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Background

Vampire Clans

In the LHF universe, the term “vampire” refers to a broad category of supernatural beings spanning many cultural origins. They may be alive; they may be dead; they may be mortal or immortal. They may drink human blood or that of non-human animals.  Some may have hyperacute senses and shapeshifting powers; others may fly on bat wings; still others have no superhuman attributes. In any event, all vampires in LHF share two traits. 1) They are human. 2) They sustain themselves on blood. 

The unit of LHF vampire culture is the clan. Clans consist of individuals who share an identity, whether it is ethnic, religious, political, subcultural or several of the above. Though some clans with overlapping interests collaborate and get along, most clans regard others with xenophobic suspicion. In practice, this means that most clans leave each other to their own devices as long as they don’t invade others’ jurisdictions.

Clans may be likened to families in form. There is no formal governmental structure for clans, although consensus recognizes the most influential and powerful individuals in each clan as leaders. Leaders are almost always senior, founding members.

Not all vampires belong to clans; in fact, a substantial number are independent, which neither adds to nor subtracts from their status in the vampire community at large. Some independent vampires have disassociated themselves from a clan, such as Materyllis [disassociated from the Chocolatiers] and Absinthe [disassociated from the Sods and the Colonials]. Other independent vampires, like Anneka, do not have a clan because they identify with and associate more closely with the mortal world.

Whether independent or part of a clan, all vampires abide by the law of secrecy, which is to say that they hide their vampirism from the world at large. They do not necessarily hide their existence as individuals or even knowledge of their vampirism from some mortal individuals, but they do keep the fact of vampirism from mainstream society. Mortals who are entrusted with knowledge of vampiric existence — e.g., Chow’s daughter Baozha and Rori, human member of the Plainsfolk — are in such marginalized subcultural positions that they do not have the authority to affect mainstream society’s beliefs on the subject. [Conversely, mortals in the midst of mainstream culture, such as Thomas, Harvard doctoral student, or Anneka's parents, should never learn about the existence of vampires.]

All rights and wrongs among vampires are governed on the clan level at the leaders’ discretion. Those clans that cooperate with mortals may follow mortal laws. More insular clans have their own codes.

But one violation merits the harshest punishment. Any vampire who breaks the code of secrecy must be suppressed. Violations of secrecy may be as bloodless as merely passing along information about vampires to a threateningly mainstream individual, but usually they are flamboyant events of gory flagrance that cause mortal panic. The Sods’ turning of Will and slaughter of his parents was one such event. Even though Materyllis was watching out for Affie Marks, Affie’s accidental infanticide of her mortal friends’ newborn was another.

Punishment depends on the disposition of the violator. If the violator is compliant or at least tractable, as was Affie, he or she will be dealt with on the clan level and killed by a fellow member, as Materyllis killed Affie. If the violator is non-compliant or intractable, Ethan Stuart of the Colonials decides the matter. Mostly he kills violators, as he did with Marquis of the Sods, although he has been known to permit extended surveillance and quarantine, as he did with Absinthe for her part in the Sods gorefest.

Forthwith, an alphabetical survey of some vampire clans of the Boston metro area, with a description of their significant adherents, traits and habits.

Chocolatiers

  • Territory: Former Baker Chocolate Factory building, Lower Mills, Dorchester, Boston, Massachusetts
  • Constituency: Working-class African-Americans and Vietnamese-Americans
  • Members: Materyllis Whatley [former], Sarah Tammany [present], Susie Langdon [present]
  • Vampiric Type: Some members have been turned by conjure magic. They are immortal shapeshifters [like Materyllis] with a preferred non-human animal form. They drink human blood to enforce their human forms.
  • Reputation/Outlook: The Chocolatiers are known as an open-minded, accepting clan that gets along with mortals. They are a “cool” clan, often engaging in social activism with the Plainsfolk and the UUUs. That being said, their ties with rootwork and conjure magic lead some vampires to think that they are unsophisticated believers in pre-scientific bullshit.

