History

“God cannot alter the past, but historians can.”
—Samuel Butler

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It’s impossible to truly understand the current state of affairs in New Orleans without knowing how things developed as they did. Presented here is a brief overview of the most important events in the history—Kindred and kine—of the city.


Early Nights


“I am convinced that Sieur de La Salle’s discovery is quite useless.”
—Louis XIV, 1683

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Discovery (c. 1683—1717)

New Orleans was founded as a gambler’s bluff.

John Law is a Scottish gambler, womanizer, and economist who flees the United Kingdom after killing an older man in a duel over a woman. His glib tongue wins him the favor of the Duc d’Orleans, the regent for France’s underage king Louis X. France’s increasingly antiquated economy is lagging behind Britain’s and Law tells the duke he can catch it up. He proposes to do so by introducing paper money as currency in lieu of gold and silver coins, using real estate as the security for notes a new central bank will issue. Everyone knows Britain did these things decades ago. Furthermore, since the French are addicted to tobacco being produced by English-controlled Virginia, Law proposes to kill two birds with one stone. The paper money supply needs to be backed up by profits from trade and agriculture, so Louisiana can produce French tobacco for French use. By 1717, the Duke of Orleans is convinced that Louisiana is the answer to France’s financial woes. He gives his blessing for Law to found the Company of the West and assume proprietary rights to the colony.

Founding (c. 1718—1729)

On February 9, 1718, the French governor of the Louisiana Territories, Jean Baptiste LeMoyne, the Sieur de Bienville, leads a band of convicts to a crescent-shaped curve in the Mississippi River, a few miles south of Lake Pontchartrain. He commands his conscripted laborers to begin construction on a settlement the French government is certain will prove to be the hub of a mighty empire, growing rich off the gold, silver, and pearl deposits Louisiana is supposedly covered with (after all, everyone knows about the incredible riches produced by Spain’s colonies). Back in France, Law tries to encourage colonial migration through land grants and propaganda that claims New Orleans has “eight hundred handsome houses” instead of the true situation of “a hundred huts without much order.”

No one is fooled. No one is stupid enough to believe Law’s propaganda that his colony is an El Dorado complete with silver mines and emerald boulders. Frustrated by the lack of willing colonists for the project, Law turns Louisiana into a penal colony in all but name. Gendarmes empty French prisons of convicts and sweep the streets of Paris for undesirables: prostitutes, beggars, thieves, orphans, the unemployed, the incorrigible, the vicious, the depraved, the wrongly accused, and the simply unlucky. People denounce neighbors and family members they don’t like to get rid of them. Forcibly wedded prisoner couples are marched across France in chains, a brutal reminder to the citizenry that only the worst of the worst go to Louisiana. Many of these press-ganged victims die before even reaching their port of embarkation. Some riot and are shot by guards as they try to escape. Others die from being force-marched across the countryside in freezing winters while poorly clad and poorly fed. Even longtime prison convicts go so far as to revolt against their guards in terror of being sent to Louisiana.

This fear is well-placed. Some seven thousand men and women are forced onto the ships that cross the Atlantic. Many prisoners perish on the journey over. Even more die in the colony itself. By 1721, only 178 of the intended colonists are still alive: barely 2% of the original deportees. In 1723, a hurricane annihilates the tiny settlement and the survors have to start over again. Meanwhile, the Company of the West begins to fall apart after revulsion sweeps France for what is termed “Louisiana slavery.” Law doesn’t help matters by forcibly attempting to suppress the use of non-paper money. Gendarmes seize gold and silver from citizens’ homes. Investors began to panic, call in their shares, and demand hard coin.

There is no John Law Street today in New Orleans, because the company goes bankrupt. Aristocrats and speculators who tied their fortunes to it are ruined. The Duc d’Orleans dies in December the same year when Louis XV is crowned king. John Law becomes a gambler again and dies penniless in Venice by 1729. The failure of his experiment causes the French to shun paper money and permanently fall behind Britain’s more developed economy. They do not establish a national bank until 1800—a staggering 106 years after the Bank of England’s founding. Even then, the French bank’s onerous requirement to keep one-fourth of the face value of its notes on hand in specie, combined with its very late start, ultimately stops France from becoming a major industrial power like England.

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First Kindred (c. 1720—1769)

Not all of the parasites to exploit the fledgling colony, however, are human ones.

The first definite trace of a Kindred presence in New Orleans appears during the city’s expansion around the early 1720s. No known vampires active tonight are among this initial wave of arrivals, although Pearl Chastain, who arrives some years later, knows them firsthand. A majority of these Kindred come are of a similar breed to the misfit and criminal colonists of whom the French government is happy to rid itself of. Lawless and wild, these early Kindred feed indiscriminately (increasing the spread of yellow fever), and make few concerted efforts to form any real Kindred government. Some are declared Anarchs and others swear allegiance to the Sabbat, but just as many of these early vampires are simply feral creatures with no higher concern than slaking their thirst for blood. The Masquerade survives only because the Kindred aren’t yet numerous enough for their depredations to be noticed among the many other causes of sickness and violent death.

The mortal French government’s dreams for the colony have since evaporated. Bienville knows all-too well that the territory around the town is completely lacking in precious metals, but has plenty of hostile wildlife, treacherous swamps, suspicious Indians, and lethal diseases. The surviving criminals, prostitutes, and lunatics also prove to be poor colonists. They prefer to get drunk all day rather than work on the settlement, so Bienville demands the importation of slaves from the West Indies. Although working under brutal, inhuman conditions, the Africans became the artisans and laborers that gave the town the stability it desperately needs. The French have very different attitudes about slavery than the English, so whites and blacks intermingle more freely in Louisiana than in other North American colonies, creating a new racial class of mulattos.

The Kindred are even more colorblind. The helpless and “unseen” population makes convenient feeding, and their blood is as filling as any European’s.

Slowly but surely, Nouvelle-Orléans begins to generate wealth—not from gold and silver, but from sugar and cotton grown on the sprawling plantation farms surrounding the colony. It’s around this time that Pearl Chastain arrives in the city from one of France’s Caribbean colonies, either Haiti or Martinique. Her attempts to establish some stability among the city’s Kindred meet with mixed but growing success. The Navarrese Toreador Maria Pascual arrives from Haiti with her torpid childe Antoine Savoy some years later, although the future lord of the French Quarter will not awaken for centuries.

Nouvelle-Orléans’ prosperity isn’t good enough for the French monarchy, though: It sells Louisiana to its former competitors, the Spanish, in 1762. The French colonists are violently opposed to this transition. A planter-led revolt drives the newly-appointed Spanish governor Don Antonio de Ulloa and his French commandment from New Orleans. The citizenry proclaims a free and independent colony.

The Coming of Vidal (c. 1769)

True Kindred government does not appear until Augusto Vidal, a Castilian Ventrue and archon for the Camarilla, arrives in the city with Alexander O’Reilly’s 3,000 soldiers in 1769. Even as the Irishman moves to put down the revolt and restore order, Vidal uses his influence with several of O’Reilly’s sub-commanders—all of whom are easily persuaded to move against “insurgents and agitators”—to sweep in and intimidate or destroy the most troublesome of the local Kindred. With the aid of his lover and fellow archon Philip Maldonato, as well as several other local Kindred who wish an end to the chaos of the region, the praxis of Augusto Vidal is born. The few Kindred holdouts, while troublesome, are unable to gather enough force to come near to ousting the new prince. New Orleans now belongs to the Camarilla.

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Spanish Rule (c. 1769—1800)

O’Reilly is nicknamed “Bloody O’Reilly” for the six rebels he has executed by firing squad in the Plaza de Armas. He exiles and imprisons other lesser offenders in Cuba. It’s a mild response by the standards of the time, however, and the French colonists are surprised to find that Spain treats them much better than their native country has. The Spanish governors drive out the swamp bandits and Gulf pirates that plague the Crescent City (as Nouvelle-Orléans has come to be known), regulate weights and measurements used in marketplaces (streamlining commerce), regulate doctors and surgeons, and improve public safety by funding bridge and levee maintenance. Spanish rule turns out not to be as bad as the colonists thought.

It is during the 1770s that the influx of slaves from the Caribbean first exposes Vidal to the worship of Vodoun. He develops an immediate loathing for the faith, because it is both pagan (in his eyes) and a corruption of Catholicism (due to the common practice of adopting saints and even Christ himself into the pantheon of loa). For many years, Vidal supports and encourages the government’s and slave-owners’ efforts to keep the slaves down and to wipe out their religion.

