Friday, 17 September 2021

Cyberpunk Red - Session Seven - "Appetite for Destruction"

A roleplay session in the world of Cyberpunk Red
This session was written up by our Gamesmaster Matt and formatted for my blog by me.


'The Outfit'
The Players
Our players were all started at Rank 4
Garreth as Avery Hicks, Exec 5, Fixer 1
Phil as 'Holliday' Nomad 5, Solo 1
Martyn as 'Klink', Medtech 5

and Exec Crewmembers 
'Jasmine' - Netrunner
'Lizza' - Technician

Gamesmaster
Matt as everyone else.

Scene introductions and 'speaking to the players' bits are written in Blue to distinguish them from the roleplayed parts of the scenes.

Session Seven: "Appetite for Destruction"
Introduction
The flames rising from the parked vehicles licked hungrily at the warm desert air. The heat was only just bearable, prickling at the sweat soaked skin of Avery and Klink as they stood amongst the carnage their assault had caused. 

Out in the desert, Holliday trudged back towards the compound, the back of his head itching as he imagined the number of automatic weapons covering him from behind.
 
The mercenaries that had seized their prize, hurriedly secured the disabled Mizutani with a hoist and the AV lifted it into the air and flew towards the city.

An Offer They Can't Refuse
As the dust and sand billowed in its wake, Avery’s phone rang. He didn’t recognise the number, not sure what to expect, he accepted the call.

Hello?

Raphael Gidatta - 'Don'
Gidatta Crime Family
Good evening Mr Hicks. My name is Raphael Gidatta.” Said the voice. He sounded cultured but powerful. “At the moment, you are standing in my quarry, having disagreed with associates of my organisation. It may come as a surprise then, that I am offering you a hand of friendship in what must be a very trying time. We have both been played by The Widow. I think that we should discuss our grievances face to face before we decide what each of us will do next.

Considering the circumstances we are meeting under, you’ll understand if that doesn’t fill me with comfort.” Said Avery.

Yes, I can understand that.” Said Rapheal. “I am inviting you to attend my restaurant, Il Ristorante Di Raphaello, Raphael's for short. It’s in Little Europe. You and your associates will be my guests to discuss working together to redress the balance. As my guests you can be assured that I am affording you some measure of protection during the meeting. I have some more friends of ours are on the way to the quarry now to clean up the mess. They will no doubt, hold your argument with their colleagues against you, so it would be best if you weren't there when they arrived.

There are, I assume still members of your organisation here. I am not in the habit of turning my back to armed men who might be holding a grudge.” Said Avery. “Tell them to throw down their guns and leave first.

Night City Police Department
They are under strict instructions not to engage you from now on. Believe me, if they refused that order, things would go badly for them. They must remain on site.

 I have it on good authority that the NCPD may also be paying a visit so time is of the essence to ensure we are best suited to welcome them.

Begrudgingly, Avery accepted. “Fine, we accept your offer. Obviously we are some way out and are not exactly presentable. We will freshen up and join you as requested.

I’m sure I look forward to it Mr Hicks.” Said Gidatta. The phone went dead.

Avery turned to the others as Holliday arrived. “We have been invited to dinner.” He said.

Night City 2045 - Little Europe
Who by?” Rumbled the Nomad.

Avery sighed. “The gentleman who employed the people we just killed.

God Damn.” Said Holliday. “When?

Tonight, they have people on their way here so we are to leave and attend a reservation at a restaurant in Little Europe.

Well is that’s the case, we might need to be able to make a quick getaway. I’d rather swap back to my truck before we go.

Well so this isn’t a total bust, let grab whatever we can before we leave.” Said Avery, picking up a discarded shotgun.

Those mercs were wearing some kinda kabuki stylised masks.” Said Holliday picking up an assault rifle from a dead gangster. “The big fuckers looked more ornate. They seemed to defer to him. They were geared for CQC, I reckon they were aiming to pinch the car before it left the compound.

What about the AV?” Said Avery.

Militarised AV-4 Aerodyne
AV-4” Said Holliday. “It shouldn’t have been able to keep up with the car, even on loose surface. It looked to be running hot, like they were overcharging it a lot using some sort of fuel additive. That puts a strain on the engine so I’m guessing that was a backup plan for if the car got out.” He wiped the sweat off his brow. “Anyways, by my reckoning that’s going to need a service after being pushed like that. It’s not designed for it.

Well that’s something I guess.” Said Avery.

The pilot seemed competent too.” Said Holliday. “Could be nomad, could be military. Maybe we can ask around some.

The three of them trudged back to the waiting van and Avery’s Budget Arms agents. “It seems that our mission was unsuccessful.” Said Avery to Lizza and Jasmine. “We have been invited to a dinner reservation with the head of the Gidatta crime family. I would rather not risk you both by leading you into the lion’s den so to speak.” He gave them each 250eb. “This is for your time this evening, but now, once we get back to the Glen, please stay safe while we try and solve the problem.

The drive back to the Glen was pensive as each of the edgerunners contemplated what the evening had yet in store for them. After a quick freshen up, the three of them met at Holliday’s car and made the journey into Little Europe.

Il Restorante Di Raphaello
Il Ristorante Di Raffaello
Gidatta Crime Family 'Business Interest'
It was early evening when they reached Little Europe. The district was one of the many developing urban zones that had seen investment and as a result had better housing and a number of businesses catering to the more well off of Night City's population. 

The restaurant itself was busy and well lit. The front of the building was presentable with classy signage on the large windows that named it as "Il Ristorante Di Raffaello". Inside the gentle hum of polite conversation and the occasional clinking of cutlery and glasses mixed with the classical music played over the restaurants sound system. 

