Friday 28 August 2020

Vampire the Masquerade V5 - Session Sixty Eight - The MacNeil Protocols (Part Three)

I'm currently running a Vampire the Masquerade chronicle using the 5th Edition rule-set for a small group of fellow role-players. These are the chronicles of their adventures.
Our chronicle is set in Los Angeles and features a small group of Camarilla agents sent into the 'Free States' to bring them back under Camarilla control. After a year of plotting, the coterie now controls the three North-Eastern Baronies and has successfully weakened several others. Unfortunately other Barons have used the chaos they have created to consolidate their own positions.
The now obligatory warning bit - Unlike my other RPG write-ups this one will contain swearing, sexual references and other references that might offend. If you can't tell the difference between real peoples opinions and grown-ups role-playing predators who crave blood then this probably won't be for you. I've also used actual photographs to represent some characters which I'll give acknowledgements to at the end if I've any idea who they are.
The introduction to this campaign, the first story and all the other parts can be found at the following links and are in chronological order. If you'd prefer a summary of each session rather than read everything then there's a more detailed link page HERE as well as links to the first episode of each story in the blog sidebar.
Chronicle One - 'Infiltrate L.A.' 
Welcome to L.A. - Introductory Session
Story One - 'Three Murders' - Part OneTwo, ThreeFour and Five
Interlude Session - One
Story Two - 'The Pasadena Problem' - Part OneTwoThree, and Four
Solo Session - 'The Neillson Library'
Story Two Continued- 'The Pasadena Problem' - Part FiveSixSeven and Eight
Story Three - 'Becoming Baron' - Part OneTwoThreeFour and Five
Solo Session - 'The Gather'
Story Three Continued - 'Becoming Baron' - Part SixSeven and Eight
Chronicle Two - 'Foothold L.A.' 
Solo Session - 'Hostile Takeover'
Story Four - 'Countdown' - Part OneTwo and Three
Story Five - 'The Missing Chantry' - Part OneTwoThreeFour and Five
Solo Session - 'The Anaheim Assassination'
Story Six - 'A Meeting of Barons' - Part OneTwo and Three
Story Seven - 'The Carmelita Situation' - Part OneTwo and Three
Story Eight - 'The Blount Sisters' - Part One and Two
Story Nine - 'Blood Money' - Part OneTwoThreeFour, Five and Six
Story Ten - 'Anathema' - Part One and Two
Story Eleven - 'Predators and Prey' aka 'The Blount Sisters' - Part Three
Story Twelve - 'Aftermath' - Part One and Two
Story Thirteen - 'The Messiah Complex' - Part OneTwoThree and Four
Chronicle Three - 'Incursion L.A.'
Story Fourteen - 'The Rant'
Story Fifteen - 'Ties of Blood' - Part One and Two
Solo Session - 'A Gathering of Roses'
Story Sixteen - 'The Southern Solution' - Part OneTwo and Three
Story Seventeen - 'The Baker Disappearance' - Part OneTwo and Three
Story Eighteen - 'Inevitable Betrayals' - Part OneTwoThreeFour and Five
Story Nineteen - 'The Marius Contracts' - Part One and Two
Story Twenty - 'The MacNeil Protocols' - 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 - This was quite a long session so you might want to make yourself a cup of tea before you start reading...

Two of Michael's three most skilled killers have successfully eliminated a number of apparently rogue members of the sewer dwelling kindred known as 'The Swarm'. 

This task was Gary Golden's price for the information that the coterie required on the havens of Jeremy MacNeil, the presumed destroyed, former de facto Baron of Los Angeles. The coterie and their ally Alonzo believe that the key to gaining access to the computer system with which Jeremy protected the masquerade lies within one of these properties.

Though the task was completed successfully, one of the swarm escaped to the surface and seriously injured a law enforcement officer before Hope tracked them down and destroyed them. Daniel's timely intervention saved the cops life though the attention drawn by the incident may yet cause the coterie difficulties in the future. If not with the mortal authorities, then with Isaac Abrams, Baron of the domain in which they were operating. 

