Category Archives: 2013-2014: Los Angeles

Dev Diary 2C: Dev Harder – You have a choice in this world

Greetings once more fellow dead compatriots!

Continuing the email series this weekend for “Dev Diary 2” we present to you an overview of the structure of kindred city government in Los Angeles.  Below you will find descriptions for the major positions and offices.  Attached is a chart laying out much of the bureaucratic hierarchy beneath the Prince.  Not shown are minor positions and much of what would be considered “support staff” (which Harpies sometimes refer to as their “entourage”.)

If you look at this and feel overwhelmed, that’s entirely the point. You are NOT expected, neither in nor out of character, to know this governmental structure. Even if your character has a role in this government, it’s likely only going to be relevant to know who reports to you and to whom you report. The primary purpose of this information is to provide a backdrop to the story of your characters.
 

 
The Prince

The Prince of L.A. is in charge of running the city and is put into power via elections in a manner remarkably similar to that of the mortal U.S. government.  A Prince may serve only two terms, each of which last merely 20 years.  The Prince is in charge of organizing the Seneschals and ensuring that the many channels of city function all run smoothly.  Generally, towards the beginning and end of their first term, a Prince listens to public opinion because the people have control in elections.  Ultimately, though, every Prince has their own views, and their position gives them the power to back them.

 

 
The Primogen and Prisci Councils

The Primogen and Prisci Councils of L.A. are very similar in structure.  The Primogen Council is comprised of a representative from each of the five recognized covenants in the city while the Prisci Council of L.A. is made up of a representative from each of the five clans in the city.  The city government holds no elections for seats on either Council; each covenant or clan chooses their representative in whatever manner they deem fit.  They may also pull their representative at any time, although doing so on a whim would likely damage their reputation in the eyes of the other covenants.  While those who sit on the Councils may not be the leaders of their respective clan or covenant, they generally are well respected both with their constituents and within the city as a whole.

Together, the Councils layout the long-term and broad policies of the kindred of Los Angeles and leave it to the Prince to implement and enforce them.  The Prince always has ample leeway in how to carry out the agendas of the Councils and anything not specified is subject to the will of the Prince.  This is not without checks though.  The Councils approve the Prince’s appointees for the various positions in the bureaucracy underneath the Prince.  Each Council has their own Harpy with their own staff.  While generally a fairly slow process, the Councils may also modify their policies to negate decrees of the Prince.  In the worst case, the Councils have the power to depose the Prince, although this has never happened, yet.

 

 
Department of Administration

The Seneschal of Administration heads the Department of Administration and sees to it that the government continues to function internally. The SA oversees several offices who specialize in the most business-like aspects of the city government.

Office of the Minister – The Chief Minister keeps track of major communications and marketing movements in and around L.A.

Office of the Herald – The Chief Herald handles communications and policy announcements from the Prince and filters these through the appropriate channels down to kindred society through various media.

Communications Office – A relatively new position, the Communications Group manages the image of Kindred in the eyes of the mortal world.  This includes both maintaining the Masquerade in the public media and, if and when the Masquerade is dropped, controlling the public image of kindred in L.A.

Office of Finance – The Chief Financial Officer appropriates government finance for purposes such as taxation, procurement of goods and services, and human capital.  This includes numerous checks and balances and a number of business functions connected to the manipulation of mortal markets and financial industries.

 

 
Department of Information

The Department of Information, lead by the Seneschal of Information, addresses domain, security, and technological concerns throughout the city. The SI manages three offices:

Office of the Interior

Master of Elysia – The Master of Elysia oversees all the Elysia of Los Angeles and their keepers.  The ME also decides where court will be held and administrates each session along with the keeper of that elysium.

Master of Regents – Each Regent granted the privilege of domain is responsible for administering and keeping the peace in their domain.  They all coordinate with the Master of Regents regarding these responsibilities.

Office of Security

Head Hound – While some hounds are assigned to a specific bureau to work with the local sheriff and some actively patrol the city to enforce specific decrees, all hounds ultimately report to the Head Hound.

Commissioner – The Commissioner, often called the Chief Sheriff, oversees the sheriffs of Los Angeles.

