We’ve explored much of the world of “LA: On a Dark Desert Highway” so far, but not talked much about the United Domains. Today, we explore this international organization.
Below is an excerpt from the official LA: Handbook for Wards of the State.
History of UD
The name United Domains was first used in the Declaration by United Domains of November 10th 1964, two years after the resolution of the Cuban Missile Crisis. Within the declaration representatives of 26 kindred domains pledged their governments to work together to establish tighter control of humanity and prevent them from destroying the world through nuclear war. The United Domains stands today as a testament of Kindred community and leadership; having successfully averted a nuclear war and laying the groundwork of continued kindred domination of the world.
The seeds for this partnership were laid decades before in the aftermath of the Great Plague. During this time, when countless kindred perished from disease, kindred took advantage of new communications technologies such as the telephone to establish lines of communication between cities to gain more information about the plague and to see who survived the disaster. This network, informally dubbed the Twilight Network, would grow to encompass most of the world. During the 1920’s and 30’s kindred entrepreneurs invested in telecommunication and parcel delivery companies to create secure telephone lines and postal routes for kindred use. Communication between domains flowered as the network spread along with the growth of international trade and communication, reaching most of the world by 1960.
After the United Domains was officially created in 1964 envoys were dispatched to the world’s major cities. One by one, the leaders of the kindred community agreed to join the organization citing a need to gain firmer control over mortal society and the benefits that coordination could bring to policy. Some domains refused to join the United Domains stating a need to protect their cities sovereignty. For the next fifty years the organization would grow until it reached its current size, representing nearly 80% of the world’s current population.
Major Historical Policies
In its relatively short existence, the United Domains has had difficulties passing resolutions, but has managed to further the aims of kindred society for the greater good of all. The Dropping of the Masquerade has been its first major contentious project. Prior to this time, there have only been two more minor initiatives that have been implemented: a census of the vampiric population and the proliferation of the world wide web. All of these steps have been grand strides in kindred life.
The census, which still occurs every 30 years, rose out of the necessity from the post-plague years. With the gross loss of kindred life, the census gave kindred society the ability to keep track of their own — should another disaster like that happen, Kindred society would be able to know exact losses and be able to react accordingly to areas. While there was certainly a large amount of debate over it, the census was the first act to arise out of the UD and bolstered confidence that a worldwide organization could muster support for its initiatives and achieve its goals. The census was organized and implemented in 1970, and continues to this day. 120,000 kindred are estimated to be on the planet (accounting for growth since the last census), with 140,000 estimated by 2030. This population still flags behind the estimated ideal ratio of 50,000 mortals for every kindred – the toll of the plague still showing it’s effects nearly a century later.
The Internet’s ability to coordinate information on a large scale was immediately attractive to kindred. Ordo Dracul scholars were involved in the mortal project that spawned the ideas and technology behind the internet in the 1950s, but it wouldn’t be until decades later that real development would catch Kindred society’s eye. With the innovations of the 80s, it became apparent that world wide network for information was feasible and possible and the UD made it a keystone in its work during this time. Under its watchful eye, the internet grew and was privatized, leading to the system that most are familiar with today. A strong point has been to make sure that control of the net doesn’t become too centralized under any one mortal nation. Such centralization would endanger the kindred control of the internet. So far, it’s been able to defeat mortal legislation in multiple countries. With the support of kindred society, the UD will be able to keep the net free and safe for all of vampire-kind.
However, there have been issues in the past with getting initiatives passed — even ones that seem like positive moves. With the advent of the AIDS crisis in the late 80s and early 90s, there was near panic that another blood plague would arise and threaten the vampiric condition once again. As parts of the kindred population demanded something be done, an initiative arose to test all mortals and kindred for the disease. However, the measure was defeated as arguments arose over implementation, cost, control, and logistics. In the end, dissension over the details lead to the failure of an otherwise sound policy — a reminder to us all about the importance of working together.
Dropping of the Masquerade
The idea of dropping the Masquerade is not new. There are trace records that indicate that the Kindred who controlled Constantinople in the 13th and 14th century considered a proposal for a time before rejecting it as the empire around them fell into decline. Historians believe that it has been seriously considered many times before and since. However, it is only in recent times that it has been considered on a worldwide scale.
Dropping the Masquerade was talked about privately in person and in code over the young internet well before the first serious documented discussion in the late 1980s over a UD controlled messaging forum. The main participants discussed many scenarios and possible implementations of the drop. The arguments in favor of it were simple, with the amount of control over kine kindred in modern cities have and the level of coordination they have through the United Domains, keeping the Masquerade is, at best, merely a nuisance. While drawing the attention of Kindred across the globe, none of the UD councils formally acknowledged a proposal until it was brought to the North American Council by the delegation from New York in the winter session of 1993. Within a year, similar proposals were made in the other seven continental blocs and the debates ensued.
