Friday, 24 May 2019

Vampire the Masquerade V5 - Solo Session - The Anaheim Assassination

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 campaign is set in Los Angeles and features a small group of Camarilla agents sent into the 'Free States' to search for ways to once again bring the Ivory Tower to dominance under the pretence of being disillusioned neonates looking for the freedom of the Anarch way of life. Now with a barony of their own it's time to consolidate their position and then plan their next move.
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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.
'Infiltrate LA' Chronicle
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
'Foothold LA' Chronicle
Solo Session - 'Hostile Takeover'
Story Four - 'Countdown' - Part OneTwo and Three
Story Five - 'The Missing Chantry' - Part OneTwoThreeFour and Five

The Storyteller
Garreth as Everyone else...
The PC
Matt as Dr Daniel Matthews - Banu Haqim
The player characters stats and backgrounds can be found HERE should any-one be interested.
As I have written out introductions and dialogue for certain NPC's and some location descriptions I'll post these more or less as I wrote them so they'll be in a 'reading to the group' style and they'll also be in blue. 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...

Storytellers Note - The character Daniel is a far more systematic and careful problem solver than either Vin or Hope but hadn't had much opportunity to sort out any issues 'his way' due to the nature of the problems the coterie had encountered so we did a solo session. As this previous solo session was a success and it also drove the plot forward in ways the other characters then had to deal with I was quite happy to arrange another.

Introduction
Allison Maller - Brujah
Baron of Anaheim
Due to Baron Michael Tomassio's moral code preventing him from acting in such matters and Roach's increasing preoccupation with his criminal drug empire keeping him distracted, Daniel has decided to look into the current political situation in Anaheim himself.

The current Baron of Anaheim is Allison Maller who is engaged in a battle for the barony with another kindred called Tom Weaver. It is however common knowledge that Tom Weaver is a pawn of the Baron of Santa Ana, 'Amethyst' and that it is more than likely that with her resources and personnel behind him that it is a war he will inevitably win.

Daniel has become concerned that this would give Amethyst effective control over a domain larger than any other kindred in Los Angeles and also that given her ambitions to eventually control all of Los Angeles this would make her a rival to his own baron's long term schemes. Daniel has therefore decided to see what he can do to assist Allison in winning the war and setting back Amethyst's own plans. He is however keeping this a secret from the rest of the coterie, particularly as he is meant to be laying low while Roach sorts out the current tense situation between Daniel and Baron Therese Voerman's own Banu Haqim scourge known as 'Chick'.

Scene One - Havens and Hideouts
Tom Weaver - Brujah
Pawn of 'Amethyst'
Having previously copied the map they obtained from the Sabbat Infiltrators showing suspected kindred havens and bases of operations within Los Angeles, Daniel has sent his two ghouls to surreptitiously observe the two locations he has found marked within Anaheim. These are an 'Odd Fellows' Hall and a warehouse in the industrial sector.

Storytellers Note - I recently allowed Daniel's player to upgrade his ghouls from Average to Gifted. He decided that he needed a team to assist with his 'jobs' and I liked the idea. If they survive this chronicle I may let him take them up to Deadly.

The 'Odd Fellows' Hall seems to have several guardians watching it day and night though your two skilled operatives are reasonably sure they weren't spotted. As these 'guards' were seen day and night they are presumably mortal. A large fellow matching the description you have for Tom Weaver was seen at the location with three others on at least two occasions. As you had informed them to be careful to avoid confrontations they withdrew from the location after the second sighting fearing that the three others may have also been kindred or ghouls like themselves and that was a potential fight they'd want to avoid as per your instructions.

The warehouse in the industrial sector of Anaheim is another matter entirely. Heavy gates and locks, high end security cameras and armed guards patrolling in regular patterns.

Both Keith and Andrew are sure that the security guards are actually ex-military in rent-a-cop outfits. There were look-outs along approach roads as well. A short woman with dyed red hair wearing a leather jacket left the warehouse under heavy guard one of the nights but they deemed it too dangerous to follow her presuming she was kindred and may have had abilities that they couldn't counter. She matches the description you gave them of Allison Maller though she had blonde hair not red at the rant according to your coterie.

Having established that these were indeed the Anaheim strongholds of Tom Weaver and Allison Maller, Daniel gave his two agents some additional instructions before he decided on a course of action. Firstly he wanted them to look for any plausible entry points to either building but to concentrate on the hall particularly but only to check doors and windows that  they could safely observe from a distance.

The 'Odd Fellows' Hall
Tom Weavers Haven
Secondly he wanted times for Tom Weaver's comings and goings and authorised his ghouls to follow them at a distance but to keep any tailing as careful as possible as he was sure that Weaver and his guards would be on high alert. His other two concerns were the quality of the guards protecting Tom Weaver and his haven and just what form their actions against Allison were taking.

Though the warehouse being utilised by Allison was a veritable fortress, the Odd Fellows hall was less obviously secured. It had a front and rear entrance, the rear of which led to a sizeable car-park and a side door which was both heavily locked and as far as his team could tell was unused. Disappointingly there seemed to be no quantifiable pattern to Tom's comings and goings though he was always accompanied by at least two guards. The close protection bodyguards and building security seemed to be a mixture of gang members and ex-military. They were rough looking individuals but alert enough so that in his spies opinion approaching without a cover story was a bad idea. It was also during these more thorough investigations that it was noted that several adjacent buildings had guards on their roofs.

Keith Chang - Assassin
Ghoul of Dr Daniel Matthews
On two occasions he and his protection had headed over the border to Santa Ana where Keith had followed them to a run-down part of the town that was once a shopping mall of sorts. He had however been forced to withdraw before getting close due to nearly being spotted by a guard who seemed uncannily sharp. Keith suspects he was kindred as in his own opinion his approach had been very sneaky indeed and believed that supernatural senses would have had to be at work to detect him from that far away. His other ghoul Andrew did some research into the new location and found that it was owned by what was in his opinion (and that of his hacker friend) a shell company. It was owned by 'the Quartz group' and they seemed to own a lot of random buildings across Santa Ana and a few in Anaheim. Daniel also noted that the area of the abandoned Mall matched three suspected kindred havens on the map he possessed. It seemed likely that this was one of the bases of Amethyst and at least some of her kindred followers.

