Thursday, 25 April 2019

V5 Chronicle - Faction Profile - The Fortiers

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...
--------------------
--------------------
The Barony of West Los Angeles
Although the Kindred of the Free States call the areas controlled by specific gangs 'Baronies,' and the leaders of those gangs 'barons', this is really a misnomer. The Barons of L.A. bear very little resemblance to their medieval counterparts...except in West L.A. Louis Fortier, a 9th generation Ventrue, runs his territory as if he were still in medieval France. If he is shown proper respect, he can be very easy to get along with; in fact he is far more accommodating to other Kindred "hunting on his lands" than many of the others with the title 'Baron'. On the other hand, he can be absolutely ruthless to Kindred who he feels have been disrespectful or ungrateful.

From his mansion in the hills of Bel Air, Louis controls Beverly Hills, Pacific Palisades, Marina del Rey and Venice (some of the most valuable real estate in the world), though Santa Monica now falls under the control of Baron Therese Voerman. Three of the other four Kindred who live in the barony are all Louis' Blood Bound mistresses, and each is a remarkable woman, as well as a striking beauty. The fourth is a Gangrel Scourge who deals with any problems that may be beyond his small army of ghouls, who act as both retainers and scouts.

It is very rare for anything to go on in West Los Angeles without Louis' knowledge. He is also far more involved in the economics and politics of his area than most barons. His ongoing control of the businesses in West Los Angeles explains the economic stability of that region, in contrast with the insanity of the rest of the L.A. area.

Beverly Hills, The world-famous city, which is separate administratively from the City of Los Angeles which surrounds it, is a favourite place for some of the wealthiest people in the world to make their homes. North and south of Sunset Boulevard, which winds through Beverly Hills, are huge mansions and estates. Farther south, on streets such as Beverly, Camden and the infamous Rodeo Drive, are the wildly expensive boutiques where the rich come to spend their money. Before the Revolt, quite a few vampires made their homes in Beverly Hills and surrounding areas, but since then Louis Fortier has permitted no Kindred to take up permanent residence here without his express permission and the granting of significant boons.

One family recently granted access are the Bartholomew's who have recently evacuated from a London devastated by the Second Inquisition.

Louis Fortier, Baron of West Los Angeles
Clan - 9th Generation Ventrue
Haven - Beverly Hills Mansion (Haven 3: Cell 5, Hidden Armoury, Library, Location, Luxury, Postern 3, Security System 6, Surgery, Watchmen 10, Warding 5)
Domain - West LA (Chasse 5, Lien 5, Portillon 5)
Backgrounds - Allies 1-7 (Multiple), Contacts 1-5 (Multiple), Herd 5, Influence 5, Resources 5, Retainers 1-5 (A veritable army of ghouls), Status 5
Merits - Linguistics 3 (French, Italian, Spanish)
Lores - Sect War Veteran (1: Survivor, 2: Active Participant)

Louis Charles Fortier de la Belliere had the misfortune to be born the second son to the Comte de Ia Belliere in 1726.'His older brother would inherit the title, Unless something occurred to cut his healthy life short, so Louis was left with two legal alternatives: the army or the Church.

At a fairly early age Louis decided that life without women wasn't life at all, so he chose the army. He joined a regiment that appealed to him, based on the high percentage of noblemen's sons already ensconced as officers, and the stunning custom-made uniforms they sported. But the King had other ideas for his pampered toy soldiers: they would go off to the New World,subdue the native tribes and return with wealth beyond reason to stuff into the Royal treasury.

Louis made several forays back and forth between France and what is now eastern Canada, displaying a natural ability as a leader. He was 28 when the French and Indian War broke out in 1754, a tall, handsome man with green eyes that could tum icy when his temper rose. He planned to make one last trip to Canada, then retire from the army and begin his own trading company. His older brother was still very much alive, married and blessed with three sons, so the title was a long way off.

It was a beautiful summer's evening when Louis and a small contingent of his men chanced upon an almost-deserted Indian camp. The warriors were gone, and only the children, the women and an old shaman remained. The Indians offered their hospitality to the Frenchmen, who were reluctant at first but warmed to the kindness being shown them. It was standard Indian fare for the most part, but they had become accustomed to the strange eating habits of the "savages."

At some point, the old shaman began beating a drum and chanting a dissonant but nonetheless hypnotic song. One by one Louis' men drifted off to sleep, apparently unable to keep their eyes open or sit upright,while the shaman kept chanting. Then from the other side of the campfire, a young woman appeared, who was exquisitely beautiful even by French standards. It did not seem strange to Louis that the woman seemed to step towards him through the smoke of the campfire. She was dressed in white doeskin and her long black hair shone in the moonlight. Louis was, above all things, French to the core and he appreciated beauty wherever he found it. The lovely woman danced around the dazzled soldier and then beckoned him to follow her into the woods. As if in a trance, he got up and went with her to a small copse of trees beyond the camp.

'Night Star'
There she stepped out of her dress and stood before him, her skin almost translucent, and he was powerless to resist. When Louis came to his senses, it was still night, the young woman was gone and he was naked. He looked at his torso in the moonlight and was at first amused by what he thought was Indian paint.

A raw bolt of shock ran through him as he staggered back to the camp. The Indians were gone, but his men were not. They lay on the ground, their throats ripped out and bloodstains across their bodies. He touched the 'paint' on his chest, and found that it too was blood. He wiped his hand across his mouth, only to find his face smeared with the vital essence. The Hunger struck him with the force of a cannonball at close range. He was alone and naked in the woods of Canada with a ravening need he barely understood ...

