Saturday 2 May 2020

Vampire the Masquerade V5 - Session Fifty Eight - The Baker Disappearance (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 chronicle is set in Los Angeles and features a small group of Camarilla agents sent into the 'Free States' to bring them back under Camarilla control. After a year of plotting, the coterie now controls the three North-Eastern Baronies and has successfully weakened several others. Unfortunately other Barons have used the chaos they have created to consolidate their own positions.
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 as well as links to the first episode of each story in the blog sidebar.
Chronicle One - 'Infiltrate L.A.' 
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
Chronicle Two - 'Foothold L.A.' 
Solo Session - 'Hostile Takeover'
Story Four - 'Countdown' - Part OneTwo and Three
Story Five - 'The Missing Chantry' - Part OneTwoThreeFour and Five
Solo Session - 'The Anaheim Assassination'
Story Six - 'A Meeting of Barons' - Part OneTwo and Three
Story Seven - 'The Carmelita Situation' - Part OneTwo and Three
Story Eight - 'The Blount Sisters' - Part One and Two
Story Nine - 'Blood Money' - Part OneTwoThreeFour, Five and Six
Story Ten - 'Anathema' - Part One and Two
Story Eleven - 'Predators and Prey' aka 'The Blount Sisters' - Part Three
Story Twelve - 'Aftermath' - Part One and Two
Story Thirteen - 'The Messiah Complex' - Part OneTwoThree and Four
Chronicle Three - 'Incursion L.A.'
Story Fourteen - 'The Rant'
Story Fifteen - 'Ties of Blood' - Part One and Two
Solo Session - 'A Gathering of Roses'
'The Southern Solution' - Part OneTwo and Three

The PC's
Player controlled characters
Michael Tomassio - Toreador, 'Baron of the North East'
Vincent 'Vin' Ghast - Brujah, 'Constable'
Dr Daniel Matthews - Banu Haqim, 'Spymaster'
Hope Romero - Gangrel, 'Census Taker'
Mr Hertz - Nosferatu, 'Seneschal'
Sofia Rivera - Toreador, Michael's Bodyguard
The SPC's
Storyteller controlled player allies
Priya Haynes - Gangrel, 'Sweeper'
Carla Doyle - Gangrel, 'Sweeper'
Orla Riviera - Gangrel, 'Sweeper'
Rosalind Perkins -  Thin-blood, Alchemist

The player characters stats and backgrounds can be found HERE should any-one be interested, but be warned that the page is usually several stories ahead of the most recent write-up and may contain some spoilers. 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 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-Handout Introduction
Myranda - Gangrel
Pack Leader of the Wilds Pack
El Hermandads allies in Covina have now effectively given their allegiance to the Gangrel of the Wilds Pack and their Pack Leader Myranda. This rift has been caused by Covina's call for assistance during the 'Cross Rebellion' being apparently ignored by Jesus Ramirez's people in Hermandad, forcing them to seek aid from their neighbours to the South. What was initially a temporary alliance of convenience has now become a formal agreement with the Covina Brujah now entirely committed to the Wilds Pack's patrolling of their borders. The Barony of Covina now effectively has ceased to exist with the whole area now being under Myranda's control.

Baker, the Gangrel who allegedly failed to pass on the call for aid, has disappeared. This has led to the Brujah of Covina being accused of his assassination as revenge for ignoring their request for assistance, and the finger of suspicion being pointed at the Wilds Pack for contriving the issue in order to cement their control of Covina. Many kindred also believe that Hermandad themselves were responsible and that this was a failed attempt to give them an excuse to move into Covina, a plan that backfired when the Wilds Pack became involved first.

Whatever the truth of the matter, the Barony of Pasadena shares borders with both the now defunct Barony of Covina and the Barony of Hermandad. Therefore a potential war on their doorstep is now the coteries primary concern.

