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Philadelphia is a city in the southeastern portion of the state of Pennsylvania, bordered by the Delaware and Sckuylkill rivers. It is a large part of the game Hunter: The Vigil.
For centuries before William Penn ever dreamed of coming to the New World, the Lenape tribe inhabited the area around what would become Philadelphia for generations. The Leni-Lenape, "The Pure People", had a history of belief in what would be called magic by the Europeans, as well as belief in men and beasts who could change shape. The Lenape held belief in a primary creator, Kishelamakank, and the four spirits it made to aid it in monitoring the world of the natives, called Manitowak, Spirit Beings. Along with these spirits, the Lenape also held belief in a creature called the Mesinkhalikan, a large hairy creature that not only helped the Lenape to find game, but to remind them of their spiritual duties in respecting the earth. To the Lenape, a person's spiritual and physical health were intertwined, and their shamans, known as metinuwak, were valued members of the tribe.
In 1682, William Penn received the charter to form a colony in the area. Penn, a Quaker, then a persecuted religion in England, dreamed of a colony of tolerance in the New World, and quickly established peaceful relations with the Lenape. Tamanend, a leader of one of the Lenape clans, welcomed the peace with Penn, and the Lenape worked with the English settelers for decades. While many settelers and Lenape were content with this relationship, many werewolf colonists and the lenateme, the Lenape wolf tribes, were especially hostile to the idea. However, they did not have the same decades of strife, and the European and Lenape werewolves coexisted in their own way.
By 1737, however, Penn and Tamanend were long dead, and Penn's decendants claimed that they had right to all the Lenape lands. Cheated out of their lands and destroyed by European illness and technology, the Lenape could do little more than retreat from the area. Without the known magics and wolf tribes of the Lenape, the area fell into spiritual chaos.
Even in the early days of the city, the Darkness had it's share of temptations to go to the area. Phialdelphia was founded on a principal of tolerance, and the mixing of various cultures and nationalities meant that creatures and mages could easily infiltrate the area. The difficulty came from the fact that these same immigrants and groups often had their own traditions and Vigils, and outsiders were easily identified in these communities.
When the revolutionary spirit overwhelmed the colonies, Philadelphia became a hotbed of insurrection. The First and Second Continental Congresses met and declared their independance. After the Battle of Brandywine in 1777, however, the city was occupied by the British, as innumerable refugees crowded into the area. The leaders of the revolution evacuated, along with all needed documents and the Liberty Bell, but by the following June, the British had been driven to New York.
The war took it's toll on those under the Vigil as well. Those not fighting for the Revolutionaries of as Loyalists had to contend with battles between spirits and werewolves. Vampires grew powerful, as demons and animal spirits literally walked the streets, and mages took control of others minds. So, in 1777, the Chestnut Street Compact formed, meeting in Independence Hall to sign into effect that they would aid other hunters as best they could during this time of crisis. While the hunters could not take complete control, they managed to prevent any single monster or dark faction from taking control of the city and it's people.
The Age of Reason & Industrial EraEdit
At the end of the war in 1783, Philadelphia was still the nation's capitol, and home to many of the nation's firsts, in no small part thanks to Ben Franklin and other founding fathers. In 1793, a deadly outbreak of yellow fever forced the Founding Fathers and Congress out of the city, leaving thousands to suffer through the plague. Though no longer the capitol by 1800, the network of canals, roads, railroads and canals, along with the city's docks, made it an important industrial center. By 1854, the districts in the surrounding area were consolidated into the city, dissolving 29 other municipalities. This, in part, led to the city's nickname, "City of Neighborhoods".
By the 19th century, the heavy influx of immigrants collided with the city's fading national importance, and cases of crowded slums, violence against immigrants, and corruption in the city's politicians were heavy issues. For the city's hunters, the importance of keeping the Vigil faded from their minds, and few new recruits stepped up to carry on the Vigil in later years. In the same vein, the supernatural elements found a strange refugee thanks to the Age of Reason, with science claiming that ghosts and monsters only existed in fairy tales and stories. By the mid-19th century, the city's hunters were thoroughly disorganized to battle threats from the Darkness. On the other side, the monsters joining these new immigrants found themselves battling the city's entrenched monsters. When borders and limitations were finallized, the supernatural forces became bolder. Werewolves consumed human flesh. Vampires worked their way into the city's elite, while mages created societies based on following arcane rituals. The first trace of any kind of organized hunter organization after the Chestnut Street Compact was the Ashwood Abbey, who claim to have held their first meeting in 1903. The current real "headquarters" for the Abbey is the Philadelphia Museum of Art, it's current form constructed in 1919, along with a special wing for the Abbey's "secret" artifacts.
