Sunday, 24 May 2020

Vampire the Masquerade V5 - Session Sixty One - Inevitable Betrayals (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'
Story Sixteen - 'The Southern Solution' - Part OneTwo and Three
Story Seventeen - 'The Baker Disappearance' - 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 or faction beneath their picture.

Jesus Ramirez - Ventrue
El Hermandad
After discovering the truth about the disappearance of the Gangrel Sweeper Baker, the coterie has struck a deal with Victor Girard. In return for future boons they are allowing him to craft his own narrative based on the evidence they accumulated in order to undermine his rival within El Hermandad.

As it is the coteries ultimate goal to weaken the Anarchs enough for a Camarilla takeover of the city, removing as significant a player as Jesus Ramirez would be a considerable advantage.

Unfortunately on the opposite side of the city, the coteries activities have inadvertently prompted two powerful barons to join forces. An alliance between the Barons of West Los Angeles and Hollywood with the cooperation of the de-facto baron of San Fernando would make for an almost insurmountable alliance. 

With the power in L.A. shifting almost nightly, the coterie is now going to need to act swiftly or their previous year and a half of scheming might be undone in an instant.

Scene One - Blending In
The Last Round - Downtown
Storytellers Note - I had a scene with one player before the rest arrived so unusually there will be a scene before the handouts occur. Also, most of the kindred with which Daniel interacts believe him to be of the Brujah Clan, rather than Banu Haqim which he actually is. This deception has been necessary as Daniel is attempting to avoid the attention of his own sire with whom he has had a major disagreement over methodology and religion.

Daniel's time ingratiating himself with the kindred of Nines bar 'The Last Round' has taught him a few interesting things. Firstly, the reputation of the bar and the area in which it is located means that very few of the patrons wander in off the street. Those that do, are soon convinced to leave.

The barman 'Greg' is blood bound and the regulars are all kindred, their ghouls, their blood dolls or herd. The upper floor is more or less Nines office and where any who wish to talk to him have their meetings. Though Skelter and Nines rarely leave the establishment, Damsel comes and goes quite regularly. On one recent occasion she was even seen in the company of Daniels own baron, Michael.

'Skelter' - Gangrel
Nine's Crew, Enforcer
Also, the bar has a sub-cellar that acts as a 'day room' should any kindred visitors require somewhere to sleep. This is guarded during the hours of daylight by a rag-tag bunch of ghouls and blood-bound mortals who seemingly answer to Skelter. Nines, Skelter and Damsel are a different matter and are all quite careful to keep where they rest during the day a secret and Daniel has been unable to discover any-one who knows where their havens are. This questioning has by necessity had to be subtle in order to prevent getting himself into any trouble with kindred whose suspicions would be aroused by such enquiries.

The kindred who attend The Last Round regularly are from a variety of baronies and all are under strict orders to keep their own gangs politics out of the bar. Nines reputation is such that the only trouble that occurs within are generally between rowdy Brujah, disagreeing about some philosophical point. In the rare instances of more serious disagreements, Skelter will usually intervene.

Daniel's association with Michael, who isn't currently very popular with Nines has caused some difficulties in getting people to open up to him though Damsel's acceptance has certainly helped counter that somewhat. Skelter has just ignored him completely other than an occasional wander downstairs to see that everything is in order. Leo Frost, the Brujah that Daniel debated with and also kicked the crap out of on a previous visit is a regular and is now, somewhat ironically, his main company when discussing philosophy within the bar.

He has also picked up a selection of rumours by using his enhanced senses to eavesdrop on the conversations of others and via his own casual questioning.

Rumours from 'The Last Round'
Gloria Martinez - Brujah
Baron of Whittier
"You know that gang known as 'The Liberated' who were adopted by El Hermandad when the Barony of the Angels was split up? They've have been causing trouble for Ramirez as they want their own domain, which he won't grant. Poor bastards just want to be left alone. I heard from one of her heavies that Gloria offered to have them moved to a chunk of her newly acquired territory and Jesus told her to keep out of it...didn't even let her finish talking..."