Though the warrens below the city belong to the Nosferatu 'Gorgeous' Gary Golden, any activity above ground is sure to attract the attention and possible ire of Isaac.

Scene Ten - The Postman
Lisa Irving - Ghoul of Michael
Michael's ghoul, Lisa who also managed the gallery on his behalf, knocked on the office door and announced to Michael that he had a delivery. She also added that it was via special messenger, their code for kindred.

Waiting patiently by the rear door of the loading bay was a man wearing combat style trousers and a hooded jacket. Beneath his coat was a harness, like a shoulder rig for a pistol but with a pouch rather than a holster. From this he withdrew a plain looking brown envelope which he handed to Michael. The Toreador could detect a hint of nervousness from the Caitiff messenger but put this down to a well developed survival instinct rather than any potential threat.

Michael knew that the three caitiff that the Anarchs had dubbed 'The Postmen' had been more or less adopted by Gary and his Nosferatu when they were driven from their havens via the political upheaval within what was once called the Barony of the Angels. 

They now acted as messengers for Gary in circumstances where a Nosferatu's unique appearance may have drawn too much attention. In return they were given a home and Gary's protection, a deal which seems to suit both parties.

Jeremy MacNeil - Brujah
Former Baron of all Los Angeles
With the information now to hand, Michael requested the presence of Hope, Daniel, Vin and Mr Hertz

Four properties had been listed by Gary as havens or bases of operations used by Jeremy MacNeil. The first was an expansive mansion off Mulholland Drive in the Hollywood Hills. The second and third were both located in San Fernando though one of these was more of a mountain retreat than a home. The final location was apparently beneath city hall in Downtown. Gary claimed to have prioritised these based on the regularity with which MacNeil had used them. Presuming that he knew what he was talking about they decided to investigate the Hollywood location first.

Mr Hertz made careful note of the properties locations and left to do some digging of his own. Michael had created an area for the Nosferatu near to the loading bay and as far away from his own office as possible. Hertz's use of vermin as office assistants and his tendency to snack on slaughterhouse animal blood he kept in a flask weren't traits that the Toreador Baron Michael held in particular high regard.

Daniel suggested that some basic reconnaissance by himself might prove to be useful if he kept a low profile. The Banu Haqim regularly slipped in and out of Hollywood in order to visit his friend Alonzo and so was reasonably sure that he could observe the area without drawing any attention.

The Barony of Hollywood - Domain of Baron Isaac Abrams

Conscious that they were about to involve themselves in something that could put them up against some very powerful kindred, Michael asked Vin to double up on all their security precautions and personally ensure that their most important operations had no obvious vulnerabilities. He also contacted Hope to ask her to appraise her sweepers of the potential for added trouble and also to hold herself in readiness should they require her assistance.

Interlude - Blood and Bone
Marius Walker - Gangrel
Baron of Downtown
Marius was aware that three of the Bone Gnawers who lived beneath his domain had been following him quite skilfully for the last twenty minutes. Though he could have entered the warrens below Downtown much closer to the Swarms lair he liked to remind these Garou that they were guests in his territory, not the other way around, and so had entered the city-wide tunnel network near to their underground camp. 

This particular camp of Garou referred to themselves as Hoods and dedicated themselves to distributing wealth from the rich to the poor, provided that the money they gave them was used for useful things. Though their primary enemy was the vast corporation known as Pentex, the fact that they were also historically enemies of the followers of Set who now called themselves 'The Ministry' was also sometimes useful. Marius kept them content by making substantial donations to charitable organisations and supporting a number of local schemes that helped the homeless. They also feared the ancient arachnoid Gangrel known as Nicodemus who made his haven in a cave network beneath the Wilds and Marius kept the threat of him as a deterrent to any actions they might make against his own operations.

A fairly innocuous looking pillar ahead was marked on one side with the Bone Gnawers tribal symbol and on the other with a smeared and bloody hand-print used by The Swarm. As he crossed this territorial border, the following werewolves turned back and he gained a new set of far less subtle shadows. By the time he reached the lair of his childe, he had amassed quite a following.

