Saturday, 30 March 2019

V5 Chronicle - Faction Profiles - The Voermans

During the course of the various stories of this chronicle the coterie has and will meet many characters so I'm therefore creating several profile pages for different groups within my version of kindred Los Angeles to help them keep track. I'll also amend these profiles as new information comes to light and old 'facts' turn out to be less factual than originally thought...
Therese/Jeanette Voerman
"Once, I was pursuing activities out in the City of Angels. I met such a beauty. Despite my age, she was attracted to me! I never saw one so vivacious, yet such delicate depths, my lad. Such delicate depths. She called me “daddy”. She’s Baron of Santa Monica, now. Such a delight. Esau had to go and ruin it by Embracing her sister." - Jacob, 5th Generation Malkavian

Clan - 6th Generation Malkavian
Haven - The Asylum (Haven 3: Herd 5, Location, Luxury, Postern 3, Security System 3, Watchmen 3)
Backgrounds - Allies 1-5 (Multiple), Contacts 1-5 (Multiple), Influence 5, Mask 3, Resources 5, Retainers 1-5 (Multiple), Status (Therese 5, Jeanette 3)
Merits - Beautiful
Lore - The Cobweb (Both) (3: Across the Web, 4: Pluck the Strands, 5: Malkav's Will)
Derangement's - Hypersexuality (Jeanette), Megalomania (Therese)

Although Therese is a Malkavian, she dresses and acts like a Ventrue; as her sister Jeanette Voerman states, "She won't even feed unless it's poured into a glass". Therese was loyal to the Camarilla when they had a presence in Los Angeles but had more than enough power and influence to maintain her position within the Free States after LaCroix's unfortunate and spectacular demise at the hands of Smiling Jack. Her sister Jeanette leaned more towards the Anarch position as would be expected by some-one of her less predictable nature. In L.A., to 'do a Voerman' is to make a member of your own coterie a sworn enemy.

Jeanette and Therese alternate between co-operation and near violent disagreement on a wide variety of issues though some suspect that this is merely to confound their opponents. After their most recent apparent falling out Therese maintained control over Santa Monica's Asylum, briefly re-branding it as 'The New Asylum', while Jeanette opened a second location in Hollywood. The sisters never appear in the same club. The popularity of both locations continued to rise and the Asylum franchise has now gone international having locations across America, Asia and Europe. Many now consider it to be 'The' nightclub of the undead, rivalling even Chicago's Succubus Club.

Given the need to monitor an international empire of clubs while also keeping track of her assets and other businesses in Santa Monica the Baron has a Seneschal named Jane Lane who keeps things in order for her while she's absent and deals with those issues beneath her notice when she is present.
Though Therese is undoubtedly the business mind of the two, Jeanette for her part has a network of contacts, informants, retainers and former lovers that constantly feed her information on a wide variety of subjects hoping to gain her favour in return. With the political and financial influence of the one and the information network of the other making enemies of the Voerman's is considered an extremely poor decision...though usually an extremely brief one...

Therese Voerman is aware that the coterie of the Baron of Pasadena, Michael Tomassio has Camarilla sympathies but as she herself also values order over chaos she has not used this information against them.

Jane/Janice Lane
Clan - 7th Generation Malkavian, presumed Ventrue by most
Haven - The Asylum (Haven 3: Herd 3, Location)
Backgrounds - Contacts 1-3 (Multiple), Influence 3, Mawla 5 (Therese Voerman), Mawla 3 (Jeanette Voerman), Resources 4, Status 4 (Santa Monica)
Merits - Beautiful (as Janice)
Lore (Jane) - Jeanette/Therese Voerman (4: Therese's Favourite)
Lore (Janice) - Jeanette/Therese Voerman (3: Jeanette's Favourite)

Jane Lane was a successful lawyer with a thriving practice in Hollywood Los Angeles until embraced apparently on a whim by an unknown kindred and left with a bewildering array of new abilities and absolutely no idea of how to deal with the unlife that had been inflicted upon her. An inability to see clients during the day was a minor inconvenience compared to wanting to tear their throats out.

This new kindred came to the attention of Jeanette Voerman when she wandered into her club in Hollywood apparently drawn by the connection that all Malkavians seem to share to one degree or another. The sister added her to her considerable list of lovers and playthings before pointing her in the direction of her sister Therese when she began to get bored of her. Far more pragmatic than her sister she offered her a role managing her business interests while she was away and tasks she deemed less important while she was. Grateful for the chance to regain some aspect of the life taken from her she has taken on the role with relish and considerable skill.

When Jane hunts she does so amongst the social elite of Los Angeles attending the most fashionable clubs, restaurants and haunts though few would recognise her as the Seneschal Jane when she does so. Jane searches for prey in the guise of  'Janice' a beautiful and ruthless sexual predator who takes what and who she wants, when she wants while making them believe that they are entirely willing parties, sometimes perhaps they even are. Somewhat amusingly Jeanette now has a newfound interest in her former plaything but only when she wears the mask of her predatory side.

She is also broadly speaking responsible for deploying Therese's commando coterie in it's defence of Santa Monica's borders from poaching thin-bloods and other uninvited guests. In practical terms though the coterie is led by Ellie-May Li.

The Commando Coterie
Ellie-May Li - Coterie Leader
Aliases - 'Lee', Li Min
Clan - 9th Generation Toreador
Haven - The Asylum (Haven 3: Herd 3, Location)
Backgrounds - Resources 3, Status 3 (Santa Monica)
Merits - Beautiful 2, Eat Food
Lore - Jeanette/Therese Voerman (1: Asylum Membership, 2: Performing Monkey)

Taught martial arts by her brother in order to defend herself in an increasingly volatile political atmosphere in pre-boxer rebellion China after the death of their parents in a flood. European legations had a particular jurisdiction status in Peking in that they were not subject to Chinese authorities so robbers, raiders and worse committed their crimes then took shelter in the European legations to escape any punishment for their criminal acts, hence triggering exasperation among the townspeople and causing her brother to fear for her safety during his absences.

She showed considerable skill and natural talent for the skills she was taught and her brother continued her lessons until his death at the Battle of Langfang against invading foreign troops. Devastated by the loss of her brother and having no ties to her home she gathered her few belongings and left.

Such an environment was dangerous to travel through for any at the time let alone a young woman alone and she fell foul of a rampaging group of foreign soldiers intent on rape and pillage. Though the first of her attackers paid with his life and the second with his manhood she was soon overwhelmed. Unfortunately for them she had also gained the attention of a Chinese Toreador whose haven had been destroyed during the conflict and was looking for a place to spend the day. After feeding himself with their blood and the girl with their rations he blood bound her to himself as a watcher during the day and she became his companion as they made their way out of China. Once they were safely established, far from the warzone he embraced her as a reward for her service.

Over the next century Li Min learned a great many martial arts, flitting between them as they came in and out of fashion moving from Chinese martial arts, Japanese, Western boxing and any number of others. Somewhat scornful of other Toreador whose artistic obsessions were in her opinion transitory and pointless she continues with her own personal quest to create a martial art that is as deadly as it is beautiful to watch. Though she is never satisfied with her creations those who have cause to oppose her rarely survive the experience. Her preference is for speed and skill over brute force though she also is not above using her talents with the Presence discipline to intimidate or charm should a conversation be a preferable solution to a problem. In her opinion death by her carefully crafted skills should be considered an honour...

Recruited by Therese Voerman while touring her Asian business interests she now goes by the name Ellie-May and leads the commando coterie that defends the Voerman's and continues to test herself wherever possible. She has a considerable grasp of tactics and uses the coteries various strengths to their best while ensuring that the weaknesses of each cannot be exploited.

