Political Primer

“Only young Kindred believe we subsist on vitae. Any tenured Cainite knows full well that the Damned need lies more than blood to thrive.”
Pearl Chastain

Comparatively speaking, New Orleans is a bastion of stability in the tempest that is the American Kindred political structure. The Nights of Turmoil in the late 20th and early 21st centuries saw great changes sweep the Camarilla: Chicago’s Prince Lodin fell to Lupines, Manhattan’s Prince Michaela perished when the Ivory Tower reclaimed New York’s outer four boroughs, and D.C.‘s Marcus Vitel always left the Camarilla’s elders ill at ease. New Orleans, through it all, has endured. Indeed, the Big Easy’s reputation as a city of sharp and often paradoxical contrasts is nowhere stronger than it is among the Damned. Here, in a city long associated with murder and the chaos that often accompanies loose moral fiber, the Lancea et Sanctum have thrived. Their local paragon, Augusto Vidal, is in the 25th decade of his praxis over the domain, and has survived all that such a remarkable era entails—including one of the worst natural disasters to ever strike an American city. His rule has become the very model for ambitious princes to emulate over the years.

Now that era comes to an end.

For all his successes, Vidal has also been locked in a bitter, century-long struggle with his archrivals Antoine Savoy and Baron Cimitière for control of the Big Easy. It is no secret that Vidal’s administration of his domain has grown increasingly bitter as a result of this conflict, or that his patience for even the smallest of infractions has worn thin. Many Kindred believe, too, that Vidal was already feeling the weight of his long years, and that Katrina exacted an even heavier toll upon the centuries-old prince. This belief was seemingly confirmed when the late George Smith publicly claimed that Vidal has never entered torpor, and struggles nightly against a sleep which must overtake him soon. Vidal’s furious reaction has only helped the story spread like wildfire throughout Elysium, much to Savoy’s and Cimitière’s delight. Many Kindred now count the nights until Vidal finally succumbs to torpor.

Equally many Kindred wonder who the hoary Ventrue will name as his successor, for Vidal has Embraced no further progeny since executing his only childe for complicity in an act of treason. Philip Maldonato would unquestionably be Vidal’s most capable successor, but his long silence on the matter of his clan and Smith’s recent accusation of Lasombra blood has thrown his viability into question. Some half-dozen other Kindred have resultantly attempted to position themselves as Vidal’s successors, and popular consensus puts the sheriff, a Sanctified Toreador named Donovan, as the current “front-runner.” Nothing official has confirmed or even hinted at who (if anyone) Vidal intends to name as the city’s next prince, and Donovan’s status as the childe of Antoine Savoy (whether truly estranged or not) complicates the prospect of his being Vidal’s successor, at least in many eyes. Even this consideration may come to nothing, though, when weighed against the fact that Savoy and the Baron are older and better-established than any of the city’s other would-be princes. If Vidal has been unable to break the power of his two archrivals after so many years of cold war, what hope does a weaker successor have of doing so—or even keeping the throne?

No answers are readily apparent. For now, Vidal is still prince and rules the city with an iron grip—but time is running out.

The City’s Factions

New Orleans is very much a domain of conflict for the Kindred, and while much of that conflict stems from political factions specific to the Crescent City, a good portion of it comes from the interaction of the covenants. As in so many domains, the dominant covenant is not so fully in control that it has completely pushed out the others, and while no covenant has the might to truly challenge the Lancea et Sanctum’s supremacy, none of them are likely to back down any time soon.

The following discussion of politics, current events and most specifically the major movers and shakers of New Orleans is broken down by covenant. It is vital to remember, however, that covenant affiliation is not the only—or even necessarily the most important—indicator of loyalty and allegiance among New Orleans’ Kindred. Above and beyond devotion to covenant, three different factions claim the loyalty—in lip service, if not always in behavior—of the vast majority of the city’s Kindred. These are the factions headed by the city’s three most powerful Kindred: the formal Prince Augusto Vidal, a Spanish Ventrue; the usurper lord of the French Quarter and French Toreador, Antoine Savoy; and the inscrutable and fearsome Baron Cimitière, a Haitian Samedi.

Augusto_Vidal1.jpg Augusto Vidal’s Faction: The majority of the vampires in New Orleans are part of Augusto Vidal’s faction, by virtue of his being the established authority in the area if nothing else. Although every vampire in the diocese is subject to Vidal’s laws, every vampire isn’t obligated to legitimately support his rule. Of the one hundred or so permanent Kindred residents of the city, about two-thirds believe—or at least pretend—that it is in their best interests (whether short-term or long) to keep Vidal’s house in power.

