Toreador players: View the invitation and RSVP here!
OOC Venue: IRC Darkmyst server #Jefferson-Hotel-OOC (for instructions on how to log on, click here)
OOC Date and Time: Wednesday, October 30 from 8PM - 12AM EST
Storytellers: Chris Pozsgai, ANST Masquerade; Brennan M., Richmond VST
ALL PLAYERS MUST EMAIL CHARACTER SHEETS TO THE ANST AND COPY THEIR RESPECTIVE VST.
IC Location: The Jefferson Hotel, Richmond VA
IC Date: Thursday, October 31 (Halloween night)
Sponsored by: The Council of Petals
Local hosts: Elder Seneschal Franziskus Winter and Elder Primogen Alonso Gutierrez
Distinguished Guests: Elder Prince Clarence Merrick of Richmond, Virginia (Gangrel); Elder Prince Elijah Hunter of Raleigh, North Carolina (Gangrel); Elder Prince Alexander Konrad of Washington, D.C. (Ventrue); Elder Prince Boris Baeronisky of Pueblo, Colorado (Ventrue); Elder Prince Lucien of San Juan, Puerto Rico (Malkavian); Elder Prince Monique Preusen of Twin Cities, Minnesota (Toreador); Elder Prince Meshack Boeotarch of St. Louis, Missouri (Ventrue), Prince Adeline Bellamy of Fredericksburg, Virginia (Ventrue)
An Immortal Tradition
"Prominent Toreador and elders of the clan like to throw a Grand Ball on Halloween -- one is held on each continent -- and it is put on collectively by several guilds (or broods, or coteries, or whatever's 'in' this year). The site changes every year and many Toreador fight over who is to put it on. Recently some of the younger members of the clan have boycotted the Grand Ball in an attempt to have it moved to something other than Halloween. They complain that having the Grand Ball on Halloween is silly and makes the clan look like a bunch of pretentious stereotypes to outsiders. Personally, I think that's the point. Remember -- always make them underestimate you. And, to be honest, it never hurts to find beauty in the less-pleasant aspects of the world..." (Toreador Clan Book Revised, p. 56)
This year's Ball marks the first affair to be held during the tenure of the newly-elected Council of Petals. After a period of spirited debate and negotiation, Franziskus Winter's motion to hold the Ball in Richmond was passed by a majority vote of the Council. As the Southern capital is home to a well-reputed Primogen and has a Toreador serving as its Seneschal, the potential rewards for visiting Roses are great indeed. Not only does the evening promise a feast for the senses, it also provides members of the Clan with an important opportunity to exhibit their charisma, uniqueness, nerve, and talent.
In times past, the Ball has usually been a strictly within-Clan function. But as great art deserves an abundant audience, this year's event will be open to guests. Roses in attendance may bring along one guest of their choosing, but it is best to choose wisely; while the Toreador are far from stodgy, a certain degree of decorum and civility are expected, and you want to show that your taste in friends is impeccable. Your Brujah buddy may be lively and amusing in ordinary circumstances, but you wouldn't want her to embarrass you by causing a scene or by showing up wearing something no sane person would be caught (un)dead in.
The theme of this year's Ball will be "Perdition & Paradise." Attendees are encouraged to consider costumes that fit within this theme (whether literary, historical, or mythological), and to submit works of art that incorporate ideas or images of salvation and/or damnation.
The Jefferson Hotel
The block upon which the hotel is situated is recognized as the personal territory of Alonso Gutierrez, a special privilege granted by Prince Merrick in exchange for a beautiful sword the Toreador Elder had crafted for him.
As the top-ranked hotel in Richmond, the Jefferson is one of only 27 American hotels with Mobil Five Star and AAA Five Diamond Hotel ratings. It is accompanied by "Lemaire," a Five Diamond Restaurant named after Etienne Lemaire, who served as maitre d'hotel to Thomas Jefferson from 1794 through the end of his presidency. In 1969, it was listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Tobacco baron Lewis Ginter began building the hotel in 1892 and opened it in 1895 on Halloween. It was designed by Carrère and Hastings, architects of the New York Public Library. A fire gutted the interior in 1901, and the hotel was restored and reopened in 1907. Patrons have included presidents (William McKinley, Theodore Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson, Calvin Coolidge, and Franklin D. Roosevelt), writers, and celebrities, including Charles Lindbergh, The Rolling Stones, Dolly Parton, Henry James, and Elvis Presley.
