Monday, 17 September 2018

Vampire the Masquerade 5th Edition - Session Zero - Welcome to LA

I'm starting to run a Vampire the Masquerade chronicle using the 5th Edition rule-set for a small group of fellow role-players...
Our campaign is going to be set in Los Angeles and will feature a small group of Camarilla agents sent into the 'Free States' to search for ways to once again bring the Ivory Tower to dominance under the pretence of being disillusioned neonates looking for the freedom of the Anarch way of life...a life which they hopefully won't decide they like better...
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Why LA? - Well it contains a lot of different baronies giving me a lot of interactions to play with, allows me to use some of the more interesting characters from the Bloodlines PC game (which two of the players were familiar with) and is a setting not yet experienced by the players familiar with the Vampire RPG which gives me a chance to keep them on their toes...I've also changed quite a lot and inserted some new characters of my own to make things a bit more interesting...

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 wont be for you. I've also used actual photographs to represent some characters which I'll give acknowledgements to at the end if I've any idea who they are.

The Storyteller
Garreth as Everyone else...
The PC's
Phil as Michael Tomassio - Toreador
Tom as Johnny 'Roach' West - Malkavian
Dave as Vincent 'Vin' Ghast - Brujah
The characters stats and backgrounds can be found HERE should any-one be interested...
The NPC's
Marius Walker - Autarkis Gangrel 'Fixer'
Victoria, Yukio and Heather - Three of Marius's many ghouls
The Cabbie - Clan Unknown - Kindred 'Transporter'

As I have written out introductions and dialogue for certain NPC's I'll post these more or less as I wrote them so they'll be in a 'reading to the group' style...they'll also be in blue so you can tell them apart from the more traditional write-up sections. 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...

Act One - Introductions
Each of you has been selected by your respective sires, masters or possibly even by the elders to which they themselves answer to infiltrate the Anarch held territory of Los Angeles or the 'Free States' as the Anarch rabble refer to them as. With losses in traditional Camarilla strongholds such as Berlin and London it has begun to turn its eye to areas where once it held sway in order to determine if they could do so again. 


The Camarilla's last attempt some two decades ago was far more direct. They simply created a Primogen council from those sympathetic to their cause or who could be sufficiently bribed, appointed an ambitious Ventrue to the position of Prince and sent him with a Sheriff with enough personal destructive power to directly enforce his will. Unfortunately for them this attempt was ended abruptly by a plot woven by the Anarch trickster known as Smiling Jack with a punchline consisting of a coffin full of explosives. This time it has been decided that they'll start at the bottom, rather than at the top with a small group of ambitious Kindred who shall be given free rein to approach the manner in any way they see fit. Each it is hoped has the ability to infiltrate a different level of kindred society and can then support each other towards the ultimate goal of Camarilla supremacy in the free states or at the very least weaken the Anarchs enough for other methods to be employed. 

A Gangrel 'Fixer' called Marius who has previously shown some sympathies towards the Camarilla and more significantly owes several of it's important members a large boon has been contacted to facilitate this early transition and has provided each of you with a small but functional Haven and modest resources to allow yourselves to become accustomed to your new environment as well as using his influence to keep you out of trouble while you do so. You have been informed that you'll be contacted when the time is right for you to form your coterie and begin your infiltration campaign. After several months have passed that contact has been made and each of you is to be ready outside your havens at an hour past nightfall where a contact will bring you to your meeting...

Storytellers Note - Every-one got their own initial intro sequence so they could warm-up with their character a little before interacting with the other players characters. certain things I only described the once though as explaining the decor three times seemed redundant as they were all sitting around the same table...

Michael Tomassio - Toreador

Parked on the street in front of your haven is a large black, luxury SUV with tinted windows. In many places such a vehicle would draw attention but this is Los Angeles where such things are relatively common and yours is one of the better neighbourhoods in the vicinity. Waiting casually by it's side is a tall, stunningly attractive and impeccably dressed woman with long dark hair. The rear door of the vehicle is open.
"Mr Tomassio? or do you prefer Michael?"