Player Handouts
Storytellers Note - I recently gave the players a bonus pool of XP in order to create a network of contacts, resources or similar for their own characters (30 XP, give or take 1 or 2). This was to represent their expanding influence and access to better contacts. The only limit was that the points must all have an in character theme. 'Michael' spent his on a number of Mawlas and kindred contacts, 'Daniel' now has several investigative teams, 'Hertz' has infiltrated a number of financial institutions and 'Vin' has a vastly increased pool of street people and security personnel under his control.

Though this does mean I have a lot more handouts to create, it also means that I can insert plot-lines fairly organically without it feeling like they have been crowbarred in. I've also tried to make the format of them interesting so each player gets their's in a personalised form. Michael's are conversational. Daniels are more like reports, as are Mr Hertz's. As Vin's are more street level he'll only require handouts when something of note occurs within that community.

The characters current primary area of interest is the disappearance of the Gangrel 'Baker' as this has allowed the Wilds Pack to effectively take over Covina and has caused a significant shift of power in The baronies of Hermandad and it's allies.

I'll also probably certainly only go to this much trouble at the beginning of each story, not every session as it's a lot of work...

Newspaper Clippings

Handouts - Daniel
Baker's Haven
Near the Coviana/El Hermandad Border
Private Investigators
You have been informed that Baker's haven was a run-down house near the border of El Hermandad and Covina's baronies. The address you have been given is in Huntington Drive. Your Investigators have discovered that 'Baker' as an identity doesn't exist in conjunction with the address you've been given. The house is registered to someone called Chandler Case though it doesn't take much digging for them to discover that this must be a stolen identity as Mr Case apparently died in 2002 at the age of 73.

Subtle enquiries with his neighbours has revealed that they believed him to be on some kind of night shift as he was usually seen leaving his home early evening and returning before dawn. Several of the neighbours had complained about the run down state of his home and the overgrown garden to local officials but with no result. He hasn't been seen for several weeks.

A young woman who lives opposite has told one of the P.I.'s that there was a commotion on the night after the last evening she remembers seeing him. A group were knocking on the door loudly and checking behind the house. She phoned the police but by the time they arrived, the group had gone. She was unable to give a good description due to the darkness but she could easily have been describing Jesus Ramirez, de-facto leader of El Hermandad, based on what your P.I. contact told you.

Daniel Matthews - Surveillance Teams
Surveillance Team
The team you have sent to observe the apartment building inhabited by Priss have concluded that she is the leader of some criminal gang with extensive ties to the Crypt's Sons. Though you of course already knew of this it's handy to have some documented evidence of the criminal activities going on.

You have also been informed that they had a handsome visitor who looked distinctly out of place, having an expensive car, a chauffeur and being well dressed. He had a meeting there but it was too deep within the building for them to be able to monitor as it appeared to be in the cellar where 'Priss' has her base of operations. It was of some surprise to you that the visitor was your baron Michael.

Police Records Archivist
Bloods, The - Based in the West Piru Street area in the Compton section of Los Angeles
Reverend Leon Cutler is based in The Compton Unity Church, Your contact mentions that there's a statistically unusually low crime rate centred on that area despite it being a gang hot-spot.

Alonzo Guillen - Autarkis Nosferatu
Hollywood Warrens
According to Alonzo, Hank already made extensive use of the Nosferatu kindred Gary Golden's services as an information broker even before the Crypt's Sons were culled by the Kuei-jin, as he calls the Kindred of the East. Gary discovered that the assault was incoming and warned Hank, offering sanctuary for him and a small number of his allies in return for significant future boons.

Alonzo doesn't know the exact details of their arrangement but is aware that Hank provides gang members as messengers and transporters on occasion when Gary needs something to be transported in the surface world. 

They also often meet just before major rants and other important kindred get-together's though the location varies. It's Alonzo's opinion that Gary is more or less tutoring Hank in the intricacies of kindred politics in return for access to both mortal and kindred muscle. If true, this would explain quite a lot.

