Friday, 31 May 2019

Vampire the Masquerade V5 - Session Thirty - A Meeting of Barons (Part One)

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

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
Dave as Vincent 'Vin' Ghast - Brujah Sheriff
Matt as Dr Daniel Matthews - Banu Haqim 'Fixer'

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

As I have written out introductions and dialogue for certain NPC's and some location descriptions I'll post these more or less as I wrote them so they'll be in a 'reading to the group' style and they'll also be in blue so you can tell them apart from the more traditional write-up sections and occasionally an obscure Malkavian premonition will turn up in purple. If I think something needs a bit of out of character explanation then those will get a storytellers note that will helpfully be in red. Anything covered via player handouts will also be in blue as they're written in the same style as introductions and the like. Where particular NPC's have a mention in a faction profile you will be able to reach it by clicking on their name beneath their picture.

Pre-Session Player Handouts
At the start of certain sessions I distribute local news reports and information relevant to certain individuals. Some relate to previous sessions, others are things going on that the players may or may not wish to investigate or involve themselves in. Others of course are complete bollocks red herrings...

Michael - You have received word via Roach that Therese has ensured that the Banu Haqim 'Chick' wont be informing on Daniel as she has 'matched the bounty' though what she meant by that is unclear. 'Chick' has also spread the word amongst her own network that reports of a Banu Haqim matching Daniel's description in LA are bollocks as the guy is actually a Brujah not one of their clan at all.
Daniel - Keith Chang has recovered well from his wounds with the aid of your Vitae within his body greatly speeding up his healing. It'll be a week or two till he's fighting fit but he's okay for light duties anytime you feel the need.
Vin - Your underground bunker below the main brothel is now complete. It has a concealed entrance, security doors, a secured escape route into the sewer network and room enough to contain you, your ghoul and your own security team if you so desired. Haven 1: Brothel Secure Room (Hidden Armoury 1, Postern 1, Security 1, Watchmen 1)

The war in Anaheim between Tom Weaver and Allison Maller has ended with Tom Weavers death. It seems that Tom had pooled his resources into one massive overwhelming attack upon Allison's fortified base and was ambushed and killed upon the way by a pre-emptive strike by Allison herself. The kindred rumour-mill is also rife that Amethyst lost several of her own people in the attack including one of her most valued advisers Cade Sheppard a Ventrue who was effectively her Seneschal.

Storytellers Note - I had several sub-plots and a nice background for Cade...oh well...

The mortal authorities are reporting it as gang related but due to the use of a number of vehicles belonging to several businesses in Santa Ana has created a multiple jurisdiction task-force to look into this and other gang battles over the last few months in part due to the increasing usage of military specification weaponry during these gang battles.

The other major talking point amongst the kindred is the rumour that the Blount sisters are actually mass murdering diablerists. The elders and clan leaders who regularly attend rants have known about this for some time and have deemed the explanation that the black veins that show up so strongly in their auras are simply the result of defending their community from an occasional interloper as entirely understandable given their isolation.

The Blounts have met with several of the barons to express their disappointment at being slandered in such a manner and that they may have to be less generous with their feeding rites in future and have also stated quite simply that if any kindred believes the rumours to be true to simply not ask for such feeding rites.

Given the troubles across LA and the reduction in feeding opportunities this has caused several of the younger kindred have expressed their desire to find the source of this rumour and make sure the kindred in question shows more respect in future. Thin-bloods, Caitiff and several Neonates who have benefited from the generosity of the Blount Sisters from a number of baronies have began independent enquiries into tracing the source of the rumour. A few have even gone as afar as offering rewards and boons for information.

Scene One - Rumours and Lies
Louis Fortier - Ventrue
Baron of West LA and Downtown
You have received a message from Baron Fortier inviting you to a meeting to discuss some concerns effecting the kindred of Los Angeles. You have been told that you may also bring up to three other members of staff if you deem them important. You have only been told that the meeting is to discuss 'security concerns'. You are of course free to refrain from attending if you so desire. The meeting is set for tomorrow evening at the Fortier's mansion for ten in the evening.

Michael considered his options carefully. Baron Fortier was fundamentally an honourable man who dealt with others as they dealt with him so who he bought with him could be interpreted as a message in of itself. His effective Seneschal 'Roach' had lately irritated several kindred of importance with some of his unusual habits but unfortunately his ability to scry the auras of others was too useful to be without. Hope was of course an invaluable scourge but could be somewhat of a liability in the area of diplomacy if things became tense and Vin was now infamous amongst the kindred of Los Angeles as a 'giant-killer'.

Jane Lane - Malkavian
Baron Voerman's Seneschal
Michael decided that despite his one recent indiscretion towards Voerman's representative and the commando 'Chick', that Daniel would be his best option for security. Daniel subtly reminded Michael that as far as all in LA were concerned he was a Brujah, not Banu Haqim and that it was a ruse he intended to maintain. Given the circumstances the Baron of Pasadena agreed that this was actually a fine idea.

With his entourage finalised, Michael dismissed those present and being in the rare position of having an evening free decided to spend a few hours of it with his increasingly erratic blood doll Susannah. This would both enable him to fulfil her increasingly clinging insistence on his regular presence and also enable him to detect if her belief she was being followed was fact or delusion.

He spent a fairly pleasant evening with her which seemed to calm her obsessiveness very slightly. Michael wasn't an expert in counter surveillance by any means but his senses were highly developed and his observation skills were very effective and in his opinion she wasn't being followed.

Daniel meanwhile was still concerned about just where the rumour of a Banu Haqim in Los Angeles had come from and figured his best bet for information on such things was the Gangel 'Fixer' Marius. The last few times he'd attempted to deal with him direct he'd been intercepted by his Ghoul assistant Victoria but on this occasion he got straight through.

Marius Walker - Autarkis Gangrel
"Bit busy at the moment Daniel, what do you need?". Daniel didn't feel comfortable discussing the matter over the phone so decided to push his luck and see if he could get a face to face meeting. "If you can get here in twenty minutes, I have thirty spare. Otherwise you'll have to wait a week or so..." Deciding to take the opportunity provided he headed straight to his car before rushing to Marius's Hallowbrook Apartment headquarters and haven.

Security were expecting him and he made his way through the extensive precautions protecting Marius's home surprisingly quickly. The private sections of the tower were busy and all of those resident seemed to be occupied with something. Yukio slid past several security people, pointed at the door to Marius's apartment and then entered ahead of him. Apparently this was as much of an invitation as he was going to get.

Marius was sitting on a couch in the living area of one of the four floors that his home encompassed. "You'll have to make it quick Daniel..." and with that he gestured at the seat opposite. Yukio meanwhile had disappeared up the open staircase to the second floor and Daniel couldn't help but notice that beneath her long coat she was wearing full body armour and had a small arsenal of weapons strapped to her person. Something significant was apparently being prepared for.

Therese and Jeanette Voerman
Not sure what was important and what wasn't Daniel told Marius everything that had occurred between him and Therese's Seneschal and her commando coterie member 'Chick'. He also mentioned that the price for the Baron of Santa Monica not pursuing the matter had been the use of his skills in an unspecified future assassination. "A blank cheque?" commented Marius "I doubt she'll waste that on something trivial, Therese doesn't squander resources on trivialities the way her sister sometimes does." Marius confirmed what Daniel had surmised that Chick quashing the rumour about a Banu Haqim being in LA was simply Therese protecting her interests. After all there was no use having a pet assassin for a day if they got themselves killed before they could be utilised.

Daniel then raised his other concern about the initial source of the rumour. "When my current priorities have been completed I can look into it for you if you wish?" offered the Gangrel. "The price would of course depend on the resources expended but given the useful services you've provided for me in the past I imagine a trivial boon or at worse a minor one would suffice." The Banu Haqim agreed to the terms as it became obvious that his time was up and giving his thinks he left. Though his curiosity had been piqued by just what the 'Fixer' was expending so much effort to accomplish.

Scene Two - Leanna
Leanna - Duskborn
'Shepherdess' of Blood Dolls
With the matter of Susannah beginning to linger in his mind, Michael began to consider solutions to the problem of having an obsessed and now seemingly mentally deranged blood doll connected to him. There was the real concern that knowing he wouldn't authorise such an action himself that one of the more practical members of his coterie might decide to remove the problem on his behalf. He had done some investigation into possible solutions but was hampered by his preference for one that wasn't unnecessarily cruel.

After some consideration he decided that he'd see if the 'shepherdess' of Marius's blood doll herd, Leanna had any ideas. He'd spoken to her briefly at the kindred meeting known as 'The Rant' and had been impressed with her professional manner. Given the masquerade stretching size of the Gangrel's herd he presumed that if any-one had been required to deal with a similar problem it would be her. The downside of course was that there would no doubt be a fee and also that it involved admitting a mistake to some-one working for a notorious information broker...amongst other things...