Louis could never go back to France, and he realised it would be useless trying to explain what had happened. People disappeared in the Canadian woods all the time, and he would be assumed to have been the victim of an Indian attack. Louis made his way to New York and happily joined the community of the undead there, eventually becoming a respected elder. When the Sabbat moved in on he city, Louis escaped to the West Coast. he first settled in San Francisco, and then in 1912 moved on to Los Angeles, where he quickly became part of the Primogen. Although Don Sebastian apparently was very fond of him, Louis was never completely comfortable with the prince, having been raised with a strong sense of 'noblesse oblige'.

Jeremy MacNeil - Possibly Deceased
Don Sebastian's careless attitude towards his fiefdom galled the French nobleman, who unsuccessfully tried to convince Don Sebastian to show more concern for me Kindred under his care. When Jeremy MacNeil appealed to the Primogen after being savagely beaten by Don Sebastian's goons, Louis was the only one who spoke up for the wounded Anarch. When the Primogen chose not to take a stand on the issue, Louis broke with them and joined the Anarchs. He fought with Jeremy and Crispus during the Revolt, and led the ill-fated expedition to Malibu. In gratitude for his assistance, the Anarchs have pretty much left him alone to rule West Los Angeles as he pleases.

Louis is the quintessential nobleman, protective of his vassals and gracious to his enemies. His first concern is protecting his domain, and then protecting the interests of the Free States. He has a great deal of respect for Jeremy, recognising a born leader when he sees one, and is anxious to help him further the goals of the Anarchs to whom he has pledged his existence. With Jeremy currently missing he is attempting to guide Nines Rodriguez to take up a more active role in the Anarch leadership. The declared equality between all Kindred on which the Free States rest offends his noble sensibilities, but he is excited by the possibilities of this 'experiment in democracy.' He is one of the few vampires in the Free States who has any interest in the economic well-being of his barony, and under his very tight control the Westside has prospered far better than anywhere else in the Los Angeles area.

Louis Fortier's Mistresses
Louis lives in almost sybaritic luxury, surrounded by the most beautiful objects and people that money can buy. Despite his unlife, Louis never lost his appreciation of beautiful women. He has surrounded himself with three of the most attractive, and deadly, women in the Free States. Louis rarely leaves the confines of his magnificent Beverly Hills home, but his mistresses are often seen at Free States gatherings and are women to be reckoned with in their own right. No one knows how many ghouls serve Louis, but it is believed to be the largest 'army' of ghouls in the Free States with estimates ranging from forty to seventy depending on who you ask. All of the ghouls are young, strong and beautiful, and require little blood to stay that way. Even so, Louis sometimes has difficulty meeting their demands, even with the help of his mistresses, and is rumoured to have occasionally created a vampire to satisfy his ghouls' hunger.

With the destruction of Prince LaCroix, the Gangrel 'Fixer' Marius took possession of several properties in Downtown and Baron Fortier has granted him a domain that roughly encompasses these Downtown enterprises in an approximate eight block square. Though in kindred terms this domain still belongs to Fortier most kindred in Los Angeles consider the area to have become almost a 'mini' barony and Marius considers it and the sewers beneath to be his. With the loss of this area and the gifting of Santa Monica to the Voermans many are beginning to look at Louis Fortier as a kindred whose power is waning however recent events are casting that view into doubt as a far more militant attitude is beginning to emerge in no small part due to his access to a new resource named 'Atarah'.

Childer
Catherine Du Bois - Mistress of Louie
Clan - 10th Generation Ventrue
Haven - Beverly Hills Mansion (Haven 3: Cell 5, Hidden Armoury, Library, Location, Luxury, Postern 3, Security System 6, Surgery, Watchmen 10, Warding 5)
Backgrounds - Allies 1-7 (Multiple), Contacts 1-5 (Multiple), Herd 5, Influence 4, Resources 4, Retainers 1-5 (A veritable army of ghouls), Status 4
Merits - Beautiful, Bloodhound
Lore -  The Circulatory System (1: Tap into the System, 3: Farm Upstate, 5: Blood Sommelier)

Convent-bred Mademoiselle du Bois runs a very special out-call service for a select clientele who appreciate, and pay well for, unique experiences. Her stable of stunning debauched beauties of both sexes provides entertainment on a level of excitement that only the very wealthy and very bizarre can appreciate.

Catherine's delicate, innocent appearance belies the depraved character of a woman thrust into the unlife at a time when her appetites were at their height and her morals undeveloped. Catherine "keeps the home fires burning" for Louis, maintaining the security of the barony and watching after the ghouls. She often acts as hostess when Louis has guests. She has an insatiable appetite for new physical experiences, which even death has been unable to quell. This Achilles' heel makes some consider her a security risk, but so far Louis does not seem to be concerned as she has the resources and contacts to cover her tracks as well as free rein to utilise Louis army of ghouls to clean up any messes.

Elena Gutierrez - Mistress of Louie
Clan - 10th Generation Ventrue
Haven - Beverly Hills Mansion (Haven 3: Cell 5, Hidden Armoury, Library, Location, Luxury, Postern 3, Security System 6, Surgery, Watchmen 10, Warding 5)
Backgrounds - Allies 1-3 (Multiple), Contacts 1-3 (Multiple), Herd 5, Influence 3, Resources 4, Retainers 1-3 (Various servants), Status 3
Merits - Beautiful

Elena, the daughter of a diplomat, was a Spanish exchange student studying interior design when she was invited to a private party in Beverly Hills. Her long dark hair and luminous skin reminded Louis of the Indian woman who had been his sire, and he set about bringing Elena over to the unlife.

Before long Elena was set up in business, using her artistic eye to decorate the homes of some of the most famous people in Los Angeles, who didn't find it strange that she would only visit at night. Elena often acted as Louis' agent in the outside world, both with the mortal and immortal communities but has recently been displaced from the role by her fellow mistress Mariel St John. Louis had a great deal of respect for Elena's intelligence, and usually allowed her to act in whatever way she felt best but a recent indiscretion that forced Louis to bring in outside resources to resolve has lessened her status in the household considerably. No doubt she is already plotting to restore that Status.

