A Brief History of Brazil
by Fred Furtado & Paulino Soares
The ocean voyages and discoveries of the Portuguese were not adventures: they were a state policy based (...) on a solid foundation of scientific and technical knowledge.
Max Justo Guedes, Potugal/Brazil: The Age of Atlantic Discoveries
The last decades of the 15th century saw a great booming of interest for discovery of new trade routes. This interest was due largely to the influence of the Technomancers , who were trying to impose their view of reality and end such foolishness as "edge of the world" and "sea serpents". The reverberation of such influence upon the vampire community was their incentive to sea expeditions like the ones of Vasco da Gama and Christopher Columbus.
In 1500, the Portuguese Crown financed an expedition which was meant to find a new trade route to India. In command of this expedition was Pedro Alvares de Cabral, a protégé of Felipe, a Toreador, Childe of Yolanda de Mendonça, the Prince of Lisbon. Based on Columbus success and on several rumors he had heard, Felipe reasoned that there had to be more land to the south and so he used all his influence (as a Childe of the Princess he had plenty!) with the Crown to mount an expedition in order to find this land. On March 9th, 1500, the expedition set sail but, contrary to what history books might say, they knew perfectly well where they were going. Cabral had received specific instructions from Felipe and followed them to the letter, going so far as to invent, on his return, a story about "being adrift and carried by currents". And so, on April 22nd, 1500, the South American continent was discovered.
On its early days Brazil was, basically, an exploiting colony. Woods, gold and gems were the most common products exported. But settlement was minimum due to the harshness of that land that wouldnt give its riches so easily. This kept most vampires away from the colony, exception made to the few Gangrel who thought that exploring a brand new land was worth any risk (even fighting the ferocious native werejaguars).
Felipe, who was placed by the Princess in control of colony related matters, wasnt happy with this situation due largely to the fact that the Ventrue controlled most of the economic sections of the Crown. He decided to incentive the settlement by granting land, called Captaincies, to nobles who exploited it. He reasoned that this would give rise to communities which would evolve into cities. His plan paid off, albeit slowly, and cities started to dot the coast.
Yolanda discovered the love between her two Childer, Felipe and Mariana. Enraged by the fact, but unwilling to destroy them, she decided to separate the undead lovers. In 1555, a fact occurred which gave her the perfect excuse to separate the couple without losing prestige: François Villon, Prince of Paris, displeased with the success of his old rival Yolanda, arranged for a colonizing expedition to be sent to the Captaincy of São Vicente (that encompassed the states of Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo). This expedition founded the Antarctic France, a French enclave in Portuguese territory. Yolanda arranged Felipes transportation to the Captaincy and after five years he managed to expel the French Kindred and kine. However, the conflict did not end there. The French were not going to let such a prize go without a fight. What ensued was a series of violent conflicts which lasted 12 years and ended with the Portuguese victory and the rising of the first (recorded) vampire embraced in Brazil, Estácio de Sá, founder and first Governor of Rio de Janeiro.
In the following decades, Felipe dedicated himself to consolidate the power of the colony. He spent the next 30 years teaching Estácio the ways of the Cainites and helping the development of Rio. He stimulated the plantation of sugar cane, killing two birds with a rock: first, he generated resources for the colony; second, he diminished the threat posed by the werejaguars by destroying the Atlantic rain forests, their habitat. When Felipe thought Estácio was ready, he left him in control of Rio and went to Salvador, then capital of the colony, to better implement his plans of development
Estácio knew that the newcomers would be more powerful than him, which would make it difficult for him to enforce any kind of order. He started looking for any kind of help he might find and ended up meeting Arthos, the first Inconnu in Rio, and Yamurutu, a Tupi medicine man that belonged to the Indian tribe which had helped Estácio in the fight against the French. Arthos was a 6th generation Kiasyd with vast knowledge of Faeries who came and settled himself as the Monitor for the region. When the European vampires arrived, they encountered a neonate who was backed by some serious supernatural muscle and so had to acquiesce to his orders. Estácio ruled Rio as something halfway between an Anarch state and a Camarilla city.