Deciding he had little choice he decided to bite the bullet and ring Victoria about utilising the services of one of Marius's retainers. Surprisingly he got neither Victoria or Marius instead being referred to Yukio. "Everyone's really busy Michael. What do you need?" Michael asked if it was possible to speak with Leanna and was relieved by the reply. "Leanna? She's the only one who isn't bloody busy. Is tonight too soon?" Given the urgency of the matter in his opinion he gratefully took the offered meeting that night.

Security was quite heavy as usual and the upper floors of the building seemed to be filled with activity though the floor he was guided to in order to meet Leanna was fairly quiet. The entire floor had been divided into a mere four apartments in a similar manner to the floor on which he'd met the Drake sisters who acted as Marius's occult advisers. It was apparent that being a ghoul or retainer of the 'Fixer' came with considerable perks. The as usual, impeccably dressed and beautiful Leanna met him at the door to her suite and ushered him inside.

The suite was expensively and tastefully decorated but Michael had to admit that in his opinion at least she'd overdone the 'boudoir' look a little. Leanna slid elegantly into a lavish sofa while Michael sat opposite and as he sat she reached for two bottles of wine that sat upon the table. "I selected both a traditional vintage and a 'special' bottle for our meeting. Do you have a preference?" As Michael had fed earlier that evening he gestured towards the bottle of Ch√Ęteau Lafite. "Nostalgia sometimes leads me to desire a traditional wine rather than one infused with...other substances" he stated with a smile. Leanna poured two generous glasses of the blended Bordeaux red and indicated that Michael should state the reason for his visit.

"It's a difficult subject to broach I'm afraid. I used an ability that Toreador refer to as 'The Lingering Kiss' in order to swiftly tie a blood doll to myself..." Leanna briefly interrupted to indicate she was aware of the ability "...and now I'm beginning to fear that her sanity and self control is...slipping." Leanna asked a few pertinent questions relating to the frequency of his visits to her, how often these involved feeding and about the nature of her mental problems before allowing him to continue. "I wish her no harm, I simply want to release her from this addiction and I believed that you might be able to help."

Leanna paused briefly before replying. "If as you say, you only take blood and give her none then the addiction is fortunately purely mental. Memories can be altered or made indistinct and she can be isolated from you while this is undertaken so as to not reinforce the initial problems." From the matter of fact tone Michael gained the impression that this was a fairly routine process for her. "You've done this before then?" Leanna smiled at the question. "Oh yes. Mortals are easy to program or deprogram if one has the appropriate skills and experience. The real art is in altering the memories in such a way that others of their acquaintance don't notice the inconsistencies. It's why...elimination, is often considered before a more elegant approach." Michael strongly indicated that her permanent removal was something he would have made every effort to avoid.

Thin-Blood Alchemy
 "Do you wish to keep her once the damaged is mitigated or are you done with her now?" was the next question.

Michael informed her that he believed that keeping her any longer would be cruel and that he wished her to be free. Leanna asked a few more questions relating to her current employment, family and friends who might notice her initial absence and a number of other minor points that hadn't occurred to Michael at all. The conversation then moved onto the inevitable subject of payment.

"The majority of my needs are met by Marius. He is most generous in the area of resources as long as I continue to provide the services he requires..." Michael had been in enough negotiations with other kindred to know that either a 'but' or a 'however' was coming, he wasn't disappointed "...however. I have an unfortunate condition that means I require kindred Vitae on a weekly basis in order for my other abilities to continue to function. My benefactor of course provides this however it means he is less generous in providing Vitae for my other experiments. My usual fee is three measures of kindred blood but as I've decided I like you I'll settle for two in this case."

Victoria - Ghoul PA
Notorious Psychopath
Michael who had some experience with blood magic and the occult required reassurance that it would not be used in any way that would cause harm to himself. She assured him that this would not be the case and he was inclined to believe her as she seemed sincere.Once the required payment was extracted, Leanna arranged a time for Michael to send his blood doll to her under the guise of a job in Susannah's field of graphic design and stated that she would sort out everything from that point onward.

As he was about to leave he enquired about whether any further use of her expertise would require him to go through Victoria. Before replying she handed him a card. "I'm one of the few in Marius's employ in a strong enough position to bypass Victoria without consequence so by all means contact me personally if you wish." Michael realised of course that didn't necessarily mean that Victoria wouldn't take such an act out out on him, just that Leanna herself was safe from reprisal. "Does that mean..." enquired Michael "...that you're not afraid of her?". Leanna's tone became serious for the first time during the meeting. "Of course I'm afraid of her. Any-one with any sense should be...".

On that slightly ominous note, Michael left reasonably confident that his problems with Susannah would now be over with. All that remained now was for him to prepare for his meeting with Louis Fortier tomorrow evening.

Scene Three - A Meeting of Barons
Daniel adopted his cover identity of Baron Michael Tomassio's Brujah chauffeur and checked over the vehicle he had specified. In this case this was the armoured vehicle he'd had made at the same location that produced those Marius used. Michael had of course spent a lot more money on the interior of his than Marius bothered with.

As usual the Fortiers mansion is extensively guarded and patrolled as well as having it's usual physical security measures of high spike topped walls, reinforced gates and armoured gatehouse.

Daniel was keeping a close watch on the security precautions, looking for weaknesses or exploitable lapses in security protocols and was despite himself suitably impressed. There were pairs of guards with overlapping patrol routes, security camera's covering multiple zones with seemingly no gaps between the monitored regions and the barricades even had ram prevention measures. All the guards were in high specification body armour, had high calibre weaponry and also carried back-up pieces.

The Fortiers Mansion
Though this meant that they would be safe from exterior threats during the meeting it also meant that should they need to penetrate it's defences themselves in the future it would be a mammoth task to do so. As they were escorted within he noted that the guards within the complex were slightly less well armoured than those without but judging from their alertness he imagined that the guards were rotated to avoid complacency setting in. He gave Roach a questioning look and a voice in the back of his head simply said "They're all Ghouls, every one of them..."

You are escorted to a basement meeting room already containing a veritable who's who of the local barons. Louis Fortier is at the head of the table with Catherine Du Bois on one side and Mariel St John on the other, just behind them against the far wall is Fortier's scourge Marco Joseph. Therese Voerman is here with Jane Lane and two of her commando's while Jesus Ramirez is here representing El Hermandad flanked by a pair of guards and a somewhat weaselly looking fellow. On the opposite side of the table is Hank Boyd leader of the Crypt Sons accompanied by three others which have the look of 'Muscle'. Four seats are vacant opposite Therese, and there are another four at one end of the table. Your guide gestures towards the table but to no particular set of seating.

As brief introductions were exchanged Michael noted that these seemed to be all the barons whose baronies were adjacent to or effected by downtown. A few moments later this theory was confirmed as Nines Rodriguez, Skelter and Damsel were escorted into the room, Nines himself had a base in Downtown. Nines gave Michael a respectful nod as he sat down, recognising him from his inspired speech at the Rant where he had bravely (or perhaps foolishly) stepped between the two and prevented the conflict between Nines and Marius with his rhetoric. Skelter had taken several looks of recognition in Roach's direction but now seemed to have decided he was mistaken.

As all were seated Roach scanned the aura's of each in turn, avoiding only Therese whose presence he could feel via the link known as 'the Cobweb' which all Malkavian's were effected by to one extent or another. Accepting that he would be unable to hide much at all from her should she wish to take a stroll through his mind he turned his attention back to the others.

Jesus Ramirez - Ventrue
Salvador Garcia's Lieutenant
All the barons seemed confident and calm as indicated by the light blue filling their aura's though this on occasion became the dark blue of suspicion which would be expected of kindred who had survived long enough to reach their respective positions. Their guards shared this dark blue hue to their auras and were understandably alert. Several had aura's closer to purple which Roach had learned normally meant aggression though none had shifted to the red he associated with anger. He found himself taking an instant dislike to the weaselly looking kindred that accompanied Jesus Ramirez as his aura flitted between all the shades with negative connotations. The distinctive mental signature of Therese drowned out all other voices within the cobweb briefly before speaking directly to Roach. "You notice that Marius hasn't been invited of course?"

Michael watched Roach pan across all present but as he received no telepathic messages took this as a sign that the Malkavian had discovered nothing of note.

Baron Fortier raises his hand subtly for silence and the other barons seem to have enough respect for him to do as requested. "Let me get straight to the point. The chantry of Maximillian Strauss, former Camarilla Primogen has turned up in downtown and is now inhabited by representatives of three different Tremere Houses. Since much of Clan Tremere and I'm informed some of Carna is still loyal to the Camarilla I thought that we should discuss how to deal with this potential threat as all here..." He outstretches his arms dramatically "...are neighbouring baronies..."

