History of San Francisco

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While San Francisco’s history only covers a two century
span, the history of the Bay area extends back
much farther than that. Native American tribes like the
Ohlone and the Miwok inhabited the region long before
the arrival of the first Europeans or Asians landed on the
shores of North America. These people knew nothing of
t he Curse of Caine or the Fall of the Wan Xian, although
they understood the creatures haunting the world’s dark
and wild places. For the most part, the tribes remained
small, warding off undue attention from their preternatural
predators. They lived in relative peace with the Changing
Folk of the wilds, never dreaming their fellow mortals
from across the Atlantic would prove the greatest threat
to their existence.


The first European visitors to curse the shores of
California came in 1542, when Portuguese explorer Juan
Rodriguez Cabrillo circumnavigated the tip of South
America and sailed as far north as the Russian River,
mapping the western coast of South and North America
along his route. In 1579, famed English sailor Sir Francis
Drake landed on California’ s northern coast, pausing
briefly to claim the land for Queen Elizabeth before
repairing his ships and setting sail once again. Sebastian
Cermeno, another Portuguese explorer, “discovered”
Punta de los Reyes (King’ s Point) in the 1590s. All the
visiting Europeans missed the narrow entrance to San
Francisco Bay, however, shrouded as it was by mist and
nearly invisible from the sea. It would be centuries more
before a European discovered the site of what would
become the city of San Francisco.

In 1769, a Spanish soldier named Gaspar de Protola
accidentally stumbled upon the bay’s entrance while
sailing to Monterey Bay in the south. Six years later, Juan
Ayala actually sailed into San Francisco Bay on a mapping
expedition for the Spanish crown. It did not take the
Spanish long to realize the value of their new discovery,
given its strategic and economic potential.
In 1776, about a week before the thirteen English
colonies on the other side of the continent declared their
independence, Juan Bautista de Anza and some thirty
Spanish-speaking families made their way from Sonora,
Mexico to San Francisco Bay. They claimed the land for
Spain and settled there. Their headquarters was an adobe
fort they named the Presidio.
The settlers established a mission about a mile away
from the fort. The priests officially named the mission
Nuestra Senora de Dolores or Mission Delores, and dedicated
the church to St. Francis of Assisi; it was known as “San
Francisco,” the name later applied to the bay itself. The
mission’ s priests took an interest in the spiritual welfare
of the local Indian tribes, ensuring they were baptized and
converted to Christianity; for the most part, the natives
welcomed trade with the new settlers.


In 1821, Mexico won its independence from Spain,
secularizing the Spanish missions and abandoning interest
in the spiritual well being of the natives — or anyone else,
for that matter. Freed from European rule, California’s ports
opened for trade and shipped a wealth of goods (mostly
hides, furs, wood and tallow) by sea around Cape Horn to
the burgeoning factories in New England and New York.
Trappers and hunters told tall tales about the strange beasts
they encountered in the California hills, but few paid them
any heed so long as the goods continued to flow.
The area’s growing prosperity was enough to convince
English sailor William Richardson to jump ship in 1822
and settle there. He fell in love with the daughter of the
Presidio’ s commandant and converted to Catholicism to
marry her. He established a trading post that he named
Yerba Buena (or “good herb”) for the wild mint growing
in the area. The aptly chosen name later became a source
of great humor to the people of San Francisco in the
1960s. Richardson’ s enterprise was wildly successful, and
Yerba Buena grew from a trading post to a small town,
with a saloon of ill repute frequented by English-speaking
hunters and trappers.

Even though Yerba Buena and Mission Dolores grew,
their population remained a few hundred at best, comprised
of mostly farmers, trappers and a handful of soldiers
stationed at the Presidio. During the war between the
United States and Mexico in 1847, U.S. Marines from the
warship Portsmouth seized the Presidio and the main plaza
of Yerba Buena. The dozen or so Mexican soldiers at the
Presidio surrendered without firing a single shot.
Commander John Montgomery raised the U.S. flag and
declared California an American territory. Among the
first acts of the new territorial government was to change
the settlement’s name to that of the bay: San Francisco.
Such small political victories were certainly of no
interest to either the Kindred hunting in the nighttime
streets of Boston, New York and Philadelphia, or to those
sleeping by day in the mansions of Louisiana, Georgia o r
Carolina. The events in San Francisco were of even less
interest to the Kuei-jin, who barely knew of California at
all and remained far more concerned with the Opium
Wars brought on by European (and Kindred) incursion
into the Middle Kingdom. That, however, was about to
change with a single word….


