Brussels By Night: The City of Wastrels

In the world of ancient Camarilla Elders, Brussels is a shining new city of influence and power. It’s an exciting, modern, dynamic place that Camarilla power players absolutely don’t want to live in. Instead, they send their devoted, talented servants and spoiled, arrogant childer.

Although Brussels is an old town, for centuries the real centers of power in the area were in cities such as Antwerp and Bruges. In the 19th century, Brussels became the capital of the new nation of Belgium and its population went from 80,000 to 625,000. In the decades after WWII, the city gained further prominence when it effectively became the capital of the European Union.

From the perspective of the Camarilla, these are all recent developments. Antwerp still has a higher concentration of Elder havens than Brussels despite being a much smaller city, simply because it’s familiar to the tradition-minded ancients.

Despite this, Brussels is by no means a Camarilla backwater. It’s full of the childer of the powerful, sent there to learn how to use influence to control mortal affairs in preparation of their ascension to power inside the Camarilla. In practise, these childer spend most of their time partying, hunting, fucking, playing games with each other and inventing new cruelties. The actual work of political influence is performed by the machine Camarilla has built over the centuries, composed of mortals and other servants.

From the perspective of a ghoul whose decisions influence the lives of hundreds of millions of mortals it can be galling to have to serve under the witless childe of some remote Elder living in Paris or Rome, but that’s life in the Camarilla. In this larp, the Camarilla vampires of Brussels are all NPCs. They’re part of the background of the larp, but won’t be its main focus.

 

The Prince and the Remnants of the Old Brussels

The Prince of Brussels is a Nosferatu called Nikolaus Vermuelen. He won the city from its old Prince, the Ventrue Camille Duchesne in the early years of the 20th century. For a few decades, Vermuelen had the city of his dreams, a haven for the Nosferatu, a new European city of power and prosperity. He gambled that Brussels would escape the worst intrigues of the Camarilla because the Elders were focused on their old power bases in Paris, London and Berlin. Unfortunately for him, the founding of the EU brought Brussels into such prominence that the ancient monsters of the Camarilla turned their attention to the city.

Vermuelen is still the Prince of Brussels, but his power has been eroded to practically nothing. He has a court of a few loyalists from the old days, but despite his age, he can’t control the young scions of the mighty and the powerful. Vermuelen is not well connected politically in the Camarilla, and being a Nosferatu works against him. Because of this, he has had to watch from the sidelines as the childer of Justicars, Princes and Inner Circle members run amok in his city.

Perhaps because of this, Vermuelen has been seen increasingly rarely during the last 15 years. Most of the time, he’s represented by aging and depressed servants acutely aware of their lack of power.

 

The Scions of the Ancients

Real power in the Camarilla of Brussels is held by the childer of various Camarilla power players. There’s a population of approximately 30 of them living in the city at any given time, although they move a lot among the various European Camarilla courts. Their internal pecking order is based on who’s Sire holds the highest rank in the Camarilla.

Very few of these childer have any particular merits. They’re lovers Embraced in a fit of passion, those who reminded a nostalgic Elder of someone they knew centuries ago, vampires created on impulse by those powerful enough to be able to do so without repercussions. A more cynical observer might assume that more talented childer would be given real responsibilities while the twits and fools got sent to Brussels to grow up, but even a wastrel of a vampire is still a vampire.

Some of the more prominent among this perpetual, decadent party of heirs are:

Eline Van Aller, a childe of the Ventrue Camarilla Inner Circle member Hardestadt. Embraced in the Seventies because she resembled an old lover of her Sire. Van Aller has been especially diligent in humiliating the Nosferatu Prince of the city at every turn.

Noelle Lemarchand, a childe of the Malkavian Jusicar Maris Streck. Although Streck is no longer the Justicar and is believed to be dead, she has enough old allies on the very top of the Camarilla hierarchy to protect her childer. Created mere months before her Sire’s fall from power in the early 2000’s, Lemarchand is famous for having had to leave a number of cities after scandals involving unauthorized progeny of her own.

Karl Vogt, a childe of the Toreador Prince of Paris Francois Villon. Created in the Nineties, Vogt was the mortal lover of the Ventrue Justicar Lucinde. Villon felt that Lucinde’s recent judgements had unduly affected his domain, and Embraced Vogt in revenge. After the Embrace, Lucinde has left Vogt in peace, but everyone who becomes romantically involved with him dies sooner or later. Although Villon doesn’t really care about him, Vogt is protected by the perception that he’s a pawn in a game between powerful vampires.

 

Monsters of a Bygone Era

Brussels is not completely without Elders of its own. The city is located in an area of Europe with a lot of history, and this means that there are ancient monsters sleeping nearby. Elders from Antwerp and other nearby cities like to stick their noses into local affairs. These vampires are powerful, and tend to ignore the local hierarchies, especially when it comes to the Prince.

For the wastrel vampires of Brussels, a visit from an Antwerp Elder or the awakening of a vampire who went to torpor centuries ago is like a visit from a wealthy if peculiar aunt. For the servants and ghouls who run Camarilla’s machine of mortal influence, these Elders are terrifying and strange, often out of touch with the modern world, yet too powerful to ignore.

Indeed, the unfortunate lot of a Camarilla lobbyist is to make sense of commands like: “We shall find our allies from the ranks of the Hapsburgs” and translate them into modern EU policy.

 

The Disappearance of the Elders

During the last decade, Camarilla’s Elders have become increasingly reclusive and remote. Camarilla social functions are usually run by the Ancilla and the Princes and Primogen reached only through their servants.

The sheer terror inspired by these ancient monsters has been enough to keep Camarilla functioning, but the cracks are starting to show. Berlin, long thought to be one of the pillars of the Camarilla, fell to the Anarchs recently in an embarrassing display of hubris and weakness, Prince Gustav Breidenstein torn apart by a bloodthirsty mob.

In Brussels this weakening has been felt less than in some other places, at least in Camarilla society, because of the prominence of young vampires. The court of the old Prince has receded ever further into obscurity, but apart from that, the young sons and daughters of the Camarilla power players party like nothing has changed.

From the perspective of Camarilla’s ghoul lobbyists, the disappearance of the Elders has been a terrifying phenomenon. The blood crucial to the survival of the ghouls has come late, directions from above concerning the direction of political work has been sparse and confusing.

Indeed, some among the servants have begun to suspect that their masters have abandoned them, leaving them with money and power but no protection from the supernatural terrors of the night.