Tilly Kelly - Gangrel
Mistress of the Swarm, Childe of Marius
Seated at the far side of a large oval chamber was Tilly, Mistress of the Swarm. Her pack had acquired an elaborate looking wooden chair from somewhere and she sat upon it like a queen upon a throne. Various offerings were strewn at her feet ranging from jewellery and trinkets to ornaments and other bric a brac. Bloody smears across the floor and walls indicated that she had recently received other more lively gifts too.

Her eldest surviving childe, Quinn was standing to her right as she held court over some three dozen of her swarm. Marius could see that only a handful were kindred, the rest were ghouls or blood bound mortals.

"One of my favoured childer has been destroyed..." She began, her voice surprisingly light and melodic. " pawns of the overdressed Leper beneath Hollywood. Something must be done to punish him." Marius interrupted his childe before she could launch into one of her petulant rants. "I warned you of the dangers of spreading out beyond the area I specified. If Gary hadn't destroyed them then Abrams would have gotten around to it.

The Swarm
Kindred, Ghouls, Bloodbound and the Dregs
Many of the surrounding horde had began to get restless as their mistress and de facto god was berated in front of them. Some had even began to adopt more threatening postures.

"I see the issue..." continued Marius, a hint of anger entering his voice as he panned across the gathered swarm. " obviously have an overpopulation problem. Would you like me to help you out with that?" Tilly stood and gestured for her more aggressive followers to leave. "That wont be necessary. Lynch was useful, but not irreplaceable.

Marius could see her fear, she was well aware of the fate suffered by childer who raised his ire. She was a useful shock and awe weapon to be sure but this was twice that her impulsiveness had caused him complications. Not for the first time Marius contemplated his error in not destroying her back in the sixteenth century as he had claimed to Prince Villon that he had done. 

Victoria Anne - Ghoul of Marius
Psychotic Personal Assistant
Her failure to destroy Ramirez had always been a possible outcome and he had taken that into account, however potentially antagonising Isaac was far more problematic. "Be patient, dear..." said Marius as he turned to leave. "...our time will come..."

As he exited the warrens via a long forgotten access tunnel and headed into the heavily armoured service elevator below his haven, Hallowbrook Apartments, Victoria was waiting for him. Marius seemed in no mood for preamble. "Find me something that Baron Abrams wants and have it delivered as a gift. Make it clear that it's commitment free, I want him well disposed towards us. Doesn't matter what it is, ancient or new, living or dead, favour or boon. Price no object. 

"Has your childe fucked up again then?" asked his ancient and most loyal ghoul. "Let's just say..." replied Marius. "...that I'm getting on Isaac's good side before any chances that I get a vaguely threatening phone call." Victoria nodded her agreement. Isaac was not a kindred to have as an enemy. Not if you planned on a long and trouble-free unlife at least... 

Scene Eleven - Mulholland Drive (Part One)
Isaac Abrams - Toreador
Baron of Hollywood
Daniel was reasonably sure that he hadn't been followed into Hollywood but kept on the alert just in case. Despite it's relatively small kindred population and Abrams's seeming lack of significant numbers of kindred and ghouled agents, the major players in the city were all very careful to keep on Isaac Abrams good side.

They evidently knew something about Issac's resources or capabilities that was not common knowledge. Even the Camarilla had respected his domain when LaCroix had declared praxis over the city.

The mansion off Mulholland Drive in the Hollywood Hills is huge, and very secure, having high walls, a conspicuous alarm system and security cameras at strategic intervals. However, other than a mundane security guard vehicle periodically patrolling the area in front of the estates gates it appears to be unoccupied.

Daniel examined the perimeter and located a few weak points in the security camera layout that would enable him to approach the house unseen. Maps of the local sewer system obtained from Alonzo also indicated that there was a way of getting into the grounds, though not the property itself. Deciding he needed more information, Daniel bypassed the outer wall and approached the main building.