Storytellers Note - The 'Mawla' background usually applies to Elder kindred or important advisers, but as the 'contact' background only applies to mortals I've extended 'Mawla' to also apply to kindred contacts. It was easier than creating a new background category.

Handouts - Michael
Mariel St John - Ventrue
Mistress of Baron Fortier
Mariel St. John - Ventrue
"Louis and Issac have had a few meetings that all but them have been excluded from. Catherine is annoyed that her security people are being used but she hasn't been informed of the reasons for their get together's. I'm making my own enquiries but I'm sure you understand the need for subtlety? If I discover anything I'll let you'll of course inform me if you discover anything yourself?"
Velvet Velour - Toreador
"Issac has been so busy, I've barely seen him at all. He's had meetings with Louis and one of those pseudo intellectual types up in San Fernando Valley. He took that bitch, Dawn to talk to one of them..."
Victor Girard - Toreador
"The Covina situation was unfortunate. I explained to Ramirez that we could hardly blame them for accepting help from their neighbours when the choice was that, or allow the remnants of Cross's people there to dig in. Of course it's worse now that he thinks they retaliated by destroying that foolish whelp Baker. Myranda's people are already reinforcing the patrols along her new borders and Covina's former de-facto leader Tabatha Mayer has become her Seneschal of sorts."
Victor has given you permission to send an investigator into their domain to investigate as long as they limit their activities to Baker and don't "wander about...". You sense that he would like to prove Jesus Ramirez wrong about Baker in order to undermine his position and improve his own standing.
Damsel - Brujah
'Den Mother' of Nines Crew
Damsel - Brujah
"Nines is pissed with you a little due to the changes that you've been involved in which he thinks are undermining the Free States. I told him that you're a true Anarch and that the changes were necessary as we have to evolve or face destruction...He's taking some convincing though..."
Velme - Toreador
"Gloria is less than happy about Ramirez and entourage turning up every other night berating her about her lack of commitment to El Hermandad. She really just wants to be left alone. If he doesn't start showing her a little more respect he might find himself without any allies at all. Gloria doesn't react well to being spoken to like a child..."
Heather - Ghoul of Marius
"Marius? He's spent a lot of time with those two Gangrel and their hanger's on. I think they got the 'My way or die...' speech as he wasn't happy about having to take responsibility for them. He was even less happy about having to vouch for those five that now guard Steve Booth's border. Mary spoke to them though...she scares me...she looks at everyone like they're a potential meal...even other vampires..."
Priss - Brujah, Border Baron
Priss - Brujah
Border Baron, Crypts Sons Ally
Storytellers Note - This was slightly too involved to do as a conversational bullet point so we did it as a question and answer session which I extrapolated into the following handout.

Your visit with Priss goes surprisingly well considering your different backgrounds. As far as you can tell her problem is that she is perceived as being a traitor to the other Barony of the Angels gangs that chose to fight, whereas as she points out "They were going to lose, so I made the pragmatic choice. I kept what I had and that was the price...". She is also in the somewhat precarious position that up until recently she was defending a border against a few disorganised gangs, now she's effectively a barrier between Hank and Marius. Neither of which are barons anyone wants to have as enemies.

You sense that what she'd really like is to be an independent baron in control of her own destiny, unfortunately her resources are now inexorably tied into the area she controls so to move would involve starting effectively from nothing. This is of course a shaky proposition when she has nine kindred to support. In an ideal world she would like her current granted domain as a barony.

Her forces seem to consist of herself, three Gangrel (Two of which she inherited from the gang she destroyed on Hank's orders that were headed to Pasadena, and another she already led), four Brujah who seem to be fairly typical 'muscle' and a sleazy looking Caitiff who is apparently a new recruit named 'Mosley'. As you'd expect they aren't short of weapons or mortal gang members to do their bidding. The mortals are all in Crypts Sons colours.