Mariel St John - Adopted Childe and Mistress of Louie
Clan - 9th Generation Ventrue
Haven - Beverly Hills Mansion (Haven 3: Cell 5, Hidden Armoury, Library, Location, Luxury, Postern 3, Security System 6, Surgery, Watchmen 10, Warding 5)
Backgrounds - Contacts 1-3 (Multiple), Herd 5, Influence 4, Resources 4, Retainers 1-3 (Various servants), Status 4
Adversary - Marius Walker 3
Merits - Beautiful

Mariel was already a fairly well-known vampire in Los Angeles when her book about the French and Indian Wars was published. Struck by the depth of knowledge and passion she brought to a subject that was so important to him, Louis made arrangements to meet Mariel.

He was immediately impressed by her direct attitude and her intense focus on her work, so rather than perform an elaborate dance, he came right to the point. He offered her support and a magnificent place to live, neither of which would interfere with her studies and she gladly accepted. Not content to be in third place in the mistress pecking order she has made several attempts to raise her status, making an enemy of the 'Fixer' Marius Walker during one such attempt which resulted in many doors being closed to her. This relationship has been repaired in recent times due to an exchange of boons between her and the now Baron of Pasadena, Michael Tomassio during which the lifting of the embargo upon her was part of the arrangement. Though not necessarily happy about it, the Gangrel has nonetheless kept to his word allowing her use of his resources (for a price, of course) and now she often uses the clubs of his ghoul 'Venus' for meetings in preference to those controlled by the Fortiers possibly due to the fact that she's well aware of the number of surveillance devices that litter Louis's clubs.

Now when she speaks at a Rant it is understood that she is speaking with Louis' voice. In fact at the most recent Rant it was she who negotiated with the recently freed Kindred Elder 'Atarah' over her request for domain and feeding grounds. Her resolve against such a powerful creature has also served to elevate her status amongst those who previously considered her to be a glorified harpy.

Retainers
Marco 'Joey' Joseph, Scourge
Clan - 10th Generation Gangrel
Haven - Beverly Hills Mansion (Haven 3: Cell 5, Hidden Armoury, Library, Location, Luxury, Postern 3, Security System 6, Surgery, Watchmen 10, Warding 5)
Backgrounds - Allies: Security Teams (Effectiveness 4, Reliability 3) (Multiple), Contacts 1-3 (Multiple), Herd 5, Influence 2, Mawla 3 (Marius Walker), Resources 3, Retainers 1-4 (Various spies, investigators and informants), Status 3 (Within Fortier's Domains only)

Marco, a  humble accountant dedicated to his job running his own firm was warned by all his friends that his new love was a gold-digger after his money and influence and that she was having a string of affairs behind his back. However love blinded him to all criticism and he married her without any further consideration...or a pre-nuptial agreement.

As time passed and the warning signs became more and more blatant he began to curse himself for being too cowardly to confront either his wife or her lovers and had taken to spying on them of a night causing his business to suffer. On one of his midnight surveillance's of a remote cabin 'love-nest' in the hills he was spotted by a curious Gangrel who embraced him on the spot before watching in fascination as the mild mannered man experienced his first frenzy and tore both his wife and lover into pieces and drained them dry before crawling beneath the cabin and sleeping out the day.

On awakening he was confronted by his sire who unusually for his clan began to immediately educate his new childe seeing that what he had mistaken for a skilled hunter was in fact a love-sick fool. Deciding that as the mistake was his and that he would be held responsible for allowing the childe to suffer the inevitable final death and possible masquerade breach that his lack of practical skills would cause he taught him the basics of kindred existence. Marco employed several new staff via agencies to cover the work he could no longer do during daylight hours, did his own work for a portion of the evening before continuing his education in the ways of Clan Gangrel of a night. This continued for several months until one night he went to the usual meeting place and discovered his sire absent. He never saw him again...

Marco continued his relatively stable nightly existence, feeding in the majority from the vast supply of former lovers of his now deceased wife and murdering the occasional one or two just out of spite. A chance evening meeting with a businessman from Los Angeles named Fortier introduced him to the larger kindred world and he eagerly sold his firm to a subsidiary of Louis Fortier's own empire and went to work for him in a far different role. Preferring to locate threats to the domain of his Baron through more traditional investigative means through a team of mortal and ghoul detectives and investigators he is nonetheless a formidable hand to hand combatant when the need arises. His combat skills are in no small part due to an arrangement between a local Gangrel 'Fixer' Marius and Fortier that included training Marco in the finer points of tracking, combat and interrogation. His preferred meals are still the unfaithful of either sexes but in a city as decadent as Los Angeles he is rarely short of candidates and never goes hungry for long.

Allies
'Atarah'
Clan - Unknown Generation Lasombra
Haven - Various Churches around West Los Angeles
Backgrounds - Allies 1-3 (Various churchgoers), Contacts 1-5 (Various churchgoers), Infamy 3 (Kindred), Influence 3, Resources 3, Retainers 1-5 (Useful Ghouled churchgoers), Status 4
Adversary - Vera Vignes 3
Merits - Beautiful, Linguistics 6
Flaws - Archaic, Obvious Predator
Lores - The Bahari (1: Dangerous Reputation, 2: Ritual Scarification, 5: First Cursed)

Enslaved by the entity possessing Vera Vignes via ancient necromantic techniques her atrophied form was kept trapped within an occult sealed tomb while her spiritual essence was bound to the service of Edward Vignes through a magical focus.

Having lost control of her own creation due to her husband having possession of the occult focus Vera Vignes and her servant and lover Henry began an elaborate plan to remove this weapon from Edwards grasp and destroy him thus freeing her from his influence forever. Using her own whiles and the innocent nature of her host she manipulated the coterie of Michael Tomassio to implement her plan. Though Edward was destroyed and Vera escaped, the creature her possessor had bound to their service was not killed but freed from a century of suffering and abuse.

