Monday, 27 July 2020

Vampire the Masquerade V5 - Solo Session - The Marius Contracts (Part Two)

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
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
Story Eighteen - 'Inevitable Betrayals' - Part OneTwoThreeFour and Five
Solo Session - 'The Marius Contracts' - Part One

The Storyteller
As Everyone Else...
The PC
Dr Daniel Matthews - Banu Haqim - Spymaster and 'Fixer'
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.

Storytellers Note - Daniel's player enjoys the investigative aspect of role-playing so expect a lot of that as I usually indulge that aspect when I run solo sessions for him. His background as an assassin is also difficult to explore in a group setting.

Garrick - Brujah
The current talking point across the kindred of L.A. is that an Emissary for Tara, Baron of San Diego has met his final death during a duel at the fight club of Issac 'Ike' Griffith. Apparently Garrick had been neglecting his assigned tasks to fight at the Brujah only fight club where he had gained a reputation as an effective but ill-disciplined fighter.

It seems that he inexplicably challenged one of the clubs newer members to a battle to destruction and despite warnings of the consequences by club organiser Ike, and attempts to dissuade him by the challenged party, refused to withdraw the challenge. 

His opponent, a well known and respected Brujah philosopher, and 'The Last Round' regular, named Daniel, from the group of domains collectively known as the North-East baronies, seemingly destroyed the impetuous emissary with a single decapitating blow. The Brujah present have been joking that it was a toss-up between who looked the most surprised at the success of the attack, Daniel or Garrick...

Messages to the Barons of the Anarch Free States from Tara have indicated her disappointment at the final death of Garrick, though have also contained her assurances that there will be no retaliatory measures as she is satisfied that his own foolishness was responsible. The identity of Garrick's replacement has apparently yet to be decided upon though there is certainly no shortage of ambitious San Diego kindred who would like the job.

Scene Eight - Vannevar
Marius 'The Fixer' Walker - Gangrel
Baron of Downtown
Having reported his success in the assassination, concealed within a justifiable destruction, to Marius, Daniel has been offered a second, and possibly more dangerous task.

"Excellent. Has that scratched your itch or would you be up for another job?" Daniel indicated that he'd be more than happy to take on another assignment.

"Three kindred have taken over a mountain retreat in the San Gabriel Mountains, near Santa Clarita. They are held up there with half a dozen guards, most of which are going to be ghouls or blood bound mortals. It is my belief that they are a recon party for Vannevar Thomas, Prince of San Francisco who have managed to sneak past the Anarchs of San Jose who are meant to be on the look out for such things, but that is another matter."

Daniel nodded and indicated that Marius should continue.

Vannevar Thomas - Ventrue
Prince of San Francisco
"Understand, I have no personal objections to Vannevar and his ambitions, but a wholesale move by him towards the Free States would be inconvenient for me at this time. The efficient removal of such a team would almost certainly make him reconsider any hasty moves for a while at least. 

The problem is that Vannevar and myself one another and it's possible that he might discern my methods in conjunction with any assault." 

"I do however understand if this is possibly a political avenue you'd rather avoid or that the odds may seem unfavourable and would hold you in no less regard if you wished to back out now. If I am forced to eliminate them personally then I shall do so and deal with the consequences..." "They'll be there for another four days, five at the most so you at least have some preparation time if you'd like to do some recon before making a decision."

"They'll no doubt be well equipped and given their mission will be on the look out for other kindred. As before you may name a reasonable price should you succeed."

"It's going to take a fair bit of planning and you are asking me to take on odds of fifteen to one, so I'd therefore require a major boon in return..." Marius agreed, then offered any assistance he could give as long as it couldn't be traced to himself. "Plans to the building would be a useful start." stated Daniel and was unsurprised when Marius slid a set over to him.

Daniel was, of course, instantly suspicious of Marius's motives and his excuse for involving a third party seemed spurious at best. The Gangrel 'Fixer' had access to some of the most experienced killers in Los Angeles, not to mention a private army and one of the most feared shock and awe weapons in the city in the form of his childe's blood crazed force known as 'The Swarm'. Still, the chance to gain a major boon from Marius was too good an opportunity to pass up, in spite of his misgivings.

Scene Nine - Insider Knowledge
Gangrel Baronies - Under Marius's 'Protection'
Daniel was sure that the initial reconnaissance on which Marius was basing his information would have been done by the Gangrel of either Simi or Santa Clarita. Both these Baron-less domains were under Marius's protection and geographically close to the location of Vannevar's spies. The problem with soliciting their aid was that Marius had hired Daniel for expressly the reason of minimising any connection to himself. 

The other likely candidates for the recon were the three Gangrel sweepers known collectively as 'the Circle' and Daniel had no desire to deal with them at all. The one he had met had been condescending and arrogant with a superiority complex that was almost tangible. He doubted her sisters would be any more amiable.

After rejecting those ideas he decided instead to speak to one of the baronies sweepers Priya and her ghoul Abbigail. Both had worked for the Camarilla before in both recon and assault teams and had even spent time in the service of an Archon, so it was possible that they might be familiar with other teams methods. Fortunately both were quite forthcoming.

Priya - Gangrel and Abbigail - Ghoul of Priya
Priya began. "Patrols will be in pairs at the very least, to minimise the chances of mental abilities being used to effect their minds or cloud their memories." Abbigail then interrupted. "They'll be trained to resist psychic assault anyway if they're valuable ghouls, though a powerful enough kindred will still be able to punch straight through those." As Daniel had no such abilities this wasn't particularly relevant to him, but was worth remembering for future reference.

"What about weaponry?" Was Daniel's next question.

"Depends on the mission. If they expect to have to worry about other kindred they'll go with high calibre, or high cyclic rate, both if they can. If they're operating in public, then handguns, probably suppressed. If however they're out of the way like you say then expect Assault Rifles, SMG's, the works basically." "Body armour for the ghouls, too." added Abbigail. "Close combat weapons will be heavy bladed. No point trying to stop a kindred with a pen knife.

San Francisco by Night
This was pretty much what Daniel was expecting. As he liked to kill with either precise head shots from a distance or quick and deadly blade strikes up close this shouldn't be a problem, unless something went wrong of course. "Did Marius give you any idea of clan?" asked Priya. Daniel had to admit that he hadn't.

"The leader will be Ventrue, for sure." Stated Priya. "Vannevar's a fucking snob, he doesn't think any other clan is capable of taking control of anything." "The other two will be Brujah, more than likely. San Francisco is light on Gangrel and Vannevar doesn't trust them after Xaviar dragged so many of them away from the Camarilla, even less now they're turning to the Anarchs in such high numbers. He's not keen on Nosferatu either. Like I said, a snob..."

Daniel then enquired about who amongst the notable kindred of San Francisco might be likely to assist Prince Vannevar. As Priya spoke, Daniel became more and more surprised at just how few of them seemed to be willing allies of the Prince of San Francisco.

Golden Gate Park - Gangrel Domain
"Mirko Mirkonen is about the most potent Gangrel in San Francisco. He was even offered the position of Archon and turned it down, but he's a berserker, not a scout. He's also one of the main reasons that the Kuei-jin couldn't hold San Francisco when they tried to take it from the Camarilla, so he's not really one to be ordered about."

"He's now the de-facto Primogen of the Gangrel in the city but doesn't use the title as you'd expect. He's been reinforcing his domains with any Gangrel he can smuggle into the city so Vannevar wouldn't want to owe him a favour anyway." She paused briefly and Daniel got the impression that Priya had a certain amount of respect for Mirko and possibly knew him better than she was making out.

She then continued. "Kokopell 'The Kachin' Mana is the Nosferatu Primogen and she's closer to Vannevar's rival Sara Anne Winder so it's unlikely she'd be helpful anyway if she could avoid it. Sara would, as you'd expect, use any request for help as an excuse to undermine the Prince and strengthen her own position. This more or less would limit him to using his own loyal followers."

Mirko Mirkonen, Kokopell 'The Kachin' Mana and Sara Anne Winder

Daniel didn't like to make presumptions, despite the logic behind what he had been told. Vannevar might be a typical Ventrue, but you didn't stay Prince by failing to use what assets you had available. Gangrel made good scouts and if this Ventrue had access to any, he'd certainly use them if he could. Though he did have a feeling that if there were members of Clan Gangrel in the recon team that Marius would have known and mentioned it. Priya interrupted his musing.

"This lot must have come through San Jose and that's tricky, San Jose has experienced trackers and seasoned fighters. Brujah, a few Gangrel and some Nosferatu I think. Means this team has decent skills or a lot of resources. There's also a heavy Tremere presence in San Francisco so you can't rule out sorcerous assistance either. The Tremere Regent, Luna Demian is more interested in research than politics.

"Maybe they skirted the area completely." suggested Abbigail. "Or used the Pony Express? Vannevar certainly has the resources to pay for their services."

Interlude - The Pony Express
The Pony Express was founded by an enterprising group of Ventrue ancillae in response to the Camarilla's abandonment of electronic communications in the aftermath of the Second Inquisition. Recognising the need for a method of coordinating intercity communication across the sect, the group's founder, Elliot Praxton, assembled a group of like-minded Ventrue to found what Praxton deemed, 'The Pony Express.' 

