Friday, 19 April 2019

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

I'm currently running a Vampire the Masquerade chronicle using the 5th Edition rule-set for a small group of fellow role-players. These are the chronicles of their adventures.
Our campaign is set in Los Angeles and features a small group of Camarilla agents sent into the 'Free States' to search for ways to once again bring the Ivory Tower to dominance under the pretence of being disillusioned neonates looking for the freedom of the Anarch way of life. Now with a barony of their own it's time to consolidate their position and then plan their next move.
The now obligatory warning bit - Unlike my other RPG write-ups this one will contain swearing, sexual references and other references that might offend. If you can't tell the difference between real peoples opinions and grown-ups role-playing predators who crave blood then this probably won't be for you. I've also used actual photographs to represent some characters which I'll give acknowledgements to at the end if I've any idea who they are.
The introduction to this campaign, the first story and all the other parts can be found at the following links and are in chronological order. If you'd prefer a summary of each session rather than read everything then there's a more detailed link page HERE.
'Infiltrate LA' Chronicle
Welcome to L.A. - Introductory Session
Story One - 'Three Murders' - Part OneTwo, ThreeFour and Five
Interlude Session - One
Story Two - 'The Pasadena Problem' - Part OneTwoThree, and Four
Solo Session - 'The Neillson Library'
Story Two Continued- 'The Pasadena Problem' - Part FiveSixSeven and Eight
Story Three - 'Becoming Baron' - Part OneTwoThreeFour and Five
Solo Session - 'The Gather'
Story Three Continued - 'Becoming Baron' - Part SixSeven and Eight
'Foothold LA' Chronicle
Solo Session - 'Hostile Takeover'
Story Four - 'Countdown' - Part OneTwo and Three

The PC's

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

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

As I have written out introductions and dialogue for certain NPC's and some location descriptions I'll post these more or less as I wrote them so they'll be in a 'reading to the group' style and they'll also be in blue so you can tell them apart from the more traditional write-up sections and occasionally an obscure Malkavian premonition will turn up in purple. If I think something needs a bit of out of character explanation then those will get a storytellers note that will helpfully be in red...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

To Be Continued in 'The Missing Chantry' Part Two

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

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

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

I've used pictures of real people to represent some of the characters and art for others so in no particular order Michael Tomassio is represented by the actor Matt Bomer, Johnny 'Roach' West is quite obviously Kurt Cobain, 'Vin' is the actor Scott Adkins, Dr Matthews is Mads Mikkelsen, Hope is Deborah Ann Woll, Marie is Eva Greene, Frank is Michael Chiklis, Rosa is Mahafsoun, Jenna Cross is Rhona Mitra, 'Lee' is Bai Ling, Hamish is Pablo Schreiber, 'Charlie' is Lena Headey and 'E' is Patrick Swayze. Everything else is from vampire related folders and searches and is as far as I know is all of the 'fair use' variety. If there's something that you feel should be attributed to some-one then feel free to let me know and I'll happily add an acknowledgement...

Thoughts and comments are (as usual) most welcome.

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