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|“||My protege... it's time I told you about power. Power is life to our kind. Those without power disintegrate into the nights of the past: hundreds of names I know once instilled fear, now unknown. You see it's not enough to attain power: one must also maintain power. And this Sarcophagus is power.||„|
|~ LaCroix's lecture to loyalist players|
Prince Sebastian LaCroix is the vampire ruler of Los Angeles and one of the main antagonists of the 2004 videogame Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodlines. A member of the Ventrue clan and an elder with two centuries of experience, LaCroix commands the Camarilla faction within the city, ensuring that the Kindred of the city abide by their laws and that the Masquerade hiding vampires from humanity remains intact. However, as the newly-instated Prince of a city that has only recently fallen under Camarilla rule, LaCroix receives little respect from the city's vampire inhabitants: the Anarchs defy him at every turn, the Kuei-jin barely respect the truce they have arranged, and even fellow members of the Camarilla regard him as a joke.
As such, Lacroix is anxious to establish his authority over his subjects by any means available to him, and when the player character is Embraced without his permission, he naturally has the player's sire publicly executed for breaching Camarilla law, only declining to extend the same punishment to the player as a result of political outcry from the city's Anarchs. For much of the game, the player acts as one of his operatives, serving him in exchange for clemency; however, it gradually becomes apparent that Prince LaCroix is trying to get the player killed through a series of increasingly dangerous missions - and more to the point, he may have ambitions that the rest of the Camarilla would forbid.
He is voiced by Andy Milder.
Sebastian LaCroix was born in France during the late 18th century and grew up as the scion of a wealthy aristocratic family; as was common for patriotic young noblemen in this era, LaCroix chose a career in the military, eventually becoming an officer in the ranks of Napoleon Bonaparte's army. However, at some point following the battle of Waterloo, the young officer caught the attention of a Belgian Ventrue and was swiftly Embraced; at home among the typically aristocratic Ventrue, LaCroix adapted quite readily to his vampiric unlife, and spent many decades building alliances and building political power in the name of the Camarilla.
As he slowly matured from a Fledgling to an Ancilla, he traveled quite extensively, and ended up seeing a surprising degree of front-line combat: during one particular mission to Africa, he ended up killing a member of the vampire-slaying Bach family in single combat, and eventually befriended a member of the improbably rare Nagloper bloodline, who he hired as his bodyguard. Decades later, on a journey to London, LaCroix was confronted with another member of the Bach family - in fact, the son of the man he'd killed back in Africa; with the help of his bodyguard, he eliminated this younger Bach as well.
Adjusting to the advances of the 21th century with surprising grace, LaCroix continued expanding his political reach, until he finally became an elder - at last eligible to claim the authority of a Prince, with his bodyguard promoted to the station of Sheriff for good measure. Unfortunately for him, the city he eventually claimed as his domain was Los Angeles, a city that slipped out of Camarilla hands in the 1940s and had been under the control of the strictly anti-Camarilla Anarchs for the last sixty years; in fact, the only reason why LA was open to his rule was because the Kuei-jin had invaded in 2002 and left the Anarchs too devastated to maintain control of the entire city.
As such, the newly-declared Prince found himself on unstable ground, trapped in a Cold War with the Kuei-jin invaders, regarded with barely-restrained contempt by the Anarchs, and frequently undermined by his own lieutenants; even the Camarilla's Inner Circle considered him a laughingstock - effectively dooming himself to a position with no prestige, little power, and no hope of advancement.
Bitter and resentful, Prince LaCroix sought out other means of power, hoping to find something that might eventually bring him back into the good graces of the Inner Circle. However, legal methods were not in range, and LaCroix began searching for more unorthodox forms of power; ultimately, he went so far as to make an alliance with Ming Xiao of the Kuei-jin in the hopes of eliminating his rivals among the Anarchs - most prominently their leader Nines Rodriguez - though the payoff to this bargain is not seen until the second act of the game.