The alarm system was state of the art and every window seemed to have a sensor attached to it somewhere. Eventually he discovered a small window near a side-door that had been overlooked. However he was sure that such a system would also have sensors monitoring internal zones and decided against testing himself against it just yet. He noted that both the alarm box and the patrolling security firm had a logo for a company called 'Mercury Security Solutions'. With basic recon complete, he returned to Michael to report his findings.

Michael was aware that Mercury Security was a company ran by Mercurio, a former ghoul of Prince LaCroix. He had found himself a new patron after the prince's destruction but none of Michael's contacts knew, or were willing to reveal, just who it was. Some of the rumours stated that Mercurio was actually receiving blood from as many as three influential kindred in return for access to his arms dealing contacts and legitimate security companies.

Andrew Francis - Ghoul
Security Specialist
Daniel's ghoul Andrew who was an expert in security systems, was aware that Mercury Security used extremely high-end technology that would be difficult to bypass without insider knowledge. Michael then asked Mr Hertz's opinion.

"I'll look into Mercury and see what I can discover, give me...thirty minutes or so?" As the rest discussed other options, Mr Hertz began to use his sources and personal expertise to come up with a solution of his own.

Finding legitimate company information took the Nosferatu no time at all. Once he had company information and names of senior managers with which to work he moved onto some less savoury methods of information acquisition. He discovered that Robert Price, a senior manager at the Hollywood office of Mercury had recently undergone a somewhat messy divorce and was now in considerable debt. After looking at his credit card information, bank account details and after making a quick call to a local loan shark, Hertz calculated that Robert was close to sixty five thousand dollars in the red.

When he returned to Michael's office the discussion was still ongoing so he politely interrupted. "I think I have a solution to our problem. I have located an individual who may be persuaded to assist us." Michael raised an eyebrow. "Really?"

"Oh yes. Though I'll need to remove some cash from our reserves, and borrow Vin..."

Interlude - An Offer
Mr Hertz - Appearing as a Mortal
Obfuscate - Mask of a Thousand faces
Mr Hertz cloaked himself in illusion and became to all appearances a somewhat generic version of his mortal self. Vin had left the majority of his weapons behind and was dressed in a dark suit and expensive leather jacket. Vin's ghoul had recently updated the wardrobe of her regnant and disposed of much of his original clothing. Their customer base in the sex trade had begun to include more sophisticated individuals and so she had decided that fine-tuning the hulking Brujah's appearance was both necessary and would have to be done by her if it was ever going to happen.

When Mr Price answered his front door he was met by an official looking gentlemen with a quite terrifying looking man standing just behind him. "I think we can be of assistance to one another Robert." Began Mr Hertz. "May we enter and discuss how?" With a mixture of fear and curiosity, he invited them inside, though would later find it difficult to explain just why he had done so.

Mr Hertz laid out their proposal. Robert's debt would disappear and a not insubstantial initial bonus would be paid to allow himself to get upon his feet once more. In return they would require a number of small favours. Hertz assured him that robbery was not their concern. This statement was backed up by the fact that their donation to him was far greater than anything they might make from robbing the location they had specified. They simply wished to look around for no more than an hour and wished to be completely undisturbed during that time frame.

"We of course have less pleasant methods of gaining your cooperation at our disposal." continued Hertz with a gesture behind him to where Vin was cracking his knuckles and staring at the manager most disconcertingly. "But I'm sure that you'd rather have our seventy five grand than our alternate offer." It took mere moments for them to gain his agreement.

About five minutes later Michael received a phone-call from the former mob accountant. "Mr Price has ordered a system test of the alarm at the Mulholland Drive property which will render it offline between one and two o'clock this evening. He has also arranged for the security patrol to have extra duties elsewhere during the same period. Vin has persuaded him that he is now committed to our cause and any retractions disappointing..."

Storytellers Note - Mr Hertz and Vin's players aren't regular attendees so I sometimes fail to take into account how good they are at doing stuff like that. Looks like I'll have to move my dick-move to another location, lol.

