Friday, 29 May 2020

Vampire the Masquerade V5 - Session Sixty Two - Inevitable Betrayals (Part Two)

I'm currently running a Vampire the Masquerade chronicle using the 5th Edition rule-set for a small group of fellow role-players. These are the chronicles of their adventures.
Our chronicle is set in Los Angeles and features a small group of Camarilla agents sent into the 'Free States' to bring them back under Camarilla control. After a year of plotting, the coterie now controls the three North-Eastern Baronies and has successfully weakened several others. Unfortunately other Barons have used the chaos they have created to consolidate their own positions.
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The now obligatory warning bit - Unlike my other RPG write-ups this one will contain swearing, sexual references and other references that might offend. If you can't tell the difference between real peoples opinions and grown-ups role-playing predators who crave blood then this probably won't be for you. I've also used actual photographs to represent some characters which I'll give acknowledgements to at the end if I've any idea who they are.
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The introduction to this campaign, the first story and all the other parts can be found at the following links and are in chronological order. If you'd prefer a summary of each session rather than read everything then there's a more detailed link page HERE as well as links to the first episode of each story in the blog sidebar.
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Chronicle One - 'Infiltrate L.A.' 
Welcome to L.A. - Introductory Session
Story One - 'Three Murders' - Part OneTwo, ThreeFour and Five
Interlude Session - One
Story Two - 'The Pasadena Problem' - Part OneTwoThree, and Four
Solo Session - 'The Neillson Library'
Story Two Continued- 'The Pasadena Problem' - Part FiveSixSeven and Eight
Story Three - 'Becoming Baron' - Part OneTwoThreeFour and Five
Solo Session - 'The Gather'
Story Three Continued - 'Becoming Baron' - Part SixSeven and Eight
Chronicle Two - 'Foothold L.A.' 
Solo Session - 'Hostile Takeover'
Story Four - 'Countdown' - Part OneTwo and Three
Story Five - 'The Missing Chantry' - Part OneTwoThreeFour and Five
Solo Session - 'The Anaheim Assassination'
Story Six - 'A Meeting of Barons' - Part OneTwo and Three
Story Seven - 'The Carmelita Situation' - Part OneTwo and Three
Story Eight - 'The Blount Sisters' - Part One and Two
Story Nine - 'Blood Money' - Part OneTwoThreeFour, Five and Six
Story Ten - 'Anathema' - Part One and Two
Story Eleven - 'Predators and Prey' aka 'The Blount Sisters' - Part Three
Story Twelve - 'Aftermath' - Part One and Two
Story Thirteen - 'The Messiah Complex' - Part OneTwoThree and Four
Chronicle Three - 'Incursion L.A.'
Story Fourteen - 'The Rant'
Story Fifteen - 'Ties of Blood' - Part One and Two
Solo Session - 'A Gathering of Roses'
Story Sixteen - 'The Southern Solution' - Part OneTwo and Three
Story Seventeen - 'The Baker Disappearance' - Part OneTwo and Three
Story Eighteen - 'Inevitable Betrayals' - Part One

The PC's
Player controlled characters
Michael Tomassio - Toreador, 'Baron of the North East'
Vincent 'Vin' Ghast - Brujah, 'Constable'
Dr Daniel Matthews - Banu Haqim, 'Spymaster'
Hope Romero - Gangrel, 'Census Taker'
Mr Hertz - Nosferatu, 'Seneschal'
Sofia Rivera - Toreador, Michael's Bodyguard
The SPC's
Storyteller controlled player allies
Priya Haynes - Gangrel, 'Sweeper'
Carla Doyle - Gangrel, 'Sweeper'
Orla Riviera - Gangrel, 'Sweeper'
Rosalind Perkins -  Thin-blood, Alchemist

The player characters stats and backgrounds can be found HERE should any-one be interested, but be warned that the page is usually several stories ahead of the most recent write-up and may contain some spoilers. There's also some minor 'house-rules' HERE that have occurred as we went along.

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 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. Anything covered via player handouts will also be in blue as they're written in the same style as introductions and the like. Where particular NPC's have a mention in a faction profile you will be able to reach it by clicking on their name or faction beneath their picture.

Introduction
The coterie's plans to undermine the power players of L.A. to allow for a Camarilla takeover have encountered several unforeseen setbacks. In reaction to the turmoil they have created a number of Western baronies are now uniting as a defence against the chaos. This could potentially create an alliance that would be beyond their power to shatter. Matters have been complicated further by the power struggles within El Hermandad potentially allowing that baronies rivals, the Crypts Sons to expand their own power-base.

 Jesus Ramirez - El Hermandad, Henrique 'Hank' Boyd - Crypts Sons

Vin is gathering information from the Brujah allies of El Hermandad within the Barony of Whittier to ascertain their opinions of their allies power struggles. Michael and Daniel are visiting the Brujah Idealists in San Fernando to see just what part they are playing in the Western alliance of baronies. Mr Hertz is looking into a problem for Hank Boyd, the Crypts Sons Baron related to mysterious purchases of property near to his various kindred bases of operations.

Michael has also told Daniel to suspend investigation into Victor Girard if he valued the lives of his operatives as Victor is aware of their presence.

Scene Three - A Social Call (Part One)
Countess Andrea Visconti - Brujah
Brujah Idealists
Michael made arrangements to meet up with Andrea Visconti at the base of the group known as the Brujah Idealists claiming that it was merely a social call as they wished to avoid giving them any notice of the true nature of their visit. Daniel is accompanying him as driver and bodyguard. Gaining an invite for Daniel was fairly simple as his philosophical debates with the rest of the Idealists amused Andrea. Mainly because he annoyed Sir Ralph Hamilton, their de-facto leader.

As they arrived at the idealists compound, Daniel immediately noted that their security had recently been upgraded. The perimeter railing was now a sturdy wall, topped with decorative but functional spikes and security cameras had been added to a number of areas that were previously free of monitoring devices.

The security guards had also changed and he observed that the manners of these replacements was far more professional than their predecessors. Though their weapons were concealed Daniel observed the telltale bulges and disruptions in the guards clothing that indicated them. The clunky old radios used before had been replaced with more advanced comms systems.

