One cannot tell vampire stories without vampires, and if there is one thing LAbyNite will have, it's vampires. In fact, there are simply too many vampires in the region. This will parallel modern concerns of overpopulation, resource exhaustion, and the violence that originates when there isn't enough to go around. The vampires will have large tracts of the city that have been reduced to slums and urban wastelands populated by an underclass of citizens that can easily go missing without anyone caring about them. There will also be themes of wealth distribution, through the elder vampires that are not starving and the street vampires that are. The elders will have blood banking systems, and even Matrix style human farming operations where bodies hang in racks, being sustained by machines while routinely being bled. On the street level there are going to be gangs of vampires, and places where vampires have made warrens and traps to lure in mortals to the slaughter. It's a bad bad place to be mortal.
2. Vampire Clans
My apologies, this section is going to be very game specific. The typical mixture of vampire clans is going to be turned on it's head, and the following clans are going to be the dominant operators. Each clan will be listed with reference material, and their role in LAbyNite
Caitiff - (The Lost Boys) - composed of Brujah, Malkavian, Gangrel, and the outcastes of the other clans, the Caitiff are the plebians of the vampires. They are identified by lacking any estate or holdings, not adhering to any clan affiliations, and indulging in the lowlife culture of the city, especially drugs, gang activity, the sex trade. The Caitiff form the largest part of vampire society and are the common targets of vampire hunters. This grouping also includes resident Ravnos, and the Followers of Set.
The Caitiff have a large pool of disciplines to draw from, and can demonstrate the common animalism, potence, fortitude, celerity, auspex, and presence disciplines. They can also employ protean, dementation (causing madness), chimeristry (illusions), and the ability to turn into animals, like serpents, wolves, or giant bats.
Nosferatu - (Nosferatu, other ugly vamp movies) - the hideous and inhuman Nosferatu are a powerful clan in LA, where they are masterminds and puppeteers, with a strong controlling interest in Hollywood, cinema, and now online culture. There is a strong trend among the Nosferatu to hail from minority races, ethnicities, or religious creeds, as there is a certain fortitude required to survive as one of the hideous dead, one found more frequently among the oppressed.
Toreador - (Interview with the Vampire) - beautiful and inhuman, the Toreador are also a powerful clan in LA, where they are the dominant force among the glitterati, celebrities, and the nouveau riche. This often puts them in conflict with the studio exec Nosferatu, and their feuds are the feuds of Hollywood. This clan is the most likely to produce philosophers and artistes, and also a large number of Caitiff.
Tzimisce - (Bram Stoker's Dracula) - The old blood aristocratic vampires, steeped in hoary blood magics, these are often some of the most powerful vampires, and are the ruling elite of LA. Slowly but surely they have been working at turning the region from a unified part of a nation into a balkanized collection of baronies, satrapies, pocket kingdoms, and private demenses. They are largely hampered by the fact that their powers also have the greatest weaknesses, such as being strongly affected by holy symbols and other relics of vampire lore, and by the fact that they are known by the organizations of vampire hunters. While Caitiff are the most common victims of hunters, the Tzimisce are their preferred target.
Ventrue - (Underworld) - No clan has embraced modern technology quite like the Ventrue. They appear clad in leather, in high performance vehicles, with cutting edge weapons and technology. They are the blade of the masquerade, and do most of the work driving back other supernatural elements, blunting vampire hunter attacks, and cleaning up the messes made by the other clans. The other clans would likely place the Ventrue as a lower clan, if it wasn't for the amount of firepower, money, and fear they engender among the other vampires.
Other clans not listed:
The Tremere are to be rolled into the Tzimisce, there isn't going to be a position for hermetic mage vampires.
The Lasombra are also being rolled into the Tzimisce, as being shadow manipulators isn't enough to warrant their own clan. This does give the Tzimisce some serious firepower, but they take the whole bag. Tzimisce do not cast reflections, cannot cross running water, cannot enter a home without being invited, and are susceptible to other vampire wards.
The Giovanni are being rolled into the Ventrue, strengthening the organized crime element, as well as creating avenues for the Ventrue to get their claws on hardware generally not available at the corner Ammu-nation store.
The Assamites are also being rolled into the Ventrue, with their blood assassination skills being used for hunting rogue vampires and culling nests and warrens that get out of control.
