Setting

Setting Introduction: Los Angeles County

“I could hear everything, together with the hum of my hotel neon. I never felt sadder in my life. LA is the loneliest and most brutal of American cities; New York gets god-awful cold in the winter but there’s a feeling of wacky comradeship somewhere in some streets. LA is a jungle.” ~ Jack Kerouac

The City of Angels

Los Angeles County is the most populous county in the United States. Its population is larger than that of 42 individual U.S. states. It has 88 incorporated cities and many unincorporated areas and at 4,083 square miles (10,570 km2), it is larger than the combined areas of the U.S. states of Delaware and Rhode Island. The county is home to more than one-quarter of California residents and is one of the most ethnically diverse counties in the U.S. Its county seat, the City of Los Angeles, is also its most populous city at about four million. In such a dense population of humanity, you have to expect the Chronicles of Darkness that lurks in the shadows of the busy metropolis.

Beneath the surface, far from the eyes of onlookers lives (or unlived in some cases) the most concentrated population of supernatural beings in the world. While far outnumbered by the sea of mundane darkness, the denizens of the unseen world are dealing with the whispering in the night. Los Angeles is where the monsters hide in plain sight, where dreams go to die, and where the silence between the factions is causing a volatile situation that could explode at any moment. You can be anything instantly or lose everyone you care about in a moment. You could be the next prince or hunted by your own kind. This city is a struggle to survive, and it may never get easier. Regardless, they’re all here for a reason… including you.

Welcome to Los Angeles, might want to take care of yourself if you plan to stay awhile; no one else will.

Themes

Cold War

Eternal Noire The Incident of 1994 Northridge Earthquake
“Los Angeles was the kind of place where everybody was from somewhere else and nobody really dropped anchor. It was a transient place. People are drawn by the dream, people running from the nightmare. Twelve million people and all of them ready to make a break for it if necessary. Figuratively, literally, metaphorically — any way you want to look at it — everybody in L.A. keeps a bag packed. Just in case.” ― Michael Connelly, The Brass Verdict

As long as anyone can remember, supernatural denizens have existed in Los Angeles; each faction holding their own histories. Even before the Incident there was deeply embedded mistrust, for good reason.  Secrecy keeps your den safe from monsters that would come in the night to drink you and your children dry for that insult at a bar. Secrecy allows you to work behind the scenes and manipulate the strings of fate behind government funding and elections. Secrecy is security, power, and most of all a necessity. Holding all your cards as close to your chest as possible is vital to survival, especially since The Incident.

No one seems to know why the The Incident of 1994 happened, which is strange for any population who have literally the potential to break the universe and comprehend time and space with enough motivation. Mundane scientists explain it as an earthquake that caused massive damage, killing 60 people, injuring 7000, and rendering tens of thousands homeless as buildings and destroying infrastructure with devastating tectonic motion and consequential fires. The predators became the prey. The Incident got its nickname out of a series of coincidences that happened within each faction if you can still call it a coincidence when every faction of the greater region suffered from their own reported incidents on the same day as the earthquake.

The factions of the city, including the Hunters, have their own suspicions; blame being passed to the other factions – when fingers aren’t being pointed internally, that is. The threat of war in Los Angeles between the factions has been brewing deeply beneath the surface since that day. The faction’s leaders, while trying to keep the appearance of isolation and peace, suspect one another for causing the Incident. The leaders are unified in one concept; no matter the cost to the faction, or whether you call it, the veil, the masquerade, or something else entirely, you do not break it. You break it, there is no hope for you; no second chance, no forgiveness. Those that threaten to turn the Cold War into a hot one are met with a rather painful and public end to their existence.

The predators can feel that others are around; they’re there in the shadows, they are spying on each other, preparing their next moves. No one is safe, not really, and everyone feels that tangible shiver down their spines when caught alone on an empty street at night. And while you can spend years studying grimoires or history books, manipulate social webs so that you are the black widow patiently waiting for the flies, or become strong or immoral enough to murder anyone who stands in your way, you can’t fight the enemy you cannot see.

So why the secrecy? Secrecy is survival. The currency of Los Angeles County in a Supernatural Cold War. Be ahead of the information, keep things to your chest and you might survive.