Charlie Abbott - 'Scourge'
Aliases - 'Chick', Charleene
Clan - 9th Generation (via diablerie) Banu Haqim
Haven - The Asylum (Haven 3: Herd 3, Location)
Backgrounds - Resources 3, Status 2 (Santa Monica)
Merits - Bloodhound
Flaw - Stigmata 1
Lore - Fatima al-Faqadi (1: Weapons Locker, 2: Extended Web), Jeanette/Therese Voerman (1: Asylum Membership, 2: Performing Monkey)

Daughter of a foreign mercenary and a middle-eastern prostitute she grew up on the streets making her way as a pickpocket and petty thief though this is as much of her early life as is known to any-one except perhaps the Voermans and Jane Lane.

Recruited after she was observed in an altercation with a group of drug dealers she was attempting to liberate of their money and stock. It was during this failed robbery where she sustained significant injuries to her face and what would have been a fatal stab wound to the heart were it not for the fact that her sire chose to embrace her. Unfortunately the embrace is not always consistent in results and though the chest wound healed those to her face now have the unfortunate habit of seeping blood when she feeds or becomes agitated.

Educated in the path of blood followed by her sire and taught how to use the speed, stealth and sorcerous skills that were her clans heritage she soon became his prize pupil and claimed the lives and unlives of many of the enemies of the clan. When Ur-Shulgi returned to re-shape the clan to the form that he believed the Banu Haqim's antediluvian had intended many including Charlie's sire fled their ancestral bases as those not immediately pledging themselves to his way were ruthlessly purged.

Though she left with her sire, she arrived in the west quite alone where her skills were equally in demand by Camarilla Princes and Anarch Barons alike. Skilled in firearms, bladed weapons and blood magics to enhance her ability to both hunt and kill prey her success rate came to the attention of a certain enterprising Malkavian who was looking for just such a person to protect her business interests. She prefers if possible to attack from ambush using Obfuscate and Celerity to overwhelm a foe before they even know she's there. She also has a basic grasp of blood magic which she sometimes uses to enhance her weapons if Mandi is unavailable though her skill in that area is considerably less advanced than that of her Tremere coterie-mate.

In Los Angeles she has encountered another of her clan named Daniel Matthews who she knows has a price on his head. The price is the promise of a lowering of the generation of any who provide the information that leads to his sire locating his lost childe. The price specified has now apparently been matched by her employer Therese Voerman though exactly how is best not to be considered. Daniel Matthews on the other hand now finds himself in debt to the Voerman's.

Alexander Durham - 'Scourge'
Aliases - 'Lex'
Clan - 10th Generation Brujah
Haven - The Asylum (Haven 3: Herd 3, Location)
Backgrounds - Resources 3, Status 2 (Santa Monica)
Merits - Iron Gullet 3
Lore - Jeanette/Therese Voerman (1: Asylum Membership, 2: Performing Monkey)

Originally part of a small bike gang in Chicago with minor interests in drug dealing and prostitution they fell foul of an enemy expansion into their minor operations. Though quite capable of handling themselves against mortal foes the leader of the rivals they assaulted was much more than mere kine and the gang had made the understandable mistake of attacking their rivals during the night.

As the last to fall he presumed that he was to join the fate of the others but it was not to be as the remnants of his blood was drained and replaced with something far more potent. He sated his fledgling hunger on the cooling lifeblood of his former friends and started a new existence as the right hand of his sire along with his three other childer. Though healthy competition was encouraged by his sire, Lex soon became convinced that nothing he did seemed to satisfy the one who had created him and an argument about his status provoked both he and his sire to frenzy. Despite their differences in age and generation Lex prevailed and for the first time enacted the forbidden act of diablerie.

As the Camarilla held sway in Chicago and knowing that his three 'brothers' would attempt to destroy him for what he had done he left the city that very night. Travelling by dark and sleeping wherever he could find during the day he became a plague to lone hikers across the highways of America before eventually reaching the Anarch Free States. Finding himself in a club called the Asylum he met a kindred called Jeanette who made him an interesting offer. Well, two offers, the second of which was employment as a Scourge for the enforcers of her sister.

Though he has considerale skill with a knife and carries a sawn off shotgun in a custom shoulder rig his preferred method of combat is hand to hand where he makes use of either a set of spiked knuckledusters or a set of studded gloves. Along with 'Chick' he acts as one of the Voermans scourges though their direct skills are supplemented by the abilities of the final two members of the coterie.

Hamish Moody - 'Interrogator'
Aliases - 'Jim'
Clan - 10th Generation Malkavian
Haven - The Asylum (Haven 3: Herd 3, Location)
Backgrounds - Resources 2, Status 2 (Santa Monica)
Lore - Descendent of Vasantasen (1: Agent of Chaos), Jeanette/Therese Voerman (1: Asylum Membership, 2: Performing Monkey), The Cobweb (2: Step Into My Parlor)

Originally hailing from Scotland the Malkavian known as either Hamish or Jim as the mood takes him was embraced on a whim as is often the case with Malkavian sires.

Though most presume his skills are martial in nature due to his height and physical development his abilities as a grappler are mainly used to keep a target in position so he can make eye-contact. Once he has his hands on a victim there are few capable of overcoming his vast physical strength.

Able to twist a persons thoughts against them Hamish is an expert at interrogation and information retrieval though very few of his victims are quite the same again and it was utilising these skills as a 'gun for hire' that he traded for his nightly requirements. If asked why he left his homeland, travelled to the states and then onto Los Angeles he would be hard-pressed to give a reasonable explanation. It just seemed like a good idea at the time...

Now he uses his extensive mental talents to ensure that uninvited guests to Santa Monica understand the folly of their mistake and to ascertain exactly what their intentions are. His powers of Premonition also enable his coterie mates to be in exactly the places they need to be in order to prevent his mistress being caught by surprise. If ever there was a kindred defined by the phrase 'Plays with his food' it is Hamish Moody

Amanda McBride - 'Occult Specialist'
Aliases - Arethusa, 'Mandi',
Clan - Tremere (Telyavelic Bloodline) (Formally House Goratrix, now Autarkis), 8th Generation
Haven - The Asylum (Haven 3: Herd 3, Location)
Backgrounds - Resources 2, Status 2 (Santa Monica)
Merits - Short Bond 2
Lore - Jeanette/Therese Voerman (1: Asylum Membership, 2: Performing Monkey)

Unlike most Tremere elsewhere in the Dark Medieval world, the Telyavelic actively Embraced women, seeing them as embodiment's of the dark mother-goddess figures of local paganism. Although the majority of this group is still male, nearly a third is female, and many of these were created during the middle age. Candidates for Embrace must come from the ranks of pagans. Many of them are priests and priestesses of the old religion and such was the case with the woman then known as Arethusa.

Surviving and thriving within the ranks of the Telyavelic she advanced the clans knowledge of blood magic in a variety of areas though was particularly interested in the martial applications of the various paths and disciplines developed. As the variation of the pyramid used by her bloodline only bought neonates two thirds of the way to a blood bond her strength of will enabled her to break from the clan and she left to seek knowledge from whatever other sources she could including a dangerous but informative decade amongst the Tremere antitribu of the Sabbat. In recent times her research has led her to rumours of an abandoned chantry in LA so she happily accepted Therese's offer of a job with her enforcers in Santa Monica as this allowed her to gain an easy means of travel to LA.

She supports the others with poisons for weapons and rituals to track any interlopers that escape the grasp of Hamish. She has gained a reputation amongst her fellow coterie members for liking to kill in as messy a way as possible though when feeding she never misses a drop. Now she is reasonably sure the Chantry is not in Santa Monica she is looking elsewhere in her spare time. With the fall of the main chantry in Vienna and the disruption amongst the bloodlines and houses of clan Tremere she firmly believes that a group of like minded kindred could create their own haven for knowledge and research, free from the restrictive practices of the past. In her opinion a chantry belonging to a former regent would be an excellent place to start and Therese has broadly agreed to assist her in this quest as long as her original duties are not neglected.

