drug, gang-related or even indecency charges. City funds for charitable and outreach programs and for urban repair are funneled elsewhere, leaving Vodouisant-heavy neighborhoods in poor condition or even without reliable utilities. Kindred newcomers to New Orleans involved either in Vodoun or in actual trafficking of narcotics are likely to find themselves swept up in the prince’s personal vendetta, one that a substantial portion of the city’s Sanctified aid in carrying out.
Since Hurricane Katrina, Vidal has stepped up his activities even further, to the point of foisting off many of his other responsibilities on his allies and advisers. Whatever he plans, many believe it most likely involves a major offensive against Baron Cimitière (and possibly Antoine Savoy) in the very near future.
Vidal is technically the covenant’s local archbishop—that is, he is a Camarilla prince who is also formally the leader of the Lancea et Sanctum in his city. Vidal, however, was never ordained as a priest and remains a lay member of the covenant. He consequently refuses to take on any ecclesiastical titles, and he objects strongly to anyone referring to him as “archbishop,” even when dealing with him in that capacity.