Veneer

“The setting sun burned the sky pink and orange in the same bright hues as surfers’ bathing suits. It was beautiful deception, Bosch thought, as he drove north on the Hollywood Freeway to home. Sunsets did that here. Made you forget it was the smog that made their colors so brilliant, that behind every pretty picture there could be an ugly story.” ― Michael Connelly, The Black Echo

They call California the Golden State; it’s more like fool’s gold. The beautiful glimmer drawing attention, and hundreds of thousands of people into California every year, just for a chance at the riches it promises. People who want to become famous, be an actor or actress, musicians and computer science entrepreneurs just looking to make their dreams come true. Just beneath that gilded surface is nothing but cow shit; a counterfeit coating enveloping and hiding the rotten core beneath, and no part of California is more corrupt or putrid under the seams than Los Angeles County. A place so unforgiving it thrives off feeding its own carefully crafted deception in the form of hit songs about how beach babes and alcohol are all you could want; a veneer that hides a bloated, maggot-ridden corpse.

Los Angeles County is home to the motherland of all glamour and window dressing; Hollywood. It, in a sense, turned Los Angeles into the cesspool it is today. Decades of providing the public with a product, one they continued to eat up no matter if it was slowly poisoning them. Sometimes beautiful women in bikinis on screen are self-loathing drug addicts off-screen. The stripper who is also a prostitute, and the businessman who is also running illegal prescriptions to all the men in his division. Nothing is as it seems, and no one really wants it any other way. The appeal of the mask everyone wears isn’t hidden, in fact, it’s what the city depends on. It preys on those who want to be beautiful, be wanted, finding imperfections and targeting that insecurity. What’s so dangerous about the veneer of Los Angeles County is that everyone knows it exists, and everyone feeds into its deception anyways.

Like in a business, where one is expected to follow the employee guidelines and the dress code, same goes for those who come to Los Angeles County. It is expected that you know where the bad neighborhoods are and ignore the fact that they may be in between places like Rodeo Drive and Beverly Hills. It is expected you learn what colors mean what, where you’re going to be a target, what you should be wearing, driving, or even consuming depending on who and where you are. Being yourself is not an option, not if you want to blend in. You have to follow the unspoken rules, accept that you are not unique or original. You are one of the millions of people in this county, one of the millions of stories. Show them what they want to see, wear that short skirt to get hired, buy that same goth trench coat from hot topic, grow out your beach boy hair: conform. You see, all these millions of people have dreams too, and almost all of them are going to end up holding up the same façade that they are really living it up here; because why admit otherwise when everyone is buying into the lie?

The glitter and glam of Los Angeles County quickly fade when someone is here long enough. What makes you different here, is whether you accept the lie…or embrace it.

Factions & Territory:

Los Angeles County has been at a stalemate Cold War since The Incident occurred. Since then, the borders for the individual factions have strengthened. The map of the claimed zones can be found here.

Essentially, the breakdown is:

  • The Hunters – Downtown & Los Angeles City
  • The Kindred – Malibu, Santa Monica, and Long Beach
  • The Awakened – Hollywood & Burbank
  • Unclaimed Territory, A.K.A. “Grey Zones”
    These zones are unprotected by any of the factions, and typically are an “anything goes” zone without supernatural regulation over it. Many supernatural denizens will claim these areas for their own. However, the hunters try and keep the peace and therefore they will attempt to protect the mortals here if they are being killed or harmed blatantly. So if you want to cause trouble here, remember that.

What about The Mortals, you ask? Well the mortals can freely go anywhere they wish, as the supernaturals in the dark are hiding their identities… most of the mundane mortals in Los Angeles have no idea what darkness is happening in the shadows. It also means that they tend to be in the most danger without even realizing it. The mortals who are in the know may know that the hunters keep Downtown safe for them, but don’t have the numbers to regulate outside of that area.

More Resources:

The following list consists of links that may be helpful for you as the player to get a feel for the setting that is Los Angeles County. While our version of Los Angeles County takes creative liberties, it is based on the real setting location. It’s our hope that this list is helpful to provide additional information you may need when creating your own character. 

Links:
Border Map:
Map of Los Angeles County. Credit: CSUN