The Banu Haqim's own research together with the information gathering of his operatives showed a somewhat haphazard approach to the attacks made by Tom and his gang. They've attacked assets, killed a few of Allison's operatives in various operations and had lost several of there own kindred in return. On an equal playing field it was Daniels opinion that Allison would have won by now but Tom was being fed resources while Allison's are gradually dwindling and not being replaced due to the constant pressures she was under.

It was also clear to Daniel that two minds were at work here as the operations against Allison were either brutal but unsophisticated assaults or careful planned operations against assets and significant personnel. He was reasonably sure that Tom Weavers were the less sophisticated of the two while the superior operations were being guided by Amethyst or one of her own advisers.

Scene Two - An Unusual Delivery
Andrew Francis - Investigator
Ghoul of Dr Daniel Matthews
Daniel had now become curious about how resources were being transferred from Amethyst to Weaver and was looking into the possibility of aiding Allison by disrupting the supply lines to her enemies. With this in mind he set Andrew's investigative skills to looking into 'The Quartz Group to see if any of their legitimate business enterprises travelled to Anaheim with any regularity which he was to do with a combination of his own detective skills and those of his own hacker contact. While Andrew kept up his online investigations, Keith Chang observed the premises themselves on the look out for any branded vehicles that might match those companies that his fellow Ghoul Andrew had discovered.

Daniel meanwhile had decided to do some personal reconnaissance as his own gifts of stealth far surpassed the basic supernatural talents passed on to his ghouls though his vitae. Looking for likely areas that he could set up a sniper nest he discovered that the surrounding rooftops were already inhabited by guards. Some were armed with assault rifles while others carried sniper rifles of their own and between them they could cover and view the majority of the surrounding approaches. After quickly warning his ghouls to be extra careful in their observations he moved further out to try and find an area from which he could possibly take out one of the guards from outside the perimeter and then move in and take his place. Shifting from building to building he skirted the outer security perimeter but no ideal location was found. There were however a few less than ideal spots that gave him an almost complete view so he kept these in mind should he need them in order to remove a specific sniper and create a gap in the security.

Both Andrew and Keith had taken on board the warning to be extra careful and had both managed to avoid detection. Conscious that he would be unlikely to have any opportunities to feed the Dr took several blood bags with him as he was capable of gaining nutrition from even fractionated plasma unlike the majority of his kind.

Storytellers Note - The Merit is called Iron Gullet, pretty useful if you're also a doctor with the keys to the fridge...

Andrew noted an unusual occurrence as a large delivery van featuring the logo of a carpet delivery company arrived at the hall. Though this could of course be an entirely legitimate delivery the logo was that of one of the companies under the umbrella of the Quartz Group he'd investigated earlier. As this seemed connected to Tom's sponsor in Santa Ana, the mysterious 'Amethyst' he reported it to Daniel.

Scene Three - The Enemy of my Enemy
'Amethyst' - Caitiff
Baron of Santa Ana
Given the increase in his activities in Anaheim and deliveries arriving from Amethyst's businesses in Santa Ana to the back door of his Haven, the Banu Haqim began to suspect that Tom had something major planned for the near future. If this was true then the time he had to swing the balance of power in Allison's direction might well be running out. He therefore decided to give the barons warehouse set-up a look over in case there were any vulnerabilities there that Tom could exploit.

Unlike the visitors to Tom's base of operations, all the vehicles coming and going from the Baron of Anaheim's warehouse were unmarked and unbranded. The gatehouse to the complex was manned with security guards and was as afar as Daniel could tell the the only obvious way in or out. From what he could tell the perimeter wall was solid and it appeared that the main building itself was similarly sturdy. The exterior wall had sharp blades on the top preventing unwanted guests from climbing over and the few visitors he saw arrive at the gate required security passes to gain ingress. He turned his attention from the structural integrity to other security measures and noted a number of strategically placed security cameras. After noting their placement and direction he concluded that there were no exploitable blind spots without destroying at least two cameras which would no doubt be noticed.

Increasing his senses to supernatural extremes he attempted to eavesdrop on a heated conversation he could observe between two security guards. One of them seemed to be upset about having to work a night shift "Yet Again" and "Can't see why they need to keep the place open all fucking night..." which led Daniel to conclude that the exterior guards at least had no idea of the nature of their employers. He also noted several guards on the roof which his enhanced vision showed him were well armed.

As the warehouse itself was slightly higher than the buildings nearby it was impossible to overlook which also added to it's security and as he now believed he had all the knowledge he needed on the building itself he widened his examination. As he broadened his reconnaissance to the approach roads he noticed a familiar looking van with the same logo as that upon the vehicles coming and going from Tom Weavers hall. The vehicle drove past the warehouse and as Daniel shadowed it's course in his own vehicle he realised that it was checking out the exterior security as he himself had been doing. The people within were wearing uniforms that matched the vehicle logo but Daniel could clearly see the tell-tale bulges that indicated weapons poorly concealed beneath their clothing. Dropping back to a safe distance, Daniel continued to follow them until it became obvious that they were travelling not to Weavers haven but back to Santa Ana at which point he returned the way he'd came.

Scene Four - Hunters become the Hunted
Daniel's phone began to ring and as he picked it up he was immediately greeted by a distinctly agitated Andrew "We've been made...I'm trying to lose them but they're fucking determined...". Mentally mapping a route between his current location and Andrew's likely route he gave his ghoul specific directions to a location he could get to quickly where he could hopefully intercept them and their pursuers. Daniel immediately realised that he'd have to be careful to avoid drawing the intentions of any authorities on his way there as his car was currently full of the tools of his trade yet also needed to get a move on. In a state of full alertness he kept his eye out for any police vehicles as he put his foot down.

