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.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts with Thumbnails