The handsome and intelligent artist deciding to start off as diplomatically as possible and indicated that he had no particular preference and the lady countered that as they would be spending some time together then 'Michael' might be best. She then introduced herself formally.

"I've been sent to escort you to your meeting, my name is Victoria..." The inside of the vehicle is the height of luxury and has been partitioned off from the drivers compartment by a screen of blackened or possibly heavily tinted glass. "So you're the artist then?"

Michael indicated that he was indeed and proceeded to discuss the details of his particular style. He was pleasantly surprised to find that she was apparently well educated in the field and passed several pleasant minutes discussing his various artistic endeavours. While talking to the woman however he mentally reassessed his initial assessment of 'stunning' as despite sounding warm and engaging he began to get a distinctly predatory vibe from her as if the pleasantries were practised rather than sincere and that he was for want of a better term being 'sized-up'. She subtly deflected the majority of his specific questions about the Gangrel Marius who they were to meet and was downright vague about the length of time she'd been in his service saying only that she'd been with him for a 'long time' and describing him as a fixer of kindred problems.

Victoria Anezka
The drive from your Haven to the meeting is uneventful and the traffic at this time is relatively light so you make good time. You complete your journey outside an old and sturdily constructed building that seems to have been restored at some point recently as several of the features on the outside though skilfully constructed lack the signs of age of the surrounding decor. The sign over the door identifies the building as Hallowbrook Apartments though there is a pale rectangle above the sign which indicates that it might have once had a different name or at the very least a shorter one. The door is opened for you by the driver who you can't help but notice is both armed and wearing body armour. It appears that security is very important to some-one...

Michael though having a passing familiarity with firearms mainly used his charm, social skills and perhaps a liberal sprinkling of the 'Presence' discipline to get his way and to influence those around him. The fact that his contact felt that armoured guards with high calibre weaponry were apparently mandatory gave him a good idea about how dangerous a place Los Angeles must be for the Kindred existing there.

The decoration within is significantly more modern than that of the outside and appears to have been completely redecorated at some point fairly recently. At a counter in the centre of the lobby sits a pair of armed security guards in front of a bank of security monitors presumably connected to the multiple security cameras you can see at various points around the room. Behind the security station are a pair of elevators one of which is marked as private and to the right of the entrance is a doorway leading to a set of stairs and another door labelled as 'Security Only'. Victoria unlocks the private elevator with a security code punched into a digital display alongside and once within the control panel appears to only have buttons to allow access to floors marked P1 to P5 with another separate button below marked 'Sub-Basement 2'. After pressing the topmost button the elevator climbs to what you correctly presume is the penthouse level...

Michael made mention of the significant security measures and Victoria replied saying "Marius is quite keen on physical security, especially as we use this place for meetings". "In our particular business of fixing problems the kindred and occasional person with those problems need to be able to find us...of course the downside to that is of course that kindred know where to find us..." Michael was somewhat reassured by the precautions around him but also had to mentally ask the question about the wisdom of associating with some-one who apparently had enemies that warranted that much protection.

The elevator opens up into a separate lobby with an apartment door ahead and a large set of elevator doors leading elsewhere at the end of a long corridor on the right. Following your guides lead you are invited into an impressive and expensively decorated apartment that seems to have been created from the top two floors of the building as a set of stairs leads up to a balcony and several more doors. There's a seating area with several coffee tables in front of an un-necessarily large flat screen television, a small kitchen area in one corner and doors leading into other rooms along both sides. Sitting at the top of the stairs peering through the railings in your direction is a large wolf-like dog. Victoria indicates that you should wait in the seating area and heads off into a room on right. Apparently you are the first to arrive.

Storytellers Note - Each character is required to finish the creation process with two dots of Flaws. One of Michael's is an enemy in the form of a spurned lover and the other is what is referred to as a folkloric block, basically a classic vampire flaw that for some reason the kindred has. Unfortunately for Michael he cannot cross a threshold to a home uninvited by the owner unless he spends Willpower to do so.