The new layout, patrolling routes and organisation reminded Daniel of those utilised by Louis Fortier, the Baron of West L.A. He mentioned this similarity to Michael who made his own observations and had to agree with the assessment.

Catherine Du Bois - Ventrue
Childe of Louis Fortier
Though Michael lacked the security expertise of the Banu Haqim, he recognised the tailored suits of the guards as being the same as those worn by the personnel favoured by Louis's childe and head of security, Catherine Du Bois.

Once inside the grounds, Daniel also noted that the front doors had been replaced with heavier duty more secure doors equipped with sophisticated locks. Something had definitely inspired the Idealists to significantly increase their defences.

Daniel had long portrayed himself as more of a philosopher than a warrior but recent events had undermined that reputation somewhat. Though his knowledge of philosophy and the history of Clan Brujah was still respected, his reputation as a killer was also a matter of discussion. Due to this new aspect of his reputation, Daniel has now employed several small teams of investigators to undertake his information retrieval duties so as to not forewarn any potential targets with his presence.

Amethyst - Caitiff
Destroyed
His part in the assassination of Tom Weaver, the opponent of Allison Maller, Baron of Anaheim was still only rumours but unfortunately his destruction of Amethyst was far more public and observed by over a dozen kindred working for Steve Booth, now Baron of the entire South Coast of Los Angeles.

Michael had informed any who asked that he had sent Daniel there as an independent observer and that Amethyst's treachery had forced him to act. Despite the plausibility of this as an excuse, many kindred of Los Angeles have began to note that the Baron of the North East's enemies don't tend to have long unlives.

Michael is still in demand as a negotiator and facilitator however which has gone some way to offsetting the suspicion about the coteries other motives. This is in the main because he has shown himself to be an honourable kindred who has kept his word and resolved many potential agreements between baronies amicably and without bloodshed. Mr Hertz has informed several of his Nosferatu contacts that in all cases the barony of Michael Tomassio has acted in self defence. This has been in an attempt to divert suspicions from the coterie that he is now a member of.

The Countess met them in the entrance lobby and subtly deflected any enquiries about the new security measures saying only that "Ralph had insisted they were necessary..." but gave no specific reasons about why he believed this. The other three members of the Idealists were seated in a large comfortable sitting room debating some fairly trivial historical political point.


"So you've bought your driver with you again..." said Ralph to Michael "...are we to be subjected once more to his ill educated conjectures?" Before either Michael or Daniel could reply Dr Takuya interrupted. "I seem to remember his 'conjectures' were direct quotes from a number of respected Brujah philosophers and architects of both Anarch revolts..." Sir Ralph gave the doctor a withering look which he seemed to ignore completely. Professor Habersohn then also interjected. "I'm afraid, Ralph that the Doctor is correct. All Daniel's points were from reputable and well documented sources." The Countess was grinning broadly and made no effort to hide the fact as Ralph looked in her direction.

Jeremy MacNeil - Brujah
Defacto Baron of L.A., Presumed Destroyed
Though Daniel was merely pleased that his Brujah philosopher facade was intact, Michael could detect an undercurrent of ill-feeling that seemed to be focused upon Sir Ralph Hamilton. The Toreador could see that there was a rift within the group that went beyond their usual ideological differences. After some initial pleasantries, Michael turned the subject to the many recent changes within the Anarch Free States.

Ralph seemed quite pleased to talk on this subject and put forward the viewpoint that having fewer baronies would mean a far more stable Free States. The lack of strong leadership and the absence of individuals prepared to take responsibility for the broader interests of the community were in his opinion the reason for the current troubles. "A decent into chaos is an inevitable end result of the Anarch philosophy..." was how he put it. It was also quite obvious that he saw himself as someone who should be making these broader decisions.

Takuya argued that though the Anarch philosophy had some problems in it's somewhat unsophisticated problem solving methods that this didn't mean the entire concept was flawed. In fact he was of the opinion that a true 'peoples government' could be formed that focused upon kindred as a whole rather than the petty needs of powerful individuals. It was also obvious to Daniel that the doctor had no stomach for the violence of the Anarch revolts and that his support for the ideology was theoretical. Daniel had met many killers amongst the kindred and could tell that the Dr Shiraiwa had no stomach for it.

The Professor was silent through the debate but was still paying close attention to what was being discussed. The Countess's contributions were mainly to disagree with anything that Sir Ralph said and to add her weight to any argument that began to irritate him.

Louis Fortier - Baron of West L.A., Isaac Abrams - Baron of Hollywood

Now reasonably sure where the lines were drawn within the Idealists, Michael broached the subject of rumours he'd heard of meetings between Fortier and Abrams.

Meanwhile, Vin was making his own enquiries in Whittier using his own unique methods.

Scene Four - The Barony of Whittier 
Vin had his assistant Sarah drive him to the base of operations of the kindred of Whittier. He had asked permission to meet with the gangs mainly Brujah membership if "I'll be there in an hour, that's cool, yes?" counted as asking.

Josie Parrish - Brujah
Lieutenant of Baron Gloria Martinez
Josie, the current second in command, had some sympathies towards Vin's coterie as it was one of it's members who had bought about the final death of her abusive kindred sire so she had raised no objections. Having no desire to endanger his assistant should the conversation become volatile, Vin told her to stay with the vehicle.

Vin had the large two-handed kukri that he habitually carried secured in a scabbard beneath his jacket and a handgun in a shoulder holster. He also had a back-up piece at his ankle and several other bladed weapons about his person.

He had decided to leave his automatic shotgun in the car as a vague courtesy of respect to those he was visiting. Gloria Martinez, the Baron of Whittier had no objections to visitors as long as they showed her the proper respect and stayed out of her way. Vin also knew that she had a particular hatred for being interrupted and had destroyed several kindred who had spoken over her at rants or during meetings.

Vin had a certain notoriety with the kindred of Los Angeles and in particular was held in high regard by many Brujah. His matter of fact attitude to violence was well known, but the fact that he held no grudges once the act was complete was considered refreshing by kindred used to century old feuds and political intrigue. With his usual directness he asked Josie what was up with "The El Hermandad Alliance thing?" as he had heard that Ramirez was "Throwing his fucking weight around..."

