House of Caine
The District of Columbia
The District of Columbia is a semi-diamond shaped area between Virginia and Maryland. The city is divided into four sections—Northwest, Northeast, Southwest and Southeast — all of which meet at the U.S. Capitol building.
When most people think of Washington, D.C., the Mall and the surrounding buildings and monuments are what come to mind. This grassy area stretches between the Washington Monument and the U.S. Capitol Building and lies along the border of Northwest and Southwest Washington. The Lincoln Memorial stands near the Potomac to the west of the Mall, beyond the Washington Monument. Slightly south of the Mall, in East Potomac Park, is the Jefferson Memorial. Numerous other sites, such as the National Archives, the Library of Congress, the Supreme Court Building, and, of course, the White House, sit within a few blocks.
The Smithsonian Institution holds more than 135 million objects, only about one percent of which are on display at any time. The rest of the objects are kept in storage at scattered locations throughout the city and suburbs. The Kindred, especially the Tremere, draw on the resources of the Smithsonian when they seek mystical items or elements to perform rituals. Several elders have located different storage areas and have ghouls with access to them.
The Smithsonian Institution surrounds most of the Mall and the Smithsonian Institution Building, or the Castle, stands near its center. This red sandstone, Norman-style ediﬁce was originally built in 1855 to hold all of the Smithsonian’s operations. James Smithson’s body was brought to America in 1904 and lies entombed next to the Mall entrance of the Castle.
The Institution is one of the most widely-visited places on Earth. What follows is a list of the most popular attractions. Kindred needing any sort of odd artifacts and willing to risk one of the most advanced security systems in the world need only look here.
- The Arts and Industries Museum, the second building the Smithsonian museum constructed, contains collections of Americana. The most interesting elements of this museum are the experimental displays, where curators give their imaginations free reign. One exhibit that remains open in the World of Darkness is a homeless display requiring visitors to enter by sliding through a morgue drawer.
- More than 12 million people visit the National Air and Space Museum each year, quite possibly making it the most widely-visited attraction on the planet. Missiles, spacecraft and airplanes are featured in this museum. The most valuable item on display is a four-billion-year-old moon rock. After some attempts had been made to steal the moon rock, museum curators had a state-of-the-art security system installed to protect it. The city’s primogen have long argued over the relative safety of the moon rock, in light of its proximity to the Garou caern in East Potomac Park. They believe the werewolves want to use the spiritual power of the moon rock in their mystic ceremonies. A few suggest that the Garou might wish to forge a weapon from the stone.
- A favorite elder night spot is the National Gallery of Art. Some vampires use their favorite painting as a backdrop when they make announcements or speeches. Paintings that are no longer displayed, may wind up hanging in the haven of an elder.
- The National Museum of Natural History is a favorite of many Kindred, especially those in need of rare elements for rituals. At the entrance stands a stuffed 13-foot-tall African Elephant. To the right, the Dinosaur Hall has several sets of fossils wired together. On the second level, the gem and mineral display is among the richest in the world, second only to the Crown Jewels of England. Among notable stones are the Logan Sapphire (423 carats), the Oppenheimer Diamond (253.7 carats) and the legendary Hope Diamond. Among the guards are ghouls who have special orders to protect these gems from all potential thieves.
- The National Museum of American History contains a great deal of American cultural memorabilia, including a steam locomotive. Foreign Toreador enjoy visiting the permanent display of the dresses worn by America’s First Ladies and comment on American style — or lack thereof.
- The Freer Gallery of Art contains many Oriental pieces. The Smithsonian can neither loan out objects from the Freer Gallery, nor display any other art alongside the Freer collection. The Smithsonian Metro stands in front of the Freer. Nosferatu set their ghouls to keep a continuous watch on the station.
- Beside the Freer Gallery stands the Enid Haupt Memorial Garden. Beneath the garden are two underground museums: the Sackler Gallery and the National Museum of African Art. The Sackler contains other Oriental pieces, while the National Museum of African Art has items from hundreds of cultures. The Nosferatu have a tunnel that leads from the sewers and metro into the National Museum of African Art. This gives the Sewer Rats easy access into Elysium. The Nosferatu enjoy and protect the underground museums.
- The Hirshhorn Museum, established in 1974, was funded by a Latvian immigrant who made his fortune with uranium mines. Some refer to the Hirshhorn as the “doughnut on the Mall.” The museum displays an impressive collection of modern art, and a sunken sculpture garden fills the building’s central courtyard.
In and Around the Mall
- The Bureau of Engraving and Printing stands next to the Mall. The Bureau prints out currency worth 22.5 million dollars everyday. Washington’s vampire population avoids this building, because a group of Technocracy mages have a headquarters here.