“Gold! Gold in the American River!” Mormon preacher
Sam Brannan shouted that memorable statement while
running through San Francisco’s streets in 1848. Although
Brannan was a notorious charlatan, in this case he shouted
the truth. Gold was found in the riverbed at a sawmill
owned by Swiss-born John Augustus Sutter. Despite Sutter’s
best efforts to keep the discovery quiet, the news spread like
wildfire. Sam Brannan, incidentally, purchased large tracts
of coastal land in San Francisco, as well as cornering the
market on shovels, pickaxes and canned goods before
making his fateful announcement. He became fabulously
wealthy without turning over a single spade of dirt.
It seemed the world was primed for the news from San
Francisco. The “Year of Revolutions” swept through Europe,
with political and social unrest in many of her major cities.
The Potato Famine stalked Ireland, driving people from
their homes in hope of a new life elsewhere. The United
States caught its breath following the war with Mexico
while the conflicts leading to the Civil War simmered
beneath the surface. China reeled from the Opium Wars
and the abdication of Hong Kong to the British, while
reforms swept through Japan. All this was dry tinder for the
spark of hope ignited by the discovery of riches in California.
People from around the world flocked to San
Francisco in droves. Ships departed from docks in Europe
and America groaning from the weight of passengers
and mining equipment. Ship-crews immediately deserted
upon reaching California’s shores, leaving boats
abandoned and turning Yerba Buena Cove into a “forest
of masts.” Townspeople in America’ s heartland headed
west in wagon trains, leaving behind empty homes and
shops with signs in their windows reading, “GONE

In 1849, San Francisco’s population soared from
900 to 26,000. Another 100,000 people drifted
through the area on their way into the California hills
and hinterlands in search of their fortune. San Francisco
crushed the equivalent of fifty years of growth and
development into the course of a single year.
The effects of San Francisco’ s sudden gold boom did
not escape the Kindred. While their elders continued
their affairs in Europe and the Eastern Seaboard, the
promise of wealth and blood offered by an overcrowded
boomtown drew young vampires from across the nation.
Ambitious Camarilla neonates saw the potential to create
domains of their own, away from the stifling grip of their
elders. Meanwhile, Sabbat packs and anarchs anticipated
a new, unspoiled frontier where they could do as they
pleased. The Kindred certainly found opportunities in
San Francisco, where the arrival of a ship laden with
heavy crates was commonplace. In a place where so many
new people intermingled, hardly anyone noticed one or
two strangers among thousands… or cared if a few of
those new arrivals mysteriously vanished.
Although there was no gold in San Francisco
itself, it was the largest port community near the
gold fields, making it was the destination of choice
for disembarking prospectors. Although a few of
them actually found gold, most didn’t. Instead,
most of the money in the area was made in a more
traditional fashion. It didn’t take long for the locals
to discover that it was far more profitable catering to
the miners and prospectors than searching for gold
themselves. Shops, saloons and all manner of businesses
sprang up in San Francisco, looking to serve the needs
of the burgeoning population.
The abandoned ships in Yerba Buena Cove were put
to good use in helping the city grow. The city fathers
handled the problem by hauling the ships up onto the
shore, where they were either broken up and used to
construct new buildings and furniture or simply turned
into buildings themselves. Cut a door or two in the hull of
an overturned ship and you had a saloon. Many such
structures sprang up along the harbor.
In the shadows between these new buildings and in
the tent cities of the newcomers, the Kindred hunted with
near abandon. Prospectors in the San Francisco Bay area
fell victim to accidents, the elements, starvation and
despair. They committed suicide at the rate of over 1,000
a year. It was not uncommon to stumble across a dried-up
corpse bearing a pickaxe and shovel in the hills; common
enough, in fact, that inquiry into the deaths were unheard
of. Nobody cared how the poor wretch died.
The hunting was plentiful and good, so much so that
vampires all but ignored the traditional conflicts between
Camarilla and Sabbat while glutting themselves on the
bounty of blood. Naturally, vampires fought over certain
watering holes, but the conflicts simply demonstrated
how easily they fell to their baser needs. Kindred and
Cainite were all too similar in their bestial tendencies —
except when the Sabbat and Camarilla sects stepped in to
enforce opinion and policy. Regardless of allegiance,
however, all vampires quickly learned to confine their
hunting to the new city. The Lupines stalked the wilds
outside San Francisco as guards encircling a prison. They
shredded the first vampires to stray into their domain as
a warning to the rest.


Of course, new arrivals to San Francisco came not
only from Europe, Mexico and the United States, but also
from the Middle Kingdom. China’s Opium Wars against
England and the ongoing encroachment of gweilo —
white barbarians — everywhere strained the situation in
the Far East. To many Chinese, California was Gum San,
the “Golden Mountain,” a land of promise and opportunity
away from war and starvation. Around the time of the
Gold Rush, the first ship laden with some three hundred
Chinese arrived in San Francisco.
Unfortunately, these immigrants discovered their
“golden land of promise” was a rough frontier following
the Golden Rule: Those with the gold make the rules. The
Chinese remained a close-knit community even after
their arrival, laying the foundations for San Francisco’ s
modern Chinatown. Rather than becoming prospectors
and miners (though some of them did), many Chinese
found employment either serving the needs of San
Francisco’s more fortunate inhabitants or working for the
powerful railroad companies, who sought cheap labor to
complete the transcontinental railroad.
Of course, with the Chinese and other Middle
Kingdom immigrants came the Wan Kuei, the Ten
Thousand Demons. It was not that the August Courts had
any interest in a frontier city in a barbaric land, but the
presence of some Kuei-jin was inevitable. A few, disgraced
in shadow wars or fallen from favor in the August Courts,
chose self-imposed exile over facing the Eye of Heaven
and Final Death. Some found the freedom of the frontier
exhilarating while others suffered in silence, hoping to
redeem themselves and return to civilization. There were
also those mortals who crossed the ocean only to die in
their new land, fight their way free of torture in Yomi and
take the Second Breath. More experienced Kuei-jin usually
dealt with the resulting chih-mei.
Regardless of their reasons for coming to the Golden
Mountain, though, the Wan Kuei who made the ocean
crossing quickly discovered they were not alone in San
Francisco’s nights.