Henrique 'Hank' Boyd - Brujah
Crypt's Sons Baron
"They've done jack-shit to us..." this from Hank Boyd of the Crypt Sons "...and I'm far too busy at the moment to get involved in another fucking war. As long as they stay out of our shit like they've been doing we should stay out of their business. There's only like, what, six of them anyway?". Michael found himself somewhat surprised that Hank had such an ambivalent attitude to them as he had a reputation for aggressive action though he did note that he'd paid enough attention to know their numbers. Nines however was less open to such a flexible attitude stating quite clearly that he thought it "Compromised the Anarch ideals to have a Camarilla faction in the middle of downtown". His viewpoint was that "Unless they overtly pledge themselves to the Anarch cause something needs doing about them. The Free States need to remain exactly that..."

Jesus Ramirez seemed to agree with Nines which wasn't a big surprise given how close to Salvador Garcia's ideas their own philosophies were. Ramirez wanted discussions with them and guarantees of their Anarch or at worse independent status as he "Doesn't want a Camarilla presence by proxy slap bang in the middle of the Free States". Michael chose this moment to interject and addressed Baron Fortier. "Forgive my ignorance but do we have any information that proves the former House Tremere residents still hold any allegiance to those who abandoned them?" Fortier explained that after they were evicted from their chantry they had set up a new haven within his domain without asking permission and had proceeded to drain kine of their blood in masquerade threatening quantities. His childe Catherine Du Bois had driven them out along with a small army of armed ghouls and after that they had made their way into the Santa Monica mountains.

Maximillian Strauss - Clan Tremere
Former Primogen and Regent
Michael pointed out that this had been many years ago and that these blood mages had made no attempt to contact the Camarilla, spread it's ideals or for that matter involve themselves in LA politics at all. Perhaps the very fact that they failed to follow Strauss indicated that they were already leaning away from his ideals? "As Nines so eloquently said..." continued Michael only slightly patronisingly "...the Free States are 'Free' and that freedom should be available to any-one regardless of their former allegiances or what exactly are we fighting for?"

Nines seemed to be swayed somewhat by the argument as was Damsel, though Skelter looked unmoved. Fortier spoke once more "I'm going to want guarantees of their loyalty due to their residence in my barony. Any acts against my interests would justify me taking action." Roach could see clearly that Hank had no desire to interfere, understandable considering he was already fighting half a dozen gangs from the barony of the angels. While he was musing, Therese spoke to him via the cobweb once more.

Therese Voerman - Malkavian
Baron of Santa Monica
"You realise that Technically speaking the chantry is within the domain granted to Marius by Fortier? Now of course Fortier considers Marius untrustworthy due to his recent tendency to absorb rather than eliminate problems and I doubt he wants a chantry of blood wizards added to his collection.

By drawing all of us to join in a decision he hopes to put the Gangel off any direct interference. There is of course the distinct possibility that Fortier's actions will lead to exactly the result he's trying to avoid...there are several things that the Gangrel still fears, but Fortier and his clan aren't one of them..."

Seeing that he might be able to get the matter resolved none violently after all he decided to risk bringing Hank back into the debate on his side by quoting him directly. "As Mr Boyd pointed out earlier they might not even be a threat at all..." Hank looked up at the mention of his name "...and I like him have no wish to become involved in a war that might not even be necessary."

Baron Voerman who as far as anyone other than Roach was aware didn't seem to have a great deal of input so far began to put forward some input of her own. "I have given permission for my coterie member to take up residence at the chantry and also keep her employment within my own organisation. I consider this a good enough way of keeping track on any threats to us that might occur within."

Clan Tremere Chantry
As no-one at the table had raised an objection to Therese having an operative within the chantry, Michael decided it was safe to reveal that he also had a similar opportunity for infiltration. "My own contact Marie has been offered a place within the chantry..." This got the attention of the majority of those assembled "...She has no Camarilla ties or loyalties and this would give us two friendly individuals within the chantry whose loyalties can be relied upon."

Seeing he had everyone's focus he continued, launching into an epic speech about Anarch ideals, the need to welcome rather discourage converts to the cause and the folly of wasting resources to remove a threat that might not exist. He also reminded all present that the Sabbat had recently appeared on their doorstep and the Second inquisition were on the look out for any unusual activities which a war with blood mages would provide aplenty.

As he finished he could tell that he had swayed enough of the table to make his next suggestion seem like a natural progression rather than a power grab. Before he could begin however he could hear romantic music begin to play within his mind and as he turned to Roach he noticed him nod in Damsel's direction. It seems his passionate speech had gotten him a fan. Not sure whether that would be a good or bad thing he carried on. "We just need some-one with the appropriate diplomatic skills to approach them and gauge just exactly what their intentions are." Louis's reaction made it clear that he had no desire for it to be one of his organisation.

Amanda 'Mandi' McBride - Tremere
House Goratrix
As Hank had expressed his complete lack of interest in involving himself, Nines was still edging towards a violent solution and Jesus remained unconvinced that just left himself and Therese Voerman. Of course if Therese decided to take up the mantle then there was little he could do to prevent it but he was hoping that she had no interest in becoming involved.

"I have far to many of my own affairs to manage to spare the time to pander to the insecurities of a few barons worried about half a dozen witches in a run down house." stated the Baron of Santa Monica. "Mandi, My own operative within the chantry will keep me informed and if I deem it necessary I'll pass any information onto those here. The Baron of Pasadena also has an operative within the chantry perhaps he will take on the responsibility as he has argued most vociferously for a peaceful solution?" Knowing that the chantry and it's inhabitants would be an invaluable weapon in his scheme to one night take the Free States for the Camarilla he agreed as reluctantly as he thought made his compliance seem reasonable. "I do however have one proviso. If I am to be held responsible for the success or failure of this task them my conclusion must be taken as final...whether I decide they are a threat...or not." Once his condition had been agreed to the meeting began to disband.

Nines once again congratulated him on his adherence to Anarch principles and even Jesus seemed to begrudgingly acknowledge the merits of his earlier speech. Damsel on the other hand was positively gushing and though Michael knew this might be of use in the short time he was concerned about how she would react if or when his true loyalties were revealed. He also noticed that Roach was viewing him intently as if concerned about just how good the speech had been, perhaps worried that Michael was beginning to 'go native'.

Of course his next problem was just how he approached the three Houses within the missing chantry and persuaded them to adhere to the rules specified by the meeting of the barons...

To be Continued in 'A Meeting of Barons' 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...

So that for once went more or less as I was expecting and leads nicely into the coterie attempting to make allies of the various Clan Tremere Houses within the chantry. They also need to deal with the fact that they attended a meeting that their Mawla Marius was specifically excluded from.

As only the negotiators were available for this session it was fortunate that pretty much that was all they had to do this time, lol. Let's see if the same tactics that worked on a room full of barons works on a room full of blood sorcerers...

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, Paula Patton is 'Amethyst', Marius Walker is Tony Curran, Leanna is Leeanna Vamp, Victoria is Lilith May, Skelter is Vin Diesel, Jesus Ramirez is Javier Bardem, Hank Boyd is Michael Clarke Duncan, Therese Voerman is Whitney Moore and Mandi is a suicide girl  called Jeckyl Suicide though no doubt goes by other names too. 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.

Wednesday, 29 May 2019

V5 Chronicle - Faction Profile - The Hollywood Warrens

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...
The stories involving the coteries first meeting with this faction can be found at the following links...
'Becoming Baron' - Part Seven and Eight
Some of this information is taken from the bloodlines game and other parts have been adapted or added by myself for my own chronicle set in Los Angeles. Should you be looking for canon information relating to the video game then I suggest looking HERE because I take a lot of liberties with source material...
The Hollywood Warrens
The Sewers below Los Angeles are far more extensive than is necessary for a city even of it's size as Kindred involvement in the city since it's first creation has influenced the layout of the city both above and below. In theory it's possible to travel from one side of the city to the other without ever needing to see the surface.

Unnecessary sections have been planned, built and then the plans conveniently lost, areas have been scheduled for projects and extensions then abandoned before completion and a whole host of other methods have been used to create a city beneath the city. Below the extensive sewer network is another set of labyrinthine tunnels known to the kindred who use them for travel and haven as the 'Warrens'. These are mainly inhabited by the Nosferatu though it's known that at least one area below downtown contains a small pack of Bone Gnawer Werewolves.

Though the barony of Hollywood is the domain of Baron Isaac Abrams, the area beneath it has been claimed by Gary Golden, his three Childer and a number of other Nosferatu that treat him as leader.

