Campaign of the Month: July 2007

Nightbloom Garden

Episode One (Shadows Fall, pt. 1)
In Which the Brothel is Invaded

The first game session of this campaign was mainly character generation, figuring out how everyone knew one another, and then giving them campaign resources – the map of the Garden, Contacts details and the like. This was also the point where we went over some of the history of New Orleans in Shadowrun. But eventually, we got started.

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Scene One: In the Hole

Wednesday, April 16, 2070

It’s evening, and the residents of the Garden (the PCs above, plus the other three prostitutes – two young women affectionately called Flora and Fauna, with their transgendered best friend, Merryweather) are gathered for dinner. Things have been tight of late, and Flora has finally had it – she is tired of eating beans and rice, even if Pierre did try to spice things up with the sausage a bit.

The group discusses (with a lot of filling in of details by NPCs, natch) that things are bad for the Garden; most people in the city who even know about it generally think of it as “that place where all those whores got killed a year ago or so,” rather than “that deceptively lovely brothel, a place of elegance and class.” The characters discuss all sorts of ideas for fundraisers and ways of raising the awareness of the brothel without alerting the NOPS (New Orleans Police Services, though locals claim it stands for “no cops,” as in “there are no cops here, just criminals”).

Basically, this was the last bit of character generation, and I wanted to give the players a chance to roleplay their characters some while their ideas about who they are were fresh in their minds. Nothing major – just a chance for everyone to identify everyone else’s character personality, describe appearances and the like.

Later that evening, none other than Maxwell Boudreau shows up. The fairly sleazy landlord, he claims to be there to make sure everything is alright, but he eventually gets around to his point. He’s heard from some of the local krewe that business hasn’t been much happening out here lately. He knows that they’re paid up through April, but is wondering if he’s going to have to find some new folk interested in renting this place – he’s had some interested people here lately.

Ivy assures him that they’re staying, and to not worry about them – the Garden is here to stay. He smiles like he doesn’t really believe her, but isn’t willing to tell her that directly. He finishes his drink (from the bottle of Maxwell’s personal stuff kept behind the bar, next to Pierre’s Big Gun) and leaves.

-----—-

Scene Two: Afterglow Shot to Hell

Friday, April 18, 2070

That evening, the first client in about a week shows up. Saul Ogilve is one of the regulars – an older man, with greying hair and a desk job in the local government that gives him obscene stress levels, an ulcer and a need for discretion on the part of those with whom he relieves his stress. He comes out to the Garden once a month or so, on his nightly “poker night” away from the wife.

He comes into the ballroom (which is set up with a stage, a couple of tables, the huge bar and a couple of billiards tables off to one side) and has a drink while he chats with Ivy. He presents her with an antique silver crucifix, and looks a little uncomfortable.

“So, you know that lovely…that lovely she-vampire get-up that sweet Crystal likes to put on sometimes? You don’t suppose she’d be willing to model this while wearing that little outfit for me, do you? It’s a gift for her to keep, of course – I’d just like the chance to see her in it.”

Ivy goes upstairs to give it to Crystal, who loads up the Vampiress persona, and sets the White Room (a blank white room wallpapered with a wallpaper that interacts with AR technology quite well, creating semi-realistic AR depictions of various settings) and sets it to “The Crypt.” Saul comes upstairs, and he and the seductive vampiress chat a little, she playing the vamp to his helpless victim.

In the meantime, Bristow has set up in an adjacent room – Saul was the only client that night, so there was no reason not to stay nearby in case something went down there.

The scene then, of course, fades to black.

When the scene fades back in, they are both lying in the bed, covered in a faint sheen of sweat. He has bite marks about his neck and shoulders, but doesn’t seem to mind them. In fact, he has a satisfied stupid little grin on his face as he turns to look at her and then gets out of bed.

“I’m happy with my wife, you know,” he says, slipping on his boxers. “We just have a strange relationship, you know? I know she knows that I come here, just like I know about the ‘extra consulting time’ she gets from our landscaper on my poker nights. But I figure that if both—”

As he’s been talking, Crystal/Vampiress noticed something – a thin red beam cutting through the fog off the Lake. It took her a moment to figure out what it was, but then she was in motion, interrupting his thoughts by throwing him to the ground as a shot shattered the glass and cut through the AR-sensitive wallpapered wall on the other side of the room.

Fortunately, Bristow’s perceptive as all hell, and heard the gunshot. Oddly enough, downstairs, Pierre seemed to just know that something was wrong, and got Ivy’s attention. “Somethings going on upstairs,” he started to say.

In the span of three seconds, it was all chaos in the room. The remaining glass of the window shattered as a gun-bearing drone burst through the window (not armed with a laser-sighted weapon, it should be noted), just as Bristow kicked open the door. Saul and Crystal/Vampiress stay low and crawl as quickly out of the room as they can, and Bristow gets into the room just in time to see the young-looking Latino man, clad in wife-beater under his long-coat and wearing a black do-rag, burst through the now-open window, land in a roll and come up super-quickly, an Ares Predator in each hand.

-----—-

And that was actually where we ended the game. I thought they were going to throw things.

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Introduction
An Introduction to the Campaign

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.

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