The first encounters between Kuei-jin and San
Francisco’s Kindred were brief and fleeting. The Kindred
quickly discovered the clannish Chinese immigrants were
better left alone. While most Europeans and Americans
had abandoned such “childish” notions as vampires, the
Chinese still maintained their old ways. The Kindred
were surprised that Asians knew enough to take precautions
against creatures of the night. Some of them — paper
charms, rice scattered across thresholds and the like —
were laughable. Others, such as prayer beads, charms
backed by a true and abiding faith or the simple wisdom
to huddle close to the light in groups, made the Chinese
more difficult prey.

Of course, most Kindred created excuses not to bother
rather than admit difficulty. “Chinese blood is thin and
not as satisfying,” some said. “They’re not as vigorous, and
less lively than other mortals.” “It’s a small loss, since
there is so much already available.” Still, it vexed some
Kindred to be denied anything. Some accepted the
challenge by hunting more “interesting” prey in
Chinatown… only to vanish and never be seen again.
Rumors circulated among the city’s vampires. They
said the Chinese knew far more than they let on, luring
Kindred into some kind of trap. Another whisper claimed
that their numbers included mysterious magi or vampire hunters.
Yet others said that they had forged a pact with the
Lupines, or they were host to a hitherto-unknown clan of
Cainites . This last fiction was the closest to the truth.
The Wan Kuei needed the Chinese community to
build Scarlet Screens in this new and alien land. To
protect their interests, they destroyed any threat to
Chinatown. In the process, the Demon People learned
more about the White Demons dwelling among the
Western mortals, the ones who came with the gweilo to
the Middle Kingdom.

The first thing the Kuei-jin realized was that the
Westerners were too numerous; they were too few to risk
open confrontations. So the Wan Kuei remained in
Chinatown’ s shadows and kept to their own affairs and
council. They gave the gweilo vampires good reason to
avoid their domain, but did not venture too far outside of
it either. Those who disobeyed or threatened this version
of the Kindred’ s Masquerade paid with their unlives.


Lawlessness ruled San Francisco’s streets in the years
immediately following the Gold Rush. The population
surge overtaxed the city’ s limited law enforcement, and
bribery helped ensure the law looked the other way for
almost anything. Along the waterfront rested saloons
and whorehouses where miners spent their money, with
roving gangs of criminals more than willing to help
lighten their pockets.
One of the most notorious gangs was the Sydney
Ducks, comprised of criminals who had escaped exile in
Australia and made their way to California. They would
waylay passers-by, throwing a bag over their heads and
relieving them of their money and valuables (often leaving
the victim dead or merely stunned with a strike from a sap
or fist). The practice became known as “hooding” and the
criminals who did it as “hoodlums.” The Australian
gangsters also operated protection rackets in and along
the Barbary Coast. The Sydney Ducks set fire to parts of
the city five times for denying them tribute. It happened
so often that Chinatown and Barbary Coast residents
built exclusively with brick and stone rather than wood,
so their homes and businesses would not burn so easily.
Some Kindred thought it too convenient that the
depredations of the Sydney Ducks hurt businesses
influenced by the Invictus as well as burning out portions
of Chinatown. Rumors claimed the gang was under the
influence of a Carthian pack or anarchs. Some even believed
that its roster might have included vampires, though no
proof of these conjectures ever manifested. The fires,
however, did convince many local Kindred and Kuei-jin
to find fireproof havens — a precaution that would prove
vital a few decades later.
By the mid-1850s, miners had panned or mined out
most of California’s surface gold, leaving only the deeper
underground veins to be tapped. Those wise enough to
invest their money carefully (including the Ventrue and
other Camarilla vampires) funded large mining operations
to dig out the gold that remained beyond the means and
reach of individual miners. The continually expanding
waterfront also became the mouth by which to feed the
hungry factories of the East Coast and Europe. During that
period, trading companies shipped every product workers
could dig, drag, chop or tear from the mountains, fields and
forests. The city became the premier center for commerce
along the Pacific Ocean, finally drawing the attention of
the elders and Princes that their childer had left behind
years before. The unspoken truce between Camarilla, Sabbat
and anarch vampires in San Francisco was over.
Of course, “peace” was a relative term. Kindred from
all three factions struggled against each other previously,
but mostly over territory and mortals. When the
Transcontinental Railway became a reality, the Camarilla
mentality reasserted itself. It was decided that San Francisco
should be brought under the Camarilla’s aegis, to that
ensure the Sabbat and anarchs would not control the city.