An important distinction merits stating here. Not every Kindred in Vidal’s faction is part of his covenant, the Lancea et Sanctum. Although it’s true that all of his officers (seneschal, sheriff, master of Elysium, etc.) are among the Lancea et Sanctum, Vidal’s administration has always made sure that members of the other covenants know that they will be treated with respect in New Orleans so long as they abide by the archdiocese’s rules. To this extent, even Kindred who are Anarchs can still be considered Vidal’s supporters. Only those who are publicly opposed to his policies or intentionally neutral in Kindred politics as a whole are considered part of a different faction.

Savoy.jpg Antoine Savoy’s Faction: Antoine Savoy’s supporters in New Orleans are few but both avid and capable. The so-called French Quarter lord surrounds himself with two types of people—those who harbor some resentment towards Augusto Vidal and those who genuinely believe Savoy will make a better, less draconian prince—and prefers that those closest to him possess at least some measure of both qualities. Savoy’s camp is thought to include maybe two dozen vampires. He is, of course, always looking to draw new “believers” to his cause. These numbers also exclude the independent clans, most of whose are not affiliated with the Camarilla, but who believe that a city ruled by Savoy will be more conductive to their interests than the current prince.

Baron_Cimitiere_Smaller.jpg Baron Cimitière’s Faction: On a Kindred level, the smallest of the three major factions in New Orleans is that of Baron Cimitière. Although his mortal supporters are legion, Cimitière claims only a handful (less than a dozen) of undead followers, and he would have it no other way. In truth, Cimitière seems a little distracted by the presence of other Kindred (especially non-Vodouisant vampires) and is therefore extremely circumspect about what company he keeps and where. Those Kindred with whom he is comfortable, however, are treated as equals (or nearly so) and have the Baron’s true respect.

The Independent: The “independent” is a catch-all term for those Kindred who do not readily fall into any of the three major factions in the city. Most of the time, this is due to their lack of covenant affiliation. Few of those who consider themselves uninvolved in covenant matters are eager to take up with the cause of any one political faction. In other cases it doesn’t pay to get involved, publicly or otherwise, with the city’s factional struggle. Such individuals are assumed to be “with” Vidal but only by virtue of his position.

Titled Kindred

“You can join the primogen, become a prince, rise ever higher in the hierarchy… at last to discover that even the Inner Circle doesn’t know everything. Always more secrets await.
Be careful if you are offered a title. Sometimes princes like to test young Kindred by giving them power. Power is opportunity, and danger. You may wish to refuse.
I indulge myself in a little humor. Of course you will never refuse. Your ambition bites too hard for that.
Many in the Camarilla love the titles. They want to be a prince, a justicar, an Inner Circle member. You would do well to remember that while power rests in official positions, it also extends outside their limits.
Consider myself. Sometimes I have held an official Camarilla position. Often I haven’t. Yet my power and influence has never been dependent on that. Title remains a matter of convenience, nothing more.
My wedding offers me a new initiation, a new phase in my existence, but no official position exists for what I shall become in the Camarilla or the Ashirra.
Do you think I will be powerless?”

—Victoria Ash

Officers of Court

Augusto_Vidal1.jpg Augusto Vidal runs a strict court in which each of his officers know their place. The prince stands above all: the seneschal stands below him: the sheriff, master of elysium, and scourge stand below the seneschal and roughly co-equal with one another. They separately attend to their respective duties and coordinate efforts together as needed. Vidal does not tolerate infighting among his people and expects them to work together well.

Philip_Maldonato_Small.jpg In New Orleans, the seneschal is a very powerful office. Philip Maldonato’s great age, high standing among the Camarilla, and extensive personal history with Vidal (who is also his lover) have earned him a degree of trust and authority from the prince that no other Kindred is likely to ever share. Since Vidal’s withdrawal from public affairs following Hurricane Katrina, Maldonato largely rules on his behalf and exercises all of the night-to-night functions of a prince. The office of seneschal may become less powerful in the future, though. It’s an equally open question what Maldonato will do following Vidal’s torpor, if a less avidly speculated one.

Donovan.jpg Donovan is perhaps the third-most powerful figure in Vidal’s court and exercises considerable and wide-ranging authority over the city’s Kindred in his duties as sheriff. Many of them fear him only slightly less than his master. He is supported in his efforts by three hounds (deputies), who serve as the most visible, brutal reminders of the prince’s authority, and the collective knuckles to Vidal’s iron fist.