In his autobiography, The Moon's A Balloon, Academy Award-winning actor David Niven described how he was on a trip from New York to Florida in the late 1930s when he decided to spend the night at the Jefferson Hotel. Niven stated that as he was signing the guest registry, his eyes snapped open with amazement when he noticed a full-sized alligator swimming in a small pool located six feet from the reception desk. Alligators at the Jefferson would become world famous, and the last alligator living in the marble pools of the Jefferson's Palm Court, named Old Pompey, remained there until he died in 1948. Bronze statues of the alligators still decorate the hotel, and the hotel restaurant is themed with alligator motifs.
Local urban legend has it that tap dancer Bill "Bojangles" Robinson was discovered while working as a bellhop at the hotel. However, this is most likely untrue. When the Jefferson Hotel opened in 1895, Robinson (then 16) was already touring with traveling shows on the black theater circuit. Another urban legend states that the Grand Staircase in the lobby was featured in the classic movie Gone with the Wind. According to the hotel's concierge, the author of the novel, Margaret Mitchell, stayed at the Jefferson during the time she was writing the book, thus the description and portrayal of the staircase in her novel is said to be inspired by the one in the hotel. The 1981 film My Dinner with Andre, however, was entirely shot inside the hotel.
The following areas (as separate IRC rooms) will be made available to kindred revelers. Since curious mortals may be passing through public areas at any time, it is essential to keep the Masquerade in mind. If your character has made arrangements to stay at the Jefferson, he or she may also have private visitors in his or her "room" by opening a private chat window, but as a courtesy to the storytellers who might otherwise have their hands full, please limit such interactions to soft-roleplay only. If you would like to see actual images of the hotel's lavish interior, click here and/or here.
Rotunda Lobby & Mezzanine: A large and opulent reception area with a lovely stained glass rotunda, ideal for meet-and-greets, where a handsome ghoul stands ready to take your coat and hand out a Schwarze Madonna rose (to RSVP'ed Toreador only). As the most public area of the hotel, it is also the least specially decorated so as not to entice mortals passing through to linger and gape; that said, it is nonetheless a vision of splendor, with ample leather lounges, luxurious carpeting, polished marble floors, and imposing columns also made of smooth, veined marble. A grand staircase, festooned with garlands of white roses, leads up to the mezzanine area, which offers an unobstructed view of the lobby below and permits access to the Monticello Room, Lemaire restaurant, and Ginter Gallery.
Monticello Room: A small executive-style board room with a table and seating for ten, this area has been set aside for conversations of a more intimate or private nature. Accessible via the mezzanine, the long table is draped with bundles of wispy gray gauze, and the centerpiece is a heavy funerary urn filled with a handful of pale white sticks that resemble long, grasping bony fingers. The only illumination is furnished by various old brass lantern housings strung together and hung overhead on a chain with flickering, ghostly green electronic tea lights inside them. It is rather insulated from noise here, evoking a sense of between-ness, or the disquieting stillness of the grave, or perhaps calling to mind echoes of a bland pagan underworld.
Lemaire: The hotel's famous restaurant has been converted into a dark gambling parlor for the night, where another comely ghoul serves as the dealer. Accessible via the mezzanine, the dining tables here are covered in decadent black charmeuse and illuminated by electronic candelabras with wiry thorns wrapped around them in the style of choking vines and hung with tiny skulls. The seats are as plush and inviting as sin itself, and one of the booths has been reserved for a fortune teller. Strategically-placed red spotlights cause the restaurant's famous alligator statues to cast dramatic, menacingly-toothed shadows against the fabric-draped walls. Why not linger a while, and take your chances?
Ginter Gallery: A pre-function area off the mezzanine and adjacent to the Grand Ballroom, where artistic works are on display for the enjoyment of all (see "A Gallery of Visual Delights" below). Bathed in warm amber light, the various pieces are framed and separated by an abundance of artificial fruit trees and flowers. A simple central fountain furnishes the tranquil sound of trickling water, while a concealed electronic device plays a variety of exotic bird songs. The overall effect suggests a verdant earthly paradise, and perhaps evokes a wistful sense of loss for those kindred who miss the kiss of the sun or the comforting caress of an afternoon breeze.