Despite suspecting that her destruction was part of the plan she parted from her 'rescuers' fairly amicably and took a church in Los Angeles as her new haven. Operating a policy of seeking forgiveness rather than apologising for her preemptive seizure of domain within the barony of another she sought out the representative of Louis Fortier at the kindred gathering known as the 'Rant' and offered her loyalty in return for other considerations. Fortier has granted her feeding rites and control of all churches within the West Los Angeles and Downtown areas he controls in return for a yet unknown boon. Enemies of the Fortiers do however seem to be disappearing with increasing frequency since her domain was granted...though perhaps this is merely coincidental.

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

Friday, 19 April 2019

Vampire the Masquerade V5 - Session Twenty Five - The Missing Chantry (Part One)

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.
--------------------
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.
---------------------
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

The PC's

Phil as Michael Tomassio - Toreador Baron of Pasadena
and Hope Romero - Gangrel Scourge
Tom as Johnny 'Roach' West - Malkavian Seneschal
and Marie - Clan Carna
Matt as Dr Daniel Matthews - Banu Haqim 'Fixer'
Dave as Vincent 'Vin' Ghast - Brujah Sheriff

The player characters stats and backgrounds can be found HERE should any-one be interested. There's also some minor 'house-rules' HERE that have occurred as we went along.

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 so you can tell them apart from the more traditional write-up sections and occasionally an obscure Malkavian premonition will turn up in purple. 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...

Introduction
The Baron's Scourge and Fixer have eliminated the three kindred poachers who were kidnapping and occasionally murdering students around Caltech and have persuaded a fourth less deadly uninvited guest to leave town. Along the way Hope and Daniel rescued a young woman who was the kin of a member of the Garou tribe known as the Glass Walkers and returned her to Kiara, the werewolf who was searching for her. With this matter now resolved, it's time to return the favour done them by Michael's new contact within the Pasadena police force.

Scene One - Alik's Photographic Emporium
Officer 'Frank' Atkins - Ghoul
In return for releasing several of Vin's prostitutes from jail without charge as well as 'losing' a large quantity of narcotics discovered on one of them their new police ally Officer Franklin 'Frank' Atkins has asked the coterie to assist him with a problematic investigation.

A colleague of his, an officer Schaefer is using blackmail to pressure a witness into testifying against a small time fence, however the fence is a very good contact of Frank's he needs to bring down a minor pornographer who he claims the arrest of will help his career considerably. The crime involving his fence is however a robbery case over which he has no pull to make go away.

Being aware that Michael has access to resources that he does not and as Michael claimed to wish to help his career for their mutual benefit he has made this the price for aid he earlier provided. Unfortunately for the Baron, the cop doesn't yet have enough of his Vitae flowing in his veins to yet make him obey unquestionably. Besides which the cop was right about his own advancement being in their best interest as his advancement would also increase his influence which in turn made him more useful.

Roach gleaned through his talks with both witness and fence that the witness, a pick-pocket named Agatha Pennington, had never never actually used the fence Maury and it seemed likely that Officer Schaefer was actively trying to sabotage Frank's case for some reason or other.

Downtown Los Angeles
Roach was now of the opinion that if they just found evidence against the pornographer then they could bypass the problem of the fence being arrested altogether. After some research through the street contacts of Vin and Roach they managed to find a location for the pornographers 'studio' in Downtown Los Angeles.

As Michael had no intention of traipsing through the slums of downtown dealing with sleazy pornographers he instead got in touch with Hope to accompany Vin and Roach on their mission. Daniel who was making some enquiries into another matter relating to recent complications involving another Banu Haqim in Los Angeles agreed to meet them later if they hadn't resolved the issue by then. On the drive through downtown to the address of the studio Roach began to feel the sensation that usually accompanied a forced premonition however this one was coming completely unbidden.

Something about this part of town feels 'odd' like there should be something here that isn't. You also get flashes of imagery, a purple sun, a bald man holding an oversized lock and key and a gothic style building that seems out of place with those surrounding it but every time you try to focus on the details it fades from view.



Unsure of what to make of the cryptic vision, the Malkavian filed it away for future consideration and set himself back to the task in hand.

The 'Studio' has a sign next to the front door declaring it as 'Alik's Photographic Emporium', 'Creating the stars of the future' though the pedigree is made somewhat doubtful by the fact that the building is three doors away from what is clearly an abandoned crack-house. The front door is a sturdy affair with a decent lock on it.

Alik's Photographic Emporium
Leaving the others within the car, Roach put on his 'disguise' of a sleazy pimp which could have been taken from a bad detective novel but nonetheless did look the part and he doubted that any-one based in this particular location would be choosy about it's customers. After a brief check for a side entrance he found that though there was one it was even sturdier than the front door and so returned to the front entrance. After knocking quite loudly on the door without response he decided to pick the lock and investigate within on his own.

The front entrance is a fairly stylish reception room with a number of photographs around the walls of women and a few men in various poses ranging from formal to 'boudoir' but nothing that could be classed as obscene. There are several settees along one wall with a coffee table in front. Various out of date fashion magazines and a couple of books on photography are scattered around along with two piles of business cards. One set is for 'Alex Craig' and relate to this studio and a second set are for  'Hugo Olsen, film producer'. There is a side door leading outside behind the counter and another in the far corner.

Roach picked up one of each of the business cards and on a whim rang the number on the one for 'Alex Craig'. He thought he could hear a phone ringing somewhere within the building but even with his senses heightened to their most sensitive it was some distance away. After finding the door in the far corner was locked he made an attempt to pick this one but couldn't quite get the feel for it like he had with the front door.

