by John Gronquist (21 Jun 94)
Shown below is the introductory sheets for a campaign I'm running, with elements taken from Paris by Night, by Yann Golanski © 1993. This is in no way a challenge to his copyright and any elements derived from his work are his property. And my thanks to you Yann, Paris is the only place to be dead! Other parts are creations of White Wolf Publishing and this, also, is no challenge to their copywrights. The phrase Pax Arcana is basic latin and, as far as I'm concerned, completely uncopyrighteable as it is plain language and in a dictionary...
"When White arrives in the matter of the Great Work, Life has conquered Death, the King is resuscitated, Earth and Water have become Air, it is the Domain of the Moon, their Child is born... Then Matter achieves such a degree of fixity that Fire can no longer destroy it... When the Artist sees perfect whiteness, the philosophers say the books must be torn up, for they are now useless."
-Dom J. Pernety, Dictionnaire mytho-hermétique, Paris, Bauche, 1758, Blancheur
"Welcome fair traveler to a haven of knowledge, place of rest for the eternally restless. This is my Pax Arcana!"
-François Villon, Lord of the Court of Miracles and King of Paris, 1993
There is only one truth in life, and that is that there are no truths. This is especially true for those creatures traveling along the edge of the world, balancing precariously between two forms of existence, one of reality and one of dream. Vampires, Werewolves, Mages, Immortals, Mummies, Zombies, Pixies, what have you... All are members of the supernatural elite, traveling in disguise yet ever part of the mortal mind, lest the harsh forces of reality destroy them with disbelief. The life of an supernatural creature is fraught with tremendous dangers and uncounted victories and defeats. Long ago the mortals were part of that world, listening to the aged advice of immortals, hunting gold from capricious fairies, stalking the night for those that fed on them. Now they have turned from their past, hiding their very souls in cloaks of ignorance. The humans have lost sight of their own world, and in doing so are destroying it. The creatures of the Supernatural, the Secret People, are the purveyors of the last of the mystic knowledge, they hold the keys to understanding the nature of world and its place in the universe.
To further this quest a city has been chosen to be the center of all occult learning. Paris, the center of art and culture for the mortal realm, is also the Mecca of the underworld, the Shangri La for the supernatural. In the year 1783, the self-titled King of Paris, François Villon sent a message to the World of Darkness... "Lest not the destruction of Alexandria repeat itself! I open my city and upon it declare Pax Arcana, the Secret Peace. No war will be tolerated, no fight unseen shall claim even the most minute fraction of enlightenment from mine hand, whilst thou be inside my walls. If any of thou art foolish enough to question my manner of enforcement, then come to my city and break my peace... For I will find you some manner of peace. Let not this be a stale cessation of war, but a flower blooming in the dark, bringing the scent of truth to a world that cannot see." And to this call came many of the world's creatures of the night.
They came for many reasons, to flee from disaster, or steal the secrets of the elders. Some came to hunt Villon for his impudence, yet others for the unity he spoke of. And when they arrived they found a place unlike any other, a place of peace. An uneasy peace to be sure, yet Francois' claims held true and he set himself upon the task of policing a city of the enigmatic. To manage this he turned to his long-time brothers of the night, the Court of Miracles. Once, when Francois still possessed a beating heart and ruddy cheeks, the Court of Miracles were a band of ruthless criminals. They holed up in Paris and looked to Francois, who was a leading poet of the most vulgar vernacular, as their inspiration and sometimes leader. Today the Court is much smaller and consists entirely of the brood of Francois. Many are rumored to be quite high in generation and are most certainly blood bound to the King. All are Toreador to the hilt. However, they are a secretive group and often hold meetings which other Toreadors are not allowed involvement in, and they have their own methods of determining Prestige. The Court is very powerful, and has managed to hold the Pax Arcana together for over two centuries, much to the amazement of the outside world.
