Saturday, 15 August 2020

Vampire the Masquerade V5 - Session Sixty Six - The MacNeil Protocols (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.
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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.
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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.
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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
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Chronicle Two - 'Foothold L.A.' 
Solo Session - 'Hostile Takeover'
Story Four - 'Countdown' - Part OneTwo and Three
Story Five - 'The Missing Chantry' - Part OneTwoThreeFour and Five
Solo Session - 'The Anaheim Assassination'
Story Six - 'A Meeting of Barons' - Part OneTwo and Three
Story Seven - 'The Carmelita Situation' - Part OneTwo and Three
Story Eight - 'The Blount Sisters' - Part One and Two
Story Nine - 'Blood Money' - Part OneTwoThreeFour, Five and Six
Story Ten - 'Anathema' - Part One and Two
Story Eleven - 'Predators and Prey' aka 'The Blount Sisters' - Part Three
Story Twelve - 'Aftermath' - Part One and Two
Story Thirteen - 'The Messiah Complex' - Part OneTwoThree and Four
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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 and Two

The PC's
Player controlled characters
Michael Tomassio - Toreador, 'Baron of the North East'
Vincent 'Vin' Ghast - Brujah, 'Constable'
Dr Daniel Matthews - Banu Haqim, 'Spymaster'
Hope Romero - Gangrel, 'Census Taker'
Mr Hertz - Nosferatu, 'Seneschal'

The SPC's
Storyteller controlled player allies
Priya Haynes - Gangrel, 'Sweeper'
Carla Doyle - Gangrel, 'Sweeper'
Orla Riviera - Gangrel, 'Sweeper'
Rosalind Perkins -  Thin-blood, Alchemist
Sofia Rivera - Toreador, Michael's contact with Sire

The player characters stats and backgrounds can be found HERE should any-one be interested, but be warned that the page is usually several stories ahead of the most recent write-up and may contain some spoilers. There's also some minor 'house-rules' HERE that have occurred as we went along.

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

Storytellers Note - There has been quite a long gap between this session and the last time we met as a group so I started with a rather long introduction to refresh the players memories about recent occurrences.

Introduction
Given the tumultuous events across Los Angeles over the last two years, the relative lull of the last month has been seen by many as the calm before yet another storm.

Victor Girard - Toreador
Seneschal of El Hermandad
El Hermandad is now under the undisputed control of Gloria Martinez and covers both it's original area and that of Gloria's own barony of Whittier. With Victor Girard at her side as adviser the pair have shown an efficiency bordering on ruthlessness that has united all of the disparate factions within both El Hermandad, Whittier and those kindred inherited from the disbanding of the Barony of the Angels.

With several of their neighbours weakened by war, Gloria is now one of the most powerful barons in the city. Relations with the Gangrel of the Wilds on her Eastern border have also improved, in the main because all the members of El Hermandad who had antagonised them are no longer present to do so.

Victor Girard has also recently negotiated a none-aggression pact between Anaheim and El Hermandad, and Gloria and Allison have seemingly been having frequent informal meetings apparently at Victor's prompting. The politically minded Anarchs believe that Victor is trying to unite the childer of Salvador Garcia under one banner in order to neutralise any attempt by Ramirez to regain power within El Hermandad, banking on Garcia siding with his childer rather than his deposed friend and ally.

Gloria Martinez - Baron of El Hermandad, Allison Maller - Baron of Anaheim
Childer of Salvador Garcia

Meanwhile in Central L.A. The Crypt's Sons war with their rival gang 'The Blood' has been a costly one. Despite the elimination of many of the gangs vampire hunters by Priss's preemptive surprise assault, Hank lost many experienced fighters in the inevitable counter attack. His mortal gangs assets have also suffered major setbacks, especially as the authorities within the city have used the gang war as justification for calling in federal aid which has suspiciously targeted far more of the Crypts Sons operations than those of The Blood. Outside influence is suspected, but by whom is unknown.


Priss has been granted a large strip of territory carved from the Northern border of the Crypts Sons domain as payment for her success and has wasted no time in recruiting replacements for her depleted forces. Hank's weakened position has been further undermined by persistent speculation that it's only a matter of time before Priss shifts her allegiance to Marius.