Storytellers Note - I let Daniel's player roll for his ghouls so I couldn't be blamed if they died...

Keith had his guns loaded and ready but was doubtful about how effective they'd be as he was sure that the car behind them had at least two kindred in it. Andrew meanwhile had taken several sharp turns including a terrifying but brief drive the wrong way down a road into incoming traffic which had gained him some distance. During Keith's previous career as a vigilante he had taken to learning as much as he could about the geographical lay-out of most area's of Los Angeles and had shouted several useful last minute turns to the driver which had gained them even more of a lead. Heading into a built up area the ghoul behind the driving seat swerved down a side-road and stopped abruptly hoping the pursuing vehicle would drive straight past but it seemed they had already shaken it as it was nowhere to be seen. Breathing a sigh of relief, Andrew phoned Daniel to tell him that for the moment they were clear.

Heather Taylor - 'Galerie' Employee
Ghoul and Blood Doll of Marius Walker
Daniel instructed Andrew and Keith to meet him at the gallery via a circuitous route so they could compare notes on the incident and try to discover what had gone wrong. Daniel arrived first to find that the rest of the coterie were absent, Heather's knowledge about their whereabouts was the accurate but useless statement "They've all gone out somewhere..."

Daniel suspected that it may have something to do with the missing chantry they'd been investigating and as he had been told by Roach to "Keep his head down for a few days..." decided not to relay any information on his current project to the notoriously chatty Heather.

She was also the ghoul of the coteries sometimes Mawla Marius Walker and as he wasn't sure how the notoriously unpredictable Gangrel 'Fixer' would react to him planning the assassination of a would-be baron he decided that discretion was definitely in his best interests at this moment in time. He simply asked Heather to direct any-one who asked for him to the upstairs meeting room and awaited the arrival of his own ghouls. Once his entourage had arrived he asked them to lay out exactly what had happened.

Andrew informed him that he'd spotted one of Tom Weaver's retainers approaching so had decided to make his getaway. As this had occurred during his and Keith's agreed changeover time the car was there so he'd jumped in and driven off with a surprised Keith in the passenger seat. He described the pursuer as of above average height, with dark hair and wearing a jacket and jeans and was sure based on the speed he'd moved that he was definitely a vampire. He was also certain that he was armed.

As they'd driven off, a dark sedan had given chase and he was sure that at least one of those within was the vampire that had spotted them. The rest of course Daniel knew. As Keith hadn't been identified but Andrew had it was decided to relegate the investigator to computer duties from this point onward. Knowing that his quarry would now be on high alert and that the vehicle had been compromised he sent Keith to dispose of the car via a bike gang of their acquaintance. Roach sold drugs at the bikers at highly competitive rates due to some previous information they had provided to eliminate a mutual rival and they were still on somewhat friendly terms with them.

Once the vehicle had been made to disappear, Keith was dispatched to one of the potential sniper nests scouted out by Daniel earlier in order to keep watch on Tom's location but from outside the perimeter of it's guards. Though he had orders to flee first rather than engage any enemies it didn't escape Daniels notice that he was armed to the teeth.

Scene Five - Reinforcements
Dr Daniel Matthews - Banu Haqim
Reconnaissance 
Taking the time to analyse the situation and the timing of recent events it occurred to Daniel that the discovery of his ghoul may have been interpreted by Tom Weaver as an escalation by Allison as the wannabe Baron was unaware of any other active kindred groups in Anaheim. With this event happening so soon after the unknown deliveries from Santa Ana arriving at Tom Weavers haven, Daniel had to consider the possibility that he had inadvertently pushed Tom and his sponsor Amethyst's timeline forward. Not one to act without concrete intelligence on which to base a decision the Banu Haqim decided to do some close reconnaissance himself.

After finding himself a good place from which to observe the car-park area behind the 'Odd Fellows' Hall, Daniel made himself comfortable as he used his vampiric gifts to obfuscate himself within the shadows. It wasn't long before his suspicions were confirmed as an articulated lorry arrived bearing the now familiar logo of the Santa Ana company apparently used by Amethyst to transport assets to Anaheim pulled into the buildings loading bay.

Two men exited the vehicle and were met by three more from within who began to unload long crates from the truck and carry them into the loading area. Daniel was familiar enough with weaponry to know a crate containing guns when he saw one.

Deciding he needed a closer look, the assassin concentrated on his occult powers of stealth so his cloak of invisibility still functioned as he slipped from cover though paid the cost in blood as he felt the hunger rise within him as he did so.

Four more people were now involved in the loading process though Daniel couldn't tell if they had emerged from the truck or the hall. One of these newcomers did however match the description that Andrew had given of the vampire who had discovered him and given chase on the previous night. Taking care to avoid the paltry few security cameras in place around the building he moved to get a better view of the contents of the vehicle and the manpower unloading it. As he closed the distance he noticed one of those outside who seemed to be supervising rather than actually doing any work, look pointedly in his direction. He called over a hulking fellow and gestured towards the vehicle that Daniel was currently crouching alongside. The heavily muscled figure headed in the direction indicated while brandishing a Remington shotgun that seemed almost too small for him to wield.

Cade Sheppard - Ventrue
Seneschal of 'Amethyst'
Meanwhile Tom Weaver himself had emerged from the building and began to discuss something with the sharp dressed fellow who had sent the henchman to investigate. Concerned that he was in real danger of being revealed he once more called upon the powers of his vitae but this time it was speed, not stealth he required. In a blink of an eye he was fifty metres away and over the perimeter fence to a safer position.

Daniel was in no doubt that the well dressed supervisor was kindred and as he didn't match any known member of Weaver's entourage he surmised that he was one of Amethyst's own, possibly an adviser sent to direct the operation against Allison Maller. That combined with the weapons delivery led him to believe that an assault on the Baron of Anaheim's warehouse stronghold was imminent and that he himself may have been responsible for this new urgency.