Should you be interested in the chronicles and stories associated with these pages then links to them all can be found HERE.

Friday, 29 March 2019

Vampire the Masquerade V5 - Session Twenty Two - Countdown (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 Six, Seven and Eight
'Foothold LA' Chronicle
Solo Session - 'Hostile Takeover'

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...

With Michael now Baron of Pasadena the coterie are beginning to take over both the political and criminal elements of their new domain in order to strength their position before the Crypt's Sons threatened war with the gangs of the Barony of the Angels. Though not directly involved in the conflict such wars between kindred rarely stay within their own domains.

Scene One - The Fixer

Marius Walker - Gangrel
Unexpectedly the kindred 'Fixer' Marius Walker pays the gallery a visit and after untangling himself from his ghoul Heather who works at the gallery requests a meeting with Michael. He is in 'Boardroom Gangrel' mode so is dressed better than usual and so presumably the matter is more about finances and less about something likely to get them all killed. "Greetings 'Baron'. We need to talk..." Michael and the other members of the coterie were of course interested to see what was of such importance.

"With your elevation to Baron and a few other complications such as my grandchilde's performance at the rant and accusations of me attempting to create some kind of Gangrel army I need to be careful about how my allegiances are perceived. To cut a long story short, any use of my resources will have to be on the same basis as all the other baronies. On the bright side this means I wont act directly against your Baron personally, the downside is I expect introductions when you need to cross through my domain and advance notice if you use any of my clubs or...other services..."

Michael's immediate concern was that the gallery on paper at least paid rent to Marius for the property and the land on which it sat. Marius assured him that as they'd provided a service for him in exchange for the property that the transaction would appear like a standard arrangement of a boon for a boon to other kindred. Secondly the matter of continued use of the Neillson library of which Marius was the caretaker and to which Michael had been granted access was bought up.

Carmelita Neillson - Toreador
Archaeologist and Historian
Marius pointed out that despite ensuring it's integrity and punishing any who abused the facility the library actually belonged to Carmelita Neillson and as she had granted the Toreador access it wasn't something he himself was in any position to prevent even if he wanted to, which he didn't.

Storytellers Note - Michael performed a task for Carmelita Neillson while providing an escort for her during a solo session and was given access as a reward. The full story is HERE should you be interested.

Taking advantage of the Gangrel's presence Michael asked him if he knew of anything within the documents obtained from the former baron of Pasadena, Edward Vignes that might help with his political aims. Particularly he was interested in contacts within law enforcement given the amount of illegal enterprises now under their influence. The fixer was aware that Edward had a police lieutenant in vice under his influence and that Michael should look within his files for a man called Franklin Atkins. It seemed that this particular officer had been saved from misconduct charges related to drugs and other offences.

Though Marius didn't know the exact details he suspected that the former baron would have kept any blackmail information in his safety deposit boxes as despite being connected to a significant underworld figure he always seemed to avoid prosecution.

He also informed Michael that much of the Vignes political power had come from selective financial donations to causes that always coincided in a timely manner with some benefit granted to the former baron or his associates. Though this wasn't technically illegal it would have been frowned upon had the general public become aware of it.

"Should you need any advice you can still contact me but you'll need to be subtle about it. I presume you were expecting this to happen eventually?" The coterie had indeed expected this resource to be withdrawn eventually but Daniel did offer his continued services to Marius should he require them as he correctly figured that this would give them all an excuse for continued access to their former patron in some manner. With matters resolved fairly amicably Marius left.

Scene Two -  The Little Things
Sewer Escape
A preemptive strike by one of the former gang occupants of the barony of angels against the Crypts Sons has resulted in the deaths of five of the six who made the attempt. The lone survivor is rumoured to have fled via the sewers in the direction of downtown with the The Crypts Sons in pursuit as several of their members were also seen in downtown but they are known to have turned back before any other confrontations with Louis Fortier or Marius walker who both have interests there.

Roach's first drug shipment arriving at Long Beach harbour made it's way safely through the baronies as negotiated by the Malkavian at the Rant earlier that week. His meeting with Harvey who runs the area on behalf of Steve Booth has gone remarkably well considering their differing styles. Roach was of the opinion that Harvey seemed to find Steve likeable and had some respect for the effortless way in which he commands respect and loyalty as these are traits that the Ventrue clan hold in high regard. Roach was sure that as long as the pay-offs to him and Steve remained consistent they should have little trouble at least to the borders of the Long Beach Barony.

Harvey - Ventrue Gangster
The Ventrue gangster Harvey seemed to run a tight ship as well as having a considerable quantity of mortal muscle to ensure that any cargo he had an interest in was well looked after.

Daniel's concerns have been aroused after Roach had informed him in private that one of Therese Voerman's 'commando' coterie protecting her interests in Santa Monica had the same hint to their aura that Roach associated with clan. He did this after the Banu Haqim had completed a sensitive set of jobs for him.

Storytellers Note - The tasks performed for Roach by Daniel are detailed in this solo session write-up HERE.

As Marius had implied there were indeed amongst the Vignes files some details of 'charitable donations' to a number of police officers and politicians. Though Michael wasn't convinced he was yet at the stage where the politicians or important policeman were viable options for bribery and corruption there was a cop in Vice who seemed to have had some troubles involving ladies of the night and the occasional missing drug seizure which had been covered up. Originals of the relevant 'lost' files were amongst the Vignes boxes though which gave the new Baron some significant leverage.

Scene Three - Vices
Venus Dare - Ghoul
Club Confession Manager and Part Owner
Michael's ghoul Lisa used one of the coteries significant collection of burner phones to call the cop 'Frank' and informed him that several interesting pieces of information had come to her attention and that she was keen to discuss the situation with him.

Dropping several identifying serial numbers into the conversation so that the cop was in no doubt about exactly what files were being discussed she arranged a meeting on Michael's behalf.

Not wanting to bring him to anywhere directly under his control he instead somewhat cheekily told Lisa to arrange the meeting location as Club Confession in downtown where he was to ask for 'Paul'. A second phone-call this time from Michael himself to Venus Dare the club manager requested that a private room be made available and that the other attendee would be asking for a 'Paul' rather than Michael. Having spent most of her early years in LA under the thumb of a Russian mobster and the rest working for LA's resident kindred Fixer Marius such subterfuge was very familiar to her.

Franklin 'Frank' Atkins
Corrupt Cop
Michael first informed Venus of his arrival before he made himself comfortable in one of the clubs private rooms while Vin observed the surrounding area in case the cop had decided to take any precautions of his own that might complicate matters. Venus had also been made aware that the guest was kine rather than kindred and so mundane refreshments would be all they required. Michael was quite capable of consuming wine though he obviously preferred it when blood was also one of it's ingredients though on this occasion it was a small sacrifice to consume a more mundane beverage.

After about twenty minutes a tall, solidly built man was escorted into the room by Venus though Michael could see that good living was begin to take it's toll and the cop was struggling with what was sometimes politely called middle-aged spread. Outwardly his demeanour showed considerable confidence though the Toreador's empathetic nature told him that exactly the opposite was true. Michael gestured at an empty chair "Let me get straight to the point..."

Michael explained that he was in possession of a number of files that showed that Frank had removed several significant quantities of drugs from police evidence and seemed to have been named by a number of ladies of the night as being a regular user of their 'services'. The fact that the cop thought these documents and files were long gone were evident on his face but he recovered quite quickly. He did however choose this moment to sit down and help himself to some wine.