Though they had tried to tidy themselves, the edgerunners still looked slightly ruffled but despite this didn’t appear to attract any attention from patrons. They were met by a polite waiter who directed them to a booth to the back of the dining area. 

Il Ristorante Di Raffaello - Map
Another waiter stood ready to seat them opposite three well-dressed gentlemen. On the right was a young, slim dark haired man, on the left an older handsome and stern figure.  Between them sat an older heavier set man. His shoulders were broad and his face is wide but strong. He gestured for them to take a seat. 

"Thank you for accepting my invitation. Please feel free to order whatever food you would like. It's on the house, you’re here as my guests."

Avery acted on instinct offering a hand which Raphael shook. “Mr Gidatta I presume.” The edgerunners took seats at the table.

Raphael gestured to the man to the right. "This is John Moreno, his business was impacted by your recent actions." He gestured to the left. “This is my friend Adam Perez.” At the name, Klink paid attention. As a resident of Little Europe himself, he had heard of Perez and knew of him as a prominent figure in the community. 

John Moreno - 'Caporegime'
Gidatta Crime Family
The waiter placed cutlery and glasses of wine on the table “Thank you for the invitation.” Said Avery. “These are my companions, Holliday and Klink. We are glad of the opportunity to resolve this unfortunate disagreement peacefully.” He turned to Moreno. “I apologise for the disruption of your business.

Moreno looked to be unhappy about the situation but accepted the apology in good graces. “Thank you. I’m sure it was just business.” He said.

Klink looked extremely pleased with himself as he ordered a platter of cold cuts and a house salad, seemingly forgetting he had just shot up Gidatta’s business. Holliday, uncomfortable with the situation ordered something light, while Avery considering it might be his last meal if the meeting went badly, ordered something exotic with expensive wine.

Raphael leaned in. "It occurs to me, that we have something of a common enemy. The Widow has made some effort to draw you and I into conflict. This has cost me somewhat and I suspect has left you out of pocket too."

Adam Perez - 'Consigliere'
Gidatta Crime Family
Avery grimaced slightly. “Yes, we had invested in this job somehow I will need to cover the expenses.

An unfortunate predicament.” Said Raphael. “So, the Widow, what do you know of them?

Only what has been reported in the scream sheets.” Said Avery.

A waiter brought the ordered meals out to the restaurant. The smell of perfectly prepared real food was almost intoxicating. Gidatta gestured for them to begin eating. 

"To our knowledge, the mercenaries have been active for less than a month.” He said “The Widow had been operating under that alias for little longer though rumours of their activity had been in the screamsheets going further back. Their true identity is a mystery. They are, by all accounts leading the mercenaries which raises some other questions. How did they fund starting up a corporation and buying an AV in a month?

That had occurred to me. Clearly they have significant resources that I can’t compete with.” Said Avery.

Dinner for the Condemned?
Raphael continued “There are rumours that Widow was part of a gang in the South Night City District. They fell afoul of some corporation or other and they were the last survivor. This is unconfirmed though and the information that has been set out officially seems to imply a more mythic origin." He became serious. “You have to ask, why you?” He asked. “Why have you been targeted? So I am asking you, what did you do to antagonise them?

So far as we know, we have never had an interaction with them before.” Said Avery. “I have no idea why we were singled out.

Gidatta looked at him for a moment deciding whether the Exec was telling the truth. Satisfied, he moved on. “Let’s talk about the unfortunate business at the quarry. Who hired you?

A man called Nano Dallister, he said he worked for Mizutani.” Said Avery

Nano Dallister
Agent of 'The Widow'
Nano Dallister? It's not a name I'm familiar with.

He came to the office with his offer. He explained the car had been stolen and gave us permission to investigate the garages.

A patron from the restaurant stood up and handed a data slate to Gidatta. “It seems this was a pseudonym. Dallister doesn't exist.” He said.

He provided us with garage passes.” Said Avery, holding his pass up. Moreno took it and studied it carefully. “He was average height, dark hair with a tanned complexion.” Avery passed over a memory stick, “I have a sound recording of the meeting.

Interesting.” Said Gidatta, passing the memory stick to Perez. “We will investigate that. How did the mercenaries know you were at the quarry?” He asked.

I can explain that.” Cut in Moreno holding up the garage pass. “This is a forgery.” He pulled the lanyard apart to reveal a homing tracer. “I’ve seen some exactly like this. I have a contact who is somewhat of an expert.

Can you reach out to them for more information?” Asked Holliday.

I intend to investigate.” Said Moreno. “I suggest we use burner phones to stay in contact over this matter. We don’t know who might be keeping tabs.

It occurs then, that the Widow hired us just to make themselves look good.” Said Avery.

Concealed Tracking Device
If we’ve been tracked here, I’d rather be outside watching for unwelcome guests.” Said Holliday “Could you excuse me?

Raphael nodded and the nomad headed for the door.

Onto the next business.” Said Raphael. “Your intervention at the quarry has cost my organisation considerably. It would sour the taste of our future cooperation if I were to hold that against you but I'm sure you appreciate that there is a degree of image and reputation to uphold.
 
Reputation is everything in Night City.” Agreed Avery.

We have suffered another recent loss. Someone murdered my associates, stole 50,000eb of a valuable product and a vehicle belonging to our business.

I suggest a minor task as a show of good faith. I would ask of you to locate and return the stolen vehicle and remove the thieves so that my organisation need not hunt for them anymore. I think it is important that any bad blood between us is put to bed in an official capacity.