Priss's Pseudo Barony - Central L.A.
Priss is unusual enough for a Brujah for you to suspect that she might actually be of another clan. She has none of the bluster you associate with the more physical of that clan, nor the zeal of the activist that it also attracts. Instead she is pragmatic to the point of psychopathy and shows no remorse, shame or guilt for the actions taken to keep her domain. She is charming in her own way but you sense this is completely superficial and a mask she has put on because she thinks it's something that you personally would want to see. The more you speak to her, the more you feel that she could easily be a sociopath. As far as she is concerned, she has completely fooled you and it is your opinion that as long as you handle her carefully she will be an invaluable source of information on the central baronies as long as you seem to be going some way towards smoothing over the current issues with her reputation.

One potentially useful piece of info she gives you is that "That fucking blue-blood..." Louis Fortier left his mansion a few days ago (in itself a rarity), "...with a shitload of guards", skimmed Hollywood where his convoy was joined by "Mr low-budget horror flick..." Issac Abrams and a load more muscle and they then headed up to San Fernando. Quite how she knows this, she doesn't care to explain but she also tells you that Issac has "Something on the Hollywood guru chick, Dawn..." and that she was also part of this impromptu road-trip.

Baron Fortier of West LA., Baron Isaacs of Hollywood, Dawn Cavanagh

It might be best not to mention your suspicions about her more antisocial tendencies to Daniel, due to his tendency to plan the murders of such people, but at least she's a valuable contact.

Handouts - Mr Hertz
Marius 'The Fixer' Walker - Gangrel
De-Facto Baron of Downtown
Your attempts to influence local politics through manipulation of elections, financial donations and the odd bribe, here and there is coming along nicely. You now have people in the planning, utilities and financial allocation departments and should have no problems expediting the building and business projects that Michael has requested that you facilitate.

You have also found it necessary to make some personal agreements with the Nosferatu of the city so as to avoid any conflicts of interests with those of your clan already established within it.

Storytellers Note - That was Mr Hertz's XP bonus spend as I'm sure you guessed. I also saw the opportunity to revive an old plotline abandoned when I lost Roach as a PC...

You have also discovered amongst the documents of your predecessor 'Roach' a number of documents of ownership relating to several neighbouring structures in the heart of Pasadena. These are complete with planning permissions for a large mall like structure with associated utilities covering this exact area.

These seem to have been granted by a number of politicians you are sure are under the control of Marius's P.A. Victoria, so this was apparently the result of some private agreement between the Malkavian and the 'Fixer'. These documents are still completely valid so the project is still entirely viable.

It also seems that Roach was planning a subterranean mirror to the above mall that would cater to the kindred of the city including bars, clubs, dayrooms and several other areas whose purposes are currently completely indecipherable to you.

With a little fine tuning and the addition of some practical considerations this could be a very profitable venture in both the mortal and kindred worlds. There's also several intriguing entries relating to experiments in various drugs and there effects upon kindred, including some cryptic references to drugs specific to kindred. Roach seemed to have a particular obsession with something called 'Ashe' and other duskborn alchemical creations.

Session Introduction
The Kindred Baronies of Los Angeles
The baronies of Los Angeles are currently assessing the changes in the South in order to see how the altering of the balance of power is going to affect their own domains. This has led to an increasingly militant stance on borders and extensive politicking between current and former allies in order to strengthen their positions via association.

Fortier has put Ralph Harwood, formally of the Barony of the Angels in charge of his newly acquired Southern territory and granted him and his followers feeding rights as long as they maintain the area in his name. The mortals who have been put in charge of the business ventures now within Fortier's domain are however all his own people, not Harwood's.

The four Gangrel led by Vinicius who now patrol the borders for Steve Booth have been granted Huntington Beach park and some of the surrounding area as a feeding ground. It's a fairly central location from which to operate and encompasses Hugo's previous distribution hub base which Vinicius was 'unwilling' to surrender. They have also been given permission to sleep wherever they wish within the new Southern barony given the substantial area they have to cover as long as feeding is kept to a minimum. They report to Hector but are considered to be Marius's responsibility should there be any issues. Marius is apparently less than happy about that, his agreement being obtained somewhat begrudgingly.