"I have no intention of throwing you to the wolves" reassured Michael before laying out the many benefits that a working relationship between the two might have. "So what did you have in mind?" was Frank's measured response.

Everything Has a Price
The Toreador put forward his opinion that some crimes were worth investigating and that others were not and that he thought that the cop might want to pay attention to Michael's opinion about which was which. In exchange Michael would use his own influence to ensure that certain information never found it's way into the wrong hands and would be happy to point Officer Atkins in the right direction of certain activities that could advance his career. "After the call I took you for a common blackmailer, but you have bigger plans than that, don't you?"

Michael confirmed that their relationship would be broadly speaking a two-way one as long as his requests were given due levels of priority. "As you're aware of my particular...weaknesses, how well equipped are you to provide them for me without me having to risk my position which as you say will benefit us both?". Considering this for the moment Michael was well aware that chemical and physical entertainment were something that the coterie wasn't short of between Roach's drug operation and Vin's brothel.

He also could see the cops point that it was better if these things were provided for him rather than him risking their arrangement by obtaining them through his job. With the terms broadly decided in that Michael would provide drugs and hookers in exchange for the services of the cop he slid a burner phone over to Frank and informed him he'd make the arrangements he'd agreed upon. He also made a mental note to blood-bond and ghoul the cop as soon as possible to minimise any desire the officer might have to get out of their arrangement. However with their business concluded for now he had the cop escorted out and after a short time to ensure they weren't seen together he left himself.

Interlude One
Dr Melissa Russell
Two minor gangs have withdrew from the domains formally held by the Crypts Sons and moved back to the Barony of the Angels in order to avoid a direct conflict should the Crypt Sons make good on their threat to re-take their lost territories. This is the first indication that the threat is being taken seriously by any of the gangs within those domains.

Daniel's presence at several hospitals in Los Angeles had been in a lot of demand recently due to one of the other locum surgeons Dr Melissa Russell having accepted a role in private practice. Daniel had always considered her to be highly professional and competent so her being head-hunted by a private medical firm was hardly a surprise. This increased demand for his attendance had however had the added advantage of making sourcing blood bags for his own needs far simpler.

Roach's criminal gang 'The Apostles' have taken over three crack houses, a large drug distribution operation and all the girls of a significant operator in the sex trade after the leaders of all three groups were killed on the same night at various locations across Pasadena. Those members of the original gangs open to a regime change are now members of the Apostles, the rest were dealt with via a variety of invariably fatal means.

Scene Four - Velvet Velour
Isaac Abrams - Toreador
Baron of Hollywood
With Roach busy integrating the new criminal elements into his gang via their leader Reuben, Vin ensuring the smooth integration of his and the new sex workers into his own business enterprises and Daniel currently obsessed with the idea that the Banu Haqim working for Therese might have been sent by his sire to locate him, Michael found himself in the unusual position of having no figurative fires to put out. Taking advantage of this rare opportunity he decided to take up Velvet Velour's offer of a visit to her club as he had found her very interesting in the few moments they had spoke and he rarely had the opportunity to socialise outside of the usual kindred politics. As he had been invited personally by Velvet he felt no need to ask permission to operate within Isaac Abrams Hollywood barony but did inform him he was going to make the trip out of courtesy.

Storytellers Note - Vin and Roach's players were absent at this point and Daniel's player was wading through a pile of hand-outs I'd gave him based on his and his ghouls investigations into a number of notable LA kindred. I therefore let Michael's player do what he liked for a bit.

The club Vesuvius has all the hallmarks of an exotic dancing establishment but is somewhat more understated in design and has more style about it than you would normally expect from such a place. The club's interior design reflects its namesake, the walls and floors resembling that of an active volcano but the work is artistic rather than crass. 

A pair of muscular and it's fair to say handsome men are acting as security at the front door while behind a counter is an athletically built Asian man who is covered with tattoos right up to the neck. As you approach his eyes glaze over slightly and he appears to be distracted momentarily before his eyes focus once more. "Greetings Mr Tomassio, Miss Velour will see you now..."

Michael was somewhat impressed by the decor as despite the limitations of the buildings intended purpose it had been designed stylishly and the layout flowed well from room to room. The artistic flair of a Toreador was definitely evident.

Velvet Velour - Toreador
Club Vesuvius Owner and 'Dancer'
As you are guided through the clubs interior you can see a number of attractive ladies in various states of undress dancing on a raised stage behind the bar, a number of scantily dressed women serving drinks and several others sitting with a variety of well dressed men and women in comfortable booth style alcoves. Along one wall are a selection of booths obscured by dark curtains into which an occasional lone patron is led by one of the girls working there. Your guide leads you to a door marked private which he unlocks via a keypad, opens the door and points upstairs. "Miss Velour is waiting for you..." He seems to have no intention of making the rest of the journey with you.

Velvet's office would better be described as a boudoir and the lady herself is reclined on a sofa and is as usual dressed in expensive lingerie. She gestures to another sofa opposite her "Please...make yourself comfortable..."

Storytellers Note - Michael's Auspex was insufficient to detect that Velvet's Presence was apparently turned to maximum throughout the meeting. Though I only told him how many dice I wished him to roll, not what he was rolling for. He probably guessed though.

Michael took a seat and then complimented her on her club. She accepted the comment gratefully and then began to speak about how impressed she was with Michael's impassioned speech at the recent kindred rant especially the elements relating to how they as kindred could be a force for improvement rather than merely inhuman predators. Sensing that he had her attention he continued on that theme though he could see her visibly wince at the mention of the Sabbat. She expressed her disappointment that so many kindred had fallen to their own beasts and bought the subject around to Michael's defusing of the argument between Marius and Nines and his bravery in standing between two particularly physically puissant kindred.

Trying to be humble and only failing slightly Michael spoke of how he respected them both as powers within LA but was disappointed that they were unable to put aside their own goals when their were more important matters to deal with than petty rivalry's and imagined slights. Velvet agreed with his assessment adding that she had been disappointed in Marius in the past when he had dealt with a problem she'd mentioned in passing by killing the two kindred and one mortal that were involved. Obviously she was quick to point out, this was never her intention as she found killing to be abhorrent.

Dawn Cavanagh - The Ministry
'Self Improvement Guru'
Michael then turned the topic to Isaac Abrams as he had a question to ask that he hoped to slip into the conversation about the voting at the rant though wished to do it casually without it seeming like anything important. She spoke passionately of how she considered the Baron of Hollywood, Isaac Abrams, to be her adopted sire and the father she never had. She spoke about him in a poetic and animated way, and how she would "end it all" if anything were to happen to him. Michael tried to ingratiate himself further by telling Velvet that Isaac's fine taste was reflected in the company that he kept and was mildly surprised when she implied that this wasn't always the case. On a hunch he mentioned the other kindred accompanying Isaac at the rant and found he was correct in his assumption that she was the target of Velvet's barb.

The kindred's name was Dawn Cavanagh though of her clan all he could ascertain was "Not one of us...". Velvet considered her to be an unpleasant manipulator with a number of what Miss Velour described as "Abhorrent habits". It seemed that this other kindred had a number of useful contacts amongst both kindred and kine and that Isaac's tolerance of her was a political necessity rather than a matter of choice. Michael chose to approach this revelation by telling Velvet that he congratulated Isaac on his willingness for self sacrifice for the greater good quoting the line from Shakespeare "Uneasy lies the head that wears a crown". Sensing that Velvet's attention was beginning to wander he took this opportunity to steer the conversation via his respect for Isaac to enquire if he'd disappointed him in some was as he hadn't voted in his favour at the rant. Velvet reassured him that Isaac never voted in such things as in his opinion self determination was more important than the opinion of other kindred. Reassured Michael made some more small talk before taking his leave.