Gary Golden, Former Primogen
Clan: 10th Generation Nosferatu
Domain - The Hollywood Warrens (Chasse 5, Lien 2, Portillon 5)
Haven - The Warrens (Haven 3: Creepy, Postern 2, Security System 5)
Backgrounds - Contacts 1-4 (Too many to list...), Fame 1 (As 'Gorgeous' Gary Golden), Influence 3, Status 3
Flaws - Repulsive 2

When he was a mortal he was a famous movie star, especially during the 30's and 40's. It was around 1960 when he was Embraced and disappeared from the world of mortals, who officially pronounced him dead in 1965. It is likely that his transformation is the reason for his cynicism and bitterness. As he himself states about his face, "I like looking at it in the mirror. Builds character."

Gary become involved in the machinations of Prince Sebastian LaCroix when he sent an agent to him in order to learn the location of the Ankaran Sarcophagus an item that had created much interest amongst the kindred of Los Angeles who believed it to contain the torpid body of an ancient kindred. Gary's price for his information was the rescue of his own agent Barabus who had been captured by hunters of kindred and was being held in Chinatown.

Despite having the rank of Camarilla Primogen while the Camarilla were in power in LA, Gary sold his information freely to the Camarilla's enemies, had no bones about flaunting this fact in LaCroix's face, and had no respect for LaCroix, his fellow Primogen, or any members of the Camarilla whatsoever.

He also has a lot of hatred for the Toreador, who according to him deny their vampiric nature and are nothing more than a waste of blood. He was highly unpopular with the eastern kindred in Chinatown for unknown reasons but with their departure now has few significant enemies. He also has an unusual hobby which involves locating erotic or otherwise revealing photos of various female kindred which he occasionally trades in exchange for minor boons.

Gary is a master of the discipline known as Obfuscate often speaking to visitors while Obfuscated and disappearing and reappearing in an out of their view in order to confuse, distract or simply because he finds it amusing. His childer are Imalia (a classic Cleopatra), Mitnick (a computer expert) and Caleb who acts as guide and messenger. As well as his operative Barabus who is trusted with his most sensitive tasks there are also about a dozen other Nosferatu within the area and it's surroundings who treat him as their leader.

Imalia, Childe of Gary Golden
Clan: 11th Generation Nosferatu
Haven - The Warrens (Haven 3: Creepy, Postern 1, Security System 5)
Backgrounds - Fame 5 (As 'Imalia')
Flaws - Repulsive 2

A 'Cleopatra' is a  term for a certain type of Nosferatu, almost always female, Cleopatra's used to be beautiful but generally had terrible personalities, so many Nosferatu believe they deserve the Nosferatu curse.

Imalia was once a supermodel of notorious beauty, featured in various types of media such as billboards, magazines and television. While she was alive, she was immensely popular, however, she was vain and arrogant, and unfortunately for her this brought her to the attention of the vanity despising Nosferatu clan. Imalia remembers the night she was Embraced by Gary well.

She had just won Guy magazine's Most Ridiculously Hot Chick In The Known Universe Award in 2003, and returned to her home only to find Gary Golden sitting on her couch with a martini in his hand.

Before her Embrace, Imalia was a selfish and vain diva; all this changed when she became a Nosferatu. After being Embraced, Imalia soon faked her own death, making it look like her car had been wrecked on a cliff side. Within the car the authorities found a body which was burned beyond recognition and she was declared dead. The source of this body is something she has never revealed. As a Nosferatu, Imalia is miserable, immoral, cold and spiteful. She still hasn't gotten over her lost beauty or the fact that her place in the spotlight had been usurped.

Imalia made her home in the communal haven inhabited by the Nosferatu. Her room was a small one with a computer, a neon sign from 'The Sin Bin', a print of John Collier's Lilith and a mattress for her to sleep on. The most striking feature in the room is her poster of the now deceased supermodel Tawni Sessions, which she has vandalised with criticisms. Imalia hated Tawni because she saw her as an upstart who was nowhere near as good as she was. Imalia seethed at every success Tawni had and constantly criticises her physical features. It is widely believed that she was directly responsible for the scandal which resulted in Tawni Sessions suicide.

Mitnick, Childe of Gary Golden
Clan: 11th Generation Nosferatu
Haven - The Warrens (Haven 3: Creepy, Postern 1, Security System 5)
Backgrounds - Fame 4 (Hackers Only), Influence 2 (Online Blackmail), Resources 2 (Hacked accounts, Blackmail)
Flaws - Repulsive 2
Lores - Ambrus Maropis (2: Clandestine Information, 3: Taught by the Best, 4: Back Door Panopticon)

Mitnick is a Nosferatu hacker in the Warrens under the Hollywood Forever Cemetery. He is in charge of computer systems, Network security, and updating databases, then sharing them on the ill fated SchreckNet. He is now attempting to create a new system to replace the compromised aforementioned Schrecknet.

Before his Embrace, Mitnick was a lone hacker, spending most of his days cracking past systems and stealing coding patterns to better his own. Mitnick once broke into a Government database and stole all of the US' missile launch codes. He then sent them to the president, according to Mitnick this had the FBI 'shitting themselves'.

One day he came across a network which interested him, but as he tried to hack into it he realised it was more than it first appeared. Instead of giving up, he took it as a challenge. Spending days and nights trying to get past the site's security neither eating nor sleeping. After three days he finally cracked into the system, unknowingly to him a Nosferatu system, only to be horrified by what he saw. He quickly unplugged from the site and tried to forget what he had witnessed only for the Nosferatu Primogen, Gary Golden, to show up on his doorstep two hours later.

It is considered that Mitnick was turned willingly, as he has stated, "Are you kidding? I love this shit!" when asked how he felt about his looks and current living conditions in the warrens. He has commented on several occasions that since he was Embraced, he has everything he needs and that "Eternal life is a pretty sweet bonus too."

Caleb, Childe of Gary Golden

Clan: 11th Generation Nosferatu
Haven - The Warrens (Haven 3: Creepy, Library 4: Maps, Postern 1, Security System 5)
Flaws - Repulsive 2

Caleb was an administrative sewer worker tasked with ensuring that plans of the network were kept up to date in order to ensure that workers beneath the city had access to accurate information after a number of worker disappearances. This task was far more difficult than he could ever imagine due to the machinations of various kindred interfering with any attempt to correctly map the warrens that many used as haven.

He later made the unfortunate decision to attempt to tie together various versions of the maps and documents available to him after discovering a plan of an entire fall-out shelter not documented elsewhere. It was there that he encountered Gary.

Deciding on a whim to embrace the unfortunate administrator he was surprised when he found his encyclopedic knowledge of the sewer network included several areas unknown even to himself. After providing Caleb with the vast amounts of paperwork removed from various planning offices over the decades he combined this information with his own knowledge and effectively swapped a career as an administrator for one of a guide.

If a message of importance needs to be delivered personally then Caleb can make his way from any point in the warrens to any other faster than any other inhabitant of the underground. In between these activities he is tasked with intercepting any visitors below Hollywood and guiding them to Gary by the most convoluted route possible or in less hospitable circumstances he leads them instead to Barabus.

Barabus, Spy and Enforcer
Clan: 10th Generation Nosferatu
Haven - The Warrens (Haven 3: Creepy, Hidden Armoury 1, Postern 1, Security System 5)
Merits - Bloodhound
Flaws - Repulsive 2

Barabus is one of Gary's spies and is the operative who he uses for his most dangerous assignments. Though like many Nosferatu his embrace is a sore subject that he refuses to discuss it can be theorised that he has known Gary for quite some time as he shows him considerable loyalty. This loyalty works both ways as when Barabus was captured by mortal kindred hunters, Gary used what would have become a considerable boon to facilitate his release rather than for his own personal advantage.

Barabus is a powerful vampire who prefers hand-to-hand combat, and relies on Potence to enhance his already great physical strength. He has also shown a talent for other physical disciplines which account for his resilience and speed of reaction. These abilities made his capture all the more embarrassing and it is a subject that if raised is guaranteed to provoke his ire.

The Ancient Warrens
For over a decade vast section of the Warrens had been denied them by the periodic rampages of a vast and powerful creature of the Tzimisce left over from the Sabbat invasion of 2004. This creature and it's master were eventually destroyed at the hands of the coterie of Michael Tomassio in exchange for Gary's support in his scheme to become the Baron of Pasadena.

The ancient area of the Warrens that the Tzimisce had taken for his haven had once been the home of some of the earliest Nosferatu inhabitants of the city and contained laboratories and archives of knowledge of extremely high value. The coterie's ally, an elder Nosferatu called Alonzo has now taken this area to use as his own haven and is gradually unearthing it's secrets. Fortunately for all concerned this elder kindred is quite apolitical so it's newly acquired resources are yet to upset the delicately balanced politics of the Free States.