"Excellent." replied Michael, careful to avoid asking any questions about exactly 'how' this had been accomplished. "Could you ask Vin to return to the gallery in case Hope, Daniel and I need any back-up?"

Scene Twelve - Mulholland Drive (Part Two)
With Vin and Hope held in reserve due to their somewhat obviously threatening appearances, Michael and Daniel drove up to the former home of Jeremy MacNeil. A messenger had arrived moments before they left with keys to the property obtained from Mr Hertz's new best friend in Mercury Security. They timed their arrival to maximise the amount of time they had to explore the property. A text message from Hertz confirmed that they could now enter as the security system was now disabled. 

Michael sensibly allowed Daniel to go ahead, just in case. Inside, the mansion was luxuriously decorated and spotlessly clean, with not a hint of dust anywhere. Michael noted that the design and decor was about a decade out of date and there was something else bothering him too. The whole building had the feeling of a museum rather than a home, as if it was being preserved in time. Though the home showed no sign that it is still in use, someone was obviously having it maintained at considerable cost.

While Michael admired the decor, Daniel looked around for any clues that areas of the building were still being used. Though he came to the same conclusions as Michael about the inside seeming to have been preserved, he did notice that the carpet to the cellar was excessively worn compared to other areas.

It seemed unlikely that this wear and tear had been caused by normal use. After pointing this out to Michael, he checked in with Hope and Vin. They reported no unusual activity, though were still on the alert regardless. 

The basement staircase led to a wine cellar. Like the rest of the building it has been cleaned and cared for and the shelves were stocked. The trained investigator also noted that there was a quite well concealed security camera over the door at the bottom. It currently appeared to be inactive, possibly as it was also connected to the currently deactivated security system.

As Daniel looked for anything that may be out of place, Michael perused the wines. They ranged from the outrageously old and expensive to younger but still high quality brands. Nothing seemed to be dated from any later than the approximate time of Jeremy MacNeils's disappearance however. As the search continued, Daniel became more and more frustrated that he could find nothing out of the ordinary.

Storytellers Note - Or more correctly, he couldn't make an Investigation roll to save his life. This is why if you really want a player to find something you have to have more than one way for them to discover it.

As Daniel worked, Michael continued to work his way through the wines and noted that one shelf in particular seemed to contain a number of bottles that were actually, fairly poor quality. It was as if whoever stocked this cellar didn't care about the contents of this shelf in particular. Curious about what had caught his Barons attention, Daniel moved over to him. as he did so, something caught his eye.

A minute indentation on the floor near one shelf, and an unnecessary gap next to it that would be just large enough to allow one of the racks to swivel sideways, leads you to believe that this shelf is used to conceal something.

The shelf did indeed swivel aside. Behind it was a a flush fitting door. On closer inspection a keypad was found concealed within an indentation in it. The numerical keypad had only nine buttons, no zero. A four digit LCD above was illuminated but had nothing currently entered upon it.

Unsure about how many attempts they would have, Michael began to try to remember important dates that might be important to Jeremy MacNeil. Three sprang to mind. His birth year of 1631, his embrace in 1657 and the Anarch revolt which occurred in 1943. "Try one, nine, four then three..." said Michael. The door promptly unlocked with an audible click. it seemed that Michael's hunch was correct.

Storytellers Note - Apparently I'm more predictable than I thought...

The 'panic room' is spacious but mostly empty. It contains six basic beds, an empty desk, several fridges and a weapons rack along one wall. Compared to the luxurious Mansion it looks more like a barracks than a home. There is a single door in the opposite wall.

The rack contains sturdy but functional handguns such as browning high-powers, colt M1911's and ammunition as well as several pump-action shotguns, and a couple of bolt action rifles. Somewhat out of place are a selection of black-powder pistols and a single musket, they look like antiques rather than modern replicas. The fridge is empty apart from a bag of congealed blood several years old.