Realising that the Gidatta knew that the outfit had stolen the car, Avery’s mind raced. His pride stung. Not only had his last job been ruined, but now he was being strong armed into returning the last score too. 

'Quadra 45' - High Performance Ground Car

It occurs that the near future might require an element of speed, especially considering the Widow’s use of an AV. Were we to find the car, would it be possible that we loan it for the duration of the operation?” He said.

Well that would require it to be returned first. Then we could discuss the possibility of a loan.” Said Raphael.

No.” Said Avery abruptly. “I’m not returning the car, even if I knew where it was, which of course I do not.

Perez pulled a tablet from his coat and started to bring up a file. Raphael caught his eye and subtly shook his head. “We will pay you to recover the car. Call it a finder’s fee. 2400eb.” Putting his pride aside, Avery considered the situation. Did he imagine the eyes on the back of his head or not? “Fine. We will take the job.” He said through gritted teeth.

GM's Note - He was in a restaurant full of mafia soldiers. That fight would have gone one way, possibly down to the soundproofed room in the basement...

Raphael stood and offered a hand. “Then it is a deal. Thank you for accepting my invitation tonight, but now I think is a good time to end.

Avery shook hands with Raphael, Perez and Moreno again while Klink negotiated a takeaway bag for his meal. “Thank you, he said. We will be in touch if we learn anything new.

Holliday turned as Avery and Klink exited the restaurant. “What’s going on?” He said.

'Lizza' - Team Member - Avery's Executive Crew

We have been tasked to locate and return a stolen family car.” Said Avery dryly.

Holliday grunted to himself. “Yeah I guess we should have seen that coming.

We should drop these trackers off back at Budget Arms,” said Avery “they were handed to us there, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise if anyone is still monitoring them. Hopefully Lizza and Jasmine can pull something useful from them.” He smoothed back his hair. “At the moment, the Gidatta need us, we only need to worry when we are no longer useful.

Well, we need to be as useful as possible during this operation then.” Said Holliday. “Those guys were chromed up!” Said Klink excitedly.”Cyberaudioware, subdermal armour, all preem stuff.

Well that’s good to know.” Holliday muttered under his breath.

Either way, I have an unpleasant report to make with Silverman.” Said Avery, heading for the car.

A Bitter Pill
Riker Blue - Silverman's P.A.
It was now getting late but the tower was still busy. Avery attracted a couple of looks as he walked through the lobby and headed for the elevator. Though the operation had been secret, unsurprisingly, rumours got around and the evening’s screamsheet story had almost certainly been read by some of the staff. Holliday and Klink split off to drop the tracker to Jasmine and Lizza while Avery headed up to the offices.

Riker Blue, Silverman’s assistant showed him up to the Executive Offices that they had left a few hours before. Rather than the conference room from before, Avery was directed to Silverman’s office. The Head of Acquisitions was waiting for him as he entered. He looked mildly concerned and gave off a sense of urgency that suggested that he might have been leaving the office before the night’s events bought him back to business.

Avery accepted the offer to sit, only too aware of the fatigue from the night’s events. Silverman began the conversation.

So, your project collapsed? Tell me, what happened?

Avery took a breath. “The investigation went flawlessly, it took a matter of hours to track down the car and the thieves. It turned up in a quarry belonging to the Gidatta organised crime family. We infiltrated and recovered the car quickly and were leaving the site without a complication.” He signed ruefully. “I was probably the best operation we have carried out. However it seems someone else had eyes on the prize and sent a unit of heavily armed mercenaries to hold us up. We were outnumbered and outgunned, so we had to back down.

Dom Silverman - Exec.
Budget Arms, Acquisitions Dept.
And the advance you requested?

Wasted, but I will pay it back in full.

Hmm, it wouldn't be looked favourably upon that you wasted company funds.” Silverman lent back in his chair. “I said before that I can see your potential. When the Screamsheet broke, I made some changes in the system and covered the losses personally. Let’s keep this... Mishap quiet. You owe me though now, not the Corporation.”

Avery barely hid his surprise. “I appreciate that, thank you.

I would rather your reputation remain as intact as we can keep it.” Said Silverman. “We both need to see this as a learning opportunity.  I will continue to support you as long as you are discreet. Needless to say my hands will be tied if this happens again though.

I understand.” Said Avery rising to leave. “I won’t be caught out again.” As he left he made a phone call, it was time to consolidate his power. He was also now well aware that he was now quite considerably in Silverman's debt.

The Forlorn Hope
Holliday was aware that there were a few dive bars around the city that catered to the needs of the many freelancers who called it home. The Forlorn Hope is one such dive bar. Crammed in between apartment blocks, the bar is low key and unassuming. Quite by chance, Holliday had found it during a job in a past life. The bar itself didn’t advertise itself and the clientele were mostly only those that knew where it was.

'The Forlorn Hope' - Notorious 'Solo' Bar

It was quite busy but the atmosphere was sombre and quiet. People sat together in the booths hunched over glasses and speaking in hushed tones or perched on the high stools at the bar. A man quietly polished glasses at the till, seemingly giving his patrons privacy. He nodded at the three men wordlessly as they entered.

"Tequila at the Forlorn Hope"
Holliday and Klink grabbed an empty table while Avery went to the bar. He eyed the top shelf half-heartedly for a minute. “Can I get a bottle of tequila and three glasses?” he looked over his shoulder at Klink “And some snacks please.” He dropped the snacks on the table and sat down. “We need to talk about what happened. Silverman has covered for us but now we are in the pocket of the mafia. If this, Widow, is truly out to get us, we can’t compete with an AV and heavily armed militants. Gidatta seemed to imply we were targeted deliberately. Who have we upset?