If it were to happen, all the councils agreed that it would have to be a coordinated worldwide effort. With modern communication technologies it would be pointless, and likely quite dangerous, for one or several regions to not actively participate and control kine society around them. It would be likewise dangerous if some region of the world found out about kindred before the sun set in their part of the world. Therefore, communications would need to be tightly controlled across large time differences for the span of less than a day.
It is generally assumed that the Masquerade will eventually be dropped as most regions around the world today are in favor of doing so, Los Angeles included. Presently though, debate still rages as to the exact methods of accomplishing this feat and the optimal ways of controlling and minimizing the ensuing social turbulence. Pundits say to expect it to happen sometime in the next ten years.
LA’s relationship with UD
Los Angeles has, so far, been generally supportive of the United Domains. They voted to become a part of the UD in 1967 with about 80% approval. Furthermore, because of its large population, the city of LA is its own territory, and therefore has its own delegate. Her name is Alicia Bellamy, and she has her own office in the City Hall where she spends a lot of time when she isn’t out on UD business. She sometimes leaves her office open for kindred who want to make proposals or express an opinion, but she generally prefers to hold those conversations at court. (Just because she represents a thousand kindred doesn’t mean she wants to hear the rants of every single one of them.) Any time the UD proposes legislation, Bellamy makes sure that she gets all the facts, and tries her best to see that the kindred of LA can make educated decisions. The most recent proposal is the Masquerade Drop, and although Bellamy supports it, she has heard a lot of mixed feelings from the rest of the city, and there hasn’t yet been any major force to push the decision in either direction.
If you ask around the city, you’ll get as many different opinions on the UD as you would asking common folk about the U.S. government. Some love it, and approve of the decisions it makes. Others think it’s doing a horrible job and its policies are useless and its system is a joke at equal inclusion. Some think it’s effective, corrupt, organized, inefficient, or secretly governed by vampire imposters from Mars. There’s a thousand opinions in LA, and although plenty will complain, many more will, albeit begrudgingly, acknowledge that the UD isn’t a bad thing.
Roles as World Harpy
Two major functions of the United Domains are to track boons owed between regions and to keep tabs on how well-respected regions are by others. Yes, regions can owe a variety of boon sizes to each other, just like any LA citizen can owe to each other.
Generally, boons are owed to or owed by the region as a whole, not region leaders or other individuals. Leaders of a region may attempt to fulfill boons themselves, but most call upon citizens to aid in the fulfillment of a boon. As an example, the Pacific Northwest (Washington, Oregon, etc) owes a boon to Los Angeles, as the city government of LA helped the PacNW deal with a hunter problem within their borders by sending many able-bodied Kindred to fight. Just as a kindred may call upon an individual to repay a boon, so too may LA ask the PacNW to repay.
Regions earn or lose status through the official actions of their representatives or by positive or negative conditions within their borders. If, for example, the PacNW’s representative consistently attends meetings and helps others to pass bills, the PacNW may earn a small amount of status. If, however, the PacNW has few tasty mortals and hardly any kindred amenities (safe transit to/from the region, a helpful government), it may be of lower status within the UD. In general, if other regions take a positive interest in a region and view it as useful and worthy of respect, it has high status.
Divisions of UD
The main advisory body of the United Domains consists of a council of eight ambassadors from continental blocs around the world. This includes North and South America, Europe, Africa, the Middle/Near East Asia, Mainland Asia, Australia, and Pacific Islands/Oceania/Antarctica. In order to avoid time zone or other difficulties associated with organizing global events, the council meets based on the seasons of the Earth in locations with lengthy nights. Presently, rumors indicate the base of operations resides somewhere in Scandinavia but this has never been confirmed due to the need for maximum security.
Beneath the Council of Eight, the next layer down within the United Domains is comprised of delegates from nationally recognized countries within kine geography. The same boundaries, ethnic loyalties, and regional sympathies generally carry over after the Embrace. Of course, individual diplomats still cling to certain ideals based on clan/covenant affiliation. However, as the United Domains arose out a global need for more prudential standards over the preservation of vampiric society, those personal or political agendas are of little concern in this broader arena.
Countries elect their major representation out of committees comprised of delegates within their region and the total number of officials for each country is dependent upon population. Each individual country amasses their delegate pools using different mechanisms depending on what is most suitable given their society, climate, population distribution, etc. In the Unites States, for example, major population centers with an organized government consisting of more than 30 kindred are eligible to appoint a delegate for voting power on the national assembly. Therefore, large or more populous countries will typically have more delegates sitting on the United Domains. In order to maintain an equitable distribution of global influence, the chief governing body will still consist of 8 representatives all with equal power.