Over the years much changed in Paris, rules formed to hold this soldalitas of otherworldly beings together, without the firm vengeance of the King. These rules have two main forms, the Lex Noctu (or Law by Night), and the Common Law. The Lex Noctu is a document written by the Court of Miracles in 1810 to make the Pax Arcana clear and accountable. Unfortunately, over time the Lex has been expanded and revised more than seven times and is now almost as cryptic as the French mortal body of laws. The Court is the final arbitrator in disputes of law.
"And thus did the knights of the Temple vanish with their secret, in whose shadow breathed a lofty yearning for the earthly city. But the Abstract to which their efforts aspired lived on, unattainable, in unknown regions... and its inspiration, more than once in the course of time, has filled those spirits capable of receiving it."
-Victor Émile Michelet, Le Secret de la Chevalerie, 1930
In the late 1800's a war erupted in Paris called the War of the Roses, and was supposedly a battle of words and philosophies between two groups of Rosicrucians. And this was true... during the day, but at night the clash raged on between the real mystic forces driving this conflict. This was a time of trouble for the Pax Arcana, which up until this point had matured into a collegiate atmosphere composed of the most educated of the Earth's creatures. The details of the war are hard to come by, and Francois is extremely touchy on the subject, but rumors abound of late night councils discussing something which could have meant the end of Kindred existence. Any attempt to discover more on the matter has been fraught with mysterious problems and occasionally Final Death for the over-eager. After the War of Roses the King of Paris was more distant and often known for calling irrational Blood Hunts on seemingly upstanding members of the Camarilla. The Pax Arcana seemed a lost dream, shattered by some enigma unknown to all but a few. Clan Toreador was also at a loss, their leader gone mad with theories of immense conspiracies, destroying friend and foe alike at his merest whim. The Garou fled the city, claiming it to be an abomination, howling cries of revenge against some dark force they were none to clear about. Clans retreated to their havens, locked up the secrets they once chatted about over tea, no longer heeding the rule of the Court of Miracles which had become silent. Spirits that once bestowed dreams of knowledge to undead and wolf alike, no longer answered to their calls. The Peace of Secrets had turned into the War of Secrets.
For two decades Paris returned to the dark brooding battleground it had always been. In 1791 Rebels of clan Toreador allied with the Brujah to break the stronghold of the Court in a fortnight of terror now known as the Babylonian Anarchy, due to the final battle taking place on the home turf of the Tremere, Rue de la Babylon. In the end it was discovered that the Tremere had sponsored the Anarchs in both Toreador and Brujah to test the strength of Francois. The Babylonian Anarchy rousted Francois from his dire mood and for two straight nights he wreaked a very personal vengeance on clan Tremere, claiming much of their secret knowledge as well as their blood. Clan Brujah was almost totally destroyed. To end this wrath the surviving elders of Tremere escaped the city, leaving to their young Ancillae orders to make peace with Francois. The Ancillae offered the only thing they could think of to make restitution, they gave the King of Paris rights to give one point of blood to every new Tremere brought into the city, a right normally only allowed for the clan elders. Francois took immediate advantage of this and quickly brought every Tremere in Paris one step closer to Blood Bonding with him. As well, he is rumored to have a connection to the mystic methods of communication known to some Tremere and is often aware of their plots before any others in the city. The escaped Elders fled to Vienna, where rumor has it they were destroyed by the Council of Seven for helping Anarchs to break the Masquerade. In response to this defeat of the rebellious young, Francois lead Paris into a brief time of celebration culminating in the Great Exhibition and the construction of the Eiffel Tower. After the intense criticism received about the Tower, Francois retreated in disgust at the stupidity of the mortals and disappeared from the art scene as well as the leadership of Paris.