Gloria Martinez - Brujah
Baron of Whittier
Josie laughed and admitted that this was a fair assessment of the situation. After the kindred of Covina had broken with their former allies and threw their lot in with the Gangrel of The Wilds, Ramirez had suddenly started to show an interest in the one remaining barony with which he was allied, namely Whittier. This interest was more like interference and Josie told Vin that their baron Gloria was becoming sick of it. "I heard from Michael..." stated Vin "...that she offered to look after the refugees Jesus inherited from the Barony of the Angels and he told her to keep out of it. Seems to me like that would solve the fucking problem."

"That's what we thought too." admitted Josie. "To be honest, the feeling amongst the Brujah here is that we should sever all ties to them if they're going to treat Whittier like a bunch of poor relatives they can boss about..." "You should talk to my baron about it." suggested Vin. "He's good at sorting out shit like this." Josie said she'd talk to Gloria about it as that wasn't a bad idea.

Vin then spoke to some of the other Brujah and the Gangrel Sweeper Owen and got a similar vibe from them all. Owen had a number of tasks within Whittier that made him a useful information source. Firstly, he patrolled the borders of Whittier and ensured that they had no unwanted guests. Secondly, he also acted as a census taker and was expected to know who was coming and going. His third duty was to meet with the other Gangrel border patrols and relay any information on threats to the Free States as a whole. 

Evie-Grace Leach - Gangrel
El Hermandad Sweeper
He had fought alongside the coterie before and so had a certain measure of respect for them. He was also apparently a big fan of their sweeper Hope Romero who he described as "A bloodthirsty fucking lunatic..." which as far as Vin could tell was meant as a compliment.

It was Owen's opinion that El Hermandads border activities could easily be considered spying and that his opposite number within that barony, who he referred to as 'Evie', was also unhappy about Ramirez's attitude. He had become increasingly stubborn and belligerent and seemed to blame her for the trouble that her predecessor Baker's disappearance had caused purely based on them sharing a clan. She had also let slip that Ramirez and Marius had some disagreement over borders and that she seemed to also be "Getting it in the fucking neck..." for sharing a clan with him as well. Owen seemed to think that Evie was only one more insult away from just fucking off and either finding a new baron or just leaving L.A. altogether. "Wouldn't Gloria taker her on?" asked Vin.

"She might..." replied Owen. "...but considering the situation that might cause some shit that she'd like to avoid...for now at least..." He paused briefly as if considering his next response. This was somewhat out of character for a Gangrel so Vin kept quiet and gave him time to consider what he was about to say. "I think she might risk annoying Ramirez over it as that would be preferable to letting Evie fall into the camp of someone else..."

Marius Walker - Gangrel
Baron of Downtown
"You mean, Marius?" preempted Vin. Before he could reply, Owen noticed that both the Toreador Velme and Gloria's House Ipsissimus adviser Alessandro had began to take an interest in the conversation. Vin knew that the Gangrel as a clan weren't fans of the Tremere even if three quarters of them called themselves something different now. "Best get on with my patrol, then. Give my respects to Hope..." said Owen and then promptly left.

Vin decided that he'd suggest to Michael that he met with Gloria and see if they could turn the situation to the coteries advantage. It also might be worth finding out just what involvement Marius had in the troubles.

Vin also decided to contact their baronies own Sweepers and tell them to be on alert for border issues from El Hermandads direction and also to keep their ears open for any rumours about why Marius and Ramirez had butted heads.

Scene Five - A Social Call (Part Two)
"I've been hearing..." began Michael. "That Louis Fortier and Isaac Abrams seem to be becoming closer of late. As you're their neighbours I wandered if you had heard anything of note?" The change in atmosphere was palpable though Michael pretended not to notice the effect his question had elicited.

Dawn Cavanagh - The Ministry
Hollywood Guru, Blackmailer
Daniel also noticed the change and subtly changed position within the room so he could see everyone as well as the only doorway into, and therefore out of the room. He could see no weapons within the area but his primary concern was that despite their academic trappings their hosts were still Brujah. Four Brujah in fact.

Michael decided that he needed a further reaction to properly gauge who knew what so causally dropped another name. The name was Dawn Cavanagh.

Sir Ralph's face contorted into one of pure contempt before he managed to get himself under control. "Perhaps it would be easier if you told us what you know, and we can fill in any blanks." Said Professor Habersohn, speaking for the first time.

Michael thought it would be useful to have some plausible deniability about the issue and so deferred to Daniel to lay out their suspicions.

Daniel laid out what the coterie knew but implied that these were merely rumours they'd heard rather than the results of actual surveillance and investigation. Meanwhile, Michael carefully observed their reactions. Daniel spoke of rumours of meetings between Isaac, Louis and Ralph. Many of which involved the aforementioned Dawn Cavanagh. He also mentioned the extensive building work at haven suitable locations near the borders between West Los Angeles and Hollywood as well as Hollywood and San Fernando. 

Jean 'Jax' Thomas - Ghoul of Louis
Louis Fortiers Most Trusted Agent
"You've apparently heard quite a lot of rumours..." Said the Professor with a vague hint of sarcasm. "...one wonders who you've been gossiping with so extensively..." The Professor looked over at his sire Sir Ralph who nodded almost imperceptibly. "As you have a reputation for discretion and you share a border with the baronies concerned, I suppose you have the right to know the current situation."

The Professor explained that they had initially been approached by a representative of the Fortier's to discuss the possibility of them vacating the domain granted them by Jeremy MacNeil in favour of other territory granted by the Fortiers or if they preferred somewhere in the barony of Isaac Abrams. Michael interrupted briefly to ask if the representative had been Mariel St. John but it had apparently been one of Fortier's ghoul messengers, called Jean 'Jax' Thomas. Knowing full well that they currently had no baron over them effectively making San Fernando their's the offer was unappealing.

Also taking into account the fact that no Anarch would risk Jeremy's wrath by breaking an agreement he had made, should he in fact have avoided Final Death, they refused. It was some nights later that Dawn Cavanagh had requested a private meeting with Sir Ralph.

Mariel St. John - Ventrue
Adopted Childe of Louis Fortier
Ralph had refused to discuss the nature of the discussion but whatever she had said to him had resulted in a complete about face in his attitude to the initial offer. The other three Idealists however were still against it which had caused significant friction between them. Even Ralph's own childe Gregory was in disagreement. Ralph then spoke. "My personal arrangements with Miss Cavanagh are no-ones concern but mine. She simply put forward several strong arguments in favour of the offer that changed my opinion somewhat."

