Tuesday 9 October 2018

Vampire the Masquerade 5th Edition - Session Two - Three Murders (Part Two)

I'm currently running a Vampire the Masquerade chronicle using the 5th Edition rule-set for a small group of fellow role-players...
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...a life which they hopefully won't decide they like better...
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 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 Storyteller
Garreth as Everyone else...
The PC's
Phil as Michael Tomassio - Toreador
Tom as Johnny 'Roach' West - Malkavian
Due to a slight scheduling mix-up 'Vin couldn't make it to this session but as he was currently full of bullets in the back of a car it was fairly easy to exclude him from the narrative...
The characters stats and backgrounds can be found HERE should any-one be interested...

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...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...

Marius 'The Fixer' Walker
The three kindred sent by the Camarilla to undermine the Anarch free states in Los Angeles have been operating independently to establish their identities as disillusioned neonates looking for unlives away from the influence of the Ivory Tower but as their activities have drawn the attention of the powers that be in LA the time has come for them to be gathered into a coterie for mutual protection and to pool their resources.

Their contact is an Autarkis Gangrel called Marius who operates as a something of a 'Fixer' within the kindred community of Los Angeles and who apparently owes some-one in the Camarilla a considerable boon. The payment for this boon is to establish three of their agents within the Anarch community, provide them with a base of operations and the resources they need to get started on their campaign. Marius has given the three the opportunity to establish themselves by untangling a particularly unusual murder case directly and indirectly involving several influential of the kindred in LA...or three murders to be specific...

The introductory session introducing every-one and establishing their individual covers can be found HERE and part one of this particular story can be found HERE.

Act Six - Dinner with the Fortier's...
The address you have been given for Louis Fortier turns out to be an absolutely magnificent mansion in Beverly Hills, it's also immediately obvious that it is also a fortress. The walls are thick and high topped by ornamental but nonetheless vicious spiked rails, the gate is impressively reinforced and there are armed guards both within and without. 

As you approach the gates you are met by an impeccably dressed, well built, handsome and heavily armed young man. The rest of the guards both inside the gate and awaiting outside have adopted ready positions and have their hands either on or very near various high calibre fire-arms. "What's your business here this late?"

After a brief conversation about them having an appointment the guard returned to the gate-house in order to confirm their story and presumably informed whoever managed such things that one of their party appeared to be sprawled across the back seat and somewhat worse for wear.

Storytellers Note - Dave's character 'Vin' got shot last session...a great many times in fact...

Once your story has been confirmed via radio communication you are directed towards a parking space near to the front of the house and instructed in no uncertain terms to wait until an escort comes for you before entering or wandering about the properties grounds. Once up close you can truly appreciate the sheer size and elaborate construction of the mansion house as well as just how many security guards are on patrol. It's also quite obvious that all are young, strong and beautiful in one way or another.

A discussion then ensued about just how to deal with the current situation of the third member of their coterie. It was decided to leave Vin in the car for two very important reasons. Firstly he was full of holes that they'd rather not explain and secondly his track record for diplomacy wasn't particularly great as he mainly communicated through threats of violence or staring at people until they went away. They hoped they could come up with a plausible explanation for his absence which wouldn't insult their host though it was quite likely that his presence in their vehicle would have been reported anyway. As they were escorted to the meeting Roach used his abilities to search the area for supernatural means of defence but could discern none. His scanning of the guards auras however revealed the vague lingering essence of vampiric vitae which indicated that they were ghouls. As they continued through the mansion it become obvious that they were all ghouls...

Storytellers Note - The decision to leave the Brujah behind was helped by the fact that Vin's player hadn't turned up for the session, lol.

Baron Fortier of Downtown LA
Your escort consists of two armed guards though these lack the body armour worn by those outside but match the ideal of physical perfection which is apparently mandatory for all in the service of this household. You are guided through a spacious reception room, past a spiral staircase, through a set of large oak doors carved with intricate designs and into a room whose decor reaches new levels of expense.

