Friday, 12 July 2019

Vampire the Masquerade V5 - Session Thirty Six - The Blount Sisters (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.
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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.
'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
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

The PC's
Player controlled characters
Phil as Michael Tomassio - Toreador, Baron of Pasadena
and Hope Romero - Gangrel, Scourge
Dave as Vincent 'Vin' Ghast - Brujah, Sheriff
Matt as Dr Daniel Matthews - Banu Haqim, 'Fixer'

The SPC's
Storyteller controlled player allies
Johnny 'Roach' West - Malkavian, Seneschal
Marie - Clan Carna, Occult Advisor

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. 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.

Introduction
With his escort duties for the noted archaeologist Carmelita Neillson completed, Michael's attentions turn back to political matters. Specifically the fact that his neighbours in Glendale are, according to his Seneschal Roach, actually serial killing diablerists...

Scene One - The Second and Fifth Traditions
Mariel St. John - Ventrue
Mistress of Baron Louis Fortier
Michael had grown increasingly concerned about the possibility that his neighbours were indeed the monsters that his Seneschal claimed them to be as he wished to speak to them personally about other matters. He also wished to see if he could see the signs himself with the benefit of the revelations the Malkavian had passed onto him as the thought that those of his own clan could degenerate to such depths horrified him.

Deciding that it would also be a good idea if others were aware of where he was going, he arranged the meeting through Louis Fortier, the Baron of West Los Angeles and Downtown. He also intended to be accompanied by Daniel, Vin and Hope who were his most formidable kindred warriors and to be driven by Dion who would remain in the vehicle for a quick getaway. Having taken as many precautions as he deemed polite he contacted the Fortiers once more to see how the arrangements were proceeding.

Mariel St. John, one of Fortier's mistresses and adopted childe had successfully negotiated a meeting later the next evening for them for which Michael gave his thanks before informing his coterie. He also informed his Seneschal Roach that given the smear campaign he'd started against them that it was probably a good idea for him to stay away from the meeting in case his presence exasperated the negotiations in any way.

Daniel meanwhile had dispatched his ghoul investigative team to do some geographical research on the area around the Blounts home during the day just in case the coterie needed a quick getaway.

Scene Two - The Sisters
The Blount Sisters Butler - Ghoul
The mansion before you is a splendid building and seems to have undergone some repair since your last visit. Though always structurally sound much of the gardens that were slightly overgrown are now well maintained and the windows have been cleaned but now sport heavy shutters and have had ornamental but sturdy bars added to all the windows. It looks like some-ones made more of an effort to keep it in order recently and add a measure of security. The door however still has an old fashioned brass push button doorbell by it though the door itself now is a far heavier duty version and no longer has the antiquated locks noted before.

As you approach the doorway you notice one of the doorways on an upper balcony open and a sturdy looking fellow in a leather jacket with a shotgun leaning nonchalantly in the crook of one arm looks out though seems more concerned about anything that might be occurring in the distance rather than you at the door, though he of course glances in your direction.

The familiar elderly gentlemen in a butlers outfit answers the door and as before seems unusually spry considering his apparent age. "Come in, your request for a visit has been expected for some time..."

Daniel was interested that the security precautions had been increased since their first visit though he was reasonably sure he could still bypass them if he needed to get into the building. The addition of a bodyguard was also a concern.

The Blount Sisters - Toreador
Baroness's of Glendale
You are greeted by the rare sight of both Blount Sisters in a room together at the same time. The room itself looks like a brochure from the 1920's, the room is cosy, slightly too warm and contains several comfortable sofa's filled with garishly flowery cushions.  The silver haired of the two is in a rocking chair knitting what looks like the same scarf as last time you visited while the other is doing a jigsaw.

"Take a seat deary" said Edith Blount "and we can discuss whatever you think is so important..."

While their Toreador Baron launched into his speech, the Banu Haqim, Brujah and Gangrel prepared themselves in case the situation took the downward turn that Daniel was expecting to occur as soon as Michael reached the significant part of the subject of this meeting.

Michael spoke of the current politically charged situation within Los Angeles and the inherent dangers that all kindred now needed to be concerned with such as the recent Sabbat incursion and the ever present danger of the Second Inquisition to those who were careless. Using this as a springboard for his actual intention he voiced his opinion that their barony would be in a much better position if both his domain and theirs spoke with a single voice. He attempted to make the deal more palatable by stating his opinion that he could also offer his protection by patrolling their borders along with his own, gesturing to his scourge Hope as he did so.

Edward Vignes (Destroyed) - Ventrue
Former Baron of Pasadena
This latter statement was also to gauge the sisters reaction to their territory being monitored as he expected that if Roach was correct about their feeding habits that their objections would be very strong indeed. Carefully observing them for any sign of agitation he continued by adding that they themselves would also benefit from this protection as they had done when Edward Vignes had held the title of Baron of Pasadena before him.

