Campaign of the Month: July 2007
Once the small city of Milneburg before it was absorbed into New Orleans as part of the Gentilly neighborhood, Little Venice now sits on its own once more. Made up mainly of land built-up to serve as surfaces for homes and buildings around the founding of New Orleans, in the early 21st Century, Little Venice became very popular as a neighborhood for the wealthy, who appreciated the lakeside view.
Once part of Gentilly, Little Venice is the section of town that is technically behind the Gentilly Levee, the emergency-use levee which separates Little Venice from the rest of New Orleans. Heavy rains will often flood the streets of Little Venice, requiring its residents to use the ubiquitous small punts and rowboats the place is known for. Little Venice is basically a slum at this point, the home to homeless, SINless and others of society’s castaways.
Little Venice is basically split into two parts: Little Venice East and Little Venice West. It is also separated from the rest of Gentilly by the Gentilly Canal, with only a single road chokepoint that leads into Gentilly proper, guarded by a very well-armed NOPS security booth that is capable of dropping nearly impenetrable ballistics shutters and calling for help should it become necessary.
Garden of Nightblooming Flowers (West)
The Garden of Nightblooming Flowers is a brothel in the northern tip of West Little Venice. It is independent and run by the mambo called Wema.
Green Tenders & the Green (West)
The Green is a circular area, formerly a park, that has been turned into a communal garden. Squatters and others who live in Little Venice are welcome to come and trade a few hours of digging about in the rich mud for the produce that is grown here.
The Green is cared for by the Green Tenders, a small magical group of street shamans. Though not all of the Green Tenders take an active hand in gardening and helping the Green thrive, all of them do take an active hand in its defense. The Green Tenders are led by consensus, though the highest grade initiate among them is a tough dwarven matron named Miss Sarah, whose totem is the boar. She and her sons can almost always be found either in the Green proper, or in the nearby house that the Green Tenders have claimed as their own.
Lake Oaks Park (East)
Once a riverside corporate facility, Lake Oaks Park is empty now. By day it sits, floor after floor of corporate building and entertainment pier silent, with only the noise of the nearby airport, UNO Camp and Smuggler’s Market to break the solitude. Those who come here during the day recognize a strange sensation of being watched.
Those that remain once the sun sets are simply never heard from again. More than one group of squatters has tried to take advantage of the facility – its rooftop gardens still produce food, and the water still runs in the facility. But everyone that remains past nightfall disappears.
Magicians who view the site claim that it has a strong Background Count of particularly distasteful resonance, which rises at night. Most of the locals generally agree – raid the place during the day, and carry away what you want to keep by nightfall.
The Ranch (West)
A walled in compound, the Ranch is run by a small group of squatters who have turned their turf into an actual meat-producing enterprise. Of course, none of this meat is actually eaten by anyone in Little Venice – they sell it to exclusive restaurants and real food distributors for a high dollar price. Goats and sheep graze peacefully in the green pasture between the buildings, and the bottom floor of many of the buildings that make up the compound have been turned into pig wallows.
The Ranch is run by Seacourt, a former smuggler who settled down with Veronica, the little Aztlaner girl he met while on a run. The two of them run a small group of ranch-hands and their families, who serve as not only butchers and farm-hands, but also provide the guns necessary to keep squatters from sneaking in and stealing some animal for the stew pot.
Rat’s Nest (West)
The Rat’s Nest is a communal domicile founded by the rat shaman Norver. The Rat’s Nest is actually made up of four large houses, most of which were assumed to be uninhabitable because of their low-lying location and the frequent flooding of Little Venice. Norver, however, has guided a small group of squatters in constructing a set of decking and bridges that connects the upper stories of four houses, allowing them to use the houses as living space.
The lower floors tend to be flooded for about half the year and covered with thick, black mud at least a foot deep the rest of it. The squatters of the Rat’s Nest take advantage of this, however – when it is covered in water, they arrange bits of decaying wood here and there to grow mushrooms, and when it dries out to mud, they plant a variety of shade-dwelling, quick-growing food vine plants.
The children of the Rat’s Nest also make a competition out of cultivating huge swarms of dragonflies, the grubs of which they find in other pools of standing water and then bring home to turn loose and eat the larval mosquitoes that are bound to develop around standing water. By the time any mosquitoes do develop, there is usually a bumper crop of hungry dragonflies awaiting them.
Norver is a skilled healer and craftsman, as well as a member of the Green Tenders.
Ruby Tuesday’s Pawn and Payday Loans (West)
Ruby Tuesday is a big, rotund woman with bright red hair and cybereyes that look like faceted, burning rubies. The widow of a corporate accountant, Ruby lost both her husband and her SIN in the Crash of ’64 and hasn’t looked back. She started out with some certified credsticks, and a small trio of troll brothers that she took in, fed and looked after following the Crash – from these, she built herself something of a little loan and pawn empire in Little Venice.