Sitting in a large chair, behind a heavy antique desk is a slender man with black hair who based on the description in Marius's files must be Louis Fortier. Standing at his right is a striking beauty with shoulder length honey blonde hair, green eyes and a perfect complexion who can only be Catherine du Bois, Louis mistress and maintainer of his security and army of ghouls. Off to the left reclining on a couch is a short, dark woman with long hair and piercing brown eyes who you presume is Elena Gutierrez whose painting it was that was stolen. She is engaged in conversation with a girl with short blonde hair. Though not as beautiful as the other two she is however still attractive in a farm-girl sort of way. By a process of elimination it's a fair guess that she is Mariel St. John who despite not being a true childe of Louis like the other two has effectively been adopted by him and therefore wields some of his power by association alone. 

Both your guides take flanking positions by the door from which you entered and there is already a guard in each corner of the room but given that your host has survived three centuries of unlife you find it unlikely that he actually needs them to defend himself..."It was my understanding that there were to be three of you?"

Michael explained that during their investigation they'd been to several dangerous part of the city and that an altercation had left their acquaintance needing time to recuperate and that he had indeed accompanied them but was currently in no fit state to introduce himself so he was awaiting them in their car. This explanation seemed to be enough for their host and they proceeded to formally introduce themselves in the traditional manner by stating their names and that of their sires.

As their own sires were relatively unknown quantities they deemed it safe enough to use their real names and Michael introduced himself as Michael Tomassio of the Toreador clan, childe of Stephanie Mayoux while Johnny used his preferred nickname of 'Roach' of the Malkavian Clan and with a slight smile his sire as going by the name 'Moon Ray'. Louis Fortier being used to dealing with the other Anarchs and their somewhat less formal siring habits remained impassive at the name chosen by Roach's sire. With the formalities dealt with the Baron continued... "It was my expectation that Marius would deal with this matter personally. Should I be insulted? or was there a reason why he selected you to look into this task for my childer in his stead?

'Roach' explained that he had a significant number of contacts that made him suitable for the task and that he also had other abilities that made him particularly useful for the covert elements of the job. Michael also added that as an artist himself he had broad knowledge of the art world and that as both he and Roach were unknown quantities they could investigate the matter without drawing the attention that Marius's presence would draw given his relative infamy in the Los Angeles kindred community.

Marius being 'subtle'...
The Baron confirmed that Marius wasn't particularly known for his subtlety and that he had both friends and enemies in most of the Anarch gangs in LA due to his uncompromising methods so their explanation for his use of them rather than himself in a purely investigative case seemed reasonable. Their host also made several comments that implied that the Autarkis Gangrel wasn't above playing sides off against each other if there was some profit in it.

They then explained that they'd made some progress in the area of eliminating certain investigative dead-ends and were pursuing several promising leads but that they were at the early stages of their enquiries. They further added their suspicions that the job seemed to have been professional or at least well planned. During their conversation it had become clear to both the Toreador and the Malkavian that Louis didn't seem that concerned about the theft of a painting or the death of one of his many ghouls and seemed mainly to be going through the motions in order to keep his childer happy. At several points during the coterie's explanation he'd looked to both of his actual childer in a manner that the empathetic Michael interpreted as broadly meaning 'See, I'm having it looked into stop bothering me about it'.

Seemingly content with the progress they were making their host asked them if they'd like some refreshments. Though a host offering such things to guests was sometimes a show of wealth and power in Camarilla circles they were both somewhat surprised to hear the offer made in an Anarch barony. Michael took the initiative before Roach could contradict him and excepted the offer as he was concerned that saying no was effectively saying that they were too good to except his help or that they didn't trust him.

Storytellers Note - This scene wasn't really designed for these two characters but I didn't want to waste it so I re-jigged it on the fly to suit the players who were there. Making shit up on the spot being the most essential GM/DM/Storyteller skill imo, lol.

"Catherine dearest, can you see to the needs of our guests?" She stops for a moment as if considering the best response "Well...we do have some left-overs from the party last night...perhaps they'll be sufficient?" Without another word she leaves the room by the same route you entered flanked by the two guards who accompanied you in and beckons you to follow.

Catherine leads you down a well decorated corridor and after a few twists and turns she reaches a door which is then unlocked for her by one of the shadowing men before she ushers them both away, though they don't go far. The room is a dressing room or changing room of sorts containing a number of padded benches, several closed wardrobes and a number of ornate clothes hooks in the various gaps between the other decor. At the opposite side of the room to the door from which you entered is a broad archway containing a beaded string curtain. 

