Gold in Peace, Iron in War
Historical Inspiration, Not Historical Accuracy
While I plan to use a fair amount of historical research in this game, I’m not going to be a stickler for it. My goal is to evoke the feel of a 19th century Vampire game, not teach a class on the history of San Francisco. Just don’t be crazy, and we’ll all get along fine.
While women have less opportunities in society at this time, the PCs have more opportunities than most. Gender politics are a factor in the night-to-night lives of the Kindred, but they don’t impact them as heavily (but they will still run into them from time to time). Further, the number of women in San Francisco is unusually high for the American West at this time. Finally, the Camarilla generally doesn’t consider gender politics an issue — they reserve their animosity for classism rather than sexism (or racism, for that matter).
The Camarilla Empire
The Camarilla are at the highest point in their existence (prior to the publication of Dracula in 1897). As such, they view themselves as an empire, and anyone against the Empire is morally corrupt. The Sabbat are evil incarnate, and anyone who sympathizes with them is equally evil. The morality of the game is the same, but characters draw their political lines much more rigidly.
Appearance Equals Morality
Culturally, appearance is an indication of morality — ginger hair or an oddly-shaped skull can be an indication of antisocial tendencies, a dark-haired woman is less moral than a blonde one, and the Nosferatu are just fucked. The Appearance Attribute may play a greater role in how the character is perceived.
Salons and Secret Societies
This is the rise of the salon, the rookerie, the occult underground, and the touring asylum. Where your character belongs and where she is seen (and not seen) is just as important as who she is. Particularly in San Francisco, where it is common to live in hotels and boarding houses, the person who lives alone is seen as peculiar and strange. Community, and being part of a community, is very important.
Titles are rigorously observed. The right clothing is important. Blood bonds are times of celebration. Recitation of lineage is necessary for acknowledgement. Etiquette is everything, and even the slightest stumble can mean disaster. This is just as true in the lower classes — walk down the wrong street or wear the wrong color hat, and your life could be in danger.
World of Darkness
In this chronicle, the divide between Malkavian tribes at the time of the Anarch Revolt didn’t result in the loss of Dementation for Camarilla Malkavians. As such, in-Clan Disciplines for Malkavians are the same as in V20: Auspex, Dementation, and Obfuscate.
San Francisco Metaplot
I’m ignoring the novels (I’m looking at you, Prince of the City), and any history after 1880. Once the game starts, we are free of metaplot — it’s up to the players where the World of Darkness goes.
This is a Vampire-focused game, and as such I’m painting the other aspects of the World of Darkness with a broader brush. Werewolves won’t necessarily conform to the rules in Werewolf: The Wild West, for example, and ghosts are more representative of the Gothic tradition than Wraith. Strange and eerie monsters prowl the night, especially in the strange lands of San Francisco. Do not assume that you understand how the World of Darkness works.
Also, stay out of Chinatown.
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