Frustrated at being stopped by a lump of wood the Malkavian charged at it and promptly bounced off. Hearing the thump from within the building, Hope went to investigate while Vin kept a look out for any inquisitive locals. She entered the reception area just in time to see Roach smash the lock off the door with a fire extinguisher and enter the next room.

You enter a fairly standard studio with a camera on a tripod, a folding back screen and several mounted lights of various types on stands. In front of the screen is a chaise lounge presumably used in the most recent photo shoot. One one side of the room a door has the legend 'Dark Room and Developing suite' on a plaque and next to it is another door which is unmarked.


'Guard' Dog
The 'Dark Room' is exactly that and contains some developed pictures of a pretty brunette in her twenties sprawled across the chaise lounge from the other room. The few towards the end of the pile are what might best be described as 'tasteful nudes' but the lady in them doesn't seem to have been coerced in any obvious way. Other door leads to a stairway down with a door at the bottom. There's a large dog chained up at the bottom of the stairs that begins to growl as soon as the door opens.

Hope identified the dog as a Doberman and was concerned for it's health as it's nearby food and water bowls were quite empty. Roach was irritated to find that his skills with dominate didn't seem to extend to animals but fortunately his Gangrel companion had access to more appropriate skills. Comforting the animal she reassured it that if the dog let them by she'd fetch it some food and water. As Roach began to investigate the basement area Hope went to keep her promise to the dog but as she did she received a text from Daniel asking what they were doing.

If he'd had to guess what the reply to a text enquiring about the state of their mission was it was unlikely that "Looking for dog food" would be high on the list so he instead tried asking about their location and this time got a more immediately useful response. Deciding he might as well see what trouble she'd gotten into this time he headed to meet the rest of the coterie at the studio.

Not interested particularly in what was apparently a not very effective guard dog, Roach entered the lower levels of the building.

The room revealed is a different sort of studio altogether. A number of areas have been divided up into scenes of various kinds ranging from the fairly normal bedroom, dungeon areas complete with chains and similar 'accessories', a classroom and a representation of a prison cell and a couple of others with furniture piled up in them presumable to create other interesting backdrops, Still and video cameras are set up in front of several. There are also several curtained off areas, some open, some closed which pass for changing rooms and several racks of clothing covering most fetishes you could think of. Two doors are in the far wall, one shut and the other slightly ajar.

Scene Two - Old Friends
Vincent 'Vin' Ghast - Brujah
Outside Vin saw two men approaching the studio with a young woman between them. Though she didn't seem to be struggling the scene nonetheless looked dubious. With surprising stealth for one of his size the Brujah slid out of the car and followed the three people into the studio without them being aware they were pursued. One of the men swore as he saw the door to the studio ajar and turned to the other "Did you forget to lock the fucking door again?".

Roach meanwhile was investigating the two rooms in the far wall. The first was a mixing studio for sound and video and the film currently being edited involved a girl in pigtails, a skinny man who looked like a hipster student and several large men of various races in leather masks. Not interested in what was as far as he was aware useless to his quest for something with which to incriminate the cop's target he continued to the next room. There he became particularly unimpressed with their quarries business skills as he found the phone he'd been attempting to ring sitting on a table in the closed office. The room contained a chair and desk, two dvd players and monitors, pile of discs on the desk and several cabinets in addition to the forgotten phone, however before he could investigate the room further he was alerted to a commotion outside.

Hope Romero - Gangrel Scourge
"Surprise..."
Giving up on her search for dog food upstairs Hope entered the basement where Roach was currently searching, a moment before the three individuals being tailed by Vin began to make their way down the stairs. "Fucking useless mutt. Remind me to shoot that fucking dog before we leave" shouted one of the men as Hope heard the sound of a foot connecting with the animal with some force. They then walked through the door and straight into the young Gangrel where she and one of the men recognised each other.

Hugo who had been unfortunate enough to encounter both Hope and the werewolf Kiara during the investigation into one of the girls missing in Pasadena had apparently not taken the warning to leave town as seriously as one would have liked. He promptly soiled himself, turned and ran back up the stairs where he collided with Vin after a few steps. A large hand grasped him firmly by the throat and lifted him off his feet as his comrade reached into his pocket and pulled out a gun and levelled it at Hope. Before he could act the Malkavian who had just emerged from the office calmly asked him to drop his gun and he was shocked to find himself obeying the command. As the weapon hit the ground Hope kicked it away and enjoyed the look of panic on his face. "I see your friend recognises me..." said Hope with some amusement as she noted the spreading stain on Hugo's trousers as Vin held him a foot off the ground by the neck.

Roach looked sideways at the dungeon scene in the basement and after a cursory examination revealed the chains and restraints to be quite real came up with a brilliant plan.

With both assailants firmly chained to the wall and effectively immobilised Vin carried the drunk looking girl upstairs to the couch in the office. Roach who had extensive experience with the effects of many drugs could tell the girl was under the influence of a narcotic rather than drunk. From her demeanour and look he suspected rohypnol or ghb. He asked the Brujah to see if there was some coffee or a sugary drink of some kind to give her and to check if Daniel was on his way as his medical knowledge might be needed. Though normally a mortal filled with drugs was lunch as far as Roach was concerned he was aware that in this case resolving the cops problem and this situation was more important than his own feeding inclinations. Daniel confirmed he was only minutes away and to keep the girl comfortable until he arrived.

Roach explained to Hugo's friend who turned out to be the unscrupulous pornographer Alex who owned the studio that they required detailed evidence of any criminal activities or he'd have to deal with Hope's less tender ways of extracting that information. His denial of any wrongdoing was rewarded with several broken ribs and a voice screaming "LIAR!!!" in the back of his head every-time he spoke. His insistence on his complete innocence was becoming tedious especially as Roach could easily detect the subtle changes in his aura indicating his every attempt at subterfuge. It seemed that more extreme methods of persuasion would be necessary.

