Friday, 8 November 2019

Vampire the Masquerade V5 - Session Fifty Three - The Rant

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 One, Two, Three and Four
Chronicle Three - 'Incursion L.A.'

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'
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 beneath their picture.

Storytellers Note - This session is rounding up the current state of play in the Free States and how Los Angeles as a whole has reacted to certain recent events. It also follows the first scheduled 'Rant' in nearly a year of kindred politics. Subsequently there's a much longer introduction and a lot more of me relaying information than there normally is in a session. Handouts were also significant in quantity...

Pre-Session Player Handouts
At the start of certain sessions I distribute local news reports and information relevant to certain individuals. Some relate to previous sessions, others are things going on that the players may or may not wish to investigate or involve themselves in or have tasked agents of their own to look into. Others of course are complete bollocks red herrings...

Newspaper Reports


Daniel's Handouts
Daniel had issued his ghoul investigative team with a number of information gathering tasks. These tasks centred on the activities of two kindred who he currently considers to be most dangerous to the coteries mission.


Amethyst, Baron of Santa Ana and Huntington Beach
Amethyst's shell company 'The Quartz Group' has recently bought a small shopping complex along the main street in Huntington Beach. It has a small distribution hub nearby and would be perfect for transportation weapons and firepower between Huntington Beach and Santa Ana.

She has also bought a seemingly random selection of homes, flats, warehouses and trivial businesses. Some of these may be being used as havens but you'd need to organise surveillance of thirty-seven different locations to identify which ones were being used.

Steve Booth, Baron of Long Beach had apparently made a deal with Amethyst to reinforce Huntington Beach in return for use of the port within his own domain. However before the arrangements could be finalised, David Geduld apparently assaulted the kindred in the area making the deal effectively redundant. Amethyst then just moved in, whether she has done so unlawfully (by kindred standards) is therefore debatable as the domain was promised to her, only under somewhat different circumstances.

David Geduld, Baron of Torrance
As Geduld spoke to every other baron at the last rant (nearly a year ago now), him speaking to Amethyst back then would have drawn no attention. It seems unlikely however that they have been conspiring all this time. Especially as Amethyst's focus was still on Anaheim up until very recently.

David Geduld has security offices for his own groups security firm all over the docks and throughout Torrance, there are in fact seventeen in total without including their head office. Their headquarters is in the centre of Torrance itself and is a state of the art facility. In practical terms it has all the defences you'd expect, including camera systems, metal detectors, checkpoints and is active twenty-four hours a day to facilitate the rest of Geduld's businesses.

Geduld had been attacking Steve's people wherever he could get across the border, do some damage and then retreat. The fact that he knew exactly where to intercept Steve's forces shows considerable information gathering and intelligence. He was also very careful to avoid keeping to a specific schedule or method. These are, in your opinion, tests of defences and response time rather than outright attempts to destroy specific of Steve's resources or kindred.

Michael's Handouts
Michael had been calling in various political favours and making enquiries about who did or didn't know about Jenna's rebellion plans. He has come by enough information to make certain conclusions with a good degree of accuracy.


Louis Fortier - Ventrue
Baron of West LA
Anti Duskborn Conspirators
Having had some time to unravel the conspiracy, you have come to several conclusions about your fellow barons and allies during the lead-up to what the kindred of LA are now calling 'The Cross Rebellion'. You have also dug up some other useful information on political intrigues within Los Angeles.

Louis Fortier
You suspect that some, but by no means all of his dispute with Marius was actually just an excuse for them to communicate about the duskborn plan. Now that is done, Fortier has defaulted back to his "I'll use him when I have to but I don't trust the bastard." attitude. This indicates to you that the purchase of Downtown was, at least in part, Marius's condition for keeping Fortier in the loop. Especially as no-one can verify that he paid Fortier anything at all for it...

Henrique 'Hank' Boyd
Hank has been quite forthright with you that he had been told by Marius that "shit was going to go down" but gave him no detail other than assuring Hank that he would in no way be worse off and that Michael (You) would be fine as long as "He picked the right side.". Hank has told you he respects you enough that he was sure you'd get out of it just fine.

Storytellers Note - Michael's player had established that Hank was motivated mainly by a need to be respected by his peers and had shown an appreciation for the fact that the Toreador Baron had shown no signs of looking down on the Brujah gang-leader, despite their very different backgrounds. This particular 'alliance' was quite unexpected for me as Storyteller but as it came about via some excellent role-playing I have integrated it into the story.

Gary Golden - Nosferatu
Leader of the Hollywood Nosferatu
Gary Golden
It seems certain now that Caleb was allowed to be captured so as to place the rebels where they believed themselves to be safe but could be located when necessary. Gary's concern for his Childe's safety was genuine though, so he must have truly believed that the threat was worthy of the potential sacrifice. The emotion shown indicates to you that Gary is nowhere near as ruthless as he likes people to believe but is capable of making hard choices when necessary.

Steve Booth
Given that 'E' and Lily had already had havens in Long Beach agreed with Steve, he must have had some idea about what was going on. Given that his right hand man is a Gangrel it seems most likely that his 'Bro' was sorting the duskborn plan while Steve was gearing up for the inevitable war with Geduld.

David Geduld and Amethyst
Victoria has informed you that David Geduld has cut a deal with Amethyst about allowing access to the two ports in return for her assistance in his campaign against Steve Booth. Amethyst is according to her also well on her way to re-stocking her force with weapons and has been bringing in reinforcements including freelance kindred mercenaries. Geduld has also agreed to support Amethyst's take-over of Huntington Beach whether his own campaign succeeds or not.

Allison Maller - Brujah
Baron of Santa Ana
She has therefore crippled the Huntington Beach kindred knowing that whatever happens Geduld will get the blame and so she should be able to move in without the attention that her by proxy attack on Allison Maller of Santa Ana gained her. It's also Victoria's opinion that they both intend to betray the other sooner or later. Quite why she has chosen to give you this information is the real question, but as Marius’s plans are notoriously convoluted anything is possible.

Marius Walker
Well. It's certain he knew exactly what had happened to the blood dolls and where they were being kept, and that the capture of some of his own bothered him not a jot as long as his plan wasn't disrupted.

You have also theorised that he was quite happy to let Leanna help you with the circulatory system as he obviously didn't think it'd cause problems with the duskborn plan till he wanted it too. It's even possible that he engineered setbacks into his own plan so the duskborn didn't get suspicious that everything went their way so simply. Such convoluted thinking is a concern as it's going to make your inevitable endgame deals with him hard to second guess.

Victoria Anne - Ghoul of Marius
Personal Assistant and Psychopathic Torturer
Victoria
Her loyalty to Marius is beyond anything you imagined given she slit her own throat for him. She also showed aptitude with the disciplines of Celerity, Fortitude, Potence and Vicissitude at levels you've never seen or heard of being exhibited by a ghoul. She has also apparently used her gifts of Vicissitude extensively on herself judging from her retractable claws, venom glands in her fingers and enough biological changes to survive the slitting of both her jugular veins without death. Not to mention multiple bullet wounds and healing at almost kindred levels of regeneration.

Yukio Hayashi
The kidnappers warehouse Sniper has been confirmed as Yukio. Marius clearly wanted the coterie fucking with Jenna and pushing her timeline forward but didn't want you to be too successful at it in case she abandoned the plan altogether after being pushed too quickly into an escalation.

Venus Dare
You're sure that Venus made the 'Fat Larry' call on Marius's orders as another way to keep the pressure on Jenna's people. This would also explain why Venus was so concerned as though she would have followed Marius's orders out of fear, it's likely she was hoping that Larry would be saved.

Introduction
Jenna Cross - Thinblood Messiah
Staked, Location Unknown
The Cross Rebellion
With the Thinbloods rebellion foiled and Jenna Cross neutralised and then removed by Marius, a period of uncertainty has been experienced by the kindred of Los Angeles.