Soon afterwards the Great War began and the Kindred were hard pressed to survive in a Europe torn asunder. New weapons and technology were created and the Industrial revolution began to transform the world. Rebellious Kindred joined in the war, desirous of the power the mortals were willing to give them for protection. Garou plagued the countryside, embroiled in the conflict of nations, and troubled by the new capabilities of the world to destroy itself. Many Kindred and Garou alike played major roles in the Great War, and many more became its victims. A brief respite occurred between the 1st and 2nd world wars, when Francois was almost unheard of in the limits of Paris. Many believed he was suffering from some sort of blood disease, or haunted by an unknown spirit, and some claimed he was traveling but were unable to determine where. However, the Court of Miracles was once again the undisputed rulers of the city, and began to enforce the Lex Noctu without the apparent support of the Prince. Many powerful Kindred tried to wrest the control of the Court away and claim the title for themselves. But the court had become powerful during the Great war, hiding away while the world turned chaotic around them. None succeeded against the unknown power of the Court.
"Nazism was the moment when the spirit of magic seized the helm of material progress. Lenin said Communism was socialism plus electricity. In a sense, Hitlerism was Guenonism plus armored divisions."
-Pauwies and Bergier, Le matin des magiciens, Paris, Gallimard, 1960
Then World War II brought another wave of chaos to the world. A new form of evil ran rampant through Europe. Vampires and garou alike could not stop the onslaught of the German army, which was endowed with a hideous spiritual strength far beyond the blood-sucking evil of the Kindred. Once again kindred and garou chose sides and lined up for the War to End All Wars, only to discover new and more powerful ways of destroying each other. Garou were declaring this to be the greatest spiritual battle of all history, and many believed the Apocalypse was at hand. It was at this time that Francois returned from whatever enigma he had plunged into and once again declared Paris the home of the Pax Arcana, and pitched his forces against the German onslaught. Villon lead the French resistance against Hitler, who knew of the Kindred and had captured many to supposedly take their blood for his own immortality. The Court of Miracles joined the fight against the genocide of the Germans, loosing many of their number to the mortal leaders of the German army, hungry for the immortality of ghouldom. Horrible secret experiments were conducted as Hitler sent his scientists to work on the bodies of any supernatural creature he could find. For years war blasted the countryside, bombs carried new payloads which didn't have to explode to kill, death rained inhumanely from the skies, entirely new forms of combat developed until near the end of the war America discovered the hidden mystic power of the atom and unleashed a force of pure destruction beyond any ever known before. Some say that Hiroshima was the end of the world, and Garou can hardly mention the city without raging. Francois summoned many allies and kindred and finally aided the mortals in defeating Hitler's reign of terror, the Third Rome had been vanquished before its creation.
"L'an quatre cent cinquante six,
Je, Francois Villon, ecolier,
Considerant, de sens rassis,
Le frein aux dents, franc au collier,
Qu'on doit ses oeuvres conseiller
Comme Vegece le raconte,
Sage Romain, grand conseiller,
Ou autrement on se mecompte...."
-F.Villon, le Lais
It was then that Paris finally became what it's King and Prince had always dreamed it would be, Noctu Illuminati, "The Light in the Night." Freed from the oppression of the Mortal Kings, and renewed after war had swept the continent with blood, Francois and the Court openly reintroduced the Pax Arcana to the world as a haven against the forces of terror and destruction which plagued the first half of the twentieth century. As a symbol to the World of Darkness, Villon sent gifts of some of his collected secrets to the clan elders, who gratefully accepted the free power and immediately announced the birth of a new era for the Kindred. Also, he released information on a new breed of humanity, which he had known about for many decades, and now included as members in the Pax Arcana. He only called them 'The Immortals' and said they were very powerful, but like Kindred, only evil if they chose to be. Unlike any Kindred though, they were creatures of the day, and soon were known to be immune to any form of damage or aging, and appearing as any other human mortal. Also, it became widely known that their blood was useless to the Kindred, and after being consumed simply residing in their bodies as inert liquid. Francois named many immortals he considered enemies, and almost as many that he considered friends and welcome to his city.