"You ever listened to the late night talk show host 'Deb of Night' on KTRK? There's some nutters and weirdos phone into that...heard it said that she's kindred herself, or at the very least a ghoul of one that's in the know...she sure disappeared sharpish during the last major Sabbat invasion..."

"Harvey down at the docks has some new kindred helpers. Some ragtag gang called 'The Rats'...Not sue that he's told Steve about them, yet..."

"The infamous, Cammy hating, Ravnos thief Irene and her followers are heading to LA for some reason. That's bound to cause problems with the amount of Gangrel currently in L.A. Those two clans don't play well together...Also heard that Skelter had a run in with her last time they were in town..."

"The feud between Therese and Bertrum started cuz he was fucking her sister Jeanette...gross, huh...even by Nos standards he aint pretty..."

Therese Voerman, Bertram Tung and Jeanette Voerman

"Nines saved Marius's know what I mean...stopped a Sabbat from shanking him from behind. I guess they're even since Marius dragged him out of this place when it got torched..."

"One of the regulars here swears he saw some weird merman looking fucker when he was collecting a shipment from Harvey at the docks...though he has a tendency to feed on junkies and piss-heads so maybe he was just tripping on their blood..."

Player Handouts
Newspaper Clippings

Player Handouts - Daniel Matthews
Private Investigators, Surveillance Team, Police Records
All were tasked with finding Baker's replacement within El Hermandad
Evie-Grace Leach - Clan Unknown
El Hermandad 'Sweeper'
By looking out near the locations that Baker was known to meet his previous contact Finlay, Keith Chang has discovered that Bakers replacement is a lady called Evie-Grace Leach. The description he gives you of the border contact within The Wilds matches Lola which leads you to believe that The Wilds Pack are handling patrol duties around what was once Covina themselves.

Keith's somewhat unhelpful description of her is that she's a "dusky, skinny, little thing", though he did note that she was carrying a Beretta Px4 Storm pistol and seemingly no other weapons. He also, in his own words, had to "Get the fuck out of there..." as he believes that she spotted him and you had warned him against direct confrontation. The fact that he pays more attention to peoples weaponry than their actual appearance is now a reoccurring problem when Keith is given surveillance jobs.

She has a mortal identity and a night-shift 'job' at a warehouse. Despite receiving a significantly better than average salary from this company, your surveillance team doesn't take long to discover that she never actually goes to work there. You've told your teams not to follow her for fear of a potential masquerade breach so they've concentrated on other avenues of investigation.

Victor Girard - Toreador
Media Magnate, El Hermandad 'Advisor'
The logistics company she 'works' for has it's base in East Los Angeles so it's not much of a stretch that it's owned by someone within El Hermandad. It is called Belvedere Transportation and Logistics Solutions and appears legitimate.

She also has a more traditional kindred haven than Baker in that she has a downstairs apartment in a rundown area where boarded up windows will draw no attention. As far as your teams can tell, her only association is with a family who live in the apartment next door as she tends to visit them most mornings when she returns from 'work'.

As the area is heavily populated by gangs, your teams have been keeping as low a profile as possible so as to not be mistaken for law enforcement. Though at least you now have some starting points from which to work.

Daniel's ghouls were also investigating Victor Girard though were yet to gather any information of significance.

