Friday, 14 May 2021

Vampire the Masquerade - V5 - Session Eighty Six - 'The War Council' (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. Over a year of plotting allowed the coterie to gain control of two North-Eastern Baronies and a large part of a third. Now they are moving on to the final stage of their campaign and have their eyes on taking over the entire city, either directly or by proxy.
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 OneTwoThreeFourFive
Story Twenty - 'The MacNeil Protocols' - Part SixSevenEightNine and Ten
Interlude Session One - After Griffith Park
Interlude Session Two - Divide and Conquer
Interlude Session Three - On the Brink of War
Chronicle Four - 'Conquest L.A.'
Story Twenty One - 'Veni, Vidi, Victor' - Part OneTwoThreeFourFive
Story Twenty One - 'Veni, Vidi, Victor' - Part Six, and Epilogue
Story Twenty Two - 'The Unbound' - Part OneTwoThree and Four

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

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.

Michael's plan to use the invasion of San Jose by the Camarilla Prince of San Francisco to form an Anarch Council has began. Gloria Martinez and Allison Maller have already agreed to join such a council on the condition that the duskborn who call themselves The Liberated are also allowed a representative. The coterie's next port of call is Karen Anatos, Baron of Burbank

Scene One - The Midnight Queen
Velvet Velour - Toreador
Dancer, Owner of Club Vesuvius
Michael contacted Velvet Velour who had close connections to Karen Anatos to see if she could arrange a meeting between them. After the loss of a valued ghoul Karen Anatos had effectively closed her borders to guests and was notoriously fickle.

Arriving uninvited seemed like a bad idea under those circumstances especially as her low generation more than made up for her relative lack of age. Marius Walker, Baron of Downtown, also acted as her sometime mentor so one could never be sure exactly what ideas he had put into her head.

Apparently Velvet and Karen were still in touch as she arranged the requested meeting almost instantly though she did point out that lately Michael only rang her when he wanted something and that thing was rarely her company. He promised to rectify that as soon as the current troubles had been dealt with. Velvet provided the coterie with an address in Burbank. A quick check revealed that the address was of a large house surrounded by parks and forests. As Karen Anatos was of Clan Gangrel this made a certain amount of sense though Daniel pointed out that he couldn't exactly see Miss Anatos running through the woods covered in mud.

Karen Anatos - Gangrel Anathema
Media Magnate, Baron of Burbank
Daniel made his usual observations of her homes defences upon the coteries arrival and could see Marius's influences in the layout of her security precautions. There were relatively few mortals within the complex but those that were there had the air of fanatical followers. He had no doubt that they would fight to the death in defence of their Midnight Queen. 

One of her followers escorted them to an expensively decorated sitting room. There were framed portraits on the walls of the various identities their host had used during her century of fame from her original identity as Lily Thorne, her 'daughter' Rose Thorne, Ophelia Vine and her horror film alias's Mistress Black and the Midnight Queen.

She gestured for them to take a seat opposite her as she reclined on a red sofa. "Marius says it's considered good form to offer fellow vampires, I mean 'Kindred', refreshments when they visit. Feel free to feed on one of the servants if you so desire."

Michael, Daniel and Hope politely declined the offer and then they laid out the reason for their visit.

They explained about the problems in San Jose and the potential future problems for Los Angeles should a kindred of the Camarilla come to power within their city. They reminded her of the attempted assassination of her by an Archon of the Camarilla and hinted that such attempts would become more common and well planned in the event of a Prince controlling the city rather than the more flexible Barons. Michael also laid out his idea that a council of Barons would be the best way to ensure an organised and effective response.

Storytellers Note - the attempted Assassination is detailed HERE should you have missed it. It was a while ago...

Marius Walker - Gangrel
'Fixer' and Baron of Downtown
Karen listened intently before replying. "You're going to involve Marius in this, one presumes?"

Michael pointed out that Marius would be unlikely to care much about the situation until it personally effected him and so he wasn't holding out a great deal of hope of his being overly helpful despite the resources at his disposal.