As usual, the Invictus operated behind the scenes,
using mortal proxies to carry out their plans. The Carthians
in 1850s San Francisco were wealthy and powerful.
In very un-sect-like machinations, they influenced mortals
— usually criminals — who in turn assumed positions of
power locally during the Gold Rush and held them through
graft, corruption and influence peddling. Ballot stuffing
was practiced openly and an honest man’s vote counted for
little. The common people , however, grew tired of this
lawless state of affairs. Their desire to see justice was the
Invisctus’s weapon against the Carthians.
On June 9, 1851 in Sydney Cove, a man named John
Jenkins simply walked into a merchant’s store, picked up
the safe and walked away. He loaded the safe into a boat
and calmly rowed out into the bay. Several of the
merchant’s friends and associates pursued Jenkins and
caught him easily, though he dumped the safe overboard.
The public outcry was considerable.
Local citizens formed the Committee for Public
Vigilance, which tried and executed Jenkins on its own
authority. The Committee was very loosely organized at
first, but its presence did give San Francisco’s criminals
pause, at least for a short while. Jenkins’ boldness and the
relative ease of his capture sent rumors among the Carthians
of an Invictus plot, but local corruption ran deep. The
Carthians knew it would take more than a few outraged
vigilantes to mobilize San Francisco’s citizens against its
mortal power base.
It wasn’t long, however, before matters worsened. In
1855, there were nearly 500 murders in California but only
6 legal executions. Corrupt politicians maintained a tight
hold on the government. Municipal spending was through
the roof — much of it went into graft, bribes and
embezzlement, lining the pockets of the city’s “civil servants.”
James King was a prominent San Francisco banker
who had lost his fortune when local financial panic closed
his bank. Outspoken against local corruption, he used his
remaining money and the encouragement of his friends to
found a newspaper voicing his opinions. In October of
1855, King began publication of the Evening Bulletin, a
four-page paper. In it, he denounced criminals and political
figures alike in fearless editorials that had people all over
the city talking.
When notorious gambler Charles Cora shot and
killed U.S. Marshal Richardson, he was “formally arrested”
by friends of his who held public office. It was considered
likely that he would walk away a free man. Following the
incident, King ran an editorial saying that that if Cora
wasn’t hanged, Sheriff David Scannell should take his
place on the gallows.
King also took on city supervisor James Casey, revealing
that Casey was a felon who had served time in Sing-Sing
Prison in New York. In retribution, Casey shot King outside
the Bulletin office on Montgomery Street. Witnesses rushed
the wounded reporter to a doctor while Casey’s cronies in
law-enforcement “took him into custody.”
In response to the shooting, over a thousand people
turned out at the Montgomery Block in a show of support
for James King. The crowd later made its way to the Plaza,
where word circulated that the Committee for Public
Vigilance was reforming. The following morning, members
of the 1851 Committee met and created a new, more
organized group. They penned an oath of fealty and
assigned each member a number by which he would be
known within the organization, to maintain anonymity.
A few days later, the Committee consisted of some 3,500
members. In the meantime, however, James King died
from his gunshot wound at home.
The Committee for Public Vigilance marched on the
jail guarded by hundreds of local militia and law officers
loyal to James Casey. Using a cannon to batter down the
door, the Committee took Casey with little protest from his
protectors. They also took gambler Charles Cora into
custody. Both men received advocates and stood trial
before a jury of Committee members, who summarily
convicted the two men and sentenced them to a public
hanging. An immense crowd filled Sacramento Street to
watch the double execution, cementing the Committee for
Public Vigilance’s power in the minds of San Franciscans.
Meanwhile, the Camarilla encouraged the
Committee’s vigilantes to attack the Sabbat’s mortal
proxies in the name of justice. They eliminated many of
the Sabbat’s pawns from positions of power. The so-called
revolution also hid the nightly movement of Camarilla
scourges eliminating Sabbat targets and consigning
vampires to ash. As far as the Camarilla was concerned,
the strikes were clean and precise. They believed that
they were the cause of the Sabbat’s fall in San Francisco.
What they did not realize was the extent of the Sabbat’s
internal dissent and scattered resources. The Sabbat were
defeated as much by their own lack of foresight as the
Camarilla’s attacks.
After the Committee’s cleanup of the city’s political
echelons, legitimate businesses thrived — with the
Camarilla riding their coattails. San Francisco formally
incorporated as a city of some 30,000 people. The City
by the Bay became reality, and the Inner Circle
recognized the rule of Prince Jebediah Hawthorne in
the Domain of San Francisco.
San Francisco continued to grow steadily through the
next decade, remaining a key center of commerce for
North America’ s entire West Coast. As gold mining
dwindled, the discovery of the Comstock Silver Lode in
Nevada sent a new infusion of wealth into San Francisco’s
coffers. Many of the city’s most powerful mining magnates
owned either the Nevada mines or the machines to
properly drill them, setting up a continuous circle of
wealth. The newfound prosperity further cemented the
Camarilla’ s hold over the city, their only real victory of
any substance in California. It was a bastion of influence
amid a sea of Sabbat and anarch power.
San Francisco’s only limitation was its isolation from
the rest of the United States. Out on the edge of the
continent’s westernmost frontier, travel to and from the
City by the Bay required East Coast ships to circumnavigate
Cape Horn. The building of the Transcontinental Railroad
in the 1860s rectified that problem by connecting the
Pacific and Central rail lines.
Chinese immigrant workers did much of the hard
labor required to extend the Pacific Line through the
harsh Utah desert. This elicited jealousy from Caucasian
workers, who grumbled that the Chinamen stole their
jobs. The government responded by passing “coolie laws”
that penalized the Chinese workers and made it hard for
them to earn a living. It was only part of a prejudice
against Chinese people that simmered and festered beneath
the surface — occasionally erupting into accusations or
even violence.
San Francisco’s Chinatown remained a city-withina-
city; people mostly kept to themselves, running their
own schools and businesses and generally catering to the
area’s inhabitants. In turn, the city government passed
laws limiting “foreign” ownership of property. It also
enacted laws taxing foreign (mainly Asian) workers more
heavily, thus protecting jobs for “good Americans.” The
situation suited Chinatown’s few Kuei-jin and shen, since
it kept their havens secure from foreign devils and
prevented expatriated Chinese from intermingling with
local Westerners.