Alonzo Guillen, Autarkis Elder
Clan: 9th Generation Nosferatu
Haven - The Ancient Warrens (Haven 3: Creepy, Hidden Armoury 2, Cell 5, Laboratory 5, Library 5, Postern 1, Security System 5, Surgery, Watchmen 5: Rats)
Backgrounds - Resources 1 (Salvaged Items)
Merits - Iron GulletPolyglot
Flaws - Repulsive 2
Lores - Kindred Iconography (1: Iconographer), Low Clan (1: Thick Hide), Sect War Veteran (4: No Vampire's Land), The Circulatory System (3: Farm Upstate)
Derangement - Paranoia (Mild)

Alonzo was the black-sheep brother of a noble lady whose work in the missions rewarded her husband, Juan Marine, with a huge land grant of fourteen thousand acres in the late seventeen hundreds. Alonzo was born horribly disfigured and had become a Nosferatu while living in his native Spain. The only person who had shown him any kindness during his wretched childhood was the kind-hearted Eulalia, whom he so loved that he sought her from beyond the grave. Making the treacherous journey to California, he was shocked to find that his beloved sister had become totally enmeshed in her service to the Catholic Church.

Alonzo attempted to make his presence known to her, but she was repelled by what he had become. Desperate to regain her love, he killed her, planning to bring her into the unlife. Alas, she refused the blood even as she died. Driven mad by what he had done, Alonzo went on a rampage, killing his brother-in-law and everyone on the rancho. Sobbing, he sought refuge at the far edges of the estate, and a distant cousin claimed the land several years later. A succession of owners followed, each carving up the huge estate into what eventually became Pasadena, South Pasadena and Altadena.

Alonzo has continued to live in the hills above Pasadena. His guilt over the murder of his sister and brother-in-law, along with his long-standing sensitivity about his disfigurement, have combined to keep him away from his fellow Kindred. His natural inquisitiveness, however, has caused him to seek out all the information he can, and there is very little that goes on in this Los Angeles that escapes his watchful eye. Recently, Alonzo had made contact with Henry Waters, who strangely enough, was not repelled by the hideous vampire. Grateful for the acceptance he thought was impossible, Alonzo tried to help Henry overcome his Blood Bond to Edward Vignes teaching him a number of disciplines and other skills. Alas this friendship was also to end in disaster as Henry was killed by an ancient kindred who was inhabiting the body of Vera Vignes his lover and he became one of many of her victims as she escaped from Los Angeles.

Alonzo is aware of (and somewhat amused by) the depredations of the Blount sisters but has made no attempt to interfere seeing them as part of the natural order of Los Angeles. He does however strongly suspect the long-standing presence of an elder vampire in the area guiding the fates of those within. Alonzo is aware of pretty much everything that is going on in the Free States, although his knowledge gets correspondingly less detailed the farther a place is from the Los Angeles area. Alonzo is that rare Nosferatu who has managed to overcome his natural diffidence and distrust of other Kindred and make contact with a fellow vampire.

He has recently become something of a guide and adviser to the Banu Haqim Daniel who he has come to enjoy the occasional visits and company of. His complete lack of judgement about the Nosferatu's appearance and the respect he has shown this elder creature after a somewhat shaky first meeting has begun to endear him to Alonzo. He is however currently reluctant to become too involved due to his poor track record in the area of friendships in the past. He is however quite enjoying the role of mentor and asks little in return for the information he gives other than the occasional delivery of materials he is unable to acquire or salvage himself.

Alonzo has restored the laboratories of the Nosferatu 'Boil' who was destroyed during the Anarch revolt. He has begun to use the equipment, breeding pools and storage areas to breed a selection of superior vermin to provide him with messengers, spies and guards and now has a substantial quantity of these at his disposal.

The Tzimisce who had taken the haven for his own had awakened a torpid tentacled monstrosity created by Boil and was using it to guard one approach corridor. Alonzo has moved the creature to the much larger pit within his own haven that previously was the home of the Tzimisce's own war ghoul. Fed on Alonzo's own vitae and a steady diet of failed breeding projects the creature has grown to fill it's new environment and ensures that any visitors behave themselves.

He is also working his way through the vast archive of another former occupant of the ancient Warrens known as Dexter who had kept diaries of events in Los Angeles and the surrounding areas for centuries. As these are written in dozens of languages they are taking some time to decipher but Alonzo is still gleaning much that is useful from between the vast quantities of obsolete gossip.

On his last visit to the elder's domain, Daniel noted that several security systems had been installed and ancient mechanical traps and protection had been restored. Several areas have also been walled off and others broken through into adjacent chambers. What Alonzo has planned is however currently unknown to any but himself. He may simply be making himself at home.
Should you be interested in the chronicles and stories associated with these pages then links to them all can be found HERE.

Friday, 24 May 2019

Vampire the Masquerade V5 - Solo Session - The Anaheim Assassination

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

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 so we did a solo session. As this previous solo session was a success and it also drove the plot forward in ways the other characters then had to deal with I was quite happy to arrange another.

Allison Maller - Brujah
Baron of Anaheim
Due to Baron Michael Tomassio's moral code preventing him from acting in such matters and Roach's increasing preoccupation with his criminal drug empire keeping him distracted, Daniel has decided to look into the current political situation in Anaheim himself.

The current Baron of Anaheim is Allison Maller who is engaged in a battle for the barony with another kindred called Tom Weaver. It is however common knowledge that Tom Weaver is a pawn of the Baron of Santa Ana, 'Amethyst' and that it is more than likely that with her resources and personnel behind him that it is a war he will inevitably win.

Daniel has become concerned that this would give Amethyst effective control over a domain larger than any other kindred in Los Angeles and also that given her ambitions to eventually control all of Los Angeles this would make her a rival to his own baron's long term schemes. Daniel has therefore decided to see what he can do to assist Allison in winning the war and setting back Amethyst's own plans. He is however keeping this a secret from the rest of the coterie, particularly as he is meant to be laying low while Roach sorts out the current tense situation between Daniel and Baron Therese Voerman's own Banu Haqim scourge known as 'Chick'.

Scene One - Havens and Hideouts
Tom Weaver - Brujah
Pawn of 'Amethyst'
Having previously copied the map they obtained from the Sabbat Infiltrators showing suspected kindred havens and bases of operations within Los Angeles, Daniel has sent his two ghouls to surreptitiously observe the two locations he has found marked within Anaheim. These are an 'Odd Fellows' Hall and a warehouse in the industrial sector.

Storytellers Note - I recently allowed Daniel's player to upgrade his ghouls from Average to Gifted. He decided that he needed a team to assist with his 'jobs' and I liked the idea. If they survive this chronicle I may let him take them up to Deadly.

The 'Odd Fellows' Hall seems to have several guardians watching it day and night though your two skilled operatives are reasonably sure they weren't spotted. As these 'guards' were seen day and night they are presumably mortal. A large fellow matching the description you have for Tom Weaver was seen at the location with three others on at least two occasions. As you had informed them to be careful to avoid confrontations they withdrew from the location after the second sighting fearing that the three others may have also been kindred or ghouls like themselves and that was a potential fight they'd want to avoid as per your instructions.

The warehouse in the industrial sector of Anaheim is another matter entirely. Heavy gates and locks, high end security cameras and armed guards patrolling in regular patterns.

Both Keith and Andrew are sure that the security guards are actually ex-military in rent-a-cop outfits. There were look-outs along approach roads as well. A short woman with dyed red hair wearing a leather jacket left the warehouse under heavy guard one of the nights but they deemed it too dangerous to follow her presuming she was kindred and may have had abilities that they couldn't counter. She matches the description you gave them of Allison Maller though she had blonde hair not red at the rant according to your coterie.

Having established that these were indeed the Anaheim strongholds of Tom Weaver and Allison Maller, Daniel gave his two agents some additional instructions before he decided on a course of action. Firstly he wanted them to look for any plausible entry points to either building but to concentrate on the hall particularly but only to check doors and windows that  they could safely observe from a distance.

The 'Odd Fellows' Hall
Tom Weavers Haven
Secondly he wanted times for Tom Weaver's comings and goings and authorised his ghouls to follow them at a distance but to keep any tailing as careful as possible as he was sure that Weaver and his guards would be on high alert. His other two concerns were the quality of the guards protecting Tom Weaver and his haven and just what form their actions against Allison were taking.

Though the warehouse being utilised by Allison was a veritable fortress, the Odd Fellows hall was less obviously secured. It had a front and rear entrance, the rear of which led to a sizeable car-park and a side door which was both heavily locked and as far as his team could tell was unused. Disappointingly there seemed to be no quantifiable pattern to Tom's comings and goings though he was always accompanied by at least two guards. The close protection bodyguards and building security seemed to be a mixture of gang members and ex-military. They were rough looking individuals but alert enough so that in his spies opinion approaching without a cover story was a bad idea. It was also during these more thorough investigations that it was noted that several adjacent buildings had guards on their roofs.