I don’t know about who we riled up some.” Said Holliday “We have clashed with a lot of people in the last month or so. Widow suggests they lost a partner. Maybe we killed her husband?

We have killed a lot of people.” Said Avery “It’s possible. We haven’t left many alive though.

'Media'
That’s true, we haven’t had much choice most of the time. The only one I can think of was the girl we let go in the first job we did. The Widow started showing up in the screamsheets a few weeks ago, we could look into the medias who are writing about her.” Said Holliday “Maybe they can give us a lead?

Avery pulled up the articles on his agent. “Hmm, I’m not an expert but these are all similarly written. If they weren’t signed by different authors, I’d think they were written by the same person.

Could be they have a dedicated media wing then? Maybe we can trace them through the screamsheets, there’s got to be contact between the author and the publisher right? I’m planning to talk to the Prylors about the AV pilot anyway, maybe Spydar can dig into that while I’m there.

Well that’s a lead to start with” said Avery.

Why don’t we just get one of those masks and sodomise a dog or something?” Cut in Klink.

What? No!” Said Avery.

He has a point though.” Said Holliday “I might look into those masks, maybe we can chip away at the Widow’s credibility in other ways.

Speaking of dogs. We should get a guard dog in case someone comes after us.” Said Klink “No! A Pig! A cyberpig! With rocket legs!

Night City 2045 - Little China
Ignoring him, Avery pressed on. “Who was Jove Kardin? The screamsheets implied that killing was a personal one. Someone who had wronged her too?

That happened just after we recovered your arms shipment. Is it a coincidence that both the arms shipment theft and Kardin were in Little China?” Said Holliday.

So it’s worth looking into him too then.” Said Avery. “I’m going to ask around the bar and see if I can pick up any rumours.

I’ll do the same.” Said Holliday refilling his tequila.

The three men spread out talking to whoever was willing to talk. After a while they came back together to share what they had found.

There have been a few jobs that have come up in the last few weeks.” Said Holliday. “The sources haven’t been clear but the guys that have gone on them have stayed quiet since. They haven’t divulged anything about it. I get the impression they are contracted into confidentiality.

I heard there was a solo, Spark, that took a job and turned up dead. Nobody is sure whether the job went bad or if he disagreed with his sponsor.” Said Avery “Maybe he was competition and was eliminated for business reasons?

'Spydar' - Netrunner, Prylor Nomad 'Caravan'

I asked about AV pilots” said Holliday, “There was some guy called Huey who used to be around but he hasn’t turned up in a while. Apparently he worked for Constitutional Arms in the past, wasn’t that who sponsored Spydar when we captured him?

Yeah, maybe he knows about that then.

A missing AV pilot might relate to our current predicament.

Maybe the Widow hires people for jobs and then flatlines them and takes credit for their work?” Mused Avery “I won’t be surprised if this Huey turns up dead too.

Holliday stood up. “I’m going to give Spydar a call, then I think we crash and pick this back up tomorrow.” He strolled outside, dialling the number for the rogue netrunner.

GM's Note - There was a lot of great roleplay here as the players dissected everything they had done over the last few weeks. This write up doesn’t do it anywhere near enough justice.

Emersyn Prylor - Nomad
Matriarch of the Prylor 'Caravan'
Spydar here.

Hey, It’s Holliday, how are things going?

Spyday answered cheerfully “I’m back in business. I’m keeping a low profile but I can broker information for the Aldecaldos and keep an eye out for business opportunities. The work Budget Arms has really helped the Prylors get back on their feet. It’s still a bit hand to mouth but at least they can be self-sufficient again.

That’s good, that’s good. We really wanted to help get the caravan back on its feet. You got to look out for family.” Said Holliday “Listen, the unfortunate incident that first brought us into contact so to speak, you were backed up by a gang right?

Yeah said Spydar. “The Red Mandible Gang were the ones I paid to watch my back before you raided me. Hecto Berkeley was their leader. Obviously, I left through the window so you know better than me what happened to them.

Well we didn’t kill all of them. One of them I let go. A woman. Do you remember them much?

One of the women? That would be Plasma or Comma then.

I see, what did they look like? Were any of them involved with other gang members, maybe with Berkeley?” Asked Holliday.

The Badlands - Domain of the Nomad Families
Comma was grungey, kind of tall, white with purple hair. Plasma Steele was slight, good shot err black girl with braided hair. I don’t think either of them were with Berkeley.” He said “She might have been with one of the others, Bing maybe.

Ok, thanks very much.” Said Holliday. “I’m coming to the camp soon to ask about a pilot. I guess I’ll see you then.

Looking forward to it Holliday.” Said Spydar, hanging up. He walked back into the Forlorn Hope. “I have a name.” He said to the others. ”The survivor from the Red Mandible gang was called Plasma Steele. I know a guy I can ask to look into her, he’s good at that.

Excellent.” Said Avery. “Well that’s a job for tomorrow I guess. It’s getting late now.

The three men walked out into the cooling night air. Suddenly Avery’s agent rang. The caller ID said it was Jasmine

Good evening dear, isn’t it a bit late for a call?

Hi boss, Lizza and I have managed to reverse engineer that tracker signal. It was complicated but I’m pretty certain we can track it back to the source. It’s live still, there’s someone still using the signal.

To Be Continued...