By now, she is quite well off, and knows it. She lives in a big house in Little Venice – the front of this house serves as a pawn shop, complete with glass cases and shelf after shelf of all kinds of stuff, much of it tremendously illegal. She employs no less than a dozen big leg-breakers, most of them orcs and trolls, to hunt down those who forget that they owe Ruby Tuesday money. Her head of security is Ellie, a dwarven hacker, a mother of three, whose oldest kids help out around the shops, and whose drones maintain a security perimeter.
Smuggler’s Market (East)
Once the site of Camp Leroy Johnson Airforce Base, the Smuggler’s Market is now run, lock stock and barrel, by the Gator Rex and his Cousins. Set on the shores of the Lake and less then two miles from the New Orleans Airport, the Smuggler’s Market is an interesting phenomenon.
It serves as one of the main smuggling hubs directly in New Orleans. It is the end point for several smuggling routes, and the beginning of several more. Mississippi routes bound for the Carib League, or Caribbean routes headed up the Mississippi use it as a drop-off point (as those who do oceanic smuggling and those who work the rivers tend to be very different sorts).
It has large warehouses that once served the military as hangar space. Most of the hangars are owned by Lockjaw and his boys, but the Mafia, the Yakuza and Zobop each rent one of the facilities. The Cousins provide all the security and defense for the Market, as no one else is allowed in carrying heavy arms.
The Smuggler’s Market has some protections that set it head and shoulders above other similar places. All roads that lead into it are wrecked – years of being submerged in the waters of Little Venice, along with the efforts of Lockjaw’s Cousins has seen to that. Likewise, the Market’s proximity to the airport means that the NOPS can’t simply send in a few helicopters – the jets in the area are flying too low and present a hazard. In order to accomplish a raid, air traffic would have to absolutely stop at the Airport, and while the NOPS have put in requests for just such an endeavor multiple times, it has been denied as too dangerous to the city’s economy.
The site’s location so near to the airport grants it some measure of immunity from full-on radar tracking. There is so much going on in the area that the occasional blip of a smuggler coming in a little too high is practically meaningless.
The Cousins use a number of the local squatter populations as hands for tedious jobs – the bigger sorts help with lifting and moving, while others play lookout. The locals also man the various entries to the site – the roads leading in from the main city have been wrecked by both years of flooding and the efforts of Les Cousins, preventing a large-scale raid by the NOPS.
The Smuggler’s Market is more than simply a smuggler’s haven, though. True to its name, the Market Square is a large building that once housed classrooms (from the days when Camp Leroy Johnson was turned into part of the University of New Orleans), surrounding an open courtyard. Lockjaw rents out the old classrooms to those with the cred, making sure that they’re well defended, while others set up blankets, tents and makeshift booths out in the courtyard, hawking their goods.
An onsite hotel (a former college dormitory) provides accommodations, and there are two bars as well: the Gator’s Den, which is open only to smugglers, and is Lockjaw’s main hangout, and the Sweet Amelia, a bar that is open to anyone that can find their way in.
All sorts congregate here – shadowrunners looking to meet people or just taking a breather from their gear-shopping, mobsters looking to hire smugglers, smugglers looking to hire muscle.
Access to the Smuggler’s Market is not granted to just anyone, however. Even the local squatters were boated into the Market and given living space in one of the squatter dorms. The Cousins grant smugglers the right to approach and dock or land, but that’s about it – everyone else depends on the Cousins for transport. Someone who is already accepted by Lockjaw’s crew can invite someone, who is watched closely by the locals. The one that extended the invitation is responsible for the guest’s behavior until he leaves; once he departs, Lockjaw will decide if he’s allowed back. If there is any question, the Cousins contact Amelia – she’ll know if someone has been there before, and if they’re welcome back or not.
Tesrae Sallah (West)
Sperethiel for “The Silent Citadel,” Tesrae Sallah is a small commune of elves. Made up of several fair-sized houses, the walls that once separated them have been removed to form a courtyard in the center of the compound, and the buildings themselves walled off. Tesrae Sallah has something of a monastic feel to it, and with good reason – its founders are called the Silent Brothers, a trio of Path of the Wheel magicians who founded the Silent Citadel as a place of refuge.
Though not everyone in the compound follows the religion of the Tir elves, they aren’t required to by the Silent Brothers. All that they require for an elf to live in Tesrae Sallah is that they be seeking a lifetime of serene contemplation and demonstrate a willingness to do simple work both in the gardens of Tesrae Sallah and at the nearby Green in order to earn their keep.
UNO Squatter Camp (East)
The old University of New Orleans is now home to the largest squatter camp in NOLA. A small community has developed there, and many of the squatters have grown into something more resembling a tribal society than a simple selection of outcasts. Various factions have also evolved within the UNO Camp, including the Krewe of Gunpowder (see NOLA Ward Krewes), at least one group of smugglers who specialize in cross-lake operations, the Rum and Fire Society (see Voodoo Societies), and a team of shadowrunners called the Sacred Fifth. Once a month the camp holds a riotous day-long meeting where everyone gets a chance to speak. Though there are technically no leaders, most of the individuals follow the various tribal heads or leaders of the other factions.