Guardian of the Masquerade – The GM works with nearly every other office of government to maintain the Masquerade.

Office of Information

Technology Area Manager – The technology operations group handles technology development and support for the organization.  This includes but is not limited to development of software to automate and simplify record keeping, news releases, identifying masquerade breaches, and processing government documentation.

Information Security Manager – The ISM oversees security of all information related to the city government, network security, encrypting confidential or sensitive information, and document retention controls.

 

 
Department of Kindred Relations

The Seneschal of Kindred Relations has a fairly straightforward job.  The SKR supervises the city’s relationships, both within L.A. and between the city and the United Domains.

Office of Relations – The Community Affairs Manager coordinates relations between the government and local communities.  The delegation to the United Domains also reports to the SKR through the Office of Relations.

Office of Policy – The Chief Policy Advisor organizes the Prince’s policy platform and coordinates with the Primogen and Prisci Councils.

Office of the Prince’s Harpy – The Prince’s Harpy keeps formal records of boons and is the Prince’s voice to the public on city issues, legislative affairs, and major Kindred in the city.

 

 
Department of Counsel

The Seneschal of Counsel organizes a variety of groups to provide the Prince and the Councils with the most well-informed analysis of any situation that may arise.

General Council – The General Council and the GC’s staff are experts in trusts and contracts.  The function of this department serves to represent the organization, staff, and policies against legal inquiries from the United Domains, local citizens, or any other party.  Government attorneys often times work hand in hand with the ops risk team to evaluate and provide feedback on potential procedural gaps or oversight against regulation.

Council of Risk – The Chief Risk Officer advises on risks associated with the strategic values and business ventures undertaken by the government.  This includes legal risk for unprecedented or avant-garde ventures, media risks which could potentially breach the masquerade, and reputational risk which could damage the public image of the organization.

Council of Spirit – The Spiritual Advisor provides council pertaining to the myriad occult and supernatural sources.  Fortune cookies are a favorite of the Prince for new ideas.

 

Regards,

Storytellers of the 2013-2014 Mainstage Chronicle

Dev Diary 2b: Dev Harder – Don’t Wait Until You Are Thirsty

Greetings again my dead comrades.

Pursuant to yesterday’s announcement, this communication follows as another installment in a most voluminous body of information regarding the political organization and history of Los Angeles.  Below, please find a chronicle of events detailing the genesis and advancement of the uniquely industrious structure of kindred government in Los Angeles.  We encourage you to couple these milestones with other occurrences of record in mortal society, weaving them into your backstories as appropriate.

1890 – The LA county area kine population is approximately 100 thousand. Kindred population is approximately 10.

1900 – Oil is discovered in LA. A corruption scandal begins when a whistleblower revealed that Prince Fernando Esteban Oreja de Sevilla, a Nosferatu Invictus, grants domain over the oil fields and their mortals to his allies, shutting out the Carthian Movement from the new growth in the city. The Prince reacts poorly and executes the whistleblower.

1901 – Japanese immigration begins in the region, bringing new kindred to the city of LA

1910 – The LA county area kine population is approximately 420 thousand. Kindred population is approximately 50.

1918 –  Plague devastates the Los Angeles kindred community. Most of the Primogen die within the first three months, and the survivors enter Torpor to attempt to escape its effects, but to no avail. The Prince is ineffective in managing this crisis and two thirds of the kindred community perishes.

1920 – A few neonates desperately try to reach out to other cities to gather more information about the plague and establish broad lines of communication.

1930 – The LA county area kine population is approximately 1.9 million. Due to the plague, the kindred population, once near 200 kindred, drops below 50.

1932 – During the Summer Olympics, a vampire attacks an Olympic team, leaving many witnesses.  The Sheriff, supported by the Prince, blows up their apartment building to eliminate the witnesses and executes a few suspected vampires. The administration fails to perform a thorough investigation and the kindred community is upset.

1933 – Griffith Park Fire. One of the Prince’s ghouls starts a fire that burns down a fifth of the city, killing nearly a dozen kindred.