Vidal, Chastain, Pascual, and other powerful Kindred involve themselves in the growing sugarcane industry. These ties to sugarcane further reinforce Kindred support for the institution of slavery. No longer are the displaced Africans merely an underclass from which the Kindred can easily feed; now the slaves are also valuable workers for the Damned, just as they are for their mortal masters.

The Rebellions (c. 1769—1815)

The fires that sweep New Orleans in 1788 and 1794 result in a massive rebuilding in the Spanish style. Vidal takes a direct (albeit minor) hand in that planning, selecting the engineer Emmanuel Costa as his ghoul in 1788. His satisfaction with Costa’s work, and persona, grows sufficiently that he Embraces the gifted engineer in 1795.

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Those same fires also destroy the havens of many of Vidal’s remaining adversaries, who assume that the fires were a deliberate attack. Led by the Malkavian Francois Nicholas du Valle, the surviving “rebels” step up their efforts to overthrow the prince. Vidal uses Governor Carondelet’s efforts to prevent upheaval in the city to strike back at the rebellious Kindred.

It is also during this time that Baron Cimitière first appears in the city, arriving among the refugees fleeing the rebellion in Haiti. He becomes actively involved in several Vodoun circles.

Among the city’s mortals, the French and Spanish colonists start to mingle as a result of Spain’s “not so bad” rule and refusal to forcefully impose their culture on the French planters. Eventually, the planters embrace Spanish culture willingly. French colonists marry into Spanish families and vice-versa, until the natives of Nouvelle-Orléans have formed their own unique culture, called “Creole” (from the Spanish crear, to create). The Creoles prosper, but their masters do not; they are treated like unwanted children, shuffled from one imperial parent to the next. The Spanish cede Louisiana back to the French in 1800 as a result of wars in Europe. Vidal, horrified at the notion of French rule in his domain, immediately sets about pulling what strings he can to change the situation.

Three years later, Napoleon sells Louisiana to the United States for $15 million. While it would be foolish to claim Vidal responsible for the Louisiana Purchase, he does press for it with what influence he holds. Napoleon uses the money (a mere $2.53 billion adjusted for inflation) to prepare for an invasion of Great Britain he ultimately never carries out.

Little changes in Kindred circles until the war of 1812, which gives Vidal even greater weapons in his war against du Valle’s rebels. Du Valle himself attempts to assassinate Vidal, a plot foiled by the efforts of Philip Maldonato and Maria Pascual, the latter of whom loses her childe. Further investigation reveals that Vidal’s own childe, Costa, is a co-conspirator in the attempt. A mortally embarrassed Vidal personally beheads Costa in an open court to which every important Kindred in the city is invited. To this night, Vidal has never Embraced another childe out of anger and shame over Costa’s actions.

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Timeline

Date Event

1682

The French explorer Sieur de La Salle arrives at the Mississippi River and claims the region for France. If any Kindred activity existed in the area prior to the arrival of the French, it has been lost among the legends of the Choctaw.

1701

Sieur de Bienville becomes governor of Louisiana and first begins planning for what will become New Orleans.

1717

France grants John Law’s company a charter for controlling Louisiana.

1718

Bienville selects a capitol site on the river and names it after the Duc d’Orleans.

1719

The first large importation of African slaves and French prisoners arrives in New Orleans. The first evidence of Kindred presence in New Orleans dates to this time, as found in legends of the local slave population.

1721

French engineers lay out the street plans of the city.

1722

Official capitol of the Louisiana Territory moves to New Orleans.

1729

Indian massacre at Natchez. Local legend maintains that newly arrived Kindred used the French/Indian hostilities as a cover to strike at Choctaw Kindred elders.

1731

Louisiana officially becomes a colony of the crown.

1735

A plague of mad dogs terrorizes the city, forcing residents to remain indoors.

Dates unclear

The Toreador Pearl Chastain arrives in New Orleans. Maria Pascual arrives in the city with her torpid childe Antoine Savoy.

1754

Swiss mercenaries on Cat Island (now Ship Island), in the Gulf of Mexlco, mutiny against their sadistic French commanding officer and kill him. The rebels flee for Georgia, but are captured by the Choctaw and brought to New Orleans. The ringleaders are tried, convicted, and executed in a gruesome fashion on the Place des Armes.

1757

Pearl Chastain begins to make a name for herself in and around the city. Although she does not claim the title of prince, she is the closest thing the Kindred of the city have to such an authority.

1762

France secretly cedes Louisiana to Spain via the Treaty of Fontaine. A cabal of Cordoba Ventrue claim credit for influencing the governments involved into making this deal, but this might be little more than Kindred arrogance.

1763

Treaty of Paris confirms the cession of Louisiana to Spain.

1766

Don Antonio de Ulloa arrives to govern Louisiana; a planter-led revolt drives him and his French commandant from New Orleans.

1768

Under pressure, Ulloa departs for Spain, abandoning New Orleans.

1769

Alexander O’Reilly, an Irishman in the employ of the Spanish government, arrives with 3,000 troops. In a bloody series of engagements, they secure the city for the Spanish government. The French rebels are shot by firing squad in the Plaza de Armas. Along with O’Reilly comes the Ventrue Augusto Vidal and his lover Philip Maldonato, two Camarilla archons determined to claim the city for the Ivory Tower and bring order to the anarchic Kindred of the region.

1770

Vidal formally stakes a claim to the princedom of the area. Using his influence with O’Reilly’s men and rumors of “insurgents,” he uses available soldiers to eliminate or drive out most Kindred who would challenge his rule. Chastain wisely offers Vidal her support. Over the next several years, Vidal is first exposed to Vodoun, the faith espoused by many of the Haitian and Caribbean slaves. Due to both his noble upbringing and severely Catholic faith, Vidal takes an instant dislike to the religion and discourages its practice among the Kindred.

1779

Spain goes to war with England; Louisianans ordered to act against British. The remaining Kindred who oppose Vidal’s reign launch a guerrilla war against his supporters.

1780

Spain gains control of all the former Louisiana Territory from England.

1782

Another devastating hurricane hits the city. Governor Bemardo de Galvez bans the importation of slaves from the West Indies, “as they are too much given to voudouism and make the lives of the citizens unsafe.” This ban lasts until 1792.
Maria Pascual, Toreador primogen and wielder of powerful influence among the growing sugar cane industry, becomes a powerful ally of the new prince. Her support inspires many of the “rebel” Kindred to accept Vidal’s rule.

1788

Fire destroys nearly every building in New Orleans.

1793

Pope Pius VI establishes the Louisiana Diocese. The Ventrue claim a hand in this decision as well.

1794

Children playing with flint and tinder begin the second great New Orleans fire, which destroys 200 buildings; Church of St. Louis rebuilt as a cathedral. These fires also destroy many of the havens of the remaining rebels. The survivors, led by the Malkavian Francois Nicholas du Valle, believe the fires to have been a deliberate attack. They redouble their efforts against Vidal.

1795

An enormous slave revolt is botched when one of the white conspirators betrays the rebels to the authorities. The white leaders are banished from the province and the black organizers are put in a boat and sent down the Mississippi River. At each parish church one of the slaves is taken out of the boat and hanged. Twenty-three men die this way.
Vidal Embraces the Catholic architect Emmanuel Costa.

1799

The Samedi Baron Cimitière first arrives in New Orleans, along with a population of Haitian slaves.

1800

Treaty of Ildefonso provides for retrocession of Louisiana back to France. Vidal, horrified at the notion of French rule in his domain, immediately sets about pulling what strings he can to change the situation.

1803

Thomas Jefferson buys Louisiana from France for $15 million. While it would be foolish to claim Vidal responsible for the Louisiana Purchase, he does press for it with what influence he holds.

1805

New Orleans is incorporated as an American city.

1811

German Coast Uprising sees the largest slave revolt in American history. The Tremere Elsbeth von Steinhäusser is transfered to New Orleans by Vienna after her childe, the city’s previous regent, meets final death at the slaves’ hands.

1812

The Robert Fulton-designed steamboat New Orleans arrives in its namesake city, proving the commercial practicability of steam technology. New Orleans enters an era of unmatched prosperity as it becomes the terminus point for Mississippi River steamboat trade.
Louisiana admitted to the Union; the War of 1812 begins.