Colonials

  • Territory: Salem, Massachusetts
  • Constituency: Early Puritan settlers from the mercantile and upper class
  • Leader: Ethan Stuart
  • Members: Tituba Salem [current], Ethan Stuart [current], Absinthe Wainwright [former]
  • Vampiric Type: The Colonials would like everyone to think that their vampirism is a curse from the Devil transmitted through agents of witchcraft. That’s what Ethan says. In fact, their vampirism derives from an alchemical cure for tuberculosis administered to Ethan Stuart by a healer woman. The cure maintains immunity from tuberculosis, smallpox, bubonic plague, influenza, croup and some other nasty diseases that were more of a threat in the 1600s, so long as one ingests human blood. As a side effect, one’s lifespan is greatly extended. The pace of aging is slowed, but not completely stopped. Side effects include sensitivity to light and pointy teeth. Transmission is effected by swapping blood with a mortal. Many clans in Boston metro are permutations on the Colonial type.
  • Reputation/Outlook: The Colonials are known and feared for their strict, conservative, authoritarian law enforcement over all Boston metro clans. Secretly everyone, even such long-established clans as the Hun, disdains the Colonials as dictatorial, narrow-minded relics of the past. However, the “smite first; ask later” policies of the Colonials intimidate the populace, so that people do not dare to say anything bad about them. Most vampires feel that it is most expedient to keep the code of secrecy while entirely ignoring the existence of the Colonials, who are perceived as dangerous, yet increasingly irrelevant. Recently, within the last decade or two, Ethan has increasingly retired from his public judicial role, leaving Tituba as a de facto administrator.  There’s less smiting going on, which reinforces the general perception that the Colonials are no longer with it [or else they would have bitch-slapped the End of the World, right?].

End of the World

  • Territory: Commercial Street, Provincetown, Massachusetts
  • Constituency: Middle-class people of all ethnic backgrounds in their teens and twenties
  • Members: Gemini Beaumont [current], Pippilotta Marshall [former]
  • Vampiric Type: The End of the World are vampires of the Colonial type. In addition, they swear that they are allergic to the sun and that they have irresistible powers of sexiness, both of which are debatable.
  • Reputation/Outlook: The End of the World are known for their irresponsible partying, rampant drug use and general stupidity. No one has good things to say about this clan, not even its members. Considered by more conservative clans to be the logical extension of the Plainsfolk’s membership and behavior, the End of the World are regarded by everyone as a clan that would benefit from being hacked off the cape and floated out to sea.

Half-and-Halfs

  • Territory: Dorchester, Boston, Massachusetts
  • Constituency: Young working-class women with Filipina and Malay ancestry
  • Members: Cory [current]
  • Vampiric Type: Members are manananggals and penanggals, mortal human women with bat wings who detach from their legs at night and fly around, sucking blood with their long, insect-like tongues.
  • Reputation/Outlook: No one knows much about this extremely new clan, so the general view is that they are a bunch of confused little wannabes who ape the styles of vampirism without knowing what it entails. Members struggle to be taken seriously by the vampire community and their human communities of mixed backgrounds.

Hosts

  • Territory: North End, Boston, Massachusetts
  • Constituency: Irish Catholics
  • Members: Michaela Geoghan [current]
  • Vampiric Type: The Hosts may be called communion vampires, distributing vampirism through a modified Eucharist, ostensibly for never-ending magnification of Christ and the Church. A certain number of members, like Michaela, were vamped at confirmation age, a milestone at which Hosts may traditionally be turned.
  • Reputation/Outlook: Hosts are noted for two things: their religion and their newspaper. First, Catholic forms and references manifest in all aspects of their lives, especially the way in which they incorporate feeding into the Eucharist. Second, they run the Metro Moonlight [MeMo], the weekly newspaper of the Boston clans. While full of exaggerations, the MeMo is also the only easy way to find out what everyone else is up to. The Hosts are stereotyped as rumor-mongering Jesus freaks. In return, they look suspiciously upon all other clans, their usual vampiric xenophobia flavored by religious prejudices.  The Hosts do not evangelize to non-Catholics, but they will take every opportunity to point out the error of “heathenish” ways. They have a special dislike for the Hun, who they think are dead laundry washers and restauranteurs.

Hun

  • Territory: Oxford Street, Chinatown, Boston, Massachusetts
  • Constituency: Immigrants to Boston from China
  • Leader: Bang Chow
  • Members: Bang Baozha [current, human associate], Bang Chow [current], Qingting [current]
  • Vampiric Type: Members are hun, or the rational parts of the human soul [as opposed to the p'ai, or base animalistic part, which creates flesh-eating zombie-like qiang xi if brought back], enticed back into their bodies with offerings and sustained by human blood. They may accurately be described as vampiric ghosts.
  • Reputation/Outlook: The Hun are revered as knowledgable historians and guardians of their neighborhood. They are also valued for their long historical perspective. After centuries of ill treatment and oppression from Americans, the Hun reflexively dislike “the Englishmen.” Like most well-established clans, they are pretty conservative. They have a special dislike for the Hosts, who they think are loud, pushy and full of Irish bull.