Fire has reclaimed to civilization and cleanliness the
Chinese ghetto, and no Chinatown will be permitted in the
borders of the city… it seems as though a divine wisdom
directed the range of the seismic horror and the range of the fire
god. Wisely, the worst was cleared away with the best.
— The Overland Monthly, 1906
On April 18, 1906 at 5:12 AM , Kuei-jin geomancers
sensed a shift in the dragon-lines, a stirring of powerful
forces — the Earth Dragon was restless, and a tremendous
earthquake struck San Francisco in response . The quake
itself lasted for less than a minute, but it toppled buildings
and buckled streets. Broken gas mains and fallen lamps
ignited fires that swept through the city.
The local fire department mobilized almost
immediately, but the earthquake had ruptured all the
water mains, leaving them to fight the fires with buckets
instead of hoses. They retreated, hoping to contain the
inferno and allow it to burn itself out. That, unfortunately,
did not happen. The fires raged and spread, burning all of
one day and into the next. They consumed some 28,000
buildings, including all of Chinatown.
Despite both the Kuei-jin’s and Kindred’s best
precautions, the fires caught them all by surprise. A few
vampires perished in the blaze, unable to flee without
facing sunlight and frenzied by Rötschreck or wave soul.
Retainers helped some Kindred escape from mansions on
Nobility Hill, while other vampires sought refuge in the
earth that had seemingly turned against the city. A
handful remained underground for several nights, fearful
of the heat they felt above their heads. The horror of being
burned to kindling frightened one or two Kindred so
greatly that they waited too long and sank into Torpor,
where they lay to this night. Some sires tell their neonate
progeny that on still nights, you can hear them, scratching
at the underside of sidewalks and roads.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers finally created a
firebreak by dynamiting entire city blocks in the western
districts. The blaze lasted for three days, as did the quake’s
aftershocks. When it was all over, reporter Jack London
wrote in a newspaper dispatch, “the City of San Francisco
is no more.” The city was devastated, with some 3,000
people dead, 225,000 injured, vast numbers homeless and
$400 million in damage (valued in 1906).
San Francisco’s vampire enclaves were in great
disarray. Worse yet, with the mortal survivors huddled
together for protection and comfort, hunting and feeding
became exceedingly difficult. Forced to pick on lone
stragglers and looters, many vampires turned on one
another for vitae, sect be damned. The following weeks
endured nightly destructions, with the strongest
eliminating the weak . During the inevitable
reconstruction, however, the Camarilla sent scourges
into San Francisco to halt the indiscriminate feeding and
make examples of Kindred who committed diablerie. The
scourges caught and destroyed three Kindred, including
one member of the primogen, but any other culprits either
fled the region or hid their crime expertly.
The surviving Kuei-jin suffered the loss of their havens
as well, and they would have to struggle against gweilo
opposition (both mortal and Kin-jin) to regain it. Bereft
of their sanctuaries , they hid among the mortal refugees
of Chinatown as best they could, taking advantage of the
deaths caused by the disaster to conceal their own feeding.
Some heralded Chinatown’s destruction as a blessing
of sorts, and publicly hoped it would not be rebuilt.
Chinese and Western businessmen, however, planned to
turn Chinatown into a tourist attraction — a unique part
of San Francisco’s heritage that would draw people from
around the world. The plan received the quiet support of
Chinatown’s shen, including Father Li T’ien (see p. 117).
The city could not ignore the potential for prestige
and income. Even Kindred who bothered concerning
themselves with the “Chinatown problem” believed a
tourist-town would eliminate the barriers the Asian
enclave presented before. What they did not know was
that the Kuei-jin chose to sacrifice their previous security
for the opportunity to hide in plain sight.
In some ways, the fire and reconstruction following the
Great Quake benefited both Cainites and Kuei-jin. With
decades of influence among the wealthiest and most powerful
mortals, the vampires subtly directed the reconstruction to
suit their own needs. The rebuilt mansions on Nob Hill and
the new Chinatown’s mazelike urban topography took
shape under the watchful eyes of the city’ s oldest residents,
with few people the wiser. The destruction of so many
important papers and public records in the fire facilitated
the flood of forged identities and birth certificates. In fact,
a new wave of Chinese citizens known as “ paper sons”
gained their citizenship through such fake documents,
swelling the local Asian population. Vampires “reset the
clock” and established new, “legitimate” identities that
withstood official scrutiny. The earthquake was a setback,
but it would not keep San Francisco down.
Of cardinal importance to the Kuei-jin was that the
earthquake revealed the shifting dragon lines in and
around San Francisco. The shaking of the Earth Dragon’s
tail released reservoirs of Chi that the Demon People
tapped for their own purposes. They ensured that the new
Chinatown controlled one such Dragon Nest. This lifeforce
filled an invigorated San Francisco, thinned the
Wall between worlds and drew the attention of other shen
as well, who migrated to the city over the years. The Kinjin
remained largely ignorant of the geomantic implications
of the quake, as the Kuei-jin hoped. Let the barbarians
play at their petty struggles… the Demon People controlled
San Francisco’s true power.