1934 – Tired of the corruption and incompetence of the current administration, the Carthian Movement gathers enough allies to overthrow the Prince and declare Los Angeles a democratic city. In accordance with their ideals, a cross-covenant convention is organized to set up an election.

1934 – Sterling Engelhart, a Crone Gangrel, is elected to his first term as Prince.

1950 – The LA county area kine population is approximately 3.3 million.  Kindred population is approximately 400.

1954 – Dewey defeats Truman, and Sterling Engelhart wins reelection by a landslide. His doting wife Elizabeth, the High Priestess of the Crone, supports him throughout this campaign and becomes quite a beloved figure.

1955 – Disneyland opens.  The Prince rents the park for a night and everyone has fun.

1964 – The escalation of the Cold War reveals to the kindred that they are losing control of humanity.  A group of concerned kindred de-escalate the Cuban Missile Crisis and determine that this should never happen again. They form the basis of the United Domains and quickly send out envoys to the world’s major cities.

1965 – The U.S Congress abolishes the National Origins Formula, lifting immigration restrictions.  A large wave of immigrants comes to LA from Korea and Central America. New kindred come with these immigrant waves.

1965 – Police brutality against minorities sparks the Watt’s Riots, and a dozen kindred perish in fires around the city. As her husband works to rebuild from the ashes, High Priestess Engelhart takes charge of a task force investigating the cause and perpetrators of the fire. Her work reveals a nest of hunters of kindred, and the city praises her actions.

1967 – LA votes to become part of the United Domains, citing the chaos present in mortal society and the need for stability.

1970 –The LA county area kine population is approximately 6.2 million. Kindred population is around 700.

1974 – As Sterling Engelhart reaches his term limit, Elizabeth Engelhart is elected to Prince, promising to continue most of the policies of her husband. She wins in a landslide. Sterling peacefully transfers power to his wife and takes over leadership of the Circle of the Crone as Hierophant.

1980 – The Prime Elysium, where Court is most often held, is moved to the Museum of Contemporary Art. The local Invictus do not understand how mortals can call that art.

1990 – The LA county area kine population is nearly 9 million. Kindred population is approximately 850.

1992 – The Rodney King riots shake LA. The city is in chaos, and many kindred lose their havens to the flames. As the National Guard is mobilized to contain the violence, feeding becomes difficult. The Prince begins a disaster relief program to re-locate kindred who have lost their havens and provide blood for those in need. Prince Elizabeth is lauded for her leadership.

1994 – Elizabeth Engelhart easily wins re-election.

2010 – The kine population for the LA county area is approximately 12 million. Kindred population is over 1000.

2013 – Bishop Mark Lucas wins the election. His term is set to begin in 2014 [Game 6].  The Engelharts give an interview suggesting they are going to retire and raise a family.

Kindly,

Storytellers of the 2013-2014 Mainstage Chronicle

Dev Diary 2A: Dev Harder – One Prince, Two Prince, Crone Prince, New Prince

Greetings Dead Citizens!

This week’s Dev Diary is so awesomely large, it can’t fit all in one e-mail! Expect multiple e-mails over the course of the weekend. Today’s blast of information comes with details about one of the decisions you made about chron — namely, the prince! Or in this case, princes! Game begins with a lame duck session for an outgoing prince who’s served her set of terms for a total of 40 years. Before her, her husband, the current Hierophant of the Crone, also served a total of 40 years. The Prince-elect, voted in earlier this year by a narrow margin, will be inaugurated on the night of Game 6. See below for your first sneak peek at some of next year’s NPCs.

Hierophant Sterling Engelhart and Prince Elizabeth Engelhart

“Have a Heart; vote Engelhart”

The Engelharts have been in charge of LA for the last 80 years and 2013 marks the end of their reign. Sterling, elected in 1934, served his two terms of office before his wife’s election in 1974. The pair has been, for the most part, widely popular.

The Circle of the Crone is the only covenant that believe in and promotes marriage between Kindred, and these two are an example of this. Sterling and Elizabeth immigrated early on in LA history — no one’s quite sure what year, and the pair is coy about their own age. What is known is that the couple is a fetching example of a devoted husband and wife. The pair appears to be in their mid to late 40s, with touches of grey just appearing in their hair.