Keith Chang - Assassin
Ghoul of Dr Daniel Matthews
On two occasions he and his protection had headed over the border to Santa Ana where Keith had followed them to a run-down part of the town that was once a shopping mall of sorts. He had however been forced to withdraw before getting close due to nearly being spotted by a guard who seemed uncannily sharp. Keith suspects he was kindred as in his own opinion his approach had been very sneaky indeed and believed that supernatural senses would have had to be at work to detect him from that far away. His other ghoul Andrew did some research into the new location and found that it was owned by what was in his opinion (and that of his hacker friend) a shell company. It was owned by 'the Quartz group' and they seemed to own a lot of random buildings across Santa Ana and a few in Anaheim. Daniel also noted that the area of the abandoned Mall matched three suspected kindred havens on the map he possessed. It seemed likely that this was one of the bases of Amethyst and at least some of her kindred followers.

The Banu Haqim's own research together with the information gathering of his operatives showed a somewhat haphazard approach to the attacks made by Tom and his gang. They've attacked assets, killed a few of Allison's operatives in various operations and had lost several of there own kindred in return. On an equal playing field it was Daniels opinion that Allison would have won by now but Tom was being fed resources while Allison's are gradually dwindling and not being replaced due to the constant pressures she was under.

It was also clear to Daniel that two minds were at work here as the operations against Allison were either brutal but unsophisticated assaults or careful planned operations against assets and significant personnel. He was reasonably sure that Tom Weavers were the less sophisticated of the two while the superior operations were being guided by Amethyst or one of her own advisers.

Scene Two - An Unusual Delivery
Andrew Francis - Investigator
Ghoul of Dr Daniel Matthews
Daniel had now become curious about how resources were being transferred from Amethyst to Weaver and was looking into the possibility of aiding Allison by disrupting the supply lines to her enemies. With this in mind he set Andrew's investigative skills to looking into 'The Quartz Group to see if any of their legitimate business enterprises travelled to Anaheim with any regularity which he was to do with a combination of his own detective skills and those of his own hacker contact. While Andrew kept up his online investigations, Keith Chang observed the premises themselves on the look out for any branded vehicles that might match those companies that his fellow Ghoul Andrew had discovered.

Daniel meanwhile had decided to do some personal reconnaissance as his own gifts of stealth far surpassed the basic supernatural talents passed on to his ghouls though his vitae. Looking for likely areas that he could set up a sniper nest he discovered that the surrounding rooftops were already inhabited by guards. Some were armed with assault rifles while others carried sniper rifles of their own and between them they could cover and view the majority of the surrounding approaches. After quickly warning his ghouls to be extra careful in their observations he moved further out to try and find an area from which he could possibly take out one of the guards from outside the perimeter and then move in and take his place. Shifting from building to building he skirted the outer security perimeter but no ideal location was found. There were however a few less than ideal spots that gave him an almost complete view so he kept these in mind should he need them in order to remove a specific sniper and create a gap in the security.

Both Andrew and Keith had taken on board the warning to be extra careful and had both managed to avoid detection. Conscious that he would be unlikely to have any opportunities to feed the Dr took several blood bags with him as he was capable of gaining nutrition from even fractionated plasma unlike the majority of his kind.

Storytellers Note - The Merit is called Iron Gullet, pretty useful if you're also a doctor with the keys to the fridge...

Andrew noted an unusual occurrence as a large delivery van featuring the logo of a carpet delivery company arrived at the hall. Though this could of course be an entirely legitimate delivery the logo was that of one of the companies under the umbrella of the Quartz Group he'd investigated earlier. As this seemed connected to Tom's sponsor in Santa Ana, the mysterious 'Amethyst' he reported it to Daniel.

Scene Three - The Enemy of my Enemy
'Amethyst' - Caitiff
Baron of Santa Ana
Given the increase in his activities in Anaheim and deliveries arriving from Amethyst's businesses in Santa Ana to the back door of his Haven, the Banu Haqim began to suspect that Tom had something major planned for the near future. If this was true then the time he had to swing the balance of power in Allison's direction might well be running out. He therefore decided to give the barons warehouse set-up a look over in case there were any vulnerabilities there that Tom could exploit.

Unlike the visitors to Tom's base of operations, all the vehicles coming and going from the Baron of Anaheim's warehouse were unmarked and unbranded. The gatehouse to the complex was manned with security guards and was as afar as Daniel could tell the the only obvious way in or out. From what he could tell the perimeter wall was solid and it appeared that the main building itself was similarly sturdy. The exterior wall had sharp blades on the top preventing unwanted guests from climbing over and the few visitors he saw arrive at the gate required security passes to gain ingress. He turned his attention from the structural integrity to other security measures and noted a number of strategically placed security cameras. After noting their placement and direction he concluded that there were no exploitable blind spots without destroying at least two cameras which would no doubt be noticed.

Increasing his senses to supernatural extremes he attempted to eavesdrop on a heated conversation he could observe between two security guards. One of them seemed to be upset about having to work a night shift "Yet Again" and "Can't see why they need to keep the place open all fucking night..." which led Daniel to conclude that the exterior guards at least had no idea of the nature of their employers. He also noted several guards on the roof which his enhanced vision showed him were well armed.

As the warehouse itself was slightly higher than the buildings nearby it was impossible to overlook which also added to it's security and as he now believed he had all the knowledge he needed on the building itself he widened his examination. As he broadened his reconnaissance to the approach roads he noticed a familiar looking van with the same logo as that upon the vehicles coming and going from Tom Weavers hall. The vehicle drove past the warehouse and as Daniel shadowed it's course in his own vehicle he realised that it was checking out the exterior security as he himself had been doing. The people within were wearing uniforms that matched the vehicle logo but Daniel could clearly see the tell-tale bulges that indicated weapons poorly concealed beneath their clothing. Dropping back to a safe distance, Daniel continued to follow them until it became obvious that they were travelling not to Weavers haven but back to Santa Ana at which point he returned the way he'd came.

Scene Four - Hunters become the Hunted
Daniel's phone began to ring and as he picked it up he was immediately greeted by a distinctly agitated Andrew "We've been made...I'm trying to lose them but they're fucking determined...". Mentally mapping a route between his current location and Andrew's likely route he gave his ghoul specific directions to a location he could get to quickly where he could hopefully intercept them and their pursuers. Daniel immediately realised that he'd have to be careful to avoid drawing the intentions of any authorities on his way there as his car was currently full of the tools of his trade yet also needed to get a move on. In a state of full alertness he kept his eye out for any police vehicles as he put his foot down.

Storytellers Note - I let Daniel's player roll for his ghouls so I couldn't be blamed if they died...

Keith had his guns loaded and ready but was doubtful about how effective they'd be as he was sure that the car behind them had at least two kindred in it. Andrew meanwhile had taken several sharp turns including a terrifying but brief drive the wrong way down a road into incoming traffic which had gained him some distance. During Keith's previous career as a vigilante he had taken to learning as much as he could about the geographical lay-out of most area's of Los Angeles and had shouted several useful last minute turns to the driver which had gained them even more of a lead. Heading into a built up area the ghoul behind the driving seat swerved down a side-road and stopped abruptly hoping the pursuing vehicle would drive straight past but it seemed they had already shaken it as it was nowhere to be seen. Breathing a sigh of relief, Andrew phoned Daniel to tell him that for the moment they were clear.

Heather Taylor - 'Galerie' Employee
Ghoul and Blood Doll of Marius Walker
Daniel instructed Andrew and Keith to meet him at the gallery via a circuitous route so they could compare notes on the incident and try to discover what had gone wrong. Daniel arrived first to find that the rest of the coterie were absent, Heather's knowledge about their whereabouts was the accurate but useless statement "They've all gone out somewhere..."

Daniel suspected that it may have something to do with the missing chantry they'd been investigating and as he had been told by Roach to "Keep his head down for a few days..." decided not to relay any information on his current project to the notoriously chatty Heather.

She was also the ghoul of the coteries sometimes Mawla Marius Walker and as he wasn't sure how the notoriously unpredictable Gangrel 'Fixer' would react to him planning the assassination of a would-be baron he decided that discretion was definitely in his best interests at this moment in time. He simply asked Heather to direct any-one who asked for him to the upstairs meeting room and awaited the arrival of his own ghouls. Once his entourage had arrived he asked them to lay out exactly what had happened.

Andrew informed him that he'd spotted one of Tom Weaver's retainers approaching so had decided to make his getaway. As this had occurred during his and Keith's agreed changeover time the car was there so he'd jumped in and driven off with a surprised Keith in the passenger seat. He described the pursuer as of above average height, with dark hair and wearing a jacket and jeans and was sure based on the speed he'd moved that he was definitely a vampire. He was also certain that he was armed.