After rebuilding, San Francisco settled into a
seemingly quiet existence for the local Kindred and Kueijin.
Anarchists found the City by the Bay less appealing
than Los Angeles, but this was mostly thanks to the
reconstruction process. Camarilla and Kuei-jin alike
helped fund or support the city’ s restoration, thus claiming
territory and businesses from the ground up. The Sabbat
and anarchs, however, contributed little. Thus, they
found themselves with no grip on the city whatsoever, be
it socially, politically or financially.
Conflict between Kindred and Cainite in San
Francisco was tame by comparison to domains like New
York or Mexico City. Resultantly, the Camarilla’s reign
over the region grew weak and decadent, raising concerns
over Sabbat and anarch activities that local Kindred
largely dismissed. San Francisco’s inhabitants were
confident in their mastery of the night — confidence
perhaps justified in the years following the quake, but that
turned to unsupported arrogance as the years passed.
The city’s Kuei-jin, on the other hand, saw
considerable activity in the first decades of the 20th
century. Unrest in China sent thousands of rebellionweary
refugees across the sea, filling Chinatown’s already
crowded streets. Occasionally, this deluge of mortals hid
survivors from shadow wars and conflicts within the
August Courts, fleeing the Middle Kingdom and seeking
shelter in the West. These Kuei-jin — taught the formal
manners and precise discipline of the Quincunx — were
shocked by the laxity of North America’s kànbujiàn. The
friction between traditionalists and Chinatown’ s undead
inhabitants inevitably degenerated; shadow wars spilled
over into conflicts between the city’s Tongs and associated
criminals during the 1920s and ‘30s.
In December of 1941, the Empire of Japan attacked
the United States Naval Base at Pearl Harbor, drawing
the U.S. into World War II. In response, the American
government displaced over a hundred thousand Japanese
(two-thirds of them American citizens) from their homes
to detainment camps in California, Utah and Idaho “for
their own protection.” Many San Francisco gaki hid
initially, while the army spirited their mortal screens and
protection elsewhere. Eventually, however, the gaki
realized that they were imprisoned as well. They possessed
no freedom of movement, since no individuals of Japanese
descent were supposed to be left behind.
When war workers and low-income families moved
into the housing vacated by Japanese families, the gaki
were forced to relocate. One or two gaki returned to Japan
through the Yellow Springs, but most sought refuge in
Chinatown. This latter lot suffered at the hands of their
Chinese Kuei-jin hosts, who treated the gaki like slaves in
retribution for Japan’ s invasion of the Middle Kingdom.
Eventually, a few gaki escaped into the countryside, waiting
for the matter to resolve. When the displaced Japanese
returned, they found their homes and neighborhood
occupied. Most resettled elsewhere. Japantown shrank
from 30 blocks to a mere six.
Kuei-jin of Chinese descent capitalized on the Japanese
deportations to eliminate or subjugate many of the gaki in
San Francisco, deliberately ignoring the shadow war rules
and requirements detailed under the Precepts of the War.
What was the point, after all, since the August Courts
were across the sea and thus could not appoint a ganshezhe
(mediator) to oversee the conflict.
San Francisco was a pale reflection of the struggles
transpiring in Nanking and Shanghai, but it was traumatic
nonetheless. The city’s gaki population never truly recovered
from the experience. Any Kuei-jin of Japanese extraction
faces a difficult existence under the watchful eyes of San
Francisco’s New Promise Mandarinate. Conversely, the
Kuei-jin’s actions taught the gaki they could effectively
play dirty pool in shadow wars, a trick they use to their
advantage against the tradition-bound Mandarinate.
As the 20th century drew to a close, signs and
portents of an impending storm grew. In San Francisco,
the status quo changed in ways few people anticipated,
making the city a pivotal location in coming events.
In October of 1989, a powerful earthquake struck the
San Francisco Bay Area incurring billions of dollars in
damages and resulting in 63 deaths and numerous injuries.
It thankfully did not spark the same terrible fires of 1906.
In addition, most of the city’s buildings were constructed
to resist earthquakes (although some “quake-proof”
structures failed miserably). The event damaged portions
of the city, however, including the Marina District and
sections of the freeway and Bay Bridge.
To the citizens of San Francisco, the earthquake was
a disaster. To local Kindred it was a nuisance, but also an
opportunity to hide their activities in the resulting chaos
and again influence reconstruction. To the Kuei-jin, it