With a keen eye for style it was obvious to Michael that many of the items in the room had been purchased for their value without much care being taken to ensure that they matched each other particularly. Some attempt had been made to group similar style items and arrange them in as aesthetically pleasing a manner as possible but with the material at their disposal they were fighting a losing battle. The artist had his doubts that both these people were the same as the individual attempting to bring order to the chaos had some flair for it and the purchaser obviously did not. At least there were enough items of interest to stave off the boredom while he waited...

Johnny 'Roach' West - Malkavian
Sitting on the bonnet of an old style taxi is a pretty but slightly skinny girl, humming tunelessly to herself, dressed in what passes for fashion amongst the student types that you normally sell recreational distractions to. Unusually for a taxi-cab the windows are slightly tinted making it difficult to see the driver within. As you approach she reaches into a pocket, unfolds a piece of paper and then after carefully reading it twice, returns it to a completely different pocket.
"Is it Johnny, 'Roach' or Mr West?"

The slightly unkempt (yet fashionably dressed for his particular scene) kindred settled on 'Roach' as in his particular side-line having people know your real name can be somewhat inconvenient.

Storytellers Note - As mentioned earlier character creation requires a certain number of dots in flaws and 'Roach' has the two dot flaw hopeless addiction. Basically he needs to get his meals stoned before dining from them...the Dominate discipline which he also has obviously helps too when you're a drug dealer...

She leans in and whispers in a conspiratorial tone "I'm Heather, don't worry about the taxi-driver he's cool with all the vampire stuff..." then without further introduction she opens the rear passenger door of the cab and slides across to the opposite seat. Apparently this is what passes for an invitation where she's concerned. Once within the cab 'Heather' demonstrates the privacy from the driver by sticking her tongue out in the direction of the glass, pulling stupid faces in it's direction and making raspberry sounds which are apparently either unheard or more likely ignored as the driver heads off as soon as your seated. "So you're not the heavy...are you the brains or do you have some other super power?"

'Heather'
Roach smiled at the comment and then promptly disappeared before a moment later the smoke from a large joint began to appear from the corner where he sat. Having demonstrated his 'super power' he reappeared in the seat which he had of course never actually left despite Heather's senses being fooled into believing he had. "Do you have another of those?" she enquired indicated the joint in his hand...of course if she had known of his particular weakness she might have thought twice about asking.

Storytellers Note - Every Vampire campaign I've run since 2004 has a slightly useless Ghoul named Heather in it...I saw no reason to change that for this one. 

After taking the offered spliff she began to relax a little and began to talk pretty much constantly as the journey continued, as Roach began to wonder if she was very nervous or just an idiot as it was difficult to tell. "So is that how you do it then? You know...get people to let you bite them? Marius says all vampires have their own way of doing it, some jump on you in an alley, some use the 'do as I say' voice, he tends to just have them delivered...so is this your predator thingy?" Growing bored of her now he lent in close and in a very serious tone informed her that she probably shouldn't ask about such things. On hearing this she slid as far into the opposite corner as she could, flicked her hair over her previously exposed neck and thankfully shut up for a bit only speaking to unnecessarily announce "We're Here..." when the vehicle stopped. She also seemed quite pleased to be out of the cab where she could put some distance between herself and her guest stopping only to inform the driver that his payment was "In the cooler in the boot..."...

Storytellers Note - 'Predator Type' is a new thing in this edition that you select at character creation and gives you advantages with a certain feeding method. Roach's particular predator type is 'Scene queen' which makes it easier to hunt within a particular scene or group of people, Michael's is 'Siren' which helps with seduction and the yet to be introduced 'Vin' is an 'Alleycat' which basically means he mugs people in side streets...more or less...


As you exit the cab there's a moment where you're sure the sign outside the building says 'Hallowbrook Hotel' not 'Hallowbrook Apartments' and a red hue cast from somewhere gives all the appearance of the building having been smeared in blood while all the nearby background noises sound briefly like moans of pain. The moment quickly passes but the picture of a blood-stained basement filled with the dead and dying is strongly embedded in your memory. 