The Express is a system of physical couriers that crisscross the nation using various modes of transportation ranging from muscle cars and unremarkable sedans, to boats, planes, and helicopters. Agents of the express in each city include Kindred and their ghouls who may be permanent fixtures of that domain, or move from city-to-city in a circuit. They operate a dizzying array of blind-letter drops, secret meets, and other anonymous forms of communication that they use to "collect the mail" in each domain. This mail ranges from heavily-encrypted flash drives to old-fashioned physical correspondence.

The Cabbie - Kindred Transporter
Express drivers are culled from the ranks of Gangrel still loyal to the Camarilla and an ever-increasing pool of young Ventrue and other ambitious Kindred. Drivers brave the perils of the open road, handing off their packages to other drivers at pre-arranged drops or occasionally making long-hauls with particularly sensitive information. Anarchs, Lupines, and the Inquisition stand in their way, but they get the mail through, never taking the same route twice, and always covering their tracks. Working 
for the Express is dangerous on the best of nights, but it is vital to the Camarilla’s survival and Praxton pays extremely well. Always the innovator, Praxton also operates a clandestine passenger service for "special" clients. 

Though an independent operator, the kindred known as 'The Cabbie' does deliveries for the Pony Express throughout Los Angeles. It's status as an Anarch domain deprives the organisation of the influence it would normally have in a Camarilla held city, so the cabbie is utilised as he has his own protection in the form of his employer, Marius 'The Fixer' Walker. Marius has also been known to loan out Gangrel under his influence to the pony express on a job by job basis and a number have become permanent employees of the organisation.

Scene Nine - Insider Knowledge (Continued)
"I wont ask why you're so interested." Said Priya. "But be careful. Vannevar has had his eye on L.A. for a while now and the main thing getting in his way was the twelve strong kindred coterie in San Jose. If he's found a reliable way of bypassing that defence then it's only a matter of time before he considers rolling in and declaring Praxis."

Daniel had heard the name of Vannevar but knew very little about him, he also had no information on the kindred of the Baronless domain of San Jose. He decided that he needed to rectify these holes in his knowledge as soon as this job was done as it seemed that both could potentially cause problems for the coterie in the future.

After thanking the pair for their help Daniel returned to his own haven and took stock of his weapon options ready for some recon of his own the following night. Obviously suppressed weapons were a priority and he carefully stripped down, maintained and then reassembled his custom pistols. Then he did the same to both his bull-pup sniper rifle and his M4, before sharpening all his knives to a razor edge. Though his plan for the next night was merely observation he was also prepared in case things went wrong.

Scene Ten - The San Gabriel Mountains
On the slim chance that Vannevar's forces were slipping into the city to feed, Daniel allocated his two ghouls the task of looking into any patterns of missing persons cases that might indicate a feeding pattern.
Keith Chang and Andrew Francis - Ghouls of Daniel Matthews

He loaded up his car with a number of back-up weapons in case he needed a fallback position and then drove as near to his target location as was practical. As his baron had recently obtained a significant chunk of San Fernando as part of his domain, this made a convenient starting point. Daniel recalled enough of his military training to make moving through the wilderness fairly simple and his heightened senses were turned to their maximum on constant alert for danger.

Basic Perimeter Security
As Daniel reached what he believed to be the effect patrol perimeter for the forces he was aware of, he noticed something on the ground. Concealed alongside one of what passed for pathways in the heavily forested area was a trip-wire. It led to a mechanism designed to fire a shotgun shell, presumably to alert whoever set it to potential trespassers, as it was pointed into the air rather than towards the wire. On the lookout for similar devices, the Banu Haqim continued.

A few minutes later he heard activity from ahead. It was difficult to estimate distance but in his opinion they were about a mile away. He altered course to intercept but intended only to observe their path and attempt to ascertain how regular their patrols were. As Priya and her ghoul Abbigail had theorised, they were indeed patrolling in pairs. They were quite openly armed with M4 Carbines, equipped with a variety of military accessories, including night vision and were wearing body armour of a high standard. Daniel also noted that they were armed with heavy bladed combat knives. 

They moved like professionals and were presumably ex-military or former security personnel. Concealed as he was by his own supernatural gifts of Obfuscation the pair were completely unaware that they were being watched as they moved. Interested to see if their route was consistent, Daniel made himself comfortable and waited to see if they returned by the same route. About an hour later they returned the way they had came. 

Making a mental note of both their timing and probable patrol route, the assassin slipped past them and moved closer to the target location.

As he moved he noticed another device designed to indicate intruders. This one was far more sophisticated however. It consisted of an infra-red beam and receiver connected to some form of radio transmitter. This had been far better concealed than the previous item he'd discovered. As he checked for other such devices he heard the approach of a second security patrol. This focus on the second group was unfortunate as he missed a detail that might have been significant.

Storytellers Note - Unfortunately the player utterly failed several rolls that will have consequences in the future. Just so you don't think everything went his way...the previous picture might, perhaps be a clue...

Repeating his earlier observations of the first team, he discovered that this pair were similarity equipped, though had a shorter patrol route. Presumably as they were closer to the mountain retreat that served as their base. Daniel calculated that he would have enough time to circle the retreat itself before he'd need to head back to his vehicle and still have enough time to return to his haven before dawn. 

The Mountain Retreat
The mountain retreat had a single guard by the front door, which seemed to be somewhat lax given the previous precautions taken by the pairs of mercenaries making the patrols. A moment later Daniel observed a sniper on the balcony above the door. He was armed like the others though his weapon seemed to have a different sight. The Bana Haqim's hope for a method of sniping the homes occupants was foiled by the fact that all the windows were shuttered. 

He concluded that he'd need to get as many of the houses occupants outside as possible so he could eliminate as many as possible, hopefully leaving the house lightly defended and relatively unoccupied by targets. As he was musing the possibilities, he noted that someone from inside had opened the front door and was conversing with the guard. Though he couldn't be one hundred percent sure, he suspected that they were kindred. Deciding he'd need another night of reconnaissance to confirm patrol routes, Daniel quietly withdrew, skilfully avoiding both patrols as he did so. 

Scene Eleven - Responses
Daniel was pleased to discover that both patrol routes seemed to be consistent and so he could at least rely on the exterior teams acting in a consistent manner. His concerns now moved to their response times and how vigorously they reacted to a detected threat. With this in mind he concocted a simple but efficient test.

Daniel selected an IR sensor that was positioned between the two patrols and some distance from the house. He also ensured that there was adequate hiding places in clear view of it's location to which he could fall back. He then broke the beam, moved into his previously located lookout position and awaited the response.

Three teams approached the location from different directions, the two patrols and a third group of three, presumably dispatched from the main building. They converged on the target area carefully and at full alert and then instigated a thorough and professional search. Daniel listened intently to see if he could pick up any more information but the conversation was specific to the particular situation with one minor exception. One of the patrol team members was complaining about the sensors being placed too low and therefore were being triggered by none humanoid movement. A moment later he was admonished by one of the three members of the team from the house, presumably the leader.

This tall man who was armed with an SMG and had what looked like a cleaver sheathed at his waist, spoke abruptly. "You know full well that it's not just mortals wandering through the woods that we're on the alert for so the sensors stay where they fucking are. You have a problem with that then speak to Mrs Charles about it..." The hasty apology indicated that this 'Mrs Charles' was evidently not someone to be trifled with.

Fairly satisfied that luring teams to specific locations was simple enough, Daniel followed one of the patrols as it returned to it's normal duties. He learned little new other than that the patrols seemed to report in to their base about every thirty minutes.

With a plan beginning to form in his mind, the Banu Haqim returned to his car to prepare for an assault on these scouts of Vannevar the next night.

Scene Twelve - No Plan Survives...
Creating a device on a timer to trigger one of the infiltrators surveillance devices was relatively simple as his sire had used such things for a variety of purposes and had passed on some of those skills to his childe.

Daniel made a detour to the secret armoury in the sewers beneath Michael's gallery where their more dangerous and illegal weapons and military ordnance were kept. Both Vin and himself were habitual collectors of any useful weaponry that they could salvage from engagements with enemies and had amassed a deadly but admittedly eclectic selection of equipment. Vin had moved some of his own gear to his secure haven beneath the brothel that he ran for the coterie but the explosives and heavier weapons remained. By this point they had racks of shotguns, handguns and cheap copies of assault weaponry acquired from various enemies but anything of note was stored separately and taken particular care of.

The Coteries Secret Armoury
'The Good Stuff'
The Banu Haqim retrieved both the bull-pup 50. cal sniper rifle he'd acquired from Marius's ghoul Yukio and one of the M4's they'd purchased from the arms dealer Mercurio. All his ranged weapons were, of course, suppressed.

He also loaded a bag with a number of claymore mines and grenades that he and the Gangrel Sweeper Hope had retrieved from the Second Inquisition base they had assaulted earlier in the year. 

Storytellers Note - Always bear in mind that any weapon you give to an NPC could easily end up in your players hands, so plan ahead, lol. If they get too cocky just throw an enemy with high level Fortitude at them or an obfuscated one that they don't see coming. The third dot Fortitude power 'Defy Bane' is particularly annoying to any player who loaded up on dragons-breath rounds...

As prepared as possible, Daniel entered the forested and rugged terrain and moved to intercept the first of the two patrols. First blending into the shadows and then cloaking any sound of his passing, the assassin stealthily followed the first team to what he had calculated was the furthest point along their route from their base of operations.