"Will this protection be purely physical or do you intend to defend us against slurs upon our character as well?" asked the other sister Enid. The question threw Michael from his stride somewhat and the other sister continued. "I merely ask as it was of course your absent Malkavian friend who began those rumours about us?"

Daniel and Michael who had both objected to the plan from the very beginning as having significant potential to backfire gave each other a knowing look as Edith spoke again. "The thin-bloods were most helpful when we made enquiries and it was easy to discover that the first mention of such matters came via him. If we were the monsters you believe then surely we would have just torn apart the rumour monger on one of his many lone walks across the deserted sands of the pier?" The three fighters that had accompanied Michael all became for more alert at the implied threat of violence.  The fact that despite what they were saying it was obvious that they had considered doing exactly that was a significant concern especially as they had seemingly selected both a location for the act and a method of destruction that would send a message to any others who slandered them.

Vin's current 'Weapon of Choice'
Vin's hand had slid behind his back to the handle of his heavy bladed Kukri while Daniel had subtly loosened his jacket to give easier access to his guns and knives. Michael attempted to brush off Roach's act as a "Foolish misunderstanding..." emphasising that the rest of his people had had nothing to do with it at all and that he himself disapproved strongly of such tactics.

If Michael or the rest had expected protestations about the subject of the rumours they were to be surprised by the sisters actual response. "We take only those kine undeserving of their lives you realise?" "Murderers, rapists, muggers, abusers of women and children...we are careful to select only those who deserve a messy death and of course into which the disappearances will not provoke too much investigation..."

The Blounts - 'At Work'
Though Michael truly wanted to believe that statement it was obvious to him that it had been carefully crafted to appeal to it's target audience, specifically himself though possibly his scourge Hope as well who had reacted somewhat obviously to the reference to abusers of women. Nonetheless he had to accept it at face value for now as the alternative was to call them liars right there in their own front parlour. He did however dearly hope that some fragment of truth was held within. As some of the need for subterfuge was now eliminated he changed tack and mentioned that kindred had also gone missing after visiting their domain.

"Kindred? We take only those who are aggressively ungrateful for our generosity or are foolish in their depredations. Yes, we sometimes take the weak also but these are Caitiff and Thin-bloods who know nothing of the ways of our kind. In many ways their very existence is a threat to the masquerade and by extension all kindred just due to their carelessness alone..."

Marius Walker - Autarkis
'Boardroom' Gangrel and 'Fixer'
Once again those present suspected that the statement was simply a plausible excuse for their depredations but as before it contained just enough reasonable doubt to make their acts seem reasonable. More worryingly, it was possible that they actually believed what they had said. "...In a Camarilla city there would be scourges to perform such a role yet we do it without any thought of reward or pretence of station. We are a necessary part of the natural order...even your Mawla Marius believes so...he is well aware of our activities yet has done nothing to prevent them." The latter was of course probably true but only because Marius only cleaned up messes when he was paid to do so.

Michael could detect that the sisters were leading up to something, much as he'd done himself as he could see them growing more agitated as they spoke in their own defence. "Besides which, there is at least one rumour about our barony which is quite true..." there was a pause which Michael was sure had been added merely for dramatic effect "...there is something hunting and killing indiscriminately within our domain but it isn't us." Knowing that he was going to regret the question, he nonetheless asked them to elaborate.

Scene Three - Something in the Hills
"It seems that when the Animals who run the Wilds cleared their domain of other predators, one decided that the hills of Glendale would make a safer home. It's meanderings through the more deserted areas of our territory have meant that our usual food sources have been used by another and so we have been forced to hunt in more...domestic...environments and be less choosy about who we take..."

Michael's attention had been momentarily distracted as he watched the sister assembling the jigsaw attempt to force an obviously wrong piece into an incorrect location. When it failed to fit snugly she pressed upon it firmly with her thumb compressing it into a space never designed for it. The Toreador was well aware that a loss in the clans artistic and aesthetic abilities usually coincided with an equivalent loss in humanity and based on what he'd just seen, very little of either remained within the sisters.

The North East Baronies of Los Angeles
Burbank, Glendale and Pasadena
Realising that the meeting was moving from Michael's area of expertise to his own, Daniel chose this moment to interject. Knowing that the Blounts had absolute control over the political landscape of Glendale as well as contacts within the highest ranks of the police Daniel was fairly confident that the answer to his own enquiry would be in the affirmative. "Do you have any files or information on this 'other' Predator?"