The Banu Haqim tasted the blood and ascertained that it was human, before consuming the lot. "We have access to fresher sustenance than that you know?" commented Michael before his attention turned to the antique weapons. He took several photographs and carefully examined the weapons for indications of manufacturer. He had a strong suspicion that they may well have once belonged to MacNeil himself so refrained from removing them. Daniel then carefully opened the door in the corner.

The attached room is disappointingly empty apart from a few battered filing cabinets in one corner and a pin-board with a map on it on one wall. It does however contain far more electrical sockets and connections than would be necessary for any normal domestic purposes as well as connections to heavy duty power cables. Scratches on the concrete floor indicate that a number of heavy items have been moved about, though when is difficult to tell. 

The marks on the floor were not recent and the filing cabinets were empty. Each cabinet was labelled with the name of an L.A. district and there were twenty one in total. The map on the pin board was of Los Angeles and was also divided into twenty one sections with a pin in each. It didn't take much research to discover that these pins matched the locations of the twenty one police divisions in the city.

"It looks like this was where the system was originally kept and managed from." commented Daniel. "But where the hell is it is it now?"

Scene Thirteen - Social Climbing in San Fernando
Frank Atkins - Corrupt Cop
Ghoul of Michael
The coterie began to task their various agents with investigating the first property to see if any further discoveries could be made. Michael had his ghoul police officer Frank, whose career he had been helping, look into any local incidents that may have occurred at the location. Daniel had his contact in the police departments central records do the same. While Mr Hertz began to attempt to trace any legitimate companies that may be associated with the building, Vin subtly began to slip some of his army of street people into the area as additional eyes and ears. Though the first location was possibly now a dead-end, it never hurt to be thorough.

Tomorrows date and the address for the second of their targets rang a bell with Michael and he began to search through the myriad invitations to parties and openings which he had been ignoring of late. His Succubus Club project in Hollywood had been absorbing most of his spare time and so he had neglected many of his other social activities.

As he suspected, there in the draw was an invite to a social gathering by a pair of San Fernando's wealthy elite, a married couple named Aysha and Robert Mathis. It didn't take much research to discover that the pair were voracious social climbers and had invited everyone of note to their event. Michael wouldn't normally have been seen dead, relatively speaking, at such an occasion but exceptions could be made when it served his own interests.

Carla, Priya and Orla - Gangrel Sweepers for the North East Baronies

Having no intention of going alone he decided to take Daniel as out of all his coterie he brushed up best. Hope had difficulty concealing several animalistic mutations that had become permanent features and Vin drew considerable intention due to his size and intimidating aspect. Though Mr Hertz could disguise his appearance, he was currently more use looking for information on the homes they were investigating. Given the nature of their current investigation he also wanted all of his Gangrel sweepers patrolling the domain as he currently had no idea whose toes they might be unknowingly treading on.

A Selection of Daniel's Concealed Weapons
Selecting an adequate painting from his 'not quite good enough to exhibit' pile and an excellent bottle of wine, he prepared himself for the tedium of having to socialise with his inferiors and pretend that he was enjoying himself. Daniel replaced Dion as driver and bodyguard for the evening and only took with him his most concealable weaponry. Though for Daniel this still consisted of a considerable quantity of hardware.

While on the way Michael received a call containing some more information. Mr Hertz had ascertained that the property had been recently acquired by a realtor for rental purposes. The couple who currently lease the property have been inhabiting it for mere days and the property itself was unoccupied for quite some time. Hopefully this means that it has been relatively unchanged since MacNeils time. As far as the Nosferatu accountant can ascertain, the company now owning the house is an entirely legitimate one having no criminal or kindred connections. It is also solvent and seems to be run honestly which Mr Hertz's points out limits his options for applying leverage to them, should you need him to do so.

This location is marginally less expensive than the one in which the Hollywood mansion sat but the structure itself is another expensive and luxurious affair. Unlike the previous building, this one is of course inhabited. In fact there appears to be quite a party going on.