1814

A Swedish sailor is brought to Charity Hospital with bubonic plague, sending the city into a panic. Although no epidemic breaks out, bands of armed citizens scour the riverfront, hunting for vermin. Eighty thousand rats are killed.
Under cover of the battles of the War of 1812, du Valle begins a rebellion against Vidal’s rule.

1815

The Battle of New Orleans takes place on January 8. Not realizing that the Treaty of Ghent had been signed on December 24, ending the War of 1812, a British invasion force lands at New Orleans. General Andrew Jackson, leading a motley band of Army regulars, Creole volunteers, and Jean Lafitte’s pirates, crushes the English.
Du Valle attempts an assassination of Vidal, aided by the prince’s own childe, but the attempt is thwarted by the efforts of Pascual and Maldonato. Both du Valle and Costa are put to final death. To this night, Vidal has never taken another childe due, some say, to the shame of Costa’s betrayal.


The Antebellum Era


Glory Days (c. 1815—1860)

From around 1815 through 1860, New Orleans prospers as never before.

The American partnership turns out to be the best thing that could have happened to the city. As the young nation expands its borders west, the Mississippi River becomes one of the most important U.S. trading routes—and New Orleans is the largest city near the river’s mouth. With the invention of the steamboat, the Crescent City’s economy booms, thanks to the influx of Atlantic cargo entering its port and pushed across the U.S. by the steamboats’ mighty paddle-wheels. Sugarcane and cotton crops thrive, resulting in the formation of numerous wealthy plantations and the various other farms, shops and services required to maintain them.

This booming trade makes the Creoles even more fabulously wealthy than they already were. To show their gratitude, the Creoles return much of that money to their beloved city: they decorate New Orleans with opulent mansions, stunning theaters, and other historic landmarks that draw tourists to this day. The Toreador clan, led by Pearl Chastain and Maria Pascual, are delighted by this flourishing of the city’s culture and patronize it from behind the scenes.

Concurrently, thousands of immigrants, primarily German and Irish, establish roots in the region. New Orleans’ population swells from 17,00 to 102,000 in only several decades; for a time, it’s even the third-largest city in the United States. The city grows dramatically as entire new neighborhoods fill up as swiftly as they are built. The slave population increases as well, and the local authorities grow even more concerned with the slaves’ “heathen religion,” at various times utterly forbidding its practice.

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Antebellum Nights (c. 1815—1860)

The population boom brings with it more Kindred too. The majority of Kindred immigrants and new Embraces are of the Toreador and Ventrue clans, who now drastically outnumber the Gangrel and Nosferatu who had, in the earliest years, been at least as numerous. Vidal and the other powerful Kindred, some of whom personally remember the divide between High Clans and Low Clans during the Middle Ages, begin to re-associate these “lower clans” with the slaves and poorer classes, treating them accordingly. This is partly out of a desire to reduce the competition for power and resources, but also out of the human need, still present in the Kindred, to classify and qualify those who are different. In effect, though not slaves, the Nosferatu and Gangrel fill the same general position among New Orleans’ Kindred that blacks (and to a lesser extent, Asians and Indians) fill in mortal society at the time. The Brujah and Malkavians compose a middle class not unlike mixed Creoles. The Toreador, Ventrue, and Tremere (though the warlocks count but a handful of members) reign from the top, as do those mortal Creoles of supposedly undiluted European ancestry.

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The attempt to quash the practice of Vodoun instead sends it underground. Baron Cimitière, who has attracted only a few Kindred allies, develops a sizable mortal following. A powerful houngan, Cimitière uses his abilities to protect his fellow Vodouisants. His following—if one counts both those with whom he practices directly and those who practice with houngans and mambos loyal to him—numbers in the thousands. Cimitière considers involving himself more substantially in the region’s politics, in particular to counter Vidal’s efforts to oppress or destroy the faith. His initial queries and envoys to the prince, seeking a meeting, are rebuffed.

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As the city grows, Vidal divides his territory into smaller domains based on official parishes. He bestows many of them upon his allies or servants, naming them regents and granting them feeding rights and dominion so long as they obey his dictates. In addition, Vidal decrees that such domains can be inherited. If the childe of a former landowner makes a claim, they have precedence over all other claimants—assuming the Kindred involved don’t give Vidal a reason to rule otherwise.

One of Vidal’s first major such grants occurs when Pascual steps down from the city’s Cabildo, no longer interested in keeping up with the night-to-night affairs. As a reward for her service (particularly in saving his unlife during du Valle’s assassination attempt), Vidal awards her eternal regency over the “old city,” that portion of New Orleans dating back to the original colonization that will eventually become known as the French Quarter. This grants her substantial power, especially as she is able to barter permission to feed here during Mardi Gras (a custom that began in 1838) in exchange for favors.

Timeline

Date Event

1826

Marie Laveau gives up hairdressing.

1834

Madame LaLaurie’s depravities are exposed.

1835

Marie Laveau is the undisputed voodoo queen of New Orleans. Creole-American hostilities divide the city into three municipalities. The New Orleans and Carrollton Railroad is laid between New Orleans and the upriver township of Carrollton. (The railroad still exists today as the St. Charles Avenue streetcar, the oldest continually running line of public transportation in North America.)
Vidal begins parceling out various neighborhoods and areas to his allies, granting them their own territorial rights.

1838

First Mardi Gras parade takes place on the streets of New Orleans.

1846

Pauline, a mulatto slave, becomes the first black person to be executed in New Orleans since the Americans took over the city. She claims she made her master fall in love with her with a voodoo charm, and became pregnant by him. When the master went away on business, Pauline took his wife and children hostage. She tortured the wife daily until the police, acting on an anonymous tip, broke into the house and rescued the family.

1849

Baton Rouge becomes the new state capitol.

1852

Three municipalities once again consolidated into a single city. Vidal allows his allies to maintain domain rights.
The execution of Jean Adam and Anthony Delisle, who had been convicting of killing a female slave during a burglary, is interrupted by an enormous black thundercloud hovering over the prison grounds. A torrential downpour begins the moment the two men are dropped from the gallows. When the rain clears moments afterward, the authorities discover that both nooses were tied improperly and that the condemned lie beneath the gallows, still alive. They are successfully hanged seconds later. Rumor has it that Marie Laveau, who brought the men their last meal the evening before, created the storm to prove that they were innocent.
The French Brujah and future primogen Coco Duquette arrives in New Orleans.

1853

More than 11,000 people die of yellow fever.

1850

The Camarilla dispatches a coterie of archons to investigate Masquerade breaches by plantation-owning Kindred (collectively known as the Southron Lords) throughout the Southern United States. They discover nothing untoward in New Orleans, but these findings become moot when all but one archon fails to return.

1858

An armed clash between the ruling Know-Nothing Party and the opposition Vigilance Committee leaves one person dead.

1860

Baylor, the justicar for Clan Ventrue, sends word via ghoul messengers that he is going to visit and inspect each of the Southron Lords’ fiefs. They return his messengers’ heads to him in boxes.


The Civil War


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The Southron Lords (c. 1700s—1850)

The Golden Age of New Orleans comes to an abrupt and violent end. On January 26, 1861, the Louisiana legislature votes to secede from the Union, but the origins of the conflict go back many years earlier.

So too is it with the Kindred. Though Vidal and other Kindred of the South are not responsible for the institution of the slave trade, they grow glutted and content on the blood of plantation slaves. Kindred politics of the South become something akin to the feudal days of Europe: individual vampire lords ruling their fiefdoms absolutely, Embracing only when necessary and thriving in the easy hunting grounds of the slave quarters.

Because of their unlives of ease, these plantation-owning vampires grow extremely jealous and protective of their domains. They call themselves the Southron Lords, and they rule areas in and around what will become North and South Carolina, Alabama, Tennessee, Louisiana, Mississippi, Georgia, Florida and Virginia. Vidal maintains cordial relations with many of the Southron Lords and even counts himself among their number.

Growing Tensions (c. 1850—1860)

After an 1850 conclave in Boston, the Camarilla dispatches several archons to investigate possible breaches of the Masquerade. Reports had filtered back of of these Southron Lords setting themselves up as more than plantation owners. Strange tales of vampires being worshiped as gods, bizarre blood orgies, and haunted plantations reach the ears of the northern Camarilla.