After navigating several security measures between the lobby, elevator and upper landing you arrive in a well decorated two floor apartment and are pointed in the direction of a well dressed gentlemen in sunglasses which (after Heather locates and checks the bit of paper she had earlier which she's unable to remember which pocket she placed in) she tells you is named Michael and is one of the two members of what she refers to as your 'spy-club'. She then walks into the kitchen area in the corner leaving you with your new acquaintance.

Storytellers Note - Toms character 'Roach' has the second dot Auspex power Premonition which combined with he fact that he's a Malkavian is basically a free pass for me to throw slightly odd visions at him whenever it feels appropriate. He can use it himself as well of course...

After the polite introductions Michael took the lead and briefly outlined his particular skill set and enquired what Roach's speciality was. "I suppose you'd say it was stealth...and information gathering" was the reply though he made no mention of the methods he employed presuming that Michael would learn them soon enough when they began to work together. They also discussed their very different experiences of their escorts as Michael had been very impressed with the efficiency and impression given by his whereas that of Roach had been pretty much the opposite. Deciding to find out for himself the Toreador strolled into the kitchen area to converse with the girl who had bought in the Malkavian. Roach meanwhile had found an undoubtedly expensive ornament to use as an ashtray and made himself comfortable.

Michael discovered that before being ghouled Heather had been a student of fashion design and once talking on this particular subject seemed to have a vast array of knowledge on it and came across as intelligent, competent and certainly not the blithering idiot that Roach had made her out to be. Perhaps his new colleague just wasn't as good a judge of character as he himself was.

Interlude One - The Cabbie
Offering a unique service to the kindred of Los Angeles the Vampire known currently as 'the Cabbie' (or sometimes 'The Transporter' by younger kindred) offers transport of any-one or anything from anywhere in Los Angeles and the surrounding areas with no questions asked anytime from nightfall to daybreak. Taking payment in blood, boon, money or valuables he guarantees prompt and guaranteed arrival times and can even be waiting at your chosen pick-up point at the moment you awake at your Haven. How he himself manages to arrive at a time that can only be accomplished by travel during the hours of daylight has never been answered but he has yet to fail to keep an appointment. By mutual agreement his vehicle is considered to have the same status as an Elysium and this is honoured by all kindred and is perhaps the only recorded time of a vehicle being granted this status. It's rumoured that even the Sabbat and the Lupines honour his status as neutral ground though this may be just wishful thinking...several older kindred speak of a gentlemen in the past known as the coachman who offered a similar service in other cities...

Vincent 'Vin' Ghast - Brujah
Waiting for you at the nearest access road to your basement Haven is a older model Range Rover that appears to be an ex-military model judging from the accessories and equipment. Leaning against the drivers side is an oriental girl who appears to be little older than a teenager wearing a long black leather coat, combat trousers, military style boots and finger-less leather gloves. One of the beggars who keeps an eye on the area for you had already informed you of her arrival and is currently sitting in a shop doorway a short distance away.
"You must be 'Vin', jump in and I'll drive you to the meeting, I'm Yukio"

A kindred of very few words unless threatening some-one and sometimes not even then he merely confirmed who he was and headed for the vehicle as the young lady got in herself.

As you approach the vehicle you spy a group of obviously drunk men making various insulting comments to the beggar about the 'worthless scum on the streets' and other more colourful comments and who have now begun to kick bits of rubbish and debris in his direction. As he attempts to get up the largest of the men pushes him to the ground and proceeds to empty the remnants of a bottle of beer over his head...

Yukio Hayashi
Vin looked at the vehicle then back at the scuffle before telling Yukio "Well I can't let that stand..." Yukio leaned out of the window and gestured in the direction of the scuffle "It's okay we have got a few minutes if you want to deal with that...". Conscious of the fact that he was dangerously close to his haven he decided that intimidation would be his best tactic followed by violence if it didn't work though generally this was Vin's priority system for all situations so it didn't take a lot of consideration.