Player Handouts - Michael Tomassio
Damsel - Brujah
Nines Crew, Den Mother
"Nines is still all hot around the collar about the Free States changing for the worse. He's digging his heels in every time I try to argue that change is what we are about..."
Damsel was surprisingly responsive to your seductive overtones, though required a somewhat more direct approach than you usually use. You have also discovered that she is loud, aggressive, bloodthirsty and very vocal even in her more intimate activities.
Storytellers Note - They have both now consumed vitae from each other on one occasion...I'll be keeping track ;-)
"I've hardly had any time with Marius this week. He went to see Harvey at the docks which is unusual as Harvey usually comes here. I heard him mention to Victoria something about the docks and 'The Rats' turning up there, which is odd because I thought there were always rats at the docks..."
Mariel St. John
"Louis has finally deigned to involve me in his scheme, though only, I imagine, because he needs someone who can outmanoeuvre Dawn Cavanagh who is for some reason doing Isaac's bidding currently. As you no doubt suspected he intends to absorb San Fernando into his domain and needs Issac's approval as his territory is in the middle so he needs to negotiate trade routes. I'm only letting you know as he's trying to find a way of removing the so called 'Brujah Idealists' from the equation and that might be something that you have some ideas about? I'll of course be wanting to take the credit for the idea myself if it's a good one. I'm sure you don't mind..."

Marius Walker - Gangrel
Marius proves elusive to pin down to any kind of meeting and it's difficult to find plausible reasons to interact with his people, though you do get a few moments with Victoria.
"Marius is finding more of his time occupied dealing with his brood of late, I'm afraid. Parenting is not really his forte as you're probably aware..."
"My gangrel have been getting pally with one of Marius's 'Sweepers' during their little border meetings. They seem to think that Marius is slightly insulted that Hank is still using me as a barrier now that the Barony of the Angels doesn't really exist anymore. Honestly, I'm considering just declaring myself independent and dealing with the consequences, or..." "...You know Marius better than I do, do you think I'm better off as part of Downtown watching a Southern border, or part of the Crypt's Sons, looking Northwards? No need to answer straight away. I'm aware that both actions have their downsides..."

Velme - Toreador
Gloria Martinez's Gang
"I had a chance to have a quiet word with Gloria about the current situation with El Hermandad. She is beginning to think that Whittier might be better off looking after it's own interests rather than be treated like a vassal state. She's running a little hot at the moment so I'd advise being very careful if you talk to her about matters of domain..."
Velvet Velour
"All we seem to do is chat lately. I thought you came here to see me. You don't want me to be bored and sad do you?"
You find out nothing of note on this occasion.
Victor Girard
"I've informed Ramirez that I used an outside investigator to look into the matter and that they had discovered Baker's location. I was, of course, obliged to point out that had he been more thorough he could have confirmed his own theory about Covina destroying him rather than need me to do it for him.

Unable to accept the reality that he was simply the victim of a clever power-play of Myranda's that he failed to anticipate he is now convinced that it's all part of a grander conspiracy. I'm afraid he considers your acquaintance Marius to be the prime suspect. In all honesty I've done nothing to dissuade him from the notion. It is a possibility, after all?"

"On a different subject. One of your people, Daniel I believe, has had his ghoul investigator looking into my mortal identity. Backgrounds, business contacts, that sort of thing. Harmless curiosity I'm sure, which is why, as a courtesy to yourself, I've told my own network not to have the mortal killed."

Player Handouts - Mr Hertz
Storytellers Note - Mr Hertz has recently discovered plans and documents that belonged to the missing coterie member 'Roach'. It appears that he had a plan to create a large mall with the addition of a 'mirror' facility underground that would cater to kindred needs. His player had decided to take this plan and run with it...

Roach's 'Mall' plans were ambitious to say the least and you estimate the building would cost about fifty five million dollars to construct, almost double the average price of a normal two story mall. The underground 'kindred' section is however more of a problem as it requires considerable excavation and of course may prompt some questions from those constructing it given some of the more unusual requirements. This latter concern would no doubt require some tactical bribery which makes it difficult to quantify cost exactly.

Even with the criminal operations under your control currently bringing in approximately a million dollars a week this would be a difficult project to implement.

Interlude - The Rats
'The Swarm'
Gangrel Childer, Ghouls and Blood Dolls
Storytellers Note - These events occurred during, and in the aftermath of, the Thin-Blood uprising known as 'The Cross Rebellion'. The coterie have all heard the name 'The Rats' mentioned and had independently expressed an interest in them.