Michael could tell from his earlier reaction to the mere mention of her name that he was almost certainly lying. Whatever she had said to change his mind was more likely blackmail than anything else. He made a mental note to ask Daniel to look into what he could discover about Sir Ralph's secret. It would make future negotiations much simpler if they had the kind of hold over him that Dawn evidently did.

The professor paused briefly before the Countess took over. "We have had subsequent visits from Fortier, Issac and Dawn..." She said the name of The Ministry member with considerable venom behind it, before softening a little "...and finally Mariel St. John, who has come closest to coming up with an offer that we might consider." "Which is?" enquired Daniel.

"She offered us the area surrounding our current haven as a domain of our own. This would allow them to get around the issue of taking from us territory granted by Jeremy, give them the rest of San Fernando in which to expand as well as making us no longer their problem. Of course it also leaves us with a tiny area that any-one with a modicum of power can take from us whenever they please, which is why we're still holding out for a better offer."

The Barony of San Fernando Valley
North West Los Angeles
"We?" queried Michael, spreading his hands to indicate them all, including Ralph. "Mariel came up with an even more convincing argument than Dawn's." replied Ralph. Daniel had a talent for telling when he was being lied to and he was fairly sure what he had just been told was bullshit. Michael on the other hand had no doubts whatsoever.

Based on his own recent conversation with Mariel he surmised that she had negotiated with Isaac Abrams to offer Ralph an end to Dawns hold over him. He reasoned that this would explain why both Barons as well as Sir Ralph, Dawn Cavanagh and had Mariel St John had required so many meetings. It also explained the kindred friendly building work that companies under Fortier's control were undertaking. Evidently the relocation of the Idealists had been considered in advance. Yet with all the conniving and haggling the Idealists were still getting in the way. 

Daniel lacked the information that had allowed Michael to reach these conclusions but what was clear to him was that the threat of reprisal by a currently none existent Jeremy MacNeil would only keep those who wanted the territory at bay for so long. Michael had began to form a plan that might solve the problem as well as benefit the coterie and his own barony. "Leave it with me. I may have a solution but I'll need to meet up with a few other of the interested parties before i let you know the details. Give me a week or so?"

With nothing to lose, the Idealists agreed and after a few more pleasantries, Michael and Daniel left the complex and returned to Pasadena.

Scene Six - A Favour for Hank
Mr Hertz's Safety Deposit Boxes
Mr Hertz collected the documents sent to him via his contact in city hall from one of a number of safety deposit boxes he used for such purposes. It was located within a sleazy but reliable facility he had covertly bought using some of the coteries funds.

He placed a plain brown envelope stuffed with cash in the box for his contact to collect at a later date. It was an old system but Mr Hertz had used drop-boxes for many years and in many forms and liked the system. He had done work for the Crypt's Sons baron before so knew he could easily recoup the expenditure from Hank who always paid promptly and in cash.

It didn't take much work to discover that the companies purchasing these properties existed only on paper and even then seemed to exist just long enough to make a purchase, sell it on and then disappear. This would be a dead end for most, but Mr Hertz had over a century of experience at what was now called 'Forensic Accounting' and treated it as merely another challenge to overcome.

Mr Hertz's Lunch...
In his haven above the slaughterhouses of Chinatown, the Nosferatu spread out the documents on his desk along with several notepads his calculator and his laptop. Before he began he popped downstairs to fill his flask with animal blood courtesy of Mr Wan the slaughterhouse manager, took a deep drink and then set to work.

Storytellers Note - I'm not a fan of making players roll dice for things that they have a lot of dots in, unless they are under pressure or other factors are involved. In this case Mr Hertz's player has four dots in Intelligence, four in Finances and specialities in both Forensic Accountancy and Money Laundering. He also has four dots in Streetwise and three in investigation. Having him fail in these circumstances would be (imo) immersion breaking. If he had a shotgun to his head, then the situation would, of course, be different.

After a few phone-calls and encrypted e-mails were exchanged in order to obtain some further information, a pattern had begun to form. Though relatively new to the city he had spent some time looking over maps of the sewer network and had also obtained several more detailed ones that Daniel's friend Alonzo had given to him and that Hertz had acquired copies of. The properties being bought up all had underground links that were near to, or directly underneath locations that Mr Hertz knew to be areas where the Crypts Sons kindred had havens or where the mortal gangs under their control were known to congregate.

In his opinion these would make exceptional staging areas from which to launch an overwhelming preemptive strike against the gang. Based on conversations he had had with Daniel, the Crypts Sons rivals 'The Blood' were likely candidates. Daniel's research seemed to show that their focus was entirely on the Crypt's Sons but if they managed to significantly weaken or destroy the kindred in that barony it would only be a matter of time before they looked for other targets. As The Blood also had a number of experienced vampire hunters amongst their number this was certainly a concern. 

Vampire Hunters of 'The Blood'
Further investigation over the next few days traced the purchases and initial source of the funds to a number of church groups that he knew were associated with The Blood gang. Eventually the name of The Reverend Leon Cutler began to appear in more and more documents and the connection to the Crypt's Sons enemies stopped being a suspicion and became a certainty.

Though he had more than enough evidence to give to Hank, there were still a few gaps in the paperwork trail that bothered him. It seemed that someone extremely proficient in subterfuge was feeding money to the Crypt's Sons rivals above and beyond that which could be traced to the Reverend's supporters. Whoever it was had been extremely careful. The Nosferatu prepared to give the information he had discovered so far to Hank before continuing the investigation into this mysterious other benefactor. 

Hoping that the other coterie members had also had some success, Mr Hertz relocated to his secure room to sleep out the day.

To be Continued in 'Inevitable Betrayals' (Part Three)

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...


I like to give the players multiple plot-lines to explore as otherwise it can feel a little like they're on rails or it's a 'bad-guy of the week' situation. Often this does mean that some material is unused as I tend to advance plots that they're not exploring. The balance is trying to make the characters feel relevant but at the same time creating the a world that seems to be going on around them.