Vidal, as a former archon himself, remains loyal to the Ivory Tower and cooperates with the archons in their investigations. Yet all but one archon fails to return to the north. This sole, hideously scarred survivor speaks of the mighty Southron Lords with great respect and even greater terror. He has been reduced to a gibbering wreck of his former self and is mercifully put to the torch.

The Camarilla does not respond and the matter is soon forgotten by New Orleans’ Kindred. While the majority of Louisiana’s mortal citizens approve of the state’s secession in 1860, it causes a split among the Kindred. Most of Prince Vidal’s court support the Confederacy fervently, and even advocate sending messengers to the other Southron Lords in hopes of arranging wide-reaching cooperation against the Union. Their support of the Confederacy is largely due to their support of the institution of slavery, which makes for easy feeding.

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On the other side are those Kindred who support the Union. Being Kindred, most have ulterior motives for their decision. Cimitière, one of the staunchest Union supporters in New Orleans, wants freedom for the slaves because this will benefit the vast majority of his followers, allowing them to increase their positions and status, and encourage additional converts. Many of the city’s Gangrel and Nosferatu support the Union as well in hopes that a Northern victory will either remove Vidal from power or force him to change his political views.

For all the vocality of his supporters, however, Vidal is curiously silent on the matter. He instructs Pascual and his other allies to work against the Kindred “agitators” as best they can (denying them feeding rights, attacking their contacts and the like), but he uses little of his political acumen to support the mortal Confederacy.

Vidal’s reasoning becomes apparent when the Camarilla delivers its decade-long response by ghoul messengers: A justicar is going to visit all the southern fiefs—including New Orleans—to inspect them. Though Vidal receives the messengers courteously, the other Southron Lords return them in cut-up pieces sealed in a coffin and shipped by train from Atlanta. Those Kindred to first inspect the squalid box are haunted by daymares as they sleep, some of them to the point of insanity. Sorcery is suspected, and more rumors of devil-worship, black magic and consorting with spirits of the dead comes up. The Southron Lords have apparently turned to the dark arts in their isolation. In turn, the Southron Lords believe the Camarilla has grown power-hungry and wants their lands. The Civil War provides the perfect impetus for Baylor, the justicar for Clan Ventrue, to bring the defiant Southron Lords to heel using Union troops as his fists.

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Wartime Occupation (c. 1862—1865)

The ensuing Civil War disrupts Mississippi trade to the north, and the federal navy blockades the gulf end of the river to the south, putting a stranglehold on the Crescent City. In 1862, Captain David Farragut sails the Mississippi and bombards several Confederate forts defending New Orleans, quickly dispatching the garrisons. Faced with a naval force against which they have no workable defense, the city surrenders on the first of May. The town’s citizens panic, burning much of the waterfront so its precious stores will not fall into the hands of the hated Yankees. Hundreds of fortunes go up in smoke. That same night, Vidal welcomes Baylor and his archons into New Orleans and pledges his full and complete cooperation with the Camarilla. General Benjamin F. Butler becomes the Union overseer of the city, and even makes it the Union capital of the state.

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Vidal may be sincere in his loyalty to the Camarilla, but he is by no means happy with this outcome. Cimitière and his followers, the local Nosferatu and Gangrel, and several Northern Kindred all rally around Butler’s banner, working to counter any moves Vidal might make to turn the general into his pawn. These factions might not normally have the ability to stand against the prince, but Vidal is preoccupied not only with hosting and providing sustenance for the justicar and his retinue, but Baylor expects him to lend his own assistance and knowledge of the Southron Lords to the “war effort.” Though Cimitière does not go so far as to attack Vidal’s Kindred followers under a justicar’s watch, the prince finds he can do little more than watch as his power is stripped away, his mortal pawns in City Hall removed.

Furthermore, just as he’d anticipated, Vidal faces a challenge for power from a Northern Kindred, a Gangrel archon by the name of Roger Halliburton. Unusually social for one of his clan, Halliburton makes up for in charm and ambition what he lacks in actual political acumen. Though many of the Kindred he approaches—such as Cimitière and the Nosferatu Miss Opal—are wise enough to remain neutral, some local Kindred rally to his side, hoping to force a change in praxis over New Orleans once the justicar departs. Halliburton never gains enough support to unseat Vidal, but he is a sufficient threat that the prince is forced to make compromises elsewhere he might otherwise have resisted.

Timeline

Date Event

1861

Louisiana secedes from the Union.

1862

New Orleans falls to the Union during the Civil War. This proves a substantial blow to Confederate efforts to attain diplomatic recognition from European countries. Major General Benjamin F. Butler, the despised military governor of New Orleans, issues his infamous “Woman Order,” which allows any female citizen to be arrested (and physically struck) as a prostitute for insulting Union troops. This seems to enrage prostitutes more than Creole ladies, and earns Butler the nickname of “Beast.”
Baylor makes the city his headquarters in his campaign against the Southron Lords. Vidal offers the justicar his complete cooperation, and whether due to this show of loyalty or his prior centuries of service as an archon, retains control of New Orleans. One of Baylor’s archons, an unusually charming Gangrel named Roger Halliburton, takes an interest in the city.

1860s

Many of the city’s old Creole families, whose wealth is tied up in plantation-based agriculture and the Mississippi river trade, are ruined by the Civil War. The opportunistic Malveaux family, who do not number among the old Creole elite, cooperate with occupying Yankees and grow rich off of war profiteering.

1864

Atlanta falls to Union forces. Baylor relocates his headquarters to the newly-captured city.

1865

Civil War ends. Baylor punishes the surviving Southron Lords by destroying each and every one of their childer (in some cases, also their biological sons and daughters) and returns to Boston. Halliburton convinces Baylor to let him stay behind as the justicar’s representative, watching the surviving Southron Lords for renewed sedition against the Camarilla.


The Gilded Age


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Reconstruction (c. 1865—1877)

New Orleans never truly recovers from the Civil War. Hundreds more fortunes vanish from trying to fund the hopeless Confederate war effort; plantations collapse as their land, buildings, and crops are appropriated by the Northerners. With the war’s end in 1865, the Confederate states are forced to obey the 1863 Emancipation Proclamation; the money lost when the slaves are freed turns many a millionaire into a pauper overnight. Although the Creoles again dominate the Mississippi trade after Reconstruction, and a few fortunes are reclaimed, the gaiety which had once been such a part of the city’s soul is lost in the war. Haunted—or simply obsessed—by the ghosts of former glories, New Orleans seems to turn inward and vent its frustration upon itself. A city once known for its elegance and style becomes famous for its vice and corruption. Much of New Orleans’ present-day reputation begins in earnest now.

Union soldiers occupy New Orleans throughout the Reconstruction. They institute a new government, which consists largely of Northerners, Union supporters and a select few freed blacks. Vidal, weakened on the one hand by the loss of many of his mortal contacts in the government and on the other by the efforts of his rival factions, realizes that he must soften some of his stances in order to make new allies. He ceases fighting the integration of the freed slaves into society long before many mortal officials do. At the behest of several Kindred including Miss Opal, an elder of the Nosferatu clan, he alters and expands the Cabildo so that it no longer deliberately excludes specific clans. Vidal even (grudgingly) offers Miss Opal a seat, but she turns it down, claiming that Pakachilu, the newly-recognized Gangrel primogen, already represents the same causes that she herself would.

Vidal still refuses, however, to make any concessions to Baron Cimitière. As fervently opposed to Vodoun as ever, he seethes when the newly freed slaves continue to practice and even expand the religion, and he sees Cimitière’s growing flock as a true political threat. Some theorize that it is only the greater threat posed by Halliburton and the arguments of Miss Opal and others on the Cabildo who have connections among the poor blacks that prevent Vidal from turning his full attention on Cimitière. The Samedi houngan, for his own part, refuses to ally himself with Halliburton, precisely because Cimitière does not wish to draw any more of Vidal’s attention.

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Racial Tensions (c. 1866—1877)

Conflict between the newly freed blacks and the white citizens who are still unwilling to acknowledge them as equals grows steadily in the years following the end of the war. This leads to all manner of violent incidents, including a riot over voting rights in 1866 that leaves over 50 dead. Vidal takes the opportunities provided by these events to attack Cimitière’s supporters in small numbers. The departure of the Union troops in 1877 allows Vidal to make headway in his struggle to regain his full authority, as many of Halliburton’s own agents vanish with them.

