Technically named “The Garden of Night-blooming Flowers,” Nightbloom Garden is a brothel located in New Orleans, in the Little Venice neighborhood (once the part of Gentilly that borders on the Lake), a part of the city basically abandoned to falling into the lake, named for the water that often fills some of its lower streets. An old manor house in a row of other old, massive rundown houses from the turn-of-the-century, Nightbloom was owned for years by the mambo Mama Rigeur, or “Mother Rude” as she was known in the shadows. A large black woman with a love of absinthe, garter belts and life in general, she ran her Garden for years.
Then, the Krewe of Cinnabar – a street gang of chip-heads and cyberware fetishists – established itself in the area, and made some demands of Mama Rigeur. She complied with them – the demands they made began as just the sort of thing you expect from underworld figures. But eventually, their demands became onerous, eventually culminating in an attempt to simply absorb the entire brothel into their own operations, and claiming the most attractive of the whores for the Krewe-boss’ own personal harem. Mama Rigeur refused, and the Krewe lashed out.
The conflict raged in the shadows for a year and a half. Ultimately, Mama Rigeur kept fighting when anyone else would have given up, because her pride was at stake. Unfortunately, the Krewe of Cinnabar fought dirty, and the conflict nearly ended when they dispatched a group of bully-boys to kill everyone in the Garden. Of course they did so when Mama Rigeur and her apprentice, Wema, were out of town. The two women returned to find the Garden an abbatoir, cordoned off by police who actually made the trip into the abandoned neighborhood (though just long enough to cart away the bodies before the devil rats and ghouls could get to them, and then tape off the place).
Something snapped inside Mama Riguer then, and her vengeance was horrible. She sent Wema away and essentially disappeared. Some in the voudoun community claim that her grief drove her into the embrace of petro rites, and even her apprentice cannot say for sure if that is true. What is known is that a short while later, the Krewe of Cinnabar was scattered, its leadership slaughtered in a variety of unpleasant ways.
Unfortunately, Mama Rigeur herself was a casualty of the conflict as well.
Now, however, Wema has returned, intent on rebuilding the Garden of Nightblooming Flowers. She’s gotten in touch with a few people – mainly SINless folk looking to earn some kind of a living that’ll take them off the street without putting them in mob hands. The player characters are:
Wema: Wema goes by the “house name” of Madame Ivy – she is the background foliage that holds everything tightly together. She is a mambo (Voodoo tradition magician) whose mait tete is Erzulie Dantor, an aspect of Erzulie that takes the form of a large woman clutching a babe to her breast with one hand, and holding a knife out in front of herself in defense of it in the other (the player decided to reflect this aspect of Erzulie through the use of the Crocodile Mentor Spirit). She has no skill in the casting of spells – for her, magic is all about the interaction between the mambo and the spirit, between the horse and the rider. She is no-nonsense, and somewhat scarred by what she’s been through – she is also dedicated as hell to getting things going again at the Garden.
Jasmine: The young blonde woman with the Georgia accent clearly grew up on one of the neo-plantations of the CAS’ Deep South. She met Wema while she was accompanying an old gambler on his trip to the Nightbloom Garden, and was impressed by the massive house – it was classy, stylish and not connected to any of the mobs in the area. Soon thereafter, she was working there. She’s a little odd, though – she always wears gloves (going so far as to wear past-the-elbow gloves when her arms are otherwise bared) and is really ignorant of a lot of even basic workings of technology (she has the Uneducated Negative Quality). On the other hand, she is winning and quite charismatic – but then, that’s what social adepts are supposed to be, aren’t they?
Crystal: The only lady at the Garden that didn’t take a house-name of a flower; however, in the welcoming ARO animation that allows newly arrived clients access to the dossiers of the ladies, her information is represented by a blossom made of crystal, which splits light and casts prism patterns around it. This is because Crystal contains multitudes – she is actually an ex-bunraku puppet. Something happened during the surgery that normally both installs the cyberware and lobotomizes the poor young women that under go it – instead of lobotomizing her, it awakened something strange within her. Though functionally amnesiac, she is also obscenely intelligent (Exceptional Attribute: Logic). Her only personal skills are potent programming and computer-use skills – everything else comes from persona-chips that are on time-delays. The Vamp, the CEO, the Southern Belle – these are the whores that serve the Garden. They just happen to use Crystal’s body to do it. In fact, Crystal still considers herself a virgin.
Pierre LeBeau: A thin, athletic and tremendously likeable Cajun man, Pierre is something of a Renaissance man. He does three things well: shoot, cook and talk. He’s here to do all three when the situation calls for it. Acting as both the in-house chef for the residents of the Garden (and for the occasional client-invited dinner parties the Garden throws) and the bartender for the Garden’s wetbar, Pierre is one-half of the security in a rough part of town.
Bristow Jones: Tall, meaty and amazingly lacking in simple social decor (other than “just keep your mouth shut,” which seems to constitute standing orders), Bristow is the obvious security. And he’s well-suited for it, too. Probably his only weakness is comfortable living quarters and a pretty face – both of which are offered as pay for his work at the Garden.