Emerging from the woodland, he drew a suppressed pistol in each hand and neatly put a bullet through the back of each of the men's skulls. After taking a moment to remove both corpses from the path, he quickly concealed the bodies and moved towards the second team, though he took a small amount of blood from each of the dead to replenish the vitae he was using to fuel his supernatural abilities. The second team shared the fate of the first.

With the chance of him being disturbed now greatly reduced, he located one of the sensors that he'd intentionally activated on the previous night and set up his timer. He then booby-trapped the area with claymores and grenades and headed directly to the house to see how many of the guards would be lured away by his deception.

As the timer hit the thirty minute mark, Daniel's improvised device broke the IR beam. Within mere minutes three men emerged from the building and headed into the woods. A loud explosion seemed to indicate that the next stage of his plan had also succeeded.

The guard on the door reached for his radio. Presumably this communication was from someone within the house or, more irritatingly, it could be from a survivor of the explosion. He also noticed that the sniper on the first floor balcony of the house had dropped into a firing position and was scanning the forest.

With the enemy strength now cut almost in half, Daniel waited for a moment before continuing his attack, hoping that more of the team would emerge from the property to investigate.

Scene Thirteen - ...Contact With the Enemy
A kindred in tattered and burnt clothing emerged from the forest at considerable speed, his flesh was undamaged though his mouth and chest were smeared in blood. Daniel could only presume that he had fed on the mangled remains of his mortal guards in order to heal himself.

Anxious to avoid allowing them the protection of the house the Banu Haqim took aim and used his high calibre rifle to shoot the supernaturally fast kindred in the head. At this relatively close range the shell removed their head in a spectacular shower of blood, brains and skull fragments. As Daniel switched his aim towards the sniper on the balcony, he was forced to duck back into cover as the area in which  he was hidden was riddled with automatic weapon fire.

Switching to his M4, Daniel returned fire. Though his accuracy was superb, the snipers cover blunted much of the onslaught and as far as the assassin could see, he had only wounded them superficially. Realising that his current position was now becoming dangerous, he took the risky move of heading towards the main building itself. The branches and leaves between him and his attackers was next to useless against the incoming rifle rounds and Daniel was struck multiple times.

Using precious vitae to heal his wounds, Daniel fired as he moved and was satisfied to see the sniper dive into the cover of the house. Hearing several shuttered windows open and the sound of breaking glass he braced himself for more gunfire a she reached the corner of the building. Deciding that picking the lock on the side door was unnecessary under the circumstances, Daniel ripped it open with a burst of vitae enhanced strength. Unfortunately the buildings defenders had anticipated this move.

The force from several shotgun blast knocked him backwards. Reacting quickly he rolled to one side and threw a grenade into the corridor via the open door. After the detonation, he moved to enter the house. However it seemed that the Banu Haqim weren't the only kindred capable of moving with speed and stealth. A discovery he made as a heavy blade was driven into his back with supernatural strength. Evidently another of the recon teams kindred had decided to enter the fray.

With his reserves of vitae almost exhausted and his hold on his humanity already eroded by his actions over the previous year, Daniel lost his cool for the first time since his sire had betrayed him. Drawing his own sword he grabbed the arm of his attacker and severed it at the elbow before grappling them to the ground in an uncharacteristic display of brute force, over skill. Unable to resist the voice of the beast and falling to the inherent desire to taste the blood of other kindred, Daniel tore out the Brujah's throat and began to drink. Now surrendering completely to the beast, he drained them dry, and then continued to drink until even their soul had been consumed.

Storytellers Note - ...and now I have to read the section on the dice penalties for being Humanity 4...

The realisation of what he had just done was pushed to the back of his mind as he saw an expensive but practically dressed woman emerge from the front door of the house and make a break towards the forest. Presumably this was 'Miss Charles'. the Ventrue leader of the group.

Daniel covered the fifty metres between himself and his prey in a second and drove his sword through their neck, though failed to sever head from body. Using the last of their strength the Ventrue turned around and attempted to make eye-contact with their attacker. Having been neutralised in this way by a previous Ventrue quarry, Daniel was ready for the attempt to dominate his mind though the force of will necessary to resist them was almost beyond him. Now aware that her enemy was able to resist her mind control, she defaulted to more mundane means and drew a gun from within her jacket and shot her assailant in the stomach. 

As the rounds thundered into his body he drew back his arm and began to hack off her head. she ran out of bullets before Daniel ran out of strength and the third blow messily, but successfully decapitated her.

With his primary targets neutralised, the assassin entered the house to hunt down their remaining mortal followers. They didn't last long.

It took Daniel another couple of hours to drag his various victims back to the house and once all were within, started a fire that should destroy as much of the evidence as possible. He then headed back to his car and then to Downtown to report his success and claim his reward.

Victoria - Ghoul of Marius
Psychotic P.A
Victoria stood by Marius's collection of swords, absentmindedly cataloguing which would be the best for skinning some-one alive, when Marius himself entered his office. "You wish to discuss Daniel, I Imagine?" asked Marius. "The assault on Vannevar's people, was incredibly sloppy by his usual standards." observed Victoria, getting straight to the point. "Rushed, one might say, which is unlike him..."

"He's committed the act of Amaranth three times in less than a year. That and his clans natural inclinations are allowing the beast to exert it's influences. The beast is not subtle, it knows only that it wants..." the 'Fixer' paused as Victoria seemed like she had something to add. "It would be unfortunate to lose such an asset to a preventable problem." She stated, knowing that she was taking the conversation in what for another might be considered a dangerous direction.

"My secrets are mine and mine alone." Marius's tone had an edge to it, something that his most loyal assistant was rarely on the receiving end of. "You think I should share them with every kindred who is unable to control their impulses?" Marius exuded an intense predatory aura that he usually concealed through arcane means. The fact that he had allowed it to slip, indicated to Victoria that this was not the time to push this particular conversation.

Yukio - Ghoul of Marius
Enforcer and Assassin
"I was merely suggesting that you might consider it an option in order to preserve a useful and plausibly deniable asset..." said Victoria, sensibly backtracking."...even you yourself have admitted his usefulness." "I'll give it some thought." replied the Gangrel. The ghoul wisely decided it was time to leave.

As Victoria left the room, she found Yukio lurking nearby. She had quite obviously been eavesdropping "You raised the one thing we're not meant to discuss?" Victoria nodded, before replying. "It's one of three things, actually, but yes...I don't like wasting useful tools, especially if  it's preventable with a minimum of effort." She then continued. "But in fact I only hinted, I didn't say the name."

"Why?" asked Yukio, her curiosity getting the better of her.

"Because..." Stated Victoria, as if talking to a particularly stupid child. "...If I'd have mentioned the Children of Osiris, he'd have killed me on the spot..."

To be Continued in 'The MacNeil Protocols' (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...

Well, the player made a complete hash of this one but he survived so I guess that's something. Unusually I'm going to include a player opinion in this bit, just for clarity and to show it's not just me who thought the plan was a bit rubbish, lol.

"I can blame bad dice rolling for my lack of resources at the end but in essence it was an undeveloped strategy. What I should have done, was trap the bodies of the outer patrols and allowed the radio call in to pass. That would have drawn a larger number of reinforcements to the traps. I could have then considered triggering one of the alarms and ambushed survivors  before moving on the house. I should also have taken one of the radios to monitor their communications."

After some discussion with the player we've decided to tie the mess he made of it into a development of his character. A realisation that his humanity is slipping and that he needs to do something about it. So now I have another set of sub-plots to write and integrate... sigh...

Still. I'm all for character development and redemption arcs so we'll see what happens.

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 Dr Matthews is Mads Mikkelsen, Garrick was Bob Sapp, Marius Walker is Tony Curran, Vannevar Thomas is Bryan Dechart, 'Priya' is Gabrielle Union and Abbigail is Jessica Alba, Keith Chang is Daniel Dae Kim, Andrew Francis is Ray Stephenson, Victoria is Lilith May and Yukio is Jamie Chung.

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.

Saturday, 4 July 2020

Vampire the Masquerade V5 - Solo Session - The Marius Contracts (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
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
Story Eighteen - 'Inevitable Betrayals' - Part OneTwoThreeFour and Five

The Storyteller
As Everyone Else...
The PC
Dr Daniel Matthews - Banu Haqim - Spymaster and 'Fixer'
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.

Storytellers Note - Daniel's player enjoys the investigative aspect of role-playing so expect a lot of that as I usually indulge that aspect when I run solo sessions for him. His background as an assassin is also difficult to explore in a group setting.

The coterie is currently keeping a low profile due to the recent chaos that their manipulations have caused across Los Angeles. With Salvador Garcia's representative Ramirez's disappearance or destruction, Gloria Martinez is now Baron of El Hermandad and Victor Girard has been installed as her adviser and right hand.

Jesus Ramirez - Ventrue, Gloria Martinez - Brujah, Victor Girard - Toreador

The Crypts Sons war with the mortal gang The Blood and the vampire hunters using it as cover has resulted in massive casualties on both sides though a preemptive strike by Hank's ally Priss, has allowed The Crypts Sons to claim a victory of sorts. Priss's reward has been a barony of her own, carved from the Northern portion of Baron Boyd's own domain. Though small by the standards of the the other baronies, it is more than adequate for the five survivors of her assault on The Blood.

The coteries long term plan to weaken the Anarch baronies of the Free States, in preparation for a Camarilla takeover is, now well underway. However, many eyes are now looking in their direction... 

Scene One - A Job Offer
Victoria - Ghoul of Marius
Personal Assistant and Psychopath
Your phone rings, it's one of Victoria's numbers.