Of course no material is ever really wasted. It just goes in the pending folder and might get used later with some name changes and a bit of a re-write. It's also useful to have them around when the players go off somewhere completely unexpected and you need to pull a plot idea out of your arse, lol.

Acknowledgements
Portions of the materials are the copyrights and trademarks of White Wolf Entertainment AB, and are used with permission. All rights reserved. For more information please visit white-wolf.com.

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 Matt Bomer, 'Vin' is Scott Adkins, Dr Matthews is Mads Mikkelsen, Hope is Deborah Ann Woll, Mr Hertz is Charles Dance, Jesus Ramirez is Javier Bardem, Hank is Michael Clarke Duncan. Countess Andrea Visconti is Elizabeth Hurley, Sir Ralph Hamilton is Pierce Brosnan, Dr. Takuya Shiraiwa is Masi Oka Professor Gregory Habersohn is John Hurt, Louis Fortier is Eduardo Verastegui, Isaac Abrams is Gary Oldman, Josie Parrish is Rebecca Ferguson, Gloria Martinez is Ariadne Artiles, Evie-Grace Leach is Zoe Saldana, Marius Walker is Tony Curran, Dawn Cavanagh is Emma Stone, Jean 'Jax' Thomas is Jean Claude Van Damme and Mariel St. John is Kate Moss, 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.

Sunday, 24 May 2020

Vampire the Masquerade V5 - Session Sixty One - Inevitable Betrayals (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 chronicle is set in Los Angeles and features a small group of Camarilla agents sent into the 'Free States' to bring them back under Camarilla control. After a year of plotting, the coterie now controls the three North-Eastern Baronies and has successfully weakened several others. Unfortunately other Barons have used the chaos they have created to consolidate their own positions.
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The now obligatory warning bit - Unlike my other RPG write-ups this one will contain swearing, sexual references and other references that might offend. If you can't tell the difference between real peoples opinions and grown-ups role-playing predators who crave blood then this probably won't be for you. I've also used actual photographs to represent some characters which I'll give acknowledgements to at the end if I've any idea who they are.
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The introduction to this campaign, the first story and all the other parts can be found at the following links and are in chronological order. If you'd prefer a summary of each session rather than read everything then there's a more detailed link page HERE as well as links to the first episode of each story in the blog sidebar.
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Chronicle One - 'Infiltrate L.A.' 
Welcome to L.A. - Introductory Session
Story One - 'Three Murders' - Part OneTwo, ThreeFour and Five
Interlude Session - One
Story Two - 'The Pasadena Problem' - Part OneTwoThree, and Four
Solo Session - 'The Neillson Library'
Story Two Continued- 'The Pasadena Problem' - Part FiveSixSeven and Eight
Story Three - 'Becoming Baron' - Part OneTwoThreeFour and Five
Solo Session - 'The Gather'
Story Three Continued - 'Becoming Baron' - Part SixSeven and Eight
Chronicle Two - 'Foothold L.A.' 
Solo Session - 'Hostile Takeover'
Story Four - 'Countdown' - Part OneTwo and Three
Story Five - 'The Missing Chantry' - Part OneTwoThreeFour and Five
Solo Session - 'The Anaheim Assassination'
Story Six - 'A Meeting of Barons' - Part OneTwo and Three
Story Seven - 'The Carmelita Situation' - Part OneTwo and Three
Story Eight - 'The Blount Sisters' - Part One and Two
Story Nine - 'Blood Money' - Part OneTwoThreeFour, Five and Six
Story Ten - 'Anathema' - Part One and Two
Story Eleven - 'Predators and Prey' aka 'The Blount Sisters' - Part Three
Story Twelve - 'Aftermath' - Part One and Two
Story Thirteen - 'The Messiah Complex' - Part OneTwoThree and Four
Chronicle Three - 'Incursion L.A.'
Story Fourteen - 'The Rant'
Story Fifteen - 'Ties of Blood' - Part One and Two
Solo Session - 'A Gathering of Roses'
Story Sixteen - 'The Southern Solution' - Part OneTwo and Three
Story Seventeen - 'The Baker Disappearance' - Part OneTwo and Three

The PC's
Player controlled characters
Michael Tomassio - Toreador, 'Baron of the North East'
Vincent 'Vin' Ghast - Brujah, 'Constable'
Dr Daniel Matthews - Banu Haqim, 'Spymaster'
Hope Romero - Gangrel, 'Census Taker'
Mr Hertz - Nosferatu, 'Seneschal'
Sofia Rivera - Toreador, Michael's Bodyguard
The SPC's
Storyteller controlled player allies
Priya Haynes - Gangrel, 'Sweeper'
Carla Doyle - Gangrel, 'Sweeper'
Orla Riviera - Gangrel, 'Sweeper'
Rosalind Perkins -  Thin-blood, Alchemist

The player characters stats and backgrounds can be found HERE should any-one be interested, but be warned that the page is usually several stories ahead of the most recent write-up and may contain some spoilers. There's also some minor 'house-rules' HERE that have occurred as we went along.

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 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. Anything covered via player handouts will also be in blue as they're written in the same style as introductions and the like. Where particular NPC's have a mention in a faction profile you will be able to reach it by clicking on their name or faction beneath their picture.

Introduction
Jesus Ramirez - Ventrue
El Hermandad
After discovering the truth about the disappearance of the Gangrel Sweeper Baker, the coterie has struck a deal with Victor Girard. In return for future boons they are allowing him to craft his own narrative based on the evidence they accumulated in order to undermine his rival within El Hermandad.

As it is the coteries ultimate goal to weaken the Anarchs enough for a Camarilla takeover of the city, removing as significant a player as Jesus Ramirez would be a considerable advantage.

Unfortunately on the opposite side of the city, the coteries activities have inadvertently prompted two powerful barons to join forces. An alliance between the Barons of West Los Angeles and Hollywood with the cooperation of the de-facto baron of San Fernando would make for an almost insurmountable alliance. 

With the power in L.A. shifting almost nightly, the coterie is now going to need to act swiftly or their previous year and a half of scheming might be undone in an instant.