Dr Daniel Matthews - Banu Haqim
On his arrival Doctor Matthews was somewhat surprised to find that the Brujah had some basic medical knowledge of his own and combined with the advice given by Roach had made a more than respectable effort to assist the drugged young woman. He indicated to Vin that he would continue where he'd left off and that he could return to the others if he wished, which he promptly did as the doctor provided medical care. Vin arrived just in time to see Hope neatly dislocate Alex's shoulder, apparently he'd been missing out on all the fun.

Roach had stepped up the psychological torture by implanting images in Alex's mind of interesting uses of various items lying around the room gathered together by Vin while Hope had begun to work on the dislocated joint in his arm.

Alex and Hugo's Victim
As their victim desperately tried to talk through the pain, Roach indicated that Hope should allow the finally broken man to speak. Ignoring his ill-thought out defence to Hope that most of the girls they picked up "Didn't look underage..." the Malkavian went to the cabinet described by Alex in the office and discovered a selection of photographs, disks and data storage devices. As he showed the pictures to the chained up prisoners one at a time they finally reached the one that Alex had considered his trump card. "We had no idea she was the niece of some senior cop okay but we figured it never hurts to have a worried cop on your side does it? Doesn't do much for the reputation if you can't keep your own niece safe....". Suddenly the cop's comment about the bust "Helping his career." made a lot more sense.

Concerned that this might not be enough evidence Roach pressed the point and both admitted that they'd kept some images on their own phones. Content that with the incriminating pictures on their personal mobiles they had enough evidence to make the cops case Roach contacted Michael and asked him to send the cop to the studio where he had a 'gift' for him.

Hope meanwhile reattached the man's shoulder though in the most painful way she could manage and with the aid of one of Vin's sharper blades cut a message into Alex's back that would leave his fellow inmates in no doubt about what crime he'd committed.

Finding himself in the unusual position of two jobs in a row involving Hope where no clean-up was needed, Daniel took the young lady to the hospital with the intention of leaving the cops name as a reference so she could be used as a witness if necessary. Hope meanwhile decided to take the dog with her as it was whining a lot and she had promised it some food and water. She did however have the minor concern of how well her wolf was going to react to a new animal in the house.

Storytellers Note - Hope's player asked about the possibility of having more than one Famulus as she wanted to keep the dog, lol. Though the rules don't permit it I'm not adverse to creating some kind of 'Pack Leader' merit if she really wants another one though the dog could just as easily be a normal pet.

By the time Officer Atkins had arrived the Malkavian and Brujah had explained to the two perverts just how much of the events of the evening they were allowed to relay and the consequences of trying to get out of their sentences by using little things like actual facts about being tortured. Just to be sure of the conviction Roach planted some drugs on them as well. After handing over the evidence and the suspects Roach made it clear that he considered the matter now resolved and the small favour done for them by the officer repaid many times over though he also asked for the contact details of the other cop involved in case it became useful later. Somewhat reluctantly Frank agreed before taking his 'prize' away.

Interlude - Personal and Professional
Vin and Sarah's Basement Haven
With the selection of irritating problems recently inflicted upon them resolved each member of the coterie turned to their own concerns. Conscious of the need to have his own hideaway Vin began to convert the sub-basement of one of the brothels into a more permanent Haven for himself and his ghoul Sarah as well as upgrading the very basic security measures currently protecting the building. Daniel tasked his duo of ghouls to covertly investigate what they could of goings on in Anaheim as he had a feeling that the conflict there might spill over and effect the coterie at some point while he himself looked into what he could do about the potential problem of another of his clan in LA. With money now flowing into their coffers Michael began to make enquiries through his accountant about potential legitimate businesses with which to invest in order to explain where their new-found wealth was coming from. Hope's concerns were limited to buying a nice dog collar for her new pet whom she'd named 'Roxy' and remembering that her dogs feeding habits required different supplies to that of her wolf.

Roach had begun to look into the logistics of a journey upstate in order to give himself another drug supply route but now couldn't help but feel his earlier premonition was far more important than he first thought. Perhaps this might be important enough to look into immediately...

Scene Three - The Diplomatic Option
Ur-Shulgi - Banu Haqim
Methuselah
Deciding that dealing with the issue of another member of the Banu Haqim clan in Los Angeles was something he should at least consult his baron with, Daniel decided to go and discuss the potential problem with Michael.

He explained that Roach had revealed to him that he had observed some-one with the same signatures that indicated clan as his own. The Malkavian had considerable experience with interpreting the aura's of kindred and kine due in no small part to the fact that he almost never turned the ability off and therefore Daniel had no reason to doubt his assessment. The Doctor told the Baron that he had left the service of his sire due to radical differences in philosophy over the definition of 'guilty' and that targets selected for him had turned out to be merely opponents to his sire's dedication to the philosophy of the Methuselah El-Shulgi who was purging the clan.

His other concern was that the Banu Haqim in question was part of the 'commando' coterie that defended the interests of Therese Voerman, Baron of Santa Monica and so any direct action on his part might bring them into conflict. Michael agreed that getting into a war with the Voerman's was something to be avoided as he was sure it was a fight they'd lose.

The Voerman Sisters - Malkavian
Currently the sisters outclassed them in every area of resources and it was far too early in their campaign to take LA on behalf of the Camarilla to make enemies as powerful as Therese and Jeanette Voerman.

As direct enquiries might start the very conflict they were trying to avoid they decided to approach the problem from a different direction by instead asking the thin-bloods of Jenna Cross based at Santa Monica pier. If any-one had run-ins with the coterie in general and the Banu Haqim specifically it would be the Voerman's uninvited neighbours at the pier. With Roach apparently on walkabout and Vin overseeing the construction of what was basically an armoured bunker under his brothel Michael decided to accompany Daniel to see the de-facto baron of the duskborn, Jenna Cross to see what they could discover. After all, he reasoned, Hope was quite capable of seeing to the security of the barony for a couple of hours.