Daniel answered the phone promptly. On previous occasions he had made her wait but as she had recently become slightly better inclined towards him, he decided not to put that in jeopardy.  The first time he had worked with the coterie he had experienced the dubious honour of watching Marius's most favoured ghoul Victoria, extracting information from one of the Bartholomew families ghoul chauffeurs by systematically skinning him alive. The enjoyment as she was doing so was obvious to even the most jaded of observers. It was also apparent that Marius often enjoyed watching her work.

He had also seen her use disciplines that were be far beyond the abilities of any ghoul he had witnessed before. Michael had discovered that Marius was not her first regnant and the Camarilla file he had obtained from his contact Carmelita Neillson, indicated that she could be as many as eleven hundred years old.

To say that Daniel was afraid of Victoria would be an overstatement. He was, however, wary of getting on the wrong side of her. The fact that Marius Walker, L.A. 'Fixer' and now Baron of Downtown allowed her to wield his power and influence as she pleased was a concern. Daniel had a well established working relationship with Marius but was under no doubt that the Gangrel Baron would sacrifice him without a second thought if it suited his needs. It's likely that in the same situation Victoria wouldn't even think once.

Hallowbrook Apartments - Downtown
"Marius would like to see you, as soon as possible. He has a small task he'd like to discuss with you." Daniel replied that he'd be right over. "We'll be at Hallowbrook, I'll meet you in the lobby..." She then hung up abruptly. Politeness wasn't one of her strong-points.

Hallowbrook was a large and quite old building in Downtown owned by Aegis Acquisitions. Aegis was the legitimate business arm of Marius's various business ventures and now owned much of Downtown Los Angeles as well as other businesses around the city. Though neither as tall nor modern as Venture Tower, which was also owned by Aegis, it was significantly more solidly constructed. Marius had once told Daniel that basing himself in Venture Tower would be tantamount to drawing a giant target on his back and that he had no intention of making the same mistake as Sebastian LaCroix had done during his brief stint as Prince of the city. Rumours that Marius had facilitated Smiling Jack's destruction of LaCroix were unsubstantiated, but widely believed by both the Anarchs and the Camarilla.

After parking in the private area of the car-park beneath, Daniel made his way to the lobby where Victoria was waiting. The lower floors of Hallowbrook held both residential and office space though the security was significantly tighter than would normally be expected in such places. Surveillance cameras covered every angle, and all foot traffic was logged both in and out by alert and observant security personnel.

Hallowbrook Apartments - Security Precautions
You navigate your way through the security checkpoints in the lobby of Marius's Hallowbrook Apartments, and then the second layer of security that separates the lower levels from those relating to Marius's Aegis Acquisitions offices. There is then a third layer consisting of Marius's own security teams below the apartments of his most loyal followers and his own penthouse.

You note that there now seems to no longer be a direct elevator bypassing the middle two security layers. As you pass through an increasingly sophisticated set of surveillance systems, metal detectors and other scanners you are quite happy that Victoria is there, informing the heavily armed and armoured guards to allow you to pass without checks.

"Marius had all the security protocols re-implemented for everyone after the other Barons insisted he take the title himself." Victoria explains. "The fact that everyone believes he ordered his childe's assault on Ramirez is also a factor, of course."

Tilly Kelly - Gangrel
'Mistress of the Swarm'
"Was he responsible?" asked Daniel, casually. Not really expecting a response. "Not entirely..." replied Victoria. "...he was certainly prepared for the eventuality but Tilly preempted his desires in the matter. Ramirez apparently learned much from his freedom fighter mentor Garcia and managed to avoid the horde. If Marius had really wished Ramirez destroyed, he'd be ash now." Daniel wasn't sure he believed any of that but kept his opinions to himself.

Given his profession, Daniel took a particular interest in the security measures in place and noted that every state of the art system currently available was in place somewhere. He also noted that some of the security cameras were very similar to the Chaoscopes and XScopes he'd witnessed in use by the Second Inquisition. Presumable these, or the plans for them, had been acquired when the Mistress of the Swarm and her ragtag army had completed the utter destruction of the L.A. Second Inquisitions operation. The assault had been begun by Daniel and his allies and completed by the swarm as the coterie wisely withdrew and left them to do their thing.

Marius's Famulus
Storytellers Note - The full story of that encounter is in Scene Nine of this Story HERE.

Marius is waiting for you in his roof garden and is alone apart from his overlarge hound which is curled up by the altar like platform in the centre chewing on a large bone. Victoria, leaves you almost immediately without introducing you. After a moment he turns and indicates you should take a seat on one of the stone benches. "I have two jobs that require, expert attention but that I need to remain completely unconnected with. The first is somewhat time sensitive are you're interested?"

Daniel was momentarily distracted when he realised that the dogs chew-toy was in fact a human femur, so paused slightly before replying. "What's the job?"

"You are aware that the Crypts Sons have a 'fight club' that they use both for amusement and resolving disputes?" Daniel confirmed that he had heard it mentioned.

"Brujah from other baronies and occasionally even other domains sometimes use it to test themselves, to elevate their status or just because they're Brujah and that's what they do." "A member of Tara's inner circle named Garrick is in the city for a week or so and is a regular attendee of these matches. I'd like him destroyed, but I need it to be an unfortunate accident, not an outright assassination. However I have no Brujah in my employ who would be willing to kill him 'in the ring' so to speak. In short I want you to infiltrate their little club, lure out this individual and find a permanent solution for me as the majority of the kindred within the city believe you to be of Clan Brujah you are uniquely positioned to do so.."

Yukio Hayashi - Ghoul of Marius
Assassin and Enforcer
"Consider it done." Replied Daniel. "Do you have any other information that may be of use?"

"Several of the Brujah who frequent The Last Round are members of the club and so you should be able to get an introduction, after that I leave the methodology to yourself though you'll no doubt have to engage in some of the clubs more mundane activities before you get a shot at him. Death matches do occur as does some kindred duelling so a final death is not without precedent."

"Your price?" asked Marius.

Daniel told Marius that his required fee would be personal training in the arts of swordplay by the Fixers ghoul assassin Yukio. Daniel knew that Yukio had at least two centuries of experience and her tutoring should be sufficient to elevate his own skills to new heights.

Storytellers Note - Daniel's player wanted Melee 5 but I have a policy of only allowing fives in Skills if the players do something exceptional to warrant that level of ability. Apparently this was the players solution to that problem. It seemed more than reasonable to me under the circumstances.

"Done." agreed Marius.

Scene Two - The Last Round
Dr Daniel Matthews - Banu Haqim
Claims to be of Clan Brujah
Daniel returned to his haven and dressed down a little in order to better blend in with the residents of the places he intended to visit. With that in mind he changed his suit for a more casual looking leather jacket, shirt and jeans before working out what he was going to do first.

Storytellers Note - Daniel, though of the Banu Haqim Clan, has convinced the majority of the cities kindred that he is actually of Clan Brujah.

He decided that he'd first visit the Last Round to see if he could get himself some information on the club as well as trying to obtain an invite. He would then see what his Nosferatu friend Alonzo knew about Garrick, the fight club and those who attended it. Though he was strictly apolitical, Alonzo had eyes and ears everywhere in L.A. Finally he'd locate Vin and see what he knew about the place. The hulking Brujah kept in touch with members of his clan from many baronies. It was also likely that he had attended the place himself or knew kindred that did.

With that decided he switched his weapons for some more easily concealed versions. Several of the credit cards in his wallet were actually bladed weapons as was his belt buckle. His karambit knives were concealed within his jacket as were his custom handguns. He also had a folding, double barrelled .380 calibre handgun that had the same silhouette as a mobile phone, tucked into one of his pockets. The latter weapon was illegal in many states but then again so was most of the coteries gear. Daniel was a great believer in being prepared at all times.

Daniel threw the rest of the gear into the various concealed compartments in the back of his covertly armed car and drove to Downtown.

The usual suspects are milling around though a few of the regulars are absent, possibly casualties of the recent troubles in El Hermandad or the Crypts Sons war against The Blood. Your friend and occasional sparring partner Leo Frost is deep in conversation with another regular, a blonde, athletically built Nordic woman you know as Margaret though the Brujah closer to her call her Maikki.

Leo Frost - El Hermandad, Brujah
The Last Round Regular
Daniel rarely spoke to Maikki but he had noted that she was more than capable of handling herself in both debate and a rumble, he had also observed that she was also a quite talented arm wrestler. Daniel then used his supernatural sensory abilities and eavesdropped on a number of the bars conversations before approaching Leo. 

The majority of the talk was somewhat predictably about The Crypts Sons war with The Blood and the changes within El Hermandad. A few others were debating just how big a part Marius had played in El Hermandad's troubles.

The purveying opinion was that Marius's childer rarely acted without some input from him and also that Ramirez had been pushing his luck for weeks anyway as he'd more or less blamed Marius for every recent trouble the barony had. It had only been a matter of time before the Gangrel would have been forced to act or appear weak in front of the other Barons. Whether the swarms mistress had acted at her sires behest or of her own volition was the only real debate though most thought that if Marius had been directly involved then Ramirez wouldn't have had any chance of survival.

