Campaign of the Month: October 2017
Blood and 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 her. 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.
The Baron’s Followers by Status
Circle Status of the Crone Status •••••
• Baron Cimitière (unknown gen. Samedi, e. unknown, Camarilla Status •••••, Samedi Status •••••)
The inscrutable Baron Cimitière is Augusto Vidal’s second great rival and a houngan in Baron Samedi’s service who leads an enormous flock among the city’s Vodouisants—Kindred and mortal. He seems to have minimal interest in becoming prince himself, yet remains steadfast in his opposition to the throne’s other two contenders.
• Des Jumeaux (g. mid 19th century and early 21st century, Ghoul Status •• and ••••)
True to their joint moniker, Baron Cimitiere’s heralds are twins known as powerful houngans, collectively possessing the authority of both a houngan asogwe (high priest) and houngan sur pwen (junior priest), although amongst other circles they are regarded as fell bokor—whose sorcerous power is allegedly amplified or weakened depending upon whether the pair are close or distant, respectively. Ascertaining the truth of this rumor, is all but impossible though, as the Jumeaux (whose individual names were reputedly sacrificed to loa) are seemingly always together. Indeed, the pair have only been known to be separated once: when one of the Jumeaux vanished during the ‘40s, allegedly killed by Vidal’s agents. Although the survivor was devastated, his loss was tempered by the fact his brother reappeared in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. The two claim the lost brother’s soul was reincarnated in a new body and subsequently ghouled by the Baron once he was of age to match his twin.
Circle Status of the Crone Status •••
• Doc Xola (10th gen. childe of unknown sire, e. mid 20th century, Brujah Status ••, Camarilla Status ••)
One of the most feared Kindred in the city by neonates, Doc Xola is a hulkingly muscled bokor who serves as Baron Cimitière’s chief enforcer. Utterly without conscience or scruples, his penchant for going after his targets’ families is just one of the factors that keeps direct attacks on the Baron’s people to a minimum. In addition to these duties, Xola carries “doctor” as a medical as well as Vodoun title. He operates a back alley clinic that performs no-questions-asked surgeries and abortions, deals drugs, and (to Kindred customers) sells the blood Xola collects from operations. The only thing he doesn’t sell are aborted fetuses, which he enjoys feeding from.
• Lidia Kendall (9th gen. childe of Roger Halliburton, e. mid 19th century, Camarilla Status •••, Gangrel Status •••, Ordo Dracul Status •••)
Baron Cimitière’s long-serving lieutenant and the former leader of the Ordo Dracul, Lidia was born to a white woman raped by a black slave who treated her as a mark of shame. Embraced at the age of sixteen by Roger Halliburton, Kendall served her archon sire as a servire until his destruction in the 1890s. Her simultaneous fascination and repulsion with slaves and her culture led her to the Ordo Dracul’s transcendental philosophies, whose members in turn introduced her to the Baron, and who Kendall came to regard as a surrogate sire and parental figure. She eventually rose to leadership of the Dragons and operated them as largely an extension of the Baron’s power. After Hurricane Katrina and the Kogaion’s assumption of power, she uneasily finds herself serving two masters. She also has significant influence over gangs in the Ninth Ward and provides much of the Baron’s mortal street muscle.
• Malia Eliza Curry (unknown gen. childe of unknown sire, e. unknown, Camarilla Status ••, Samedi Status ••••)
Among all the Baron’s followers, Malia is the the greatest servant of the loa and the most potent blood sorcerer after the Samedi houngan himself. Where Lidia Kendall serves as the Baron’s right hand in his control over the city’s gangs and criminal elements, Malia serves as the Baron’s left hand in matters of faith. She is a mambo in her own right and leads his congregations (mortal and vampiric) alongside him and sometimes in place of him. Little is known of her origins. She appeared out of nowhere during the early 20th century, some say as an immigrant from Haiti, but she has answered no questions as to her past. Her own self matters but little to her next to the will of Les Invisibles. She has given herself over to possession by the loa on countless occasions and sometimes there seems to be little of her original personality left. She is given frequently to trances and strange behaviors that make little sense to her covenant members: only the Baron’s presence seems able to compel her to complete lucidity. For many years, she was presumed to be a Malkavian, but she never seemed especially close to her alleged clanmates. It only recently came to light that she hailed from the same bloodline as her patron. Most presume her appearance to be a product of Obfuscate, for none have ever seen her as the rotting corpse she is underneath.