Marius 'The Fixer' Walker - Gangrel
Baron of Downtown
The Downtown barony of Marius Walker now covers almost the entire area that was once referred to as the Barony of the Angels. The only exception is an area still claimed by Isaac Abrams that Marius has inexplicably made no moves upon despite clearly having the resources to do so. Instead he has been given permission to operate certain businesses within Baron Abrams domain in return for some minor considerations and seems content with this compromise. Downtown is currently one of the most secure baronies within the city, being patrolled extensively both above and below the surface and with the majority of the authorities and criminal organisations within now being under the influence of 'The Fixer' in some manner.

Chinatown is still the feeding ground and domain of the Ventrue Lyko Wu and his two childer, though he still allows the younger and more desperate of the cities kindred access to animal blood from the Slaughterhouse district as Marius did when he managed the domain himself. Visitors are expected to announce themselves on arrival and leave as soon as they have fed or acquired blood, but as long as these conditions are met, they are allowed free passage.

Harvey Caplan - Ventrue
Defacto Baron of the South Coast Docks
Harvey's control over the two main dockyards and ports of the cities South Coast has been consolidated by the recruitment of a gang of refugees from the Barony of the Angels known as 'The Rats' and strategic removal of rival mortal gangs by the forces of Vinicius Santos, freelance Scourges currently affiliated to Harvey's Baron, Steve Booth.

Harvey has made no secret of these actions though whether this can actually be considered the same as asking permission is debatable. Kindred who utilise Harvey's services have noted that he is far more efficient than Steve ever was and considerably more reasonable and less condescending than David Geduld. Though some have commented that neither of those kindred were particularly hard acts to follow in those regards, and a close eye is being kept on the ambitions of this particular Ventrue given the importance of his granted domain.

Steve Booth - Baron of the South Coast, David Geduld - Former Baron (Destroyed)

The Western alliance between Barons Fortier and Abrams is still holding strong despite some alleged tension over the exact division of San Fernando. The domain of the so-called Brujah Idealists is now a part of Baron Tomassio's North Eastern group of baronies and so is no longer a thorn in the side of the alliance which has eased the transition considerably. Los Angeles airport which Fortier inherited from David Geduld has had several strategic employees replaced with The Fortiers own people and is now undeniably under his control.

Louis Fortier - Baron of West L.A., Isaac Abrams - Baron of Hollywood

Player Handouts
Michael Tomassio
Storytellers Note - Michael's player handouts take the form of conversation snippets from his social activities with contacts. I also add a more matter of fact analysis of what his character picks up via his empathetic abilities after each piece.

"Nines has met Marius twice in the last month, once at Hallowbrook and once in some abandoned shop near The Last Round. Nines wants Marius to open up what was once the Barony of the Angels to newcomers to the city again. Can't see it happening myself, I think he's just dragging out the discussion for as long as possible before he tells Nines 'no'..."
Damsel seems concerned about what might happen when this refusal occurs.

Heather
"Marius's creepy naked childe was at the penthouse with a bunch of her wannabe cenobites, last week. She wants his help to remove some other bunch of cultist weirdos apparently. Don't know why she needs him to get involved, it's not like she's never killed anyone herself. She's a bit too clingy for my liking as well...he's basically her vampire dad, you know...it's just icky..."
Heather is definitely jealous of the relationship between Marius and 'Mary' which is apparently more 'intimate' than is commonly known.

"Thank-you for your help with the Brujah Idealists. Now I just have to make sure Dawn doesn't use her influence to cream all the choice areas from San Fernando for herself...well, for Isaac, in theory. I suggested having her destroyed but Fortier will have none of it. I wish I knew how Issac controls that territory with just himself, one scourge and a stripper to call on, but every enemy that's ever moved on him ends up as dust..."
Mariel's curiosity is genuine, though there's also a certain level of fear too. It's possible she has suspicions about just how Issac keeps order and whatever it is, concerns her greatly.

Marius
Marius has been busy every time you've tried to meet with him, though you have spoken to Leanna who was incredibly evasive about what Marius was 'busy' doing. You sense an undercurrent of fear amongst his followers and agents and they seem unusually keen to keep Marius happy. This is unusual as he normally allows his agents a great deal of independence and freedom.