Miss DuBois parts the curtain and leads you into another chamber filled with long wide couches covered with large comfortable looking cushions which also cover much of the floor. Scattered around the room in various states of undress are two men and three women with glazed eyes. Miss Du Bois sits down on one of the more elaborate seats and uses one of the two men as a foot-rest. "Don't mind me...I'll wait here till your finished..." Apparently you've been given free rein to 'dine' as you please...

Both the kindred noted that the one remaining man was very pale and unsteady as if he'd been fed from fairly recently as did one of the three women. The two remaining ladies however seemed quite healthy and all were as they'd come to expect in this household very attractive indeed.

Michael selected one of the two women who seemed to have yet to be fed upon and took just enough blood to sate his hunger. Roach however paused as though he didn't wish to offend his host he was also in the unfortunate position that he required his meals to be stoned in order to gain any real benefit from their blood. Taking a second look at the options before him he concluded through his considerable experience in the matter that the man who looked unsteady from blood-loss may in fact be simply suffering the effects of over indulgence from the large hookah pipe in one corner of the room and fortunately for him turned out to be correct. Once they were finished they both thanked the host with varying levels of formality and were led back to the office of the baron.

The rest of the family were still in the room though Elena and Mariel were now seated separate from one another and there were only two guards. Seemingly the others had been dismissed as un-necessary once the initial show of force had been made. "If there's any information that may help with your enquiries then feel free to ask while we still have a few minutes spare to assist"

Michael immediately picked up on the emphasis on the 'few minutes' part of the statement which further confirmed their earlier assessment that Louis was going through the motions and had apparently deemed that he'd done enough to earn himself some respite from Catherine and Elena's badgering. Their enquiries about potential enemies seemed to amuse Louis who assured them that any-one making a move against him would have to do more than steal a painting and kill one out of the forty or so ghouls he had at his disposal. It was his opinion that it was a simple theft gone wrong...or right as the painting had indeed been taken.

Therese Voerman - Baron
"Well if that's all then I'll have you returned to your automobile and I shall inform Therese Voerman that I have given you permission to move through our domain...we have an...agreement...regarding borders so you should have no problem if your enquiries also take you to her Barony of Santa Monica though I wouldn't feed there..." The ever observant Toreador picked up the resentment in his tone about this 'agreement' which led him to suspect that it hadn't been voluntary or desired on his part.

As the guards move to escort you out Mariel interrupts "Perhaps I can have some time with our guests before they leave? I hardly ever get to speak to any-one new or interesting!" The last sentence is slightly petulant in tone. "That's really up to them" Is Louis reply though from his manner he doesn't really seem to care one way or the other as the formalities have been dealt with.

Michael apologised but excused himself saying that they still had a lot of leads to follow sorting this matter out for the Baron and wouldn't have time right now though they'd be happy to do so at a later date. Roach's apology was far less formal and had more than an element of flirting to it. As they left Mariel handed the Malkavian a card with her number on it. "Perhaps you can arrange a meeting when the matter is resolved then?" Roach assured her that he would indeed. Not wanted to overstay their welcome they turned to leave and were escorted back to their vehicle.

After helping Vin to his room and arranging for one of his herd to visit and provide some restoring Vitae they discussed their findings so far then themselves retired for the day...

Interlude One - Good News, Bad News
You awake to find that Marius's ghouls Victoria and Yukio are waiting for you in the meeting room of your currently half-built haven, the day-guard is nowhere to be seen. As usual Victoria is impeccably dressed and even Yukio is wearing a tailored suit though the open jacket reveals a handgun in a shoulder holster. You presume they've been on some task for their domitor before arriving "I have some news for you all but first Marius would like an update on your progress."

They relayed their progress so far in some detail, holding nothing back as they had no desire to create any issue between themselves and their benefactor. Even though they knew the Gangrel was paying off a boon with the help they were well aware that the assistance could vary significantly in quality should they attempt to cross him while yet without significant resources and power of their own.

