Campaign of the Month: October 2017
Blood & Bourbon
The Circle of the Crone
“The sot drinks, and is drunken: the coward drinks not, and shivers: the wise man, brave and free, drinks, and gives glory to the Most High God.”
“What is all Knowledge too but recorded Experience, and a product of History;
of which, therefore, Reasoning and Belief,
no less than Action and Passion, are essential materials?”
The Acolytes in the Big Easy are divided into two factions. The first group consists of Vodouisants who follow Baron Cimitière and wage a bitter cold war against Savoy and Vidal. The second faction includes Acolytes who do not follow the Baron, and there the commonality ends. Some of these Acolytes are neopagans or followers of Native American shamanic traditions, while others are Vodouisants who owe no loyalty to Cimitière.
Baron Cimitière serves as the covenant’s visible head and holds a rather unusual form of power in New Orleans, one that allowed him to go largely unnoticed in the political arena for a substantial amount of time. Cimitière informally holds dominion over even fewer neighborhoods than Savoy. He does not dominate (in Kindred terms) many specific industries. He has fewer Kindred followers than even Savoy can claim.
No, Baron Cimitière’s power base is made up largely of mortals. Where Vidal and Savoy can claim a large handful of mortal pawns, proxies, contacts and servants, Cimitière has literally hundreds of mortals at his beck and call. Cimitière himself serves as houngan (a Vodoun priest) for several congregations, and some of his closest Kindred and mortal followers serve as houngans and mambos (female houngans) for others. Entire neighborhoods of Vodoun practitioners—or Vodouisants—consider Baron Cimitière a religious and cultural leader. While an overwhelming majority of these followers remain ignorant of Cimitière’s undead nature (though less fanatic about it than some, Cimitière is not unconcerned with, or careless of, the Masquerade) they do consider him a houngan of substantial power. It would be exaggeration to say that these Vodouisants would do anything for Baron Cimitière, but they would do much—as much as could be expected of any devout community with a popular and respected religious leader.
Thus, while Baron Cimitière has influence over the management of few industries, businesses or political organizations, he has extremely loyal people throughout New Orleans. Vidal and Savoy are both aware of the potential for rampant bloodshed should Baron Cimitière ever bestir his followers to violence. So far, Cimitière has shown no inclination of drawing that much attention or putting his followers in such danger, but his rivals remain fearful of the possibility. Out of respect for this influence, Vidal has reluctantly granted a loose regency over the Vodouisant community to the Baron. This regency infuriates Savoy, who has made much public show of his acceptance of Vodoun. As much as it incenses Vidal to recognize the “bastard faith,” his acknowledgement of Baron Cimitière’s supremacy in that arena has served (at least historically) to keep Savoy from devoting his full attention to the prince, thereby preserving the balance of power for the time being. Baron Cimitière really cares little for the formality of the regency, but it does give him some basis of legitimacy in the city’s power structure.
Baron Cimitière espouses a belief that the Vodoun loa are the source of the Kindred race. He holds that the Antediluvians are spirits rather than vampires and that Caine never existed. This belief directly flouts the precepts supported by the Lancea et Sanctum. So long as the Sanctified dominate New Orleans, Baron Cimitière’s struggles will continue. They will never leave him or his followers to go their own way. On the other hand, Cimitière’s enormous sway over a specific group of the city’s mortal residents makes him a force to be reckoned with. More than once, Cimitière has subtly urged the local Vodouisants to activity, whether gathering on the steps of City Hall to oppose an unpopular law or rising to near-riotous fervor after an unfair court verdict. Such demonstrations come and go in the eyes of the mortal populace, but among the Damned, the message is clear: Baron Cimitière can crush any single Kindred in town by focusing mortal attention on them. Neither Vidal nor Savoy can move too overtly against him for fear of being snuffed out in a single act of reciprocity, so they must move subtly. Indeed, word has spread among Kindred loyal to neither Savoy nor Vidal that the Baron could be prince if he so chose, claiming the title by denying the ability to make any move to his rivals. Whether this is true—and whether the Baron acts upon it—remains to be seen.