Any doubt to the likelihood of this being the preparation for a major and overwhelming final assault was eliminated when two more vehicles arrived filled with people. A number of sleeping bags, mattresses and similar items were now being removed from the first vehicle that arrived, no doubt for the mortals amongst those present. As Daniel returned to his own car he saw a sign on the halls front door declaring the building 'closed for refurbishment'. Fortunately the Banu Haqim had a back-up plan that he'd considered and then abandoned but which now seemed like the best way of salvaging the situation.

Though Tom Weavers own recon of the warehouse that he himself had observed was undoubtedly to scope out the defences of the building it also occurred to Daniel that it may also have been to decide upon a direction of attack. His ghoul Keith Chang had identified several choke points during his mapping out of the surrounding areas of both havens and when he added these locations to his and Andrew's observations about Weavers vehicles routes he was certain that he could work out an ambush site. His problem was of course that he and his two ghouls didn't possess even a fraction of the firepower necessary to put a dent in the massive strike force assembled to take Allison's base. As it was now too early in the morning for the attack to be occurring this night, Daniel could only conclude that the preparations were for tomorrow evening which gave him a few hours to implement a risky plan of his own.

Interlude - An Unexpected Gift
The route most likely to be taken by Tom Weaver had been neatly drawn upon a map of the area and the optimum ambush site had been circled and labelled also. Along with it was a detailed list of the resources that Tom Weaver was bringing to bear as well as some photographs to corroborate the account. The final piece of information was a neatly written note summarising the intelligence that had been gathered on Tom and the writers opinion that an ambush at the target location would be the most efficient way of ending the war between the rightful Baron of Anaheim and the upstart planning on taking it for his mistress 'Amethyst'. All had been contained in an envelope with 'F.A.O' Allison Maller' written on the front in block capital lettering.

"And you say that a delivery man handed this to the security at the gate?" stated Allison somewhat incredulously to one of the Brujah under her command. "But he can't remember what he looked like? Well it's either the smartest or stupidest plan to get me out from behind my defences ever conceived. I'm not sure which..." "It does however..." commented her second in command "...match our own assessment of Tom Weaver's intentions." Allison summoned one of her kindred who had the rare ability to pick up information from an item merely by touching it and tossed the pile of tactical information over to her. The kindred who examined it could pick up only vague information about the mysterious benefactor who had passed it to them but she was sure that whoever had compiled it believed what it contained.

"Fuck it...gather everyone...right now I have fuck all to lose anyway. If it's a trick we meet our final deaths tomorrow night instead of in a few weeks time..." and with that she began to plan the ambush that would end the war one way or another.

Storytellers Note - Well that was unexpected. However I like to reward originality so I decided that the first part of his plan at least worked...

Scene Six - A Trap is Set
Having the mortal benefit of being able to travel during the day, Andrew had already prepared a snipers nest targeting the suggested ambush site. Daniel had given him a specific location which was slightly too close to the danger zone for Andrew's liking but he understood that Daniel wished to be able to personally intervene in the conflict should it become absolutely necessary.

Keith had spent the day making caltrops and other tyre damaging debris in case a particular vehicle needed isolating or bringing to a sudden stop. He had also prepared and loaded his entire arsenal of weaponry, the majority of which was holstered on his person somewhere. Daniel had suggested a disguise of some kind and he had to admit that Keith's vagrant outfit was pretty convincing, presumably because he'd acquired it from one of Vin's herd who were for the most part, actual vagrants. It was also spacious enough to hide all the lumps and bumps created by his weapons.

He had positioned himself towards the rear of the suggested killzone in order to maximise his chance of immobilising a vehicle towards the back of the convoy, this did however mean that he was quite close to any potential danger, not that he seemed to care.

Several cars had begun to arrive from different directions and judging from their tentative approaches Daniel could tell that they feared that they might be the victims of a trap rather than those about to set one. Keith reported that there were people entering several adjacent buildings as well as an abandoned shop which he himself had originally earmarked as a good fire point from which to target this particular choke-point. Others began to arrive, presumably summoned by the advance groups after it was deemed to not be a trap and were starting to set up in likely vantage points. Daniel had to admit that considering the brief time she had to plan that Allison had managed to gather a considerable force and they seemed to have a good plan for setting up a crossfire. He just hoped that his assessment of Tom Weaver's plan was correct.

Scene Seven - Ambush
Daniel's heightened senses spotted an articulated lorry in the distance along with two vans and several cars that he knew belonged to Weaver's entourage. Panning his rifle's sights along one side of the road and then the other he could see Allison's people also preparing to open fire. As the convoy reached the bottleneck he'd hoped they'd traverse, Keith got to his feet and playing the role of a drunkard staggered over to the rear car and then hurled his sack of spikes, caltrops and other jagged materials under the tires, then, apparently unconvinced that this would be enough to prevent it's escape if it hit reverse at full speed pulled out an MP5 sub-machine gun and emptied the clip into the drivers face through the side window sending skull and brains splattering over the inside.

Storytellers Note - I let Daniel guide his ghouls actions via in character commands but in these circumstances I rolled for them so he couldn't be 100% sure of how successful they had implemented his instructions.

Taking the gunfire as the signal that Keith had stopped the rear vehicle and hopefully blocked in the convoy, Daniel targeted the engine of the articulated lorry with his 50 cal Barrett sniper rifle and living up to it's name as an anti-material weapon crippled it instantly. Presuming that one of their own had engaged the enemy, Allison's followers opened up with a variety of semi and fully automatic weaponry riddling the car nearest the front with bullets and effectively boxing in Weavers assault teams between two crippled vehicles to the front and one at the back.

As the passengers in the vehicle assaulted by Daniel's ghoul attempted to get out, he dropped his MP5, drew one of his 50.cal Desert Eagles from a shoulder holster and emptied it's clip into the first he saw. As he made his retreat he noted that both the driver and the figure he'd just shot must have been mortal allies or ghouls as the gunfire had maximum effect.