The Barony of the Angels
Now the Barony of Downtown
Leo and Maikki are deep in a debate about the reasons for the troubles throughout the Free States. Maikki is insistent that the dissolution of the Barony of the Angels is at the core of the problem. As far as she is concerned the fact that there is no longer a neutral place within L.A. for those who have no wish to pledge themselves to a Baron, is the cause of the tensions. Leo however is of the opinion that things have simply come to a head and that open warfare was inevitable whether the Barony of the Angels existed or not. As Leo notices Daniel, he beckons him over and turns to his verbal sparring partner. "Daniel knows his shit, maybe he has another opinion?"

Few were aware that it was his Baron's manipulations, along with the ambitions of the Crypts Sons Baron Hank, that were directly responsible for the break-up of the Barony of the Angels. With this in mind Daniel decided to side with Leo but to be fairly diplomatic about it so as to minimise the chances of offending Maikki. He pointed out that not all the Barons in L.A. exerted total control over their kindred population so there were still places one could go without necessarily pledging yourself to one leaders agenda. He spoke of his own Baron was one such kindred, he also mentioned Gloria Martinez and Steve Booth as others with a flexible attitude so as not to seem biased.

'Maikki' - Anaheim, Brujah
The Last Round Regular
Maikki agreed on principle that there were alternatives but was still unconvinced that this was an adequate alternative. Enjoying the debate both as a mental exercise and to reinforce his identity as a somewhat philosophical Brujah, Daniel continued. Moving now to broader philosophical points he bought the conversation around to ancient Carthage as an example of an enlightened system that fell to violence despite the freedom that a relaxed masquerade had allowed it's kindred populace. Maikki conceded the point but still wasn't one hundred percent convinced.

Storytellers Note - I have unfortunately had to become an expert on Carthage in order to keep up with Daniels player dropping it into in game conversations...all...the...time...

Attempting to steer the conversation to the Brujah 'Fight Club', Daniel also spoke about challenges both mental and physical being necessary for kindred of their clan to truly develop. This allowed him to neatly segue into his interest in testing himself physically as well as philosophically. Fortunately, Leo took the bait and soon Daniel had learned that there was a meeting soon and that Leo himself often went, though mainly as a spectator. Feeling that he'd done enough to make the request seem organic rather than forced he asked if he could see it for himself.

"Sure, you best come with me though..." said Leo "..Next meeting is tomorrow night. First visit you have to fight someone though, just so you know..."

Daniel agreed that this would be fine, made some small talk and then departed to speak to Alonzo.

Scene Three - The Hollywood Warrens
The Hollywood Warrens
The ancient warrens are much as you remember them with a few exceptions.

The haphazardly acquired and fitted security cameras installed previously have been replaced by standard models that match those official versions used to monitor the public areas of the underground. As well as these cosmetic changes, several of the previously empty lower areas are now flooded along with some of the previously dried out waterways you were once able to navigate.

The ancient network of traps that previously guarded the approach to Alonzo's inner sanctum has at some point in the recent past been removed and the area has been dug out. The room is now a large tank-like reservoir with a narrow walkway across the centre. The double doors on the opposite side have been replaced with those that you remember, once graced the vault of the long destroyed Nosferatu known as Dexter whose archive of knowledge you helped Alonzo discover over a year ago. 

'Eula' - Alonzo's Guardian
The water rippled seemingly randomly indicating movement beneath. Daniel had no fear of Alonzo's monstrous pet 'Eula' which was certainly lurking somewhere underwater as it had come to recognise him as an authorised guest of her master.

Alonzo's home had also undergone some minor cosmetic alterations. The cages containing his small army of rats had been moved into a large opened out side room and as before contained a wide variety of creatures ranging from normal looking yet oversized rats, to those with extra limbs, parts of other creatures and several that are closer in scale to wolves.

Their cages are all open and the rats are coming and going as they please through various sized pipes and tubes surrounding their lairs. Where the cages once were there are now many rows of shelves containing files, books and paperwork, no doubt extracted from Dexter's vaults.

"Greetings, young one." said Alonzo from the other side of his haven's main room. "What knowledge do you seek this evening?"

Knowing that Alonzo wouldn't be offended if he got straight to the point, Daniel mentioned the Brujah fight club immediately. "Do you suddenly have an interest in pugilism?" asked the Nosferatu elder. "We all need our outlets and hobbies." replied Daniel, somewhat vaguely.

Alonzo - Nosferatu
Ancient Hollywood Warrens
Alonzo told Daniel that many of the cities Brujah used the club to prove themselves, though others fought rarely, preferring to spend their time wagering on the outcomes. He also confirmed that Brujah from other cities sometimes also fought if they passed through the Anarch Free States, even emissaries from the Camarilla had been known to try their hand, albeit covertly. "Is all this ran by Hank and the Crypts Sons?" asked Daniel. The Nosferatu shook his head. "The name 'Fight Club' only came into use very recently, but the club itself has existed far longer than the cultural reference by which it is currently known. The Brujah who both created it originally and often runs the L.A. operation is known as simply as 'Ike'. You realise that the club is for Brujah only?"

Daniel told the Nosferatu elder that this was of course fine as he was most definitely of Clan Brujah. Alonzo, who knew full well that he was not gave the Banu Haqim one of his rare smiles. "Of course, it's easy to forget such details when one spends as much time underground as myself..."

It occurred to Daniel that claiming one was travelling to the club could be an excellent way of sneaking into the city should someone wish to do so. He made a mental note to look into that possibility once he was done with Marius's jobs. Realising that Alonzo was waiting for him to speak, he pushed that particular worry to the back of his mind and asked his next question. "Have you heard of a Brujah from San Diego called Garrick?"

Tara - Brujah
Baron of San Diego
According to Alonzo, Garrick had once been in control of a significant number of the kindred of San Diego but was still out-manned and out-gunned by Tara who controlled the other three-quarters of the cities vampire population. He had therefore joined forces with her in return for the role of her chief enforcer and was now Sheriff of San Diego in all but name. He was currently in the city as an emissary for Tara and was supposedly meeting with several of the Anarch Barons on her behalf.

Alonzo was sure that Garrick had visited Hank and had been seen heading in the direction of the Barony of Steve Booth, but Alonzo couldn't confirm that he'd actually met with him. This surprised Daniel as the Nosferatu had vermin eyes and ears all over the city which meant that he usually had a firm grasp of the movements of any kindred or mortal in which he had an interest. "Was there a problem?" asked Daniel.

Alonzo explained that many of the creatures he sent to the South Coast, either returned having seen nothing or didn't return at all. "Unfortunately..." said Alonzo, almost apologetically. "...I'm not the only being in the city capable of exerting control over creatures." Daniel's thoughts immediately leapt to the three creatures known as 'The Voiceless Ones' that were rumoured to be wandering beneath what used to be the domain of David Geduld. 

Before he left, he asked if there was anything that he could do for Alonzo in return, but his offer was politely declined. Alonzo intercepted Daniel just as he was heading towards the door. "I almost forgot. I've been advised against using the telephone system for communication purposes due to the unfortunate recent incursion of this Second Inquisition. I have therefore gone back to my original system." He then indicated a sleek rat scampering past with a small backpack attached to it via a harness. "So pleased don't be alarmed if you see one of those near you or one with a cylinder of some kind. It will simply be relaying a message to yourself from me."

Daniel could see that Alonzo was much happier using this method than he had been with a technological alternative. As he made his way through the vault doors and prepared to head back to Pasadena he noticed a ripple in the water. A moment later a long tentacle appeared from the water and undulated strangely. It was a moment before Daniel realised that Alonzo's monstrous guardian 'Eula' was apparently waving goodbye.

Scene Four - Vin's Place
Vin's 'Gentlemens Club'
Storytellers Note - As this was a solo session, Vin's player obviously wasn't available so he became an SPC temporarily. To be honest it genuinely hadn't occurred to me that Daniel's player would want to talk to him.

On his way back to his own Haven in Pasadena, Daniel contacted Vin about a meeting. Vin was currently at one of the Brothels that he ran for the coterie so a meet-up was easy enough to arrange, especially as he had secure havens beneath all of them.

Vin spent most of his time at the higher class of his three establishments as this one had a large basement and therefore housed his largest and most secure haven. From the outside the brothel had all the appearance of an exclusive gentlemen's club. It was also the one at which his ghoul Sarah was based. Daniel waved his membership card at the doorman who recognised him but who had asked to look at the card anyway because "Vin gets pissed if we don't check every-time..." Daniel nodded his understanding as a pissed off Vin was something no-one really wanted to have to deal with.

In the outer lobby, an attractive young woman was behind a desk making note of those guests with appointments and particular 'needs' and greeted Daniel as he entered. "He's expecting you, take the back stairway and you'll find his office at the top of the stairs..." Daniel raised an eyebrow at the thought of Vin having an office. Apparently his surprise was evident. "Well, actually it's more Sarah's office than Vin's but that's where he is anyway."

Sarah - Ghoul of Vincent 'Vin' Ghast
Though in a profession notorious for exploitation and abuse, sex workers in Vin's establishments were treated well, relatively speaking. The percentage of their earnings they received was reasonably high and any abuse by clients invariably resulted in a violent beating from one of the security men, or if they were really unlucky from Vin himself.

Even the street girls had a certain level of safety due to the brutal deaths inflicted on several violent customers over the last year, rumours of which had spread quickly. Vin saw himself as somewhat of a guardian to the downtrodden, which included the homeless who acted as his eyes and ears on the street in return for a measure of protection. He also had a habit of murdering pimps on general principle and because of the inherent dangers of competing with the hulking Brujah, the coterie now had a near monopoly on the sex-trade within Pasadena and it's neighbouring barony of Glendale.