Marius had agreed with the other Barons that for a period of six nights from the date of the massacre in Glendale, that any Thinbloods, caitiff or associates of the rebels that either find a barony willing to have them or leave LA will be allowed to do so. Any remaining after that date will be hunted down and destroyed as a threat to the Anarch Free States.

Many kindred who were merely dragged along in Jenna's wake have taken advantage of this offer and found new homes. Some did not and have been hunted down and destroyed along with several small groups who had been poised to invade the domains of several notable LA kindred.

Many barons have handled these hunts themselves and some of the most dangerous of LA's vampire population have been active over the weeks after the Cross Rebellion. Ensuring personally that all those involved in the attempted overthrow of the Anarch Free States have been utterly destroyed and that any nests of rebels within their own domains have been eliminated.

'The Circle' - Gangrel
Marius's Census Takers
The Downtown Triangle
Marius's brood have settled into his expanded domain of Downtown and have each been given an appropriate role. The Swarm now completely control the area beneath it and are rumoured to have destroyed several remaining rebel cells who had been poised to take Marius's haven for their own, had they succeeded in his destruction.

The three Gangrel known collectively as 'The Circle' have taken on the role of census takers and have proven to be very efficient indeed in ensuring that all visitors have legitimate business in his domain. There have however been some mutterings due to their habit of intercepting potential visitors 'before' they enter the Downtown Triangle as some now refer to it.

With the Tremere Chantry now firmly entrenched in Marius's area of influence he has appointed one of his more occult inclined childer to act as liaison. Her job is to ensure that they continue with the pledges made as conditions for their stay and also to act as an intermediary between the mages and other LA kindred so as to prevent any misunderstandings that may occur. Daniel has been given some tuition in a variety of basic rituals by the Tremere of the chantry at Marius's request, though the Banu Haqim can only guess at what has prompted such generosity. There have however been some rumours that Marius particularly wished the gang known as 'The Purgatory' eliminated and that Michael's bodyguard was responsible for organising the assault and that the training is effectively Daniel's reward. As Marius has been known to reward kindred who have assisted him even if they were manipulated into doing so, this is certainly plausible.

'Mary' - Gangrel
'Mother' of 'The Children of the Wolf'
More controversially, the Bahari worshipping Gangrel cult 'The Children of the Wolf' have set up a temple in Marius's domain with his full blessing. This has caused some minor concerns amongst the barons as it seems to be a set of beliefs that many of the other Gangrel in the city are finding appealing. The Bahari also have a dark reputation amongst many though they themselves claim that these are misunderstandings borne from a lack of insight into their practices, and disinformation spread by those fearful of the truth of their beliefs.

Rumours that the assassin known as 'The Pale Lady' is also one of his childer have generally been regarded as preposterous hearsay. As though she has apparently taken a penthouse in Venture Tower, she has many luxurious havens around the world so this is hardly unusual. Besides which, she has not been seen operating in the city since her part in the elimination of the second inquisition incursion.

He has also declared the baronies of Simi and Santa Clarita as under his protection due to the Gangrel there being limited in resources and poorly equipped to defend against a concerted attack. As these baronies have little to no economic or political value, no other kindred barons have made any public objections.

Rosalind - Thin-Blood
Alchemist
The North-East Baronies
In Pasadena the five duskborn taken on by Michael to save them from a far darker fate at the hands of Marius have fitted in to the best of their abilities though this was after extensive investigation by Daniel who had no intention of letting potential radicals threaten Michael's domain. Hope's concerns over the lack of sustenance gained from drinking mortal blood have been somewhat alleviated by the shepherdess of Marius herd and skilled alchemist, Leanna.

She has provided a now homeless thin-blood alchemist named Rosalind Perkins with the equipment necessary to 'thicken' duskborn vitae enough to sustain Hope, and three of the five thin-bloods in Michael's domain have agreed to act as her herd in return for haven and protection. Several of the coterie are aware of Rosalind though when they met her she went by the name 'Lilith' and required rescuing from several of her own kind who were using her as part of one of their own plots. Of the remaining pair, one thin-blood has been taken on by Vin, more or less as a messenger and the fifth has disappeared.

Though the coterie as a whole believed that the missing thin-blood simply left LA, they in fact showed signs of not being entirely free of their belief in Jenna's divinity and Daniel arranged an 'accident' for them involving a lunch date with a certain woman who resides in an abandoned hospital in Downtown. Hope for her part has resolved to keep a close eye on her own charges as she is also yet to completely trust them.

Marcelina Black - Ventrue
The Circulatory System
Mr Hertz has shown a knack for ingratiating himself with the existing powers of LA and has successfully recouped the money spent on rescuing a number of women from the clutches of Marcelina Black of The Circular System. Despite his appearance, his knowledge of etiquette and political savvy has been appreciated by those to which he arranged the return of their herds. His polite but no nonsense negotiation skills has enabled him to obtain sufficient compensation for the coterie without causing offence. The only downside to these interactions, if they can be called as such, are that many now see him as having replaced Roach in the role of Michael's adviser rather than being the independent operator that he claims.

With guidance based on several lifetimes as a gangster in a number of roles, Hertz has managed to turn The Apostles into a highly efficient organisation over the last few months. His division of the criminal empire into a number of sub divisions each with it's own sub boss answering to Reuben, who then reports to him, has enabled him to put the best people in the most suitable roles. This has enabled him to swiftly identify and resolve problems as they occur. Legitimate business has also been helped by the dreadful luck experienced by any competition. Other than a minor and quickly resolved disciplinary matter things are going as smoothly as possible for a crime empire. Hertz sees a repeat of the problem as unlikely as nobody wants to be eaten alive by rats, while being held aloft one-handed by someone seemingly able to crush flesh and bone with merely their fingers. As advised by Daniel, the Nosferatu is only reporting on his progress to Michael in the broadest possible terms.

The coterie now has complete control of the North East baronies in the fields of kindred politics, almost complete political control of Pasadena in the mortal world and significant influence in Glendale and Burbank. Organised crime in Pasadena is under the Apostles and though they don't control the criminal groups of the other two baronies the criminals there know better than to challenge their neighbours. Vin's own people have had a few minor issues with the gangs outside Pasadena attempting to move into the prostitution business on the outskirts of his area of influence. These have been swiftly resolved with several acts of brutal violence, interspersed with the intimidation tactics of which Vin is an undoubted master.

They are also free of any boons to the kindred of Los Angeles.

Therese Voerman - Malkavian
Baron of Santa Monica
One Month Later
A month has now passed and things have began to once again settle into their old patterns. Those kindred in dispute with others have once again began to plot against them and allies are renewing their pacts of cooperation and none interference.

Those involved in the Cross Rebellion that were lucky enough to find new homes are still being watched closely by their new barons and the displaced gangs from the Barony of the Angel's are also endeavouring to prove themselves worthy of their new domains. This transition has been relatively free of incident except for the few inevitable clashes of personality in some of the more aggressive baronies. Most of the more formidable of Jenna's followers were in her personal guard and therefore didn't survive the confrontation in Glendale.

With all the changes that the city has undergone, Louis Fortier has called for 'Rants' to be reintroduced to discuss any new issues that the city may now face. Fortier has organised the first event and it is to occur at the end of the week to coincide with the next full moon as is the tradition. Though based on the previous event it is Therese Voerman's turn to provide security she has requested that Marius take on the task for her as she is "Far too busy at the moment..."

Marius Walker - Gangrel
Baron of Downtown Los Angeles
Fortier has however insisted on shouldering the burden as in his own words Marius "Must be feeling the burden of having his own barony, especially as he seems to keep forgetting where it's borders are...". It seems that the mistrust between the two has not been entirely alleviated by whatever deal has been struck between them over Downtown.

Surprisingly Marius hasn't responded to this comment though he has apparently bought up an old ruling of Jeremy MacNeil's, as Baron Fortiers actions go against a generally utilised protocol that any baron who calls an L.A. rant specifically, should not also be responsible for it's security. Though some consider that particular protocol more a guideline than a rule, others point out that the reason for it's inclusion was to prevent a baron organising the mass assassination of all his rivals. With less than a week to resolve this issue, the kindred of LA are already expecting the rant to be 'interesting' at the very least.