Scene One - Blending In
The Last Round - Downtown
Storytellers Note - I had a scene with one player before the rest arrived so unusually there will be a scene before the handouts occur. Also, most of the kindred with which Daniel interacts believe him to be of the Brujah Clan, rather than Banu Haqim which he actually is. This deception has been necessary as Daniel is attempting to avoid the attention of his own sire with whom he has had a major disagreement over methodology and religion.

Daniel's time ingratiating himself with the kindred of Nines bar 'The Last Round' has taught him a few interesting things. Firstly, the reputation of the bar and the area in which it is located means that very few of the patrons wander in off the street. Those that do, are soon convinced to leave.

The barman 'Greg' is blood bound and the regulars are all kindred, their ghouls, their blood dolls or herd. The upper floor is more or less Nines office and where any who wish to talk to him have their meetings. Though Skelter and Nines rarely leave the establishment, Damsel comes and goes quite regularly. On one recent occasion she was even seen in the company of Daniels own baron, Michael.

'Skelter' - Gangrel
Nine's Crew, Enforcer
Also, the bar has a sub-cellar that acts as a 'day room' should any kindred visitors require somewhere to sleep. This is guarded during the hours of daylight by a rag-tag bunch of ghouls and blood-bound mortals who seemingly answer to Skelter. Nines, Skelter and Damsel are a different matter and are all quite careful to keep where they rest during the day a secret and Daniel has been unable to discover any-one who knows where their havens are. This questioning has by necessity had to be subtle in order to prevent getting himself into any trouble with kindred whose suspicions would be aroused by such enquiries.

The kindred who attend The Last Round regularly are from a variety of baronies and all are under strict orders to keep their own gangs politics out of the bar. Nines reputation is such that the only trouble that occurs within are generally between rowdy Brujah, disagreeing about some philosophical point. In the rare instances of more serious disagreements, Skelter will usually intervene.

Daniel's association with Michael, who isn't currently very popular with Nines has caused some difficulties in getting people to open up to him though Damsel's acceptance has certainly helped counter that somewhat. Skelter has just ignored him completely other than an occasional wander downstairs to see that everything is in order. Leo Frost, the Brujah that Daniel debated with and also kicked the crap out of on a previous visit is a regular and is now, somewhat ironically, his main company when discussing philosophy within the bar.

He has also picked up a selection of rumours by using his enhanced senses to eavesdrop on the conversations of others and via his own casual questioning.

Rumours from 'The Last Round'
Gloria Martinez - Brujah
Baron of Whittier
"You know that gang known as 'The Liberated' who were adopted by El Hermandad when the Barony of the Angels was split up? They've have been causing trouble for Ramirez as they want their own domain, which he won't grant. Poor bastards just want to be left alone. I heard from one of her heavies that Gloria offered to have them moved to a chunk of her newly acquired territory and Jesus told her to keep out of it...didn't even let her finish talking..."

"You ever listened to the late night talk show host 'Deb of Night' on KTRK? There's some nutters and weirdos phone into that...heard it said that she's kindred herself, or at the very least a ghoul of one that's in the know...she sure disappeared sharpish during the last major Sabbat invasion..."

"Harvey down at the docks has some new kindred helpers. Some ragtag gang called 'The Rats'...Not sue that he's told Steve about them, yet..."

"The infamous, Cammy hating, Ravnos thief Irene and her followers are heading to LA for some reason. That's bound to cause problems with the amount of Gangrel currently in L.A. Those two clans don't play well together...Also heard that Skelter had a run in with her last time they were in town..."

"The feud between Therese and Bertrum started cuz he was fucking her sister Jeanette...gross, huh...even by Nos standards he aint pretty..."

Therese Voerman, Bertram Tung and Jeanette Voerman

"Nines saved Marius's life...well...unlife...you know what I mean...stopped a Sabbat from shanking him from behind. I guess they're even since Marius dragged him out of this place when it got torched..."

"One of the regulars here swears he saw some weird merman looking fucker when he was collecting a shipment from Harvey at the docks...though he has a tendency to feed on junkies and piss-heads so maybe he was just tripping on their blood..."

Player Handouts
Newspaper Clippings


Player Handouts - Daniel Matthews
Private Investigators, Surveillance Team, Police Records
All were tasked with finding Baker's replacement within El Hermandad
Evie-Grace Leach - Clan Unknown
El Hermandad 'Sweeper'
By looking out near the locations that Baker was known to meet his previous contact Finlay, Keith Chang has discovered that Bakers replacement is a lady called Evie-Grace Leach. The description he gives you of the border contact within The Wilds matches Lola which leads you to believe that The Wilds Pack are handling patrol duties around what was once Covina themselves.

Keith's somewhat unhelpful description of her is that she's a "dusky, skinny, little thing", though he did note that she was carrying a Beretta Px4 Storm pistol and seemingly no other weapons. He also, in his own words, had to "Get the fuck out of there..." as he believes that she spotted him and you had warned him against direct confrontation. The fact that he pays more attention to peoples weaponry than their actual appearance is now a reoccurring problem when Keith is given surveillance jobs.

She has a mortal identity and a night-shift 'job' at a warehouse. Despite receiving a significantly better than average salary from this company, your surveillance team doesn't take long to discover that she never actually goes to work there. You've told your teams not to follow her for fear of a potential masquerade breach so they've concentrated on other avenues of investigation.

Victor Girard - Toreador
Media Magnate, El Hermandad 'Advisor'
The logistics company she 'works' for has it's base in East Los Angeles so it's not much of a stretch that it's owned by someone within El Hermandad. It is called Belvedere Transportation and Logistics Solutions and appears legitimate.

She also has a more traditional kindred haven than Baker in that she has a downstairs apartment in a rundown area where boarded up windows will draw no attention. As far as your teams can tell, her only association is with a family who live in the apartment next door as she tends to visit them most mornings when she returns from 'work'.

As the area is heavily populated by gangs, your teams have been keeping as low a profile as possible so as to not be mistaken for law enforcement. Though at least you now have some starting points from which to work.

Daniel's ghouls were also investigating Victor Girard though were yet to gather any information of significance.