GM's Roundup
After having the rung pulled from under them last session the players were unsurprisingly on the defensive. Faced with help on the wrong side of the law and the threat of further interruption by the Widow in future, they have some difficult choices to make. Despite the set-back and the borderline adversarial nature of the last session they all rallied and started planning some truly genius (and devious) counter attacks. I can’t wait to see them come in to play.

Originally this was part of the last session but has ended up being split over three. The next write up will conclude the events of one very long and tiring night.

Acknowledgement's
I've used pictures of real people to represent some of the characters and art for others so in no particular order Avery Hicks is Tom Ellis, 'Holliday' is Wes Chatham, 'Klink' is Mackenzie Crook, Jasmine is Dichen Lachman, Lizza is Eiza Gonzalez, Raphael Gidatta is Ray Liotta, John Moreno is Gerard Butler, Adam Perez is Michael Douglas, Nano Dallister is John Krasinki, Riker Blue is Matt Smith, Dom Silverman is George Clooney, 'Spyder' is Joe Pantoliano and Emersyn Prylor is Linda Hamilton.

Saturday, 4 September 2021

Vampire the Masquerade - V5 - Interlude Session - 'Recon'

I'm currently running a Vampire the Masquerade chronicle using the 5th Edition rule-set for a small group of fellow role-players. These are the chronicles of their adventures.
Our chronicle is set in Los Angeles and features a small group of Camarilla agents sent into the 'Free States' to bring them back under Camarilla control. Over a year of plotting allowed the coterie to gain control of two North-Eastern Baronies and a large part of a third. Now they are moving on to the final stage of their campaign and have their eyes on taking over the entire city, either directly or by proxy.
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The now obligatory warning bit - Unlike my other RPG write-ups this one will contain swearing, sexual references and other references that might offend. If you can't tell the difference between real             peoples opinions and grown-ups role-playing predators who crave blood then this probably won't be for you. I've also used actual photographs to represent some characters which I'll give acknowledgements to at the end if I've any idea who they are.
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The introduction to this campaign, the first story and all the other parts can be found at the following links and are in chronological order. If you'd prefer a summary of each session rather than read everything then there's a more detailed link page HERE as well as links to the first episode of each story in the blog sidebar.
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Chronicle One - 'Infiltrate L.A.' 
Welcome to L.A. - Introductory Session
Story One - 'Three Murders' - Part OneTwo, ThreeFour and Five
Interlude Session - One
Story Two - 'The Pasadena Problem' - Part OneTwoThree, and Four
Solo Session - 'The Neillson Library'
Story Two Continued- 'The Pasadena Problem' - Part FiveSixSeven and Eight
Story Three - 'Becoming Baron' - Part OneTwoThreeFour and Five
Solo Session - 'The Gather'
Story Three Continued - 'Becoming Baron' - Part SixSeven and Eight
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Chronicle Two - 'Foothold L.A.' 
Solo Session - 'Hostile Takeover'
Story Four - 'Countdown' - Part OneTwo and Three
Story Five - 'The Missing Chantry' - Part OneTwoThreeFour and Five
Solo Session - 'The Anaheim Assassination'
Story Six - 'A Meeting of Barons' - Part OneTwo and Three
Story Seven - 'The Carmelita Situation' - Part OneTwo and Three
Story Eight - 'The Blount Sisters' - Part One and Two
Story Nine - 'Blood Money' - Part OneTwoThreeFour, Five and Six
Story Ten - 'Anathema' - Part One and Two
Story Eleven - 'Predators and Prey' aka 'The Blount Sisters' - Part Three
Story Twelve - 'Aftermath' - Part One and Two
Story Thirteen - 'The Messiah Complex' - Part OneTwoThree and Four
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Chronicle Three - 'Incursion L.A.'
Story Fourteen - 'The Rant'
Story Fifteen - 'Ties of Blood' - Part One and Two
Solo Session - 'A Gathering of Roses'
Story Sixteen - 'The Southern Solution' - Part OneTwo and Three
Story Seventeen - 'The Baker Disappearance' - Part OneTwo and Three
Story Eighteen - 'Inevitable Betrayals' - Part OneTwoThreeFour and Five
Story Nineteen - 'The Marius Contracts' - Part One and Two
Story Twenty - 'The MacNeil Protocols' - Part OneTwoThreeFourFive
Story Twenty - 'The MacNeil Protocols' - Part SixSevenEightNine and Ten
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Interlude Session One - After Griffith Park
Interlude Session Two - Divide and Conquer
Interlude Session Three - On the Brink of War
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Chronicle Four - 'Conquest L.A.'
Story Twenty One - 'Veni, Vidi, Victor' - Part OneTwoThreeFourFive
Story Twenty One - 'Veni, Vidi, Victor' - Part Six, and Epilogue
Story Twenty Two - 'The Unbound' - Part OneTwoThree and Four
Story Twenty Three - 'The War Council' - Part OneTwoThree and Four
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Storytellers Note - As I knew I would only have two players available this session I decided to try something a bit different. This time the PC's will be the two ghouls of the PC Daniel Matthews. I upgraded them both to 'Deadly' ghouls for this session, however the additional skills were decided by me, the players would have to make do with what they had.

The PC's
Matt as Andrew Francis - Investigator and Driver
Phil as Keith Chang - Investigator and Assassin

The Storyteller
Garreth - Everyone else...

The player characters stats and backgrounds can be found HERE should any-one be interested, but be warned that the page is usually several stories ahead of the most recent write-up and may contain some spoilers. 

There's also some minor 'house-rules' HERE that have occurred as we went along.