Birth of A Nation
The 17th century saw an increase in the number of coastal cities. Felipe initiated his plan of territorial expansion which resulted in the Bandeiras. This was a great movement towards the interior region of Brazil which counted several Gangrel among it, one of them was the powerful Alejandro. At this time Suarez arrived being sent by the Inconnu as Monitor of Rio. In the second half of the century, Felipe decided to transfer the capital to Rio. The city had grown fast and was kept orderly by Estácio, it had become a political and economical center which made the transfer only logical. With the help of Estácio, Felipe quickly established himself as the new authority figure.
The news from the colony started to attract Kindred who didnt hold positions of power in Europe, were fleeing from the Inquisition or simply were discontent with unlife in Europe, especially after the Anarch Revolt. So began the first great wave of vampiric immigration to Brazil. The majority of the immigrants were Toreador and Ventrue, next in size were the Brujah and the Gangrel followed by the Ravnos with the occasional Malkavian.
All was well until 1808. Fleeing Napoleon, the Portuguese Crown hastily moved the seat of power to Brazil, 15,000 people came to Rio, nobles, artists, philosophers... and Yolanda with her coterie. Upon arrival, Yolanda immediately declared herself Queen (after all, she was Prince of the Kingdom of Portugal!). The vampire community did not accept this well and made it clear to her. Yolanda immediately called a Blood Hunt against the offender, Alan Boggart, the Ventrue speaker. However, none of the Rio vampires obeyed the order and a war started to breed. Felipe knew that the death of a Prince would bring swift retribution from their European brethren and stepped in to avoid the development of a situation they would soon regret. He managed to convince the "Brazilians" to submit to the presence of the Crown in Rio. With that secured, Felipe was able to make Yolanda believe in the repentance of the offenders and smooth the actions of the Queen.
The following twelve years were ones of an uneasy truce with Felipe having to stretch his political abilities thin to avoid conflicts. However, Felipe came to realize that Yolandas goals would mean the complete destruction of his dream, unless he acted. Thus he contemplated the very thing he impeded twelve years before, the destruction of his sire. During this time, Estácio grew weary of his unlife and decided to go to Torpor. Felipe arranged for him a secret chamber deep within Villegagnon Island, a former French fort, and set it with several traps in order to protect his Childe. He also posted a permanent sentinel to watch over it, Nicolau, a Gargoyle.
In 1820, with the Crown far away, a revolt started in Portugal. These news were very disturbing and forced the Royal Family to go back. Felipe saw this as the solution to his problems but Yolanda, not wanting to lose her hold on Rio, appointed Felipe as her Viceroy (a kind of sub-prince) in Portugal and ordered him back to Lisbon. Felipe was taken by surprise and despaired. His course was now clear. Gathering all his force, he ordered Anhanguera to help him destroy Yolanda. Anhanguera possessed Felipes body and attacked Yolanda sheathed in red flames. The attack caused so much pain in Yolanda that her agony and fear were felt across the city until the end of the night, long after she met Final Death. To this day a presence of this feeling still exists and can almost be sensed and seen throughout the city, a kind of dark soul or numb despair.
Soon after the attack, already free of Anhanguera, Felipe called a meeting of the "Brazilians" in which he explained his plan and that he required the cooperation of all of them. They agreed and two years later Brazil declared his independence and the Treaty of Rio, which severed all Sect ties, was signed.
The Treaty of Rio
This treaty established the Free Domain of Rio. In this Domain, all the Traditions except the First and a modified version of the Fourth were abolished. The vampires who lived in or came to Rio were free to do anything they pleased, as long as they did not imperiled all of the city's vampiric residents. If the latter happened, all other vampires of Rio would rise against the offender. This was an extremely comfortable arrangement for everyone: they wouldnt have to respond to a higher authority, would be able to pursue their plots and intrigues, and still had the safety of the Masquerade backed by a whole city of vampires.
The independence caused much commotion in the remaining Portuguese Kindred but they tried to cover it so as not to lose Prestige. They werent very successful and, soon, the news about the "free haven of Rio" were spreading through Europe. In Rio, Felipe lost his grip on reality as the guilt and remorse of his deed, coupled by the alien sensation of being ridden by a spirit, wracked his mind.