The front gates are open and the parking area in front of the house is full, necessitating visitors to park along the road outside. The cars are universally high quality and well equipped indicating that the party guests are all more than likely people of status. Gary has informed you that the property contained a panic room of sorts in an upstairs office area that was the most likely place for Jeremy to have created a haven, though it's possible that he made other arrangements once he'd bought the property. 

On arrival Michael waited at the door and asked a party-goer if he could speak to the lady of the house. Mrs Mathis was obviously both pleased and surprised that the noted local artist had accepted her invite and became positively elated when the gift of the painting and the wine were handed over. Michael could already see her working out how to casually drop the fact into conversation with annoying regularity.

Michael Tomassio - Toreador
Using the Presence Discipline
"May I come in?" asked Michael. "Of course..." was the immediate reply. "...I'll show you around and introduce you to some of my more interesting guests." The Toreador could see that the woman was already under his spell. This would make distracting everyone from Daniel's searching so much easier.

Storytellers Note - Michael has the Flaw known as a 'Folkloric block' which in his case prevents him crossing a threshold to a home if uninvited by the owner. The specifics of what is classed as an 'owner' is a bit vague but I interpret it as a psychological flaw and therefore it's Michael's perception of who is the owner that is most important.

Michael then indicated Daniel. "I'm afraid given the increase in crime within the city I have been forced to take the tedious step of engaging a bodyguard of sorts. He'll try to be inconspicuous as possible." Aysha barely gave Daniel a second glance before whisking Michael away to show him off to her assembled guests. Michael's supernatural presence caused all those within the party to find their attention inexplicably drawn to him and he rapidly became the centre of attention. Which was, in his opinion, right and proper as he was clearly the most important person there. This had the added benefit of drawing the other partying guests downstairs enabling the Banu Haqim Investigator to search upstairs relatively undisturbed.

With his preternatural senses turned to maximum he could hear Michael doing his thing, he could also tell that there were a lot of introductions going on indicating that not all of the guests knew each other well, or in some cases, at all.

Though interior design wasn't in Daniel's skill set he had a good enough eye for detail that he noticed a slightly odd design layout that seemed to indicate that one room was much narrower than it should have been. This led him to one room with older decor that hadn't been altered or renovated for many years. The desk within was quite obviously an antique and out of keeping with the house's overall design. Once he had ensured that no wandering mortals were nearby he had a closer look. It took mere moments for him to realise that one of the draws was deeper on the outside than the inside indicated.

Concealed within a false bottom of the desk draw is an obsolete looking remote control, with four buttons though only one is labelled with a faded 'On/Off' sticker.

Daniel opened up the back of the remote and gave the connections a quick clean as there was some corrosion on the terminals and gave the batteries a quick tap before pressing the only labelled button. There was a click from one wall where a decorative gas fireplace had been built. After checking once more for curious mortals he carefully opened the secret door discovering that the whole wall section tilted outwards, fireplace and all.

The room contains all the basic requirements of an emergency kindred Haven including bed, fridge and a basic armoury. There is also a corner desk, with a swivel chair in front.

The room contained shelves over the desk though these were all empty. However while searching this area he noticed that the desk itself wasn't entirely level with the wall as if something had prevented it from been pushed flush. Down the side he discovered a notebook, that had apparently fell behind the desk when the shelves had been emptied then subsequently overlooked. He quickly tucked this into his pocket, then sealed the room. He replaced everything where he had found it and carefully wiped his fingerprints from any area he had touched.

Storytellers Note - Kindred don't really leave fingerprints as they are created by oils in the skin. However when using the 'Blush of Life' they certainly do, imo.

Michael Tomassio - Definitely not a Vampire...

As Daniel returned downstairs, Michael was taking selfies with a number of guests. He also noted that Michael was conspicuously eating and drinking during most of them, presumably to allay any suspicions should he ever be investigated by the Second Inquisition or anything like it. A subtle nod between them indicated that Daniel was done with his search and so Michael made his apologies and left.

Once safely back at the gallery, the pair examined the book along with the rest of the coterie members who were present.