- The United States Holocaust Museum is also avoided by most Kindred. The disturbing atmosphere of the museum can cause Derangements among the more unstable vampires.
The Lincoln Memorial
Prince Vitel enjoys visiting the Lincoln Memorial, and he sometimes holds audiences there. The anarchs cringe at the mere thought of Marcus Vitel receiving guests where Martin Luther King, Jr. gave his “I have a Dream” speech.
From the west side of the Lincoln Memorial, a person can look out across the Potomac River and see the Eternal Flame flickering in front of John F. Kennedy’s grave. The Prince’s favorite haven, the Lee House, is also visible. The lower level of the Lincoln Memorial provides an entrance to a series of catacombs that run beneath the Mall. Nosferatu have connected these catacombs to the Metro and sewer systems.
Lit by floodlights, the white marble structure seems to glow at night. Thirty-six columns circle the outside of the building, one for each state in the union when Lincoln was president. Inside is a massive white marble statue of Abraham Lincoln, 19 feet tall and wide. His second Inaugural Address and the Gettysburg Address are carved into the walls of the chamber.
The Washington Monument
Prince Vitel also spends some nights alone or with one of his “daughters” atop the Washington Monument, surveying his city. The anarchs refer to the two red airplane lights on top of the obelisk as the Eyes of Vitel. The Washington Monument stands 555 feet tall — the tallest piece of masonry in the world. Discolorations are visible where the construction of the monument had stopped and then restarted. An impressive circle of American flags surrounds the base.
East Potomac Park and the Jefferson Memorial
Lupine attacks sometimes shatter the Elysium. The Prince knows that a sept of wolves has established itself in East Potomac Park, and they have control over the Jefferrson Memorial and the entire tidal basin. Vitel has made a few attempts to destroy the Garou, but the werewolves have apparently enacted a rite of protection which wards off magical (and magickal) attacks. The Garou claim that they are protected by the spirit of the caern, which grows more powerful with every year.
The Jefferson Memorial is a round pantheon-style building next to the Potomac Tidal Basin. Inside stands a bronze statue of the former president, his quotes printed on the surrounding walls. Around the monument are Washington, D.C.’s famous cherry blossoms.
This is the largest and richest section of Washington, D.C., as well as the area of the city with the lowest crime rate. It is also the most expensive place to live. A two-bedroom apartment may run $1400 dollars a month or more in rent. Sirens are a constant part of the background noise of Northwest, as police quickly respond to incidents in these neighborhoods. Most of the white residents of the District live in Northwest D.C., and 16th Street along with Rock Creek Park mark a strange color boundary between the black and white populations.
Federal Triangle and Old Downtown
The area along Pennsylvania Avenue was long considered a national disaster, with pawn shops and dilapidated buildings lining the thoroughfare from the Capitol to the White House. When the 1968 riots wrecked downtown D.C. between the diamond formed by New York, Pennsylvania, Louisiana, and Massachusetts Avenues, many businesses shut down and moved away. In recent years, however, rebuilding has begun. Developers have rediscovered this section of the city. Additionally, the Federal Triangle in this section houses a large number of government offices. Neonates who spend too much time near Federal Triangle tend to earn the displeasure of the city’s elders.
Located on F Street between 4th and 5th Streets, this red brick building has hosted Inaugural balls for more than a century. The interior Corinthian columns (which are painted to resemble sienna marble) support a roof 75 feet above the floor. The room inside is vast. All of the city’s elders enjoy using the Pension Building to throw parties and balls for visitors. The Pension Building also holds the National Building Museum.
The National Archives building stands between Pennsylvania Avenue and Constitution Avenue and 7th and 9th Streets. During the day, the Archives display the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, but these are locked away in a vault before the Kindred rise. Many government records are stored away in the National Archives, and several Kindred have ties to the building’s staff. However, most of the National Archives’ records are in storage in Suitland, Maryland, one of the suburbs.
Old Post Office
One of the great secrets of Washington, D.C. is the Old Post Office located on 12th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue. Relatively few tourists visit the building or know about the extraordinary view from its clock tower. In 1899, when it was built, it was the largest government building in the city, and the first to have a power plant and a clock tower. The view of Washington, D.C. from the Old Post Office’s clock tower is almost as impressive as the view from the Washington Monument. The spacious courtyard interior of the Old Post Office was renovated in the 1980s and transformed into the Old Post Office Pavilion surrounded by shops and restaurants. The Old Post Office is another site that serves as a gathering place when the need arises to assemble all Kindred for proclamations by the Prince.