Grand Ballroom: A spacious room for music and dancing, accessible only through the gallery, with a stage for live acts. The ballroom is decked out in lightweight white fabrics that undulate gently in the air-conditioned breeze, and the cloth around the ceiling is artfully gathered into soft, gossamer "clouds." Ethereal, blue-tinted beams projected against the crystal chandelier create a wondrous, dazzling effect of dancing sapphire-hued light. The seating area is trimmed in white feathers with touches of opal, pearl, and gold, and each table has a uniquely sculpted plaster centerpiece incorporating trumpeting angels and other celestial imagery (each custom made by Alonso Gutierrez), also painted gold.
A Gallery of Visual Delights
If you are interested in having your character's artwork on display at the Ball, by all means contact the hosts or simply add it below yourself using the format provided. Even if you will be unable to join the game via IRC, your character needn't physically attend to have his or her art shown for everyone else to admire and covet. Multiple contributions are welcome; there's no such thing as too much, and besides, multiple entries improve your chances of being chosen as the evening's top talent!
- Rise and Fall by Spencer of Mt. Pleasant, MI (Crafts/Painting x5): A 24 ft. by 8 ft. panoramic of the Chicago skyline, starting on the left with buildings that are charred and broken from the Great Chicago fire, and painted in sepia tones. As the viewer moves right, the buildings slowly begin to modernize from the 19th Century buildings to the 20th Century skyscrapers, becoming more majestic and brilliantly colored until about 20 feet of the way across when the buildings begin to crack and degrade, becoming more and more decrepit, the painting at the end of the piece is in eerie greens and darker tones. (Those with Advanced Auspex or greater can see Toreador figures painted into the scene, adding beauty to their surroundings. The viewer may find Maria reclining across some of the more opulent buildings or a graceful looking Annabelle with her arms stretched over the most majestic part of the skyline, or Portia with a powerful presence, simply walking behind the skyline where things have begun to degrade. The Toreador figures end with Portia and in the most decrepit parts at the end of the painting, have been replaced with lupines running about in the street, with a horrible looking wolfish face with a hand bathed in green flames snarling above the once magnificent city.)
- Primum Mobile by Franziskus Winter of Richmond, VA (Crafts/Metalwork x5): A large and elaborate metal sculptural piece roughly five feet in diameter, resembling a complex gyroscope. More scholarly than inspired, it consists of several moving concentric rings that evoke the geography and cosmology described in Dante’s Divine Comedy. A three-faced Lucifer rests at the center of gravity; as the rotating rings of the underworld extend outward, astute and learned eyes can spy miniscule representations of various sinners as well as specific monsters such as Geryon, Cerberus, and Minos. These are all encompassed within the terrestrial sphere, which is crowned with a miniscule model of Jerusalem, while the seven-tiered Mount Purgatory (topped by a griffin in the Earthly Paradise) stands at the southern antipodes. This is followed by additional rings of various metals representing the spheres of the moon, Mercury, Venus, the sun, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn, respectively, ensconced within a delicate spherical latticework of heavenly constellations.
- Creation-Inspiration by Seitheach Eircheard of Seattle, WA (Crafts/Metalwork x5): Created pre-embrace by Seitheach Eircheard in service to the church. A offering bowl to rival all offering bowls. Inspiration is found in the strangest places. The piece is made of silver with gold accents and knotwork etching around the base.
- Ana in the Afterglow by Einhardt Wagner of Houston, TX (Crafts/Painting x4): A 4 ft. by 8 ft. canvas depicting a young woman. Ana (presumably) is a beautiful creature, young and slender, with long dark hair and a spider's web of scars across her backside. She is seen rising from a bed, partially covered in thin blankets, her gaze directed at a phantom window. The canvas itself is painted entirely in red hues, ranging from bright crimson to deep maroon, which may leave the viewer wondering exactly what medium was used by the artist.
- Beauty in Peril by Amber Tsigane Grayson of San Juan, PR (x2 Broadswords, Crafts 5 Bladesmithing): The blade of each of the swords is 50 inches long, the steel fresh and catching the light. Around the fuller in the blade is an etching stretching up, fine Celtic knot-work appearing in the fuller itself while the piece near the hilt bears a well-made Celtic cross. A guard stretches out to the sides, gently curving upward straight above the hilt, while the hilt itself is covered in fine leather strips which wrap around horizontally to create a firm grip. On the pommel of the hilt is a stylized letter “A” in fine Gothic script.