In the wake of the reordering of the Barony of the Angels and lacking allies of note, the gang known as the 'Rats' went to ground at the same time as the Cross Rebellion began it's ill-fated attempt to take L.A for themselves. They had little anyway and no ghouls to support so they simply grabbed their weapons, money and belongings and left before they became forced to accept a baron not of their choosing or were destroyed.

The sewers were no more safe than the surface with running battles between devotees of Jenna Cross and foul zombie-like creatures who seemed to have no concept of personal well-being. Avoiding foes where they could they headed to the docks, on the way there three insane women in rags with patches of skin missing ambushed them.

'The Voiceless Ones' - Believed to be Nosferatu
Sewer Dwelling Diablerists
They appeared from nowhere and two attacked them as the third disappeared along with a single victim. As the gang lacked their enemies knowledge of the sewers they were unable to track them and Richie was lost to them. They were to learn later that these kindred were known as 'The Voiceless Ones' and were apparently notorious diablerists and predators upon other kindred.

When nearly at the docks, they were unexpectedly confronted by a dripping wet, mostly naked kindred with long talons, large eyes, webbed hands and feet and an impressive set of spines, fins and other spikes. He was also covered in blood, entrails and other parts of the five dismembered Caitiff and thinbloods that Jenna Cross had sent to seize the docks. That he had no fear of their group was quite obvious.

"I heard you coming a mile away..." he said in an unusual, gargling voice. "...The kindred who runs this docks charges far more for travel by boat than I imagine you can afford so you wasted a journey. The Blue Blood who runs the other docks isn't much cheaper but he does take boons and service as well as cash..."

Gangrel Mariner
Identity Unknown
With that the strange creature turned down a semi-submerged tunnel and spoke for a final time without even looking back "...if you're interested then follow me, if you're not, don't be here when I come back...". Though on constant alert for treachery, the gang followed as by this point they didn't have anything to lose and it was nearly morning.

The coterie has discovered that The Rats are now working for Harvey Caplan on the quiet but have had no further contact with their unusual guide. They have been given enforcement tasks and the like as their un-lives and clan heritages had prepared them well for such roles.

Harvey had seemingly promised them passage to another city in return for a certain amount of work but they're now quite enjoying having an actual haven, which though basic and communal, provides for all their current needs.

This newly acquired, and more than adequate standard of living, is something novel for these young kindred and so they have asked for this to be made into a permanent arrangement. Harvey is currently debating the risks of taking them on off his own back or whether asking permission from Steve Booth is a safer option. Obviously he resents the need to do the latter but doesn't want to rock the boat now he has the majority of LA's shipping under his control.

Storytellers Note - We then had the inevitable long and detailed discussion about the implications of the information they'd received. This was mainly done in character and there's nothing more relaxing for a storyteller than getting to sit and listen for a couple of hours while the players do all the work themselves. I had to make notes of course...

Scene Two - Weakest Links
Sir Ralph Hamilton - Brujah
'Brujah Idealists' Leader
Though the rumours of yet another rift within the allies of El Hermandad was certainly of interest, it had to be considered a lower priority than the new alliance being created directly to their West. At least this was the coteries current position based upon what they knew.

After careful consideration it was decided to contact the Brujah Idealists for a meeting under some false pretence and then attempt to discover how involved they were in the discussions between the barons. They knew for certain that Ralph Hamilton was involved but had no idea if the other members of the group were equally well informed.

Michael shared several interests in common with Countess Andrea Visconti and Daniel had enjoyed several debates on philosophy with the group while attempting to establish his cover as a Brujah philosopher rather than a Banu Haqim assassin. It was decided that they would take the simple approach and pretend that it was a spur of the moment meeting. Between them they would attempt to draw out what information they could.