was something far more. The regional dragon lines shifted
once more. The city’ s presence and continued growth
polluted the wells of Chi in the area, sending out poison
arrows that disturbed the slumbering Earth Dragon. The
city’s life force waned, and the Kin-jin were bloated
parasites feeding on its weakening Chi.
In the early 90s, Jochen Van Nuys was a junior
member of a cabal of East Coast Ventrue, sent to San
Francisco as their envoy. What Van Nuys found was a city
of great wealth and potential ruled by a weak and ineffectual
Prince, who did little to either keep the anarchs in check or
even to enforce the Camarilla’s traditions. He also uncovered
vampires existing in fear of the Prince and his primogen,
squabbling over feeding territory and committing diablerie
against each other in a dog-eat-dog struggle to survive. In
short, he found a city of great potential that was ripe for a
revolution. He decided to provide it.
By 1996, Van Nuys was ready to act. With allies back
east as well as newfound local support, he executed a swift
and masterful coup that deposed Prince Vannevar Thomas
and his few remaining supporters. The Inner Circle was
aware and tacitly approved of Van Nuys’ coup, backing
his claim as the new Prince of San Francisco.
From the very first night he assumed power, Van Nuys
walked a thin line. He replaced Thomas’ weak and
ineffective leadership with decisiveness and action, but
not so much as to rankle San Francisco’s anarchs or foster
resistance against his rule. He guided with a firm but light
touch, and San Francisco remained an unusually free and
open city. Ventrue money followed in his wake, and San
Francisco’s economy strengthened while the Ventrue’s
coffers grew fatter.
The first stirrings of San Francisco’s current woes
began far from California’ s shores, in the August Courts
of the Quincunx. In 1997, two of the five regional capitols
of the August Courts were in foreign hands, with Hong
Kong controlled by the Kin-jin and Shanghai under the
gaki akuma of Japan. The “bamboo curtain” of Maoist
China grew increasingly tattered. Western influences
reverberated throughout the Middle Kingdom, carrying
with them the influence of the Kin-jin. Elders and jina
alike pointed to the impending Sixth Age and demanded
something be done, while the Running Monkeys lived up
to their names and strayed even further from tradition.
The Bamboo Princes, in turn, demanded modernization
and an abandonment of the ancient ways, practically
courting the Demon Emperor’s arrival.
Two factions formed within the August Courts, each
advocating their own plan of action. The Righteous
Foreigner-Vanquishing Crusaders followed Mandarin Hao
Wei-Liang, a cunning Resplendent Crane politician. It
consisted of Resplendent Cranes, Devil-Tiger extremists
and Thrashing Dragon hotheads. They called for a crusade
to sweep the foreign devils from the shores of the Middle
Kingdom and carry the battle to the unrighteous in their
own lands. They proposed the Ash Plan as a means of
accomplishing just that, which found support among
Wan Kuei opportunists and those frustrated with the
August Courts’ apparent weakness.
The Harmonious Menders of Broken Fences, led by
Bone Flower elder Jiejie Li, proved more moderate. They
claimed the Middle Kingdom needed to put its own house
in order before beginning any crusades against the
unrighteous. Corruption and evidence of the Yama Kings
were rife in their own domains, yet the Foreigner-
Vanquishing Crusaders would charge off to other lands,
leaving their homes to rot from within. This was foolishness,
the Fence-Menders said. The Crusaders countered by
accusing their opponents of being cowards unwilling to
take action while the world slid screaming into Hell.
The Menders of Broken Fences offered a compromise
they called the Two-Fang Serpent Plan, which dealt with
both the threats facing the Quincunx at home and abroad.
The Kuei-jin directed the first “fang” toward securing the
borders of the August Courts and dealing with dangers
close at hand, like the occupations of Shanghai and Hong
Kong. The plan’s second “fang” proposed taking and
holding a western city to probe the Kin-jin’s strengths and
abilities while establishing a foothold for a later time.
Shadow wars erupted between the two factions, each
struggling to win the support of the August Courts.
Finally, the Elders decided Hao Wei-Liang presented the
greatest danger to their power and the Quincunx’s
traditional ways. They chose the moderates’ plan, with
some slight revisions. The August Courts created the
Extraordinary Commission on the Rectification of Borders
and appointed Jiejie Li its Ancestor, with experienced
Devil Tiger General Chiu Bao as her lieutenant and First
Oni. The Courts placed Hao Wei-Liang in command of a
force known as the Glorious Ocean-Crossing Warriors,
and charged him with capturing and pacifying Los Angeles,
under the watchful eye of his rivals. The Ancestors would