Immediately, Vidal cracks down on any Kindred who support the growing power of the freed slaves, determined that nobody will use this new and growing power base as a platform from which to challenge his authority. He combines this with yet another crackdown on Vodoun, supporting all those among the mortal citizenry and in the government who still seek to stamp out that “heathen” religion. This last act cements Cimitière’s animosity toward the prince, and he finally opens up negotiations with Halliburton.

They do not progress very far.

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The Changing of the Guard (c. 1894—1896)

The last years of the 19th century see a rather dramatic change in the politics of New Orleans, as two of its major players are removed from the field. Roger Halliburton, who had an unpleasant predilection for feeding on (and doing even worse things to) young children, finally chooses the wrong victim and is hunted down and slain by an angry mob of Vodouisants. His childe Lidia Kendall will go on to become one of Cimitière’s most trusted followers.

Within a year, Maria Pascual is destroyed as well, by assailants unknown. Vidal, while certainly not displeased at the loss of Halliburton, is less enthusiastic about the final death of one of his oldest allies. He begins careful deliberations to determine who should take over Pascual’s regency of the French Quarter. Now not the prime territory it once had been, it is still valuable for its easy hunting and as the site of the yearly Mardi Gras celebration.

Vidal never has the chance to make his decision.

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Within a few months, the French Quarter is claimed by a relatively unknown Toreador named Antoine Savoy. Savoy claims to have been Embraced in the court of Louis the Sun King and recently been jolted out of a long torpor, due to the psychic shock of his sire’s final death. He names that sire as none other than Maria Pascual, and claims she brought him to New Orleans centuries ago while he slept. Savoy has powerful contacts and influence, and shows a complete working knowledge New Orleans politics. He calls in boons owed to Pascual and Halliburton both, and, while many of Pascual’s debtors ignore him, others choose to honor their commitments in case Savoy proves to be an ally worth cultivating. He talks a good game as well, espousing freedom and equality for those who find themselves among persecuted minority classes, both Kindred and mundane. He is eminently charming, seemingly closer to the “common man.” He even practices Vodoun, which ingratiates him with many who still oppose Vidal, even if they themselves are not Vodouisants. Savoy also attracts the attention of Cimitière, who initially sees Savoy as a potential ally against Vidal. The two Kindred begin serious discussions.

Vidal finds himself unable to do anything about this arrogant upstart who has simply waltzed in and taken over a valuable territory. Savoy has just enough backing and support in the beginning to maintain his grip, and, by the time he becomes a strong enough factor for Vidal to focus on him, that grip has tightened. To this date, Vidal has never acknowledged Savoy’s claim to the French Quarter or formally appointed him as its regent, but neither has he ever been able to oust the Toreador.

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Timeline

Date Event

1865

Pascual steps down from the Cabildo and becomes the first holder of what has become known as the French Quarter.

1866

New Orleans massacre of 1866: About 200 blacks turn out to cheer on Republican candidates for New Orleans public offices, a rally which quickly turn into a riot when Confederate sympathizers show up. 34 blacks and four whites are killed.

1868

The Inner Circle meets for its tredecennial conclave in Venice. While this has little direct bearing on New Orleans, Baylor is appointed to another term as justicar, meaning Halliburton continues to remain his archon—and enjoys the justicar’s protection.

1869

Marie Laveau retires, passing her mantle as New Orleans’ supreme voodoo queen to her daughter Marie II.

1870

The famous race between the steamboats Natchez and Robert E. Lee begins in New
Orleans. As the world watches, the Natchez eventually runs aground between Memphis and Cairo, allowing the Lee to reach St. Louis first.

1874

Battle of Liberty Place: Confederate veterans attempt a failed insurrection against the state government. Carpetbagger Governor William Pitt Kellogg barricades himself in the Custom House as about five thousand members of the White League lay siege to the building in an attempt to lynch him. New Orleans police and black militiamen barely repulse the invaders with a Gatling gun. At the end of the assault, thirty-two men lay dead.

1875

Marie Laveau withdraws from public life.

1877

Reconstruction officially ends. Vidal relents his class biases enough to cease fighting the integration of slaves into society. He also stops opposing the entry of certain elders to the Cabildo based on clan; Miss Opal declines to become the first Nosferatu primogen of New Orleans, but Pakachilu becomes the first Gangrel one. With the departure of Union troops, Vidal increases his efforts against Vodoun practitioners and against those Kindred forming a power base among the newly freed slaves. This includes Baron Cimitière on both counts. Cimitière finally begins negotiations to ally with Halliburton, who has lost much of his political power with the departure of his pawns in the Union Army.

1881

Marie Laveau dies. Her daughter Marie II swiftly fades into obscurity.
The Inner Circle meets for its tredecennial conclave in Venice. Philip Maldonato journeys to the city on Vidal’s behalf and works to ensure Halliburton is passed over as an archon by the new justicars. Bereft of a patron to shield him from Vidal’s wrath, the Gangrel flees to nearby Slidell.

1883

The city’s most beloved madam, Kate Townsend, is stabbed to death by her abusive lover, Treville Sykes.

1884-1885

The Cotton Centennial Exposition, or “World’s Fair” is held in Audubon Park.

1889

Police raid a Vodouisant ceremony on Roman Street, arresting the ten black men and fifteen white women in attendance.

1890

March 14 lynchings: The Matranga Mafia family murders David Hennessy, the chief of police. After they are tried and acquitted, a mob lynches and hangs 11 of the 17 members waiting to be brought to trial, bringing the Mafia to popular attention for the first time. Charles Matranga becomes boss of the family after Joseph P. Macheca is lynched.

1894-95

Marie Laveau II drowns in a storm.
Both Roger Halliburton and Maria Pascual are destroyed—the Gangrel at the hands of a crowd of Vodouisants angered at his predilection for preying on their children; the Toreador by assailants unknown. The final death of his sire jolts Antoine Savoy out of his nearly 200-year-long torpor.

1896

Antoine Savoy publicly steps in as Pascual’s heir, becoming the self-declared lord of the French Quarter (Vidal never formally appoints him as its regent). Though Vidal is alarmed by the sudden appearance of this unknown elder, Savoy has sufficient access to Pascual’s knowledge and political allies that the prince is unwilling to challenge his claim to the Quarter.


The Early 20th Century


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The Three-Way Stalemate (c. 1897—)

The turn of the century sees an expansion of industry in New Orleans and a corresponding expansion in the areas of influence of the Kindred. Vidal, who already claims substantial influence in city government and local churches, expands his areas of influence to include the growing corporate arena. Savoy branches out in the areas opened up by organized crime and, eventually, Prohibition. Based in the French Quarter and other poor areas, he also manages to insert himself into the New Orleans socialite scene by working through charities. More than once, he and Vidal find themselves attending the same function; the French Quarter lord takes a perverse delight in striking up friendly conversations with Vidal. Cimitière’s influence increases as a growing population of poor blacks go to work in the factories and similar blue-collar jobs.

Both Vidal and Savoy initially underestimate the power a rival might wield if he gains influence over the products their own pawns sell and trade. Furthermore, Vodoun continues to grow at a substantial rate—especially during the Great Depression, when mortals of all stripes seek hope and faith in new places—and while Savoy holds some influence in the religion, Cimitière is still the primary Kindred power in that arena. It is these years, then, that set up the triad of Kindred power in New Orleans, one that remains largely unchanged to this night.

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Other than the boost given to production, the First World War has little direct impact on New Orleans or the Kindred who dwell here. Of far more immediate concern to the Kindred is the falling-out that occurs at this time between the potential allies Savoy and Cimitière. Initially heartened by Savoy’s purported attitude toward the poor and his veneration of Vodoun, Cimitière comes to believe that the Toreador’s faith is a charade. Savoy, or so Cimitière maintains, does nothing without political motivation. His support of Vodoun, of the poor, and of mortal and Kindred minorities is all a front to buy him the loyalty of the lower classes, the strata of society where Vidal has the least power. For his own part, Savoy finds Cimitière to be a zealot and an unreasonable idealist who refuses to make “proper use” of any power that comes his way. From being potential allies who together might even have toppled the great Vidal, the pair swiftly become staunch adversaries. While they have cooperated to thwart some of the prince’s schemes, such alliances are always short-term and filled with mutual distrust.