Scene Fourteen - Four Names
The notebook contains references to a number of police incidents involving potential masquerade breaches together with dates and police reference numbers though the most recent entry is from a decade ago. The back page contains four names and addresses with a phone number next to each. Beneath each one is a twelve digit hexadecimal code.

The names are Bonnie Jennings, Tianna Dorsey, Kieron Lucero and Umar Wagner. 

The coterie had access to many resources both legitimate and criminal so finding information on those four named individuals was fairly simple. It did however throw up many new questions.

Storytellers Note - Or to be honest I was knackered by this point so didn't make notes about how they did it, just what information they discovered...

Tianna Dorsey committed suicide nine years ago by hurling herself from the top of a building after she had escaped from a psychiatric facility. She had apparently sought professional help for depression and a number of psychological issues. These were identical to those suffered by those undergoing withdrawal from drugs.

She had then been committed to a medical facility for her own safety.  However she had no history of drug abuse and had undergone several blood tests which indicated no such substances within her system. During her escape she overpowered two guards and nearly tore a secure exterior door from it's hinges. The hospital put this down to 'Excited delirium' a condition not recognised by several organisations but considered the only explanation under the circumstances. Of course if you suspected Tianna of being a blood-bound ghoul then a different explanation could be considered.

The Last Round - Downtown
Haven of Nines and His Crew
Kieron Lucero was found dead in an unsavoury area of Downtown several months previous to Tianna's death. The police report put it down to a hit and run due to the extreme physical trauma and multiple broken bones. Daniel had obtained a copy of the coroners report through his police and medical contacts and had come to a different conclusion.

As an expert in both mortal medicine and also in the damage that comes from combat using vampiric disciplines, he decided that it was much more likely that someone with extreme strength, speed and resilience had beaten the unfortunate man to death. Closer analysis of the injuries extrapolated from that conclusion led him to believe that the techniques used were more than likely from the varied hand to hand combat styles taught to Vietnam era soldiers. The proximity of the murder site to the Brujah frequented bar known as The Last Round and the familiarity of Nines ally Skelter with exactly those abilities led the coterie to a worrying conclusion.

Bonnie Jennings and Umar Wagner had both been reported missing about a decade ago. Bonnie's disappearance had been reported by her mother and Umar's by a close friend. Neither had ever been seen or heard from again though the cases remained open as no-one had had them declared dead. Interestingly the missing person reports on these two had been quite difficult to locate having seemingly been 'accidentally' misfiled.

The coterie strongly suspected that these four had been the mortals tasked with operating the system that they were searching for. Alonzo had theorised that at least four mortal operators would have been needed to monitor such a system for twenty four hours a day. Their names being listed in a notebook possibly belonging to Jeremy MacNeil led some weight to that conclusion.

While the names were investigated further they now had two likely next targets. The second property in San Fernando or The Last Round...

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...

Spreading clues across multiple locations is a bit of a trope but my core group of players like investigation and social interaction stories so I'm focusing on that aspect. That is not to say that they won't be in danger, quite the opposite. Just not quite yet...

The session went fairly well and I only had to wing one section so that was pretty good for my lot. I was expecting them to bypass the security system of the first mansion directly. But when they came up with the alternate plan to go after the security company management I let them do it that way as it was, to be fair, an excellent plan.

Mr Hertz has spent the xp necessary to take them as a permanent contact which will probably bite me on the arse later. Or him, depending on how I feel about it by next session, lol.

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

I've used pictures of real people to represent some of the characters and art for others so in no particular order Michael Tomassio is represented by Matt Bomer, 'Vin' is Scott Adkins, Dr Matthews is Mads Mikkelsen, Hope is Deborah Ann Woll, Mr Hertz is Charles Dance, Lisa Irving is Amanda Righetti, Marius Walker is Tony Curran, Tilly Kelly is Anna Paquin, Lilith May is Victoria, Gary Oldman is Isaac Abrams, Ray Stephenson is Andrew Francis, Michael Chiklis is Frank Atkins, Priya is Gabrielle Union and Aysha Mathis is Yvonne Strahovski.

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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