"What the fuck do you want?" was the opening gambit from the bullies leader but the confidence left his voice quickly as he properly took in the tall, heavily built and extremely unhappy looking person in front of him. Vin had intimidation down to an art form and it took only a stare followed by a few choice words very slightly reinforced by an aura of menace from the Presence discipline before the group of would be hard-men decided to get the hell out of there as soon as they could. Mildly disappointed that he hadn't got to punch any-one he checked the beggar was okay before returning to the vehicle.

"Nicely handled...What do you do when that doesn't work?" enquired Yukio "Fists, blade, guns?" Vin indicated his liking for close-up work though had no strong preference between bare knuckles and stabbing people. He did point out that he wasn't a massive fan of fire-arms though he used them if he had to but this was currently an easy choice for him as his only ranged weapon was an old .22 pistol in terrible condition. They spent a few more minutes discussing various methods of brutally maiming and killing people before his escort turned her attention to the drive.


The young lady is a skilled if somewhat aggressive driver who has an impressive grasp of swear words from a variety of languages and after a short drive she turns down a side-street, through a security gate and into an underground carpark beneath a sturdy looking old building. After parking in one of three empty spaces in a bay marked as 'reserved for penthouse' she leads you to a large freight elevator which seems an unusual thing to have in an apartment building. After punching a code into a heavy duty push button panel and opening not one but two heavy shutters she beckons you into the elevator and presses the button for the upper floor of the building. As the elevator rises you can hear the outer shutters clanking back into place behind you. You notice that despite this being very obviously the bottom floor of the building there are two buttons below the one that lights up for the floor you started on.

Storytellers Note - Vin's flaw is that he's illiterate which adds a surprising amount of issues when you as the Storyteller are trying to describe things, lol. Note to Self - Make sure all cryptic notes delivered by mysterious strangers are handed to one of the other two...

Once in the excessively and un-necessarily decadent two-floor apartment you are pointed in the direction of two gentlemen chatting who you are informed are the other two members of your cell identified as Johnny and Michael respectively. As the two kindred turned to observe their newest coterie member suddenly Heather describing one of the group as 'the muscle' made perfect sense. Once personal introductions are done Michael made some enquiries of the newcomer who told them in no uncertain terms that his brief was to keep them able to do their jobs by making sure any immediate threats went away by whatever means were necessary and assured them he was more than capable of doing so. They then went on to share what few bits of information they'd managed to glean from their various escorts which admittedly amounted to very little.

Interlude Two - Clan Carna
Vanessa 'Ruby' Rubeus
After about fifteen minutes more waiting the corner door opens and a group of four emerges, led by a red-headed girl in a black dress and choker, decorated with various trails of beads. Around her neck are several silver necklaces each of which has a different occult or religious looking symbol on it. The two other women and one man who have formed a circle around her as she crosses towards the door also have several similar symbols either on jewellery or as part of their outfits.

For some reason when they first appeared the Malkavian was convinced that they're all wearing pointy hats and cackling a lot...however by the time they'd reached the door they appeared as normal as every-one else had seen them. Both Johnny and Michael noted that one of the symbols around the red-headed woman's neck was a stylised version of the symbol for Clan Tremere who had recently lost many of their elders in an attack on their chantry in Vienna by the second inquisition who had successfully blamed the event on an act of terrorism. The rest of the symbols the group were wearing were seemingly mundane however.

Johnny used the ability to read auras granted by his mastery of the Auspex discipline to attempt to gain further information ascertaining that they were all vampires and usefully that none had committed the act of diablerie in the last year. He could grasp very little about their emotional state however other than a vague impression of disappointment. Using more mundane but effective methods of observation, insight and empathy Michael detected subtle signs that whatever they'd been discussing had not ended with the result they'd been looking for though they didn't seem angry they were certainly not happy.

The lady that one of you knows as Victoria escorts them as far as the door and from there the one you know as Yukio escorts them outside. Victoria then walks over to where you've been sitting. "Marius will see you now, I'll show you in...". She briefly looked sideways at 'Roach' using several thousand dollars worth of bowl as an ashtray and shared a knowing glance with an apologetic Michael before turning and walking towards what you can only assume is a meeting room of some description.