Sarah - Ghoul
"It's been a pleasure Miss Velour, If you ever need my service I'm at your disposal..." He then handed her a business card with his number on it. "Please, call me 'VV'..." was her reply. Pleased with his meeting and satisfied that he'd not offended Isaac he returned to the gallery to see if any of the other coterie members had returned from their various personal business.

Vin had apparently returned briefly to the gallery accompanied by his new ghoul Sarah but had stopped only long enough to change clothes and pick up some books. Michael's own ghoul Lisa mentioned that Vin seemed to be taking more care over his appearance which the Toreador took to mean 'wasn't covered in blood'. She also informed him that Daniel had gone to see Marius but hadn't mentioned the nature of the business. Michael was aware that the Banu Haqim still did the occasional 'job' for the Gangrel fixer and because of this had somewhat better access to him than the rest of the coterie when it came to receiving guidance and advice.

Scene Five - Marius
After navigating the usual security flanked by Victoria, Daniel was escorted to the less formal of Marius's meeting rooms where he was invited to sit and discuss what was on his mind. Daniel laid out what had occurred in the sewers though he got the distinct impression that the Gangrel sitting across from him already knew much of what had happened. As the Banu Haqim considered himself the coterie's own fixer he made the point that he was concerned that there might have been other Tzimisce survivors and that he'd like to be wrong but wanted to be sure. He was assured by Marius that if the master of the creature they encountered was indeed the one that the Gangrel had very nearly sliced in half that he would have been the last of the three as the others and their leader were "Most certainly ashes...".

Daniel also put forward his opinion that the Sabbat' who had attacked the Gangel couple at the farmhouse might have merely been an opening salvo especially in light of their attempt to involve the Tzimisce in their scheme. This was confirmed as a possibility which was why the Gangrel of LA were coordinating their patrols with one another in order to give early warning of any incursions.

When asked about the reason for these suspicions Daniel handed over the diary that he'd discovered in the Tzimisce's lair and having no further use for it enquired if Marius would like to keep it.

Victoria - Ghoul
Marius's Personal Assistant
He confirmed that it might provide some insight the book was accepted and Daniel took this opportunity to use the goodwill to make another enquiry that was concerning him. Namely that he had the impression that he had offended Marius's ghoul Victoria in some way and that he had heard that she was somewhat vindictive.

Amused despite himself Marius confirmed that Daniel's attempt to go around her in the matter of Michael's boon to him had been taken as a slight on her part and that she wasn't above making those who had done so regret their actions. He also stated quite clearly that she was very useful to him and that he indulged many of her personal schemes in return. Basically if she decided to take some action against Daniel not only would she be very likely to succeed, he himself would do fuck all about it. Marius suggested that an explanation of his actions and perhaps some ingratiation on his part might not go amiss...

On leaving Daniel took the advice of his Mawla and explained to Victoria that he'd simply been looking out for the interests of his Baron as in his opinion his negotiation skills in that particular matter where somewhat lacking and that his thought were only of helping him, not undermining her. The ghoul acknowledged the point but it was difficult to tell if she was convinced or not though it was slightly reassuring that her manner was marginally less abrupt when he was escorted outside so at least that was a positive sign.

Interlude Two
'Priss' - Brujah
Gang Leader
A gang of four Caitiff led by a Brujah named Priss who had taken a domain of a mere two blocks on the outskirts of the area soon to be reclaimed by the Crypts Sons have apparently negotiated some kind of arrangement with the Sons in order to keep their small territory. The specifics are unknown but a few other gangs with small areas of influence and a week or two away from eviction are very keen to find out just what the deal was.

Roach answered a request by Gloria Martinez, Baron of Whittier to pick up a small parcel from her barony and drop it off at Covina on their way through to Pasadena. He obliged and instructed his gang members not to mess with it at all as he suspected this was a test by her to see if he could be trusted. Perhaps in anticipation of a more considerable request at a later date.

While Vin has been double checking the security of their expanding empire in anticipation of the upcoming war, Daniel has begun to map the sewer area around the Gallery for the best escape routes via their recently installed postern. With the atmosphere of suspicion across Los Angeles and the kindred baronies within at an all time high, the security of their own barony was now of more importance than ever before...

To Be Continued in 'Countdown' 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...

With only two players present due to the other two having work commitments, those not present informed me of their characters decisions in advance via messenger and other means.

This meant that I had to be somewhat careful about what plots I threw into the mix so I instead moved some of the characters personal interests up the time-line a bit and let them indulge themselves a little. There's a little more action planned for next session as time begins to run out to establish their foothold in Pasadena before a kindred gang war explodes in the Barony of the Angels. Sometimes you just need a few sessions to allow people to get into their characters and I like to tidy up at least some sub-plots every now and again, 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, 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, Marius Walker is Tony Curran, Carmelita Neillson is Salma Hayek, Harvey is Harvey Keitel, Venus Dare is Sophie Howard, Franklin Atkins is Michael Chiklis, Dr Melissa Russell is Hayley Atwell, Isaac Abrams is Gary Oldman, Sarah is Elesha Thorn, Victoria is Lilith May and I'm afraid the cosplayer being Velvet Velour is unknown to me, sorry.. 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.

Friday, 22 March 2019

Vampire the Masquerade V5 - Solo Session - Hostile Takeover

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...
'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 Six, Seven and Eight

The Storyteller
Garreth as Everyone else...
The PC
Matt as Dr Daniel Matthews - Banu Haqim
The player 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 and they'll also be in blue. 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...

Storytellers Note - The character Daniel is a far more systematic and careful problem solver than either Vin or Hope but hadn't had much opportunity to sort out any issues 'his way' due to the nature of the problems the coterie had encountered. I therefore arranged a solo session so he could explore his character a bit more without having to work in the somewhat reactionary manner of his colleagues. 

'Roach' - Malkavian
Seneschal and Seer
Roach has approached you with a request to remove certain impediments to the coteries criminal expansion plans. He has asked for your help as he needs their removal to look like random acts of violence or accidents rather than looking like they've been clawed by a tiger or their heads have mysteriously exploded.

Storytellers Note - The other two combat orientated coterie members aren't exactly subtle...see pretty much any story with a fight in it for examples...

The targets are two drug dealers, one pimp and a street vigilante who seems to be somewhat indiscriminate on what he classes as a criminal or not and is drawing attention to places that may cause problems. Roach would like the problems to no longer be an issue before the Crypts Sons deadline for the withdrawal of the other gangs from their contested turf in a months time. This way if that gangs mortal criminals become drawn into the conflict Pasadena's own illegal enterprises will be completely under Roach and therefore the coteries control should a gang-war extent to their domain. He is also very keen that Michael only be informed of the positive consequences of the targets disappearances without any actual details about the 'How?'.

Storytellers Note - Michael is an excellent negotiator and diplomat but has a somewhat unrealistic expectation of how kindred and kine should behave. Roach therefore tends to sort out anything morally dubious and just doesn't tell him about it.

Roach's street contacts have compiled some basic information on the targets but the Malkavian is aware that Daniel has his own resources should he wish to gather further intelligence.

The 'Clients'
Jeremiah 'Jere' Cherry
Gang Leader
Jeremiah Cherry (Jere)
Jeremiah Cherry more commonly known as 'Jere' managed to take several of Reapers drug dens before The Apostles could get their hands on them.

As these 'crack dens' were very secure indeed Roach doesn't want to waste his still limited supplies of weapons and ammunition taking them with a direct assault. Jere is described as a short, broad, mixed-race man and is known to be very systematic and careful.