As they'd driven off, a dark sedan had given chase and he was sure that at least one of those within was the vampire that had spotted them. The rest of course Daniel knew. As Keith hadn't been identified but Andrew had it was decided to relegate the investigator to computer duties from this point onward. Knowing that his quarry would now be on high alert and that the vehicle had been compromised he sent Keith to dispose of the car via a bike gang of their acquaintance. Roach sold drugs at the bikers at highly competitive rates due to some previous information they had provided to eliminate a mutual rival and they were still on somewhat friendly terms with them.

Once the vehicle had been made to disappear, Keith was dispatched to one of the potential sniper nests scouted out by Daniel earlier in order to keep watch on Tom's location but from outside the perimeter of it's guards. Though he had orders to flee first rather than engage any enemies it didn't escape Daniels notice that he was armed to the teeth.

Scene Five - Reinforcements
Dr Daniel Matthews - Banu Haqim
Taking the time to analyse the situation and the timing of recent events it occurred to Daniel that the discovery of his ghoul may have been interpreted by Tom Weaver as an escalation by Allison as the wannabe Baron was unaware of any other active kindred groups in Anaheim. With this event happening so soon after the unknown deliveries from Santa Ana arriving at Tom Weavers haven, Daniel had to consider the possibility that he had inadvertently pushed Tom and his sponsor Amethyst's timeline forward. Not one to act without concrete intelligence on which to base a decision the Banu Haqim decided to do some close reconnaissance himself.

After finding himself a good place from which to observe the car-park area behind the 'Odd Fellows' Hall, Daniel made himself comfortable as he used his vampiric gifts to obfuscate himself within the shadows. It wasn't long before his suspicions were confirmed as an articulated lorry arrived bearing the now familiar logo of the Santa Ana company apparently used by Amethyst to transport assets to Anaheim pulled into the buildings loading bay.

Two men exited the vehicle and were met by three more from within who began to unload long crates from the truck and carry them into the loading area. Daniel was familiar enough with weaponry to know a crate containing guns when he saw one.

Deciding he needed a closer look, the assassin concentrated on his occult powers of stealth so his cloak of invisibility still functioned as he slipped from cover though paid the cost in blood as he felt the hunger rise within him as he did so.

Four more people were now involved in the loading process though Daniel couldn't tell if they had emerged from the truck or the hall. One of these newcomers did however match the description that Andrew had given of the vampire who had discovered him and given chase on the previous night. Taking care to avoid the paltry few security cameras in place around the building he moved to get a better view of the contents of the vehicle and the manpower unloading it. As he closed the distance he noticed one of those outside who seemed to be supervising rather than actually doing any work, look pointedly in his direction. He called over a hulking fellow and gestured towards the vehicle that Daniel was currently crouching alongside. The heavily muscled figure headed in the direction indicated while brandishing a Remington shotgun that seemed almost too small for him to wield.

Cade Sheppard - Ventrue
Seneschal of 'Amethyst'
Meanwhile Tom Weaver himself had emerged from the building and began to discuss something with the sharp dressed fellow who had sent the henchman to investigate. Concerned that he was in real danger of being revealed he once more called upon the powers of his vitae but this time it was speed, not stealth he required. In a blink of an eye he was fifty metres away and over the perimeter fence to a safer position.

Daniel was in no doubt that the well dressed supervisor was kindred and as he didn't match any known member of Weaver's entourage he surmised that he was one of Amethyst's own, possibly an adviser sent to direct the operation against Allison Maller. That combined with the weapons delivery led him to believe that an assault on the Baron of Anaheim's warehouse stronghold was imminent and that he himself may have been responsible for this new urgency.

Any doubt to the likelihood of this being the preparation for a major and overwhelming final assault was eliminated when two more vehicles arrived filled with people. A number of sleeping bags, mattresses and similar items were now being removed from the first vehicle that arrived, no doubt for the mortals amongst those present. As Daniel returned to his own car he saw a sign on the halls front door declaring the building 'closed for refurbishment'. Fortunately the Banu Haqim had a back-up plan that he'd considered and then abandoned but which now seemed like the best way of salvaging the situation.

Though Tom Weavers own recon of the warehouse that he himself had observed was undoubtedly to scope out the defences of the building it also occurred to Daniel that it may also have been to decide upon a direction of attack. His ghoul Keith Chang had identified several choke points during his mapping out of the surrounding areas of both havens and when he added these locations to his and Andrew's observations about Weavers vehicles routes he was certain that he could work out an ambush site. His problem was of course that he and his two ghouls didn't possess even a fraction of the firepower necessary to put a dent in the massive strike force assembled to take Allison's base. As it was now too early in the morning for the attack to be occurring this night, Daniel could only conclude that the preparations were for tomorrow evening which gave him a few hours to implement a risky plan of his own.

Interlude - An Unexpected Gift
The route most likely to be taken by Tom Weaver had been neatly drawn upon a map of the area and the optimum ambush site had been circled and labelled also. Along with it was a detailed list of the resources that Tom Weaver was bringing to bear as well as some photographs to corroborate the account. The final piece of information was a neatly written note summarising the intelligence that had been gathered on Tom and the writers opinion that an ambush at the target location would be the most efficient way of ending the war between the rightful Baron of Anaheim and the upstart planning on taking it for his mistress 'Amethyst'. All had been contained in an envelope with 'F.A.O' Allison Maller' written on the front in block capital lettering.

"And you say that a delivery man handed this to the security at the gate?" stated Allison somewhat incredulously to one of the Brujah under her command. "But he can't remember what he looked like? Well it's either the smartest or stupidest plan to get me out from behind my defences ever conceived. I'm not sure which..." "It does however..." commented her second in command "...match our own assessment of Tom Weaver's intentions." Allison summoned one of her kindred who had the rare ability to pick up information from an item merely by touching it and tossed the pile of tactical information over to her. The kindred who examined it could pick up only vague information about the mysterious benefactor who had passed it to them but she was sure that whoever had compiled it believed what it contained.

"Fuck it...gather everyone...right now I have fuck all to lose anyway. If it's a trick we meet our final deaths tomorrow night instead of in a few weeks time..." and with that she began to plan the ambush that would end the war one way or another.

Storytellers Note - Well that was unexpected. However I like to reward originality so I decided that the first part of his plan at least worked...

Scene Six - A Trap is Set
Having the mortal benefit of being able to travel during the day, Andrew had already prepared a snipers nest targeting the suggested ambush site. Daniel had given him a specific location which was slightly too close to the danger zone for Andrew's liking but he understood that Daniel wished to be able to personally intervene in the conflict should it become absolutely necessary.

Keith had spent the day making caltrops and other tyre damaging debris in case a particular vehicle needed isolating or bringing to a sudden stop. He had also prepared and loaded his entire arsenal of weaponry, the majority of which was holstered on his person somewhere. Daniel had suggested a disguise of some kind and he had to admit that Keith's vagrant outfit was pretty convincing, presumably because he'd acquired it from one of Vin's herd who were for the most part, actual vagrants. It was also spacious enough to hide all the lumps and bumps created by his weapons.

He had positioned himself towards the rear of the suggested killzone in order to maximise his chance of immobilising a vehicle towards the back of the convoy, this did however mean that he was quite close to any potential danger, not that he seemed to care.

Several cars had begun to arrive from different directions and judging from their tentative approaches Daniel could tell that they feared that they might be the victims of a trap rather than those about to set one. Keith reported that there were people entering several adjacent buildings as well as an abandoned shop which he himself had originally earmarked as a good fire point from which to target this particular choke-point. Others began to arrive, presumably summoned by the advance groups after it was deemed to not be a trap and were starting to set up in likely vantage points. Daniel had to admit that considering the brief time she had to plan that Allison had managed to gather a considerable force and they seemed to have a good plan for setting up a crossfire. He just hoped that his assessment of Tom Weaver's plan was correct.

Scene Seven - Ambush
Daniel's heightened senses spotted an articulated lorry in the distance along with two vans and several cars that he knew belonged to Weaver's entourage. Panning his rifle's sights along one side of the road and then the other he could see Allison's people also preparing to open fire. As the convoy reached the bottleneck he'd hoped they'd traverse, Keith got to his feet and playing the role of a drunkard staggered over to the rear car and then hurled his sack of spikes, caltrops and other jagged materials under the tires, then, apparently unconvinced that this would be enough to prevent it's escape if it hit reverse at full speed pulled out an MP5 sub-machine gun and emptied the clip into the drivers face through the side window sending skull and brains splattering over the inside.

Storytellers Note - I let Daniel guide his ghouls actions via in character commands but in these circumstances I rolled for them so he couldn't be 100% sure of how successful they had implemented his instructions.

