Historic New Orleans Resources

All discussions about the new Noir setting for Deadlands and Savage Worlds. It's 1935 and the only thing that isn't in short supply is trouble.

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The Angle
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Historic New Orleans Resources

#1 Postby The Angle » Fri Sep 27, 2013 12:44 pm

OpenLibrary.org has some excellent resources for GMs looking to enhance their New Orleans with authentic, period flavor.

Start with Fifty Facts About New Orleans (1900). A simple little one-page flyer you can hand to players with interesting info on the city at the turn of the century.

Then check out New Orleans: What to See and How to See It (1911). A short (68 pages) but wide-reaching guidebook to NO in the early part of the 20th century, with plenty of photos. Indispensable to detail-obsessed GMs like me.

Finally, there's Gumbo Ya-Ya (1941). This is a fascinating book for three reasons, and it's the one that I both recommend most highly and warn people away from. It's fascinating because of how it was written, the stories it contains, and the way it reflects the time when it was written. GYY was commissioned by the Depression-era WPA Writers' Project, which employed out-of-work writers to document fading aspects of American life. GYY is a record of folktales and folk life gathered in and around New Orleans in the 1930s. It covers celebrations, family life, traditions, legends, ghost stories -- all things a Deadlands Noir GM can geek out on. The appendices on superstitions and customs are especially useful. But I can't recommend this book without a strong warning: as a document of its time, it's filled with Jim Crow-era racism. Much of it can be understood in a that's-how-it-was way. For example, the writers strived to capture the authentic patois of bayou speech, and many were praised for how well they did, but here in the 21st century it still feels uncomfortably like reading blackface. OTOH, some of the essays indulge in flat-out celebration of racial stereotypes and slavery-wasn't-that-bad apologia; the authors were not all unbiased documentarians. If you read this book, go into it knowing that you're entering a field strewn with equal numbers of diamonds and land mines. Dodge the bombs and you'll be well rewarded with gems.

"When choosing between two evils, I always pick the one I haven't tried before." -- Mae West

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Lord Skudley
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#2 Postby Lord Skudley » Sat Jan 03, 2015 9:38 pm

How did I miss these suggestions?
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