"Well your little breaking and entering session at that abandoned church project was reported by a neighbour...not by the men there of course, they claimed that they were just about to report the incident when the cops arrived" "The police report makes hilarious reading if you have a moment but I'll summarise for you." While measuring up the place after work to use as a warehouse the two men heard some-one breaking open the door with a battering ram of some sort. They then scared off the burglars with their guns, which were legitimately licensed apparently, by shooting at the wall rather than the men in the doorway which worked and you...sorry...'they' ran away." "Seemingly the occupants didn't want to explain how some smash and grab man managed to kick a reinforced, locked door of it's hinges and then survive a hail of gunfire which fortunately means we don't have any real damage limitation to deal with as a consequence of your ill advised little reconnaissance"

The 'Line 20's' Gang
Amusingly a group of gangbangers hanging on the corner described your car as being pretty much the exact opposite to it's actual appearance in every way and the occupants as 'three Chinese looking guys'..." "I imagine there's a story there..."

Roach made a mental note to throw some free drugs the gangs way next time they were in the area as the false description of them and the car had been very helpful indeed. Perhaps this might also give them an 'in' into one of the Los Angeles gangs should they require some mortal muscle in the future and Roach resolved to find out what he could about the gang in the meantime in the hope of creating a useful relationship.

Victoria continued "This is what Marius would no doubt refer to as a 'good news, bad news' situation. The good being that the occupants listed that building as their contact address which means they're not planning on moving out any time soon, though why is less obvious given what they are" "The bad news however is the police will no doubt make a few extra token patrols around the area so you'll need to keep clear of it for two days...maybe three to be safe"  After that time we'll arrange for our friend on the force to have the patrols declared un-necessary..."

They considered the information for a moment and agreed that in light of the news then a cooling off period might not be a bad idea.

"I'd suggest getting any remaining enquiries out of the way tonight and then lying low for another couple of evenings before deciding what to do about the church" "Jenna Cross's little 'thin-bloods and vampire rejects' society are having a meeting at Santa Monica pier tonight and as it's an agreed Elysium you should be able to make some enquiries there if you so desire...they'll probably be using their standard 'Private Party' excuse for keeping out the kine as it's normally open 24 hours" "It's far enough away from your previous activities to be a fairly safe trip but I'd make it your last set of enquiries into this particular matter for the previously mentioned few days...though Malaki's exhibition is at Gallery Noir not far from there...maybe kill two birds with one stone? Also...should you obtain the missing picture intact Marius would like to see the painting before it's returned to Fortier...he was...quite firm on the point..." It's the first time that you've heard anything approaching concern in her voice and you were reminded that despite her apparent independence like all ghouls she was still a slave to the will of another through the blood.

Upon asking about any issues that might come about from visiting the pier or the gallery they were told that despite being declared an Elysium the thin-bloods were notoriously difficult when any actual vampires attempted to enter one of their 'parties'. On the subject of the gallery they were told that it was owned by Therese Voerman who had apparently been portraying herself as a patron of the arts over the last few years so it was a good idea to not cause trouble there and the ghoul also echoed Baron Fortier's warning against feeding in Santa Monica.

Concerned about what they may be walking into in Santa Monica the Malkavian focused on the pier and used his powers of premonition to attempt to discern any danger ahead. His vision showed him the pier from above before zooming into the groups of people below, most were simply blurs and silhouettes but several people were quite distinct. A Persian looking woman in a sari, a bare chested surfer and a pretty red-head in a white blouse all stood distinct in his vision as did the somewhat inexplicably appearance of Lara Croft from the Tomb Raider video games. There was no sense of danger however...

Storytellers Note - Some ST's don't like this ability as it forces you to give clues about certain events and locations. I on the other hand find it useful to subtly guide players to things of interest without adding obvious clues. Also if a malkavian uses it it gives you some opportunities to enjoy yourself considerably...

They eventually decided to visit the gallery first, followed by the pier and then Michael pointed out that he'd need to try and trace the girl he'd met at Club Confession as the lingering kiss he'd used upon her sometimes had problematic side effects if the recipient was completely abandoned by the kindred who had used it.

Storytellers Note - Abandoned recipients of the Presence ability 'Lingering Kiss' fed upon by the user become addicted to the Kiss, obsessing over it and can begin fanatically seeking the vampire out for repeated feedings. Mortals often become anaemic, self-harm, or even die from this addiction. This last bit is fine if your vampire doesn't give a fuck but Michael is Humanity 8 and his player would like to keep it that way...