4. The Culture of El Norte
LAbyNite is set in the functional multi-national region colloquially known as El Norte. This region is composed of southern California (LA, San Diego, Nevada, and Arizona on the US side, and the north-west portion of Mexico, principally Tijuana, Mexicali, and the fictional major city of Presidio, located on the coast of the Gulf of California. This culture is very ethnically mixed, with large African, Latino, Asian, and Caucasian populations scattered across it. Presidio is an especially cosmopolitan city, where people interested in El Norte culture, the drug trade, the massiva Dia del Morte festival (which is basically the El Norte version of a death themed Mardi Gras complete with parades, masked balls, street parties, and so forth.)
Cultural fusion is a major theme, with the melding of many peoples across the region. While the Latino influence is the strongest, there are as mentioned sizable African, Asian, and Caucasian elements. Asian-Mexican fusion cuisine is popular, and the ethnic foods of Presidio and Baja are popular, such as chili lime and salt and vinegar flavored grasshoppers. Tequila and mescals are the wines of the region.
The influence of Asian cultures has lent an increasing prevalence of martial arts, while the presence of Asian triads, tongs, and the Yakuza has changed the way gangs operate above the street level, with the smarter and better organized street gangs mimicking the asian models, rather than the older drugs, guns, and thuggery that predominated in the 80s and 90s. This doesn't mean that there are ninjas on every corner and samurai showdowns on the rooftops, gang members are just a lot better at hand to hand fighting, improvised weapons, and on occasion there are gang members who show up with melee weapons like swords, nunchucks, and the like. (Insert Ghost Dog, Michonne from The Walking Dead, etc)
If El Norte's position towards sex could be summed up in one word: yes. The porn industry, and the related exploitation is much more common. Successful porn stars can gravitate up to the rank of low level celebrities, and make the jump into Hollywood, and a fading movie star can make a desperate jump over into porn and restart their careers.
Brothels and prostitution are common across the region, ranging from hovels behind mega truckstops, to the almost casino like affairs in Las Vegas. This has lead to a major problem of human sex trafficking, and Presidio and Tijuana are both major gateways for trafficking both into and out of North America. The megaresorts and casinos in Presidio almost all have in house brothel services, but they are 'secret menus' that inside guests have to know the right way to ask, and the right way to pay.
There are a lot of orphans and abandoned children in the region, both a product of the largely unregulated sex trade, and in part because of the quality of life in the region. On the bottom of the ladder, it is easier for parents to abandon their children to the state than it is to struggle to raise them. This is a major source of human 'cattle' to feed to vampire blood farms.
The most current and most depraved expression of the sex trade are so called Czech, or Chech Houses. These are the worst sort of brothels being operated under the guise of a small business like a check advance company. The victims are held in the back, where they are physically subdued and the customers pay for a certain amount of time in the room. Walking into the working room, a john is greeted by the sight of three to twelve women, their lower torso sticking out of the wall, their legs bound apart. Willing or nor, conscious or not, the women held there have no ability to resist. They are dehumanized because to each customer, they have no face, no upper body, just a pair of holes and a set of legs sticking out of a wall.
6. The Supernatural
There is a common theme in urban fantasy where once there is one supernatural element, the others quickly follow.
There are werewolves and shapeshifters, but these are rare monsters, and highly hostile to vampires. This is anything other than the fact that shifters are hostile to pretty much everything, and vampires last long enough to notice, and sometimes pass this information on to others.
Magic users and witches exist, but are low key, and bound by their own set of limitations. They seldom interact with the undead, and not intended to be a major part of any story. They can act as advisers, or supply vampires with material aid.
If there was one thing True Blood taught us it's that fairies largely do not have a place in dark fantasy. The only caveat around that is if the fae are presented like the fae from the Exalted game, where they are more djinn/rakshasa and much much less elf and pixie.
Ghosts are a different matter. Ghosts can and do exist and can be found in haunted locations. Inside these locations, these beings can be very powerful, but are limited to said domain and cannot easily leave it. Insert the stories like Amityville, Blair Witch, and so forth. These ghosts see little difference between vampires and the living.
A different sort of monster for the game is the Fomori, from the Werewolf the Apocalypse game. Short version, fomori are humans who have been inhabited by unclean spirits (of the Wyrm). These people turn into hybrid monsters, a darker grittier less tentaclly anime style change. These people are frequently recruited by vampires that are sensitive to such things (having access to vampiric blood magic, auspex, etc). Fomori are convenient foot soldiers, are tougher than humans, more disgusting, and feed off of the innate darkness of the vampires. With a strong preference for cannibalism, sadism, rape, and torture, vampires find them useful, and are seldom threatened by them.
7. Vampire Hunters