In the days prior to the events of the game, LaCroix discovered that a vampire under his leadership had unexpectedly broken Camarilla law by siring a childe without his permission. Outraged by this breach of the law - and the insult to his authority - he immediately ordered the offending vampire hunted down.
An Explosive Beginning
The game begins with the player character (hereafter known as the Fledgling) being Embraced illegally, and then promptly being captured by LaCroix's hunters: brought to a theater in Downtown Los Angeles, the Fledgling and their sire are put on display before an audience of vampires from across the city and made to kneel before the Prince as he monologues on the importance of the Camarilla's Traditions. Once he is finished, the Sheriff beheads the sire, and all indications are that the Fledgling is next in line for execution.
However, Nine Rodriguez loudly protests this ruling, and with most of the city's Anarchs at his back, LaCroix is forced to extend mercy to the illegal childe in order to avoid widespread unrest. However, once the theater is empty, the Prince informs the Fledgling that this clemency is extremely conditional, and will be granted only once s/he has completed some important business on his behalf in Santa Monica (business that can only be disclosed by the agent stationed there); until the mission is completed, the player is forbidden from leaving the region on pain of death.
After this, LaCroix kicks the player out of the theater and leaves them to their own devices with very little advice on their own nature or powers, forcing them to rely on the assistance of Smiling Jack, an Anarch elder and former pirate. Shortly after a Sabbat raid on the gathered Camarilla forces and a run-in with some human gang-members, the Fledgling is finally escorted to Santa Monica by taxi and roughly deposited in the haven LaCroix has provided - a dilapidated one-room apartment above a pawnshop with barely enough window coverings to protect the player from the sun.
The following evening, the Fledgling sets out to meet with Mercurio, LaCroix's personal ghoul and weapons dealer, in order to learn the details of their mission: as it happens, they are to blow up a Sabbat warehouse, an immense undertaking for a vampire as young as the player, and numerous obstacles bar the way to even beginning the mission. The first and most troublesome of these obstacles is that Mercurio's attempts to acquire the necessary explosives have ended with his prospective suppliers beating him up and stealing his money, forcing the Fledgling to seek out the gang responsible and obtain the Astrolite from them by any means available - seduction, theft, murder, or simple bribery. For good measure, the Fledgling later has the opportunity to reveal Mercurio's failure to LaCroix, resulting in the ghoul mysteriously vanishing from his apartment - presumably having been disposed of as a liability.
For most of the game's first act, LaCroix plays little direct role, only intervening in the player's struggles to reach the warehouse by providing an additional mission on the side - namely retrieving a bag of werewolf blood from a nearby clinic. Eventually, after resolving the haunting at the Ocean House Hotel, ending the feud between the Voerman Sisters and playing along with Bertram Tung's schemes, the Fledgling is able to infiltrate the warehouse and destroy it, ultimately earning the right to return to Downtown LA.
The Epic Of The Ankaran Sarcophagus
By the time the player arrives at LaCroix's penthouse office at the Venture Building, the Prince already has other ideas for exploiting the Fledgling's services; for good measure, if the player refuses to accept orders at any point, LaCroix will just Dominate him/her into obeying.
Around this time, a cargo ship known as the Elizabeth Dane has recently been found adrift just off the coast of Los Angeles with no sign of its crew, a mystery that has already caught the attention of mortal authorities; however, what interests LaCroix is the fact that the Dane is reportedly carrying a priceless archaeological find known as the Ankaran Sarcophagus, an elaborately-built casket believed to date back to ancient Mesopotamia. Knowing the possibility that the Sarcophagus might very well be occupied by an ancient vampire, LaCroix has the player investigate the scene in the hopes of learning more.
To his alarm and growing fascination, the Fledgling brings back a police report confirming signs of extreme violence throughout the ship (though no sign of bodies), as well as numerous bloody handprints along the length of the Sarcophagus' lid, suggesting that it was opened from the inside. If the player was able to obtain these details without causing any bloodshed, LaCroix will reward the Fledgling with a new haven at the upmarket Skyline apartment building, but only if they are not a Tremere or Nosferatu.
