Arcanum 1780: A New World
New Orleans in the world of Arcanum is both a city and a Province, the furthest-flung corner of the French Empire from its new capital in eastern India. The province extends from Biloxi in the East to Lake Charles in the East, and beyond Baton Rouge up the Mississippi and North as far as the trading town of Natchez and its Fort Rosalie. At the heart of it all lies the city, the jewel in the small French dominions left in North America and an important trading port for merchants selling wares between New Britain and New Spain. The city has a population of around 10,000, the entire province perhaps 45,000. Only about half of these can claim any French ancestry at all, although all free men living in the Province can be citizens by swearing an oath of allegiance. The rest are other Europeans, former slaves and slaves of black and native american ancestry, and the newest – a sizeable contingent of Indian sepoy troops and their families.
Being furthest from the center of the Empire has meant that the new Franco-Mughal society that developed around Pondicherry hasn’t yet established itself as firmly in New Orleans as elsewhere in the Empire. Still, the Cathedral has been converted to the syncretic Jesus Visnu version of Christianity and small temples to several other Hindu gods have been built or at least begun in the city. In the main, the former Catholics of the French population have converted to their Empire’s new version of their faith, although a certain percentage have instead decided to join the Restored Catholic Church of New Spain. The Episcopal Church and New British Catholic Church also have their adherents in the Province. However, the other major religion is Voudoun, a syncretic religion first developed by the creole population of the region which mashes African shamanism with Catholicism – and now contains a smattering of additions from Hindu religious practise. Both the Thugee sect of Kali and the death-worshipping Aghori sect have their adherents in New Orleans nowadays.
New Orleans city is an important trading port, taking tobacco and other crops from further up the Mississippi for trans-shipment to ports across the globe. Its high double walls – all build to withstand cannon fire – form a platform for heavy guns that command the main entrance to the entire Mississippi system, and New French river patrols try to catch smugglers as best they can. As a meeting place of cultures, the city might as well be called “Intrigue” – its well known as a den of spies, a meeting place for diplomats and a haven for merchants willing to skirt the finer points of customs and excise duties elsewhere.