Act Two - The 'Fixer'
Marius Walker - 'Fixer'
The 'meeting room' contains a long antique wooden table, surrounded by high-backed chairs. Several paintings and pictures adorn the walls apart from the rearmost one which instead has two large cabinets containing a wide variety of bladed weapons. Already seated in the chair in front of these cabinets is an athletically built, dark haired man, with a short beard and a thin scar running down the side of his face. He's wearing a dark red shirt and a black leather jacket and a large calibre revolver can be clearly seen in a shoulder holster beneath his right arm. The clothes are very expensive but no great care has been taken of them. "Allow me to officially welcome you all to the city of angels, please take a seat and we'll get started"

Johnny's attempt to scry their host was unsuccessful as his aura seemed for want of a better term 'flat' and gave no usable information whatsoever other than making him slightly concerned about what about his aura their host felt the need to hide as the fact that it was shielded in some-way was obvious to him having encountered such methods before. Vin's interest was more drawn to the cabinets of weaponry all of which were swords of some description in fact there seemed to be pretty much one of each type of weapon that could be said to embody an era or culture. Amongst the selection were a heavy cavalry sabre, a middle-eastern scimitar, a  Japanese katana, a Chinese butterfly sword and a medieval broadsword though there were many others. Though all impressive examples of their kind each was definitely functional and many showed signs of use rather than being purely ornamental.


Michaels interest was of course drawn to the artwork. One of the paintings was a sunset created mainly in red and orange oil colours but had no artists name, there was also an artistic nude of an Asian woman which on closer inspection appears to be a photograph that's had steam strategically added and effects to give the illusion of a piece of artwork. The final piece was a disturbing painting that was seemingly the biblical scene 'the judgement of Solomon' though in this version Solomon looked like a warlord, the baby had actually been sliced in two and both of the women claiming to be it's mother seem quite happy with their bisected child halves. Whether he appreciated the subject matter or not Michael had to admit that the picture had been painted with a masterful grasp of light and technique. The name in the corner was simply 'Malaki' which was some-one Michael as a painter himself was aware of as his works had been condemned by many religious organisations as blasphemous which subsequent publicity had of course pushed their value up significantly.

"It was my hope to give you another few weeks to establish yourselves but unfortunately several Kindred from a number of different areas of influence have began to make enquires about you and so you're going to need each others support if you're not to be picked off individually by those that may decide that they want what is yours"

This of course led to enquiries about whose attention exactly they'd come to. Marius informed them that amongst others this had been Louis Fortier (a Ventrue of considerable influence in downtown LA), or specifically Elena his childe who had become aware of Michael's artistic endeavours and though artists who slept all day and partied all night weren't exactly a novelty the pattern was enough for a fellow kindred to take notice of. Several Nosferatu notables whose names meant nothing to the newcomers but who Marius called Bertrum and 'Gary' had become interested in Vin's burgeoning beggar information network and apparently at least three of Roach's regular customers were thin-blood followers of Jenna Cross. Marius also indicated that a group of vampire scholars who often used the university had also noticed the drug dealers comings and goings.

"I've assured the interested parties that you are all simply kindred who have grown weary of the Camarillas oppression in your home cities and are seeking out the freedom of the free states in order to build an unlife free of the influence of the Ivory Tower" This statement was read with about as much sarcasm as could be mustered "Which they of course believed because that's the kind of bullshit that Nines and the rest are currently shovelling down every-ones fucking throats despite the 'Free States' being nothing of the kind realistically speaking" He paused briefly to check his watch which the Toreador noted was also expensive but poorly maintained. "I've further offered to send some-one to find you and explain how things work here so you don't get into trouble and they've all presumed that I'm just trying to get another few new kindred in my debt so aren't overly suspicious about me being helpful...and so here we are..." "I'll also tell them I have a small job for you to do which will be true...by tomorrow..." "I know you all have your individual bolt-holes and havens and you're welcome to keep the ones I've provided but you're also going to need something communal where you can plan and retreat to for mutual protection should you piss-off the wrong kindred at some point. You're going to need numbers and actual security now and you also may have other needs which I'll try and help you with if at all possible..." "Then we can discuss a small favour I'd like done in return..."
Storytellers Note - Coterie creation is another new aspect introduced in the 5th edition of vampire that's usually done as part of the character creation process but I decided I wanted to do it as part of the session as I hoped it would be more immersive that way. Basically the group has a number of advantage dots to spend to help shape what their purpose and goals are. The book recommends one dot per player or two dots if there's three or less players. As my chronicle requires them to have a physical base of operations I gave them a two dot Haven though as long as it could house three of them in close proximity I gave them free reign to pick what they wanted as well as five additional dots to spend. Furthermore I gave them the option of taking additional dots as long as they took an equivalent number of flaws. In practical terms this was their contact turning over some of his resources to the group in order to pay off the boon he owed the Camarilla. There are several ideas laid out in the core rulebook...all of which they promptly ignored...as you can no doubt imagine...this took a while...