- Arcadian Symmetry by Amber Tsigane Grayson of San Juan, PR (x2 Rapiers, Crafts 5 Bladesmithing/Leather working 3): The blade is about 100cm long and made of finely forged steel, while the hilt itself is wrapped in soft brown leather for a sure grip. The hand guard is a double sided and pierced design to protect the hand during combat. Finely etched rose vines climb the perfect steel, hinting at both beauty and functionality.
- Bloodvine by Amber Tsigane Grayson of San Juan, PR (x1 Dagger, Crafts 5 Bladesmithing): The blade is about 23cm long, the steel finely forged and catching the light, with a ribbed shell swept hilt. Finely etched, thorned vines stretch the length of the steel with roses hinted in abstract along the blade.
- Cocytus by Alonso Gutierrez of Richmond, VA (Crafts X5) : An ebony sculpture styled after the descriptions of Judas Iscariot stands eight feet tall on an ivory pedestal. The entire piece is surrounded by a thick block of ice slowly melting into a channel around the base of the sculpture.
- Lord of the Underworld by Amber Tsigane Grayson of San Juan, PR (Leather Armor, Crafts 3 Leatherwork): The armor worn by Lord Hades is made of strong but soft leather dyed black. The greaves are well fitted and formed to Genesis' legs, allowing for full movement and protection. The cuirass is made from strong leather and features small studs along the arms and sides and detailed lacing along the front. The pauldrons feature articulated design for maximum movement. The arm bracers feature a simple and elegant celtic cross design. The boots are simple and protect the shins and calves from sword blows.
- Tryptych by Mariah Lily Buchanan of Seattle, WA (Crafts x5): These outfits are arrayed on latex mannequins that bear an uncanny and uncomfortable resemblance to embalmed corpses.
- The first piece comprises a corset made of long, thin gold spikes over a tight gown woven of steel fabric mesh (around 80 lbs. in weight). There are spiked cuffs that match the corset, with thin gold rope chains hanging down from the shoulder strap of the gown to the cuff.
- The second piece is topped by a structured straitacket in wine-colored brocade in Victorian proportions, and all the clasps, snaps and zippers are gold. The back of the jacket incorporates a bustle made of white cotton sheeting that is stained with wine dye that somewhat resembles blood. The skirt of the gown is black with a gold and black pleating around the bottom that starts six inches from the floor
- The final ensemble is a corseted gown that transitions from a Renaissance style at the top to a mid-Victorian style at the bottom. The corset itself is dark green with an ivory lace overlay. The top of the corset has a fluffy off-white rose trim with tiny crystals nestled into each blossom. Under the corset is a sheer golden robe that hangs off the shoulder and down to the floor over an ivory skirt. A golden-colored ribbon trim holds the billowy sleeves close to the arm at the wrist and elbow. Over the gown is a sheer green cape that is gathered along the seam lines in the back with tiny pink roses holing the gathers in place.
- Cerbersus by Josefina “Jodi” Parloni, Avignon (Hobby: Puppetry x5): The three heads of Cerberus are depicted as a Chihuahua, Rottweiler, and wolf. There is also a mane of serpents have strings on them. The tail is of large python complete with strings in place to allow for constriction. The strings of the puppet art attached an elaborate system of handles.
- Excerpt from "Tales of the Abyss" by Nuada Haïdar of of Fort Lauderdale, FL (Crafts 5:Writing): This is a small excerpt from an original piece written by Nuada. The book itself has been published in over 6 countries and distributed world wide. It has sold more than 1.5 million copies. It dictates the creation of a civilization brought to the brink of destruction when traveling the worlds of Bashoea, a world covered in the death & decay. A single vision of glory found throughout the land brings forth a faith unlike no other that shows the Darkness that light can bring forth beauty. To the mortals, it is merely a fantasy that brings them an overabundant joy of a life they wish to live and experience. (Anyone with high enough insight in deciphering cryptic writings will notice that this book tells tales of the Toreador and their struggle through the worlds that dared to separate them from their beauty. In other words it is two stories in one and both are similar as well as the true writing behind it is more heart-felling. If a Toreador can not control their emotion when reading this. It will be difficult to pull themselves away and not feel and experience the emotions that the author has gone through.) Actual excerpt is here
- Title by Character Name of City, State (Crafts X): Text description
Musical Offerings & Live Performances
What would a Ball be without music and dancing? Guests with vocal or musical talent are certainly welcome to take the stage and strut their stuff; however, for most of the evening, prerecorded songs will be played so as not to unduly, ahem, distract the majority of attendees. The music at the Ball will be eclectic enough to really encompass anything you want to hear, really, so play whatever music you like at home to set the mood (or feel free to use this sample playlist if you want, with apologies in advance for the annoying YouTube ads). If your character would like to woo and captivate the crowd with an onstage performance, and possibly win recognition as a favorite, he or she need simply make arrangements with the hosts in advance so their act can be added to the evening's schedule of live events (to commence at 10pm EST). It also might be a good idea to "rehearse"; in other words, consider having a description of your performance written up and ready to go beforehand in order to use your game time most efficiently.