Circle Status of the Crone Status ••
Amandine (gen. and clan unknown, e. early 21st century, Camarilla Status •, Caitiff presumed)
A Cajun from a self-described “backwoods middle of nowhere town,” Amandine hasn’t spoken of who granted her the Embrace or what clan she hails from. Most Kindred assume she’s Caitiff, like they do for any neonate of indeterminate lineage, but the Baron’s faction doesn’t treat her the same way they do Josue Vendredi. They’ve been equally taciturn on the subject of her bloodline.
Amandine specializes in Acadian folk magic, but has expanded her repertoire to hoodoo and Vodoun since coming to New Orleans (she’s one-fourth black on her mother’s side). She’s shown herself to be a remarkably fast learner and might well be the covenant’s most knowledgeable blood sorcerer, after Malia Eliza Curry and the Baron himself.
But where outsiders can find her elders inscrutably esoteric and lost in mysticism (not to mention creepy), Amandine seems determined to put her knowledge to practical use. Her pet cause is the Strix. She won some measure of acclaim in the Camarilla several years ago after seeking out a wilderness-dwelling Southron Lord and saving her from possession by one of the owls.
Amandine ventures beyond the city semi-periodically and claims that signs of Strix have grown increasingly frequent in recent years. She’s been equally vocal that local Kindred need to prepare against them. Most Kindred consider her warnings through an inevitably partisan lens, though, and supporters of Vidal and Savoy claim she’s trying to distract them by diverting attention to a nonexistent (or at least overstated) threat. Amandine remains as fiercely devoted to the Baron as any of his followers, but has expressed frustration that petty factional games are keeping the Kindred from uniting against a common enemy. Her detractors say that’s all part of her ploy.
Circle Status of the Crone Status •
• Aniyah Bailey (9th gen. childe of Marguerite Defallier, e. early 21st century, Camarilla Status 0, Toreador Status •)
A prepubescent aspiring poet-rapper Embraced by Marguerite Defallier for reasons not entirely clear, Aniyah grew up surrounded by Vodoun but wasn’t a believer until the Embrace tore all doubts from her eyes. Her newfound faith in the ancestor spirits led her to join the Acolytes—as well as her dislike of the Invictus, since in her eyes the pursuit of power and money is what created slavery and maintains the economic impoverishment and racial oppression of NOLA and her people. Since she’s too young to perform much of her work publicly, she creates poems, has others perform them, then makes mixing tapes as sacrifices for the loa. She’s on good terms with a number of Anarchs, especially Jonah Freeman, but is too lukewarm over the fact that a white Frenchwoman friendly towards Vidal co-leads the covenant to want to join them. Marguerite has found her childe’s beliefs and political affiliation to be a source of some embarrassment, but remains on speaking terms with her.
• Jonah Freeman (11th gen. childe of Foxfire, e. mid 20th century, a. early 21st century, Anarch Status •••, Brujah Status ••, Camarilla Status •)
Civil Rights activist and Black Panther Embraced during the ‘60s. Jonah was an Anarch who spent most of his Requiem in Atlanta before before moving to New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina: he’d learned his mortal grandmother was a follower of the religion and found that its African roots greatly appealed to him. He is interested in establishing closer ties between the Anarchs and the Acolytes, but has been frustrated by Coco’s and Miss Opal’s support of Vidal. He avoids carrying around the trappings of Voudoun, still considering himself only a beginner in the religion despite close to a decade of study. Since 2013, he’s transferred his passion for racial justice to the Black Lives Matter movement.
• Josue Vendredi (10th gen. childe of unknown sire, e. mid 20th century, Camarilla Status 0)
Teenage Vodouisant who regularly attended Baron Cimitière gatherings and never knew his sire. The Baron took the boy under his wing out of pity, believing his obligation to his followers extended even to Caitiff, but nevertheless treats him with cold aloofness. For his own part, Josue is desperate to win his idol and benefactor’s approval and show that he is more than his clanless blood.
Other Acolytes by Status
Circle Status of the Crone Status •••
• Uriah Travers (8th gen. childe of unknown sire, e. early 19th century, Camarilla Status ••, Malkavian Status •••••)
Nothing is known of this apparently Cajun man’s mortal life, but he possesses an unusual rapport with the region’s Lupines and has even been known to hunt alongside their packs. He claims to be part werewolf himself, although most Kindred are dubious of this assertion. Travers lives well over 100 miles away from New Orleans in a solitary cabin by the Teche Bayou, but his knowledge of the city’s goings-on is uncanny despite his isolation. Though he keeps many secrets, few seem to be kept from him. Kindred who desire his counsel sometimes seek him out in the bayous, though he has been known to destroy presumptuous licks who interrupt his solitude without good cause. The prince is unconcerned with bringing Travers to justice. Everyone knows it’s every Kindred for themselves out in the swamps.
