Building New Orleans: the Lady and the Lingo

Finally got my hands on a copy of Smuggler Havens, which details New Orleans circa 2060, just after Dunkelzahn’s death (the will is mentioned). Tons of stuff in it, for 29 pages. Practically a gold mine, compared to what I’d been working with before.

Haven’t got through reading it, but already, one thing is readily clear: New Orleans has to feel different. Shadowrun’s pretty heavily focused on Seattle, and a few other cities. I get that. The “image” of Shadowrun is that corp-laced Bladerunner sort of world, and if you take a glance at New Orleans for more than 30 seconds you’ll see that’s just not possible here. We’re not going to see the massive skyscrapers or pyramids, the perma-night ambience of most cyberpunk. Not so long as the French Quarter remains a historic district and the city remains below sea level. So for a New Orleans story to feel like New Orleans, we have to bring out those differences…while still remaining true to the source material.

Maybe I’m in a little over my head.

Shadows of a Different Color

Really quickly, one of the first things I noticed in Akimura’s lingo is that “chummer” became “bonhomme”. Okay, no one actually uses that in our NOLA, but let’s play fantasy for this bit. That’s going to make its way into common parlance. That’s illustrative of New Orleans—it’s a city that feels like it was painted with all the same colors as the rest of the US, but the image turned out a little different. Napoleonic Code, little French catch phrases, coffee with chicory—that’s all real shit, and it has impact. If you come to New Orleans, and you want to come here, it’s because you’re looking for what’s different.

Hell, I like to listen to music while reading, and just reading the section on New Orleans, I had to pause my Perturbator-based playlist and just turn over to a New Orleans jazz selection. Turns out, even in the Sixth World, you can’t shake some things from the Big Easy.

What’s going to be difficult for me to grasp is the Japanese influence. There’s basically none of that in New Orleans as we live and breathe. That’s pure fiction. But, in a neo-futuristic vision of the world that includes megacorps, okay, I can kind of see it, and most of it’s going to come from tourism. So we’ll roll with that. Makes me wish I had the portrait assets of Hong Kong, but the soundtrack will keep me writing in Dragonfall.

La Dame du Morte

Miriam Kozlowski is a much bigger figure than I gave her credit for, at least in the shadows. Now, I don’t know much about mafia and their ops, but again, let’s play in the fantasy world for a bit. Any story in New Orleans is going to have to involve her, at some point, some how.

I’m enjoying the idea of her brothel rivalry with the bunraku industry trying to creep in, and there might be some fun to be had in a run to that accord on either side. Also, I’m having flashback vibes to Assassin’s Creed 2, where a bordello served as Ezio’s “safehouse” for a spell while he was getting onto his feet. I did have a very specific idea for the main safehouse, but I didn’t want to start out there. On the other hand, hell, even the HBS games didn’t use more than 1 safehouse; why would I want to develop more than one, unless there was story to be had there?

A discussion for a later date.

(Nothing says I can’t combine the two ideas. So, let me stop being coy for a blog no one’s reading anyways—I’m planning to use the Marigny Opera House as the safehouse. Right now, it’s a decommissioned church, and an absolutely gorgeous space, used as a performance venue, mostly for ballet and some local ground-level theater. But if the Mafia were to acquire it and turn it into a bordello…okay, it doesn’t have a plethora of rooms to be used in the business, but maybe as a business center? I dunno. The idea needs work.)

Either way, one way to really get the New Orleans scene rolling is to make the safe zone not a bar, but a bordello, and it adds that wink of sex appeal that some come to associate with New Orleans culture, what with its burlesque and cabaret scene in our world. I understand the ramifications of this decision. The “adult industry” is a minefield of moral and ethical dilemmas. Having protagonists romping with whores is going to take a delicate hand in writing, but I see no reason why it can’t be done, and done tastefully.

Huh. That gives me an idea for Kate Burnside’s street name. We’ll call her “Wink.”

I like it.