French (c. 1718—)

In the early part of the 20th century, the francophone character of the city is still much in evidence, with one 1902 report describing “one-fourth of the population of the city speaks French in ordinary daily intercourse, while another two-fourths is able to understand the language perfectly.” As late as 1945, one still encountered elderly Creole women who spoke no English. The last major French language newspaper in New Orleans, L’Abeille de la Nouvelle-Orléans, ceased publication on December 27, 1923, after ninety-six years; according to some sources Le Courrier de la Nouvelle Orleans continued until 1955.

As go the kine, slower go the Kindred. Virtually all of the city’s elders and ancillae in the early 20th century are francophones, and many of them are either Creoles or French immigrants. Consequently, French remains the official language of court at Elysium, as well as the preferred language of everynight conversation among native French speakers: neonate Kindred who do not understand the language find themselves quite excluded from the halls of power. Fledglings with francophone sires usually learn the language, but not all have sires willing to teach them. As the years roll by and French continues to die out among the mortal populace, neonates increasingly resent having to learn a foreign language in the United States.

Antoine Savoy senses this resentment and makes himself very popular among younger Kindred when he declares English will be the official language of his own court. French is allowed among his individual subject, but the French Quarter lord and his officers will use English at functions held by him. Vidal, undeterred and much to the appreciation of the city’s francophones, continues to hold his own court functions in French.

Storyville (c. 1897—1917)

From 1897 to 1917, the town fathers make an attempt to keep the city’s epidemic lawlessness in check. Acting on the suggestion of Alderman Sidney Story, the City Council establishes a district bordered by St. Louis and Basin Streets where prostitution is legal. The area is one of the poorest in the city and becomes the most notorious red-light district in American history. The good alderman is rather irritated when it ironically adopts the name “Storyville.” The music played in its brothels and saloons is contemptuously referred to as “jass” by the Creole elite, but Storyville typifies the new spirit of the city. Travelers came from around the world to sample its forbidden wares, and bring a love of this new “jazz music” back home with them.

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In 1915, a rash of murders strike the area of the city known as Storyville, located in one of New Orleans’ poorest districts. Oddly enough, while the killings are quite brutal, involving substantial amounts of blood, the victims all seem to die swiftly from the first wound. The police investigation lasts months: Whether their failure to locate the culprit is due to the killer’s cleverness or the simple fact that the police can’t be bothered to give their all to crimes that take place among the poor black community is open to interpretation. The crimes eventually cease, with as little rhyme or reason as they began.

Nobody has ever found evidence to prove Kindred involvement in the murders, but both Cimitière and Savoy are known to have investigated the matter. Neither one has come forward with any results.

A Deal With the Devil (c. 1914)

For a brief period of time—less than a year—the hostilities between Prince Vidal and Baron Cimitière cease utterly. On several occasions, Vidal actually meets with Cimitière, their meetings remaining cordial if not particularly friendly. Savoy, terrified at the prospect of an alliance between the pair, takes to a comparatively reckless expansion of his own territories, determined to be prepared to ward off a potential combined assault.

It all proves unnecessary. Whatever plot or alliance the pair are cooking up apparently amounts to naught. Within months, they both return to their old ways, their enmity as strong as ever. Furthermore, Vidal is able to regain his lost territories with little trouble, as Savoy had moved too swiftly to cement his gains. In fact, Cimitière is able to take a few poor neighborhoods from Savoy as well while the French Quarter lord is defending himself from the prince.

The Great Depression (c. 1929—1939)

The Depression is a better time for the Kindred than it is for mortals. While even the greatest Kindred take a hit in the wallet, Vidal and most of the other powerful vampires of New Orleans are sufficiently diversified that they suffer less than mortals of comparable wealth and influence. Additionally, more poverty leads to more homelessness and more crime, all of which are boons to Kindred feeding. Few Kindred would call the Depression a “good time,” but most of them weather it with relatively minor inconvenience.

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The Afterhours King (c. 1920—)

In fact, at least one of New Orleans’ Kindred is able to thrive in this environment. With the rise of jazz in the 1920s comes the appearance of nightclubs, and the Nosferatu known as Sundown takes advantage of the opportunity. He begins with a single establishment, a jazz club that happens to be Kindred-friendly, with private rooms (even made available as emergency havens, for the right fee) and a rather unusual selection of beverages in the “members only” section. Sundown’s focus on Kindred customers allows him not only to thrive during the Depression, suffering no noticeable loss of income or prestige, but even to open several additional establishments. Both Vidal and Savoy become regular patrons of his establishment, and the apolitical Sundown finds himself wielding more potential influence than he h6. Your title here…ever wanted. To date, he has rarely taken advantage of that position, but should he ever side specifically with one of New Orleans’ three factions, his support might well tip the balance of power.

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The Kingfish (c. 1928—1936)

During the mid-’20s, the colorful Huey Long starts to campaigns for the governorship of Louisiana. Long gathers big crowds wlth his fiery rhetoric, accusing the corrupt of neglecting the common working man. As a state public service commissioner, he proudly proclaims himself a “redneck” (he is from the northern hill country) and swears that, If elected, he will “spread the wealth to the poor in the form of better roads, bridges and schools.” Although Long has fervent support among Cajuns and rural farmers, the cosmopolitan citizens of New Orleans distrust him as a two-faced demagogue, or, worse, a communist.

In 1928, Long wins the office he desires and quickly becomes the most powerful governor in American history. Admirers call him “the Kingfish”; critics decry him as the “dictator of Louisiana.” Long delivers on almost all of his campaign promises—new government construction projects spring up all over New Orleans—but rules the state with an iron hand, crushing those who oppose his policies with political pressure, public scandal, or worse. He accepts bribes, is in bed with the Mafia, and is not above any dirty trick to get what he wants. He seems to sincerely believe that all the deeds he commits is for the good of his constituents; in practice, however, he spends most of his time grabbing and holdling onto all the power he can get.

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Long bitterly clashes with the muncipal goverment of New Orleans; there have often been tensions between the city, with its desire to run its own affairs, and the government of the State of Louisiana wishing to control the city. Perhaps the situation is never worse than during the 1934 congressional election, when Long sends 3,000 Louisiana National Guard troops to occupy the registrar of voters office, setting up machine guns in the windows and declaring martial law. Walmsley has 400 city police sent to City Hall. Armed conflict is averted by a last-minute truce in which both Long’s National Guard and Walmsley’s police agreed to stay off the streets on election day to prevent voter intimidation.

Long is elected to the U.S. Senate in 1932, but this does little to weaken his grip over Louisiana: the succeeding governor is Long’s loyal toady and faithfully carries out all of his orders. Long is backed by the Brujah prince of Baton Rouge, Orlando de Vega, who is an ardent admirer of the governor’s revolutionary Share Our Wealth policies. While Vidal has no personal axe to grind against Long, he takes exceedingly poorly to the state government’s efforts to strip the political powers of his pawns. Antoine Savoy is believed to reach an accord with De Vega, as he uses his own influence to support Long’s agenda in New Orleans. In 1934-1935, the “dictator of Louisiana” launches an unprecedented series of legislative attacks that strip the municipal government of its traditional rights to issue licenses, assess property taxes, regulate public utilities, and control the police department. Long further has the state set budget amounts for the city and forbids the firing of any city employee without state approval. Without the ability to collect its own revenue, New Orleans is on the verge of bankruptcy by the summer of 1935.

Long’s ambitions are finally cut short by an assassin’s bullet on September 8 that same year, his killer the son-in-law of a judge whose career he had ruined in his ruthless pursuit of power. There is no evidence to link Vidal to the governor’s assassination and he never claims responsibility for the deed. Many Kindred still cynically note that not only did Long’s death benefit the prince, but a patsy assassin was an easy means of dealing with the problem he’d posed.

Orlando de Vega is greatly dispirited by the visionary governor’s death and succumbs to torpor soon afterwards. He passes off Baton Rouge to a Ventrue ancilla (and a relatively young one at that) named Marcel Guilbeau, who proves much friendlier to his vastly older clanmate in the Crescent City and keen to avoid the political conflicts of the past. After several power struggles among New Orleans’ mortal government, they elect a Longite loyalist in 1936, and the city government regains the powers stripped from it.

Timeline

Date Event

1897-1913

Vidal and Savoy clash frequently as the lord of the French Quarter expands his influence into other neighborhoods and builds a substantial power base among New Orleans’ disenfranchised. The city develops the three-way stalemate between Vidal, Savoy and Cimitière, which persists to this night.