In the following decades, Rio grew to be the most rich and powerful province of the fledgling country. This was due largely to Rio being an obligatory stop to maritime commerce between the Europe and Asia. Besides, the Kindred concluded that they would only waste their efforts, at least at that time, if they tried to fight each other and so concentrated on developing and consolidating their power in the growing city. Thus they started to establish their domains and expand their influence, while Felipe gradually faded from the political scene and drifted into insanity. This period saw the second wave of vampiric immigration which followed after the mortal one. Immigrants from all over Europe came to Brazil, not only to Rio but to many other growing provinces, hoping to start a new life. Most of them were Italians, a fact that put Brazil in the sights of the Giovanni clan. There were many Kinfolk of the Garou among these Europeans and they were responsible for the increase in the numbers of Lupines in Brazil. There were also many immigrants from Japan and among them came several Oriental supernatural creatures.
Throughout the century, other factions grew in power and started to influence the political and economical scene. Close to the end of the century, a movement started among the kine to free the slaves, the Kindred immediately moved to suppress this movement but were unable to stop it due to the intervention of a, now recovered and much more powerful, Felipe. He used his power to protect all kine directly involved with the process and, in 1888, the Abolition of Slavery came through. The disarray this event provoked led to the Proclamation of the Republic one year later. The political scene got shaky for the next twenty years as the various factions vied for power in Rio, now capital of Brazil. Finally, a coalition of Elders succeeded in bringing order to Rio by the beginning of the 20th century. The Elders called themselves the Signatories and acted much like a Primogen, most of them were at the signing of the Treaty and led some faction of the dispute. There were also Ancillae who were leaders of new factions that also wanted their "place in the sun" and knew they stood a better chance with a peaceful resolution to the conflicts. Among the coalition were: Patrício, Alan Boggart, Castillo, Nanna, Milon and Judith. The Ancillae were Willhelm, Catarina and Girolamo.
The period between 1920s and 1960s saw a fight between the Ventrue Consortium and Nanna, a defector from the Sabbat who wielded considerable power in Rio and managed to pull a revolution and put her puppet, Getúlio Vargas, in power in the 30s. The Ventrue eventually thwarted all of Nannas plot in the 50s, when they managed to move the capital of Brazil from Rio to Brasilia, and prepared to launch their main plan. In 1964, they staged a coup and secured themselves as the absolute rulers of Rio. This was a gross violation of the Treaty of Rio and the signatories united against the Consortium. But the Ventrue had been planning this coup since the beginning of the century and were well prepared for the conflict which reached a stalemate after two years.
Enter The Sabbat
We ain't going nowhere
We're moving right next door to you
Body Count, There Goes The Neighborhood
In the early 60's Mexican Sabbat started to take interest in Brazil for some narcotraffic routes were starting to flow through the country and saw this as a good chance to enhance the sect economy. A particular Brujah Priscus called Hernandez was a strong advocate of the project and wanted to carry it out himself, and using his prestige within the sect he was able to put himself as the head of it. Parallel to this Pentex was starting to plant its foot in Brazil, consequently the Board of Directors "counseled" Harold Zettler that it would be in the best interest of the Company if the Sabbat tried to take over the major cities in Brazil.
So the Mexicans sent some scouts to Brazil in order to evaluate the scenery and possible means of gaining control over the cities. Here they found this independent Kindred community that had already taken over the mortal society. The scouts found among these vampires several Sabbat defectors that were holding considerable powers in some cities.
When the Mexicans Archbishops saw these reports they realized that these defectors might reveal sect secrets to non Sabbat vampires and such a breach in security could not be tolerated, also the scouts in Brazil reported the major fight for power that was happening. And so they decided that the time to start the invasion was nigh. Hernandez was already assembling a team. Joseph Pander saw this as a too good opportunity for his clan to gain prestige, so he arranged for two of his clan mates to join it. The Lasombra were not very enthusiastic about this plan as they saw other priorities, but they distrusted Hernandez eagerness to conduct this invasion and so put one of their own in this team. The rest of the group were vampires that Hernandez trusted. In April 12th, 1967, seven crates arrived in the Brazilian branch of Pentex in Rio.
After assessing their enemy they started the attack striking randomly at many distinct targets to install a state of confusion. The local vampires, completely oblivious to the presence of the Sabbat started to blame one another and so they battled among themselves making the task all too easy for the Sabbat. Only after most of the South Zone and Downtown were taken these vampire realized that what they were facing was a war with a terrible enemy. They called a truce between them and started to fight back but without a centralized command and unified tactics their attacks were feeble and the defense was inefficient. The Sabbat continued to gain the upper hand and destroyed many vampires elders at this time.
