Philadelphia by Night

Copyright: 2009, Florida Center for Instructional Technology
The Greater Philadelphia area is situated in the longer sprawl that extends along the Northeast coast. As a financial center it rivals all but a couple cities in the US, but beneath its glittering skyscrapers old world statues dot the streets. Long stretches of townhouses that have been standing for almost two hundred years crowd between highways and glassy buildings. Almost half (44 ) of the city is of mixed Caucasian ancestry, and the other half is comprised mainly of African American heritage (44), with a little over 10% spread between Asian and Hispanic heritage. As such, a variety of cultures intermingle in the neighborhoods of Philadelphia. Among the most prominent are Italian, Irish, German, Korean, Jamaican, Polish, and Russian, with some notable exceptions. Chinatown overflows into the Italian district with makeshift Vietnamese bazaars.

The loose cultural borders illustrate another notable aspect of the City of Brotherly Love: tension born of colliding ancestry, race, infrastructure, and socioeconomic status. Nicknamed for its blue collar “brotherly” demeanor, it can be straightforward, fair, and down-to-earth, but it can also be aggressive, cruel, and cold. In this sense, it can truly be “The City that Loves You Back.”

History and Present:
Philadelphia is also known as the “Birthplace of America,” and for good reason. It’s seen its share of Indians (Lenape) and Quakers, the echoes of these long-gone residents still linger in the cramped, dark alleyways between the rowhouses and along the thorny banks of the Schuylkill. The land itself seems bitter at William Penn’s betrayal, and the overpopulation. At the same time, high ideals really did roll with the carriages on the first roads of the “City of Liberty.” Scattered throughout the city are landmarks which mark the energy which built this city and drew its citizens here in high hopes. Old City was remodeled and now boasts red brick streets and refurbished buildings over a hundred years old or more. Small museums and restored buildings devoted to writers such as Edgar Allan Poe, thinkers such as Ben Franklin, and champions of social movements such as Susan B. Anthony, all huddle between office buildings or neighborhoods. The city’s jazz and blues culture still thrives, mixed with a dose of Cajun.

But again, for every finely crafted and restored Victorian style building, there are two moldering warehouses. Beneath the weeping gargoyles homeless cough their last cough on wintry nights. Just out of sight of the highly esteemed University of Pennsylvania are some of the nation’s most deadly gangs and their turf.

The Supernatural:
All of this has led Philadelphia to house quite the lion’s share of horrors and skeletons in the closet. Over a hundred vampires count themselves permanent residents of the Greater Philadelphia area, only 50 of which reside in the city proper. Many keep to themselves in bloody coteries, in makeshift dungeons, feeding from their blood dolls, or doing whatever else it takes so the Prince does not take notice- or one of the many other citizens of the city. And to add to this, as many as 50 kindred or more pass through the city a year.

It is difficult to say exactly how many there are since Philadelphia has been in a state of upheaval for almost a decade. 10 years ago, vampires commonly known as “The Brood” held near complete sway over the city, but through an incredible effort, they have lost their iron grip on the city. What exists now is a tenuous patchwork of coteries and primogen whose conflicting desires contribute keep any alliances cool and often temporary. (More on this depending on character background.)

The Lupines, or werewolves, are a grizzled bunch in this city, and only their more urban kin really hold any power here, but they are here, make no mistake. They hold sway over certain gangs, watch over their streets dearly, carry on bargains with their spirit allies of the city, and even control considerable financial resources- although in more limited ways than the kindred. Still, the kindred may be thankful that they don’t reside here in large numbers since the late eighties.

Sorcerers and witches have traditionally placed a high level of importance on Philadelphia, but more recently they seem to have retreated, or at least become less visible. The latter is more likely. Rumor has it that they have devoted themselves to gaining ground both north and south of Philadelphia (New York, Boston, and Washington D.C.) They’ve left Philadelphia to destroy itself. Or seem to. Just when the modern-day wizards appear to have disappeared one finds that they have been watching him all along, sitting near him. (Number unknown.)

What is of concern for Philadelphia’s undead, is that it has become a regular hotbed for mortals who hunt them. The years of conflict have taken their toll on the Masquerade and the citizens of the city. And nature has risen to respond as it always does. The hunted are becoming hunters. And sometimes they appear to be backed by considerable resources. Kindred have been advised to avoid all contact at any costs. Eliminating these mortals will no doubt only draw the attention of more heavily armed and organized teams or legendary hunters. (Numbers rivaling the undead.)

And finally, as if the city wasn’t crammed full of dangers on almost every block, the spirits of the dead have become increasingly restless and violent. It’s as if the city truly prepares to eat itself piece by piece or in one ferocious thrashing. Everyday another person disappears in some forgotten corner of an abandoned warehouse. A whimpering dog wishes it never saw the thing uncoiling itself from its den in the basement. Lost and hungry souls wander halls and down dead-end alleys of a city steeped in history and modern angst.

Philadelphia by Night

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