"Would you like me to give him a prod?" she asked in response. The question temporarily threw Michael as he couldn't imagine anyone 'prodding' Marius ending particularly well for the prodder. However his empathetic talents revealed to him that Karen had absolutely no fear of the notorious Gangrel 'Fixer'. In fact she seemed quite sure that she could get Marius to become involved.

Daniel then added his own opinion that the argument that Marius could find himself surrounded should the outer Baronies of the city fall, was going to be their approach to gain his support. "I'll tell him I need to chat." Stated Miss Anatos. "He'll come if I ask and I'm sure he'll listen to me..." such was her confidence that they didn't argue with her about the chances of success.

Michael could clearly see that she cared less about the fate of the city, and more about the opportunity to meet the other kindred power players within the city. Her reasons were irrelevant though. the most important thing was that he could now add her name to those of Gloria Martinez, Allison Maller and Amara Martins as those willing to join his proposed Anarch War Council.

Edmund Metcalfe
Ghoul of Karen, Serial Killer
Karen then caught the coterie by surprise by addressing Daniel directly. "Marius has mentioned your name several times as an investigator of considerable skill. Perhaps you could do me a small favour?" Intrigued, Daniel asked her to continue.

"A valued ghoul of mine was found dead from apparently self inflicted wounds. He would never have taken his own life without my permission, such was his dedication to me and I would like the real culprit discovered so I can...punish them..."

Daniel managed to disguise his surprise adequately at being asked to investigate a killing that he himself had carried out. This was going to take some thinking about.

Storytellers Note - Daniel's involvement is detailed in this story HERE.

"I would be more than happy to investigate this matter for you..." replied Daniel. "...though it may have to wait until after the current troubles are resolved." Seemingly satisfied with this response, Karen thanked him then bid one of her servants to escort the coterie from her home.

Scene Two - A Damsel in Distress
Nines Rodriguez - Brujah
Highly Respected Anarch
The coteries next port of call was The Last Round in Downtown. Though it was Nines Rodriguez's cooperation they required, they had decided to use Damsel as a go-between. Damsel had considerable influence over Nines and was also very close to Michael so should enable them to steer Nines in the right direction.

The slum areas of Downtown were undergoing significant restoration due to a city scheme to renovate the area. Marius's Aegis Construction had gained the contract and so there were certain to be a number of kindred friendly areas within. The work was proceeding rapidly and the shape of what the area was to become was already becoming more apparent.

As they drove to the area, Mr Hertz contacted the coterie to inform them that Gary Golden had been convinced to involve himself in their council. Though Gary wasn't a Baron in title, he had influence over the majority of the cities Nosferatu and was therefore a necessary addition to any council. Without him the information available to any council of kindred would be drastically limited.

A regular of the Last Round with whom Daniel was acquainted informed them that Nines and Skelter were off "Sorting out a problem that just came up" but it was clear he had no idea what. Fortunately he had a better idea of exactly what Damsel was up to.

Damsel - Brujah
'Den Mother' of Nines Crew
It seemed that a local soup kitchen and homeless shelter, set up as part of the initiatives to help the inhabitants of Skid Row during the renovations, was drawing the attention of the local authorities. Apparently one of the local kindred, a newcomer to the city named Jerome Banks, had been less than careful with his feeding. Another such incident had came to Damsel's attention moments after Nines and Skelter had left the bar and she had gone to admonish the culprit. Knowing Damsel this would take the form of a punch to the head, perhaps several.

Though Michael wasn't particularly fond of the idea of visiting a homeless shelter it was important that he speak to Damsel so he put his prejudices against slumming it to one side. Daniel's paranoia was however coming to the fore. The fact that Nines and Skelter had been drawn away from The Last Round only for Damsel to also be drawn outside within mere minutes struck him as unusual. Of course it could be a coincidence but Daniel didn't really believe in them.