The Brujah persuaded to leave the former compound of David Geduld by Michael and Damsel have struck a deal with Allison Maller. They have been granted domain and feeding rights in exchange for their service in any manner that their baron deems suitable. Allison has absorbed a number of suddenly desperate ghouls of Amethyst's into her own organisation and now controls the businesses and institutions that they had under their influence.

Rose and Zipper are still missing as is a considerable sum of Amethyst's business empires cash.

Storytellers Note - There then followed a lengthy set of conversations both in and out of character as they decided what to do next...I listened and made notes. It will however mean that the actual scenes from this session are actually shorter than the section on the handouts, lol.

Scene One - A Threat from the West
Jeremy MacNeill - Brujah
Anarch Leader, Presumed Destroyed
It was Mr Hertz's opinion that the meetings between Fortier, Abrams and the Brujah in San Fernando could only be in regards to some form of alliance. Both Louis Fortier and Issac Abrams had such influence and power that they had no need of each others assistance, though an alliance would benefit both. If San Fernando also could be bought under their control then that would create a kindred domain encompassing the entire of the Western side of the city. He also pointed out that both could no doubt see a move towards fewer but larger baronies and knew that an alliance between them effectively made them insurmountable, both financially and politically. Though the rest of the coterie agreed that this was likely, they weren't entirely sure just they could actually do about it.

Michael was also unsure about why exactly they needed the cooperation of the Brujah Idealists as technically they had only been granted domain within San Fernando, it wasn't actually their barony. The ownership of the area was complicated as in theory it was considered the barony of Jeremy MacNeill who though presumed destroyed, could easily still exist. Given Jeremy's prestige within the Anarch community it could create issues for any kindred resident there should he turn up and find his domain inhabited by another. The Idealists had received personal permission from him so were the only current residents with legitimate claim to the area. He theorised that perhaps this uncertainty could be used to disrupt the plan.

Countess Andrea Visconti
Brujah Idealists, San Fernando
Michael decided to make some subtle enquiries with the Countess Visconti of the Idealists with whom he had some common ground in order to see if he could get a better handle on the situation. Both also utilised the Neillson Library, so perhaps a 'chance meeting' could be arranged.

Vin suggested moving some of his network of street people into the area as additional eyes and ears. At the very least they could monitor the relevant parties comings and goings and generally escaped notice. He was also positive that kindred such as Fortier and Isaacs would pay very little attention to individuals they no doubt considered beneath their notice.

Vin left to manage the dispersal of his street level agents, while Mr Hertz contacted his financial contacts to see if he could ascertain any movement of mortal assets that might indicate the aims of this potential new alliance.

After they had left, Daniel lingered for a moment to put something to Michael. He was concerned that if they focused purely on the situation in the West they might be unable to prevent the equally dangerous situation with El Hermandad from being resolved safely. He reasoned that they could still potentially influence the outcome of the power struggle within El Hermandad and that it was a far more imminent danger than a theoretical alliance between two barons that they already had good relations with. Michael agreed with this assessment and suggested that they leave Vin and Hertz to monitor the West while they themselves looked into the tensions between the Wilds Pack, Jesus Ramirez and Gloria Martinez.

Amethyst - Destroyed Former Baron, 'Zipper' and Rose

Daniel also wished to look into the missing funds from Amethyst's former financial empire. He was sure that the kindred hacker 'Zipper' was responsible and didn't like the idea of a random element having access to those sort of personal funds. He was especially worried as Rose, who had also disappeared, was an expert manipulator who could easily have plans of her own. Zipper would almost certainly go along with anything Rose suggested as he was completely enamoured of her.