Caitlin_Meadows4.jpg The scourge, Caitlin Meadows, works alone but rivals the sheriff in the fear she personally inspires. She seemingly went rogue in 2015, her reasons for which have been the subject of much gossip at Elysium. With the sole exception of an unprovoked attack upon Vidal’s master of elysium, Gus Elgin, however, Meadows continues to grimly execute her duties of exterminating thin-bloods and other vampires the prince (or simply she personally) deems unworthy of existing. Vidal shows little desire to rein her in or appoint a new scourge.

Gus_Elgin_Small.jpeg Gus “Gutterball” Elgin is downright mild-mannered by way of comparison. He shows little apparent desire except to be of service and most Kindred are pleased with the fastidious job he does overseeing the city’s Elysia.

The harpies, meanwhile, are not technically appointed officers of Vidal’s court, but serve as undisputed social judges, juries, and executioners at Elysium. The five-large murder inspires the fear that Elgin does not in these gilded sites of culture and nonviolence.

Augusto Vidal (6th gen. childe of unknown sire, Ventrue/Lancea et Sanctum, e. many centuries ago)
Philip Maldonato (gen., sire, and clan unknown/Lancea et Sanctum, e. many centuries ago)
Donovan (8th gen. childe of Antoine Savoy, Toreador/Lancea et Sanctum, e. late 19th century)
Harpies (unofficial)
Adelais Seyrès (7th gen. childe of Pearl Chastain, Toreador/Invictus, e. late 19th century)
Harlequin (9th gen. childe of Clarice Barabet, Malkavian/Lancea et Sanctum, e. early 20th century)
• Marguerite Defallier (8th gen. childe of Accou Poincaré, Toreador/Invictus, e. late 19th century)
Sundown (11th gen. childe of unknown sire, Nosferatu/Unaligned, e. early 20th century)
Veronica Alsten-Pirrie (8th gen. childe of Accou Poincaré, Toreador/Anarch Movement, e. early 20th century)
Master of Elysium
Gus “Gutterball” Elgin (10th gen. childe of unknown sire, Nosferatu/Lancea et Sanctum, e. mid 19th century)
Caitlin Meadows (9th gen. childe of unknown sire, Gangrel/Lancea et Sanctum, e. mid 19th century)
Alexander Wright (11th gen. childe of Doc Xola, Brujah/Lancea et Sanctum, e. late 20th century)
• Camilla Doriocourt (9th gen. childe of Donovan, Toreador/Lancea et Sanctum, e. mid 20th century)
Rocco Agnello (10th gen. childe of Caitlin Meadows, Gangrel/Lancea et Sanctum, e. late 19th century)

The Cabildo (Primogen Council)

The Cabildo (named for the original Spanish city council that governed colonial New Orleans) is defined by two facts: Vidal’s authoritarian, consensus-disregarding style of rule, and his adamant refusal to allow Antoine Savoy or Baron Cimitière seats upon its body. In virtually any other city, these two elders would be primogen. As a consequence, matters of importance that would normally be deliberated among the Cabildo go unaddressed, and the institution is less relevant in New Orleans than it is in other cities. Vidal rarely attends primogen meetings, although Maldonato still regularly does so on his behalf. Membership on the Cabildo is largely a badge of social prestige, but talk of Vidal’s impending torpor has many Kindred speculating as to what role the Cabildo may play in the city’s future politics. Popular opinion holds that it’s going to grow more powerful—assuming it loses none of its current members in the coming nights.

Visitors to New Orleans are sometimes surprised to learn the city does not guarantee equal representation to all clans. (In truth, this is a popular misconception: Chicago is another example city that long had an “unequal” primogen with two Brujah and no Malkavians or Ventrue). Historically, the only clans to always have Cabildo representatives have been the Toreador and Ventrue, although some clans have been out of power for longer than others. Currently, the Toreador have two representatives (the Rose Clan is the largest and arguably most powerful clan in the city), while the Gangrel and Malkavians have lacked primogen since their representatives were destroyed during Hurricane Katrina. The former Ventrue primogen Francesca Dumont was also destroyed during the hurricane and replaced with a much younger clanmate, Gabriel Hurst, who the city regards as little more than Vidal’s yes-man.