If I think something needs a bit of out of character explanation then those will get a storytellers note that will helpfully be in red. Where particular NPC's have a mention in a faction profile you will be able to reach it by clicking on their name or faction beneath their picture.

Dr Daniel Matthews Ghouls
Storytellers Note - As I mentioned earlier the ghouls have been upgraded to 'Deadly'. They have also gained a few extra disciplines courtesy of Vin's use of his own disciplines Draught of Elegance, Draught of Endurance and Draught of Might which grant the recipient half the donors dots in Celerity, Fortitude and Potence respectively.

Storytellers Note - I also believe that the ghoul rules in the V5 corebook are a bit underwhelming so I made some minor modifications. I allow ghouls to have 1 dot in a physical discipline available to their domitors clan (or Potence if they don't have one) as well as the 1 specified in the book. Though the rulebook says that this dot needs to be of the highest level discipline possessed by their creator, I let them pick 1 dot from any discipline that they have. If the player upgrades them to a 3 dot retainer at some point then I also let them have a 3rd level 1 dot power.

Andrew Francis - Investigator and Driver
Recruited by Daniel Matthews to facilitate the extensive research he puts into his assassinations as well as to take advantage of a number of useful contacts that the former military man still had from his days as a mercenary.

He also occasionally acts as a spotter for when Daniel wants to remove a target from a good safe distance.


Strength 5, Dexterity 4, Stamina 3
Charisma 2, Manipulation 2, Composure 3
Intelligence 4, Wits 5, Resolve 3

Health 6, Willpower 6

Skills
Athletics 2, Brawl 2, Drive 4 (Tailing), Firearms 3 (Sniper), Melee 2, Larceny 4, Stealth 4, Survival 2
Insight 3, Leadership 2, Persuasion 2, Streetwise 3, Subterfuge 3
Academics 2 (Criminology), Awareness 4, Investigation 5 (Profiling), Technology 3

Disciplines
Auspex 1 (Heightened Senses), Celerity 1 (Rapid Reflexes), Potence 1 (Lethal Body)
Temporary Disciplines
Celerity 2 (Rapid Reflexes, Fleetness), Fortitude 2 (Resilience, Toughness), Potence 2 (Lethal Body, Prowess)

Backgrounds - Contact 3 (Arms Dealer), Contact 3 ( Hacker), Contact 3 (Security Expert), Contacts 1 (Library Archivist), Resources 1

Weapons and Equipment
9mm Handgun (+3 Damage), 2 Spare Magazines
Boot/Combat Knife (+2 Damage)
Brass Knuckles (+1 Damage)

Night Vision Scope
Optical Sight
Lock-Pick Set
Camera with Telephoto Lens

Keith Chang - Investigator and Assassin
Keith is a military veteran given compassionate leave when his family were killed in a botched home invasion. He subsequently became addicted to prescription pain killers when his previous medicinal use due to injuries sustained in the Gulf became habitual due to depression.

Having concluded he had nothing to live for he decided to go out doing something meaningful and using his military skills began a minor crusade against crime. After starting with assault he moved onto the murder of criminals and began to draw the attention of the authorities to Pasadena.

Tasked with his removal Daniel took the somewhat unorthodox solution and instead of killing him, recruited him. He has been educating him in more subtle methods of assassination and has been pointing him in the direction of the enemies of the coterie.


Strength 4, Dexterity 5, Stamina 5
Charisma 2, Manipulation 2, Composure 4
Intelligence 2, Wits 3, Resolve 3

Health 8, Willpower 7

Skills
Athletics 4, Brawl 2, Drive 1, Firearms 5 (Quick Draw), Melee 2, Larceny 2 (Lock-Picking, Pick Pocket), Stealth 4 (Urban), Survival 2
Insight 3, Intimidation 3, Leadership 2, Streetwise 3, Subterfuge 3
Academics 2 (Military History), Awareness 4, Investigation 3, Medicine 1, Science 1, Technology 1

Disciplines
Celerity 1 (Rapid Reflexes), Obfuscate 1 (Cloak of Shadows), Potence 1 (Lethal Body)
Temporary Disciplines
Celerity 2 (Rapid Reflexes, Fleetness), Fortitude 2 (Resilience, Toughness), Potence 2 (Lethal Body, Prowess)

Backgrounds - Contact 3 (Underworld Arms Dealer), Haven 1 (Hidden Armoury 2, Postern 1, Security System 2), Resources 1
Merits - Linguistics 1 (Japanese)
Flaws - Addiction (Morphine), Insomnia

Weapons and Equipment
Desert Eagle Handgun x2 (+4 Damage), 2 Spare Magazines (Per Gun)
MP5K (+3 Damage), 2 Spare Magazines
Sawn-Off Shotgun (+4 Damage, Close Range Only), Pocket full of spare shells and solid slugs.
Combat Knife (+2 Damage)
Home-Made Stake (Improvised Weapon, +0 Damage)

Flash Bang Grenade x2

Introduction
Before the reconnaissance operation against the suspected primary Camarilla base within the city, Daniel has sent his two ghouls to do a preliminary investigation of the surrounding area. Unlike him his ghouls have the luxury of being able to operate during the hours of daylight...

Scene One - A Gang of Two
"Part of Keith's Armoury"
The ghoul team used a vehicle borrowed from one of Mr Hertz's gang ran business ventures. This vehicle was both untraceable to the coterie and expendable enough so that the ghouls could dump it if necessary. Generic SUV's were so common in L.A. as to draw little attention. Andrew was by far the best driver of the two and so he took the wheel while Keith checked his vast armoury of weapons for the third time. 