The White House and surrounding areas
The eyes of the world continually remain focused on the residents of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. The White House, the home of the President of the United States and its grounds are Elysium. Likewise, the Blair House and the Old Executive Building (formerly the State-War-Navy Building) are also Elysium. Younger Kindred are subtly discouraged from visiting any of these buildings.
The area around the Chief Executive’s mansion is one of the centers of vampiric activity inside the District because it contains the Octagon House, the long-time location of the Tremere Chantry, and the Hotel Washington, where the Prince holds most of his audiences.
The Octagon House
The only original structure, aside from the White House, remaining in the city is the Octagon House, located on New York Avenue and 18th Street, NW. This house of Georgian design actually has only six sides and a rounded front tower. It was built by William Thornton, the designer of the Capitol and the man who saved the U.S. Patent Ofﬁce from British torches in 1814.
Colonel John Tayloe was its first resident. His daughter died in the house after falling down its flight of stairs. Her ghost is said to linger here, but the Tremere have not noticed such a spirit moving through the halls. The house gained fame in 1814 when President Madison took up residence here while the White House was being rebuilt. The Treaty of Ghent, which ended the War of 1812, was signed inside the Octagon House.
The Tremere use the house as their chantry in the World of Darkness. The clan controls and protects the house using the American Institute of Architects, which is officially responsible for it, as a front organization. Tunnels beneath the house lead to the Potomac River. Other tunnels leading to the White House constructed in the Octagon House’s early history are sealed. Most Tremere rituals are conducted in the basement and the tunnels beneath the structure. The Tremere have a labyrinth beneath the house, which can only be navigated with the aid of a candle — one follows the direction in which the candle flame points.
The Hotel Washington
Marcus Vitel receives most of his visitors here, providing them a spectacular view of the monuments at night, as well as and a powerful reminder of how much Marcus Vitel controls. These audiences are always staged with other elders present, impressing upon visitors or neonates the importance of making a good impression with the Prince.
The suite Prince Vitel shows his guests is elegantly decorated, with just a hint of the classical Roman style he favors. The far wall consists mainly of the large windows that afford the view of the city. In the center of another wall is a fireplace which is always blazing in the cool fall and winter months. A bedroom beside the main suite has no windows and provides an adequate haven for the day.
North of the White House area, beyond Lafayette Park and south of Georgetown, is Foggy Bottom. This area contains some prime hunting grounds, including George Washington University. Many societies and agencies have headquarters in Foggy Bottom, including the National Academy of Sciences. A metro station serves this area.
Situated on the edge of the Potomac River, the Watergate is an impressive complex of offices and apartments, well known for the break-ins which resulted in scandal and the removal of President Nixon from office. Visiting vampires have traditionally made the Watergate a base of operations for activities in the city.
The Kennedy Center
The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts is one of Washington D.C.’s cultural jewels and part of Elysium. The outside of the center, covered in white marble, has a cakebox look to it. The Grand Foyer inside is 630 feet long, its ceiling graced with 18 chandeliers. There are five theaters within the center, which are used for dance, plays, concerts, opera, etc. The American Film Institute also has a theatre inside. The flags of the Hall of States and Hall of Nations inside have flags hanging from the walls, and on the roof terrace level, Congress maintains a Library of Performing Arts.
In the District’s early years, while the nation’s capital languished, George Town was a bustling port for tobacco merchants. A few years after being annexed by Washington, D.C., George Town asked to be returned to Maryland, but instead remained part of the city. The area’s economy collapsed for a number of years afterward but was successfully revived and restored in the 1950s.
Now the wealthy neighborhood is home to club owners, lawyers, politicians and bureaucrats galore. The historic preservation movements in Georgetown managed to prevent a metro station from going up in the area, despite the fact that after dark, the restaurants, night clubs and shops attract people from throughout the D.C. metro area. M Street and Wisconsin Avenue can offer almost everything except a parking space. Included among these clubs is the Black Magic Club, which is continually filled with Blood Dolls and other Goths.
During Halloween Georgetown takes on a Mardi-Gras style atmosphere. The city government has tried to stop these celebrations, but in the World of Darkness, their attempts have only made matters worse. On these wild occasions, people in costume fill the streets and let themselves go completely. Both elders and anarchs join in the festivities.
Another area of the city forbidden to Kindred is Georgetown University. This school, the oldest Jesuit school in America, is one of the centers for the Inquisition. The university was built in the Gothic style, with several spires and gargoyles decorating the campus. Several careless undead residents of Washington, D.C. have met their ends at the hands of the hunters from Georgetown.