Taking the gunfire as the signal that Keith had stopped the rear vehicle and hopefully blocked in the convoy, Daniel targeted the engine of the articulated lorry with his 50 cal Barrett sniper rifle and living up to it's name as an anti-material weapon crippled it instantly. Presuming that one of their own had engaged the enemy, Allison's followers opened up with a variety of semi and fully automatic weaponry riddling the car nearest the front with bullets and effectively boxing in Weavers assault teams between two crippled vehicles to the front and one at the back.

As the passengers in the vehicle assaulted by Daniel's ghoul attempted to get out, he dropped his MP5, drew one of his Desert Eagles from a shoulder holster and emptied it's clip into the first he saw. As he made his retreat he noted that both the driver and the figure he'd just shot must have been mortal allies or ghouls as the gunfire had maximum effect.

Reacting to the events around them the back doors of the lorry swung open and several armed figures emerged and were immediately engaged by Allison's forces taking heavy casualties. In quick succession the Banu Haqim sniper put a round through the driver and passenger of the main truck, trapping the one in the middle between two extremely dead bodies. Judging from the amount of blood, Daniel concluded that only one of them had been human.

As the trigger-happy former vigilante, Keith emptied the clip of his second pistol into a third occupant of the car, the fourth occupant moved towards him with supernatural speed and backhanded him with such force that he was taken off his feet, landing several metres away. As Daniel scanned for targets of opportunity, his spotter Andrew saw the body of his fellow ghoul hit the ground and a supernaturally quick kindred move in to finish him off and alerted his regnant.

Unsure whether he was rescuing or avenging the fallen vigilante, Daniel put a bullet through the assailant though the angle made it difficult to get a killing shot and he had to settle for winging them. Fortunately even a clipping shot took them off their feet and tore chunks from their undead flesh. Keith dragged himself up, feeling cracked ribs tearing through one of his lungs and spat a mouthful of worryingly dark blood onto the ground. Reaching beneath his coat for the Ithaca Model Mag-10 semi-auto shotgun that was his one remaining loaded weapon as he staggered to his feet, he made his way slowly over to the kindred who had crippled him so badly, placed the shotgun under his chin and before the assailant could use his vitae to heal himself blew his head from his shoulders. Then his job done, he collapsed.

The ambush had now become a massacre. Some of those within the vehicles had began to return fire but the surprise had been so overwhelming that many had experienced death and in some cases final death before even realising what had gone on. The carnage had been increased exponentially as many of the Baron of Anaheim's forces were using weapons loaded with incendiary rounds.

No doubt some of Tom Weaver's people had been similarly armed but these must have been amongst the first killed as the return fire of those left was of the conventional variety. It was at this point that the aforementioned Tom Weaver kicked the side door off one of the vans and hugging the side moved towards the more solid cover of the nearby buildings. Daniel quickly fired the remaining rounds in the rifle's clip through the van towards Tom but held little hope of hitting the rapidly moving Brujah.

A moment behind their leader two more kindred emerged from the van's now open side door and rather than heading in the same direction as Tom, instead headed towards Daniel's own position.

Handing sniper duties to his ghoul he moved to engage the approaching enemies hoping that Andrew could take them out before he needed to. Andrew was a skilled sniper himself and had one of the approaching kindred directly in his sights before inexplicably losing him as he disappeared from sight. Daniel watched the heavy round take a chunk out of the street as the two kindred moved with supernatural speed, appearing some fifty metres from their starting point.

Daniel was outside the building and down the fire-escape as fast as he could so as to intercept the incoming attackers before they disrupted his sniper nest from covering the ongoing assault. As he made his way down to ground level he could see that Allison's force was now converging on the vehicles while laying down a constant stream of firepower from all sides. He could also see a bloody and bullet-ridden Tom Weaver in close combat with several foes, while others lay broken and battered around him. Even slowed by his wounds he was making a terrible mess of the closing attackers. Leaving those problems to one side for now he leapt to the ground as Andrew reacquired one of the pair approaching and put a high calibre round through it's torso.

Dr Daniel Matthews - Banu Haqim
Blade at the Ready...
Daniel engaged the enemy still on his feet with his falcata sword, missing them by a fraction of an inch as they ducked beneath the swing. The Banu Haqim parried a return swing from a machete wielded fairly amateurishly in his opinion and then sliced into the Brujah before him with a number of deep cuts. His opponent moved back in order to make some distance but before he could act a short woman in a skirt and leather jacket appeared seemingly from nowhere and unloaded half a dozen incendiary rounds into them. As the rapidly decomposing body fell to the ground both his killer and Daniel Matthews turned to the remaining kindred just in time to see it's torso and upper body vaporised by anti-material rounds courtesy of Andrew. "We presumed the hobo with the armoury was one of yours..." stated Allison Maller, the Baron of Anaheim "...we've dragged him away from the carnage but whether he survives is touch and go I'm afraid." She then moved towards the direction of Tom Weavers attempt to break out of the killing field that the site had now become. "Let's finish this shall we?"

Scene Eight - Weaver's Last Stand
A half a dozen of Allison's mortal followers and at least two kindred lay dead or maimed in a semi-circle around Tom. A large dent in one of the vehicles showed where the Brujah had hurled an opponent aside with deadly force and a kindred that Daniel took to be a Gangrel lay next to a clawed arm that had apparently been ripped from it's socket.

The crippled form of Tom Weaver was slumped against the wall of a nearby building. Claw marks were clearly visible down his neck and side, more bullet wounds had been inflicted upon him than could be counted and many of these were surrounded by the distinctive burn marks of incendiary round impacts. This was the first time Daniel had seen Tom without the trademark smile upon his face and instead he wore a look of utter betrayal mixed with disbelief as if it had never occurred to him that this might be the result of the game he was playing. Allison slammed a fresh clip into her gun and approached her enemy. "It's a shame you picked the side you did Tom..."  she said with perhaps some sincerity "...but there can only be one Baron of Anaheim...and that is me...". From this range it was impossible to miss as she emptied the magazine into his head and heart. The war over Anaheim was, for now at least, over.

"If you let me have my acquaintance back I can get him to a hospital and see what they can do to save him. Don't worry there will be no connection to the events here. Especially..." concluded Daniel "...considering that I was never here either...Congratulations on your victory, Baron." Then he left along with his two ghouls as Allison's followers began to remove their own dead and any kindred remains left at the scene.

Charlie 'Chick' Abbott - Banu Haqim
Therese Voerman's Scourge
As he approached his car and the one that his ghouls utilised he rang one of his contacts at the hospital to ask that they looked after a man who was about to arrive and 'mislay' the paperwork until he could get there. As Andrew drove away, Daniel approached his own vehicle only to discover his Banu Haqim rival 'Chick' leaning against it, patiently waiting his arrival. "Well that wasn't particularly subtle. Not your usual style at all in fact..." She paused as if considering this "...but I suppose that was the point in this case?" Daniel was none-committal as Charlie 'Chick' Abbott continued. "Therese has made it clear that your presence in Los Angeles is to remain a secret and as she has matched your sire Edward Kaya's price I see no reason to go against her wishes." This slightly concerned Daniel as his sire's price had been the offering of a lowering of the generation of any kindred whose information led to himself and he knew of only one way that the Baron of Santa Monica could duplicate that, namely finding a candidate for Chick to diablerise.

"As a personal gesture I have reached out to my own contacts and informed them that the rumours of another Banu Haqim within LA are quite false and that it is in fact simply a Brujah with surprisingly well developed stealth skills who operated briefly here." Daniel doubted that her reasons for doing so were entirely unselfish but couldn't deny that it was an act that would prove useful to his continued survival. After giving his somewhat insincere thanks he got in his car and returned to Pasadena. As soon as he turned around to check on his unexpected benefactor he found that unsurprisingly she had disappeared.

To Be Continued in 'A Meeting of Barons' Part One...

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

It's never easy with very open-ended missions to decide what to prepare and what will be a waste. In this one I made notes on all the kindred involved, their havens, allies and resources but wrote nothing in the way of intro's or dialogue. This it turned out was a good move as Daniel's player took a very different approach to the one I suspected.

It was quite satisfying for me as a Storyteller when Daniel's player told me that he actually felt sorry for Tom Weaver but that a side had needed to be picked and helping Allison in this situation weakened the far more serious threat posed by Amethyst. It's nice when the players become invested in the world you create for them.

It's also created some interesting side-plots for me to explore as there are now several kindred who know that Daniel is proactively interfering in the affairs of other baronies...

I've used pictures of real people to represent some of the characters and art for others so in no particular order Dr Matthews is Mads Mikkelsen, Keith Chang is Daniel Dae Kim, Andrew Francis is Ray Stevensen, 'Amethyst' is Paula Patton, Heather Taylor is Liz Vicious and Charlie Abbott is Lena Headey. 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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