Enid Blount abandoned her jigsaw and left the room presumably to fetch the aforementioned documents as Edith continued to chat. "Many of the problems you speak of would go away if we could return to our normal prey but that would only be possible if this rival to our hunting grounds is eliminated." The coterie were of course aware that they were being used as Edith elaborated by saying that the political arrangement requested by Michael would only be considered if they didn't have "This other matter to worry about." The terms were clear even if unspoken. Remove our competitor and you get your deal. The other issue that occurred to all present was that their territory was adjacent to that of the Blount's and if this rival creature did indeed exist then it may become a threat to them as well so one way or another they would have to hunt it down.

The Blount Sisters
'Removing' a Potential Masquerade Breach
Enid returned with a number of police files which she tossed on the table sending bits of jigsaw flying everywhere causing Michael to visibly wince. As she returned to her seat she took over the conversation. "The first survivor we spoke to described them as having a spiked tongue and thin almost anorexic limbs, however a later witness stated they had blood red skin though the other details remained the same" Daniel enquired about the possibility of talking to the witnesses themselves so as to obtain some first hand information. The answer was unhelpful but predictable. "I'm afraid talking to the witnesses is quite impossible, the masquerade needed to be preserved, I'm sure you understand?" As it happened Daniel, Vin and Hope did understand though not one of them believed for a moment that the sisters reasons were entirely due to upholding the masquerade. Michael on the other hand was less pleased, having a much higher respect for human lives than most kindred.

Federal Authorities - Covert Surveillance
"We have arranged for any related news articles to be relegated to the back pages and have convinced our friends within the authorities that there are other more important issues on which to expend their resources though eventually even our influence will be insufficient and who knows what that might lead to? There are already Federal authorities within Los Angeles, in no small part due to your own activities..." There was some truth to the implied insult as the coteries activities over the last few months had contained some regrettable but necessary decisions. Daniel asked to take the files with him and received their permission to do so. A moment later Edith added another piece of information that might have an impact on their search.

"Currently there are just three kindred with feeding rights within our domain. A Caitiff, a Brujah and a surprisingly well mannered Gangrel from out of town, make sure you don't do anything to them by mistake. We'd be extremely upset if any more vicious lies were to be spread about us..."

Growing weary of the constant barbs, Michael indicated to the coterie that they were leaving, asking before they left how they could keep in touch with the sisters relating to their progress. The odd butler who had returned to escort them to the door seemingly unbidden indicated an old phone in one corner. The phone had an old style wheel dial on it with the number written in intricate handwriting on a small card in the centre of the dial. Michael made a note of the number, as did Daniel though the latter did so more subtly.

As Dion drove them away the coterie had much to discuss.

Interlude - The Drive Home
Jenna Cross - Caitiff, Childe of Smiling Jack
De facto Baron of the Duskborn
"Well they certainly don't think much of us..." was Daniel's assessment with which Michael had to agree, he then continued "...do we believe that they found all that information on Roach from the thin-bloods? It might not have been a great idea looking back but he had a good relationship with Jenna and her followers. It seems odd that they threw him under the bus so quickly." "How else would they have found out?" asked Vin.

Daniel had some suspicions but deferred to Michael in the area of what his clan was and wasn't capable of. "Malkavian's aren't the only ones who can make use of the powers of premonition." Stated Michael, confirming one of his own suspicions. "Though Divination isn't exactly predictable or relaible..." theorised Daniel based on his experiences with Roach "...perhaps two kindred with such abilities working together might have more reliable results?" Vin then wanted to know exactly what the plan was, specifically if they were going to tell the Blounts to go fuck themselves or do what had been asked of them.

Flicking through the police files they'd received, Daniel noted that some of them seemed to have the officer involved's name on them and he put forward the idea that an investigation of the Blounts police contact might be useful. Michael countered this with his wish to minimise his involvement with the Blounts and their contacts as much as possible as well as putting forward his suspicion that they might well find out about it which would cause a new set of problems.

Daniel could see the wisdom in this though the idea of not investigation every piece of information available to them went against his nature. He decided to acquiesce to Michael on this issue though he did make sure he made note of the officers name, just in case.

Though Vin and Hope were mainly concerned with what they might be facing and how best to kill the bloody thing, Michael himself was also considering the fact that he was being manipulated by the Blounts in a way he could see no way around. They had given him just enough of a valid reason for their acts to give him some hope that they might not be as bad as Roach had made out but their answers also seemed cynically measured to take advantage of the Toreador Baron's inherently humanitarian nature.

Though unaware of what his baron was thinking, Daniel unknowingly confirmed it by commenting on how the Blounts had offered just enough to give them reason to help but had made no commitments in any area of importance. Specifically they were avoiding any agreement regarding their territory which might enable their activities to be monitored.