The C&O Canal
This canal, originally meant to keep Georgetown’s port open and turn Washington, D.C. into an industrial giant, is now a tourist attraction. In the summers, mules pull barges along the canal. There are many tunnels leading to the canal from across the city, and many unwelcome guests, including werewolves, enter the city by following the canal from Cumberland, Maryland.
At the end of Georgetown, Wisconsin Avenue intersects K Street, which runs beneath the Whitehurst Freeway. The bridge over K Street lends it an eerie feel. At night, the street beneath the Whitehurst gets very dark, and it has become a favorite site for resolving disputes between vampires.
On 32nd Street, north of R Street, sits Dumbarton Oaks. This house contains a collection of rare Byzantine and South American artwork. It once served as a haven for the Tremere Prince, Marissa, but has stayed deserted since her disappearance in 1968. Behind the building are 10 acres of the most beautiful gardens in the city. Fountains, brick walls, terraces, and benches make it a scenic place to visit.
Beyond the gardens are two parks, Montrose Park on the east side and Dumbarton Oaks Park on the north and west. Past Montrose Park lies the Oak Hill Cemetery which overlooks Rock Creek. A Gothic chapel stands sentinel over the cemetery’s obelisks, crosses and other statuary and tombstones. Some vampires believe that on the certain nights, the ghost of former Prince Marissa still wanders the gardens and haunts the Oak Hill Cemetery. Another rumor is that Marissa is not dead, just lying hidden in torpor somewhere near Dumbarton Oaks.
Three of the most important streets in Washington — Massachusetts, Connecticut and New Hampshire Avenues —come together at Dupont Circle. In the center of the green circle stands a fountain decorated with the figures of Sea, Stars and Wind. In the 1960s, Dupont Circle became a rallying point for counterculture movements. In D.C. today, its cultural and ethnic bookstores and restaurants make it home to many members of the young intelligentsia. The District’s gay community has a strong presence around Dupont Circle. A metro station lies beneath Circle. Other entrances to the underground are locked and chained. These lead down to the old subway system, primarily the province of D.C.’s Nosferatu.
The Washington National Cathedral
Located at the intersection of two of Northwest’s major streets, Wisconsin and Massachusetts Avenue, the Gothic towers of the cathedral dominate the surrounding landscape. The Washington National Cathedral is the sixth largest cathedral in the world. The National Cathedral and its grounds are off limits to the Kindred of D.C. Some Tremere suspect Celestial Chorus mages of operating around the cathedral and most others suspect that hunters use it as a base.
Starting at Dupont Circle and heading north along Massachusetts Avenue is Embassy Row, which includes clusters of embassies and legations. The largest embassy in Washington is the British Embassy, which resembles a manor house. A statue of Winston Churchill stands in front. Also along Embassy Row are many of Washington’s most exclusive social clubs, such as the Cosmos Club. The city’s male elders have memberships in several of the clubs.
The rest of Northwestern D.C. is primarily residential, with the exception of the shops lining Wisconsin Avenue. The American University, chartered by Congress and best known for its international and political science departments, lies next to Ward Circle, where Nebraska Avenue meets Massachusetts Avenue.
Much of this area was used as military barracks and for weapons testing during the World Wars. Several unexploded shells have been found in gardens and beneath streets in the area. A few of the Nosferatu believe undiscovered armories and hidden bunkers lie between the houses of Northwest.
Adams-Morgan, located south of Cleveland Park in the heart of the city, is Washington’s melting pot of ethnic groups. Its excellent restaurants, Bohemian atmosphere and wild night life draw almost as many visitors as Georgetown. Most of the apartments near Adams-Morgan were built in the 19th century and have an ornate feel to them. Several of the city’s Kindred frequent Adams-Morgan.
Rock Creek Park
Cutting through the northern half of the District is the 160-acre Rock Creek Park, home to the National Zoo, one of the largest zoos in America. Numerous stretches of trees, broken only by streams, the occasional bike trails, and various picnic areas, fill the park, and groups of wild deer live in the woods. The Gangrel like to hold meetings here. Several Kindred in the city believe the Garou have a caern in Rock Creek Park. It is also said that a coven of witches work magick somewhere within the park and often hold rituals deep in the wood.
A New Age group called the Verbena has developed a following in the District and the suburbs, especially among the young. The reasons for this vary, but many people are fed up with the politics and society of Washington, D.C. and seek new religious experiences.
One of the country’s largest traditionally black universities, the area around Howard has its own night life targeted at the student body. In contrast to this wild scene, Howard University also has a memorial chapel which radiates true faith.