As they drew closer, they observed Damsel on the opposite side of the street from the shelter berating a scruffily dressed individual near a debris strewn alleyway. Presumably this was Jerome.  Daniel noticed their aggressive posture and was reasonably sure that violence was about to occur. He then became even more concerned as Jerome shifted into a shooting stance and reached into his overcoat. 

Damsel was too busy shouting and caught up in her own rhetoric to notice the movement, only becoming aware as a huge revolver was levelled at her head.

The Banu Haqim was an expert marksman and reacted instantly to the threat. Drawing his own silenced 10mm Handgun he put a round through the head of the would-be assassin and struck him twice more before his body had even hit the ground. Overcoming her surprise, Damsel dragged the rapidly disintegrating corpse into the alleyway as Daniel and Michael ran over to her. 

"He was going to blow my head off over a stupid disagreement over feeding habits?" stated Damsel, incredulously. "Not all kindred want a fair fight." observed Michael. Damsel nodded in agreement. Daniel wasn't sure it was that simple.

The Assassin's Weapon
Daniel used one of the gifts granted by his knowledge of Blood sorcery and sampled a drop of blood from the decomposing body. Their generation was surprisingly low, and the potency of their blood far to high for them to be a mere neonate feeding on bums. The speed at which the body was aging also indicated that they were no fledgling.

Further investigation found no identification on the body, though they had plenty of cash in the form of a tight roll of hundred dollar bills. Daniel also noted that their clothing was only dirty on the outside and the wear and tear seemed to have been created recently, not over time. The handgun was an impeccably maintained Ruger Super Redhawk chambered for .454 Casull rounds. Daniel opened the cylinder to reveal the hollowpoint rounds within.

"They were an assassin." stated Daniel with utter certainty. "Ninth generation kindred with enough money in their pocket to buy that soup kitchen don't feed on bums. Someone should warn Nines in case this isn't an isolated incident..."

'Skelter' - Gangrel
Enforcer, Nines Crew
"Do you have any enemies?" asked Michael, hoping that this was personal. "None worth speaking of." replied Damsel. "Certainly not any who would go to this sort of effort anyway...and...I can't get through to Nines or Skelter..."

Working on a hunch, Daniel asked Damsel what Nines current attitude to the situation in San Jose was.

"Nines? He's all for charging off into San Jose and cracking some skulls. I've been telling him that this isn't the time to do anything stupid." replied Damsel. Michael immediately grasped Daniel's line of thought. "And if anything happened to you, what then?" asked Michael. Damsel thought about it for a moment "Then...he'd almost certainly be so clouded by rage he'd go charging off and..."

"...get himself destroyed?" added Daniel.

Realisation dawned as she understood now that someone had put considerable thought into this assassination and the subsequent consequences. An assassination that would have been virtually guaranteed to succeed if not for the sheer luck that had bought Michael and Daniel into Skid Row.

"You embody something they fear, you, Nines, Skelter..." began Michael. " are icons of the Anarch cause. Your final death would rob the Anarchs of inspiration, a rallying point and a potent recruitment tool in the form of Nines. As propaganda it's effect would also have been devastating.

Leo Frost - Brujah
"I'll dispose of the body, then I'll look for Nines and Skelter. I'm sure I can convince them to support anything you have planned." said Damsel.

As they left, Michael turned to Daniel. "What do you think is about to happen?" he asked. "I think you should phone Hank right now." replied Daniel. 

"...and I'll ring Leo and get him to give Gloria and Allison a heads up too. I fear the war in San Jose has arrived in Los Angeles much earlier than we expected..."

Leo received the call and vowed to warn the two Barons. Hank's phone however rang out without reply.

As they returned to their vehicle, Dion, Michaels driver was waiting and was obviously agitated. "Have either of you heard the news?" he asked. "We've been a bit busy for that." quipped Daniel. "Why?"

"Because someone just blew up a chunk of the Crypts Sons turf and judging form the news it's right where Hank's base of operations is..."

Scene Three - The Sons of the Crypt
As they drove closer to Hank's HQ within the city, the signs of disaster became more and more evident. Police presence was increasing and the sounds of ambulance and fire engine sirens could be heard. As they reached the street where Hank based himself it became obvious that this was the centre of the devastation.