Zack John (Jax)
Already a major player long before the Reaper set his sights on Roach's operation at the university it's entirely possible that his expansion was only limited before by the former Baron of Pasadena's direct support of  the now deceased gangster Solomon Burton.

With him gone it's Roach's opinion that Jax will make a play for his criminal business enterprises and he's quite keen for that not to happen. A tall, blonde, handsome, man in his 40's he has a reputation as somewhat of a ladies man though his wife is seemingly unaware of his extramarital interests.

Garfield Bentley
Garfield runs one expensive brothel and employs half a dozen pimps who handle street corner girls. Though prostitution is somewhat out of the Malkavian's comfort zone he is aware that Vin's current stable of girls are somewhat lacking the etiquette and airs of sophistication Michael will need to have politicians wined and dined. Garfield's high end operation would supplement this well and the rest of his street girls can be added to the rest of the Brujah's stock. The description given is somewhat vague but 'very tall' is a start I suppose.

The Vigilante
A number of violent beatings of corner dealers attributed to a street level vigilante have began to gain press coverage over the last few weeks as he has escalated to murder. Though he is yet to either deliberately or accidentally turn his attention to any of Roach's or Vin's 'people' the newsworthy nature of this vigilante is inevitably going to draw attention to the criminal organisations of Pasadena which is something that the coterie would like to avoid. Roach would like you to locate the source of this problem and make it go away along with the other criminal rivals.

Night One - 'Jere'
Andrew Francis
Ghoul Retainer
Daniel tasked his ghoul Andrew with doing some research into the name 'Jere' and any associations with crack or its equivalent level of hard drugs in the Pasadena area and to see what information he could gain on the other clients through legitimate sources and his less legal contacts. Andrew had a talent for routing out significant details that the Banu Haqim could then use to fine-tune his plans.

Operating on the principle that most men and women of business kept a close eye on their competition Daniel began to make some enquiries amongst the Apostles gang that they now controlled about possible locations for the distribution points of the dealer 'Jere'. Being fairly newly transplanted to the barony they weren't quite as useful as a fully established gang of locals would have been but they were still able to give Daniel some pointers.

They did point out that they still had requests for certain drugs which their leader Reuben had told them to stay away from but they generally sent them on their way. Figuring that one of these turned away customers might have another option for the chemicals they craved he left his number with several of the busier dealers so they could let him know if any-one matching that description approached them.

Storytellers Note - Roach via Reuben his ghoul has passed on certain guidelines for what criminal activities are acceptable within Pasadena and what are not.

Daniel used various aspects of the Obfuscate discipline to keep himself unobtrusive but local and had waited about an hour before he got a call from one of Reuben's gang. It took him only a few minutes to reach the location and catch up with the junkie who it seemed was seeking an alternate source of the drugs he craved. The assassin was more than competent in shadowing a perspective target and the junkie he was following wasn't being particularly observant which made the task quite simple. After some time they moved through the less reputable areas of the city to some that were bordering on slum status and saw his quarry duck down a side alley guarded by a large gentlemen that was no doubt a lookout or guard of some kind. More of interest was a large car which to Daniels trained eye was unmistakably armoured and the two armed guards standing next to it.

Not wanting to be too obvious Daniel crossed the road and disappeared into the shadows from where he could observe the alleyway from a safe distance. A few crack-heads and bums were hanging around both outside the alley and within it and judging from the activity the dealers were doing considerable business, no doubt taking advantage of the new customers gained after the Reaper had been replaced by the somewhat more choosy Apostles.

Storytellers Note - Though the driving force behind the coteries criminal activities Roach is also broadly speaking on board with Michael's plan to gain political favour by 'cleaning up' Pasadena more or less he's just eliminating certain activities and moving others indoors but outwardly at least it is giving the correct impression.

Deciding he needed a closer look the doctor adopted the aspect of a generic bum as he slipped from the shadows and moved towards the target location. The guard paid him little mind as the power of Daniels obfuscate discipline made him appear exactly as the guard expected those within the alley to appear.

The door to the crack den was heavy duty with a slot in the centre that could seemingly only be opened from within and a single security camera was pointed down towards the entrance, presumably connected to a monitor within. Some twenty minutes later a second pair of bodyguards emerged through the armoured door and began to usher the assembled detritus of society out of the way as their leader 'Jere' followed a moment later. There being far too many witnesses to make killing him viable at the moment, Daniel allowed himself to be moved on as his target entered his armed vehicle with his compliment of security.

Darting into an adjacent side passage, Daniel jumped the mere two metres to the fire escape, and zig-zagged to the top of the building to see if he could get an idea of the direction 'Jere' was travelling in. Noting the fairly densely packed nature of the surrounding buildings the doctor pursued the car via rooftop managing to keep up with it as it arrived at a second location where the same practised routine was followed. This time observing the guards more closely he noted that despite this apparently being a regular routine they were still alert to their surroundings and gave the impression of being confident in their abilities.Somewhat more interesting was the fact that they had body armour beneath their clothing along with their sidearms.

Unfortunately the third location to which they travelled was through less dense building constructions so Daniel was forced to traverse down and then up again several structures. The vehicle he was following did several loops of certain blocks, stopped suddenly and generally showed all the signs of knowing how to lose a tail though the tactics were useless against the Banu Haqim's method of shadowing them. As this location was further away than the previous two even the dexterous and athletic doctor was having difficulty keeping up and almost lost them a couple of times before finally catching up a moment after they pulled up at their destination. With their routine now established in his mind Daniel decided to devote the last few hours to checking out one of his other targets before seeing if the routine was consistent by observing Jere again the following night.

Stopping only to sate his hunger on a surprised gangbanger in a nearby alleyway he headed to the brothel under the control of Garfield Bentley to which his ghoul Andrew had obtained the address. The building was in a far more wealthy area than his previous encounter had taken him to and had all the appearances of a private gentlemen's club. The security here were heavily muscled in the manner of bodybuilders but in Daniels opinion had little else to qualify them for the position of doorman being fairly lax. In the brief period left before dawn approached he made a brief tour of the surrounding buildings, noting any security cameras and alarm systems and then with time quickly running out, hurried back to his haven.

Night Two - Garfield
Having had enough of running across the rooftops and with a definite location for one target and a potential for another Daniel decided that this time he'd take his car. Daniel arrived at the location of the first of Jere's drug dens and awaited his arrival which was within twenty minutes or so of the previous day which seemed to confirm the Banu Haqim's hope that the collections were on some sort of schedule. Taking care to avoid detection he followed the dealer to all three of his collection points and then kept on his tail hoping to find his home or base of operations. He noted a site where roadworks were being carried out next to some building work and nearby were a number of large construction vehicles including a bulldozer which he made a mental note of in case it might be a useful area in which to arrange an accident later.

As he was already prepared for the drivers tendency to use anti-pursuit techniques he managed to avoid falling foul to any of them and eventually his target reached a large fortified mansion protected by high walls, an electrically operated gate and an impressive number of cameras and other intrusion detection devices. There were also a number of armed security men who seemed to be on a state of high alert. This was definitely a highly secure site and difficult but not impossible to penetrate but Daniel was now reasonably sure that if the schedule of the target was kept to that there were much easier locations to take him out in. With a rough plan already forming he decided to once again check on the gentlemen's club of Garfield Bentley.

Parking in a different location to the previous night he observed the comings and goings of the various club patrons and noted that they all had a membership card which he might need to acquire should he be going in through the front door. However kicking down the front door was really a 'Vin' move and Daniel liked to make sure he had more than one option so he slipped into the shadows and disappeared from sight as he moved to an adjacent building and looked for a way up.