Scene One - Taking Stock
Free of significant burdens for the first in many months, Michael has returned to the art that is his first love and has thrown himself into producing a number of new works.

A Darker Style of Artwork
Perhaps as a result of his recent experiences, the pieces produced have been much darker in tone and style. This has alienated some of his more traditional fans but has increased demand for his paintings amongst kindred appreciators of art.

Daniel's ghouls have continued to look into the activities of Amethyst and David Geduld but have had to cease their enquiries due to observers from Gedulds security teams noting Andrew's incursions on several separate occasions. Though he is sure that they identified only his vehicle, rather than himself, Daniel has told him to cease for the time being. His other ghoul Keith had to beat a hasty retreat when a routine patrol by Amethyst's people came close to discovering him and so he too has been told to keep a low profile.

Michael has decided to attend the Rant with both Vin and Mr Hertz as well as Daniel as it was decided that Michael turning up without his loyal 'Brujah' bodyguard might look suspicious. Hope however has been tasked with maintaining the baronies security in their absence. Given the likely presence of all significant LA kindred at the Rant, all those of the coterie who were attending had a discussion about certain issues that may arise.

Steve Booth - Brujah
Baron of Long Beach
Daniel passed on what he had learned about Steve Booth, Baron of Long Beach's failed deal with Amethyst, though all present agreed that overt help of Steve would bring them into conflict with Geduld and Amethyst. Neither of which were a great prospect as potential enemies. Michael suggested that some political manoeuvring to persuade the other barons of the benefits of keeping Steve in control of the Long Beach port might be preferable to taking sides in a war. Michael also suggested that as other parties would also be concerned it may be possible to 'encourage' them to interfere.

Daniel was aware that neither 'Nines' Rodriguez nor the El Hermandad leadership, particularly Salavdor Garcia, were fans of Geduld and might be convinced to interfere in a takeover. The main bone of contention within the coterie was that Michael wanted to adopt a 'wait and see' attitude, while Daniel wished to take preemptive action.

It was Vin's opinion that both plans had flaws and you might as well "Just toss a fucking coin...". Mr Hertz was also in favour of delaying before becoming involved though in his case he wished to calculate who was their best bet as an ally from a financial perspective. As the debate was getting nowhere, Michael changed the subject.

Carmelita Neillson - Toreador
Archaeologist and Archivist
Storytellers Note - The 'File' referred to in the next few paragraphs can be found HERE, though only Michael's player had access to it during this session.

After some thought, Michael decided to relay to Daniel some of the information he gained from the Camarilla file on Marius Walker obtained for him by Carmelita Neillson. He informed the Banu Haqim that their suspicions about Marius's age and generation were correct and that he was closer to seven hundred years old than the century he often claimed and may be as low as 6th generation. Also of note was that he was not Victoria's first Regnant and that she herself may be as old as eleven centuries. This meant that even as a ghoul, Victoria could very well be a match for even kindred in both physical power and long-term planning. As all present except Mr Hertz had seen her in action with Marius at the massacre that ended the Cross Rebellion this was less of a surprise than it might have been if revealed beforehand.

He also passed on to Daniel the information that Marius had been threatened with Anathema status and had a blood hunt against him, both being effectively 'on hold' by order of several powerful Camarilla leaders. These were more or less the only things that were 'motivating' him to assist the coterie on behalf of the Camarilla and that now he had paid off these debts his priorities could no longer be easily predicted. He also mentioned his status as one of The Bahari. The only thing that Daniel knew of the Bahari was that they worshipped Lilith and that he had been told by the one who trained him that she was a demon.

Lilith meets Caine
from 'Revelations of the Dark Mother'
Michael pointed out that Marius was the most powerful Gangrel in Los Angeles both politically and perhaps even physically, depending upon whether Nicodemus had been trying his hardest at the Gangrel 'Gather'. All were sure that he didn't want to be Prince as he had ignored the opportunity to be so on one occasion they knew of. It was however possible that to gain his cooperation they may well have to accept the presence of the followers of Lilith within the city and perhaps even give Marius some form of title. "As long as it's not Archon..." commented Daniel. "I have a feeling he might consider that to be taking the piss...." Michael then explained to Daniel that Marius's scorn for certain Camarilla job titles were due to him being prevented from claiming them himself by political manipulation by his sire, Xaviar. "I've tried lying to him once before..." continued Michael. "...and the coterie barely got out of that meeting with their un-lives. If I'm going to have a meeting with him in the future about matters of LA's leadership I'm making sure I go into it knowing exactly what he wants, first..."

Scene Two - The Rant Begins
Priya - Gangrel
'Sweeper' of the North-East Baronies
As is the norm the rant is to be held in a huge abandoned bus terminal, just north of Hollywood Boulevard referred to as just 'The Terminal'. As it can comfortably hold several hundred people and still has it's tables and chairs from it's brief conversion into a nightclub it is an ideal location. Though it is Therese's turn to provide security she deferred to Marius Walker, though Louis Fortier insisted upon taking the responsibility. Despite some debate about protocol it seems that it is an issue that no-one wants to go to war over so Fortier has been allowed to have his way.

With Dion acting as driver, Michael has decided that one more combat capable kindred might be useful and has pulled Priya from her patrol duties to accompany him, Vin and Daniel to the meeting. Hope has been told to ensure that the other Gangrel 'Hounds' Orla and Carla are patrolling the borders as far from the Rant as possible so they aren't tempted to turn up and cause trouble. Given their history with Amethyst and Geduld, such a confrontation could become messy.

One of Michael's Swords
Storytellers Note - This was mildly irritating as I was planning on them doing exactly that, lol.

Given that weaponry was more or less ubiquitous at Anarch meetings, Michael took a sword with him and had an outfit made so as it fitted in perfectly. Daniel had his usual selection of knives and pistols as well as his falcata, while Vin had his trusty machete in it's scabbard at his back. Daniel also noted that he had a Sig Sauer P320 Pistol in a shoulder holster.

Priya who had only ever been to Camarilla meetings was surprised that weapons were considered essential and was slightly concerned when Daniel informed her that though violence was looked down upon inside the meetings, many arguments were taken outside to be resolved. Such things would have created a scandal in a Camarilla Elysium but were treated with a far more casual manner in an Anarch equivalent.

Mr Hertz's Pistol Collection
With this in mind Priya had taken a pair of pistols with extended magazines in a double shoulder gun holster and a number of extra magazines. After some thought she added a combat knife to her belt, just in case.

In order to reinforce the story that Mr Hertz was independent from the coterie, merely being a paid assistant, he arrived separately in his own vehicle. He did however have several of his Luger pistols and his flick knife with him, just in case of unforeseen difficulties.

As you arrive at the venue, you can see Fortiers impeccably dressed ghouls everywhere. Each seems to have been selected for their good looks and physical perfection though they are all apparently very well trained. If rumours are to be believed then their suits are woven from bullet-proof materials and their weapon holsters are individually created to fit their weapons like gloves, being almost invisible under their clothing.

Yukio - Ghoul of Marius
Enforcer and Assassin
Despite his services being turned down, Marius's ghoul Yukio is leaning casually against one of her master's armoured vehicles and her own teams are conspicuously present. Far less formally dressed than their counterparts amongst Fortiers people they are wearing casual but loose clothing and leather coats and jackets no doubt concealing body armour and a variety of weapons. There are also a number of mortal members of the Crypt's Sons gang milling around, certainly senior lieutenants aware of the true nature of their leaders. Some of Yukio's people are chatting amiably to the gang members, Fortiers people are making it obvious that they are not interested in them at all.