1900

Robert Charles Riots. Well-armed African-American Robert Charles kills several policemen who try to arrest him. A white mob starts a race riot, terrorizing and killing a number of African-Americans unconnected with Charles. The riots stop when a group of white businessmen post flyers saying that if the rioting continues they will start passing out firearms to the black population for their self-defense.

1905

Yellow fever is reported in the city, which suffered repeated epidemics of the disease in the previous century. As the role of mosquitoes in spreading the disease is newly understood, the city embarks on a massive campaign to drain, screen, or oil all cisterns and standing water (breeding ground for mosquitoes) in the city and educate the public on their vital role in preventing mosquitoes. The effort is a success and the disease is stopped before reaching epidemic proportions. President Theodore Roosevelt visits the city to demonstrate the safety of New Orleans. It has had no cases of yellow fever since.

1910s

The discovery of black gold along the Gulf Coast and subsequent oil boom turns men into millionaires overnight. The Malveaux family attains its present-day wealth and lays the foundations for their future political power during this period. Within several years, they purchase 1134 First Street, the Garden District mansion in which Jefferson Davis died, as their family seat.

1914

Rumors spread that Vidal and Cimitière hold a series of meetings. Most local Kindred dismiss these rumors as highly improbable, given the hatred between the two Kindred.

1915

A rash of killings, called the Storyville murders, takes place in the city’s poorest districts. Both Cimitière and Savoy investigate the possibility of Kindred or occult influence, but if either party finds anything, they do not make their knowledge public.
The city’s sheriff since 1815, Robert Bastien, is destroyed by vampire hunters. Vidal tracks down each of the surviving hunters and executes their families down to the youngest child. Donovan is appointed Bastien’s replacement as sheriff.

1917

In 1917 the Department of the Navy orders the Storyville District closed, over the opposition of Mayor Martin Behrman.

1920s

An effort to “modernize” the look of the city removes the old cast-iron balconies from Canal Street, the city’s commercial hub. This move comes to be regarded as mistakes long after the fact.

1925

The Nosferatu known as Sundown opens his first Kindred-friendly club in New Orleans. Vidal and Savoy begin jockeying for Sundown’s support, but he remains neutral.

1927

The city’s river levees narrowly escaped being topped in the Great Mississippi Flood of 1927. A project is begun to fill in the shoreline of Lake Pontchartrain and create levees along the lake side of the city. Previously areas along the lakefront like Milneburg were built up on stilts, often over water of the constantly shifting shallow shores of the lake.

1928

Huey Long is elected governor and swiftly becomes the most powerful in U.S. history.

1931-36

The French Quarter blossoms into a tourist Mecca. This grants Savoy a substantial increase in power.

1934-35

Long launches an unprecedented series of attacks to strip the city municipal government of its powers. He is assassinated in late 1935. Vidal is suspected, but confirms nothing.

1935-41

Vidal and Cimitière’s influence in industry wanes a bit, as many of the individuals with whom they were accustomed to dealing depart for war.


The Mid-Late 20th Century


World War II (c. 1939—1945)

As with World War I, the Second World War affects New Orleans primarily on an industrial and economic level, a boon for which many of the city’s Kindred are grateful. Vidal’s and Cimitière’s influence in production temporarily wanes, as the mortals with whom they were accustomed to dealing with ship off to war and are replaced by elderly or female workers, but this constitutes only a minor setback in most respects.

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The Civil Rights Era (c. 1954—1968)

Each of New Orleans’ three most prominent Kindred make use of the racial violence that marks the beginnings of the civil rights movement to strike at one another. Cimitière and Savoy hide their assaults on Vidal and on one another under the guise of random violence and street crime, while Vidal is able to mask his own activities behind mortal police actions. It should be noted that Vidal has no personal motivation for keeping the black populace poor and unrepresented—he successfully abandoned that particular prejudice when he acknowledged the need for change after the civil war. Still, he tends to support the white power structure because this is where the majority of his own influence lies, and because he knows that both Savoy and Cimitière hold substantial influence among the city’s minorities.

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Vidal begins to focus ever more intently on Savoy, who has become the greatest political rival Vidal has ever faced. The French Quarter, which had reached its nadir of disreputability in the 1920s, sees an upsurge of attention in the 1930s when, despite the Depression, preservationists and locals work together to clean it up and rebuild it. The next few decades see its evolution into the tourist Mecca it is tonight, and, suddenly, Savoy holds dominion over not merely a historical neighborhood but one of the most financially valuable and easily hunted territories in the entire city. Powerful Kindred are now willing to offer substantial favors in exchange for feeding rights in the French Quarter, which Savoy uses to cement his power in other neighborhoods as well. Savoy is no longer an irritant; he has positioned himself as a potential challenger for the princedom of New Orleans itself.

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Contenders for the Throne (c. 1968—)

Vidal responds by cracking down severely on domain and feeding rights. While he cannot directly harm Savoy, Vidal strips away some of the territories Savoy had granted to others outside his immediate sphere of influence. Vidal adopts a stricter custom of introduction, insisting that all Kindred newcomers to the city announce themselves within several nights of arrival. He can do little to shake Savoy’s grip, but his activities prevent the French Quarter lord from expanding any further.

The prince further expands his own influence into the growing space-age industry and tourist industries not directly related to the French Quarter, such as the new Louisiana Superdome sports stadium and the hotels and restaurants that spring up to service the fans. Due to his contacts in city government, he is able to move on such projects—investing money and suborning important personnel—well before Cimitière or Savoy. By the mid-1970s, despite Savoy’s dominion over the French Quarter and other neighborhoods and Cimitière’s almost total influence over the Vodoun community, Vidal is as secure in his power as he’s ever been.

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It is also at this time that Miss Opal, who had vanished some three decades earlier, emerges from her torpor and sets about regaining her position as unofficial spokesman for the Nosferatu. When Miss Opal first reappears, she begins tentative discussions with Cimitière, but the pair never become overt allies. Perhaps because Vidal seeks to expand his base of allies, or possibly because he fears what might happen should Cimitière gain widespread Nosferatu support, the prince once again offers Miss Opal a seat among the Cabildo. This time she agrees, believing like Coco Duquette that she can do more to change the system from within. Due to Miss Opal’s vocal support of the Anarch cause, Vidal has more than once regretted his offer in the years since.

The Iron Fist (c. 1980—)

In the late 1970s and early 1980s, Vidal’s crackdown grows even more oppressive. Young or visiting Kindred suspected of sympathy with Savoy or Cimitière often find their privileges in New Orleans revoked or scrutinized by the overzealous prince.

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Although no longer able to (directly) turn city officials against the Vodoun community, Vidal encourages the Kindred to victimize that population wherever possible, granting numerous feeding rights in Vodouisant neighborhoods. Mortal allies and pawns of Savoy find themselves snubbed by politicians and businessmen who had welcomed them (and their contributions) mere days before. And Kindred criminals citywide find themselves subjected to far more severe punishments than had once been the norm, up to and including an increase in blood hunts and executions.

This state of affairs persists with few changes throughout the 1990s and early 2000s. Some Kindred wonder if things ever will.

Katrina changes everything.

Timeline

1949

Miss Opal disappears, leaving power among the local Nosferatu in the hands of her brother-in-blood Rhett Carver.

1957

The 24-mile-long Lake Pontchartrain Causeway opens.

1960s

Anarch uprisings against the Camarilla sweep the United States in the wake of mortal counterculture and youth protest movements. Vidal, long an icon of elder tyranny, is a target for Anarchs across the country. He responds with brutal crackdowns, though Savoy grants safe harbor to newcomer Anarchs in the French Quarter.

1967

An influx of Anarchs from the California Free State, widely believed to be backed by Savoy, attempt to assassinate Vidal with a bomb at the prince’s annual Mardi Gras ball. The so-called Carnival Coup is foiled with help from Coco Duquette, who decries violence and believes these predominately foreign agitators threaten the semi-autonomous Anarch community she and Miss Opal have established in Mid-City. Coco secures lesser sentences for several New Orleans Anarchs implicated in the plot and is granted a seat on the Cabildo in reward for her service. Vidal executes all foreign Anarchs who don’t manage to flee the city.

1974

New state constitution adopted.

1975

Miss Opal rises from torpor. This time, in hopes of improving her clan’s standing from within Vidal’s government, she claims a seat on Vidal’s Cabildo.