After some discussion they had decided that initially they would attempt to get an overview of the area before getting too far ahead of themselves with any specific planning.

Andrew did several circles of the area around the construction site looking for likely observation points, Keith meanwhile was on the look-out for likely ambush points on the approaches to the site. The pair rarely worked together as they had very different areas of expertise. Andrews talents were as an investigator, Keith on the other hand was more use when subtlety wasn't required. 

Johnny 'Roach' West - Malkavian
Current Whereabouts Unknown
When Daniel had discovered Keith he had been gradually working his way through the street level criminals of Pasadena and had drawn police attention to the area. Instead of killing him as Roach had ordered, Daniel instead recruited him.

The wonders of modern technology had made obtaining a detailed map of the area fairly simple and a deeper search had gained them a lot of information on the businesses occupying the surrounding buildings. Specifically they were looking for an empty apartment building or office from which they could observe the target area from an elevated position.

There were very few empty offices in the area though they did find a few. Andrew was concerned that the Camarilla kindred based at the construction site may have had a similar idea to them and set up observation posts of their own. Keith also pointed out that they would have the same criteria as themselves, namely a location with a good view of the target area and it's approaches. They also theorized that some of the surrounding businesses had already been occupied by the infiltrating Camarilla forces and that they would need to be very careful, regardless of which building they selected.

Eventually they settled upon a tall building with some apparently empty offices on the side facing the construction site. It also seemed to have only a single security guard in the lobby area that should be easy to bypass. There also seemed to be very few people remaining in the building after office hours so they could still infiltrate it with some hours of daylight remaining.

"Keith Chang being 'Stealthy'..."
"Do we need the guard eliminating?" asked Keith. "Not if we can avoid it..." replied Andrew "...we're trying to keep a low profile, remember?"

Keith nodded noncommittedly. As far as he was concerned the best way to keep a low profile was to kill all potential witnesses but he also knew that Daniel had been quite specific in his instructions to Andrew and himself.

After observing the security guard for some time, they saw him let the last few office staff out of the building and then abandoned the lobby for a small security room off to one side. It was the opportunity they had been waiting for.

Scene Two - Onwards and Upwards
Keith expertly picked the lock while Andrew disabled an exterior security camera, and then they slipped silently inside.

"The Security Guard is on high alert..."
Andrews had found that his senses were far more acute as a ghoul than they had even been as a mortal and he could hear the guard moving about in the office. He heard a fridge opening and closing, the sliding of a chair and then the faint sound of someone eating while flipping through the pages of a magazine. He leant close to Keith and told him what he had heard.

"He's eating a sandwich..." revealed Andrew. Keith just shrugged. If they weren't going to be killing the guy then Keith had zero interest in them. Deciding that using the lift would create too much noise, they made their way to the entrance to the stairs and began to climb to the fifth floor office that Andrew had decided would give them the best available view from this building.

"I know how these rent-a cops work...." said Andrew. "...he'll be asleep or watching TV in ten minutes time. He may do a token patrol but judging from his appearance I doubt he does much walking about. We should be fine for quite a while."

Andrew's Lockpicking Kit
"If he was dead, us 'being fine' would be a certainty..." grumbled Keith. Andrew ignored him.

The door from the stairs to the fifth floor offices was also locked but easily bypassed by Keith, utilising Andrew's lockpick set. Noting how useful the set was, Keith decided to acquire himself some after this mission was complete.

Keith found a light switch but they decided that this would draw too much attention. They were both accustomed to working in the dark and both had excellent night vision so they continued to advance as quietly as possible so as to get into position before night fell. The light would certainly be noticed once night fell. 

Concerned about being snuck up upon while working, Keith wired one of his flash-bang grenades to the entrance door with a length of wire. It wasn't subtle but would certainly do the job of alerting them and catching any interloper by surprise. He also loaded some solid slugs into his shotgun, "Just in case..."

Scene Three - The Target
Andrew handed Keith his night vision scope and used his own enhanced senses and the telephoto lens on his camera for his personal observations.

The area was surrounded by security cameras on tall poles which gave them a commanding view of the complex. The surrounding fence was seven foot tall and consisted of solid metal fencing fixed to concrete posts. The security office which enabled access to the site was a solid brick building which was also observed by both cameras and actual guards.

The guards themselves were wearing highly generic uniforms with no indication of the firm they were supposedly working for. Both Keith and Andrew noted that the guards had a definite military bearing and were alert and efficient. "Well they're breathing and it's still daylight so at least we're not facing an army of vampire security guards." Stated Keith, though Andrew had already came to the same conclusion. 

Though there was an articulated semi-trailer truck within the compound, there was a noticeable lack of traffic in and out and it was easy to conclude that no-one was in any hurry to complete the building.

"Did you see the guys on the roof?" asked Keith. "They look suspiciously like a sniper team." He continued. Andrew shifted his gaze to the half constructed upper portion of the building to confirm Keith's assessment. "You're right..." he replied. "...there's the top of a rifle sticking out by those boxes in the far corner. They've got a good view of the gate too." he concluded. He took several photographs for reference. Maybe if he had a look later he could identify the weapon specifically.

"Is that an entrance to an underground car park?" asked Andrew. Keith had a look too but couldn't tell either. "Let's see what night fall tells us then try and find a better angle." suggested Keith. Andrew agreed.

As the sky grew dark, the two rooftop guards were joined by another individual who they seemed to defer to. Andrew took a photo of him too. Just because the others treated him as being in authority didn't necessarily make him a vampire but his emergence as darkness fell was a bit of a coincidence if he was mortal. As soon as visibility became poor, spotlights at strategic locations illuminated the complex.