Sterling Engelhart is known as being very professional in his work with the city. He is often seen wearing a suit with a symbolic sash representing his role as Hierophant. Sterling is seen as a gentle leader in contrast to many other leaders of cities. He has a merciful reputation and cares for the city as if it were his own child(e).

Elizabeth is a mature and dignified woman with a warm personality. She is known for her love of modern art and hosts many refined events within the Modern Art museum in LA. She’s held charitable events for many causes from the California Condor Preservation Society to the Urban Farming Organization. She championed the legalization of medical marijuana for mortals and strongly supports the United Domains.

 

Sterling started many of the policies that Elizabeth then turned into the bureaucratic system that now exists today. Under their watch, LA has also implemented many systems to care for all kindred including a tax system that helps make every kindred make ends meet.

One of their major policy pushes has been the regulation of siring. While embracing is not discouraged, it does require a lot of blood, sweat, and tears — literally in the case of the blood test and figuratively in paperwork for approval. Fitness of the sire in the raising of a childe is of utmost importance, but the lucky few who have gained license to embrace are given public assistance. Illegal childer are not killed, as in some cities. Instead, they are taken in by the city to be raised as wards of the state. Some are fostered by upstanding citizens, but many still receive care through government run communal havens.

 

Prince-Elect Mark Lucas

“Lucas: Independence and Tradition”

Bishop Lucas has seen LA fall from the traditions that have guided Kindred society and seeks to return to the family morals that have guided vampires through the ages. He has seen the freedom of LA’s kindred taken away and he seeks to return powers to the individual. The city, in his view, has taken things to the extreme and seeks a return to the center. One of his central platforms was the deregulation of the embrace. In his view, it is the right of the individual to raise their childer as they see fit as long as it aligns with the traditions and moral center that kindred society has always provided in the past.
Bishop Lucas looks surprisingly young. Appearing in early to mid 20s, his real age is somewhere approaching 70 or 80. He appeared in LA shortly after the plague and worked to reestablish the Lancea in the city. He quickly rose in the ranks of the decimated city and has been somewhat of a polarizing figure. His policies, such as defunding the blood kitchens, often create bitter divisions in the populace.  In his midnight sermons, he is known for promoting abstinence, both physical and chemical, among the kindred and the kine.

On a Dark Desert Dev Diary – Issue #1

This is the first in a series of Dev Diaries we will be releasing biweekly throughout the summer.  In these Dev Diaries, we will ~BLAST YOU WITH INFORMATION~ about the setting, mechanics, and character creation guidelines for the 20th Mainstage Chronicle.  If there is a particular topic you would like for us to cover, feel free to let us know.

The Plague

As we’ve mentioned previously, a deadly plague spread throughout kindred society in the late 1910s, reaching its height in 1919.  Its origins are unknown and many leaders of kindred society perished.  Elders were hit hardest, but it seemed that no one was safe from its deadly clutches.  The disease usually manifested in the following way: first, a kindred would develop necrotic lesions somewhere on their body accompanied by a blackened tongue.  Within weeks, the affected kindred would experience muscle atrophy, decreased sensation, immobility, and eventually a painful final death.

Kindred scholars now believe the Withering Plague to be related to the concurrent Spanish Flu, which killed nearly 9% of the world’s human population*.  Estimates of Kindred deaths were uncertain, but some said that anywhere from 30-80% of all Kindred were eliminated by the Plague.  One reason for the confusion is that many older Kindred attempted to enter torpor to escape the Plague.  As such, it was impossible to know how many died and how many simply went missing.  In recent years, estimates of the mortality rate have become more accurate as scholars discover evidence that torpor did not protect infected Kindred from the plague’s lethal effects.

Scholars still argue about the origins and decline of the Plague.  Although it has been nearly a century and nothing like the Plague has existed before or since, Kindred still fear its return.

*Yes, in real life, the Spanish Flu only killed 3-5% of all humans, but this is the World of Darkness and things are horrible here.