Unfortunately on attempting to arrange a meeting with Jenna they discovered that she was 'unavailable' and that if they wanted to discuss anything directly they'd have to deal with Rosa instead. Michael explained to Daniel that Rosa had a gift for foresight and as far as he could tell fulfilled the same roll for Jenna that Roach performed for him. In answer to Daniel's query about her level of trustworthiness he could not give a definitive answer though he did say that it was her who first gave them access to the thin-bloods domain. He did however warn him that she was a bit...unusual...

Scene Four - Rosa and the Duskborn
Baron Michael Tomassio - Toreador
'Smart but casual'
As he'd recently acquired an 'observer' courtesy of the Camarilla's Fiorenza Savona whose job was basically to keep tabs on them and report back, he let 'Dion' know that he was going to discuss "Matters of domain and feeding rites..." with Jenna and as he was currently using the unwelcome addition to his barony as a driver ordered him to follow along in one of the coteries spare vehicles in case they needed to make a quick getaway. Michael decided that 'smart but casual' was the way to go as generally what outfit to wear was his greatest concern when journeying to other barons domains. Daniel's priorities were more on the practical side as he equipped himself with both his colt handguns, his pair of karambit knives and made sure his spare guns and falcata were stored in their secret compartment in his own vehicles trunk which he used to drive Michael to the meeting.

As usual the meeting place was the piers security office to which they were escorted by a kindred who introduced himself as 'Laki'. He was a giant of a man, perhaps of Samoan ancestry judging from his features and tattoos. He had the physique of a powerlifter rather than a bodybuilder but moved with surprising poise for one so big.

Daniel judged him to be confident in his abilities which made him wonder why he wasn't in a position of authority before his predecessors untimely demise as Vin's assessment of the former head of security wasn't high, possibly because the Brujah had killed him and his four comrades in a matter of seconds without taking as much as a scratch in return.

Rosa - Thin Blood Seer
Rosa was sitting in the office watching one of those desktop newton's cradle's bounce back and forth, the fact that she was watching it's movements when it clearly wasn't moving at all was Daniel's first clue to Michael's definition of her being 'unusual'.

"Aaah...the baron and the Banu Haqim..." Daniel immediately looked sideways at Michael who gave a shrug which seemed to neatly embody the phrase 'I told you so' in a single movement. "Oh was that a secret? The voices within didn't mention it, or perhaps they did and I wasn't listening..." Michael began to relay the official reason for him being there before he moved to enquiries about Therese's commando's.

As he sat down Rosa got up and started to wander around the office as if following something that wasn't there though did periodically look in Michael's direction often enough so he at least hoped she was listing to his proposal to allow a certain number of thin-bloods to feed in his barony as long as they followed his baronies rules. Daniel had felt uncomfortable from the moment he'd set eyes on Rosa and that feeling became more intense on any occasion that she moved near to him. Michael however seemed completely unaffected.

Storytellers Note - Rosa has a disquieting effect on some kindred but not others which has been established in previous sessions. A pattern about why some are affected and not others has yet to be discovered...by the coterie at least.

Jenna Cross - Caitiff
Duskborn Baron
After a gap of a good thirty seconds once he'd completed his proposal Rosa seemed to remember he was there and replied. "I'm sure Jenna will be happy that you've confirmed what I already told her you were going to say...do you want to talk about the other thing now?" Accepting the prompt and avoiding thinking about exactly how Rosa knew half the things she did, Michael began to enquire about any encounters the thin-bloods had had with Therese's force of kindred. Rosa stopped moving and seemed to actual pay attention. "Yes, I spoke to them. They told me that I needed permission to walk through their barons territory, I told them their fortunes as payment for safe passage, not all liked what they heard but then the truth like beauty is often in the eye of the beholder...though the truth doesn't pop like a juicy bubble when you eat it either...or does it?...where was I?"

After a subtle reminder about the subject under discussion, Rosa continued. "Their leader was an Asian lady who now calls herself Li, she did most of the talking, the one you seek was there too, always hungry like the rest of you, the hood hides her physical scars, the killing hides the scars you don't see. There was also a large one who looked like a fighter but doesn't fight like a fighter, he tried to look in my head, he reconsidered when I started to look back." Rosa began to shake her head as if to indicate that his actions had been a bad idea but continued to do so for almost a minute as if she'd forgotten why she started in the first place. "After I told them their fortunes they went away, perhaps I hurt their feelings?" The concept that they were actually there to do her harm seemed to have never occurred to her though Michael had seen her intimidate elders just by staring in their general direction so wasn't surprised she'd left the encounter unharmed.

Ellie-May 'Lee' Li - Toreador
Commando Coterie Leader
Michael enquired if she would share the results of their fortunes but was told that in that respect she was like "A lawyer, or doctor...it's all very...confidential...", Her reply seemed unusually serious for Rosa as if she was slightly offended at the suggestion so Michael changed the subject back to general information about the so called 'commando' coterie. Rosa described them as "Like a five piece jigsaw, not as useful when in pieces, but still capable of choking you..." which Michael and Daniel took to mean that they were greater than the sum of their parts and most effective when a unified force. Of course this being Rosa she could have meant nothing of the sort.

As the duskborn seer seemed to be wandering off the subject more and more Daniel decided to see if he could get some specific information on the Banu Haqim before she became impossible to communicate with, a problem of which Michael had warned him from his own previous encounters with her. "She shares no bloodline with you, you didn't know that? Of course not, that's why you're so concerned, yes?" Daniel confirmed that that had been his fear. "She knows OF you of course, but she's not looking FOR you. Of course you know that because you've met and spoke..." Daniel informed her that he hadn't met the other Banu Haqim at all "Oh? Hasn't that happened yet? In that case you WILL meet her. Wont that be fun for you..." Rosa seemed somewhat amused with herself and then in a complete change of mood yawned and managed a look that pretty much embodied boredom.