All the barons and de-facto barons of LA are present. The Crypts Sons Baron, 'Hank' is seated within a gang of some twenty-five kindred, his numbers swelled by the absorption of several other gangs while the twenty strong, also recently expanded kindred of El Hermandad sit on the opposite side of the room with Jesus Ramirez and Victor Girard in the middle chatting amiably despite rumours about Victor having designs on the others position. Ramirez sits alongside Gloria Martinez whose people are interspersed with his in a clear show of unity. Unusually, the kindred in Covina who have always been allies of El Hermandad arrive separately and sit close to, yet separate from their supposed allies and neighbours. Hank's latest recruit 'Deacon' is wandering between the other groups, introducing himself as a representative of the Crypt's Sons. His amiable but confident manner is evident and he seems un-phased by talking to even those kindred leaders with enviable reputations for violence.

Rosa - Duskborn Seer
Occult Adviser to Marius
Storytellers Note - I asked for an Insight (Empathy) roll from Michael's player at this point. He passed so received the following Handout.

*Michael -  'Empathy' Handout - The tension between the two groups is obvious in their body language. It is unlikely that any violence is going to occur as the kindred of Covina are outnumbered four to one by the other group but the fact that something has driven a wedge between them is obvious to your refined empathetic senses. As well as yourself you can see that a few others have also noticed the signs. As well as yourself, Velvet Velour, Leanna and Ruby of Clan Carna have definitely taken note. Others may well have also done so and simply hid it better. It seems likely that Rosa is aware at the very least, though whether she cares is a different matter entirely.*

Fortier and all three of his childer are with him as well as his census-taker Joey and the most recent guest of his barony, Atarah, they are seated near to the stage adjacent to and partially within a small alcove. The shadows within the alcove seem unusually dark and dense considering how well lit the room is and the shadowy areas around the group seem to move with a life of their own. For all of the 'family' to be there at one time, Fortier must be planning to speak personally on a matter he deems important. If this is to be something controversial it would explain why he wanted his own security in place.

'E' and Lily - Duskborn
Long Beach 'Harpies'
Steve Booth has also benefited from the recent troubles as the bulk of the Thinbloods and Caitiff survivors of the Cross Rebellion have followed 'E' and Lily into his barony. His dozen followers have become two dozen or more and though few would consider his new recruits to be considerable warriors they do however give his competitors something extra to worry about. As if mirroring the situation along the South coast, David Gedulds group are seated on one side of Steve Booth and Amethyst's forces are on the other. Neither Geduld nor Amethyst have acknowledged each other though the current betting about whether they are allies or Amethyst simply took an opportunity when one presented itself are about 60/40 in the favour of the 'alliance' theory. The odd couple of the incredibly beautiful Rose and her lover Zipper who looks like he hasn't bathed since his embrace are with Amethyst as are several new faces including a well dressed black man who seems to have some status within the group judging from his interactions.

Storytellers Note - My Hertz's player was then asked to make an Intelligence+Streetwise roll to determine if he recognised a face from Chicago in the crowd. He passed rather spectacularly so got a lot of info.

Hugo Snyder - Brujah
Freelance Mercenary
Mr Hertz recognised Amethyst's new adviser as a former Chicago gangster of Clan Brujah named Hugo Snyder, who he knew as a very competent tactician who had his own 'button-men'. Deciding that this was something Daniel needed to know he made his way over and after some casual pleasantries designed to make nearby listeners lose interest in the conversation he passed on what he knew to the coteries spymaster and assassin.

Hugo and his men are more or less a freelance death squad and as far as Mr Hertz had known were apparently veterans of the Portuguese Colonial War (1961–74) though on what side was debatable, depending on who you asked. He was also known to take on long term jobs with a strong leader, if the money was good enough. His sidelines also included drug smuggling when the need arose and had several fast boats for just such a purpose.

When in Chicago the Nosferatu knew he had at least five kindred working for him, four Brujah and a Gangrel, though he never learned their names being out of the 'hands-on' part of being a gangster at that point in his career. Daniel quickly passed his gaze across the group, discerning a number of holstered handguns and a large, heavy bladed combat knife at ones belt. Their leader Hugo was well dressed and seemed to be unarmed, though anything could have been hidden beneath his buttoned up jacket.

Harvey Caplan, the Ventrue granted the right to run Steve Booth's docks is standing with one other kindred named Knowles White. Knowles is his enforcer and ally, A reliable but unimaginative Brujah with a preference for explaining Harvey's displeasure to people though the application of considerable force to the kneecap area.


Harvey Caplan - Ventrue
Long Beach Docks
It seems Harvey is sensibly staying out of the way of the three feuding barons possibly hoping to keep his domain even under a new ruler. Certainly his knowledge of the docks would be useful to any-one whose domain included it. He also has a well organised criminal gang under his control and contacts amongst the police that keep Steve's shipments safe and is apparently currently negotiating with several kindred with shipping interests about the benefits of using Long Beach, instead of Torrance.

Storytellers Note - As Daniel had already specifically had his ghouls investigating this area he got away without having to make a roll...

*Daniel - Recon - You and your ghouls research into this disputed area indicates that if anything, the docks in Long Beach are run more efficiently that those of Torrance possible due to Harvey being much more hands on than Geduld. Though there is something to be said for both strategies (Hands-On vs. Plausible Deniability), it is your opinion that any smart baron taking over Long Beach would be far better off negotiating with Harvey than eliminating him. This has undoubtedly occurred to both Geduld and Amethyst as neither is stupid. Harvey has shown no sign of disloyalty to Steve but he is still a Ventrue and a charismatic and intelligent one at that so it's highly likely that he has considered this as well. He's likely already considering which of the three would make him the best offer.*

Eleanor Braun - Autarkis Gangrel
Childe of Marius
Marius and the presentable members of his brood are already present and Quinn seems to be there as the Swarms representative. Eleanor, who most kindred refer to as the 'Sorceress' has arrived separately with three representatives of the United Chantry of Los Angeles, apparently in her role as a kind of facilitator. Leanna is with the three Toreador who have now been given control over prostitution in Downtown who behind their backs are still known as 'The Blossoms' for reasons that no-one can now remember, their actual names are Tayla, Karla and Lottie. Lyko Wu, leader of the Blood Dragons who has been granted Chinatown as his domain is with his two kindred lieutenants, Han and Yuan Ling. They are near to, but most definitely separate from Marius and his own people.

The remaining four members of the 'Jackals' gang return from talking to Marius in a manner that you would diplomatically describe as 'deferential' but might more accurately be called 'fawning' and retake their positions guarding Myranda. The rest of the pack are as intimidating as ever, Nicodemus is cloaked as usual in a vague attempt to envelop his massive arachnid frame. Samuel is wearing a necklace very obviously made from vampire fangs, with items of blood-stained jewellery hanging between, no doubt souvenirs of the recent battle. It's very obviously a statement as it's certain that some of those present must recognise some of the items as belonging to former friends. Lezabel and Lola, the most presentable members of the pack, relatively speaking, are discussing some matter in quiet tones.

'Mary' - Gangrel
'Mother' of the Children of the Wolf
Storytellers Note - 'The Wilds Pack' have their own profile page which can be found HERE.

Mary, AKA 'The Mother' and infamous Bahari, is cloaked in deference to the occasion despite normally wearing basically nothing, her claws are also out, apparently a permanent mutation acquired during some frenzy or another. She has six Kindred with her, all Gangrel, dressed in dark clothing. One is mostly hidden in a cloak, with skin like porcelain and has gloves almost covering extended, segmented claws, who moves between her mistress and any who approach.

The rest are four men and one woman, the woman is Aida, sole survivor of your assault on the gang known as The Purgatory, the rest are unknown to you. Marius, The Wilds Pack and Mary's group are all seated within close proximity to one another as are any now associated with them.

The one remaining group of significant size are Gary Golden's Nosferatu. His three childer are there as is Kendrick, former member of the Jackals and about a dozen others who make their homes in the warrens. You are aware that this is by no means the full kindred population of the sewers. Alonzo as usual has decided not to bother making an appearance though this is hardly surprising.