The neighbouring building had a stairway joining a fire-escape and it was a simple matter for Daniel to shimmy up a drain-pipe and hop the few metres to the stairs and made his way to the roof. From the vantage point he now had it looked like there was roof access via what appeared to be a maintenance room and there were no signs of cameras. Just in case he jumped the five metres to the brothel roof and caught the edge of the outer rim before pulling himself up just high enough to have a closer look and confirmed his original assessment so climbed up.

The lock on the roof seemed to be pretty standard and he foresaw no difficulty in picking it should he need to do so. Circling the roof he found he had a view of a carpark at the rear whose access point was from the opposite side of the block and could see a smaller door at the buildings rear with a single guard.

A moment later the door opened and a tall gentleman, a heavily muscled bodyguard and four attractive young women in short dresses exited and headed towards a limousine in a reserved place right by the door. Either the facility had a take-out service or this was Garfield taking his work home with him...

Returning the way he came Daniel now had an accurate description of Garfield and had three options for access to his building should he choose to assassinate him within his place of business. With a second evening productively spent he returned to his haven.

Nights Three and Four - 'Jax'
With two of his tasks now going well he decided that it might be time to start looking into the vigilante who was drawing the authorities attention to Pasadena. Once again he called upon his ghoul Andrew for assistance and got him to look into all reported incidents of the mysterious vigilante to see if there was any pattern to his attacks or if he had a comfort zone for his activities.

It also occurred that if he was operating near to any of the other targets on his list that he could possibly set the one onto the other as this was effectively a win/win situation whether the vigilante succeeded or failed as either result eliminated a target. The somewhat imprecise and random nature of this solution didn't appeal particularly but he kept it as a potential solution should all else fail.

While awaiting the results from his ghouls searches Daniel made enquiries with the Apostles about the second drug dealer on his list Zack 'Jax' John. The territory of Jax was well known to the Apostles dealers as they'd been told to stay away from it by their leader until "certain matters had been sorted out".

Obfuscate - Fading from Sight
Daniel correctly assumed that it was him who was doing the 'sorting out' but decided to keep that information to himself, merely getting the locations of several of the dealers of Zack John so he could observe them and see if any information on their leader would come to light.

Once again using his powers of disguise and invisibility as well as his more mundane talents for stealth and shadowing he kept a watch on a number of corner dealers noting that each one left his post for a short period of time towards the early morning before briefly returning to their assigned area. Daniel believed that they were either dropping off cash or picking up supplies and so decided to follow the next one that made a move.

His supposition turned out to be quite correct as the dealer led him to a centrally located car-park where a car was waiting. Hidden within the darkness as he was it was a simple matter for the obfuscated assassin to observe a man matching the description he had for Jax seated in the back behind the driver. A package was handed to the driver who handed it behind him to another man seated next to Jax. Daniel noted that the main man never touched any of the packages that were bought to the vehicle from any of the dozen men who were making the drops.

His niece, perhaps?
As dawn was drawing near and the car showed no signs of leaving the doctor concluded that he may need to have his ghoul observe and follow it during the hours of daylight. besides which he wanted to confirm the route of the other dealer 'Jere' one more time before fully deciding on a course of action.

On awakening at night-fall Daniel was informed that Jax had once again spent the early hours collecting the profits from his dealers and had then headed home though had stopped for an hour at a very nice apartment building where a pretty young woman had met him. It hadn't taken much research on Andrews part to discover that the lady he visited was not his wife or any female relative that he might need to legitimately pop around to see on his way home.

Daniel's own surveillance confirmed that both the dealers on his hit-list seemed to have fairly set routines which in his opinion was a dangerous mistake. He himself habitually took different routes to locations, parked in random places and changed his appearance as he'd been taught by his Banu Haqim sire.

Though he wasn't going to complain about half his targets making his job significantly simpler.

Night Five - A House of Ill Repute
Andrew was once again asked to follow Jax in order to ascertain if his extra-marital activities were regular or occasional. Before leaving they swapped cars and the loyal ghoul informed his regnant that according to the news the vigilante had struck again killing a drug dealer and their customer and this occurred within the territory of the dealer Jax.

The possibility of setting the vigilante on one of his targets crept back into his mind as did framing the mistress for the murder of her lover though the later he rejected on moral grounds. After all as far as he knew the mistresses only mistake was poor choice in men, which shouldn't be punishable by imprisonment or death in his opinion. The targeting of a more or less innocent bystander by the man targeting the criminals of Pasadena was however an issue as he would be drawing significant attention now.

With two targets routines logged and multiple potential assassination points he decided to focus his attention on the brothel-keeper Garfield. Using a similar route to that he'd used a few days previously he made his way to the gentlemen's club roof and picked the lock on the access door to the maintenance area. Once again drawing on his powers to befuddle the mind he faded from view believing that on this occasion using his powers of disguise left him to open to questioning and discovery. He worked his way stealthily through several floors having to wait an irritating number of times as customers and their chosen girls entered and exited the many rooms in the upper floors of the building. He had seen no security cameras mounted in these areas presumably to ensure the privacy of the customers but was reasonably sure there would be some nearer any offices or lobby areas on the lower floors.

At the bottom of the next floor he could see a large lobby area containing a significant number of half-naked ladies and a number of well dressed men drinking champagne and other expensive spirits as they selected their partners for however long they'd paid. Though functionally invisible to mundane senses Daniel was aware that loud noises or direct interference with any-one there would break the illusion so he'd still need to be careful navigating the room. Though there was a doorway straight ahead which seemed to lead further downstairs he was more interested in the door behind the bar hoping it allowed access to some service area he could use to locate any offices within the building.

Pausing only to avoid interfering with the progress of the barman the assassin slipped around the back and through the open door which led to a store room. There was another door within that from his observations of the building layout should lead to a corridor running parallel to the room he'd just passed through but it was unfortunately locked. His none to subtle picking of the lock wasn't his best work but there was enough noise from the selection area to mask the noise as he slid through the gap and made his way along the newly revealed corridor to another locked door at the far end. His attempt to look through the key-hole to see what room lay on the other side was foiled by the key being in the lock. As there seemed to be activity on the other side he refrained from barging it open and backtracked through the bar area and out the other side to see how this section of the building connected with the lower floors.

Garfield's Security
The next floor held an office and he peered through the key-hole after checking the coast was clear and could see the tall man he'd observed before chatting to a woman in her underwear who was perched on the edge of his desk. It seemed obvious that this was his office and Daniel decided to find a place to conceal himself and see if this fellow also kept a regular it turned out, he didn't...

He had been lurking for barely a few minutes when a heavily built security guard knocked on the office door where he was met by Garfield, the girl within his office who had now put on a long coat and two other girls he'd passed in the waiting area. He was leaving significantly earlier than he had the last time Daniel had checked on him and this meant that he'd have no real idea when this target would leave the building. As this meant that he'd have to set up early which in turn increased the risk of discovery he decided on an alternate plan but as the office was now empty he gave it a check first.

Within was a desk, a drinks cabinet and a space for a laptop which was empty as well as three monitors. Two of the monitors were connected to camera's by the front entrance and entrance lobby and the feed from these was being recorded. The third was wired directly into a camera in the bar area and this one seemed to be simply a direct feed for monitoring purposes. It wasn't a particularly professional installation as their were a number of blind-spots which now he had looked at the feed would have little difficulty utilising though he was grateful that Garfield had been occupied by the girl on his desk as his camouflage powers had little to no effect on electronic monitoring devices. Now with the layout and camera angles firmly in his mind the thorough hit-man left the building via the roof, back-tracked to the car he'd borrowed from Andrew and returned to the haven.