1977

“Dutch” Morial is elected the first black mayor of New Orleans.

1984

New Orleans hosts the Louisiana World Exposition, the second World’s Fair in the city’s history. The fair itself is a flop, garnering the distinction of being the only World’s Fair in history to declare bankruptcy during its run. Some pundits blame the low attendance on the Summer Olympics, hosted in Los Angeles at the same time, but others refer to the destruction of a large chunk of the CBD. Kindred say the planners unearth something in the demolition that even willfully ignorant mortals can feel, something that tells them to stay away. Vidal bans hunting at the fairgrounds, but that doesn’t stop a few Kindred from disappearing through the Expo’s gates, never to return.

1991

Riverboat gambling legalized. Some Carnival krewes stop parading.

1994

Hotel building boom begins with word of expansion of convention center.

1996

Statewide referendum on gambling rejects further casino development. Purportedly, Savoy and Cimitière cooperated (reluctantly) to influence this decision, as much of Vidal’s power in the modern era comes from those tourist industries not connected to the French Quarter.


Recent History


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One year and one week ago, New Orleans was drowned. One year ago to this day, the nightmare wave began.

New Orleans was one of the richest kingdoms of the South, but this is New York. The blood of the world flows down our streets. Certainly, the finance and immigrant trades reach around the world, but they’re distant vessels, at best. We are the heart. National tragedy? Why should we care? Even the bridge-and-tunnel coteries don’t feed much further than New Jersey. We’ve had our own apocalypse this decade and we’ve come out the better.

We had forgotten about family.

The blood of every Kindred in this room is foreign, tapped from the foolish or the sleeping or the beloved. We become, through the years, creatures of our neighborhoods and homes. We are men of the street or angels of the cemeteries. We call each other Kindred, but we so rarely mean it. We mean dead, undead, vampire, rival… even enemy. We forget that we are joined by blood long since drunk, that we are joined by the Embrace not only to our sires but to our clans and to all Kindred.

One year ago, we were reminded.

I see faces tonight that have not haunted this hall for years. You’re here for answers. Let the record show that the wave began with the murder of Taylor Shipman, Toreador of the line Helena, by her own illegal childe, Hans Kirmani, found larvae. I promised you I would discover why. I promised only to find more murders the next night, to be roused from my own bed not an hour past noon by a screaming in my skin. Many of you experienced the same brief and certain knowledge of cousins’ passing, and no few of you became brutal or ravenous as your families in the Old South perished or starved.

That is the plain truth. The nightmare wave was passed by sympathy of the blood, your own veins throbbing in tune with those of your extinguished relatives. There were no malign ghosts or demons; you may return to your perversions without fear of such things. We were afflicted for our kinship to a city of the Damned. She was our sister, and living or dead we have discovered we do share her blood.

In the nights following the evacuation of the herd, and the breach of the levee, many Kindred apparently starved and dozens were exposed to sun and even fire. We do not have enough information to estimate how many Kindred died in the days and nights after the hurricane. From the accounts of refugees, as well as the pangs suffered by the assembled, we know that many of them met violent deaths. No doubt some of those had abandoned their Masquerade. Others may have been killed during rescue attempts by mortals. We can attribute some of those to a task force of the federal Army. I know that fact, in particular, has caused concern and paranoia. However, I have confirmed at considerable expense that there was no directed government effort which identified or extinguished Kindred.

What began as an investigation became a war. Wights swarmed from their graves to be dispatched by archons. Honored Kindred became insomniac and feral. Some of them stand among you even now. I fought alongside and against you not one block from this hall. I saw a woman carve the witch-sign VII in her arm even as I transfixed her with my spear. While each of you saw horrors, a brave few faced them. I give my thanks.

I promised that I would disclose the fate of those afflicted who did not recover. Those innocent, I have consigned to soil and torpor. Those who murdered or committed diablerie have been given to the sun.

You have heard that I announced clemency, absolution in the name of my father and of the holy Church. Let me be clear: that is forgiveness for sin, not a finding of innocence. No few of you suffered nightmares or madness, but that suffering was only a symptom of the Damnation we all share, and our sin in perpetuating it. How many of you have sent your bastards and accidents to the South? How many supported the sinecure of your ancestors in New Orleans, after they had committed crimes so black even my father in his mercy exiled them? I ask, but do not think I do not know. I grant forgiveness with full knowledge of your crimes, every one. A week of nightmares and war left me with a domain in tatters and a year to find the truth, and I have found truth.

I remind you again of Hans Kirmani. Damned by the thinnest trace of blood, driven to anguish by the death of relatives whose names he never heard. How much thicker are our own ties, we genuine Kindred? What sins have we inherited or birthed? We all lost someone in the nightmare wave. I grieve for them as much as you; Taylor Shipman herself was a faithful friend and cousin.

I mourn, but I do not shirk. I accept Damnation for myself and my family and I will see you do no less. Whether we venerate the Father or the Soldier or the Crone, whether our prayers reach to Lilith or Dracula or Caine, we are all Kindred. Let us remember that, and let us remember New Orleans.

Thank you. Enjoy your forgiveness and your remaining nights. A vigil will be held in the chapel until six; please follow Pietus.

A memorial for those lost to the storm, read before the Court of New York City by Prudence Mathers, Founders Day 20

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Timeline

Date Event

2005

Hurricane Katrina devastates New Orleans. Mass numbers of Kindred meet final death. The mandatory evacuation almost completely depopulates the city, leaving its vampires bereft of sustenance; many flee to Houston, Baton Rouge, and other nearby cities. Ambitious Kindred in Houston and Baton Rouge take advantage of the upheaval to depose their princes and make the so-called “Katrina refugees” complicit in these coups in return for shelter. Vidal calls on his Old World contacts among the Camarilla; Justicar Karl Schrekt of Clan Tremere arrives in the city with a retinue of archons to help maintain order. Baron Cimitière disappears and is presumed deceased; most of his Kindred followers meet final death. Antoine Savoy’s holdings in the French Quarter are comparatively undamaged, but he loses several of his oldest allies (including the city’s Sanctified bishop, Clarice Barabet). New Orleans is left a ghost of its former self. To this night, most neonates in New Orleans are ones Embraced after 2005.

2006

A regional conclave is convened in Houston by Justicar Lucinde of Clan Ventrue to address the impacts of Hurricane Katrina in Gulf Coast cities. Vidal retains praxis over New Orleans and the new regimes in Houston and Baton Rouge are formally recognized (much to the chagrin of Marcel Guilbeau, Baton Rouge’s deposed but surviving prince). Some of the Katrina refugees are permitted to remain in their new cities until New Orleans recovers; a few become permanent residents, while others are turned out and disperse across the country. Vidal and Savoy continue their power struggles, but seemingly without heart. The two have almost nothing left to fight over, and few followers to fight on their behalf.

2007

New Orleans has a population of 300,000 (2/3rds of its residents pre-Katrina). A goodly number of Kindred return to the city by this point, but the local All-Night Society still retains an almost shellshocked character. Vidal places a moratorium on new Embraces and withdraws almost completely from public affairs. Philip Maldonato largely assumes responsibility for the city’s night-to-night administration.

2008

Hurricane Gustav. Several Kindred meet final death, but the destruction is minor compared to Katrina’s. Baron Cimitière reappears in the hurricane’s aftermath, much to Vidal and Savoy’s displeasure. Most of his Kindred followers were destroyed during Katrina, and with Embrace rights suspended, the Baron’s faction starts to rely far more heavily upon their mortal followers.

2010

New Orleans’ population has climbed back to 340,000 (76% of pre-Katrina levels). Remaining Katrina expatriates from the city have largely moved on with their unlives; Vidal ends the moratorium on new Embraces but still grants them sparingly. Kindred immigrants from other cities begin to appear in significant numbers.
The Republican Party secures a majority in both houses of the Louisiana state legislature for the first time since the 19th century. These efforts are spearheaded by then-Senate majority leader Nathaniel Malveaux.

2013

Former Mayor Ray Nagin, once brought to national fame by Hurricane Katrina, is indicted on 21 corruption charges. He is later convicted on 20. Despite New Orleans’ long history of political corruption, Nagin is the first mayor to be criminally charged for corruption in office.

2014

New Orleans’ population reaches 378,000 (84% of pre-Katrina levels). By this point the city’s Kindred have mostly recovered from Katrina, but deep scars remain—and lead many to wonder how badly they will fester.

History

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