Priss
"Well, I have my own domain now. Lost a lot of my people but then sacrifices have to be made, though I would have had far fewer casualties if Hank had armed me better. Though it's quite obvious that he would have been much happier if I hadn't returned at all. Having seen how Marius arms his security people and the resources he allows those loyal to him I think he'd make a much better benefactor than the one I currently have.
Her vague dissatisfaction with Hank that you detected previously is now far more acute and she seems to feel far safer vocalising it. You also wander just how she knows so much about what Marius has to offer his allies....


At least I can recruit without asking for permission now so I'll soon build up a new army of followers."
Priss definitely sees her followers as ultimately expendable if she gets what she wants. Her lust for power reminds you more of a Ventrue than a Brujah and your doubts about her clan are becoming more acute. Of course Ventrue aren't the only natural 'leaders' amongst the kindred. You are also one hundred percent sure that she is at the very least a pathological egotist and a Sociopath, though perhaps not quite as psychopathic as you first thought.

Velme - Toreador?
Suspected Daughter of Cacophony
Velme
"Gloria's power is absolute over El Hermandad now. Victor seems to have an knack for working out whose plotting against who and his advice is allowing Gloria to preempt any problems with an uncanny rate of success. I expected him to be undermining her position at every opportunity, not strengthening it."
Velme's tone is very 'matter of fact' and they seem to have no strong feelings about Victor one way or another other except for a vague sense of amusement at their own surprise about his actions.

Velvet Velour
"I told Isaac I was worried about Dawn leading him astray but he's assured me that she's 'under control', whatever that means. I don't know what I'd do without him, even the thought of him being gone makes me feel so sad and lonely..."
Velvet seems very needy at the moment, you do your best to distract her...

Victor Girard
"I'm enjoying my new role greatly, thank you for asking. Gloria is quite open to guidance from myself on a number of matters. Together we can accomplish great things, I'm sure. I hear that Ramirez has gone running off to Salvador Garcia so I'm ensuring that if he does grace us with his presence that he finds a united Brotherhood. Not the fractured mess that Ramirez had turned it into."
Victor is unnecessarily pleased with himself and brimming with confidence.

Dr Daniel Matthews
Private Investigators and Surveillance Team
Your Teams have been tasked with counter surveillance duties due to your concern about reprisals from Baron Tara of San Diego and Prince Vannevar Thomas of San Francisco. Though Tara has promised no retaliation for the untimely destruction of her emissary due to his own pure judgement, It's only common sense to take some precautions. You believe however, that Prince Vannevar is certain to retaliate should he learn of your part in the destruction of his scouting party though you are reasonably sure you covered your tracks.

Tara Kearney - Baron of San Diego, Vannevar Thomas - Prince of San Francisco

So far your agents have discovered nothing, so either your concerns are unfounded...or your enemies are very, very good indeed...

Police Records
Your contact has informed you that more progress has been made against the gang known as the Crypts Sons in the last two months than in the previous decade. Multiple tip offs and new intelligence, much gathered by the new FBI task force, has enabled them to seize vast amounts of product, shut down manufacturing and distribution networks and arrest dozens of their leaders.

'The Blood' - Vampire Hunters concealed within a mortal gangs activities

They have been less successful against the other major LA gang 'The Blood' as they seem to have been one step ahead of the investigators, their operations seemingly moved mere hours before police arrived.

Scene One - A Messenger
Edward Kaya - Banu Haqim
Sire of Daniel Matthews
Daniel had once again resumed his normal job as a locum surgeon for local hospitals using the fake documentation obtained for him when he first arrived in the city. Though a legitimate surgeon by training and an experienced battlefield doctor, using his actual identity would certainly create some awkward questions. He was also still attempting to avoid the attention of his sire who is certainly still seeking his destruction.

One of Alonzo's rat messengers is sitting patiently waiting for you. There is a cylinder in a small pack upon it's back containing a note. The vermin he uses for such purposes are slightly larger and sleeker than a normal creature and there is a hint of intelligence behind the eyes in it's slightly oversized cranium that is slightly disturbing.

Daniel retrieved the note as the creature sat patiently on the desk. As he did he noticed that the creature had apparently made it's way into the consulting room by chewing a hole in the skirting board in one corner.