Act Seven - Gallery Noir
A quick internet search indicates that the gallery closes for business at nine in the evening so you could in theory get a visit in if you left soon after awakening and as it's in Santa Monica it's not that far from the Pier where Jenna Cross's thin-blood's meet. The gallery is still open when you arrive. 

The building is solidly constructed and slightly older than the surrounding architecture and there is a single security guard outside. A sign outside is announcing that the main exhibit is of Malaki's work though there's a second hall containing the work of another artist called Sophia Bartholomew.

The security guard barely even glances in your direction as you enter though he does check his watch. About half a dozen people are within perusing the various paintings on the walls though a group of three leaves as you arrive. The more controversial biblical works are the focal point of the exhibition though it also contains several landscapes and a number of portraits which are presumably earlier works.

Roach's ability to sense the unseen forces around him allowed him to perceive a tangible feeling of power that seemed to be emanating from the walls themselves though it was hard to tell whether perhaps there was something inherently supernatural about the building or if instead there was possibly some kind of Thaumaturgy ritual used upon it. Either way it gave him a fair idea of why the building apparently only needed one slightly overweight security guard. His curiosity aroused he decided to use his aura sensing abilities to see if he could gain any more knowledge that could be of use. The results were not what he was expecting at all.

Certain of the sacrilegious paintings and several of the portraits had a resonance about them he'd normally expect from a living being and though it was very faint, almost none-existent in fact in several pictures, it's aura was most definitely there. The Malkavian could feel vague emotions coming from some of the pictures and the innate resonances of blood from others. As he watched those being observed by patrons of the gallery he could see that the power emanating from the paintings become more intense based on the reactions of the viewers both positive and negative.

He relayed the aspects of this discovery to Michael that he could adequately explain and the Toreador expressed his surprise that blood of any kind could still have resonance once out of the body for more than few minutes let alone have an actual aura. Roach also informed him that the building was supernaturally defended. He also briefly considered purchasing one of the paintings but a brief look at even the cheapest works put them massively out of his price range. As Michael wanted a look at the other artists work while they were there, Roach went outside to wait and besides which he wanted to observe the security guard using his more supernatural abilities.

Sophia Bartholomew - Self Portrait
Sophia Bartholomew's work is in a smaller side room and mainly consists of landscapes though there's a few quite clever cityscapes done in a similar style giving the buildings the appearance of mountain ranges, the roads are depicted as rivers and so on. There's also a single portrait amongst the works that's evidently a self portrait.

Michael observed that Sophia is a talented artist but in his opinion the paintings subject matter was uninspired and even the clever landscapes and cityscapes suffered from a fairly dull subject matter. The few night scenes amongst the work were the closest thing to having any kind of emotional investment in his opinion though from a purely technical standpoint the artist had a lot of skill. He also noted from the overall style that the landscape in Marius's meeting room when they'd first met him could easily have been an early work by the same artist...

Meanwhile outside Roach had turned his disciplines towards the security guard and ascertained from the hint of vampiric essence in his aura that he was in fact a ghoul but that unlike most of his kind who were given just enough of their regnant's vitae to maintain their obedience and immortality this one was literally full of his masters blood. His curiosity piqued he engaged the guard in casual conversation but discovered little information other than the guard claimed to be on his way to another job after this one.

Now he was closer to the security man though he did notice that he was far more observant than he's first thought and he could clearly see that he was noting all those who went past and who entered and left the gallery, there was also considerable muscle hidden behind the mans heavy set appearance. Not wishing to raise the mans suspicions he then moved across the street to watch for Michael leaving and waited.

As closing time approached the guard entered the building and began to inform the patrons that it was time to leave. Michael noted that as the man told the last three customers behind him to leave they did so instantly and with somewhat vacant expressions on their faces and a look of confusion as they found themselves standing outside. Evidently he had a few interesting tricks at his disposal. As Michael crossed the street to see if his Malkavian acquaintance was ready to head off to the pier Roach expressed his desire to see if any-one else left the gallery at closing time.

A tall, stocky woman left at the same time as the guard and it was her who locked the main doors and the security gate control box before they both headed further into Santa Monica together. Roach could tell she was a vampire but had trouble pinning down her clan from her oddly generic aura. Additionally her features were in his opinion strangely generic to the point that once she had left he found himself hard-pressed to describe her in any detail. With yet another mystery added to their growing catalogue of such they headed to the thin-bloods gathering at Santa Monica pier.