Irmas de Maria

  • Territory: Bow Street, Union Square, Somerville, Massachusetts
  • Constituency: Women of Portuguese descent
  • Leader: Teodora Coelho
  • Members: Teodora Coelho, Maria de Sao Jose [ZaeZae]
  • Vampiric Type: Members are bruxsas, or mortal, blood-drinking human women with lifespans of up to 300 years. Bruxsas may interbreed with mortal men and pass their vampirism to their daughters.
  • Reputation/Outlook: The Irmas’ name, “Sisters of Mary” in Portuguese, refers to their shared religious heritage and their stated purpose. Many of the Irmas are Catholic, especially the older ones. Younger ones are more likely to be lapsed. The Irmas think of themselves as sisters to the mother of Christ, with a duty to bestow their nurturing and maternal gifts on humanity. They have a reputation as healers, gardeners and talented chefs. The Irmas form a tight-knit sort of extended family with the Portuguese community, meaning that non-Portuguese people rarely talk to them, although there is some interplay between the Hosts and the Irmas. The average vampire knows of them as a source of succulent farmers’ market produce or delicious baked items. Other vampires call them “witches,” a direct translation of bruxsas.

Plainsfolk

  • Territory: Green Street, Jamaica Plain, Boston, Massachusetts
  • Constituency: Fin-de-siecle progressives and latterday gender activists
  • Leader: Dowager Lily English
  • Members: Dowager Lily English [current], Rori Halsted [current, human associate]
  • Vampiric Type: Members are Colonial type vampires.
  • Reputation/Outlook: The Plainsfolk are outspoken liberals with a special interest in women’s rights and gay/lesbian/transgender rights. They are stereotyped as radical lesbian activists and sometimes called suffragettes, primarily because Dowager Lily is a radical lesbian activist who was involved in the campaign for women’s suffrage. They are also accused of being male impersonators, an accusation leveled by more conservative clans who cannot understand the gay, lesbian, bisexual, queer, transgender and/or polyamorous identities of some  Plainsfolk. Then the accusations shade into cries of “free love” and “immoral licentiousness,” leading clans such as the Irmas, the Colonials and the Hosts to grumble about the Plainsfolk’s existence. The Plainsfolk get along better with the Chocolatiers, the South Enders and the UUUs.

Sods [defunct]

  • Territory: Back Bay, Boston, Massachusetts
  • Constituency: Pretentious de Sade wannabes
  • Leaders: Justine, Marquis
  • Members: Will Cox [former], Marquis [former], Justine [former], Absinthe Wainwright [former]
  • Vampiric Type: With the exception of Absinthe, who is a solidified ghost, the Sods were Colonial type vampires.
  • Reputation/Outlook: Active during the last half of the 19th century, the Sods styled themselves as intellectuals, aesthetes and voluptuaries, but they were really more like the Victorian era’s answer to the End of the World.

South Enders

  • Territory: Leather District, Boston, Massachusetts
  • Constituency: Gay guys from the last half of the 20th century
  • Leader: Ken Sibley
  • Members: Mark Berringer [current], Will Cox [former], Ken Sibley [current], Viktor [current, cyborg associate]
  • Vampiric Type: They are Colonial type vampires.
  • Reputation/Outlook: One of the richest and most influential clans, the South Enders have many investments in real estate and art galleries, particularly along Newbury and Tremont streets. They are known for their philanthropy and civic works, especially in city beautification. The South Enders get along best with the UUUs and the Plainsfolk, although they think both clans too liberal and permissive. They’re actually quite a conservative organization with assimilationist leanings.

Undead Unitarian Universalists

  • Territory: Davis Square, Somerville, Massachusetts
  • Constituency: Young modern Unitarians
  • Members: Davry Wheatgrass [current]
  • Vampiric Type: They are Colonial type vampires working actively to become diurnal and “cruelty-free.”
  • Reputation/Outlook: The UUUs collaborate with many of the Plainsfolk’s fundraising ventures to make twice the liberal noise. They also get along well with the Chocolatiers and the South Enders. The UUUs regularly make overtures of “coalition-building” to clans with which they do not have relationships. This does not go over well. They are perceived as a meddling threat to the integrity of other clans’ unique subcultures. The UUUs, being a relatively new clan, don’t quite understand why their initiatives fail.

The Story