Vin was sitting on a chair in the corner of the office with his feet up on a table, while Sarah was behind the desk running the actual financial considerations of the business itself. "Please tell me you're here to tell me we have to go and kill something..." said Vin. "Unfortunately not." replied Daniel. Vin's disappointment was tangible.

Vincent 'Vin Ghast - Brujah'Constable' of the North East
It turned out that Vin was more than familiar with the fight club and had intended it on and off for about a year, though he admitted that he often had trouble finding willing opponents. Daniel indicated that he was going there with one of the Brujah from the Last Round named Leo and would appreciate any useful information that Vin might be willing to provide. Vin knew Leo and described him as "An okay scrapper..." though he was somewhat scornful that he tended to spend "More time betting on the fights than getting involved in them.." As this was the second time he'd heard about gambling at the club he asked Vin to elaborate. "Fighters can make bets between them on the outcome if they like, boons, cash, whatever they want. The crowd often do as well if it's a good match-up." Daniel then asked about how the club was organised and if there was anyone he needed to watch out for.

"Ike runs it though he isn't always there, has a couple of his own guys who do security called 'Row' and 'Rusty'. They make sure the few rules are kept to and Ike matches up any newcomers with their first opponent. He's got a good eye for talent so the first fights are usually pretty even." As Vin hadn't mentioned the name Garrick, Daniel prompted him for any useful information.

"Was there a few nights ago." said Vin. "Big bastard, I didn't speak to him, he wandered around like he owned the place til Ike told him to chill." Reasonably sure that Vin had shared all he knew, Daniel got up to leave though he asked if Vin wanted to come with him tomorrow evening first. Unfortunately Vin "Had some shit to do..." He did offer Daniel access to his own herd if he needed to feed before he left but he declined as he wasn't currently in need of sustenance. 

Storytellers Note - Sometimes players get lucky with their rouse tests and go a few nights without needing to feed. However if they make it three nights in a row I usually make them feed anyway as in my opinion the beast within doesn't give a fuck how good your dice roll's

Scene Five - The Fight Club
Daniel's Browning Hi-Power
Converted to Full-Auto
Daniel concealed several knives around his person just in case and slipped his converted browning high-power in to a shoulder holster under his jacket.

Most of the younger kindred gang members in the city carried firearms to give them an edge against older but more traditional members of their kind. He assumed this wouldn't cause as much attention but was somewhat less of a statement than the suppressed firearms he normally carried.

He had offered to drive both him and Leo to the meeting. Though this seemed like an act of generosity on his part, it was actually to ensure that he could take his armoury with him that was concealed within the vehicle. As he drove, Leo chatted to him about the club though some of what he was saying was incorrect based on Daniel's own enquiries.

"They move about but this is the venue for tonight. It's just a big warehouse but one of the members has an arrangement with the security company. He slips them some cash and they stay out of our way for the night. The guards are off limits by the way."

"Ike, The guy who started the thing might be there tonight, he's not always though. If he's about I'll point him out." "So, Isaac...'Ike', formed the club in ninety-nine after seeing the film of the same name but I guess you'd worked that out."  Daniel had it from reliable sources that Ike had ran a club like it for years before that date but didn't correct his friend.

There are six cars, three motorbikes and an ex-military Humvee parked outside the warehouse. The only figures you can currently see are standing either side of a shuttered loading bay door that is currently closed. Both men are tall, and heavily built wearing leather jackets, jeans and t-shirts. One has a handgun tucked into his waistband, the larger of the pair appears to be unarmed. As you approach, the armed man greets Leo. "New recruit? It's a good job they don't enforce the 'don't talk about it' thing or Ike would kick your ass." The larger man smiled the smile of someone who had heard the same joke a hundred times.

Russell 'Rusty' Holman - Brujah
Brujah Fight Club
Leo introduces you to the two guards. The larger of the two he calls 'Rusty', the armed man he calls 'Row'. "These two make sure there's no trouble, though they're happy to give you a fight if they think you might be worth their time." He then leans in and in a quieter voice says "If they're both here then Ike's here."

Daniel opened his jacket and revealed his handgun before removing it carefully and showing it to the guard. "I thought I should mention this..." said Daniel. Row told him he could keep it as long as it stayed in the holster. Daniel noted that the Brujah's own weapon was a 10mm Glock 20, an old and somewhat heavy pistol. This one had an extended magazine holding twenty, rather than the normal fifteen rounds, a wise precaution when potentially trying to put down a kindred troublemaker. Daniel was a fan of the stopping power of  10mm pistol though preferred his own Colts. He then returned his own gun into it's holster and made a point of fastening the securing clip that he normally left open.

Daniel was particularly interested in the owner of the Humvee figuring that it either belonged to Ike or hopefully Garrick.

There are about fifteen kindred in the warehouse, a number of which you recognise. Some are Crypts Sons, a few more are from Steve Booth's barony, and there are a few who you vaguely recognise from the Rants but to whom you've never been introduced. The only notable attendee is Therese Voermans sweeper, 'Lex' who judging from the blood stains on his clothes has already fought at least once.

Henrique 'Hank' Boyd - Brujah
Baron of The Crypts Sons
Daniel decided to observe for a while and turned his supernatural senses to maximum as he eavesdropped on the conversations going on around him. The conversations mirrored those he'd heard in The Last Round as it seemed that the average L.A. Brujah had the same concerns. Many of those present were obviously Crypts Sons as several spoke of friends lost in the recent conflict with The Blood. Daniel got the distinct impression that Hank had lost far more people than he was admitting to. His attention was then drawn to a fight that had just begun.

A red square approximately twenty feet to a side has been drawn roughly on the floor in red spray paint. Within it a a slightly built woman is fighting a much larger, but slightly overweight looking man. As you watch the woman ducks a powerful haymaker punch and counters with a shot to the attackers floating ribs, the sound of splintering bone indicates the success and power of the blow. 

As he makes a grab for her with the other arm, she almost casually grabs his hand and viciously pulls his fingers in opposite directions before darting back. Apparently having had enough the large man bends down and taps on the ground with his good hand. "Looks like I owe you a boon, little rat." He says as he forces vitae to his arm and side, to repair his injuries.

Leo taps you on the shoulder. "The girl is 'Kaya', one of The Rats gang from the docks, the guy is one of Steve's lot, I forget his name. Betting between fighters is fine as is betting on the fights, if you tap out then it's over...unless...well...unless, other terms have been arranged." He doesn't elaborate. "She looks like she can handle herself." observed Daniel

'Kaya' Grant - Brujah
'The Rats' - South Coast Barony
Leo seemed to have his own ideas about why she had recently started appearing at the club which he decided to share with Daniel. "I think she's attempting to make a name for herself as she obviously believes that Harvey is going to be a big name in the city one day and fancies a higher status job on the back of it." Daniel agreed that as he now had both of the cities main docks under his control that he definitely had the potential to expand, though he did seem at least nominally loyal to his Baron, Steve Booth. "I guess." said Leo, before continuing. "The fight club was suggested to her as a good way of gaining a reputation quickly. She's strong and fast, can handle some weapons too, but can't take much punishment. She's worth a bet in a short fight, but her odds go way down in a protracted battle."

Daniel wandered about a bit more and struck up a few short conversations. It became obvious to him that newcomers were taken very little notice of until they proved themselves. he still picked up a bit more information though.

He learned that Garrick had fought a couple of days ago and beat some Brujah into torpor, which got him a warning from Ike. He's apparently meant to be coming back tomorrow evening as he's apparently "Has got some meeting for Tara to go to tonight..."

Steve Booth: Brujah, Southern Baron - Hector O'Neill: Gangrel, Census Taker

He is also, according to one of Steve's kindred, currently the 'sheriff' of San Diego in all but name and is both a bully and a braggart. Tara has sent him to L.A. as an emissary to meet some of the Barons, but he's been spending a lot of spare time at the club "Trying to show every fucker how tough he is..." as one Crypts Sons Brujah puts it. Another of Steve's gang drops into conversation that Steve Booth didn't think much of him and that "It was a good job he was an emissary as Hector, really wanted to gut him after he made a crack about Steve having Gangrel 'pets'..."

Isaac 'Ike' Griffith - Brujah
Brujah Fight Club Organiser
Leo leaves a group he's chatting with and walks over to you. "Ike will be out in a sec, he'll match you with someone else new or he'll guesstimate your ability and pick someone at random."

Ike is a muscular, bald headed man, about 5'10" in height, wearing loose casual clothing. He has the upright stance of a military man but despite that seems quite relaxed. When he speaks his accent is English. "Looks like we have two newcomers tonight, which makes things easy." he reaches into his pocket and produces a notebook held open at a particular page by an elastic band. Presumably used to keep a record of whose who. "Daniel and...Maxim? step up and let's see what you've got." He then laid out some of the clubs rules. "First to tap out loses, no bets between fighters first time out, no weapons first fight either whether you want to or not, any physical disciplines are allowed, nothing that effects the mind though. You break the rules and you're out of the club permanently and any boons owed to you by any club members are void. If any of those rules are a problem, fuck off now and don't come back..."