Alonzo's Note
Daniel,
"While sorting through the information compiled in Dexters vault by and some researches of the Tzimisce who previously inhabited this area I have discovered something that may be of interest to you, your baron and your other allies. Perhaps You and your baron could pop by when you have a moment and I can enlighten you both? My messenger can bring me a reply if you wish, just ask it to wait and it will do so. The matter is somewhat delicate so I'm afraid an alternate location would be somewhat undesirable. It's possible that if I am correct that the balance of power within the city could be significantly altered by my discovery."

Your friend,
Alonzo.

Michael Tomassio - Toreador
"Too busy to traipse around a sewer"
Daniel contacted his baron to see if he had any interest in joining him in visiting Alonzo. The reply of "I'm sure you can assess the situation and brief me on your return..." he took as actually meaning "I'm not going anywhere near a bloody sewer..." Deciding against contacting any of Michael's other agents, he made the journey alone.

Storytellers Note - Michael's player was busy making notes comparing his handout information to that in my introduction and his own jottings.

Having already completed his current consultation, Daniel made his excuses to the hospital claiming he had to deal with "...an emergency at another location..." and left without further explanation. As usual he drove to Hollywood and parked within walking distance of the entrance to the warrens below where Alonzo made his home. This closer entrance meant that Daniel had no need to travel through the domain of Gary Golden who ruled over most of the cities Nosferatu population.

Scene Two - Alonzo's Discovery
The ancient warrens are much as you remember them though significant tidying up has occurred. Sections blocked with rubble have been cleared, the remaining detritus has been piled up fairly neatly as if ready for removal and some of the areas with security gates and doors have been reinforced.

Some effort has been put into exposing the unusually decorative features that appear here and there in this most ancient section of the Warrens below Hollywood. Apparently at least one of the Nosferatu responsible for creating this area had architectural inclinations or experience.

Daniel made a mental note of the appearance of the structure as it may be something that would both interest his baron and give him some greater insight into the origin of this most ancient section of the cities underground warrens. When researching later he ascertained that the features were seemingly inspired by Spanish styles of building from the 1700's, perhaps earlier.

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. Presumably to allay the suspicions of any casual observer who may mistakenly have wandered into Alonzo's domain. As you have come to expect on previous visits, the gates are unlocked and open as you approach, courtesy of his innumerable pets and helpers. These vermin are ever present and become larger and more unusually proportioned the closer you get to Alonzo's actual haven. 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.

Daniel also observed that there were now only one or two practical approaches into Alonzo's territory and that neither of these necessitated crossing into Gary's domain. The ancient warrens were now more or less self contained.

'Eula' - Alonzo's Pet and Famulus
Nosferatu Breeding Pool Creation
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. Despite the lack of airflow this far down, the water still occasionally ripples as if something is moving beneath.

Fully expecting Alonzo's monstrous, tentacled pet 'Eula' to emerge any moment, Daniel somewhat gingerly crossed the narrow walkway. Though the creature knew Daniel and seemed to accept him as an authorised guest, the Banu Haqim was till wary of taking for granted the instincts of what was effectively a giant fang filled maw, surrounded by tentacles that could crush steel.

As usual Alonzo's home looks somewhere between a mad scientists laboratory, a library and a zoo, though is still organised in an orderly if somewhat unorthodox fashion. The cages containing his small army of rats have been moved into a large opened out side room and as before contains 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 come and go as they please through various sized pipes and tubes surrounding their lairs, though only those which you presume are messengers, venture into the central area of Alonzo's home.

Opposite them are a bewildering array of interconnected pipes and glassware containing bubbling concoctions of a variety of colours, though blood red is most common. The three large tanks observed by Daniel on his last visit, have been drained and there is no sign of the vaguely humanoid shapes that they previously contained. Where the cages once were are many rows of shelves containing files, books and paperwork, no doubt extracted from Dexter's vaults, but now neatly organised.

The centre of the room contains a water filled pit that regular visitors know as the home of Alonzo's tentacled pet Eula, it is currently empty. Eula is undoubtedly out enjoying the newly flooded areas provided by her master. As usual, Alonzo is lurking near the desk on which the computer system cobbled together by Gary Golden's childe Mitnick sits and is reading. He looks up as you enter.

"Greetings, Daniel."