Night Six - To Catch a Killer
The patterns of the vigilante and now murderers attacks were almost too random as if they were deliberately being selected to avoid any pattern at all and this somewhat counter-intuitively gave Daniel some ideas for where he might strike next. It also occurred to him that Roach would probably have leapt to that conclusion sooner due to his radically different way of looking at, well, everything.

Picking a likely spot he began to make his way between the various pimps and dealers on Jax's turf attempting to put himself in the killers mindset in selecting a victim and soon came across a dealer with a sideline in prostitution roughing up a street girl for some imagined transgression. If Hope had been present she would have gutted the scumbag on the spot but Daniel was more patient in his approach to justice. He'd make sure the man was punished for what he had done but he was more useful as bait currently. After about an hour Daniel began to become suspicious that he'd somehow been detected as unlikely as that seemed and so changed the plan from using the dealer as bait to using him to attract the killers attention with an indicator that they were perhaps on the same side.

Checking that the girl was long gone he approached the thug uncloaked and sensing the threat his opponent drew his gun. In an instant Daniel covered the distance between them and stabbed him neatly through the heart before his weapon had left it's holster, then to make a point proceeded to turn the now dead man into a pincushion before hurling him to the floor with evident disdain. As he turned to observe the area he could see a figure in the shadows watching him. "Beat you to it" he stated cheerfully to the figure that stepped out with a sub-machine gun held in a professional military manner.

The assassin was surprised to find that the first question wasn't "How did you move so fast" but instead "Why did you kill the pimp?", Daniel replied that he wasn't fond of men who beat women and that he and his acquaintances were currently in the process of cleaning up Pasadena though their methods and priorities were significantly different from his own.

He then asked the curious vigilante to lower his weapon knowing that he must have seen the speed at which he'd killed the pimp and realising that he should kill the man before him as a masquerade breach...yet for some reason couldn't bring himself to do it...

Daniel began to explain that he could teach the fledgling killer how to stalk his prey with patience and efficiency as his current mode of operating would have him arrested or killed sooner rather than later. Daniel further explained that there were degrees of evil and that as there would always be corruption that the best he could hope for was to apply himself to removing those without the future good of the city in mind and that Daniel could help him accomplish that and give him a focus. Now dangerously close to the kindred he had lowered his weapons and was clearly overwhelmed with curiosity. Now the question of what he'd seen came to the fore and Daniel made the decision to tell him what he was and what he could do for the vigilante figuring that if the reaction was an attack that he would just kill him in self defence. If he accepted the offer however then the Banu Haqim would have access to another talented mortal bound to his blood even if this one was potentially dangerous. Expecting resistance that never came Keith Chang drank down the Vitae offered and in that moment became a ghoul.

Technically the first of his tasks was complete as Keith was no longer a threat to them but an ally. He decided to keep the details to himself and simply inform Roach that the problem had been resolved though he wasn't entirely convinced that he'd made the right choice.

Storytellers Note - It was always my intention to put this moral dilemma in front of Daniel's player to deal with. Keith Chang was basically a mortal equivalent of Daniel and a military veteran (one of Daniel's prey exclusions) so there wasn't any outcome that was perfect for him. It will be interesting to see how this relationship develops.

After informing Keith to return to his home and await Daniel's call the Banu Haqim returned to the haven to prepare for the next evening where he planned to finish the tasks set before him.

Night Seven - Killing in the Name of...
Daniel borrowed a gun from the pile of salvaged weapons in Vin's room collected from vanquished foes and one of the M4 assault rifles from their concealed armoury both of which he fitted with improvised but effective silencers he'd prepared the previous evening. He also took with him his silenced handguns and knives though he had no plans to use them if everything went as he'd planned.

Daniel Matthews - Banu Haqim
With Revolver
Andrews and his own research had led him to believe that Jax spent a few hours of most evenings with his mistress either before or after he collected the money from his dealers and that this evening he was going to visit her first. This meant he had a very precise window of opportunity in the early evening to take him out between the girls flat and his own car. Parking near enough for a quick getaway he waited with his second hand .38 that given the pedigree of the weapons in Vin's hideout would almost definitely have been involved in other crimes which should cast suspicion elsewhere.

As soon as the unfortunate Mr John walked towards his car behind the apartment Daniel emerged and put a bullet into his heart from the back before flipping over the slumped body and putting the other four rounds into his chest and the sixth between his eyes. To further muddy the waters of the investigation he left the mans wallet and jewellery with the exception of the wedding ring which he took hoping that this oddly symbolic gesture might lead them to suspect the wife. Then cloaked under the blanket of obfuscate returned to his car and drove to the brothel of Garfield Bentley.

Though the police later questioned the man's wife they could find no evidence that she had been aware of his affair and the case joined the many unsolved mysteries in the police files of Los Angeles.

Once again parking in a different location he avoided the security cameras and took his now well rehearsed route to the roof where he effortlessly picked the lock he was now quite experienced at bypassing. Slipping from a cloak of invisibility to using the ability known as the mask of a thousand faces he now had all the appearance of a generic security guard as he navigated the brothel. Focused as they were on each other neither the girls nor their customers paid any attention as he casually made his way through to Garfield's office.

Daniel's disguise faded as the owner who knew his own staff realised that an impostor was in his office but it was too late as the Banu Haqim snapped his neck like a twig and then quickly left. Though witnesses later couldn't positively identify which of the guards had entered the office and committed the brutal act of murder they all agreed that one of the buildings security had definitely been heading in that direction and the cameras had recorded no other entering or leaving the building during that time.

Now with the early hours approaching he took a trip across town to where he knew 'Jere' would be making his collections and set up on the rooftop he'd observed him from on that first night a mere six evenings ago. Though he was sure he could have taken on a mortal with only a mere four guards, such a feat would have raised questions they didn't want asked so he waited in his makeshift snipers next. Though he preferred the much larger 50. Cal Barrett sniper rifle such a weapon would cause more attention than the more common assault weapon he planned upon using and from the higher vantage point and with the alleyway to the crack house narrowing the targets location considerably the current rifle would be more than adequate for the task

As one Jeremiah Cherry left the first of his crack-houses with his ill-gotten gains a single round struck him in the centre of the forehead killing him instantly and showering his guards with blood and brain matter. Fading from sight he calmly climbed leapt to a nearby building, down the fire escape, and walked past the vengeful security team as they charged into a building he had already left.

Reporting back to Roach he entered his office and asked him how long he had left to get the job done knowing full well that he'd been given a month. As the coterie's Seneschal started to answer, Daniel cheekily interrupted with "Doesn't matter it's done..." happy that for once he'd gotten one over on the Malkavian. He was almost out of the door when Roach casually mentioned that a kindred with the same clan aura as Daniel had been at the Rant in full knowledge that the Banu Haqim was attempting to avoid his own clan. It was unclear whether it was the thought that his sire may have discovered his location or being outmanoeuvred by the smug Malkavian that annoyed him most.

To Be Continued in Part One of a New Chronicle 'Foothold LA'

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...

Sometimes it's difficult to allow a player to fully develop their character and yet still give every-one something to do in a session. I therefore run solo sessions to allow players to do things that would be a little tedious for the other players. In this case Daniel's player Matt likes to carefully plan operations both in character and as a fairly systematic person it's more in line with how he thinks so it allowed us to do some characterisation while in his comfort zone. I did something similar with Phil's character Michael when he wanted to look around museums with Carmelita...

Solo sessions are a different challenge but it can be quite satisfying watching a player get to throw themselves fully into a mission where they're by default the 'star' even if they also have to take the full blame for any stupid decisions, lol.

I've used pictures of real people to represent some of the characters and art for others so in no particular order Johnny 'Roach' West is quite obviously Kurt Cobain, Dr Matthews is Mads Mikkelsen, 'Jere' is Ice-T and Andrew Francis is Ray Stephenson. 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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