“As the years went by, San Francisco became not only my city but also my way of life. From the time I was a boy, I wanted to live in a place like my father’s theater world, a magic box filled with lavishly made-up women, extravagant gay men, and other larger-than-life characters. I wanted a world that could encompass all worlds. I found something close to it in this soft-lit city in the ocean mists.” — David Talbot, Season of the Witch
San Francisco is known as one of the most beautiful cities in America. This incredibly diverse city has an alluring magic that leaves its mark on you. When you first view the crimson colored Golden Gate bridge spanning the sparkling bay you’re already on your way to leaving your heart in San Francisco. The city has something for everyone: arts, breathtaking vistas, gorgeous hiking trails, amazing food, and a mild climate. San Francisco is also home to many colorful characters, everyone is a little weird in ‘Frisco. It has always been a welcoming place for society’s outcasts – artists, immigrants, dreamers, hippies, the LBGTQ community and more recently tech nerds.
However, not every day in San Francisco is full of sunshine and rainbows. There is a darkness to the city. This is a city that was built on the blood and slavery of its native people. It is a city that the Earth itself has tried to destroy many times through earthquakes and fires. Its most famous landmark, the Golden Gate Bridge is a lethal beauty. The bodies of over 1600 jumpers have been recovered from the waters beneath it. It is home to one of the most infamous prisons in our nation. San Francisco is a city that has turned on the very people it promised to love. 1 in 200 of its people sleep on the streets. Its people sent the Japanese to internment camps, assassinated the first openly gay man elected to office, and was home to the still unidentified Zodiac killer. It’s easy to forget this dark past when you’re strolling through Golden Gate park but like the fog that often permeates the city, it can creep up on you when you least expect it.
Can the members of The Contingent fight off a new darkness that has grabbed hold of this Golden City?
Places of Note
ASI West Coast Headquarters
In order to better support the ever-expanding Contingent, Elijah Sharpe has opened a satellite office on the West Coast. He sent one of his most trusted staff members to head up the new office – Gina Tarantino.
Sharpe purchased the Musee de Macabre from the flamboyant Alistair Thorne. After the museum and its dangerous contents almost fell into the hands of Jackson Carver last year, Elijah wanted to ensure that it didn’t end up in the wrong hands. Using the skills and technology available to its employees, ASI is working to understand and neutralize the haunted contents of the museum. In the meantime it stands as a resource for all hunters on the west coast.
The museum is located in the Haight-Ashbury neighborhood in a darkly colored painted lady.
Wilson’s – Union Headquarters
During WW II, San Francisco was a major port for ships fighting in the Pacific. Union members worked in these ports to make sure that nothing supernatural returned from the War. George Wilson was one of this early hunters. He owned a warehouse on the bay that made ship parts. When he died he left the warehouse to The Union in his will and it has remained there as a safe house ever since. It holds an armory, a few bunks for people needing a place to crash and a meeting house. It is also a safe place for hunters to leave messages for Union members.
The Cocoon – Empire Foundation Headquarters
Nestled within the Russian Hill neighborhood of San Francisco, sits an angular, modern home. The facade is mostly made of windows and brick. It’s an unusually modern style home for this historic neighborhood. The owner of this building, Jenny Ngo, was adamant about having so many windows. It was important to her that the people inhabiting the building never forget that there is a world outside of their work. That the projects and research they conduct within are meant to better that outside world. Jenny runs an incubator for the Empire Foundation, called The Cocoon. The Cocoon welcomes innovators and creators that wish to improve the world around them. Most of the residents in the Cocoon are minorities or people from the fringes of society. Jenny and the Empire Foundation support these startups by providing funds, mentorships, and access to the best technology. Jenny also acts as the Empire Foundation for hunters on the West Coast.
After her near death experience in Rome and a few close calls between her husband and the FBI, Gina Tarantino took Elijah Sharpe up on his offer to head the west coast division of ASI. She has settled in at the Musee De La Macabre very nicely. Gina kept Calliope , Alistair Thorne’s employee, on as her assistant. Guy continues to work security for the museum.
Jenny Ngo is a slender, Vietnamese woman with a chin length blue haircut. Jenny always wears monochrome colors, usually the only pop of color being her lipstick and current hair color. She wears minimal jewelry other than a small pair of silver hoops in both her ears and an Apple watch. She typically dresses in nicely tailored pant suits and designer flats. She is fluent in Vietnamese, Mandarin, Spanish, and English.
Jenny is constantly fighting an inner struggle. She is always striving to prove herself. As a child, she was a constant source of disappointment for her parents. Nothing she ever did was good enough for them. As an adult, she is determined to show them that she can be a success.
She currently runs an Empire Foundation incubator in the Russian Hill area of San Francisco. She takes a special interest in women and queer entrepreneurs. Jenny is very businesslike but loyal to the Foundation and will help its members any way she can.
For newcomers to the city, here are some tells that you are about to meet the Emperor Norton I:
- you see brightly colored ostrich feathers bopping above the heads in the crowd
- a feisty Boston terrier pushes its way through the crowds, peeing on every trash can and light post
- people on the street are bowing and saluting
- you hear cheers of “Greetings Emperor”
- you see the fluffy, golden tail wagging of a Labrador mutt
The Emperor can be found all over the city. He is an older gentleman likely in his 60’s. He is always dressed in an epaullette- adorned Navy coat, and an ostrich plumed hat. He also walks with a cane topped with a brass eagle. Always at his side are Bummer and Lazarus, his faithful “soldiers”. Bummer is a Boston Terrier and Lazarus is a mutt.
The Emperor was born in Twin Falls, Idaho. His parents gave him the name Joshua. He was always a very bright man and after graduating from MIT he headed west to make his fortune in the computer industry. He settled in Silicon Valley and was very successful until the dot.com bubble burst. Overnight, Joshua found himself penniless and homeless. Something inside of him snapped and he found himself living in the streets of San Francisco.
Joshua soon decided the people of the city needed a protector and a leader so naturally he declared himself the Emperor of San Francisco. He is a kind man and always a gentlemen. The city’s natives are quite fond of him and indulge his fantasy. The local theaters always reserve him a seat on opening night, restaurants allow him to dine for free, people greet him with a bow or salute on their walk to work and he rides the city’s cable cars and subways for free. He refuses to take handouts but will accept money in the form of taxes from the people. He in turn spends the money on food for his four legged soldiers or to help other transient folks he knows in the city.
The SFPD respect Norton as he helps them keep an eye on things in the city. They will often look the other way if they come across him sleeping in the park or other places where loitering is not allowed. The Emperor will often direct them to any citizens needing their aid.
The Emperor has had dealings with some strange supernatural events in the city. He’s helped fight vampires and a strange haunting on the Golden Gate bridge. If the city had a heart, it would be the Emperor. He knows the streets like the back of his hand and if anything strange is happening, he’s the first to know. This is why he has a permanent space at The Union’s warehouse on the Embarcadero. He rarely stays there for more than two nights in a row but he has frequently helped members of The Union and The Contingent with their investigations.