Interlude Three - Greater Than the Sum of It's Parts...
After some consideration it was decided to take advantage of Michael's growing reputation as an artist to open a studio, gallery and place to sell art as an artists somewhat nocturnal patterns could be explained as the result of a hedonistic lifestyle and artists living in their studios was also not uncommon. Roach was also fairly certain that using his contacts at the university he could get some students with an artistic bent to exhibit their works there either willingly or with a little help from his disciplines. The issue of staff during the day could easily be solved as Michael's ghoul Lisa was already an experienced saleswoman as she sold his art for him anyway. Given the second inquisitions government connections tendencies to look for odd financial transactions the question was asked about the legitimacy of it as a business and they were assured that a more than adequate mask could be created to ensure the business would hold up to scrutiny including having correct documentation, correct bank accounts, etc. 

Marius had a property that could fit the purpose but it was somewhat out of the way in Pasadena. Fortunately the 'Barony of Pasadena' had a vampire population of a mere three, two Ventrue and their blood bound servant and their patron was fairly certain that as long as they hunted elsewhere or bought their own herds with them that he could arrange with them to accept the newcomers as long as they showed them the respect due their age. 

Vin was in agreement with the idea as the gallery idea meant that a high-end security system would not look out of place but wasn't so sure about Michael's insistence on the place being luxuriously decorated a he saw little point in the excess. However as they'd agreed to the security system which was his only concern he conceded the point. Roach also added that if there was anything they couldn't acquire legitimately he probably 'knew a guy' who could.

The Toreador also asked how difficult it would be to get him access to an occult library for research purposes. Marius somewhat reluctantly admitted that it could be done but that the bulk of the spare occult volumes he had available had been acquired after a Giovanni mansion was mysteriously assaulted and that several seemed to be fetters for various spirits. In other words he could have a library as long as he didn't mind it being haunted.

After making some notes about their requirements Marius informed them that what they required would take a little time to sort out but that he'd have the building secured and makeshift havens installed there as a matter of priority and would have the rest of the work done over the next few weeks. One of his own security people would make sure that their location in the building would be undisturbed as work was carried out using the plausible ruse that there were valuable works of art stored in that section though he did point out that they'd have to use their own initial bolt-holes for some of the time as certain work would require access to the whole building.

"Well that's settled then. I'll have Victoria fine-tune the details and the basics discussed should be ready for you by the time you awake tomorrow night" "While we still have a bit of time is there anything else you want to know..."

Understandably their main subject of interest was what areas in the 'Free States' were most unstable and if there were any potential allies of the Camarilla in any of the baronies that might give them support. The news was not particularly inspiring as most of the Camarilla supporters had swiftly left town before the wreckage from the explosion at Prince LaCroix's tower had even hit the ground over a decade ago. The few remaining kindred with Camarilla sympathies didn't exactly broadcast the matter though some such as Therese Voerman made no secret of the fact that she preferred their order over much of the current anarchy though it's unlikely she'd risk her current position to help three random neonates. Her sister Jeanette with whom she'd apparently fallen out with once again was however firmly in the Anarch camp but despite their recent and past differences they had shown surprising unity when faced with a mutual foe. Between the considerable resources and influence of Therese and the formidable network of kindred who owed Jeanette favours they were not a foe to be underestimated and they were advised in the strongest terms possible to be careful how they approached either of them should they do so as their Malkavian natures manifested in some very dangerous ways indeed...