Alonzo Guillen - Nosferatu
Ancient Hollywood Warrens
Daniel greeted his friend Alonzo in return. The Nosferatu lamented that Daniel had come alone as he had "Tidied up specially..." expecting the presence of Michael also. Daniel excused his baron, claiming that his newly expanded barony and several other projects were taking up his time. With the pleasantries out of the way, Alonzo laid out his discovery.

"I'll get straight to the point. I was somewhat curious about the police forces recent successes in getting to the businesses of our kind, and borderline masquerade breaches becoming noticeable at levels not seen before. It took little research to connect a timeline between these new success and failures and the disappearance of Jeremy MacNeil that fail to tie into Inquisition activities, which led me to look for another variable. As Jeremy's political contacts wouldn't have given him that level of control, It was logical to assume that he had another method of guiding the police of the city that ended along with his disappearance. I believe I have discovered it.

Alonzo then shows you some formal plans of a spacious mansion, followed by some far less official looking drawings of an attached basement. He also has the layouts of a number of principle police stations from around the city. He then adds to this pile a number of plans of the cities electrical systems and phone lines though these have had the geographical information removed, they do seem to tie up with the details of the previous plans. The final piece of the puzzle is a large technical drawing "You see what this means of course?"

Jeremy MacNeil - Brujah
Baron of L.A., Presumed Destroyed
Daniel could see that the drawing seemed to relate to a computer network of some kind and that some of the drawings looked like their features potentially overlapped. Deciding to be honest he laid out his vague conclusions and allowed Alonzo to explain.

"Jeremy MacNeil, through the use of some very high-priced (and now presumably deceased) computer talent had somehow created a system that was, and hopefully still is, jacked into every police station in the Free States. Unfortunately a rather clever and motivated person has removed a great deal of identifiable references from these documents, presumably MacNeil himself or his agents. I can work out the purpose but not the specific location. You see the possible implications of course?"

Daniel could indeed see the possibilities. In the right hands such a system could be a benefit to all kindred of the city in concealing the kind of carelessness that could draw the Second Inquisition to the city once more. Under less benevolent control the possibilities for blackmail and manipulation were almost limitless. Based on what he knew of him, Daniel presumed that MacNeil had taken somewhat of a middle path between those two extremes. After some discussion with Alonzo, Daniel picked up some additional information culled from the Nosferatu's various theories.
 
Bertram Tung - Nosferatu
Marius's Information Broker
"I believe that the volume of information would have required 24/7 monitoring by at least 4 individuals, presumably blood bound or ghouled as any less would have been impractical..."

"Given the sensitivity of the project, the basement would almost certainly be in one of MacNeils havens. Unfortunately he had at least three and I have only vague information on them as staying out of Jeremy's' notice seemed wise to me at the time. There's one in Hollywood, and two in San Fernando, and almost certainly others. Rumours say he had one under some political organisation too, maybe in Downtown..."

"Kindred who moved in similar social circles might know some locations though the Nosferatu information dealers such as Gary Golden or Bertrum Tung will know them all, and likely some of their secrets too. Of course, informing Bertrum is effectively informing Marius which under the circumstances you may wish to avoid given that he's aggressively accumulating influence at the moment and those in the know seem to be either cultivating his favour or strengthening their borders. Of course, the politics I leave to you, though I would expect reasonable access to MacNeils system should my theory be correct."

It also crossed Daniels mind that should he just sell the information straight to Marius it would solve his problem of needing kindred blood, possibly indefinitely. Putting that idea to one side for the moment he arranged to meet up with Michael to discuss Alonzo's theory.

Storytellers Note - 'Daniel' is now Humanity 4 due to a diablerie that resulted from a frenzy caused by his clans inclination towards desiring kindred vitae. The players character has pulled in a number of boons to obtain an occasional 'fix' of kindred vitae to allow him limited control of this addiction but the effect of being Humanity 4 is beginning to effect his interactions with others. The player is roleplaying this change at the moment.

Scene Three - Scientia Potentia Est
Galerie Sanguine
Daniel had arranged to meet his baron at the gallery that served as the coteries original haven and was still the most secure of their properties. Using the value of the paintings within as justification, the gallery boasted one of the most sophisticated security systems that money could buy. It also benefited from a number of supernatural wards and defences.