The only none Nosferatu with Gary are a small group of three Caitiff he has allowed to join him basically to deliver messages after they were made homeless by a combination of the Cross Rebellion and the division of The Barony of the Angels. They are well dressed compared to the Nosferatu in hard wearing 'combat' style clothing and long coats. The Nosferatu seem to have accepted them without prejudice, presumably as outcasts themselves they sympathised with their plight.

Countess Andrea Visconti - Brujah
'The Brujah Idealists'
The rest of the notables are of course in attendance. Isaac Abrams is there with Velvet Velour, dressed as usual in nothing but lingerie, and they are accompanied by Dawn Cavanagh and the Bartholomew family. One of them has bought Marcelina Black of 'The Circulatory System' along with them though it's difficult to tell exactly who of the group she is the guest of.

Only a single member of the Idealists seems to have been curious enough to attend, that being the Countess though she is accompanied by a young looking man. Nines is there with Skelter and Damsel and a few other Brujah. Nines doesn't look happy at all and Damsel and Skelter mirror their bosses mood. 

Storytellers Note - The next handout was another freebie, as Vin's character keeps his ear to the goings on at street level as a matter of course.

*Vin - Streetwise - It is now common knowledge amongst the Brujah of LA that 'Nines' is unhappy, to say the least, with many of the recent changes in the Free States and has apparently been prevented from meeting some of the involved barons, by Skelter and Damsel until he's "Calmed the fuck down a bit."*

Jane Lane - Malkavian
Seneschal of the Voerman's
Therese is accompanied by her commando coterie including Daniel's sometime friend, sometime rival Chick, though still hooded as usual, something about her manner seems different, she seems almost relaxed, a far cry from her usual edginess. Jane Lane is also with them and is fielding the enquiries of most of those who approach to speak to the baron. Baron Voerman's focus seems to be inward this evening and barely seems to notice those around her.

Michael took a table near to where Isaac Abrams group was sitting, and Daniel and Priya in the role of bodyguards stayed nearby. Vin had moved off to make his presence known to the other Brujah while Mr Hertz who had arrived just after them, was moving from table to table making introductions and no doubt, also touting for business.

Michael noted that Vin was particularly aggressive in posture this evening and had already stared down several groups of Brujah from other baronies. Recent events including the aftermath from the 'Blounts' incident and encounters with the thin-bloods and Caitiff had annoyed Vin a great deal. Of particular concern was that those events implied that their attackers had somehow believed that the coterie was an easy mark or somehow potentially weak. Despite the fact that they had brutally repelled all assaults upon them, Vin still felt the need to throw his weight around a little.

Michael allowed him to continue without reproach as it never hurt to remind the average Anarch that his own generosity was backed up with the ability to deal with any who abused his hospitality. As he turned to speak to those nearby he noticed Vin 'accidentally' elbow one of Priss's Brujah into a supporting pillar and then stare pointedly at them as if daring them to make a comment. When they chose to look at their shoes instead, Vin turned and continued his tour of the hall as if nothing had happened.

Scene Three - The Politics of the Night (One)
Charlie 'Chick' Abbott - Banu Haqim
Scourge of the Voerman's
Curious about her unusually lighthearted demeanour this evening, Daniel went to speak with 'chick' of Therese Voerman's 'Commando' coterie and immediately noticed that her face was free of the scars it normally bore. She noticed Daniel's curiosity immediately. "A reward from Miss Voerman." she said, cheerfully, but for what she wouldn't comment. "It's not a perfect solution I'm afraid. Apparently even the most skilled practitioners of Vicissitude cannot override curses of clan or embrace, so I'm informed that should I frenzy, the previously scarred area's will bleed as they did before for as long as the episode lasts"

"Victoria?" queried Daniel. Chick confirmed that it was indeed, Marius's ghoul who had performed the work. Deciding not to labour the point too much, Daniel changed the subject to the recent Caitiff Rebellion and specifically to the pier that was now once more under Baron Voerman's control. "All Jenna's kindred are gone now, her mortal lackeys too." Stated Chick, matter of factly. "Our own people have replaced them in any necessary roles. It's a shame Laki wasn't there, Lex really wanted to gut him. Still I hear that Victoria put him down in a satisfyingly painful manner." Daniel made no comment as despite the circumstances he had actually liked Laki and was somewhat disappointed that Jenna's enforcer had chosen his allies so badly. He had tried to recruit him for the coterie at least twice.

Subtly probing for information while playing a hunch, Daniel mentioned the killings in Huntington Beach and the fact that the weapon used was very similar to the one wielded by Lex. Chick assured Daniel that the killings were nothing to do with them as Therese "Couldn't care less who ran the docks..." As she seemed to be telling the truth, Daniel once more complimented her on the "New Look..." and then made his polite farewells.

Michael was meanwhile chatting to Isaac's group about the terrible decor of the bus terminal and about how obvious it was that none of the clan of the rose had been consulted about the choice of location. Both Isaac and Velvet agreed that as a meeting place it lacked in many ways. After some more small talk, Michael shifted the conversation to the troubles in the South of LA.

Isaac Abrams - Toreador
Baron of Hollywood
Isaac agreed with him that keeping the ports divided between two baronies was the best situation and also that should the Barons of Torrance and Huntington Beach take over Long Beach then the division was unlikely to be without incident. He also mentioned that the only nearby Baron with enough influence to effect the outcome was Louis Fortier and he was conspicuous in his failure to interfere. Presumably, Geduld's surrender of the airport to Louis had been in exchange for exactly this none interference as with Atarah at his disposal there was little Geduld could do if it came to open warfare between him and the Baron of West Los Angeles.

Issac nodded towards Atarah as he spoke and Michael commented on how she seemed to be playing havoc with the lighting, though, he added, this particular venue would look much better if plunged into darkness. He then started to discuss Marius's expanded domain and how he and Fortier seemed to be bickering again.

"That might cause problems..." Interrupted Velvet. "...Marius can be prone to overreacting and Fortier can be quite silly when it comes to his borders." She then tuned to address the group and the ease with which she drew all attention to her was impressive. "You know Marius once killed some-one just because I casually mentioned that they might be a tad of a problem?" All present had heard about the incident but many had speculated that the result was actually exactly what Velvet intended, despite her protestations. "I'm afraid incidents such as that are one of the downsides to possessing such a magnetic personality as yours." said Michael before changing the subject once more.

Karen Anatos - Gangrel Anathema
Media Mogul
"So how is Issac getting on with Miss Anatos in Burbank?"

Velvet confirmed that since Michael had taken over the "Tedious political nonsense." for Karen, that her relationship with Isaac had improved considerably. With territorial issues removed, the fact that both were involved in the film industry had become less competitive and more cooperative. In fact several joint projects between their two media empires were currently being undertaken.

The rest of the conversation consisted of Michael and VV flirting with one another so the others moved away and left them to it.

Storytellers Note - Sixteen successes worth of flirting to be exact.

Rosa is wandering around as usual, alternating between being charming, unintentionally amusing and creepy as hell depending on how she feels that second. Some of the rebel survivors are giving her dirty looks but none seem willing to confront her directly. For some reason she blows Amethyst a kiss as she slides past, and judging from the look on the recipient's face, Amethyst has no idea why either. Before this strange act can cause any discussion, the crowd turns to the stage...

Scene Four - Louis Fortier
'Atarah' - Lasombra Elder
Granted Domain with West Los Angeles
Louis Fortier, Baron of West Los Angeles and arguably the most powerful of the Anarch Barons gets to his feet and walks to the stage. His own census taker and sweeper walks alongside him til the stage is reached and then moves to one side. Those nearby notice that Atarah also stands and moves to a position against the wall where she can observe the audience. It seems that whatever Louis is about to speak of, he thinks there might be some objections.

"Much has changed in the Free States. With the necessary removal of the Barony of the Angels due to their part in the Cross Rebellion, we now lack a fundamental and in my opinion necessary place for those new to the city to meet and be introduced to what it means to be an Anarch." "I therefore suggest that we declare the already established meeting area of 'A Taste of LA' and my own 'Club Zombie' as neutral areas where kindred can meet without fear of consequence or a premature final death merely due to domain borders of which they no nothing."