The matter of unstable areas however gave them more hope as they were informed that several baronies were either openly at war and at least one was in a war by proxy due to a certain baron feeding resources to one of the others. Specifically A kindred called Tom Weaver was attempting to take over the Barony of Anaheim by defeating it's current leader Allison Maller but was being supported by the Baron of Santa Ana known only as 'Amethyst and was therefore likely to win. This was a concern even for the other Anarch leaders as many thought that Amethyst would attempt to make herself prince should she have control of two territories from which to build her empire but her anti-Camarilla tendencies were well known. A victory for her puppet wouldn't be good for their long-term plan.
There were also rumours that David Geduld the Baron of Torrance who controlled Los Angeles harbour was actively planning to make a move on the Long Beach Barony of Steve Booth which would no doubt draw in some of the other gangs. Marius's advice was to make as many allies as they could within the Anarchs before making any attempts at a hostile take-over or taking sides as a mis-step this early would be bad for his business and their unlives.
Fortunately for them the Gangrel had a little job for them that he assured them would give them a starting point to gain them some good will with a number of important people...The fact that he hadn't kept the job for himself should have been a warning sign...

To be continued in 'Story' One - Three Murders...

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...
Surprisingly the session went very approximately as I planned. Every-one roleplayed their characters well and I'd put little bits into each of their intros designed to get them talking and to give them a chance to shine a little as individuals and most of these hooks worked...not all admittedly...but enough. Marius is a combination of an old character of mine and an old villain from a previous campaign as his back-story worked nicely with the concept of the chronicle I had planned and it meant I didn't need to do much writing for him. He also gave me a character to attribute events from the Bloodlines PC game too that I wanted to have occurred within my setting without having to explain how a random neonate went from 'just a vampire' to 'had met everyone in LA' in about two nights...if you've played the game you'll know what I mean.

Their choice of haven however threw me a bit of a curve-ball. I had honestly expected them to just pick a fortifiable building and fill it with useful stuff or create themselves a small domain to control. The idea of creating a legitimate business enterprise and pretty much hiding in plain sight intrigued me a lot and though it took a fair bit of time to fine-tune the details I think it's going to create some great plot-hooks and I've already come up with some interesting ideas...well...interesting for me at least...plus when players come up with ideas that genuinely excite them and help with their immersion then I'm quite happy to go with it even if it requires a little extra work...

I gave them the standard one point of experience for the session and a bonus one out of generosity for some good roleplaying during the introduction parts.

Hopefully you'll all stick around for the first session proper which I should be posting in a week or so..

Acknowledgements
I've used pictures of real people to represent some of the characters and art for others so in order of appearance there was Smiling Jack in gif form from the Bloodlines PC game, Michael Tomassio is represented by the actor Dominic Cooper and also in a drawing of his character Henry Sturgess drawn by Lady Avali from DeviantArt, Marius's first ghoul Victoria Anezka is represented by the model Lorelei Swan, Johnny 'Roach' West is quite obviously a drawing of Kurt Cobain, Heather is actually a pornographic film actress called Liz Vicious so be careful if searching for her by name, The Cabbie is the cabbie from the Bloodlines PC game, Vincent 'Vin' Ghast is the martial artist and actor Scott Adkins, Yukio Hayashi is a picture that came up when I typed 'Samurai girl with sword' into a search engine...best I can do...sorry..., similarly Vanessa 'Ruby' Rubeus is a made up name for a picture from a folder on my PC labelled Gothic redheads...everything else is from vampire related folders and searches and is as far as I know is all of the 'fair use' variety...if there's something that you feel should be attributed to some-one then feel free to let me know and I'll happily add an acknowledgement...

Thoughts and comments are (as usual) most welcome.

2 comments:

  1. Impressive write-up. I love how you mixed things up from the games, supplement, and your own ideas.

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    Replies
    1. Thanks a lot. I appreciate you taking the time to give it a read through.

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