see whose approach proved more successful.
In the first days of 1998, scouts for the Ocean-
Crossing Warriors entered Los Angeles, launching the
Kuei-jin’s invasion. Initially things went smoothly. Kueijin
warriors struck the Kin-jin like a hurricane, sweeping
away loners and small, independent gangs of anarchs,
while leaving the other Kindred scrambling for information
and protection. By contrast, the Fence-Menders’ efforts
in Shanghai and Hong Kong were slow and costly, both in
terms of resources and the number of Kuei-jin who met
Final Death. Hao Wei-Liang’s star was rising, to the
concern of the August Courts’ Ancestors.
In 1999, however, a new star arose and changed
everything. The red star known as the Eye of the Demon
Emperor appeared in the heavens; it was believed an
omen of the impending Sixth Age. Organized resistance
spread among Los Angeles’ anarchs, sending Running
Monkeys and war-wu to their Final Deaths in greater
numbers. The Righteous Crusaders allied themselves with
the spirits of the Yin World and the Yellow Springs,
preparing a final, massive assault on Los Angeles from the
Spirit Realms. In the midst of the attack, however, a storm
of unprecedented fury struck the Yin World, smashing
Kuei-jin and spectral forces alike. The Kin-jin pressed
their advantage until, by summer, both sides were too
exhausted to continue fighting.
Meanwhile, the Fence-Menders made considerable
progress in Shanghai while maintaining a stalemate in
Hong Kong. Jiejie Li also secured the defection of highranking
Tremere Oliver Thrace, providing the August
Courts with valuable information. Meanwhile, Hao Wei-
Liang’ s troops were decimated and demoralized, his
assault a failure in the eyes of his superiors. Ancestor
Ch’ang of the Blood Court sent Hao an inkstone and
calligraphic brush as a sign of his judgment. In late 1999,
the Resplendent Crane Mandarin Hao met the Eye of
Heaven with honor, leaving the Foreigner-Vanquishing
Crusaders greatly weakened.
The invasion of Los Angeles sent shockwaves through
the Anarch Free State and the Camarilla, which quickly
moved to secure San Diego and San Francisco. Refugees
from the fighting in LA sought shelter in Prince Van
Nuys’ domain. He generously granted it, swelling the
number of local anarchs. The Camarilla’s western princes
strengthened their borders, looking to the Inner Circle for
aid and waiting to see what the Cathayans would do next.
With the Final Death of Hao Wei-Liang, the Ancestors
of the August Courts turned their attentions on Jiejie Li.
Although the Fence-Menders won a considerable victory,
Li knew full well she must now succeed where Hao failed,
or she would follow him into the mouth of Yomi. If she were
killed, the Ancestors could eliminate two powerful rivals
and still reclaim Shanghai in the bargain. She didn’ t
intend to allow them that opportunity.
As Li studied the situation, it became clear that a
direct assault was no longer viable. The ranks of the
Glorious Ocean-Crossing Warriors were severely thinned
and morale was just as depleted. Elements loyal to the
Foreigner-Vanquishing Crusaders also needed to be
weeded out and replaced with jina and mandarins loyal to
Li and the Fence-Menders. Li appointed Monkey Trip
Wu ancestor of Los Angeles, with Mandarin Fun Toy of
the Flatbush and Stockton Posse as his seconds-incommand.
With that accomplished, she and Chiu Bao
went to Los Angeles to oversee matters directly.
The new Kuei-jin strategy used a weapon from the
arsenal of Western colonialism: divide and conquer. The
Cathayans approached some of the prominent surviving
anarch leaders and offered them a deal: their cooperation
in exchange for aid in wiping out their closest rivals. It
only took the agreement of a few to break the back of the
anarch resistance and drive most of the surviving rebels
out of the city. The Kuei-jin dubbed their alliance the
“New Promise Mandarinate” and created a power structure
that included both Wan Kuei and Kin-jin.
Jiejie Li presented this as a victory to the August Courts.
Not only were the Kin-jin under control, but the Kuei-jin
could civilize and teach them proper behavior, making them
a useful resource in the coming struggle against the Sixth Age
rather than chaff thrown to the winds.
To the Kindred of Los Angeles, the Mandarinate
presented itself not as another process towards
“enlightenment” or an egalitarian society, but as the
fruition of those pursuits. It promised to upend the
Camarilla’s status quo and offer advancement based on
merit and ability rather than generation or diablerie.
This strategy worked, leaving The Kuei-jin and their
allies in control of Los Angeles. The Camarilla knew it
would be a matter of time before the New Promise
Mandarinate turned its attention elsewhere along North
America’s Pacific Coast.

History of San Francisco

Death is only the Beginning fasteraubert