Laki - Caitiff
Enforcer
Sensing correctly that he needed to get any remaining questions in quickly Michael quickly enquired about any others amongst the duskborn that might have encountered them. "Well there's Laki who guided you here, Rosa, who is me so that's not much more help unless you like hearing things twice and 'E' who Laki can point you at..." At this point she walked back to the desk and flicked the newton cradle though now it was moving ignored it completely. "You're going now..." she said flatly, it obviously wasn't a question. Thanking her for her time but not convinced she heard them at all the Toreador and Banu Haqim left the office.

"That..." Stated Daniel "...was almost like talking to Roach but with a tenth of the attention span.". Michael confirmed that dealing with the Malkavian was pretty good practice for talking to Rosa and at least she didn't plan things "...With a wall and some crayons..."

Storytellers Note - Roach's room in the Haven is basically a selection of conspiracy theory style boards linked by lines in string, crayon and various similar materials. They now encompass most of the room. 

The thin-bloods new head of security for the pier, Laki was waiting outside the office. "Did you find out what you needed to know?". As diplomatically as possible Michael explained that they had found out some information but that it might take some interpretation.

Hamish 'Jim'Moody - Malkavian
Seemingly anticipating the response, the large Samoan handed them a card with a number written in neat precise letters on the rear. "If you want to come here again it might be best if you made the arrangements through me instead. Rosa might just forget you were coming or presume you've already been..." Michael thanked Laki for the consideration but made a mental note to avoid getting too tied up in the thin-bloods of Santa Monica Pier's political machinations. "She did say you'd encountered Therese's commandos, did that happen?" Laki chuckled for a moment "Yeah, that happened for real, not just in her head." As he seemed happy to talk, Michael and Daniel asked for some more details.

They were told that a small group of thin-bloods had arrived at the contested border of the area claimed by Jenna Cross and the domain of the Baron of Santa Monica Therese Voerman followed closely by two of the aforementioned kindred. They claimed that they'd been pursued while in sight of the pier without the usual warning given to trespassers. Laki did say however that Rosa had informed both him and Jenna that the pursued kindred had received a warning but had ignored it. Regardless it was Laki's job to protect his own people so he and a number of the more combat capable thin-bloods nearby had intercepted the aggressors. A brief stand-off had occurred before Therese's people had left but Laki had the impression that they'd wanted to take the matter further but seemed under orders to honour the border.

Charlie 'Chick' Abbott - Banu Haqim
Daniel's enquiries of course turned to any relevant tactical information the Samoan had picked up. Laki was sure that the woman 'Chick' had a sword under her coat based on the bulge it made but couldn't see any obvious sign of firearms. He did however comment that the speed of her approach was very impressive indeed. In his words "No-one should be able to move that fucking fast...".

The other "Big Fucker" was described as tall though in Laki's opinion wasn't as broad as himself. Laki was less sure about this one though as he had the build of a brawler but didn't stand like one though whether this meant he wasn't a fighter or just wasn't expecting a fight at that point was debatable. With no more info forthcoming they asked for directions to 'E' and were pointed towards a surfer looking, bare-chested dude next to a pretty ginger girl in a tie-dye top. Laki did warn them however that in his opinion 'E' was "Full of shit..."

"No Roach today?". Michael told 'E' that he was busy with 'business' which the thin-blood correctly interpreted as being something drug related so didn't press the point. On the subject of his encounter with the commando's he was quite vague. He remembered encountering a "Tall, heavy built dude" who matched the description they had for 'Jim' or 'Hamish' as he was sometimes called but he was unable to remember specifics or details.

'E' - Thin-Blood 
He also complained that since the meeting he'd had nagging doubts about everything he did and often became paranoid for no good reason. Lily confirmed that he'd been like this for about two weeks, remembering the date specifically as she'd "Gone shopping...". She'd ventured outside the local domain as "The clothes shops around here suck..." and had returned to find 'E' in a confused state. Both Michael and Daniel began to suspect that this particular commando was not Brujah as first thought but rather a Malkavian with the strange discipline power known as Dementation.

Having learned all they could from the thin-bloods Michael decided to make an attempt to gain an audience with Therese to obtain information on her coterie under the guise of furthering business relationships as they both had interests in the art world. Daniel on the other hand deemed it a bad move to expose himself to the Baron of a potential enemy so suggested that he keep a low profile.

Before anything else could be decided though, Michael needed to visit his increasingly obsessive blood doll Susannah before she began to plague him with messages once more.

To Be Continued in 'The Missing Chantry' Part Two

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...

Lots of information gathering in this one. I do appreciate that this was low on information on the Missing Chantry and ended up more about Daniel's sub-plot but both things should tie together later. It's also more important that the players have fun than my plots go exactly as planned so every now and again you just have to go with the flow.

It's very easy as a Storyteller to become tempted to railroad players back towards the plot you intended but it will feel forced if you do and that does defeat the object of a role-playing game, lol. That said, I'll push things gently back in the right  direction next time with some appropriately timed NPC visits...

Acknowledgements
I've used pictures of real people to represent some of the characters and art for others so in no particular order Michael Tomassio is represented by the actor Matt Bomer, Johnny 'Roach' West is quite obviously Kurt Cobain, 'Vin' is the actor Scott Adkins, Dr Matthews is Mads Mikkelsen, Hope is Deborah Ann Woll, Marie is Eva Greene, Frank is Michael Chiklis, Rosa is Mahafsoun, Jenna Cross is Rhona Mitra, 'Lee' is Bai Ling, Hamish is Pablo Schreiber, 'Charlie' is Lena Headey and 'E' is Patrick Swayze. 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.
Related Posts with Thumbnails