Henrique 'Hank' Boyd - Brujah
Baron of the Crypts Sons
"In short, I believe that if newcomers or those without baronies are heading towards these neutral places that by agreement between all barons they should not be harmed or waylaid and within these areas should also be considered sacrosanct."

It is obvious from the murmurs around the room that there are some objections to this proposal. Hank Boyd, Baron of the Crypt's Sons is the first to stand and voice his. "'Neutral Areas' are a cool idea in principle, but if we agree that they're needed, and I ain't saying they ain't, then every baron should have one where their own rules of hospitality apply. Not just 'A Fortier one and a Garcia one'." "It worked when the Baron of the North East there..." He then gestures towards Michael. "...used his place In Pasadena for a meeting." "After all if a baron can't provide security and refreshments to his guests, then what fucking good is he..."

Michael - Several of the barons look over at you seemingly seeing Hank's inclusion of you in the conversation as an invite to give your opinion. You are of course in no way obliged to do so.

"I wholeheartedly agree with Baron Fortier that such neutral areas are certainly needed..." Began Michael, thinking on his feet. "...as without them how are we to bring those new to the Anarch cause to us without fear of destruction sending them back to the arms of the Camarilla?" Gauging the reaction of the crowd he could see that he was striking a chord with many though he of course noticed that Hank seemed unhappy that he seemed to be taking Fortier's viewpoint. Michael had however only just started "However, Hank also makes a good point..."

Anarch's of the Free States
The Crypts Sons leader stopped scowling at this point and once again paid attention. "...one of the strengths of the Anarch Free States as that each barony is a domain of it's own, reflecting different aspects of the Anarch way, each area prioritising that which is most important to it. Those who leave the Ivory Tower, come here to gain their freedom, not a different status quo from which there is no escape."

Michael once again began to feel elated at the power he had over others using words alone. Most of the room was now focused upon him and he could see how some-one of lesser will and moral fibre than himself could become addicted to such a shallow high. "We here in the Free States have shown that it is possible to take a single idea and adapt it to suit the many rather than the elite few. Our neutral areas and gathering places should also reflect this uniqueness." He then sat down and waited to see who was going to try to follow that particular masterpiece of oratory. As it turned out he wasn't the only kindred in the room capable of drawing such a focus upon themselves.

Velvet Velour - Toreador
Club Vesuvius Manager and Dancer
Velvet stands up and somehow manages to get the entire rooms attention with a quiet cough.

"erhmm..."

"Wouldn't this whole process be much less...messy..." She began. "If we declared neutral the places that are already managed by established kindred who are experienced at the methods necessary to provide both hospitality and maintain the masquerade." "Club Zombie is ably maintained by Baron Fortier and despite being an established enterprise of Salvador Garcia 'A Taste of LA' is more than suitable for those new to the city." "Marius's three establishments, Club Confession, the Asp Hole and Glaze are already used by many as are the Asylum clubs in Hollywood and Santa Monica.  If we simply add Baron Tomassio's establishment and my own club to this list then surely that's sufficient?"

One of the Brujah from the Crypts Sons can be heard to say "What about the fight club?" He is then backhanded off his chair by a brute sitting next to him.  His attacker says something to him quietly. though it is clear to anyone with enhanced senses, before somewhat surprisingly helping him back onto his chair. "I don't think our training area needs to be added to the list." He then laughs but it seems a bit forced. "If he interrupts with a stupid suggestion again I'll chuck him out on his arse." Says the aggressor indicating his victim. "Please continue, Miss Velour, you have my sincere apologies..."

Gloria Martinez - Brujah
Baron of Whittier
Daniel detected that the whispered words were "What's the first rule dickhead?". Vin was however already aware that the Brujah of the Crypts Sons engaged in contests between themselves and just hadn't bothered to mention it to the others as he hadn't thought it was important.

Some of the barons liked Velvet's idea idea as they don't really want the responsibility anyway. These included Gloria Martinez, Steve Booth, David Geduld and Amethyst amongst others. Steve pointed out that "You can, like, just visit the shack dude, once all the shit is sorted.". Geduld somewhat more eloquently excused himself and Amethyst from any arrangement as "Given the current troubles between the Southern baronies one couldn't guarantee the safety of travellers..." All three Southern barons then began to blame each other for that lack of safety.

"Okay then..." Said Hank "Is there anything else, some of us have shit to do and Miss Velours solution seems a good enough compromise to me, we can vote I s'pose?"

Fortier then interrupted. "If Miss Velour's solution is to be adopted then I must insist on at least one cultural location. So guests to the Free States don't leave us believing Camarilla lies about our inability to manage our domains and the chaos that they allege reigns here." "Just because we reject their principles of a society dominated by the elders of our kind doesn't make us the animals they would like to portray us as."

The Los Angeles County Museum of Art
Isaac Abrams, stands and puts his hand affectionately on Velvet's shoulder before beginning. Isaac almost never speaks at rants so the presumption is that he is merely supporting his favoured adopted childe with his support. "The Los Angeles County Museum of Art is within my new borders yet is close enough to that of Baron Fortier for us both to guarantee it's security, an arrangement I would have no objection to. It is one of the largest Museums in Los Angeles and is already a common gathering place for the more cultured kindred of the city. Add it to 'VV's list and all those who have spoken's requirements have been fulfilled." "With the baronies of Marius, Michael and Henrique also within striking distance, I imagine that security and reprisals against transgressors should be well covered and as long as we five agree I see any vote as superfluous."

Isaac was infamous for thinking that if you had to vote on an idea then it was probably a bad one, otherwise it would be being done anyway.

The Asp Hole - Hollywood
Kindred Meeting Place
Besides which he was also of the opinion that only certain kindred should be allowed to make decisions. It was unlikely that many present were on his mental list of those worthy to do so. He was also correct that if he, Issac and the other three baronies he had mentioned agreed on the matter then no-one with any sense would vote the opposite way.

The final word on the matter, somewhat surprisingly, came from Gary Golden of Clan Nosferatu.

"I agree that a vote is unnecessary as I have no need of an Elysium as I expect my guests to behave from the moment they enter my Warren's to the moment they leave." "However, if this is a path we as Anarchs wish to go down, my messenger's will honour the status of any such place to which I send them." He then gestures towards the three better dressed kindred with his group. "Those of my clan who wish to meet with those too squeamish to venture underground utilise the Asp Hole establishment in Hollywood anyway. As Marius has done us the courtesy of making the basement area both accessible and comfortable."

Scene Five - 'Nines' Rodriguez
'Nines' Rodriguez - Brujah
De-facto Baron of L.A.
With the matter seemingly concluded, the kindred present prepared to return to the political manoeuvring and jockeying for status that always occurred between speakers. Nines Rodriguez however has other ideas.

If it's even possible, Nines looks more annoyed now than he did when he first arrived at the rant. Skelter has moved to the stairs to the stage and Damsel along with the Brujah who arrived with Nine's Crew are on their feet.

Nines immediately launches into a speech about the undermining of the core values of the Free States. He rails against the breaking up of of the Barony of the Angels, and registers his opinion that the solution just decided by the barons who discussed it is a half measure at best. He also quite clearly states his belief that the total elimination of Jenna's forces was heavy handed and could have been avoided had someone bothered to discuss with them the benefits of joining the Anarch cause rather than forging their own empire. Though his speeches are usually passionate, this one is filled with anger and venom.

Some of those present, voice their agreement in a subdued manner, given that their own barons are nearby, but it is obvious that some of the younger and more principled kindred agree with Nines sentiments at least in principle. Possibly this is because there is now no other option than to join an existing power structure, without the opportunity to forge their own path, which is in the minds of many Anarchs the difference between them and the Camarilla.

Damsel - Brujah
Anarch 'Den Mother'
You can clearly see that if Nines was to become an active part of LA's power structure that dozens of Brujah from other barons would join him and if this is how he really feels then the possibility of that happening seems more a matter of 'when' than 'if'.