At this time Villon also established firm rules for fighting, creating what is now commonly called the Scaena Lamina, or "Drama of the Blade." It is a ritualistic invitation to combat, were the two duelists petition the Prince and then meet in the Arène de Lutètia (The Arena of Lutetia). The match is often preceded and followed by midevil pagentry, and the Toreadors have come to enjoy these parties more than any others. The Scaena Lamina is currently very popular and is threatening the Masquerade as mortals are beginning to participate in the parties and watch the contests which they currently believe to be fake. Vampires and Garou have also adopted it's formalistic escape from the tight collar of the Pax Arcana, and at least one duel occurs each year as conflicts and tensions require. Without this ritual however the Pax Arcana would be faced with the problem of policing the entire city for fighting, a task which the Kindred of Paris do not want the Court of Miracles to begin again. The only group which openly opposes the Scaena is the Tremere, who see it as a flagrant and dirty thing, unfit for their kind. Since it's inception in the early 1950's, the Drama of the Blade has already become known throughout the Europian supernatural community, and often strangers will come to Paris just to "...try their luck." The rules of the combat are simple, you cannot leave the Arena once it has begun, to do so means being outcast from the Pax Arcana. As the prince says, "When it has begun, so it shall end!" Villon has managed somehow to corrupt the minds of the mortals who watch to believe that it is only a show. It is an open way for two or more individuals to releave their tensions, by relieving themselves of their foes forever. Only on very few occasions has Villon not granted the rite to combat between enemies, and when he is not obeyed in this matter his rage is unbounded. If members of the Scaena wish to set other 'end games' then death, they may do so at the time they present their desires to the Prince. Once a battle was fought here using only words and the loser of the poetry contest was slain by a blood hunt, as the finalé specificed.
Paris is now sectioned off, with tight restrictions placed on the Vampiric feeding areas. Many of the areas do intermingle though and conflicts of territory comprise much of the judgements of the Court. In 1614 Villon began to publish his flagrantly named "Menu de la Cité," a document listing the feeding rights of the Kindred by hiding it as a public review of the cities restaurants and just '...which class of nobility would enjoy this localities dining." Listed below in the current turf layout for downtown Paris.
Île de la Cité: Neutral zone. The Île has been the frequent site of contention for so many years that most of the Vampires had little problem when Villon classified it as Insula Placidus, Peaceful Island. No fighting of any kind is tolerated on the Île de la Cité, and Francois calls the blood hunt to any foolish enough to break this rule. Many of the cities malcontents and less liked denizens have hidden themselves on this land for just that reason, in order to escape the hostility of their enemies. The Tremere often conduct some of their more unusual cermonies here for reasons only they understand. Also, for some reason, the Immortals claim that the entire island is a holy ground of some sort, although they are rather sketchy about to which god it is dedicated. The Court of Miracles precides in a basement of the Palais de Justice on this Island. No vampire is allowed to feed here. (read that: period)
Île St-Louis: Toreador. Home to Baudelaire and other reknowned poets of the 19th century, this island has become the creme de la creme of Toreador Turf. With it's convenient access to the Île de la Cité and the haven it offers, many see this as a direct cowardly manuever on Francois' part, although he himself does not live here. Many of the Toreadors have residences here, from which they can go to any part of Paris for their nightly feed and artsy chatting. The Hôtel de Lauzun is the primary home of the Toreador poets.
The Marais: Ventrue (Malkavian/Nosferatu). Although this is certified feeding territory for the Ventrue, few of the them spend their days sleep here. They have allocated this area to their ghouls to police and live in, themselves prefering the much fancier turf of the Latin Quarter, where many of the clan say they feel more 'at home.' The noted concentration of Jewish and Asian mortals here is most likely the reason the Ventrue do not hunt here more often. In their absense the Malkavians and Nosferatu have begun feeding here, with only occasional complaints from the Ventrue, mostly in areas near the bank of the Seine.