Vin, despite being of the same clan as the Idealists had little in common with the philosophers. He did however have much in common with many of the Brujah amongst the gang of Gloria Martinez and had their respect. Albeit some of this respect was based around fear but it existed nonetheless.

El Hermandad and Whittier Baronies
The coterie decided that despite it being lower on the priority list that the El Hermandad situation at least needed monitoring. Vin volunteered to take a trip into Whittier to renew some old acquaintances and see what he could discover.

Though initially lacking in subtlety he had over recent months by necessity gained some basic knowledge of politics and kindred etiquette. This had been via conversations with Mr Hertz who had been assisting him with the financial side of his new responsibilities in the sex trade.

The Nosferatu in his time as a mob accountant had dealt with many violent individuals both mortal and kindred so knew how to pass on knowledge without seeming to be either insulting or patronising. Vin had been a good pupil and Hertz was relatively pleased with the results gained from the time spent.

Storytellers Note - Vin's player had expressed a desire to expand his character and add more dimensions to them. He now has a point in Etiquette, one in Politics, two in Leadership and a Leadership Speciality, The skills were all bought with XP in the usual manner.

Hertz had decided that his presence wasn't needed in what was effectively a social call so had elected to look into two other matters that were important to him.

Hank 'Henrique' Boyd - Brujah
The Crypts Sons Baron
Firstly he needed to spend some time investigating a problem given to him by the Baron of the Crypts Sons, namely that someone was buying up property dangerously close to Crypts Sons bases of operations. Hank thought it unlikely to be a coincidence and Mr Hertz had agreed. The Nosferatu knew that such knowledge might also assist the coterie as it might become necessary to disrupt the Crypts Sons in order to facilitate their own expansions. At the worse it would gain him a useful boon.

Secondly he was no quite keen to move forward Roach's plan to build a shopping mall within Pasadena that also had facilities for kindred. This would certainly be an amazing source of information and the ability to accumulate of boons would also likely be considerable.

He knew from his investigations into their activities that both Fortier and Abrams had construction industry contacts but this seemed like a dangerous option considering that the coterie would probably be attempting to disrupt the activities of both those barons in order to destabilise their upcoming alliance.

His other option was Aegis Construction. He was however, somewhat reluctant to involve any organisation under the control of Marius in this project. Neither Daniel or Michael particularly trusted his motivations at the moment and Mr Hertz respected their judgement. The Nosferatu let out a biologically unnecessary sigh. He hated it when kindred politics got in the way of good business.

With their relative tasks allocated, it was time to act while their was still some of the night remaining...

To be Continued in 'Inevitable Betrayals' (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...

Now that the players have significant networks of contacts, and other backgrounds the first session of each story usually involves a lot of discussion based on the handouts that I distribute. This tends to limit the first session of the story to only two, or at the most three, scenes.

I find that the extra work in creating all these materials is nearly always worthwhile if you have a group that's invested in their characters and the chronicle. The discussions they have often inspire plot-lines that would never have occurred to you and if you make enough notes will also give you a good idea of what areas they're likely to be investigating and which NPC's are going to get a visit.

The only downside is that invariably they'll be most interested in a throwaway character you created on a whim and ignore the twenty plots you had fleshed out. I deal with this in two ways. I either transfer a plot from another NPC or simply file the other plots away and wing it for a bit til you can subtly nudge them towards something you've actually prepared.

Nothing need be wasted. Just change the names and use the plot later ;-)

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, Jesus Ramirez is Javier Bardem, Skelter is Vin Diesel, Gloria Martinez is Ariadne Artiles, Therese and Jeanette Voerman are both Whitney Moore, Evie-Grace Leach is Zoe Saldana, Victor Girard is Bob Hoskins, Damsel is Lina Tvirinum, Marius Walker is Tony Curran, 'The Voiceless Ones' are Andi Leah Powers, Mary Kathryn Bryant and Valerie Sharp, Sir Ralph Hamilton is Pierce Brosnan, and Hank is Michael Clarke Duncan. 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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