Unusually, many of the Gangrel who normally lap up such rhetoric on the benefits of independence seems less vocal in their support than one might expect. Some even look towards Marius to see what his reaction is. This lends some credence to what you've been hearing about the Gangrel of LA looking more and more towards him as a leader. As he already coordinates the majority of the census takers and sweepers intelligence on movements and has become more aggressive in the expression of his personal philosophies this is another worry as the Gangrel now have the second largest clan presence in the Free States.

Even the most vocal of those responsible for the actions that Nines is decrying seem unwilling to interrupt his impassioned speech given the tension now palpable in the atmosphere. When he finishes he storms back to his seat with Skelter in tow.

"I think..." says Fortier "...we should have a short break before any-one else speaks so every-one can relax a little. It's getting tense in here, even for a rant." No-one disagrees...

Scene Six - The Politics of the Night (Two)
'The Pale Lady' - Autarkis Gangrel
Assassin
As the assembled kindred spread out and began to use the opportunity to further both their own schemes and those of their barons, Daniel noticed the kindred assassin he knew as 'The Pale Lady' sitting in the rafters in a casual manner. He was sure she wasn't there when the meeting started as looking up is a habit that he had gotten into since having a Bane possessed bloodworm fall on him from a tunnel ceiling. Though many kindred observed the stage from similar locations, they had wisely given the notorious killer a wide berth.

As he looked around to see if any others had noted her presence, he observed 'Chick' also looking up. It seemed likely that she had already warned her allies as they had dropped into position around their leader, Baron Voerman.

Vin had been using the time to gauge the reaction of his fellow clan members to Nines speech. Many seemed to be of agreement, not because of the argument itself but because it came from Nines who they respected. Many had also began to hint to Nines Rodriguez that should he wish to take an active role in the politics of the Free States that they would join him. Many Brujah Barons who had previously looked to Nines as an ally, were now seeing him as a potential rival for the leadership of their own gangs based on how many of their followers would certainly defect to Nines service if he gave a call to arms.


Michael decided that based on the current situation that a conversation with Baron Fortier was in order. Atarah was in the way but stepped aside at Louis's request as he beckoned Michael to join them. The empathetic Toreador could see that the group was in high spirits and he got the distinct impression that the result of his appeal for neutral zones had in fact been exactly what the baron and his childer had wanted. If so it had been a skilful bit of manipulation on the part of the Ventrue Baron.

Los Angeles Airport at Night
Domain of Louis Fortier
Michael asked about the situation in the South and how he thought a change in leadership in those baronies might effect the rest of Los Angeles. Louis revealed that David Geduld had given control of the airport that they had previously shared responsibility for to him. This was in order to prevent any kindred interfering in the Southern baronies over fear of their being a monopoly on transportation. Though it wasn't ever stated outright, Michael was sure that a pact of none-interference had also been part of the deal between the two Barons as it's exactly what he would have done in the circumstances. As the airport had been mentioned, and conscious that he might soon need another way of bringing in shipments, Michael asked if a meeting could be arranged to discuss a deal about it's use. Fortier agreed and said that he would arrange for his people to get in touch when a suitable opportunity arose. With that he rose from his seat, made his polite goodbyes and then returned to his own seating area.

Mr Hertz had been making his usual polite greetings with several of Los Angeles notables and was using the opportunity to see if he could get any financial work. His credentials were impeccable in that area but he knew it would take some time before the barons trusted him enough to let him become involved in their own baronies businesses. It was, in his opinion, just a matter of keeping at it til something clicked into place or an opportunity arose. As it happened, his previous conversation with Hank Boyd of the Crypts Sons had apparently been convincing enough for the gang leader to throw something his way.

"There might be something you can help me with now no mention it." Said Hank after some thought. "Someone is buying up a lot of property in South Central LA but no-one I hit-up for info can find jack-shit about the fucker."

South Central Los Angeles at Night
The Nosferatu's interest was, of course, piqued. "Now it might be just some land developer or some-one with a gentrification project on the cards which is fine, but I don't like the fact that they're being so fucking shady about it, know what I mean?" Mr Hertz confirmed that overt secrecy was in his opinion a warning sign. "If you can find out who they is I'll make it worth your while, cool?" Such enquiries were bread and butter to the financial expert so he promised to give the matter some attention. Though it was probably going to be a relatively minor bit of information gathering, it was at least a way in.

Michael noted David Geduld approaching him but before he had reached the Baron of the North east's table, attention turned to the stage as Marius decided that enough time had gone by after Nine's speech.

Quinn - Gangrel
Eldest Childe of the Mistress of the Swarm
Marius briefly speaks to confirm his service's are still available, regardless of recent events as well as formally introducing his census takers, Kesara, Nessa and Ria Perez, then Quinn who represents the Swarm, and his Liaison with the chantry, Eleanor. A heckler, one of Priss's new recruits shouts out "So you want all the benefits of being a baron but none of the responsibilities..." Unusually his response isn't to beat the heckler into torpor but rather he reassures all present that he takes the situation seriously and they can call him baron if it makes them more comfortable. His tone however indicates that he thinks the title is a bit silly and/or outdated. "On another note..." he continues "...I'd rather not be interrupted till I've completed what I have to say." He then turns his gaze onto the heckler and for a moment drops whatever cloak he uses to shield both his aura and whatever other predatory air he normally keeps hidden. Though he does this for a mere fraction of a second all within his gaze and in close proximity realise that they are in the presence of a something innately predatory as the focus of his ire promptly falls of his chair and scrambles backwards. Seemingly satisfied he has made his point he returns to his seat as if nothing has happened.

The South Coast of Los Angeles
With Marius apparently done with his usual rant appearance mix of relaying information and scaring the shit out of kindred who heckled him, Geduld continued over to Michael. "Perhaps we can speak in private?" Stated Geduld, nodding towards Michael's own guards. "Of course..." replied Michael. "...as long as your guards are also leaving us?"  David gestured for his own people to make themselves scarce and the two barons found themselves a relatively quiet corner.

"I wasn't sure whether we should be chatting at all as apparently were about to be on different sides of a war..." Michael was a talented negotiator so hid his reaction perfectly, giving David Geduld his best 'I have no idea what you're talking about' look. Getting no reaction, David continued "One can only presume that when your personal bodyguard has a van load of firearms and ammunition shipped to someones rival, that their leader has picked a side already?"

Michael of course feigned ignorance despite being well aware of what Daniel had done. He did so in such a convincing manner that he could see a flicker of doubt in David Geduld's face, Nonetheless, the Baron of Torrance continued. "Your men and the Ventrue who runs the docks for Baron Booth were the very definition of discretion. Steve himself is far less talented in the area of Subterfuge, however."

"I will of course investigate your claim." answered Michael, "But I'm sure an intelligent man such as yourself is aware that I prefer diplomacy and only use violence in self defence. Though I'm also aware that the situation in the South could easily put one on edge, even make them a little paranoid?" The Toreador's controlled tone and clear logic had most definitely undermined his opposite numbers confidence in their pronouncement so he continued as one who was completely innocent of the accusations levelled at them and only wished to help.

Michael Tomassio - Toreador Baron of the NE
"I'll get around to that..."
"Should you require an impartial negotiator to help you come up with a diplomatic solution then feel free to call upon me. I have done such things for many notables within our city and would be happy to extend such a service to you also." With the previously confident Ventrue now more confused than anything else. Michael excused himself as he still had "Other business to attend to..."

Storytellers Note - Well Michael's player completely turned that around, lol.

Daniel's eavesdropping on other conversations around the hall had led him to believe that some serious rift had occurred between the main bulk of El Hermandad and their allies in Covina though it was difficult to separate the rumour from the facts. The name 'Baker' had been mentioned several times and it seemed that the unpopular kindred gobshite had gone missing. Vin's more direct enquiries had led him to the same conclusion.