"Well, sneaking in under cover of darkness is out of the question." said Keith, somewhat sarcastically. Despite himself, Andrew smiled. Keith might be a borderline psychotic, mass murderer but he had a dry sense of humour that he his fellow ghoul had begun to appreciate.

Andrew noticed some units along one side of the complex that may have been residential in nature. He had already noted that there was very little foot traffic in and out of the site which seemed to indicate that most of the construction workers were housed within somewhere.

A fourth individual in combat trousers and a jacket joined the other newcomer upon the roof and began to observe the surrounding area both above and below. At first they suspected that they might have been spotted but they then noticed that their focus was upon any signs of movement in the sky.

Andrew theorized that he may have been looking for creatures under the control of other kindred that might be spying on the site. Andrew knew that such a thing was within a vampires capabilities but that not all vampires were the same. The specifics were something that Daniel had never discussed with him. Though a guess, it did fit the limited information that he had available to him.

Andrews musings were interrupted by an observation from Keith. "It looks like they've got their own generators too so creating a power cut would involve taking out both the internal and external power sources. That's not going to be wrote off as a coincidence...

Andrew agreed with his assessment as Keith continued theorizing. "Some of the vamps can convince guys to do stuff, right?" asked Keith but continued talking without waiting for a reply "So maybe they could get one of the workers to do a bit of sabotage?"

"It's an idea..." replied Andrew. "...but I was thinking more under the lines of creating a reason for a building inspection. I bet there's loads of shit in there that they'd need to hide real quick..."

Scene Four - Further Investigation
Flash-Bang Grenade
Andrew and Keith both concluded that they'd documented all they could from this vantage point and that they had time to see if they could get a better view from higher up in the building. They'd heard nothing from the security guard so presumed that Andrews earlier assessment of his thoroughness had been spot-on.

A bit of exploration, supplemented by more lock-picking later, they found a vacant sixth floor corner office. This had a better view of the side of the site that they suspected had underground parking access. Keith repeated his booby-trap from the earlier floor and they began a second round of observations.

From here they could indeed see an underground entrance and this was guarded by at least two men. From the shifting of the shadows nearby they also theorized that there may be more guards just out of sight. Not far from this entrance was a bunker-like building that was covered in warning signs. If there were indeed explosives on site then this was certainly where they were stored.

A few minutes later a man in an expensive suit emerged from the entrance they were watching. He was accompanied by two military looking men who were obviously his bodyguards. He summoned the two existing guards and the five of them returned underground. a moment later two more security men replaced them. It seemed that those within were unlikely to leave any area unguarded for more than a moment.

Sophisticated Security Camera
By now they had been observing their target for an entire evening and the rest of the night and soon the building would be occupied by those office workers who liked to turn up early. "We've probably got an hour left before we start risk being discovered." Stated Andrew, "Anything left to do before we move out?"

"Let's check the roof..." said Keith. "...cuz if we think this place has a good view of the site then we might need to be able to get up there later. Best to find out how easy it is to access while we're here already."

As Keith climbed the stairs, Andrew grabbed him by the shoulder and pulled him back. "What the Fuck?" said Keith, a little too loudly.

Andrew put his finger to his mouth indicating silence and then pointed towards a security camera mounted near the roof entrance. It had quite obviously been placed there recently as it didn't match the other security measures. It was state of the art, far beyond anything else they'd seen so far. Andrew also noticed that it had a transmitter attached. Obviously it fed to somewhere other than the buildings own security office.

"Thanks." said Keith, somewhat begrudgingly. "I can hear movement too." added Andrew. "I think our targets might have their own observation post up there. If so then I bet there are some on the other buildings too."

"Some fucker down there really doesn't want to be caught by surprise." said Keith. Andrew nodded before replying. "Let's get the hell out of here."

Epilogue
The two ghouls sat on some plastic chairs by a sandwich truck near the site entrance. As they drank their coffee's they listened to the conversations of the site workers who were stopping by to grab their breakfasts. No-one paid any attention to a couple of guys having a drink and a bacon sandwich which made it an ideal place to pick up rumours.

They discovered two things of interest. Firstly that there was no work currently going on yet the construction workers were still getting paid. Secondly, several of them looked pale and tired, possibly this explained why the kindred hidden within the complex hadn't needed to emerge to feed.

"This isn't going to be a simple nut to crack." said Keith. 

"I suppose we better report in." added Andrew.

They had gathered a lot of information and they knew that Daniel would be keen to utilise it to formulate his plan of attack.

To Be Continued in 'Resistance' (Part One)

In Conclusion
I like to do a round-up of how the session went in these features but if you couldn't give a shit what I think then feel free to skip this bit...

This was a bit of a change of pace for the players. Though quite deadly by mortal standards, the ghouls would stand little chance against a kindred opponent so this session forced them to be a lot more cautious.

It was also a chance for them to have a go at roleplaying a different character. As I sprung this on them without notice they did very well indeed.

Acknowledgements
Portions of the materials are the copyrights and trademarks of White Wolf Entertainment AB, and are used with permission. All rights reserved.

I've used pictures of real people to represent some of the characters and art for others so in no particular order Andrew Francis is Ray Stephenson, Keith Chang is Daniel Dae Kim and 'Roach' is Kurt Cobain.

Everything else is from vampire related folders and searches and is as far as I know is all of the 'fair use' variety. If there's something that you feel should be attributed to some-one then feel free to let me know and I'll happily add an acknowledgement.
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