Beaubourg and Les Halles: Open Season, any Vampires may feed here. This area is home to the Pompidou, a noted favorite of the Nosferatu, as well as the Forum des Halles. It is has become Paris' main tourest center since the 1977 completion of the Pompidou, and any Vampire who dares to sink fang into the 'foul tasting vermin' which import themselves into this area are welcome to their 'McBlood' meal. The Brujah which still openly exist in Paris (After their long pronouced defeat after the Invasion of the Tuileries) often feed here, having no turf to call their own.
Tuileries: Toreador. Once the home turf of the Ventrue, this area has been controlled by the Toreador since 1702. The Palais Victores, the Palais Royal, and the Jardins du Palais Royal all are beautiful constructions of the Ventrue through their ghoul the Sun King, Louis XIV. Now the fashion kings haunt these royal halls, flagrantly insulting the proud history of the monarchy and the Ventrue. It is a slap in the face for any Toreador to mention that he has fed here when talking with a Ventrue, a slight seldom forgotten by the one-time rulers of Paris. However, the Toreador's have sunk their fangs deep into this area, investing much of their precious art into the Musée du Louvre, which they also call home. Most of the Toreadors spend their days sleeping throughout this area. Francois himself lives in the Palais Royal, a constant reminder to the Kindred populace of this city that he is the true King of Paris now.
St-Germain-Des-Prés: Toreador/Malkavian. A lively area of shops and museums during the day, this part of Paris really doesn't get hopping until after dark when the Younger of the Toreador's come here to "play normal" at the various brassy cafés and restaurants. Rue Voltaire is a known hangout for the Malkavians, however, and the Toreador don't seem to be upset about their presense here. In truth, many of the Toreadors actually enjoy it and spend many hours wiling away the night trying to decipher the mad tales of their twisted and broken brethren. On the few occasions when other clans have fed here the Toreadors have let it slide, but it would be doubtful that they would tolerate repeated occurances of this.
The Latin Quarter: This ancient section of Paris calls the imperially minded Ventrue like a moth to a flame. The Musée de Cluny, once home to the money hungery order of the Cluniacs, is a symbol to the clan of the Ventrue claim to Paris being traditionally their city. It's ancient Roman bath houses, now recently refurbished and functional, are a favorite haunt for the rich and powerful. Many buildings stand testamount to the nobility of the Ventrue, including the Panthéon and the St- Étienne-Du-Mont. No other clan is allowed to sink fang anywhere in this area, doing so is a certain cause for the Scaena Lamina between the offender and whatever Ventrue decides to destroy the whelp for his insolense. It is commonly believed that the Ventrue have control over the sewers in this area, and the Nosferatu apparently don't care.
Jardin des Plantes Quarter: Gangrel. This area is defined by its connection to the world of nature. It is one of the most peaceful areas of Paris as well as home to the Gangrel. They are responsible for the construction of the botanical gardens as well as the zoo, which is called the Ménagerie in french. The Gangrel treat their flock well, and msot of the Parisian clan members cultivate a herd to remove the strain of their hunting from the populace. They are very concerned with the eating habits of the other clans throughout Paris and often will call the Scaena Lamina on any vampire which knowingly kills a mortal for food. The Gangrel are firm believers in this ritualistic combat, as well as its biggest fans. The Arèna de Lutetia is located in the northern part of this district. It is rumored that the Nosferatu also occasionally haunt here, but no foundation for this has been discovered.
Luxembourg Quarter: Tremere. Many power struggles were behind the Tremere laying claim to this large area containing two of Paris' most significant sites; the Palais Luxembourg and the Jardin du Luxembourg. It is unknown why they place so much importance on this area, but the common rumor is that the designer of the Jardin was a Tremere ghoul and that the order of it's pathways has some mystic significance. It is from their claim to this quarter that they managed to wrest control of the École Militaire from the Ventrue in 1870, establishing clan Tremere as the new masters in the art of war. Many say the battle over this action still rages on, but few if any heads have rolled over it in the past hundred years.