As it looked like he was going to have his nights taken up by the El Hermandad situation he instead gave these investigative tasks to his two loyal ghouls Andrew and Keith. Andrew was digging into Zippers activities to see if any kind of digital signature could be detected. Keith meanwhile had been given a different issue to look into. Daniel was also interested in the mortal gang known as 'The Blood' that were currently causing the Crypt's Sons so much trouble so had sent his agent into the area disguised as a bum to see what he could discover there.

Scene Two - A Matter of Balance
Henrique 'Hank' Boyd - Brujah
Crypt's Sons Baron
The situation between El Hermandad, Whittier and what was once Covina was apparently much worse than the coterie had been initially led to believe.

The issue that the coterie had with the situation was that any significant weakening of El Hermandad meant the inevitable spread of the Crypt Sons. Though 'Hank' seemed to be a kindred who kept his word, and valued Michael's council he was still a vampire and therefore a threat. He was also currently inclined towards the Anarch way of doing things and therefore might be a thorn in the coteries side due to their long-term goal of restoring the Camarilla to power in Los Angeles.

Though the coterie agreed that Hank would be a better neighbour then whoever ended up leading El Hermandad, it still wasn't ideal to have an effectively unopposed gang with that much kindred and mortal muscle right next door.

Any further spread of the Gangrel that controlled the area known as 'The Wilds' would also be troublesome as they were generally considered to be under the control of Marius Walker and by default an extension of his power base in Downtown. They also had amongst their members some of the most dangerous kindred in the city. The coterie had personally witnessed the havoc they had caused amongst the duskborn of Jenna Cross when the thin-blood rebellion was crushed by Marius and his agents. No kindred who had ever had the dubious honour of seeing the Elder Gangrel Nicodemus in action was likely to forget the experience.

Victor Girard - Toreador
Media Magnate
Storytellers Note - This conversation went in circles a bit. I have therefore summarised it significantly...

They eventually decided that it was necessary to make some contacts within El Hermandad in order to gain the information they needed to make a decision one way or the other. Fortunately, Michael had become acquainted with the kindred Media Magnate Victor Girard who it seemed had some influence within the organisation.
 Michael then informed the coterie that he had gained provisional permission to investigate the issue of Baker's disappearance from Victor himself and relayed his suspicion that this was an attempt to undermine the current leader of El Hermandad, Jesus Ramirez.

Though this rather indicated that they were taking sides, it was decided that it was worth the risk as the core of the problem was which version of Bakers actions were the truth. Either he had passed on the message and it had been ignored as Covina claimed or they were lying and no such message had ever been sent as was asserted by El Hermandad.

Michael made a courtesy call to Victor in order to inform him that were taking him up on his offer of a personal examination of Bakers disappearance. Victor informed them that he would meet them at the border of their domains in order to prevent any potential misunderstanding between their respective factions. Michael thanked him before informing the rest of the coterie that were apparently going to be getting some 'babysitters'...

To be Continued in 'The Baker Disappearance' (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...

A lot of this session was taken up by discussion of the various information in the handouts so the actual 'scene' write-ups are relatively short. I was happy with the players responses and immersion though. It made all the work creating the handouts worthwhile.


Portions of the materials are the copyrights and trademarks of White Wolf Entertainment AB, and are used with permission. All rights reserved. For more information please visit

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 Matt Bomer, 'Vin' is Scott Adkins, Dr Matthews is Mads Mikkelsen, Hope is Deborah Ann Woll, Mr Hertz is Charles Dance, Myranda is Shannyn Visceral, Mariel St John is Kate Moss, Louis Fortier was Eduardo Verastegui, Issac Abrams is Gary Oldman, Dawn Cavanah is Emma Stone, Maris walker is Tony Curran, Andrea Visconti is Elizabeth Hurley, Amethyst is Paula Patton, 'Zipper' is Johnny Galecki and 'Rose' is Thylane Blondeau. 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...

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