Michael's ghoul Lisa was showing a customer around the gallery while Heather, another ghouled employee, sat behind the counter. Heather was a ghoul of the Baron of Downtown, Marius Walker, whom Michael had employed as a favour to another of 'The Fixers' ghouls, Victoria.

Victoria who acted as Marius's personal assistant considered Heather to be a useless inconvenience, and had foisted her on Michael to keep her from under her own feet. Fortunately she had proven to have a considerable knowledge of trends which had proven useful in keeping the gallery fashionable and was a surprisingly talented salesperson.

Lisa Irving - Ghoul of Michael, Heather Taylor - Ghoul of Marius

The downside was that she was almost certainly spying on them for Marius, Victoria, or more than likely, both. Michael had turned this to his advantage by using the notoriously loquacious, but amusingly naive Heather to acquire information about the goings on in Marius's organisation through supposedly casual conversation. He was reasonably sure that he was getting the better of the deal at this point as he discussed nothing of importance in her presence.

Once safe and secure in Michael's office, Daniel laid out what he had learned so far.

"So what you're telling me in effect is that Los Angeles worked better with a single strong leader overseeing the activities of all the barons? That's gratifying to know given our long-term plan for the city." stated Michael with a grin. Daniel agreed that it was somewhat ironic given Anarch ideals, but apparently a fact nonetheless.

Michael could immediately see the usefulness of such a tool, both in maintaining the masquerade and therefore keeping the Second Inquisition at bay and additionally as a tool that would enable him to match the influence of the other powerful barons. Daniel's thoughts however turned to the amount of boons that could be accumulated by the controller of such a system, effectively feeding his addiction for as long as was necessary.

Jesus Ramirez - Ventrue
Lieutenant of Salvador Garcia
Daniel also put forward his suspicion that perhaps someone already had partial access to this system. This was based on the information he had received that the gang known as 'The Blood' seemed to have emerged from their recent gang war with The Crypts Sons with far more resources intact than expected. Someone feeding them police information in advance would explain how so many of the mortal vampire hunters had escaped justice while at the same time so many of the kindred controlled Crypts Sons gang leaders had not. Michael also pointed out that very few elder kindred were computer literate so whoever created the system would certainly not have been MacNeil himself.

Daniel knew that The Blood had been at least partially funded by Salvador Garcia as a way of disrupting the Crypts Sons who were El Hermandads main rival amongst the kindred baronies. If they did have partial access to this system then one of Garcia's kindred within the city, possibly Jesus Ramirez, would be the most likely to be trusted. With Ramirez apparently destroyed, this link to the system, if it existed at all, might now be broken. "I hate to disappoint you, Daniel..." interrupted Michael. "...but I have it from a very reliable source that Ramirez escaped the Swarm's assault and fled the city to Salvador Garcia's side."

Having seen The Swarm in action on more than one occasion, Daniel had a newfound respect for Jesus Ramirez's abilities if he had managed to survive their attack and escape the city with them undoubtedly in pursuit.

Armando 'Nines' Rodriguez - Brujah
As he was listing potential problems, Michael relayed to Daniel some other pieces of information that he had acquired from his kindred contacts and allies. Firstly that Nines had been attempting to persuade Marius to re-open the Barony of the Angels, now the Barony of Downtown, to any kindred who wished to join the Anarch Free States but had no desire to align themselves to a baron. Daniel agreed with Damsel's assessment that given all the effort that Marius had taken to acquire the domain, he was highly unlikely to give it up just because Nines asked him too.

Nines didn't like the fact that the barons had split up the previously neutral ground between them and was attempting to undo that change. In fact it was Michael's part in facilitating the split that had soured his own relationship with Nines.

"There's definitely something going on with Marius at the moment..." continued Michael. "...his people are being very secretive about his movements and actions and a few I've managed to speak to seem to be going out of their way to stay on his good side. There's an undercurrent of fear that I've never seen before and they have far less independence than normal." Daniel decided to keep quiet. Especially as he'd undertaken two assassination jobs for Marius within the last month that he'd rather Michael never found out about. 