"Seems reasonable to me." said Daniel as he walked towards the ring. Several tables were lined up to one side and a number of weapons were lying haphazardly across it, left there by fighters before their matches. Daniel placed his handgun on the table, but offered his jacket to Leo who slung it over one arm and found a good position from which to watch the upcoming engagement. 'Maxim' entered the ring a few moments later. He appeared to be in his twenties and tied his hair back in a pony tail as he entered the ring, before he then dropped into a classic boxers stance. Daniel wasn't a big boxing fan so couldn't discern whether he was any good or not.

'Maxim' - Brujah
South Coast Barony
Storytellers Note - Or more accurately got zero successes when he tried to work out if he was any good...

Daniel started off carefully, sparring a little and trying to gauge his opponents skill. This proved to be a poor strategy as a vitae enhanced punch caught him in the gut with some force. Deciding that a direct approach was going to be needed, Daniel feinted a punch and then moved in close, trapping Maxim's arm, pulled him down and then kneed him in the ribs, breaking several. As Maxim tried to pull away Daniel drove his leg downward towards his trapped enemies knee, breaking it with a sickening crack, before dropping him to the ground and stepping back. Daniel thought that giving his opponent a chance to recover would be more in character with the 'warrior philosopher' image he'd tried to craft with the Brujah of L.A.

Evidently having had enough, Maxim reluctantly tapped the ground several times before trying to get up on his one good leg. Daniel walked over and offered him his hand, and helped him into a standing position as several of Maxim's friends approached. One of them gave Daniel a nod of acknowledgement before taking Maxim under one arm and helping him from the ring. Maxim then skulks off into a corner where he is commiserated by several of Steve's guys.

Leo approaches you, seemingly quite pleased with himself and is carrying a wad of cash he wasn't in possession of when you arrived, it seems that he bet on you to win.

You notice that Rusty, one of the two guards, was watching the fight. Leo is as loquacious as ever "Apparently some representative of Tara's is gonna be here tomorrow night, Garrick? something like that, beat some Brujah into torpor a few days ago, big bastard apparently...doubt I'll get very good odds on him though, not like I just got on you..."

"I think that'll do for tonight." said Daniel. "You want a lift back?" Before leaving Leo said goodbye to a few slightly disgruntled looking Brujah whom he'd no doubt just made a fair bit of cash out of. Daniel used the time to walk over to Ike and thank him for the match-up. As Rusty moved to intercept, Ike indicated that it wasn't necessary, with a barely noticeable movement of the head. Daniel noticed the gesture and surmised that these three had been associated for a long time. Ike wasn't very talkative though he politely accepted Daniel's thanks. Deciding not to push his luck he left with Leo.

Scene Six - 'Lex'
'The Brujah Fight Club'
With his mandatory fight out of the way, Daniel hoped that he'd be able to do a bit more digging on Garrick this time. He picked up Leo as before and headed to the warehouse that was the clubs current location. "It'll probably move tomorrow night..." surmised Leo, "...then probably disappear for a few days. If Ike and both his guys are unavailable, then they sometimes let some-one else run it, but not often."

As before, Ike's security were in place outside the warehouse and a variety of vehicles were parked alongside. The distinctive Humvee that Daniel was now fairly sure belonged to Ike was there but he could see no other vehicles of particular status so doubted that Garrick was here. Hoping this wouldn't be a wasted evening, he entered regardless. As he once again listened in for rumours, he noticed Vin arrive. He wasn't there long before he was approached by one of the other Brujah. "How about a re-match? I reckon you got lucky last time..."

Vincent 'Vin' Ghast - Finishing Blow
As you watch, Vin tosses his jacket on one of the tables, followed by his two-handed blade and it's harness that he habitually wears across his back. This is quickly followed by several large combat knives and a Sig Sauer p320 handgun. You catch a conversation between two of the Brujah who had observed the challenge. "
I bet you five hundred bucks and a minor boon that this is another one hit finish." The other disagrees. "Nah, he must have learned to duck by now, I reckon it'll take at least three..."

Vin doesn't seem particularly interested in the fight and doesn't even reply to the challenge. He simply puts his gear on the table, steps into the ring and waits. As soon as his opponent raises his guard, Vin advances and then with a karate style stepping punch shatters the challengers blocking arms and jaw with one blow. A second punch is all it takes to finish the fight. "Looks like I got lucky again.." says Vin as he leaves the ring without looking back and walks over to you. "Didn't think that hand to hand was really your scene? Thought you were more of a knife man?"

Daniel agreed that his talents lay in that area but that he liked to challenge himself every now and again. Unbeknownst to Daniel, one of Therese's sweepers, 'Lex' had been listening to his conversation and interjected. "Just how good do you think you are with those things?" asked Lex. Daniel was pretty sure that a challenge was incoming so he preempted it. "Why? Would you like a demonstration?"

Though fights with weapons weren't exactly rare, they were uncommon enough to provoke a certain level of interest amongst the other fighters and so quite a crowd had gathered. Daniel drew both his blades and twirled them around his fingers casually as Lex entered the ring. Lex's weapon of choice was a large trench knife, a weapon that Daniel was familiar with as his own sire had particularly favoured them. Noting that his opponent only had a single blade, Daniel returned one of his to it's sheaf. 'Lex' seemed surprised at the gesture and Daniel promptly took advantage.

Covering the distance between himself and his opponent in an instant, Daniel ducked beneath his guard and sliced him across the ribs. As Lex moved sideways to create some distance, Daniel cut through his wrist, slicing dead tendons and muscle causing the blade to drop to the ground.

Alexander 'Lex' Durham - Brujah
'Scourge' for the Baron of Santa Monica
Daniel aimed a kick at his opponents chest to try and push him away from the blade upon the ground but the attack was dodged. A thundering back-handed blow from Lex caused only superficial damage but still caused him to stagger backwards. As the wounded Brujah moved to retrieve the heavy blade from the floor, Daniel stabbed him in the side and back. Lex retrieved his weapon with a somewhat unnecessary combat roll and began to heal his wounds as he gave Daniel a nod of respect.

Lex's approach was more wary this time having learned that his opponent had more skill than he had given him credit for. He feinted several times, drawing Daniel's guard up then drove his blade deep into the Banu Haqim's stomach. A potentially fatal blow for a mortal, though unpleasant even for a kindred.

As Lex attempted to repeat the blow, Daniel grabbed his wrist only to find that his opponent had done the same to his own hand as he attempted a downward strike. Locked together as they were, and with his options limited he promptly drove his forehead into Lex's nose. Laughing as he did, the Brujah returned the favour just before Daniel broke free from his grip. Moving with supernatural speed he attempted to reengage, but this time Lex was expecting him and cut him viciously twice across the chest.

'Brujah Fight Club' Crowd
The fight had now attracted the attention of all the club members including Ike and his guards. Therese's Scourge had a considerable reputation for violence in the city and so watching him matched move for move by this relative newcomer had piqued the interest of them all.

Storytellers Note - I always ask the players to describe their fighters actions in any combat situation. I also try to describe their opponents attacks in a compelling way before relaying the mechanical implications of the damage. I just think it's more fun that way.

Becoming concerned about the amount of vitae he was burning through, Daniel decided that he needed to take decisive action soon. He was however somewhat reassured that Lex had stopped healing the wounds he'd received, hopefully this meant that he too was running on empty. Going all out he charged forward and drove the karambit as deeply as possible under the ribs of his hopefully weakened opponent. As he did so, Lex used his raw strength to throw Daniel to the other side of the ring. As he got to his feet he realised that his blade was still embedded in the side of his foe. Things were not looking good.

The scourge pulled the weapon from his side and examined it closely. "Nice workmanship." He commented, before tossing the bloody weapon back to Daniel. Though he had always considered Lex to be a bloodthirsty lunatic, there was apparently an honourable side to him too. The crowd also seemed to appreciate the gesture.

What followed was a masterclass in knife fighting. Neither combatant would back down, but disciplines were now a last resort as both were close to starvation. This left them with only their inherent skill with a blade on which to rely. Daniel felt that he had the edge in skill but Lex's superior strength meant that each of his blows did more damage. Each now with blood dripping slowly from multiple wounds, Daniel prepared himself for a last ditch attack only to find that Lex now stood on the opposite side of the ring having used the last of his spare vitae to disengage. 

Therese Voerman - Malkavian
Baron of Santa Monica
He reached down with his knife hand and tapped the ground. "If I don't turn up for work tomorrow night, Therese will kill me." he said in way of an explanation for admitting defeat. "I'll give you a rematch when you're not so busy." replied Daniel, smiling. 

Not sure if he'd made a friend or a foe, the victorious Banu Haqim once more mingled with the other fighters. Having proved himself a second time, the Brujah were far more receptive to him joining their conversations but he learned nothing that he didn't already know.

Storytellers Note - I gave the player a dot of Status (Fight Club) after his epic battle. This might seem a generous freebie but as Daniel likes to keep a low profile this is somewhat of a double-edged sword.

At some point during his fight, a tall and hugely muscular Brujah had arrived. From the descriptions he'd been given this could only be Garrick. He is obviously quite unpopular, presumably because some of the club attendees were friends of the kindred he'd recently beaten into torpor. As he attempted to intimidate those Brujah who were staring at him, Ike blocked his path. "None of that crap, tonight. I've warned you once. There won't be a second."

Garrick then made eye contact with Ike and tried to stare him down. Daniel had seen his own baron use his supernatural presence as a subtle tool to manipulate others and had also observed Vin use the same talent to intimidate and terrify. 