Reacting to the events around them the back doors of the lorry swung open and several armed figures emerged and were immediately engaged by Allison's forces taking heavy casualties. In quick succession the Banu Haqim sniper put a round through the driver and passenger of the main truck, trapping the one in the middle between two extremely dead bodies. Judging from the amount of blood, Daniel concluded that only one of them had been human.

As the trigger-happy former vigilante, Keith emptied the clip of his second pistol into a third occupant of the car, the fourth occupant moved towards him with supernatural speed and backhanded him with such force that he was taken off his feet, landing several metres away. As Daniel scanned for targets of opportunity, his spotter Andrew saw the body of his fellow ghoul hit the ground and a supernaturally quick kindred move in to finish him off and alerted his regnant.

Unsure whether he was rescuing or avenging the fallen vigilante, Daniel put a bullet through the assailant though the angle made it difficult to get a killing shot and he had to settle for winging them. Fortunately even a clipping shot took them off their feet and tore chunks from their undead flesh. Keith dragged himself up, feeling cracked ribs tearing through one of his lungs and spat a mouthful of worryingly dark blood onto the ground. Reaching beneath his coat for the Ithaca Model Mag-10 semi-auto shotgun that was his one remaining loaded weapon as he staggered to his feet, he made his way slowly over to the kindred who had crippled him so badly, placed the shotgun under his chin and before the assailant could use his vitae to heal himself blew his head from his shoulders. Then his job done, he collapsed.

The ambush had now become a massacre. Some of those within the vehicles had began to return fire but the surprise had been so overwhelming that many had experienced death and in some cases final death before even realising what had gone on. The carnage had been increased exponentially as many of the Baron of Anaheim's forces were using weapons loaded with incendiary rounds.

No doubt some of Tom Weaver's people had been similarly armed but these must have been amongst the first killed as the return fire of those left was of the conventional variety. It was at this point that the aforementioned Tom Weaver kicked the side door off one of the vans and hugging the side moved towards the more solid cover of the nearby buildings. Daniel quickly fired the remaining rounds in the rifle's clip through the van towards Tom but held little hope of hitting the rapidly moving Brujah.

A moment behind their leader two more kindred emerged from the van's now open side door and rather than heading in the same direction as Tom, instead headed towards Daniel's own position.

Handing sniper duties to his ghoul he moved to engage the approaching enemies hoping that Andrew could take them out before he needed to. Andrew was a skilled sniper himself and had one of the approaching kindred directly in his sights before inexplicably losing him as he disappeared from sight. Daniel watched the heavy round take a chunk out of the street as the two kindred moved with supernatural speed, appearing some fifty metres from their starting point.

Daniel was outside the building and down the fire-escape as fast as he could so as to intercept the incoming attackers before they disrupted his sniper nest from covering the ongoing assault. As he made his way down to ground level he could see that Allison's force was now converging on the vehicles while laying down a constant stream of firepower from all sides. He could also see a bloody and bullet-ridden Tom Weaver in close combat with several foes, while others lay broken and battered around him. Even slowed by his wounds he was making a terrible mess of the closing attackers. Leaving those problems to one side for now he leapt to the ground as Andrew reacquired one of the pair approaching and put a high calibre round through it's torso.

Dr Daniel Matthews - Banu Haqim
Blade at the Ready...
Daniel engaged the enemy still on his feet with his falcata sword, missing them by a fraction of an inch as they ducked beneath the swing. The Banu Haqim parried a return swing from a machete wielded fairly amateurishly in his opinion and then sliced into the Brujah before him with a number of deep cuts. His opponent moved back in order to make some distance but before he could act a short woman in a skirt and leather jacket appeared seemingly from nowhere and unloaded half a dozen incendiary rounds into them. As the rapidly decomposing body fell to the ground both his killer and Daniel Matthews turned to the remaining kindred just in time to see it's torso and upper body vaporised by anti-material rounds courtesy of Andrew. "We presumed the hobo with the armoury was one of yours..." stated Allison Maller, the Baron of Anaheim "...we've dragged him away from the carnage but whether he survives is touch and go I'm afraid." She then moved towards the direction of Tom Weavers attempt to break out of the killing field that the site had now become. "Let's finish this shall we?"

Scene Eight - Weaver's Last Stand
A half a dozen of Allison's mortal followers and at least two kindred lay dead or maimed in a semi-circle around Tom. A large dent in one of the vehicles showed where the Brujah had hurled an opponent aside with deadly force and a kindred that Daniel took to be a Gangrel lay next to a clawed arm that had apparently been ripped from it's socket.

The crippled form of Tom Weaver was slumped against the wall of a nearby building. Claw marks were clearly visible down his neck and side, more bullet wounds had been inflicted upon him than could be counted and many of these were surrounded by the distinctive burn marks of incendiary round impacts. This was the first time Daniel had seen Tom without the trademark smile upon his face and instead he wore a look of utter betrayal mixed with disbelief as if it had never occurred to him that this might be the result of the game he was playing. Allison slammed a fresh clip into her gun and approached her enemy. "It's a shame you picked the side you did Tom..."  she said with perhaps some sincerity "...but there can only be one Baron of Anaheim...and that is me...". From this range it was impossible to miss as she emptied the magazine into his head and heart. The war over Anaheim was, for now at least, over.

"If you let me have my acquaintance back I can get him to a hospital and see what they can do to save him. Don't worry there will be no connection to the events here. Especially..." concluded Daniel "...considering that I was never here either...Congratulations on your victory, Baron." Then he left along with his two ghouls as Allison's followers began to remove their own dead and any kindred remains left at the scene.