Victor Girard - Toreador
Ally of El Hermandad
Some event during the recent Cross Rebellion had driven a wedge between the two baronies. There was talk of broken agreements and pacts, blame being cast on both sides and even an accusation of violence between the two. As Covina shared a border with their North-Eastern alliance of baronies, both the Banu Haqim and the Brujah relayed their concerns to Michael. Michael had of course already detected the tension and now resolved to discover exactly what was going on with his neighbours.

Jesus Ramirez seemed busy so Michael instead approached his fellow Toreador, Victor Girard and began to make subtle enquiries. Victor at first attempted to downplay the event as a minor communications breakdown between the two El Hermandad allied baronies. Michael easily discerned that this most definitely not a minor issue and pressed the point more forcibly though still diplomatically.

He called upon ties of clan, the proximity of the two baronies and the good relations that they, as neighbours currently experienced. Persuasive as always, Michael convinced Victor to share the problem with him and for the second time this evening he found himself in a private discussion. It seemed that while pursuing a rebel group of Jenna's followers the Wilds Pack crossed into the barony of Covina and found the survivors they were after about to rendezvous with another group.

Myranda Marie - Gangrel
Pack Leader of the Wilds Pack
This group had survived intact as Covina's kindred were waiting for reinforcements from El Hermandad which hadn't yet arrived and were observing rather than attacking. Myranda having some political savvy approached the Covina observer and explained the situation, offering to withdraw if they planned on dealing with the enemies personally. Victor paused briefly and Michael got the impression that he was mentally ordering the following events into the order that cast his own people in the best light.

He continued, letting his fellow Toreador know that the representative of the Covina kindred instead of waiting for help, or dealing with the matter themselves, gave the Wilds Pack members permission to continue their pursuit as long as they destroyed the other group of rebels also, which they promptly did. As a straight swap of boons, ignoring a trespass in exchange for some assistance, this should have been the end of it if it wasn't for the fact that the help promised by Jesus Ramirez never arrived, even belatedly. Victor paused once more. Michael had a feeling that this was where the real problem was about to be spelt out.

Knowing that there was another group of rebels in their territory, Tabatha Mayer, who was seemingly what passed for a leader in Covina, asked for further help. Quite happy to engage in acts of violent mayhem on the slimmest of provocations, the Wilds Pack apparently said "Why the fuck not..." and wiped out this other group too, alongside the kindred of Covina in what was effectively a joint operation.

'Baker' - Gangrel
El Hermandad 'Sweeper'
El Hermandad claim never to have received the call for aid at all. Finley Morales, Covina Gangrel and census-taker claims that he passed the message onto Baker together with the information on staging points received via Gary Golden which made it clear that the Covina kindred had insufficient resources to deal with the enemies alone.

As Baker has now disappeared, Jesus is blaming the Covina kindred for murdering them as reprisal. The Covina kindred are denying any involvement, going as far as to state that Baker is probably being hidden by Ramirez to conceal the fuck-up.

"So Michael..." concluded Victor. "...this is a situation that you'll probably want to stay out of though I appreciate your offer of help, this is one we need to deal with internally." Adding it to his list of situations in LA that could effect his mission, Michael thanked his fellow clan member and returned to his own people.

A few more brief conversations were had by the coterie members but no new information on any of the current disputes came to light. Any further enquiries were bought to a standstill as an unexpected new speaker arrived.

Storytellers Note - There was some in character conversation that followed but it was mainly just the players renewing old acquaintances and general chit chat so I haven't detailed it here.

Scene Seven - The Return of Tara
Tara Kearney - Brujah
Baron of San Diego
You can hear murmurs from the back of the hall as a tad overweight, ordinary looking woman with shoulder length blond hair enters the building with about fifteen kindred with her. There are looks of disbelief from some and outright shock from a number of Thinbloods and Caitiff as Tara, former baron and then 'Prince' of San Diego, makes a fashionably late, and suitably dramatic entrance.

It seems that the lack of information coming out of that area is now explained. Obviously Tara has retaken San Diego and is Baron of it once more. One can only presume that Jenna's rooftop attack merely put her in Torpor for a period and one of her followers evidently spirited her away though there are no doubt other possibilities. It is of course no surprise to any who knew her that once awakened she "Took back what was rightfully hers."

Certain recent events fell into place in the coteries minds as Tara entered the Rant. Given that they knew Marius had been in San Diego and his business empire had also expanded there it became obvious that Marius had  definitely facilitated this in return for many boons and material favours. Tara was also most likely the one who hired him to kill Jenna and destroy the Thinbloods The activities of the new mayor of San Diego also indicated in retrospect that he is bloodbound to Tara.

Jenna Cross - Caitiff
Staked by Marius - Location Unknown
*Daniel - Profiling Handout In your opinion based on your skills as a profiler and observer of human and kindred behaviour and in this case the reactions of the crowd here present, Marius was hired to eliminate the duskborn threat by Tara, Therese, and possibly Fortier. Others certainly played a part but these are the only ones that leap out at you.*

"As you can see, rumours of my final death are as false as the divinity claims of Jenna Cross." This prompts some muttering from those still smarting from their defeat and chuckles from others who gained from its failure. "Some here may still bear me I'll will due to lies spread about me by my enemies within San Diego and the rumour mongers within LA. Let me be clear, though I make no secret of my ambitions to rule, it was always my intention to do so as an Anarch, not some lapdog of the Camarilla." She then pans across the crowd, her arm outstretched, stopping at each baron in turn as she does so. "Who here would claim to have refused such an opportunity to consolidate the Free States under their own rule if it arose?"

Michael appreciated the clever strategy. Any who claimed they would not, would show themselves to be weak and also would quite obviously be lying. As expected there is no response.

"All kindred in San Diego now answer to me, those who opposed me met their final deaths via fire, explosion or inexplicable accidents." Several of the kindred in the room turn to look at Marius at this point. His expression is noncommittal. "I have taken back San Diego as my domain and will expect any visitors to show me the proper respect as I will when visiting my allies here in the Free States. "

The politicians among the coterie appreciated this as another masterly move on Tara's part as she has simultaneously sown mistrust amongst all those present. They are now looking to one another attempting to discern who these allies are, if they exist at all.

As no-one seemed to have anything else to say, the kindred of Los Angeles dispersed to consider the ramifications of these new revelations...

To be Continued in 'Ties of Blood' (Part One)

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

Wading through, and then discussing the handouts took about an hour as the players absorbed new plots and discussed what events took priority.

As this was the start of a new chronicle and there was a lot to round up, there was a lot more of me talking than normal but I pre-warned the players and they were fine with it under the circumstances.

I also was conscious that I had become a bit linear, with problems arising that the players had time to deal with before another issue arose. I have therefore decided with this third chronicle to force them to choose their priorities and deal with those choices. This means that if they wish to take over LA they'll need to begin to pick who they try to destroy and who they ally with...

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, Amethyst is Paula Patton, David Geduld is Zachary Quinto, Louis Fortier is Eduardo Verastegui, Victoria Anne is Lilith May, Jenna Cross is Rhona Mitra, Marcelina Black is Carrie Anne Moss, Therese Voerman is Whitney Moore, Marius Walker is Tony Curran, Carmelita Neillson is Salma Hayek, Priya is Gabrielle Union, Rosa is Mahafsoun, 'E' is Patrick Swayze, Hugo Snyder is Mahershala Ali, Harvey Caplan is Harvey Keitel, Eleanor Braun is Polly Harvey, Countess Andrea Visconti is Elizabeth Hurley, Charlie 'Chick' Abbott is Lena Headey, Isaac Abrams is Gary Oldman, Karen Anatos is Christina Hendricks, Henrique 'Hank' Boyd is Michael Clarke Duncan, Gloria Martinez is Ariadne Artiles, Velvet Velour is Cosplayer Olga Bazanova, Damsel is Irina Delnova, 'The Pale Lady' is Anastasia EG, Catherine Du Bois is Margot Robbie,  Elena Gutierrez is Emmanuelle Vaugier, Mariel St John is Kate Moss, Quinn is Oliver Parker and Myranda Marie is Shannyn Visceral, 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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