While increasingly interested in the artifact and the legends surrounding it, LaCroix has other matters to attend to before he can investigate further. By now, he has become aware that Alistair Grout, the city's Malkavian Primogen, has learned of his plans to seize power by illegal means and needs to be eliminated before he can inform others. In the process, he recognizes an opportunity to remove Nines Rodriguez as a threat, not merely by eliminating him but by making him an official enemy of the Camarilla; to this end, he has Ming Xiao shapeshift into Nines' form, infiltrate Grout's mansion and assassinate him.
Then, LaCroix sends the Fledgling on a snipe hunt to retrieve Grout from the mansion, timing it exactly so that the player arrives at the mansion just as the disguised Ming is departing - ensuring that the blame naturally falls on Nines when the Primogen's charred remains are finally uncovered. However, though the frame-up goes exactly as planned, the Prince almost loses his witness when another member of the Bach family attacks the mansion; Grunfeld Bach, a senior vampire hunter and member of the Society of Leopold, burns the house to the ground in a furious attempt to lure the killer of his father and grandfather out of hiding, nearly killing the player in the process. Nonetheless, with the Fledgling's testimony, LaCroix is able to call for a Blood Hunt on Nines Rodriguez, forcing the Anarch leader to leave town.
In the final mission of the game's second act, LaCroix has firmly set his sights on the Ankaran Sarcophagus: as a result of the police report and the rumors surrounding it, he believes that the casket contains a sleeping Antediluvian, one of the legendary Third-Generation vampires. Such a being would have near-godlike abilities at its disposal, and the possibility is enough to tempt LaCrox into obtaining the Sarcophagus for himself - but only so he can drain the slumbering Antediluvian's blood and take its power for his own.
This act, commonly known as Diablerie, is only practiced by enemy factions like the Sabbat and strictly forbidden by the Camarilla on pain of death, but LaCroix believes that the power he could gain would be enough to protect him from any repercussions. So, with the Sarcophagus having been delivered to the Los Angeles Museum of History for analysis and the Nosferatu having provided him with the keys to the building, the Prince sends the Fledgling to steal it.
Unfortunately, the player arrives to find that the Sarcophagus has already been stolen, and is forced to return to the Venture Building empty-handing. Enraged, LaCroix realizes that he's been double-crossed by the city's Nosferatu, and promptly sends the Fledgling to Hollywood in order to interrogate Gary Golden, the Nosferatu Primogen, the only vampire who might have some idea of the Sarcophagus' current location. As such, this next act of the game begins with the player being sent into Hollywood - an Anarch-dominated region of the city; though LaCroix only features peripherally in this quest, his orders nonetheless force players to deal with angry restaurant critics, zombie hordes, snuff film-makers, fleshcrafted monsters, a Tzimisce Archbishop, and a long descent through the sewers before finally making contact with Gary in the Nosferatu Warrens deep beneath the city. Naturally, Gary refuses to give up the location of the Sarcophagus until the player can rescue a Nosferatu hostage from Chinatown - an even greater challenge, given that it's currently held by Ming Xiao and the Kuei-jin. Eventually, after wading through countless diplomatic incidents and instances of gangland violence to save Barabbas, Gary finally reveals that the Ankaran Sarcophagus was sold to the local branch of the Giovanni Family - forcing the player to kill or infiltrate their way through the necromancers' mansion and deal with the Kuei-jin assassins attempting to steal the casket from them, before finally retrieving the Prince's prize.
The Enemy Of My Enemy
Needless to say, LaCroix is overjoyed to finally have the Ankaran Sacrophagus within reach, even going so far as to have it moved into his office. However, to his frustration, it can't be opened, and in a colossal temper tantrum, the Prince orders the Fledgling to find a way of forcing the lid and not bother him until a solution is discovered; at Beckett's suggestion, the player goes so far as to seek out Dr Ingvar Johansen, the archaeologist who originally discovered the Sarcophagus - though it forces the Fledgling to kill the vampire hunters who have kidnapped him, including Grunfeld Bach. Ultimately, though the player discovers that the Sarcophagus can only be opened through a one-of-a-kind key, the key is nowhere to be found.