Epilogue
Charlie 'Chick' Abbott - Banu Haqim
Therese Voerman's Scourge
As he approached his car and the one that his ghouls utilised he rang one of his contacts at the hospital to ask that they looked after a man who was about to arrive and 'mislay' the paperwork until he could get there. As Andrew drove away, Daniel approached his own vehicle only to discover his Banu Haqim rival 'Chick' leaning against it, patiently waiting his arrival. "Well that wasn't particularly subtle. Not your usual style at all in fact..." She paused as if considering this "...but I suppose that was the point in this case?" Daniel was none-committal as Charlie 'Chick' Abbott continued. "Therese has made it clear that your presence in Los Angeles is to remain a secret and as she has matched your sire Edward Kaya's price I see no reason to go against her wishes." This slightly concerned Daniel as his sire's price had been the offering of a lowering of the generation of any kindred whose information led to himself and he knew of only one way that the Baron of Santa Monica could duplicate that, namely finding a candidate for Chick to diablerise.

"As a personal gesture I have reached out to my own contacts and informed them that the rumours of another Banu Haqim within LA are quite false and that it is in fact simply a Brujah with surprisingly well developed stealth skills who operated briefly here." Daniel doubted that her reasons for doing so were entirely unselfish but couldn't deny that it was an act that would prove useful to his continued survival. After giving his somewhat insincere thanks he got in his car and returned to Pasadena. As soon as he turned around to check on his unexpected benefactor he found that unsurprisingly she had disappeared.

To Be Continued...

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...

It's never easy with very open-ended missions to decide what to prepare and what will be a waste. In this one I made notes on all the kindred involved, their havens, allies and resources but wrote nothing in the way of intro's or dialogue. This it turned out was a good move as Daniel's player took a very different approach to the one I suspected.

It was quite satisfying for me as a Storyteller when Daniel's player told me that he actually felt sorry for Tom Weaver but that a side had needed to be picked and helping Allison in this situation weakened the far more serious threat posed by Amethyst. It's nice when the players become invested in the world you create for them.

It's also created some interesting side-plots for me to explore as there are now several kindred who know that Daniel is proactively interfering in the affairs of other baronies...

Acknowledgements
I've used pictures of real people to represent some of the characters and art for others so in no particular order Dr Matthews is Mads Mikkelsen, Keith Chang is Daniel Dae Kim, Andrew Francis is Ray Stevensen, 'Amethyst' is Paula Patton, Heather Taylor is Liz Vicious and Charlie Abbott is Lena Headey. 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...

Thoughts and comments are (as usual) most welcome.

Wednesday, 22 May 2019

V5 Chronicle - Faction Profile - The Consolidated Chantry of Los Angeles

During the course of the various stories of this chronicle the coterie has and will meet many characters so I'm therefore creating several profile pages for different groups within my version of kindred Los Angeles to help them keep track. I'll also amend these profiles as new information comes to light and old 'facts' turn out to be less factual than originally thought...
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The story behind the creation of the following faction can be found at the following links...
Story Five - 'The Missing Chantry' - Part OneTwoThreeFour and Five
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The Consolidated Chantry of Los Angeles
When the Camarilla's attempt at taking over Los Angeles ended with the explosive demise of Prince LaCroix many of those who had pledged themselves to his rule decided to leave the now hostile Free States. One such was the Tremere Primogen Maximilian Strauss who was also regent of the chantry where Clan Tremere conducted their training programs and indoctrination of their neonates.

Having little time to act he sealed his former haven with intricate wards and then camouflaged it's location using arcane means. It was then that he performed a powerful ritual rarely attempted that removed all memory of the buildings location from all kindred who had ever visited it. Unfortunately for them this also included the four of Strauss's students abandoned by their former Regent.

These four first attempted to create a new home within the domain of Louis Fortier but were driven from there by a small army of his ghouls commanded by his childe Catherine DuBois after their requirements for blood began to endanger the Fortiers own enterprises. From there they moved on the commune of a group of Verbena mages living deep in the Santa Monica mountains, slaying and draining the mages and turning their followers into a cult of blood. This assault did not go entirely their own way however as one of their number was destroyed in the attack, engulfed in magically summoned flame before the caster could be torn apart.

The three survivors however made their new home there. The only reminder they had of their former home was the ritual 'key' that would unlock the chantry though of course with no knowledge of it's location this key was effectively worthless.

The search for the chantry once again became active when representatives of House Carna learned of it and began to seek allies throughout the city to help them locate it and take it for themselves. Eventually they combined forces with the coterie of Baron Michael of Pasadena, the former neonates of House Tremere in the mountains and a lone mage of House Goratrix who had been searching for it independently with the blessing of the Baron of Santa Monica, Therese Voerman.

After the chantry was found, the enchantment broken and the final guardian destroyed at the hands of Michael's enforcer 'Vin', the surviving members of the disparate Tremere Houses agreed to join in an alliance of convenience to share equally in it's secrets. How long this fragile alliance will hold is however a matter of some conjecture.

The Chantry
The building itself defies age having construction aspects from many era's and styles though internally always seems contemporary to the preferences of the observer. The residential floor of the house always seems to have exactly the amount of rooms as required, each labelled with the name of it's resident. These rooms are spacious, lavishly decorated and identical until personalised by their owner and strangely all contain an item of jewellery (usually a pendant) containing a purple gem. It also contains a well stocked library, a laboratory and a museum of occult items.

"This pendant is hot to the touch, a heat that seeps into your core and fills you with a new confidence. You're unsure if this power is entirely your own, but its intoxicating lure is seemingly beyond your power to resist."

The Library is smaller than most expect with many volumes in locked cabinets but despite that the information within is a treasure trove to any who wish to research the rituals and disciplines of Clan Tremere. The Laboratory contains a bewildering array of containers, intricate and seemingly random connections of glass pipes and other areas designed for the preparation potions or elixirs.

Less traditional are a number of surgical style tables with archaic surgical tools lined up nearby as well as a number of what can only be described as cells presumably where 'living', raw materials were once kept. The Museum is a rectangular area containing upright sealed glass cabinets each containing a single item, some mysterious and powerful others apparently having only historical significance.

The inhabitants of the chantry have created a number of rules that all of the seven current residents there must abide by or risk expulsion.