Garrick - Brujah
Emissary of Baron Tara of San Diego
It was this latter effect that Garrick was trying to bring to bear, apparently without success. "You can cut that shit out too..." said Ike. " fucking suck at it. You night carry some weight in San Diego but this is my place and in here respect is earned." With that he returned to his office though this time he acknowledged Daniel as he passed him which was more than he'd done before.

It took a while but Garrick eventually found himself someone to fight. The battle was brutal and fairly short, but this time he stopped short of putting his opponent into a state of torpor. After Daniel's own epic engagement against Lex, this was a distinct anti-climax and only the bare minimum of the crowd even bothered to watch. It was quite obvious that this lack of attention bothered Garrick a great deal.

Leo was once again in a good mood having once again bet on Daniel. "No-one thought you were going to win so I got good odds. It was only me and Vin who bet on you at all..." While he was in such good spirits, Daniel made some enquiries of him about Garrick. Leo was happy to talk but indicated that he'd like to do so out of earshot of everyone else in case he was overheard, specifically by Garrick himself.

"I could tell you were interested in him so I made some enquiries." admitted Leo. "I've been told that he has real thing about his physical size and resents having it pointed out as the reason for his wins. It's obviously a huge factor but apparently he likes to think it's his skill that lets him be victorious.

Daniel had only seen him in one brief combat but in his opinion his size and strength were the only things he had going for him. With a plan beginning to form in his mind he asked Leo what the process for grudge matches were. "Like to destruction?" asked Leo, slightly concerned about the reason for the question. Daniel managed to persuade him that the question was purely academic in nature. Reassured, Leo answered.

"Duels to torpor or destruction have to be cleared by Ike first. They're rare but they happen. If a challenge is made to someone for a match like that and it isn't prearranged they can turn it down. If they accept, the challenged party gets to pick the weapons used, if any."

"That is interesting..." replied Daniel noncommittally. "Now lets get out of here, I need to feed so I can plug some of these holes."

After dropping Leo and his bulging pockets full of cash at The Last Round, he swung by one of Vin's brothels on his way back to his own haven. Vin was already there having left the club after watching Daniel's fight. "I guessed you'd be hungry this time." observed Vin. "I'll have some understanding members of my herd made available for you so you can heal yourself and stop leaking fluids all over my floor." Not sure if Vin was serious or making a rare joke, Daniel just nodded his thanks and made his way to a private room to feed and heal.

Scene Seven - The Challenge
The venue for this evening is somewhat surprisingly outside, but is in a neighbourhood apparently completely controlled by the Crypts Sons. Leo informs you that "No-one comes here without permission, not even the cops." and that "Ike has a Gangrel pal with a talent for controlling flying creatures that will fuck up any mortal observers, drones or idiots with drones that might be about." Evidently, Ike takes modern problems into account as well as the more traditional ones.

"I thought this was a Brujah only thing?" asked Daniel. Leo confirmed that this Gangrel acquaintance of Leos never fought at the club, though they apparently also sometimes scouted out locations. Leo had never met them or learned their name as they were seemingly quite reclusive. He did however also  have one useful snippet of information. It seemed that Garrick was going to be at the club tonight and has a fight arranged for early in the evening against one of Steve's Brujah. This was useful to know as it would help greatly with Daniel's plan.

The fight is short and brutal. Garrick quickly overpowers his opponent and beats them to the ground. Though he throws a few martial arts moves into the mix, it's very evident that brute force and extreme strength are his main weapons as he kneels over his downed opponent and continues to rain punches on them til they stop moving.

As he swaggers away, several of the defeated mans friends drag him from the marked out ring and attempt to revive him with their own vitae. You've seen enough battles between kindred to know that it'll take a long time, a lot of blood or both to recover from such a savage beating.

As he came close, Daniel began a loud conversation with Leo about the quality of the fight he'd just seen. "Well that was crap..." began Daniel. "I hoped I'd see some fights involving actual skill but that was awful. I've seen pub brawls between drunk mortals with more finesse than that..." Garrick stopped mid stride and turned to see who was talking about his recent efforts. Seeing that he had the attention of his target, Daniel continued with his comments to Leo. 

Daniel Matthews - Banu Haqim
Not Taking Garrick Seriously
"I know he's big and strong but judging from that performance that's all he's got. Maybe he could save time by just falling on whoever he was fighting. Might be more interesting to watch than him trying to do martial arts..." Despite being wary about Garrick, Leo couldn't help but burst out laughing at that last comment.

"You think you could do better?" yelled an angry voice as Garrick approached the pair. Daniel turned slowly as if noticing the giant Brujah for the first time and then replied with the most scornful tone he could muster. "I could hardly do worse...well...maybe if I had my eyes shut..."

Garrick stepped forward and took a swing at Daniel but it never reached him as Ike's arm hooked around his and stopped him in his tracks. "Fights happen in the ring, not out here." He stated, his voice a monotone. Daniel could see that both of Ike's security men were nearby. Row had the high calibre handgun from his waistband at the ready. It wasn't exactly pointed at Garrick yet, but then it certainly wasn't pointed completely away from him either. Rusty was holding what looked from this angle like a pair of axes of some description. 

'Rusty' and 'Row', Brujah Enforcers, Weapons of Choice

Both were obviously ready to defend their boss at a moments notice. Not that Ike looked like he needed the help. "Fight, him? I'll fucking kill him..." yelled Garrick. Seeing that, for better or worse his plan was succeeding. Daniel decided that one more barb should be enough.

"I'll fight you if that's what you want...not that it's really worth it...nobody would want to watch another one of your shit performances..." Judging from the ranting and threats of murder, Garrick was sufficiently enraged to make Daniel's next question a foregone conclusion. "Are you challenging me to a fight to the death?" asked Daniel, trying to sound as incredulous as possible.

Daniel Matthews Falcata
Ike released Garrick's arm and then stepped between the pair. "Challenged party chooses the form of the combat, Garrick, and it's you making the challenge. You both sure about this?" "I've seen him fight." replied Daniel. deciding to get one last insult into the conversation. "Challenge is probably overstating it by a lot. But if we're going to do it, then I pick short-swords."

"Where the fuck am I going to get a short-sword from?" said Garrick somewhat incredulously. "I have a selection of weapons available." replied Ike.

When Daniel returned from his car with his falcata, Garrick was already in the ring pacing back and forth. Clutched in one oversized hand was a Gladius style blade that looked like a toothpick in the grasp of his gigantic opponent. Presumably this had been provided by Ike. Daniel knew that Garrick would likely drop the sword and default to his preferred fighting method very quickly. This gave him a very limited window of opportunity to destroy Garrick while the battle was still on Daniel's terms.

Garrick - Brujah
Ready for his Death Match
Despite his jibes about no-one being interested in Garrick's primitive fighting style, every Brujah in the club was gathered to watch the fight. Daniel gauged the distance between himself and Tara's enforcer noting that Garrick was stripped to the waist, leaving nothing to entangle or impede a strike to the neck. He also had absolutely no guard, his sword held casually at his side, the other arm also relaxed. Daniel was sure that in a prolonged battle his chances of victory were substantially reduced, it was now or never.

The assassin enhanced his abilities by causing his vitae to surge into his limbs, enhancing his skills before crossing the distance to Garrick in an instant and aiming his blade as he swung precisely towards his neck. Garrick turned momentarily to look at the blade but reacted far to late to the brutal attack. Daniel's falcata sliced through dead flesh and bone, emerging from the opposite side of his opponents neck in a spray of vitae. As Garrick fell backwards, his head tumbled from his shoulders and his body began to rapidly decompose, returning to it's true age as the years caught up with.

Daniel tried his best to look as surprised as the crowd.

Ike approaches Daniel after the fight. "I'm not entirely sure that this fight was strictly necessary, but he challenged you so I'll let it go." "I might be able to put some work your way in the near future if you feel like putting those skills to use. Give your name and number to either 'Row' or 'Rusty' if your interested." He then gave Daniel a wink and returned to his office.

Leo was once again in high spirits. "Thanks to you I have half a dozen minor boons, a major one and more cash than I've ever seen before." He said with a grin plastered across his face. "Of course if you'd lost I'd be leaving here naked, so thanks for the effort." Despite being an incorrigible gambler, Daniel quite liked Leo.

After dropping of Leo, Daniel reported his success Marius.

"While I'm here, Is that other job still available?"

To be Continued in 'The Marius Contracts' (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...

This was my first session since lock-down so I was a tiny bit rusty. Forgot some of the basic things I normally keep handy, such as a generic list of names, for when players inevitably talk to some random person you haven't named or given stats to, lol.

The player seemed to enjoy it though so maybe I'm not as off my game as I thought.

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 Dr Matthews is Mads Mikkelsen, Jesus Ramirez is Javier Bardem, Gloria Martinez is Ariadne Artiles, Victor Girard is Bob Hoskins, Victoria is Lilith May, Tilly Kelly is Anna Paquin, Yukio Hayashi is Jami Chung, Leo Frost is Danny John-Jules, Maikki is Sofia Helin, Sarah is Natalie Martinez, 'Vin' is Scott Adkins, Russell 'Rusty' Holman is Kevin Nash, Henrique 'Hank' Boyd is Michael Clarke Duncan, 'Kaya' Grant is Cynthia Rothrock, Isaac 'Ike' Griffith is Jason Statham, 'Maxim' is Jared Leto, Alexander 'Lex' Durham is Brian Thompson, Therese Voerman is Whitney Moore, Garrick is Bob Sapp and Marius Walker is Tony Curran.

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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