Scene Four - A Trail of Blood
Strange Footprints - First Crime Scene
The Blounts had claimed that none of the criminal acts mentioned in the files had been perpetrated by them which the coterie had no choice but to accept as well as the possibility that the real predator was indeed something chased out of the Wilds by the Gangrel pack who lived there. Quite how they had came to this conclusion was unknown but the coterie had began to suspect that the sisters were remarkably well informed, possibly through mystical means.

The first file detailed an event that had occurred in the highlands above Glendale about a month ago. Photo's within showed several footprints discovered at the scene which looked like they'd been made by a child but were deformed in shape. The police had concluded that this may have been due to the softness of the ground and their presence at the scene being coincidental. Of course the likelihood of the perpetrator being a child was unlikely which made their conclusion reasonable.

Puncture Wound
Throat
Daniel on the other hand was looking at the pictures from a supernatural perspective which opened up the possibilities considerably. He did note whoever that the depth of the footprints was more in line with a full sized, heavy individual having made them. The inconsistency irritated Daniel's ordered approach to investigation so he put the photos aside for the moment and looked at the autopsy report on the victim.

Having extensive medical training enabled the Banu Haqim to decipher the document fairly easily. The male victim was a hitch-hiker who had died from a puncture wound in the throat which had caused massive blood loss. The man had been found stuffed into a drain which had been attributed with the reason why so little blood had been found at the scene, it having been presumed to have drained away.

 It of course occurred to all present that there was another explanation but their only being a single wound seemed odd if the attacker was a kindred. Vampires were capable of licking a wound closed to leave no trace so it seemed ridiculous that one would conceal one hole but leave the other open.

View from the Verdugo Mountains at Night
The second set of files related to a double murder two weeks ago in the Open Space Reserve of the Verdugo Mountains. The man had died from a massive puncture wound to the femoral artery and appeared to have been killed first. The woman who was the second victim was found several hundred metres away and tracks showed that she had been running. Many of her tracks had been obscured by as yet unidentified drag marks which the crime scene investigators had put down to an attempt to disrupt forensic investigation of the area.

The woman showed all the signs of having suffered a brutal beating with multiple broken bones and extensive bruising though no weapon had been found. Vin was dubious about a weapon causing such large impacts, instead voicing his opinion that she looked like some heavy weight had been repeatedly dropped on her. How he knew what such an attack looked like was however a question that none present asked.

The Fourth Victim - Third Crime Scene
The third event on which they had information had happened a mere four days ago and involved a woman found stuffed into her own loft. The cause of death was undoubtedly from a massive puncture wound in the chest, caused by some long weapon with a spike or spear at the point.

She also had multiple broken bones matching the wounds of the female victim in the second incident. As before there was no sign of a weapon at the scene or any usable forensic evidence for that matter. The police had attributed this murder to a disgruntled customer as the woman was a known prostitute with a history of drugging men and robbing them. Though this was a not unreasonably conclusion, the similarities to the other crimes warranted the coteries attention.

Glendale Meth Lab - Fourth Crime Scene
The final details they had were on a crime that was so recent that no official verdict had been reached but the provisional information indicated many commonalities with the other events. The three victims all had suffered large puncture wounds, were almost completely ex-sanguinated and the meth lab in which they'd been discovered featured both drag marks in blood and extensive damage.

Interestingly these three had all had access to weaponry including handguns, shotguns and a sub-machine gun and the house showed signs of gunfire though this had apparently still been insufficient to save them.

As this crime-scene was the most recent one to which they had access, Daniel expressed his attention to investigate the building personally to see if his supernatural senses could detect evidence that the police had missed. Given the potential danger Michael decided to send Hope along with him leaving Vin to protect his own barony...just in case...

To be Continued in 'The Blount Sisters' - 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...

It's fairly obvious that the Blounts...well me...used Michael's desire to do the right thing against him in order to drag him and the coterie into a difficult situation, lol.

This served two purposes. Firstly it enabled me to show the Blounts as being cunning and manipulative rather than just one dimensional generic 'evil' baddies and secondly it gave me the opportunity to show that there was other stuff going on around them which made Los Angeles seem a bit more complicated. This had become necessary as they were tidying up loose ends almost as fast as I was throwing them into the plot and I didn't want them getting too comfortable in their own little empire...

Acknowledgements
I've used pictures of real people to represent some of the characters and art for others so in no particular order Michael Tomassio is represented by the actor Matt Bomer, Johnny 'Roach' West is quite obviously Kurt Cobain, 'Vin' is the actor Scott Adkins, Dr Matthews is Mads Mikkelsen, Hope is Deborah Ann Woll, Marie is Eva Greene, Mariel St, John is Kate Moss, the Blounts Butler is Terence Stamp, Marius is Tony Curran and Jenna Cross is Rhona Mitra. 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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