Firstly, all issues effecting the chantry will be voted upon by the inhabitants and if more than one member disagrees with the decision then no action will be taken. Requiring more than one nay vote is seemingly in place to prevent the single representative of House Goratrix from holding the others to ransom with her vote.

Secondly, no direct action may be taken against another member of the chantry by a recognised resident either within it or without. The politics of each individual house are to be left at the door, once beyond the entrance to the chantry all are equal within.

The residents are becoming more and more convinced the building has an intelligence of it's own. Though quite definitely containing only the Laboratory, Library, Museum and personal quarters when they first arrived it now also has a meeting room which was discovered by Ruby mere moments after a discussion about establishing some rules of the house and three very comfortable lounges each with a different portrait over it's fireplace. These appeared the day after a debate within the chantry about the respective benefits of each house become quite spirited.


Strangely, many of the chantry residents seem to only feel comfortable in one of the three available rooms.

A meeting was convened between the Barons adjacent to Downtown which nominated the Baron of Pasadena to ensure the residents of the chantry understood what was required them if they maintained their presence in the Free States. After a sometimes tense meeting Michael has obtained their agreement to keep any Camarilla sympathies or Clan Tremere politics out of Los Angeles though has conceded the point that within the chantry itself they will do as they please. It remains to see if they hold to their word.

House Carna
Vanessa 'Ruby' Rubeus, Regent
Clan: 9th Generation Tremere
Haven - The Chantry (Haven 3: Cell 2, Library, Luxury, Surgery, Warding 7)
Backgrounds - Influence 3, Resources 3, Status 3
Merits - Linguistics 3
Lores - Carna (1: Embrace the Vision, 2: The Rebel Trail, 3: Unorthodox Rituals, 4: Reimagined Bond), The Pyramid (3: Regent)

Rumoured by some to be a childe of Carna herself the blood mage known by her closest friends as 'Ruby' has fully embraced the vision of Carna and her fledgling House of a 'new' clan Tremere free of the restrictions it once inflicted upon it's members.

A member of Clan Tremere for nearly four centuries she had a reputation as an innovator in the field of ritual blood magic though many of her discoveries over the centuries had been attributed to her superiors within the pyramid to increase their own standing. With the abuses of authority suffered by her at the hand of those above her in the pyramid she was an easy recruit for Carna and had been one of her most loyal and overt supporters. This support would no doubt have resulted in her destruction along with the rest of Carna, the Princess witch's fledgling rebellion if not for the Second Inquisitions destruction and scattering of the Tremere hierarchy via the bombing of the main chantry in Vienna.

Now, along with her own followers and the somewhat selective support of the other houses within she is the de-facto Regent of the new Consolidated Chantry of Los Angeles. It's only a matter of time before the higher powers within what's left of the clan contact her to gauge her intentions and in anticipation she has reluctantly took on the title of Regent so as to maximise their negotiating position.

Matilda 'Maiti' Beck
Clan: 10th Generation Tremere
Haven - The Chantry (Haven 3: Cell 2, Library, Luxury, Surgery, Warding 7)
Backgrounds - Influence 2, Resources 2, Status 2
Lores - Carna (1: Embrace the Vision, 2: The Rebel Trail)

Owing her loyalty only indirectly to Carna through her friendship with Vanessa Rubeus she has acted as a protector to 'Ruby' when her support for Carna put her in danger from reprisal.

Though 'Maiti' is no amateur in the field of ritual blood magic her real skill set has always been in direct use of the Thaumaturgy discipline particularly in the area of direct and violent action. In fact she was one of many recruited to the Tremere not for their potential as occult practitioners but rather to supplement the warrior spirit that some believed that the clan was now lacking. Though Victor is the most notable of these recruits Maiti has also shown considerable talents when set against Sabbat and Autarkis threats to chantries due in no small part to her mortal years as a professional bodyguard. Perceiving that her progress within the clan was being inhibited by a number of factors she threw her hand in with House Carna, after all it couldn't be any worse than House Tremere.

Brianna 'Brea' Rush 
Clan: 11th Generation Tremere
Haven - The Chantry (Haven 3: Cell 2, Library, Luxury, Surgery, Warding 7)
Backgrounds - Resources 2, Status 1
Merits - Beautiful, Eat Food
Lores - Carna (1: Embrace the Vision)

The youngest of the representatives of House Carna, 'Brea' was a naive woman playing at magic and occult ritual more as a hobby than anything else. Attracted by the forbidden nature of the activities she became involved in what turned out to be a particularly insidious cult whose inner circle were more interested in it as a way of procuring willing sexual partners than as a journey to occult power.

During one of the predictably sexually biased 'rituals' she found herself drawn to a beautiful and charismatic individual who she didn't recognise from any previous meetings of the group. Seeing something in her beyond that shown by the shallow cattle around her this mysterious newcomer beckoned her to follow them and in the darkness of the woods she joined the ranks of the kindred and learned that much of what she thought was impossible was actually merely a matter of being willing to acquire enough raw materials. Brea is unapologetic in her use of seduction to acquire the blood she and her fellow mages need to create their magics seeing it simply as using a natural gift of beauty in the same way that the others use their talents for the occult or with disciplines.

'Marie'
Clan: 12th Generation Tremere
Haven - The Chantry (Haven 3: Cell 2, Library, Luxury, Surgery, Warding 7)
Backgrounds - Mawla 3 (Marius Walker)
Merits - Iron Gullet, Stunning
Flaws - Enemy 3, Folkloric Block (Churches), Notorious 1, Stigmata.
Lores - Carna (5: Book of the Grave War)

Nominally loyal to the coterie of the Baron of Pasadena due to an arrangement of mutual protection, Marie bears a copy of a tome sacred to the followers of Carna and it is this that is the reason for her need for guardians.