Act Eight - Santa Monica Pier
There are a number of groups of people on the beach even at this time of an evening in small groups. Some are no doubt thin-bloods or caitiff looking for a quick meal though it's likely that most are kine enjoying the evening. As suspected by Victoria a large section of the pier and amusements has indeed been cordoned off for a 'private event' and there's a couple of people at the entrance making sure only those who should enter can do so.

Roach hadn't had the opportunity to feed recently and being more than familiar with the habits of students and drug users he headed under the pier where he found a likely group smoking weed by one of the piers supporting pillars. With the effortlessness bought about by decades of experience at feeding in such a manner he quickly ingratiated themselves with the group, shared his own stash and in the quiet and dark fed carefully on the most stoned of those available. Michael meanwhile had a look around the general area but could see no opportunity for his own particular feeding preferences so simply waited for Roach to finish his activities before they both proceeded to the thin-bloods Elysium.

Storytellers Note - Roach's player has several times roleplayed out his ability to feed reliably so I didn't feel the need to spend a lot of time on it on this occasion.

As you approach the gate a man with greasy blonde hair, wearing a leather jacket and jeans stops you with an outstretched hand "Private party I'm afraid, you're free to enjoy the rest of the pier but this part is invite only..."

They began by subtly implying that they were exactly the kind of 'people' that would be invited to such an occasion but as the conversation continued it became obvious that they were just being difficult for the sake of it. A combination of Roach's dominate and Michael's presence managed to sway the one guard but unfortunately the other reminded him that they'd agreed not to let any-one in and this reminder helped him shrug off the disciplines influence. Both were somewhat grateful that Vin still hadn't fully recovered from his gun-shot wounds and wasn't with them as he would no doubt have resorted to violence by now. Fortunately circumstances were about to change...

A young dark-haired woman in a dress that appears to have been styled on an Indian saree with a jewelled headpiece across her forehead and a silver choker walks up behind the thin-blood guard and taps him on the shoulder "Pure blood flows within them......not like the watered down half measure that flows within most here...they seek something...but not trouble...not yet at least...let them in..." Apparently her word carries some weight as with a simple "Ok Rosa..." he stands aside and lets you through...

As the Malkavian made eye contact with Rosa he could initially feel the beast rise unbidden and had the urge to tear her throat out and drain her dry...then the urge faded as he heard hundreds maybe thousands of voices all talking at the same time and his own thoughts were submerged within the noise until another voice in the back of his head very much like his own but at the same time different drowned it out and empowered him to ignore such urges...as the cacophony faded the other voice assured Roach that she was something quite special indeed...and then it was gone. Though he lacked Roach's flashes of premonition Michael was aware that the guard's respect for the woman 'Rosa' seemed at least part to be out of fear...

There are some thirty to thirty-five individuals within, some are wandering between different groups while others seem to stay within their own particular clique but none match the description you have of Jenna Cross. Word of your presence has obviously quickly spread around as there are now a great many furtive glances in your direction and a few stares that are bordering on outright hostility. Of course if they wish to have this area considered Elysium by the other vampires of Los Angeles they too will have to abide by the rules...or at least you hope so...

The two kindred wandered around the various groups for a while before Roach found a relatively quiet corner to observe the crowd and see if he could find a way into one of the cliques. Michael meanwhile began to mingle a little, listening for conversations he could add to in order to ingratiate himself or surreptitiously pick up some gossip. He discovered that the conversations and debates within were far more open and less subtle than they would have been in a similar event in a Camarilla city where even the most innocuous piece of information would require a minor boon in trade.

Storytellers Note - I have this gimmick that I sometimes use when players wander through situations picking up rumours where I have a bag full of random rumours of varying importance and accuracy that I allow them to pick a number of based on how well they roll for their enquiries...It's a bit random but it's also kinda fun...