Working the Room
Winning accolades through artistic and musical proficiency is certainly a good way to enhance one's reputation, but let's not overlook another important Toreador raison d'etre: getting noticed. Many of the Clan unofficially compete in various ways to stand out in the crowd in hopes of being remarked favorably upon, whether through extravagant displays of costuming, providing titillating tidbits of gossip to anyone who will listen, or simply being the most witty personality in the room. As with other forms of performance, the ability to accurately read an audience is essential here; otherwise, your attempt at a bon mot could easily become a faux pas. Moreover, one must always conduct oneself with taste and tact or else appear too desperate for attention and praise.
Games of Skill and Chance
In celebration of Humanity and to benefit the city's mortal inhabitants, the hosts will be providing opportunities for the gambling of money as a charity event. All proceeds will be donated to the local Visual Arts Center, a non-profit that teaches children and adults about art and provides free workshops to aspiring artists. In addition, all Toreador attendees who RSVP'ed will be provided with a single Schwarze Madonna rose upon entering the hotel, and whomever is able to collect the most blossoms from other guests by the end of the evening is likely to win favorable recognition for their deft exercise of personal charm and political skill. Those who dishonor the intent or spirit of these games -- by stealing roses from the doorman or Dominating the dealer to give you the best cards, for example -- will likely find that their misguided attempt at being "clever" fails to impress. (Sometimes it's best to just play by the rules.)
A Few Words on Etiquette
From the Toreador Clan Book Revised (p. 58): "Disrupting someone's planned social event is likely to get you into trouble. Most guests at a party feel at least a minimum obligation to pay lip service to their host's anger, so agitating the host is the quick way to encourage everyone to say bad things about you. This means you don't want to insult the host of a party. You shouldn't ever assault someone at a party, for the love of God, particularly if he's the special guest of the host. For this reason, some Toreador try to avoid drinking drug- or alcohol-tainted blood at fetes -- in order to avoid embarrassing yourself, you must remain in control. Allowing yourself to be embarrassed wrecks your prestige, whether it's the result of something you did or something that was visited upon you. Ultimately, however, disrupting someone's party will only make you an outcast in your own town. You could easily move to another locale, and odds are no one there would know what happened. Nor would they care. Unless, of course, your reputation precedes you..."
It also bears mentioning that, for an event of this size, well-mannered attendees should not come with too great an appetite out of consideration for the Masquerade and the trouble a sudden influx of hungry vampires could cause to the local human populace.
1 = Never Present / 2 = Sometimes Present / 3 = Usually Present / 4 = Often Present / 5 = Always Present
Action 1: Those looking for a chance to flex their physical muscle or Thaumaturgical badassery are likely to be disappointed. This fete is a refined and dignified occasion, and the Masquerade will be strictly enforced.
Character Development 3: This event will present a special opportunity for Toreador characters to show everyone why their talents were worthy of the Embrace, and to advance their reputations in the eyes of the Clan's luminaries.
Darkness 2: Sinning is fun! That said, Toreador place a high value on Humanity; and while they enjoy their little vices, it is unlikely that the event will afford major opportunities for moral corruption.
Drama 4: This event will provide an opportunity for players to "perform" as their characters. High-caliber roleplay is the goal here, but be careful not to descend into unnecessary hysterics.
Intrigue 4: Plot away, you wicked things, and may the odds be ever in your favor.
Manners 5: All eyes are upon you. Please behave yourself.
Mystery 2: There will be little for investigative characters to sink their fangs into. No grisly murders that need solving (hopefully), no rare codices of ancient occult evil, etc. But it's a great venue for the exchange of information and gossip for those looking to learn about (or tattle on) others' characters.
Pace 1: As noted previously, this is intended to be a leisurely-paced affair without the need for high-speed car chases or a lot of running around.
Special thanks to Laura M. for helping with the design of this wiki! :)