Player Handouts - Michael Tomassio
Damsel - Brujah
Nines Crew, Den Mother
Damsel
"Nines is still all hot around the collar about the Free States changing for the worse. He's digging his heels in every time I try to argue that change is what we are about..."
Damsel was surprisingly responsive to your seductive overtones, though required a somewhat more direct approach than you usually use. You have also discovered that she is loud, aggressive, bloodthirsty and very vocal even in her more intimate activities.
Storytellers Note - They have both now consumed vitae from each other on one occasion...I'll be keeping track ;-)
Heather
"I've hardly had any time with Marius this week. He went to see Harvey at the docks which is unusual as Harvey usually comes here. I heard him mention to Victoria something about the docks and 'The Rats' turning up there, which is odd because I thought there were always rats at the docks..."
Mariel St. John
"Louis has finally deigned to involve me in his scheme, though only, I imagine, because he needs someone who can outmanoeuvre Dawn Cavanagh who is for some reason doing Isaac's bidding currently. As you no doubt suspected he intends to absorb San Fernando into his domain and needs Issac's approval as his territory is in the middle so he needs to negotiate trade routes. I'm only letting you know as he's trying to find a way of removing the so called 'Brujah Idealists' from the equation and that might be something that you have some ideas about? I'll of course be wanting to take the credit for the idea myself if it's a good one. I'm sure you don't mind..."

Marius Walker - Gangrel
'Parenting'
Marius
Marius proves elusive to pin down to any kind of meeting and it's difficult to find plausible reasons to interact with his people, though you do get a few moments with Victoria.
"Marius is finding more of his time occupied dealing with his brood of late, I'm afraid. Parenting is not really his forte as you're probably aware..."
Priss
"My gangrel have been getting pally with one of Marius's 'Sweepers' during their little border meetings. They seem to think that Marius is slightly insulted that Hank is still using me as a barrier now that the Barony of the Angels doesn't really exist anymore. Honestly, I'm considering just declaring myself independent and dealing with the consequences, or..." "...You know Marius better than I do, do you think I'm better off as part of Downtown watching a Southern border, or part of the Crypt's Sons, looking Northwards? No need to answer straight away. I'm aware that both actions have their downsides..."


Velme - Toreador
Gloria Martinez's Gang
Velme
"I had a chance to have a quiet word with Gloria about the current situation with El Hermandad. She is beginning to think that Whittier might be better off looking after it's own interests rather than be treated like a vassal state. She's running a little hot at the moment so I'd advise being very careful if you talk to her about matters of domain..."
Velvet Velour
"All we seem to do is chat lately. I thought you came here to see me. You don't want me to be bored and sad do you?"
You find out nothing of note on this occasion.
Victor Girard
"I've informed Ramirez that I used an outside investigator to look into the matter and that they had discovered Baker's location. I was, of course, obliged to point out that had he been more thorough he could have confirmed his own theory about Covina destroying him rather than need me to do it for him.

Unable to accept the reality that he was simply the victim of a clever power-play of Myranda's that he failed to anticipate he is now convinced that it's all part of a grander conspiracy. I'm afraid he considers your acquaintance Marius to be the prime suspect. In all honesty I've done nothing to dissuade him from the notion. It is a possibility, after all?"

"On a different subject. One of your people, Daniel I believe, has had his ghoul investigator looking into my mortal identity. Backgrounds, business contacts, that sort of thing. Harmless curiosity I'm sure, which is why, as a courtesy to yourself, I've told my own network not to have the mortal killed."

Player Handouts - Mr Hertz
Storytellers Note - Mr Hertz has recently discovered plans and documents that belonged to the missing coterie member 'Roach'. It appears that he had a plan to create a large mall with the addition of a 'mirror' facility underground that would cater to kindred needs. His player had decided to take this plan and run with it...

Roach's 'Mall' plans were ambitious to say the least and you estimate the building would cost about fifty five million dollars to construct, almost double the average price of a normal two story mall. The underground 'kindred' section is however more of a problem as it requires considerable excavation and of course may prompt some questions from those constructing it given some of the more unusual requirements. This latter concern would no doubt require some tactical bribery which makes it difficult to quantify cost exactly.

Even with the criminal operations under your control currently bringing in approximately a million dollars a week this would be a difficult project to implement.

Interlude - The Rats
'The Swarm'
Gangrel Childer, Ghouls and Blood Dolls
Storytellers Note - These events occurred during, and in the aftermath of, the Thin-Blood uprising known as 'The Cross Rebellion'. The coterie have all heard the name 'The Rats' mentioned and had independently expressed an interest in them.

In the wake of the reordering of the Barony of the Angels and lacking allies of note, the gang known as the 'Rats' went to ground at the same time as the Cross Rebellion began it's ill-fated attempt to take L.A for themselves. They had little anyway and no ghouls to support so they simply grabbed their weapons, money and belongings and left before they became forced to accept a baron not of their choosing or were destroyed.

The sewers were no more safe than the surface with running battles between devotees of Jenna Cross and foul zombie-like creatures who seemed to have no concept of personal well-being. Avoiding foes where they could they headed to the docks, on the way there three insane women in rags with patches of skin missing ambushed them.

'The Voiceless Ones' - Believed to be Nosferatu
Sewer Dwelling Diablerists
They appeared from nowhere and two attacked them as the third disappeared along with a single victim. As the gang lacked their enemies knowledge of the sewers they were unable to track them and Richie was lost to them. They were to learn later that these kindred were known as 'The Voiceless Ones' and were apparently notorious diablerists and predators upon other kindred.

When nearly at the docks, they were unexpectedly confronted by a dripping wet, mostly naked kindred with long talons, large eyes, webbed hands and feet and an impressive set of spines, fins and other spikes. He was also covered in blood, entrails and other parts of the five dismembered Caitiff and thinbloods that Jenna Cross had sent to seize the docks. That he had no fear of their group was quite obvious.

"I heard you coming a mile away..." he said in an unusual, gargling voice. "...The kindred who runs this docks charges far more for travel by boat than I imagine you can afford so you wasted a journey. The Blue Blood who runs the other docks isn't much cheaper but he does take boons and service as well as cash..."

Gangrel Mariner
Identity Unknown
With that the strange creature turned down a semi-submerged tunnel and spoke for a final time without even looking back "...if you're interested then follow me, if you're not, don't be here when I come back...". Though on constant alert for treachery, the gang followed as by this point they didn't have anything to lose and it was nearly morning.