Instrumental in the negotiations that bought the disparate houses together in cooperation rather than conflict she was pleasantly surprised to find that the chantry had a room for her as well as for the other surviving members of the search party. Of course it was also her manipulations that resulted in the deaths of one member of House Carna and another from House Tremere but sacrifices sometimes have to be made for the greater good.

After first consulting with her Mawla Marius Walker she has accepted the offer of residence within the chantry in order to further her own knowledge using it's considerable thaumaturgical resources.

House Tremere
Alanis 'Alannah' Ward
Clan: 9th Generation Tremere
Haven - The Chantry (Haven 3: Cell 2, Library, Luxury, Surgery, Warding 7)
Backgrounds - Influence 3, Resources 3, Status 3
Flaws - Infamy 2
Derangements - Intermittent Explosive Disorder (IED)
Lores - The Pyramid (2: Savant)

A dedicated believer in the merits of ordered systems of learning adopted by the Tremere, she saw the Pyramid as a useful and necessary way of keeping order amongst the notoriously fickle kindred.

Diligently working through the ranks she was often cited by others within the clan as an example to follow and it was this reputation for excellence that bought her to the attention of Maximilian Strauss who took her with him to Los Angeles.

Like many confronted with a situation that shatters their belief system, her abandonment by Strauss and the ease with which the Anarchs shattered the Camarilla's grip on the city caused centuries of repressed rage to erupt and almost overnight she went from a dedicated and ordered kindred to a wilful and self obsessed individual prone to uncontrollable rages and mood swings. Driven from a second home in West Los Angeles by the Fortier clan, Alannah vowed that it would never occur again and together with her then three followers fell upon the Verbena compound in Santa Monica and destroyed the mages within.

Elizabeth 'Etain' Brooker
Clan: 9th Generation Tremere
Haven - The Chantry (Haven 3: Cell 2, Library, Luxury, Surgery, Warding 7)
Backgrounds - Influence 1, Resources 2, Status 1
Lores - The Bahari (1: Dangerous Reputation, 2: The Womb's Blood)
Derangements - Haematophilia

Amoral as a mortal and cold-blooded as a kindred, Elizabeth made a perfect researcher into the effects of rituals upon willing and unwilling subjects as she quite frankly couldn't care less whether they survived or not, merely that the research advanced in one way or another.

Fine-tuning a number of previously unnecessarily complicated rituals through extensive and bloody research she was in the opinion of Strauss a perfect companion to Alannah's more systematic and 'by the book' approach to experimentation. Had he been aware of the source of some of this knowledge he may have chosen differently.

Amused by Alannah's almost immediate degeneration following their abandonment she happily followed her to their first haven in West LA and then to their subsequent home in Santa Monica and it was she who was responsible for the majority of the bloodshed necessary to take it for themselves. Now returned to the chantry she has once again access to the equipment necessary to resume her researches, whatever the cost.

House Goratrix
Amanda 'Mandi' Mcbride, AKA Arethusa
Clan: 8th Generation Tremere (Telyavelic Bloodline)
Haven - The Chantry (Haven 3: Cell 2, Library, Luxury, Surgery, Warding 7), The Asylum (Haven 3: Herd 3, Location)
Backgrounds - Contacts 1-5 (Various), Influence 3, Mask 2, Resources 4, Status 4 (Amongst Blood Mages), Status 2 (Santa Monica)
Merits - Linguistics 5, Short Bond
Lores - Jeanette/Therese Voerman (1: Asylum Membership, 2: Performing Monkey), The Pyramid (4: Pontifex)

The eldest of all the kindred within the chantry, Amanda Mcbride spent over four centuries with the Tremere bloodline known as the Telyavelic before defecting to the Sabbat sometime in the eighteenth century after discovering that was the destination of Goratrix whose independent nature and force of will she admired believing that the darker rumours around him were simply lies spread by his enemies..

Unlike most Tremere elsewhere in the Dark Medieval world, the Telyavelic actively Embraced women, seeing them as embodiment's of the dark mother-goddess figures of local paganism. Although the majority of this group is still male, nearly a third is female, and many of these were created during the middle age. Candidates for Embrace must come from the ranks of pagans. Many of them are priests and priestesses of the old religion and such was the case with the woman then known as Arethusa.

Surviving and thriving within the ranks of the Telyavelic she advanced the clans knowledge of blood magic in a variety of areas though was particularly interested in the martial applications of the various paths and disciplines developed. As the variation of the pyramid used by her bloodline only bought neonates two thirds of the way to a blood bond her strength of will enabled her to break from the clan and she left to seek knowledge from whatever other sources she could including a dangerous but informative time amongst the Tremere antitribu of the Sabbat.

Torn between the brutal and in her opinion dangerously short sighted methods of the Sabbat and her loyalty to Goratrix she eventually left to seek her own path to power. Though the feelings of many of the other clans about the Tremere should have meant final death to a blood mage without the support of her clan she nonetheless thrived. Acting as an independent adviser and 'mage for hire' she became a common sight in the domains of Anarch, Camarilla and Sabbat alike always leaving before wearing out her welcome and always a little richer in one way or another than when she arrived.

When rumours of the missing chantry in Los Angeles came to her attention she took the long refused offer of permanent employment with the Baron of Santa Monica on the condition that she be left enough time between her duties to look into this other matter. Ever the pragmatist Therese agreed to her terms and despite now being a resident of the chantry she still fulfils her requirements to her Baron. Though the only representative of her house within the chantry she is still given significant respect due to her broad knowledge on the more obscure branches of Thaumaturgy.

Deceased
The fourth member of House Tremere 'Vasquez' died a decade ago in the assault upon the Verbena mages and Odrahn was killed by his own house member Etain when he refused to join in the alliance of houses within the newly discovered chantry. Nicholas 'Nic' Wilkerson was killed under the same circumstances by Matilda 'Maiti' Beck when he sided with Odrahn over his own house.

'Odrahn' - House Tremere, 'Nic' - House Carna

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Should you be interested in the chronicles and stories associated with these pages then links to them all can be found HERE.
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