Xaviar - Former Gangrel Justicar
Roach picked up a rumour about their benefactor Marius being a descendent of the former Camarilla Justicar Xaviar which those discussing the matter seemed to think explained his strange love/hate relationship with other Gangrel as though he helped them when in his territory the ties he apparently once had with the Camarilla after the Gangrel abandoned it would be considered a betrayal of his kindred ancestor. He also caught a debate between two thin-bloods who seemed to be disagreeing about whether some kindred named Bertrum Tung had been assassinated by agents of the Voerman's or whether it was utter bullshit. As Roach had never heard of Bertrum the latter piece of gossip was meaningless to him.

Michael meanwhile had picked up a bewildering array of conversations many of which he was sure would turn out to be far from accurate but he made a mental note of them regardless. A small group apparently obsessed with the Cathayans were having a heated debate about whether Salvador Garcia the Baron of East Los Angeles had in fact struck a deal with them to have his rivals in the Barony of South Central Los Angeles wiped out as was indicated by the fact that they had seemingly ignored Garcia's territory completely. Two of the group were also convinced that the two notable Anarchs Jeremy MacNeil and Crispus Attucks weren't in fact killed during the invasion but were in fact captured, a fact disputed by the rest as preposterous considering the advantage they'd have by simply removing the threats. In light of these grand theories the one young lady claiming that a single Setite (or 'The Ministry' as they were calling themselves now) had survived the purges carried out by the Eastern Vampires and set up a temple in Hollywood seemed almost plausible.

Baron of Torrance
Many others were more concerned about current plots that could later threaten the thin-bloods including the Baron of Torrance David Geduld preparing to overthrow Steve Booth in Long Beach and The Santa Ana Baron 'Amethyst' backing Tom Weaver to topple Allison Maller from her leadership of the barony of Anaheim. The general consensus was that if Amethyst took Anaheim through her pawn Weaver she'd be to powerful to shift and may even consider doing what Tara had once done and declaring herself Prince.

The rest of the rumours seemed in Michael's opinion to just be paranoid conjecture including a theory that the Voerman's already ran everything from behind the scenes, The Camarilla having agents in LA whose whole purpose was murdering thin-bloods and the frankly ridiculous idea that their temporary ally Marius was blood bound to Jeanette Voerman...

Jenna Cross - Thin-Blood Messiah
While Michael was still gathering information Roach had struck up a conversation with a student called Franklin who he had convinced that he was a thin-blood like them and after sweetening him up a little with some friend priced drugs to assist him with a seduction he had planned later began to pump him for information. He was particularly interested in whether there were any splits within the thin-bloods but as far as the student was aware everything was fine, however on the subject of Rosa he was distinctly nervous.

Eventually after a bit of work the student revealed that Rosa could apparently 'see things' and was usually uncannily correct in her predictions and was Jenna Cross's adviser in regards to matters involving intrigue or the occult. Out of curiosity the Malkavian began to scan the auras of the crowd to pick out that of the mysterious Rosa and was surprised to find that it was unlike anything he'd seen before, flowing through all the colours he could imagine, occasionally lingering for a moment on one or another and then cycling through the rest again. Before he could continue any further with his investigation there was a palpable change in the atmosphere as the messiah of the thin-blood movement in Los Angeles, Jenna Cross made her appearance...

To be continued in 'Three Murders' Part Three...

In Conclusion
I like to do a round-up of how the session went in these features but if you couldn't give a shit what I think then feel free to skip this bit...
So due to an inability to read a calendar and in fairness some confusion over us meeting up on a Saturday rather than a Sunday we ended up a man down this session. This meant that the third of what I'd written to give their muscle something to do effectively became irrelevant or problematic for the social guys to deal with so I had to mentally re-write a lot of stuff on the fly which wasn't a great start...

However once we got going things went just fine though as we focused primarily on the social interactions and the politics we got further with the plot than I had intended at this point in the chronicle. Not that it really matters as I have quite a lot of 'just in case' stuff written for this chronicle already...some of which admittedly I used up this session, lol.

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, Marius's first ghoul Victoria Anezka is represented by the model Lorelei Swan, Johnny 'Roach' West is quite obviously a drawing of Kurt Cobain, Yukio is the actress Devon Aoki as I needed a picture of an Asian woman in a suit, Rosa is a model and dancer called Mahafsoun and Jenna Cross is currently Rhona Mitra (mainly due to Jenna being described as looking like Lara Croft and Rhona Mitra was the original publicity model for her). 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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