Mary - Gangrel, Bahari
'Mother' of the Children of the Wolf
"His childe 'Mary' is also trying to convince him to help her destroy some other cult, which is inevitably going to end badly for someone whether he helps her or not." "I've also spoken with Priss..."

This caught Daniel's attention as he had given serious consideration to destroying Priss on several occasions as he considered her to be both unpredictable and probably insane. Admittedly, Mary was probably insane too but she wasn't an immediate problem. He was also conscious that Priss was using her position bordering the territory between Hank of the Crypts Sons and Marius of Downtown to play the two off against each other for her allegiance. This gave her considerably more power and influence than the size of her barony would indicate. He relayed this suspicion to Michael.

"After being poorly equipped, her words not mine, by Hank for her attack on The Bloods, she is convinced that it was his plan that she be destroyed in the attack and is therefore now taking Marius's counter-offer quite seriously." Stated Michael, confirming Daniel's suspicions.  "However, I am working on a plan to keep Priss neutral and therefore continue her role as a balancing factor, but it's in it's infancy at the moment so I'll share it you when I've fine-tuned it somewhat."

Storytellers Note - He did however share it with me...and now I have more writing to do...

Gary Golden - Nosferatu
The Hollywood Warrens
Daniel then returned the conversation to the original subject. Namely which of the cities brokers of information would be the best source to help them locate the havens of Jeremy MacNeil. Given their previous discussion they decided that Marius would need to be kept in the dark for as long as possible, hopefully indefinitely. This also meant that Bertram Tung was out of the question as he was one Marius's sources and also excluded Daniel's hacker contact as he was an employee of Bertrams.

"Well that leaves Dawn Cavanagh or Gary Golden..." concluded Michael. "...which effectively means Gary is our only option. Firstly because involving Dawn means involving Isaac who we also don't want to have control of such a system and secondly because..." "...because Dawn is a two faced, lying, manipulative, blackmailer with all the morals of a rattle-snake?" interrupted Daniel. "Well, yes." agreed Michael.

Having already covered some of this with Alonzo, Daniel shared the Nosferatu's opinion that Gary Golden prided himself on his 'ask no questions' policy. As long as the price was paid, the service would be provided and it was as simple as that.

"Fine." said Michael, coming to the same conclusion as both Alonzo and Daniel. "I'll arrange a meeting with Gary at the meeting place underneath the Asp Hole club in Hollywood that the Nosferatu use, via the normal channels of course." Daniel smiled to himself as the meeting place was specifically designed so kindred like Michael could avoid venturing into the sewers. In fact it was supposedly originally built by Isaac when Isaac's childe, Ash Rivers owned the club before his disappearance in 2004.


All that remained was to see what Gary's price would be...


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...


As this was an intro session to a brand new story a lot of time was spent discussing the handouts. A considerable introduction was also needed due to the amount of time that had elapsed since the last time the players were together.

As expected, the session was a little 'stop-start' as players asked questions to jog their memories about old plot-lines, as well as the current status of their relations with various characters.

Fortunately the players are still very invested in their characters so got back into the swing of things fairly quickly. For this first part I eased them back into things with some basic meetings, information retrieval and planning. Next time, we'll liven things up a bit.

Acknowledgements
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 white-wolf.com.

I've used pictures of real people to represent some of the characters and art for others so in no particular order Michael Tomassio is represented by Matt Bomer, 'Vin' is Scott Adkins, Dr Matthews is Mads Mikkelsen, Hope is Deborah Ann Woll, Mr Hertz is Charles Dance, Victor Girard is Bob Hoskins, Gloria Martinez is Ariadne Artiles, Allison Maller is ChloĆ« Grace Moretz, Henrique 'Hank' Boyd is Michael Clarke Duncan, Marius Walker is Tony Curran, Harvey Caplan is Harvey Keitel, David Geduld is Zachary Quinto, Louis Fortier is Eduardo Verastegui, Isaac Abrams is Gary Oldman, Damsel is Irina Delnova, Mariel St. John is Kate Moss, Tara Kearney is Melissa Rauch, Vannevar Thomas is Bryan Dechart, Edward Kaya is Laurence Fishburne, Lisa Irving is Amanda Righetti, Heather Taylor is Liz Vicious, Jesus Ramirez is Javier Bardem and Armando 'Nines' Rodriguez is Luis Carazo.

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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