Worse still, the Fledgling returns to Downtown LA to find that the Venture Building has been raided by the Sabbat: though LaCroix and the Sheriff were able to fight off the invaders with little effort, the Prince is not taking this issue lying down, and sends the player to eliminate the Sabbat presence in LA once and for all. However, after eliminating Archbishop Andrei once and for all, players are abruptly confronted by Ming Xiao shortly after leaving the Sabbat base: having finally had enough of LaCroix and vampires in general, she reveals the details of her former alliance with the Prince - including the frame job on Nines; she also reveals that she is in possession of the Sarcophagus key, and offers a new alliance with the player. Regardless of whether the the Fledgling accepts the bargain or not, s/he will return to the Venture Building and reveal the details of this meeting to the Prince.
Claiming that no such deal between him and the Kuei-Jin ever existed, LaCroix instead declares that Ming Xiao was acting of her own accord when she killed Grout in an attempt to divide the Camarilla and the Anarchs; so, supposedly intending to unite the two factions, he proposes an alliance in order to remove the Kuei-Jin once and for all. To this end, he sends the Fledgling to learn of Nines' location and offer him an olive branch. After some tense confrontations with the Anarchs, the player eventually learns that Nines has been hiding at Griffith Park Observatory, a place where nobody would think to look for him given its close proximity to werewolf territory.
Unfortunately, over the course of the meeting between Nines and the Fledgling, LaCroix's agents sabotage the negotiations by setting fire to the nearby forest, prompting an enraged response from two of the local werewolves; Nines ends up getting jumped by one of them - an attack he barely survives - while the player is forced to either crush the second one between the observatory doors or simply evade the monster until the cable car returns. After being rescued from the oncoming sunrise by Smiling Jack, it becomes clear that the Fledgling has become the victim of a frame-up: with Nines believed dead for the time being, LaCroix is claiming that the player is guilty of murdering Nines on the orders of the Kuei-Jin, and has called a Blood Hunt on him/her.
From here, the player has several options: they can attempt to confront LaCroix and reason with him; they can join the Kuei-Jin and take revenge on LaCroix with their help; they can join the Anarchs and end Camarilla rule over LA; they can ally with Tremere Regent Maximilian Strauss and allow the Camarilla to remove LaCroix from office; or they can abandon membership of all factions in favor of total independence.
Should the Fledgling choose to ally with the Kuei-Jin, the player will be spared a battle with Ming Xiao and simply end the game with a duel with the Sheriff atop the Venture Building: shortly afterwards, LaCroix will be reduced to hysterics by the Fledgling's betrayal, and spends his last few minutes ranting about how the Kuei-Jin will kill them all - before Ming Xiao enters and has the Prince executed. Unfortunately, while Ming has no interest in seeing the Sarcophagus opened, she also has no interest in a long-term alliance with a vampire: as such, she has the player chained to the Sarcophagus and dumped in the open waters beyond Los Angeles, condemning the Fledgling to spend the rest of his/her unlife in a starved torpor at the bottom of the ocean.
If the player chooses to pledge allegiance to the Camarilla, Strauss will first send them to eliminate the Kuei-Jin and then destroy LaCroix's defenses. After making his/her way up the Venture Building and slaying the Sheriff, the player confronts the Prince one last time: upon learning that they have obtained the key, he attempts to Dominate the Fledgling into handing it over, but this time, the player is inexplicably immune to his powers. In a humiliating twist, LaCroix is reduced to begging for the key, going so far as to fall to his knees and plead - almost in tears. However, Strauss and a number of other Camarilla operatives arrive, placing LaCroix under arrest and having the Sarcophagus sealed away in a warehouse for the rest of eternity.