With the nickname "corrupt and content", the city found it's way into the 20th century. It would take the Great Depression to rid the city of such influences, as labor unions fought for the rights of the workers. In 1932, a group of several hunter cells destroyed various vampire nests that were preying on the city's slums, and a joint effort on the part of independent cells and the Lucifuge destroyed the werewolves that plauged the city in 1936. One of the most famous stories to come out is of the legendary "Philadelphia Experiment". In 1943, a decommissioned US battleship, dubbed the USS Eldritch, was reportedly phased out of existence, appeared for a few seconds off the coast of Viriginia, and reappeared back in Philadelphia, when the stated goal of the experiment was only to make the ships invisible. What resulted from the experiment was forever classified, and anyone who claimed to have knowledge dubbed a madman and crackpot. The truth is far worse. A cabal of mages attempted to disguise their magic under technology, not realizing that their disguise would affect the project and hinder their attempts. Grouping together, the cells of Philadelphia eliminated all evidence of the experiment, the Knights of St. George striking the final blow against the cabal.
Despite contributing heavily to the production efforrts in the second world war, by the 60's and 70's, the city's industries had nearly vanished, leaving unemployment, gangs and crime in their wake. By the 1980's, the city's mobs started warring with each other, and the creatures of the city took advantage again. However, the gang and mob wars led to the affected areas being targeted for urban renewal projects, and in recent years, condominiums and revitalized neighborhoods have slowed the population deline in the area. Yet despite these factors, and it's artistic scene and it's various colleges and universities, the city still sufferes from a high homicide rate, racial tensions and various political problems.
Philadelphia still has a firm hunter community, with various groups fighting for the Vigil, as well as dominance. The four parts of the city are the North Philly, West Philly, South Philly and Center City. Of important note is Fairmount Park, which is an area of great importance to the werewolves who still remain.
Of the various hunter groups, the ones with the strongest ties to the city are the Union and Ashwood Abbey, though Network Zero, Null Mysteriis, and the Cherion group are growing in numbers.
Three vampire factions also battle for the city. The Snakes, the oldest faction, located in the deepest parts of Eastern State Penitentiary, known for their ruthlessness and cruelty. The Wyrms, the city's youngest faction, base themselves in the Laurel Hill Cemetary, and are rumored to have a hidden repository of valuable artifacts and tomes under one of the masoleums, under the control of a vampire known as "The Curator". The Blue Bloods, the faction squarely in the center of the two, are, as the name entails, the self-proclaimed "elite" of the city's vampires, and are trying to base themselves in the Walnut Street Theatre, but are battling with a Union cell for the area.
The werewolves in the city have suffered tremendously in the years from the Great Depression onwards, culminating in what was called "The Fairmount Slaughter", when the city's hunter groups descended on Fairmount Park to destroy the wolves. Though some escaped, the park and it's loci were lost to the wolves, and the city's spirits are not the main otherworldly concern for the hunters.
Witches in the city are scattered into small cabals or leave themselves distanced from the hunter/witch struggles, though there are cases where a coven known as "The Oracle" will lend aid to hunters in need of information. One of the biggest concentrations of mages in the city is the nieghborhood of Fishtown, an incestuous clan known as "The Shadders", who draw their power from the Delaware River itself.
Slashers are no strangers to the city, and no less than sixteen have been identified in the greater Philadelphia area, along with a cabal of slashers, known only as "The Subtle Collectors Association". Though VASCU has profiled many of them, they still manage to evade capture, taking ever higher tolls of life on the city's population.
Of note is a small, independent cell known as Hahnemann cell, or the "Support Group", who compiled a detailed dossier of information pertaining to the city's darker elements, before disappearing entirely, the words "SATOR AREPO TENET OPERA ROTAS" written in fingerprints in their meeting place. Translated, it roughly means "The sower creeps and holds the wheels with effort."