The coterie has discovered that The Rats are now working for Harvey Caplan on the quiet but have had no further contact with their unusual guide. They have been given enforcement tasks and the like as their un-lives and clan heritages had prepared them well for such roles.

Harvey had seemingly promised them passage to another city in return for a certain amount of work but they're now quite enjoying having an actual haven, which though basic and communal, provides for all their current needs.

This newly acquired, and more than adequate standard of living, is something novel for these young kindred and so they have asked for this to be made into a permanent arrangement. Harvey is currently debating the risks of taking them on off his own back or whether asking permission from Steve Booth is a safer option. Obviously he resents the need to do the latter but doesn't want to rock the boat now he has the majority of LA's shipping under his control.

Storytellers Note - We then had the inevitable long and detailed discussion about the implications of the information they'd received. This was mainly done in character and there's nothing more relaxing for a storyteller than getting to sit and listen for a couple of hours while the players do all the work themselves. I had to make notes of course...

Scene Two - Weakest Links
Sir Ralph Hamilton - Brujah
'Brujah Idealists' Leader
Though the rumours of yet another rift within the allies of El Hermandad was certainly of interest, it had to be considered a lower priority than the new alliance being created directly to their West. At least this was the coteries current position based upon what they knew.

After careful consideration it was decided to contact the Brujah Idealists for a meeting under some false pretence and then attempt to discover how involved they were in the discussions between the barons. They knew for certain that Ralph Hamilton was involved but had no idea if the other members of the group were equally well informed.

Michael shared several interests in common with Countess Andrea Visconti and Daniel had enjoyed several debates on philosophy with the group while attempting to establish his cover as a Brujah philosopher rather than a Banu Haqim assassin. It was decided that they would take the simple approach and pretend that it was a spur of the moment meeting. Between them they would attempt to draw out what information they could.

Vin, despite being of the same clan as the Idealists had little in common with the philosophers. He did however have much in common with many of the Brujah amongst the gang of Gloria Martinez and had their respect. Albeit some of this respect was based around fear but it existed nonetheless.

El Hermandad and Whittier Baronies
Allies
The coterie decided that despite it being lower on the priority list that the El Hermandad situation at least needed monitoring. Vin volunteered to take a trip into Whittier to renew some old acquaintances and see what he could discover.

Though initially lacking in subtlety he had over recent months by necessity gained some basic knowledge of politics and kindred etiquette. This had been via conversations with Mr Hertz who had been assisting him with the financial side of his new responsibilities in the sex trade.

The Nosferatu in his time as a mob accountant had dealt with many violent individuals both mortal and kindred so knew how to pass on knowledge without seeming to be either insulting or patronising. Vin had been a good pupil and Hertz was relatively pleased with the results gained from the time spent.

Storytellers Note - Vin's player had expressed a desire to expand his character and add more dimensions to them. He now has a point in Etiquette, one in Politics, two in Leadership and a Leadership Speciality, The skills were all bought with XP in the usual manner.

Hertz had decided that his presence wasn't needed in what was effectively a social call so had elected to look into two other matters that were important to him.

Hank 'Henrique' Boyd - Brujah
The Crypts Sons Baron
Firstly he needed to spend some time investigating a problem given to him by the Baron of the Crypts Sons, namely that someone was buying up property dangerously close to Crypts Sons bases of operations. Hank thought it unlikely to be a coincidence and Mr Hertz had agreed. The Nosferatu knew that such knowledge might also assist the coterie as it might become necessary to disrupt the Crypts Sons in order to facilitate their own expansions. At the worse it would gain him a useful boon.

Secondly he was no quite keen to move forward Roach's plan to build a shopping mall within Pasadena that also had facilities for kindred. This would certainly be an amazing source of information and the ability to accumulate of boons would also likely be considerable.

He knew from his investigations into their activities that both Fortier and Abrams had construction industry contacts but this seemed like a dangerous option considering that the coterie would probably be attempting to disrupt the activities of both those barons in order to destabilise their upcoming alliance.

His other option was Aegis Construction. He was however, somewhat reluctant to involve any organisation under the control of Marius in this project. Neither Daniel or Michael particularly trusted his motivations at the moment and Mr Hertz respected their judgement. The Nosferatu let out a biologically unnecessary sigh. He hated it when kindred politics got in the way of good business.

With their relative tasks allocated, it was time to act while their was still some of the night remaining...

To be Continued in 'Inevitable Betrayals' (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...

Now that the players have significant networks of contacts, and other backgrounds the first session of each story usually involves a lot of discussion based on the handouts that I distribute. This tends to limit the first session of the story to only two, or at the most three, scenes.

I find that the extra work in creating all these materials is nearly always worthwhile if you have a group that's invested in their characters and the chronicle. The discussions they have often inspire plot-lines that would never have occurred to you and if you make enough notes will also give you a good idea of what areas they're likely to be investigating and which NPC's are going to get a visit.

The only downside is that invariably they'll be most interested in a throwaway character you created on a whim and ignore the twenty plots you had fleshed out. I deal with this in two ways. I either transfer a plot from another NPC or simply file the other plots away and wing it for a bit til you can subtly nudge them towards something you've actually prepared.

Nothing need be wasted. Just change the names and use the plot later ;-)

Acknowledgements
Portions of the materials are the copyrights and trademarks of White Wolf Entertainment AB, and are used with permission. All rights reserved. For more information please visit white-wolf.com.

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 Matt Bomer, 'Vin' is Scott Adkins, Dr Matthews is Mads Mikkelsen, Hope is Deborah Ann Woll, Mr Hertz is Charles Dance, Jesus Ramirez is Javier Bardem, Skelter is Vin Diesel, Gloria Martinez is Ariadne Artiles, Therese and Jeanette Voerman are both Whitney Moore, Evie-Grace Leach is Zoe Saldana, Victor Girard is Bob Hoskins, Damsel is Lina Tvirinum, Marius Walker is Tony Curran, 'The Voiceless Ones' are Andi Leah Powers, Mary Kathryn Bryant and Valerie Sharp, Sir Ralph Hamilton is Pierce Brosnan, and Hank is Michael Clarke Duncan. Everything else is from vampire related folders and searches and is as far as I know is all of the 'fair use' variety. If there's something that you feel should be attributed to some-one then feel free to let me know and I'll happily add an acknowledgement...
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