"I can't get any closer without someone asking questions." stated Dion. "It's alright." replied Daniel. "You and Michael wait her and I'll go and offer to help." He was that used to Daniel's activities as a warrior that Michael often forgot that Daniel was also a doctor and surgeon.

"Where do you think you're going?" demanded a harassed looking cop. "I'm off duty, but I heard about it on the radio." replied Daniel, producing his medical identification. "Thought I could help."

"The medical guys will take all the help they can get right now..." said the cop, pointing towards several paramedics working on people too injured to move. "Good luck..."

Hope Romero - Raven Form
Those corpses that were still recognisable were clearly mortal members of the Crypts Sons gang. A few clinging to life in spite of horrific injuries may well have been ghouls. The vitae within their systems giving them greater endurance and resilience than the average human.

Hope who had been shadowing them in raven form, landed in a quiet alleyway and returned to her humanoid form before approaching Michael and Dion. She had already observed the area from the air and was convinced that a car bomb was responsible. She had experience with may types of bomb from her time in the military. She shared this conviction with Michael.

"I've never seen one that big though." she also pointed out. "It must have been packed to the brim with explosives. Someone wanted to be 100% sure that no kindred walked out of that building and were willing to expend a lot of resources to do so..."

Daniel stopped his own observations briefly to call Michael. "I'm going to stay here and see what I can find out, maybe save a few lives instead of taking them for once." Michael confirmed that he understood and attempted to get in touch with any other kindred leaders who might be potential targets.

Daniel found a ghoul that was still clinging to life and capable of speech. As the doctor attempted to stabilise him, the ghoul recognised Daniel and pulled him in close. He was difficult to understand so Daniel listened intently.

"You're one of Michaels guys, right? Hank was outside dressing down one of the gang bosses when they hit us..." The dying ghoul began to cough violently. Daniel waited until he had stopped and asked him to continue knowing that the unfortunate ghoul would be dead within minutes and that there was nothing he could do to prevent it. "He's fucked up bad, but not dead, not yet anyway. They took him to the ranch...most of the rest of the gang is gone..." then the effort of speaking became to much and he became still. Daniel gently closed their eyes and then stood up. With nothing else to do he returned to Michael and told him of the possibility that Hank had survived, if only just.

'Hank' Boyd - Brujah
Baron of the Crypts Sons
Ranch security was almost none-existent. As they tended to go where Hank did, it was likely that most were dead or destroyed. A lone guard recognised them and escorted them warily to a back room where Deacon and the remnants of the Crypts Sons Kindred had gathered.

"You were there?" asked Deacon. Daniel confirmed that he had done what he could but that that no kindred had survived that he could see and barely a handful of mortal agents had made it either. "Hank just slipped into torpor." Deacon confirmed. "We tried to feed him enough blood to heal his wounds but the damage was just too great."

"I wouldn't keep him here." said Daniel. "They've hit other locations so they sure as hell know about this ranch."

"I'll contact Gary Golden." said Deacon. "He's always been a friend to Hank, hopefully he'll find somewhere safe for us to hide out. We sure as fuck don't have the resources to protect our Barony with the handful of soldiers we have left."

"I was trying to organise a war council to prevent just this sort of eventuality." stated Michael. "Can I count on your presence at such a table?"

"Fuck, yeah..." replied Deacon.

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 that caught the players by's nice when that happens...

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

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, Karen Anatos was Christina Hendricks, Marius Walker is Tony Curran, Edmund Metcalfe is Michael Rooker, Nines Rodriguez is Luis Carazo, Damsel is Irina Delnova, Skelter is Vin Diesel, Leo Frost is Danny John-Jules and Hank Boyd is Michael Clarke Duncan

Everything else is from vampire related folders and searches and is as far as I know is all of the 'fair use' variety. If there's something that you feel should be attributed to some-one then feel free to let me know and I'll happily add an acknowledgement.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts with Thumbnails