Cabildo Members
Accou Poincaré (7th gen. childe of Pearl Chastain, Toreador/Invictus, e. mid 18th century)
Coco Duquette (8th gen. childe of William Starkweather, Brujah/Anarch Movement, e. late 18th century)
Elsbeth von Steinhäuser (7th gen. childe of Karl Schrekt, Tremere/House Tremere, e. mid 17th century)
Gabriel Hurst (gen. unknown, childe of John Harley Matheson, Ventrue/Lancea et Sanctum, e. mid 20th century)
Miss Opal (8th gen. childe of Virginia de Palencia, Nosferatu/Anarch Movement, e. mid 18th century)
Pearl Chastain (6th gen. childe of unknown sire, Toreador/Invictus, e. many centuries ago)
Adelais Seyrès (7th gen. childe of Pearl Chastain, Toreador/Invictus, e. late 19th century)
Becky Lynne Adler (gen. unknown, childe of John Harley Matheson, Ventrue/Invictus, e. early 21st century)
• Erwin Bornemann (8th gen. childe of Elsbeth von Steinhäuser, Tremere/House Tremere, e. mid 19th century)
• Esther Sue Parker (9th gen. childe of Miss Opal, Nosferatu/Anarch Movement, e. late 20th century)
Harlequin (9th gen. childe of Clarice Barabet, Malkavian/Lancea et Sanctum, e. early 20th century)
• Allison Eskew (10th gen. childe of Baptiste du Lac, Nosferatu/Invictus, e. early 21st century)
• Joseph “Joe” Doyle (10th gen. childe of Matthäus Goldfeld, Tremere/House Tremere/Invictus, e. mid 20th century)
• Roderick Durant (9th gen. childe of Coco Duquette, Brujah/Anarch Movement, e. early 21st century)

The Regents

No prince can personally oversee an entire city. Regents rule large swaths of New Orleans (locally known as parishes) in Vidal’s name, essentially functioning as micro-princes who enforce the Traditions, arbitrate disputes, and parcel out hunting territory on a local scale. Vidal is a strict overlord who places many limitations upon his regents’ authority. Chief among these is that all grants of hunting territory are subject to his or (more often) Seneschal Maldonato’s approval. Regents are far from irrelevant, though, and have real power over their subjects’ night-to-night unlives that the primogen lack. Most primogen, in fact, are also regents: of the two who are not, Elsbeth von Steinhäuser still tightly controls the city’s Tremere through their clan’s unyielding hierarchy, while Accou Poincaré largely runs his disinterested sire’s regency on her behalf.

Antoine Savoy and Baron Cimitière are the only two regents who rule their territories with any real degree of independence from Vidal’s dictates and who can largely do as they will inside of them. Savoy is technically not a regent: Vidal considers the Toreador a usurper and has refused to recognize his dominion over his parish as legitimate. Savoy, in response, glibly styles himself as the “lord of the French Quarter,” a title that his supporters use and Vidal’s do not. The prince hasn’t appointed a regent over the French Quarter, knowing it would be a toothless gesture—or one that could signal his intent to forcefully remove the Toreador from his parish. For now, that’s a fight neither of them wants.

Mid-City is another exception to New Orleans’ usual system of regencies: while Vidal recognizes Coco Duquette and Miss Opal as co-regents over the parish, they have chosen to delegate much of their decision-making to popular vote and other internal procedures among their Anarch “subjects.” Vidal begrudgingly allows the two this right, but still treats with them as the parish’s true rulers. The Anarchs largely view their regents as foreign ministers to the prince. Faith in Mid-City’s system of government has waned, though, since the 2015 defection of roughly half the Anarchs to Antoine Savoy’s cause.

Harlequin, last of all, is the city’s sole regent who rules no physical territory. He is instead regent of the Masquerade itself due to his efforts with the Krewe of Janus.

Antoine Savoy (de facto) (7th gen. childe of Maria Pascual, Toreador/Lancea et Sanctum, e. 17th century)
Baron Cimitière (gen. and sire unknown, Samedi/Circle of the Crone, e. unknown)
Coco Duquette (8th gen. childe of William Starkweather, Brujah/Anarch Movement, e. late 18th century)
Donovan (8th gen. childe of Antoine Savoy, Toreador/Lancea et Sanctum, e. late 19th century)
Gus “Gutterball” Elgin (10th gen. childe of unknown sire, Nosferatu/Lancea et Sanctum, e. mid 19th century)
Harlequin (9th gen. childe of Clarice Barabet, Malkavian/Lancea et Sanctum, e. early 20th century)
Miss Opal (8th gen. childe of Virginia de Palencia, Nosferatu/Anarch Movement, e. mid 18th century)
Philip Maldonato (gen., sire, and clan unknown/Lancea et Sanctum, e. many centuries ago)
Pearl Chastain (6th gen. childe of unknown sire, Toreador/Invictus, e. many centuries ago)
Pierpont McGinn (9th gen. childe of Troy Hansen, Ventrue/Invictus, e. late 19th century)
Sundown (11th gen. childe of unknown sire, Nosferatu/Unaligned, e. early 20th century)

Political Primer

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