Many of the remaining elders fled from the state of Rio and went to São Paulo, the largest city in Brazil, while others scattered throughout the country hoping the war would never reach them. Those that went to São Paulo started to talk to the vampires of that city and to warn them of the impending menace posed by the Sabbat. They talked to the Giovanni who chose to remain neutral as they have ever been, but the independent listened since many of them came either from the Camarilla or the Sabbat and they all knew how bad the Sabbat could be. Now they are starting to leave behind old rivalries to face a common foe.
The Rise of Crime in Rio
There are two major factions of crime in Rio, The Bicho lead by the "bankers" who control the illegal gambling and the Comandos that control the drug traffic and the Favelas. Although they are independent organizations, they always had connections. The Comandos buy weapons from the Bicho, while the Bicho buy drugs from the Comandos to sell it in its illegal casinos and lottery "points".
The Bicho is much older than the Comandos, dating from the end of the 19th century, it started as a lottery founded by a certain Baron of Drummond. The name Bicho comes from the system of representing the numbers by animals (Bicho in Portuguese), each animal representing 4 numbers, ranging from 1 to 100. It started as a gambling game in the high society, but it soon became very popular among the lower classes who used the results drawn by the Baron to gamble among themselves. Soon the upper class lost interest in game specially after it became a popular game, but it kept growing with the general public. In the early 20s several "bankers" had already amassed a considerable wealth, and the business was kept within families, the Bicho became much like a Brazilian Mafia.
Most of the Brujah immigrants who came during the colonization were Idealists. Their intention was to build a power base through which they could implement their ideas. But until the end of the 19th century they hadnt found a good niche in Rios mortal society to establish themselves. The Bicho fulfilled that role. The Brujah easily acquired control over the Bicho families during the 20s and by the 50s they were already a force to contend.
There are two rival Comandos based in Rio, but they are starting to spread to other cities, the Red Comando and the Third Comando. Both share a common origin: the Candido Mendes Penal Colony during the time of political repression in the early 70s. In order not to suffer any international pressure, the military government classified their political prisoners as common criminals and send them to common penitentiaries. There they were put in the same cells of bank robbers, murderers and other criminals who were classified as "threats to national security". These mixing resulted in the latter gaining access to ideas and concepts of organization, urban guerrilla and revolution in general. Then, as a first consequence, they started to organize themselves inside the penitentiary as a way to stop any violence between the inmates and to help each other to get out of prison , either through a hole or the front gate, it was then that the two factions separated, driven by personal rivalries the leaders in the two wings of the penitentiary started to fight among themselves, until they saw that they were only wasting their efforts and decided to call a truce. At this time the motto "Peace, justice and liberty" was created: -Peace among the inmates, no violence would be tolerated; -Justice, all those who broke the previous law would be punished, - Liberty for the inmates. So in the 70s the movement spread to others penitentiaries, and those who escaped were constantly planing bank robberies to finance the escape plans of other convicts. But very soon they realized that bank robberies were to dangerous and didnt pay enough, so they turned to drugs. As several routes were already flowing through Brazilian ports, sending the Colombian and Bolivian coke and some "national grass" to the United States and Europe, it wasnt difficult for them to contact these dealers and arrange the selling of the drug locally. By the end of the 70s they had a good distribution net, wherever you found a favela, you would find a boca-de-fumo, as they called the selling points.
During this period, the war between the Sabbat and the local Kindred was raging across Rio and victory was clearly pending towards the Sabbat. A mysterious vampire called Ismael, that already controlled one of the favelas, saw the growing Red Comando as an opportunity not only to expand his power, but also to protect himself from the war. He used his contacts in the Bicho to provide the so needed weaponry for the Comando soldiers, with this he gained a lot of power and prestige within the organization. That allowed him to impose himself as its leader, those who opposed him never awoke from their sleeps... Realizing that with such violent invaders his operations and safety would be at stake, he used his newly gained resources to help the local vampires against the Sabbat. Although he couldnt prevent the disbanding of Rios vampire community, he succeeded in stopping or at least delaying the complete domination of the city by the Sabbat.