The Prince

As you recall, at game 10 you voted for the covenant of this chronicle’s Prince.  After fierce hand raising, you decided on a Circle of the Crone Prince.  At this time, we are working to develop their goals, backgrounds, and personalities and we will have more information about them soon.  We think you’ll really enjoy them.

Character Concepts

We are excited the initial character concepts we’ve received so far and we look forward to even more.  For those who haven’t started a discussion with us about their character, there’s no need to hurry.  When you have an idea, even if it’s just a few informal sentences, we would like hear about it.  To be clear, these are not minipitches and there is no formal structure for them.  We’d just like to learn about your character idea and work with you to better integrate them into the setting.

The following is the current count of clan and covenant pitches we have so far received via email.  If you have spoken to us about a concept, but not emailed your ideas to a member of the team, your character is not counted in this summary.  Please send your concept to storytellers [at] deadcityproductions [dot] com

Clans:

Daeva – 4

Mekhet – 1

Gangrel – 0

Ventrue – 1

Nosferatu – 1

 

Covenants:

Invictus – 1

Carthians – 1

Circle of the Crone – 1

Lancea Sanctum – 0

Ordo Dracul – 5

Unaligned – 0

Belial’s Brood – NO!

Los Angeles: On A Dark Desert Highway – 2013-2014

As the second most populous city in the U.S., Los Angeles, sometimes known as the Creative Capital of the World, boasts the people, places, and popularity to be a central point of business, culture, and entertainment. In addition to Hollywood, L.A. is home to myriad points of interest such as Disneyland, the La Brea Tar Pits, Griffith Observatory, and many more museums, theatres, and landmarks that intrigue and amaze its tourists. Approximately 350 kindred are known to reside in the metropolitan area. With such a large population, a larger government is needed; the kindred government of L.A. is comprised of 30-40 kindred with hundreds of ghouls and mortals supporting them. While historically, smaller cities have only needed a few individuals with distinct and separate responsibilities, the kindred government of L.A. has expanded these individual positions into bureaucratic hierarchies.

L.A. is but one player on a world stage, however. There is a collection of representatives from sovereign territories who coordinate kindred society on a global scale, much like a kindred United Nations. The seeds of it were planted nearly a century ago when a plague threatened to wipe out kindred across the globe. Its origins are unknown and many of the leaders of kindred society perished. The young, surviving vampires reached out to each other from one city to the next and established lines of communication that would eventually become the world-spanning government of today. With the death of the elder Kindred, mortal society was no longer under the control of the guiding hand of vampires. Decades passed while the scale of warfare climbed higher and higher. While some tried in vain to seize the reigns of mortal society once again, it wasn’t until the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962 that enough of the recently established regional councils realized that a firm guiding hand was needed. Within a year, they formalized the global kindred government. The biggest, and certainly most controversial, issue presently being debated within this organization is a world-wide dropping of the Masquerade. It is public knowledge that the initiative is still not completely decided, but it is understood that if things keep going the way they are, the Masquerade will be dropped soon.

Players eager to embark on the whimsical journey of character design must incorporate select considerations supporting the framework and setting for Los Angeles: On A Dark Desert Highway. Kindred society encompasses a largely youthful population ranging from the freshest neonates to established ancillae of roughly 150 years. With such a young population, Bloodlines are exceedingly rare. Only the most lauded kindred scholars of history and occult know any reliable details.
Kindred government in L.A. is extremely bureaucratic. The traditional city positions, such as Sheriff, spend most of their time doing paperwork. The storytellers encourage players interested in the roles of traditional city positions to look to other positions within this highly-matrixed environment, such as working as a deputy for the sheriff or an assistant to the seneschal. Such positions will prove more engaging than higher-ranked administrative positions and offices.

Over the years, popular culture may have instilled within you grand notions of fiction including ghosts, mages, wizards, werewolves, and other supernatural creatures. However, they remain just that, fiction. Therefore players should focus their efforts generating substantial pitches for vampire characters.

We would like the initial focus of this chronicle to be on you and not the city. The city is merely the setting, while you are the main characters of the story. This is a story about a changing world and how your character does or does not adapt. As you develop your character for next year, please include us in the conversations.