• Rosa Bale (gen. and sire unknown, e. early 20th century, Camarilla Status ••, Circle of the Crone Status •••, Lancea et Sanctum Status ••)
Most Kindred are surprised to learn that the city’s most preeminent vampiric mambo not associated with Baron Cimitière is Ventrue. Rosa Bale considers the Samedi houngan unthinkably arrogant for his claims of being resurrected by Baron Samedi, and bitterly opposes him and the prince from Antoine Savoy’s side. She is also an accomplished spirit medium who sells her talents as an information broker.
Circle Status of the Crone Status ••
• Eris D. (12th gen. childe of Jonah Freeman, e. late 20th century, a. early 21st century, Anarch Status ••, Brujah Status ••, Camarilla Status •)
A ‘70s feminist and neopagan who never quite realized she missed the ’60s, Eris spent her mortal life bucking the establishment and throwing herself into anything that wasn’t mainstream. Embraced by Jonah for her magical dabblings, but her sire’s vitae unhinged something in her. She became devoted to the idea of promoting chaos, even changing her mortal name to Eris. She is convinced that Malkavians possess profound insight into the true nature of reality and is on exceptionally good terms with the clan, who find her more “open-minded” than other Kindred. It’s not uncommon for may licks to mistake her for one of the kooks herself.
Yellow Sidra (12th gen. childe of unknown sire, e. early 21st century, Camarilla Status 0)
Circle Status of the Crone Status •
• Dahlia-Fleur Guidry (11th gen. childe of Rocco Agnello, e. mid 20th century, Camarilla Status 0, Circle of the Crone Status •)
An unfaithful pastor’s wife Embraced by Rocco Agnello in punishment for her sinful ways. Dahlia-Fleur loathed her sire and joined the Circle of the Crone partly to spite him and partly because the covenant’s transgressive, anti-patriarchal Lilith worship resonated with her. She is largely indifferent to the Vodouisant bloc of the covenant and to most other Kindred affairs besides: as far as her sire knows, she spends much of her time haunting the depths of Lake Pontchartrain and surfacing to hunt mortals unfortunate enough to be proximate to the lake at night. This antisocial existence has not been conductive to her humanity, and those comparatively few Kindred aware she still exists wonder how long she has left before she degenerates into a wight.
Pakachilu (8th gen. childe of unknown sire, e. early 18th century, d. 2005, Camarilla Status ••••, Circle of the Crone Status ••••, Gangrel Status ••••)
Clan Gangrel’s former primogen, Pakachilu was the son of a Natchez chief’s sister (making him next in line to become chief) captured by French colonists and forced to build early New Orleans’ walls. The Native Americans, however, made far less passive labor than the Africans and revolted against their would-be enslavers. Pakachilu’s sire admired his unyielding spirit and Embraced him as he lay dying from a bullet wound. Unfortunately, the Natchez (to the Gangrel’s ignorance) practiced an extreme form of sun worship and Pakachilu was horrified by what he’d become. He disappeared from the region and took years to come to terms with his state. He finally returned out of duty towards his Natchez kin only to find them all but gone. In the centuries since, Pakachilu became a self-appointed protector of all the region’s Native American peoples, though he long begrudged the Choctaw for their collusion with Europeans and disliked the extent to which they had become synonymous with Native culture. He joined the Cabildo after Reconstruction at Vidal’s invitation. He held a bizarre fixation with the sun and proudly bore scars from his repeated attempts to daywalk, which other Kindred find extremely unnerving. His deformities and steadfast adherence to anachronistic Native dress made him stand out and he was destroyed by government-affiliated hunters during Hurricane Katrina.
Custance Herriot (gen. and sire unknown, e. early 18th century, Camarilla Status 0, Circle of the Crone Status •••, Nosferatu Status ••)
A nasty old swamp witch who lurks out in the bayous, Custance is something of a bogeyman figure to neonates. Originally an Acadian settler suspected of witchcraft and banished into the swamps, something out there cursed her with the Embrace and she spent the next century haunting and exacting slow revenge on the friends and neighbors who cast her out. She has little apparent interest in participating in Camarilla society, but corresponds via letters and animal messengers with the city’s Acolytes. Kindred with business in the swamps sometimes even dare to seek her out as a guide. Most find the “bayou witch” as a thoroughly repulsive creature, as she was infected with malaria at some point and her moist, warty flesh plays home to swarms of vitae-addicted mosquitoes.