Montparnasse: Confused. Currently this is one of the most openly contested areas of the city. Up until WWII is was almost entirely the sole turf of the Toreador, who needed the extra space to feed their swelling ranks. The war deflated their population and also tilted the balance of Paris to allow the Ventrue to lay a claim on this area. However, unbeknownst to the Ventrue, the Toreadors had been sharing it the entire time with the Nosferatu in exchange for some undiscovered benefit. So as the Ventrue entered the area they were faced with the rather upset Nosferatu and conflict ensued. Quickly the Ventrue bequeithed the Cemetary and the Catacomb entrance areas to their rivals and began construction of the great Tour Montparnasse to signify their dominance of the region. The Toreadors never formally let go of the area though, and so the area has been in a state of uncertainity for some time. Also, just to increase the confusion, the Tremere were found to be secretly controlling the Observatory, which had been in this area since 1667.
Invalides and Eiffel Tower Quarter: Tremere/Ventrue. The defeaat of loosing the Luxembourg Quarter was almost to much for the proud Ventrue to take. They demanded retribution and sent many of their members to the Arena against the Tremere on mocked charges. The final result of this battling was the division of this area by the Court into two seperate zones: Invalides, and the Eiffel Quarter. The Tremere were allowed to keep the area around the Invalides for feeding ground, but were forced to relinquish the Eiffel Quarter and the Dome Church to the Ventrue. The Ventrue found this amicible as they were able to keep a close watch on the Tremere's control of the Ecolé, as well as having the tomb of Napolean back into their possession. Now this area is again the frequent site of conflicts between the two clans, which doesn't seem to bother François or the Toreadors very much at all.
Chaillot: Toreador, although they are rather lax about it. The great Palais de Chaillot is about the only part of this hauté area which the Toreadors are concerned with. Outside of the palace they are rather lax about feeding habits for this Quarter. The Brujah notoriously come here to flagrantly sink fang in defiance of the Toreadors (yes, it is rather lame, but that's the only type of Brujah left in Paris...) Malkavians frequent this area as well, feeding on the rich of the Hauté Bourgeoisie on the western side. The Place du Trocadéro is a favorite sport for many of the Kindred to meet and try to break down the barriers that the clans have erected over the centuries.
Champs-Élysées: Toreador, no question. Once the very heart of Ventrue Paris, this is now the prime pounding ground of the Toreadors, who have fallen in love with it's grand sceme and flagrantly artistic atmosphere. Craftsmen of all kinds flock to the Champs-Élysées to bark off their wares, and it is these aspiring young artistes which draws the Toreadors like nectar to a bee. In addition to it bordering the Louvre, it is home to the Grande Palais, the magnificent arching glass topped building which the Toreadors constructed in response to the Crystal Castle in London. Even the Ventrue grudgingly admit that the Grand Palais is a building as proud and royal as any they constructed, and occasionally some admit it is even attractive. The Toreador control the country from here, for it is at the Palais de l'Élysée where the President of France resides. The Toreadors are very proud of this area, and do not mind others coming to see it, however they are extremely exacting about it being a Toreador feeding area ONLY.
Opéra Quarter: Nosferatu. The only district of the city formally bequeathed to the Nosferatu. Many of the cities supernatural inhabitants were stunned when Francois announced that this would be a Nosferatu feeding area. Even the Court of Miracles was taken aback, as they had recently chartered it as Toreador turf. However, it retrospect it appears to have been a wise manuever on the Prince's part as he gained much respect from the Nosferatu for his generosity, especially concerning the traditional relationship between their two clans. In fact, during the opulance of the Second Empire, Francois was gracious enough to build a monument of art specifically for the Nosferatu, the Opéra de Paris Garnier. It was through the beauty of voice that the Nosferatu could escape from a world dominated by image, and their gratitude for this generosity continues to this day. Peculiarly, the Nosferatu have formed an intimate bond with the Daughters of Cacophany due to their ownership of the Opera House, and the clan and the sect are now renowned allies.
Primary inspiration for this was: Foucault's Pendulum, by Eco Umberto.
Look also at the descriptions of the High Order of the Sphinx and the Players in the Theater of Night.