If the player attempts to rejoin LaCroix, he will accept the Fledgling's explanation of what went on, offering a place at his side once he has obtained ultimate power - on the condition that s/he eliminates Ming Xiao and the Kuei-Jin, and retrieves the key to the Sarcophagus. However, once this mission is complete, LaCroix finally opens the Sarcophagus, only to discover that it's empty except for a mocking note from Jack and at least half a ton of C4, wired to explode in ten seconds as soon as the casket is opened. Moments later, the penthouse vanishes in a fireball, taking the player and the Prince with it.
In the event that player becomes an Anarch, they face a similar path to the Camarilla ending, fighting through the Golden Temple to eliminate Ming Xiao, and then wiping out LaCroix's forces at the Venture Building. However, once LaCroix finds himself unable to Dominate the player, the Fledgling stabs the Prince almost to death with a letter opener; from here, they are given the choice on whether to open the Sarcophagus for themselves, or simply leave the key and run. The former option results in both LaCroix and the player dying in the resulting explosion; the latter results in LaCroix being left alone in the penthouse with the key. Believing that he finally has access to ultimate power, he gloats that the player was too weak and foolish to claim it for himself/herself, and promptly opens the Sarcophagus, promising the Anarchs that their days are numbered. Unfortunately, he once again discovers the explosive surprise waiting for him, and can only laugh hysterically as the entire penthouse goes up in flames.
The Independent ending is quite similar - the only difference lying in what the Fledgling does after the penthouse explodes: rather than presumably rejoining the Anarchs, the player pushes past Nines and the others, flipping the bird to them before striding off into the night.
In any event, the game concludes with LaCroix's quest for ultimate power ending in failure, and the revelation that he would have lost even if he'd succeeded: there never was an Antediluvian in the Sarcophagus, only a long-dead Mesopotamian mummy. The rumors of an Ancient sleeping within, the indications that the Sarcophagus had been opened from the inside, and even the slaughter of the Elizabeth Dane's crew had all been arranged by Smiling Jack as part of an elaborate practical joke on the Camarilla - one that LaCroix fell for hook, line and sinker.
On the face of things, LaCroix is the quintessential Camarilla Prince and the ideal Ventrue Elder: polite, calm, domineering, manipulative, and unyielding, a born leader and a savvy diplomat with a taste for realpolitik. However, as the game continues, LaCroix's professional exterior begins to dissolve in the face of repeated misfortunes, revealing the petulant brat beneath it; quite apart from lacking the respect of almost everyone in Los Angeles including his own lieutenants, after his initial display of authority at the Nocturne Theater, the Prince spends much of his time whining about how much of a burden leadership truly is - all while taking ever opportunity to condescend to the player. For good measure, if the player attempts to disagree with LaCroix's proposals, he'll just use Dominate to force the Fledgling to comply with his orders - a serious faux pas among the Ventrue, who commonly believe that such mundane uses of Disciplines are vulgar and unworthy of their clan.
A spoiled, ungrateful, narcissistic manchild at heart, the only way to get any kind of reward out of LaCroix is to follow every single order to the letter and suck up to him at any turn - and in the case of Tremere and Nosferatu players, he'll withhold the skyline apartment haven regardless of success. However, keeping him happy is absolutely impossible: quite apart from the moments where he resorts to grumbling at length about how nobody else in the city understands just how difficult ruling Los Angeles is, revealing that the Sarcophagus was stolen prompts him to throw an extremely childish temper-tantrum in which he stops just short of demanding Gary's immediate execution. Likewise, while LaCroix appears jovial when the player finally returns to the Venture Building with the Sarcophagus, he throws another tantrum when it becomes clear that the artifact cannot be opened.
In a further nod to childishness, LaCroix is a coward, not only willing to break Camarilla law if it means securing ultimate power, but willing to break the Masquerade by having his Sheriff assault the player in Chiropteran form in full view of the general public if it means stopping the one threat he cannot eliminate. In the end, he can only whine, plead, and gibber madly as his death approaches, driven insane by the knowledge that all his efforts were for nothing.
- It's never specified why LaCroix's powers failed him at the last minute, though the fact that Andrei claimed that the potency of the player's blood had increased since their last meeting indicates that the Fledgling was simply too powerful for the Prince to Dominate.